BA FSL Top 20: Mejia, Davis & Nieuwenhuis

davis-b-mets-stance1Baseball America released their Florida State League Top 20 Prospects List yesterday, and it contains a healthy sprinkling of Mets with Jenrry Mejia at #7, Ike Davis at #9, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis at #13.  Brad Holt just missed qualifying for the BA list by a handful of innings.

BA on Mejia:

Mejia has a 94-95 mph fastball, and he can cut or sink it depending on the situation. He flashes a plus curveball, though it’s inconsistent and he struggles to locate it at times. Unlike a lot of young pitchers, he’s willing to throw his changeup, but it has too much velocity and only rates as an adequate pitch at this point.
Mejia has a solid pitcher’s frame. His delivery and lack of secondary stuff could lead to an eventual move to the bullpen.

I disagree with the assessment of Mejia’s change-up. It’s his second-best pitch right now, and his pitching coach loved the movement on the offering.  Yes, it’s unusually hard, but it also has unusual movement, which makes it hard to command.

BA on Davis:

Thanks to his quick hands, Davis has plus power. He uses a squared-up stance that some managers felt left him too often hitting off his front foot, but in his defense, he’s not bothered by breaking balls and offspeed stuff.

Along with his power, he stood out for his work at first base with good hands, solid agility around the bag and an above-average arm for the position.

Davis acknowledges that he has a tendency to get out on his front foot. He describes himself as a fastball hitter and I’ve seen breaking balls give him fits.  If he’s not bothered by breaking balls why did he OPS 481 (!) points better against righties than lefties in the FSL?  The primary difference from a hitter’s perspective is picking up the release point, and dealing with the opposite break on offspeed stuff.

BA on Nieuwenhuis:

As a tall, rangy center fielder with power, Kirk Nieuwenhuis had FSL managers reaching back in their memory banks for a comparison….

When the season began, Nieuwenhuis was a high-ball, opposite-field hitter. Pitchers found they could bust him inside with fastballs, but he worked on shortening his swing and creating a better hand path, which made him much tougher to contend with. …

While Nieuwenhuis did make some nice adjustments, there still are concerns that he swings and misses too much. Despite his size, he’s a tick above-average runner who’s even faster underway. Though he played center field in 2009, his lack of overwhelming speed eventually will force him to right field, where his strong, accurate arm will fit well.

I’m not convinced that Nieuwenhuis has enough bat to play everyday in right.  That many strikeouts in A-ball usually pressage a drop in batting average at the next level.  The counter-argument is that the changes he made to his swing will allow him to adapt in AA.  In addition to the contact issues, I’m not sure he’s got the pop to play in right either.

    Jeff (Pittsbugrh):

    No Reese Havens? I'm a bit surprised by that. He showed good power (considering the league) and pretty good plate discipline. His average was a bit low, but so was his BABIP.

J.J. Cooper: Havens was No. 21 on this list, as proof here is the writeup I did on him as a bonus for subscribers. As you can see from the writeup, the big concern is where he will play long-term. The Mets’ first-round pick in 2008 out of South Carolina, Havens was promoted aggressively to the Florida State League for his first full season. He generally held his own, although there are significant doubts that he’ll stay at shortstop much longer. A hand injury and other nagging aches and pains sidelined Havens for three weeks in June and another two weeks in July. The hand injury explains in part why Havens struggled to get his average above .250 all year, but he did show solid pitch recognition and the ability to drive the ball for power. Havens power is more gap-to-gap and he’s a tick-below average runner. Havens’ bat will have to produce because he does not project as a big league shortstop. His range is below average and his problems with his footwork has some scouts wondering if he can handle second base. If not, his arm strength is enough for a corner outfield spot, but there are questions whether he’ll have enough bat for an outfield corner.

Oh man.  If you can’t hit .250 in Advanced-A at age 22, you don’t have enough bat for a corner.  On the flip side, if he was never fully healthy, he has some kind of excuse, and wrist injuries really do linger.

    Julian (New York): What is your true accessment of Kirk N. He tore up the league and he has the build to continue to grow. he looks like a big leaguer to me. Does he have a higher ceiling the Davis?

J.J. Cooper: Not according to the scouts and managers I talked to. He may have had a gaudier season but there are concerns about how much he swings and misses and he’s not a center fielder at the big league level. He can make it as a corner outfielder, but in general observers like Davis’ potential at the plate more than Nieuwenhuis.

If Cooper really doesn’t think Nieuwenhuis is a CF, then he likes Nieuwenhuis’s bat even more than I do.