With the first half of the season in the books, I thought it would be good to get some perspective from Kevin Goldstein, of Baseball Prospectus.
Here is my conversation with KG:
MD: Wilmer Flores seems to have matured as a hitter a bit. At 18, has he solidified himself as a premier hitting prospect?
KG: Premier? That might be a bit strong. The approach still needs work, the power is still developing, he’s still figuring out how to turn on balls, and he lacks a confident swing against lefties. Those are all correctable and things that he has tons of time to figure out. To be doing what he’s doing as a soon-to-be 19 year-old is very impressive. But premier, at least to me, makes him an elite-level prospect, and I don’t think he’s that. He can become that, certainly, but he’s not that yet.
MD: Flores has good hands and a plus throwing arm, with his lack of quickness and foot speed, do you eventually see him at 3rd base?
KG: I do think that’s the first place he’ll be tried once the Mets get him off shortstop, and I think he has a good, not great mind you, but good chance to stick there. Obviously, the hands and arm with help him there, but third base is not a natural switch like shortstop to second base is. Third base is a pure read and react position, and that’s an untested skill set for Flores. We can’t say if it will work or not because we haven’t seen it yet.
MD: Kirk Nieuwenhuis has shown he can hit. Can he be an average to above average everyday big league outfielder?
KG: That’s a question that a lot of scouts are asking these days. I do think he can be average to slightly above maybe if you think he can play center in the big leagues. If he can (and I don’t think he’ll ever be more than average defensively), then he can play every day. As a corner guy, I’m not sure it’s enough bat. I the best bet on him is an occasional starter/bench outfielder on a good team. That’s not an insult; I’m a big Capt. Kirk fan.
MD: Jeurys Familia, Kyle Allen, and Robert Carson have struggled with the transition to the FSL. What have reports shown to be the reasons for their struggles?
KG: With Familia, it’s pretty simple really, he’s just not throwing enough strikes. He’s walking guys, he’s uncorking wild pitches like it’s going out of style, he’s just all over the place, and then he’s overcompensating for it and taking things down a notch in order to throw strikes and that pretty much never works, so he’s a mess. Allen is in the same boat, where his command has regressed, so there are too many guys on base, and he’s yet to develop a second power pitch, as his slider is just a sweepy offering that doesn’t fool hitters at all. Carson has actually pitched much better of late, as his ERA is 3.22 in his last eight starts. (Edit: before Tuesday.) I would say he’s been pretty much as expected since the April problems. He’s doesn’t have any skills to be really excited about as much as he’s just good at the craft.
MD: Is there any reason to believe that Fernando Martinez can stay healthy for a full season?
KG: The evidence keeps piling up against his chances, doesn’t it? He obviously has the talent to keep getting chances, but it’s fantastically frustrating.
MD: Should the Mets just put Brad Holt in the bullpen, or does he still have an outside chance of being a starter long-term?
KG: Personally, I thought they should have put him in relief last year, so . . .
MD: Who have been the most disappointing and surprising prospects so far this season?
KG: I think you have to go with Ike Davis in some ways. He’s not a prospect anymore, but he started the year as one and he was so much better in 2009 than 2008, and he’s so much better now than he was last year. As far as guys still around, Reese Havens and Nieuwenhuis come to mind, just because they are proving it at Double-A, and that a huge step. One the downside, obviously Holt and Familia have been awful, leaving the Mets with a real shortage of power arms that are performing. Next year, hopefully Matt Harvey can change that.
MD: Who are some of the under-the-radar Mets prospects who are opening some eyes this season?
KG: I think lefty Mark Cohoon is one of those guys, but he definitely needs to move up and be tested further. There’s not a lot of stuff there, but he’s incredibly good at what he does, and just as importantly, he knows what he is. It’s a back-end rotation ceiling at best, but again, he has to get moving. My biggest sleeper might be Eric Campbell with Binghamton. Guy can really hit, and at 23, it’s not like he’s ridiculously old or anything.
MD: Can you give your thoughts on the handling of Jenrry Mejia. What are your concerns over his development as a starting pitcher, considering the extended use of him in the Mets bullpen? What were the benefits from him actually pitching in the big leagues this season?
KG: I don’t agree with having him in the big league bullpen to start the season either, but I don’t have a big problem with it either. As far as his development goes, it was just 10 weeks, and he’s 20 years old, so it’s not like there was some huge delay or damage done or anything. In the end, I’m sure he learned a lot of lessons when it comes to pitching to big leaguers and now he can work on his secondary stuff without the added pressure of big league win and losses on the line. Sure, he would have been better served by starting the year in Double-A, but it’s not that big a deal, either.