Today, ESPN’s Jason Churchill answer some Mets prospect questions. In addition to his work at ESPN, Churchill is also the executive editor at Prospectinsider.com, and you can also find him on twitter: @ProspectInsider
MD: Did Cory Vaughn do enough this summer to make him a legit prospect, or is the jury still out on him so to speak. Does he have to show he can handle upper level pitching before fans can get excited about him?
JC: I’d temper my enthusiasm until he’s shown he can hit better pitching; he’s a college draftee who may have faced better arms in school than he did in the NY-Penn League. The raw power is real, but so are the whiffs. The swing isn’t terrible, but scouts are concerned about the contact rates, and rightfully so.
MD: Kyle Allen had a disastrous season. Was his season more adjusting to better competition, or simply not having the stuff to get results?
JC: I haven’t seen Allen myself, but in asking about him it appears he lacks a little in the stuff department, but also is missing a feel for pitching that would help him a long. One player development staffer within the organization did say “there’s potential there, but we’re going to have to make some adjustments.” Typically, this means delivery issues and a lack of secondary stuff. One option that was shot down was a future in the bullpen. An NL scout said “I doubt (his stuff) plays up much in relief.”
MD: Ryan Fraser was dominant for Brooklyn. As a 16th round pick, you have to say the Mets picked a winner in Fraser. How do scouts feel about Fraser?
JC: Had to do some chasing to find a scout that’d seen Fraser as a pro… Sounds like he’s a 7th-inning arm if he stays in relief, maybe a setup man if his breaking ball improves enough. But two talent evaluators still want to see him start, even though he pitched exclusively in relief for Brooklyn. He doesn’t have a lot of time to develop, so I’d bet the Mets keep him in the pen and try to push him through the system quickly.
MD: With the Mets drafting Matt Harvey and signing Eric Goeddel late to an overslot deal, can you see both of these pitchers as top of the rotation type guys?
JC: Harvey very well may be; the raw stuff is fine, the breaking ball was better late in spring and the Mets were sold even earlier than that on the right-hander. It’s about consistency and command for Harvey. At worst he’s a very good 8th-inning reliever or closer, but holding his velocity late was not a big problem so he’s got starting pitcher written all over him. One comp I have heard is Jeremy Bonderman, pre-injury, but personally I think that is lite for Harvey. I’d say Matt Cain as an absolute ceiling comp.
Goeddel was the best pitcher on the Bruins roster when they came to Seattle last spring, including Gerrit Cole. He was nails, though inconsistent at the time. He flashed No. 2 or 3 starter stuff late and the Mets are giddy they got him signed. Whether Goeddel is a top of the rotation type or not depends on whether he can consistently command his secondary stuff, since he doesn’t throw 98. Some scouts have long-term durability concerns, but when I am told that I just ignore it because once that is expected to become an issue, the pitcher is well into arbitration or his free agent years anyway.
MD: Javier Rodriguez the Mets 2008 2nd round pick, had somewhat of a breakout season. Do you feel he can play up to his tools now that he has matured mentally and physically a bit?
JC: The Mets believe they are starting to see results of the tools they drafted. They love his loose, quick swing and power potential and trust that he’s starting to put things together. He’s a player I have not seen myself, but the Mets tell me he has above average tools across the board but that the power potential is what will carry him. One team official said he feels Rodriguez just needed time to get comfortable and that the kid reached that point in ’10. The club may get aggressive with him if he starts off quick in 2011, too, to keep up the momentum.