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.

There are 5 comments

  1. big baby

    in havens’ defense, his BABIP seems artificially suppressed. at, if his luck adjusted line is: .282/.388/.469. tre bien.

    i wouldn’t mind seeing if we could sell high on kirk, and to a lesser extent davis.

    never trading mejia.

  2. stickguy

    you point out why Met fans should temper their expectations for Davis a bit. Not that they shouldn’t expect (hope?) he will end up being the power hitting 1B they need, but when.

    don’t rush him to the show. Let him have enough MiL time to get proficient with hitting lefites and breaking pitches in general. Won’t hurt to give him another full year, and more if needed, in AA and AAA to work on it. That, and let him hit against every lefty starter, and heck, take BP against every lefty they can find to throw to him.

    I would rather wait on him a little longer than have him rushed up to be the “savior” and have him struggle for not being ready, and have the idjit part of the fan base turn on him.

  3. big baby

    also, i have no idea whether kirk can play CF, but saying he can’t play it because of his “lack of overwhelming speed” seems like a poor job of scouting. “durrr he ain’t fast, can’t play center”

    maybe he doesn’t get great jumps or reads, and as a result he can’t play center. but i feel like saying he doesn’t have a ton of speed and therefore can’t play center is poor.

  4. MrMustSeeTv

    I saw Nieuwenhuis play last year at Brooklyn on more than one occassion. I did not catch him this year is the FSL. That said, although I’m not a scout, I do think of myself as a knowledgeable fan and sort-of draftnik. I found Kirk to be more than adequate in center.

    I talked about Kirk last year. At the time, I felt he had the defense (range, glove, arm) to play all three outfield spots, which would make him a valuable 4th outfielder. My concern was his long swing and poor strike zone judgment. He improved that somewhat, but not enough yet to convince he’s more than a good 4th outfielder at best. He should the ability to make adjustments. If he continues to do that and improves on his shortcomings, then he could start.

    His defense is not really an issue. Is he Beltran in CF? No, but he’s a tick above-average in my opinion. His speed plays well enough in CF that he had no problem track balls. The one thing that helps Kirk is his ability to position himself well, which minimizes his reliance on pure speed to track down balls.

    In a way he reminds me of a poor man’s version of Andy Van Slyke with not as much BA.

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