|New York Mets Top 5|
|1||Fernando Martinez||CF/LF||Wasn't overmatched as youngest AA player (.332 wOBA); IsoP up from .106 ('07) to .145 ('08)||20.0||AA|
|2||Wilmer Flores||SS||Went .310/.351/.490 with .356 wOBA in 265 R-ball PA; puts ball in play: 4.5% BB, 10.6% K||17.2||SS|
|3||Jon Niese||LHP||Good combo of GB% (52), K% (21.5), BB% (8.4) in AA; Ks declined 2.3% in AAA (4.42 FIP)||22.0||MLB|
|4||Nick Evans||1B/LF||Improved .321 wOBA in '06 to .364 in '07, .390 in '08; MLB struggles: .295 wOBA (119 PA)||22.7||MLB|
|5||Jefry Marte||3B||Put up .324/.393/.538 line in 163 GCL PA, but might be hard to match: .381 BABIP vs. 11% LD||17.3||R|
|Honorables: Ike Davis (1B), Reese Havens (SS), and Brad Holt (RHP).|
|* Our rankings combine a player's ceiling with the odds that he'll reach it and favor recent production|
|** Ages are as of November 1st, 2008|
|*** Level is the highest level the player has reached|
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Fernando Martinez – The youngest player in Double-A in 2007 and 2008, Fernando Martinez is fresh off his best professional stint since Low-A ('06). Though his production still hasn’t matched up with his hype, the 6-foot-1 lefthanded outfielder is progressing in some areas of his game. His .145 isoP ('08) was up from .106 in Double-A in 2007, although still down from his breakout 2006 campaign (.194) -- note that he had his hamate bone removed in 2007. He’s been consistent in his rates (7.0 BB%, 19.0 K% in '08) and hit more line drives last season (19%) than he has at any point in his career. Martinez made modest improvements in translating his raw speed to baseball speed last season. Still, if he sticks at center field in the bigs, he'll likely be one of the worst center fielders in baseball. Age is still the biggest factor on Martinez’ side. He’s young enough that he can evolve into a very good major leaguer, but he will need to considerably raise his performance on the field if he is going to reach his ceiling.
Wilmer Flores – Not many 17-year-olds who have the type of season that Wilmer Flores did in 2008. The Venezuelan was one of the Appalachian League’s best hitters, putting up a .375 wOBA over 245 PA. He combined legit power (.180 isoP, 8 HR) with the ability to make tons of contact (10.6 K%) at the level. But in what we’ve seen so far, Flores can stand to be more patient at the plate (4.5 BB%). Though he was overmatched during a 32 plate appearance stint in short-season ball, the current shortstop displayed just about everything else you are looking for from a potential star. He’s likely to outgrow shortstop. Still several years away from the bigs, Flores could hit his way up the Mets' chain rapidly and become a household name at some point.
Jon Niese – Niese showed breakout potential in 2007 when he posted a 3.41 FIP and 19.1 K% in High-A as a 20-year-old. And breakout is what Niese did in 2008, as he climbed two minor league levels and wound up getting 14.0 major league innings to boot. The 6-foot-3 lefthander has shown that he could eventually be a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter in the majors. Niese began 2008 in Double-A where he was one of the Eastern League’s best (8.4 BB%, 21.5 K%, 52 GB% 3.08 FIP, 521 TBF). He moved to Triple-A late in the season where his numbers took a slight hit (19.2 K%, 4.42 FIP) -- identical walk rate. He had a 5.11 FIP in the majors (69 TBF). Niese will be 22 for most of the 2009 season. Even if he doesn’t crack the Mets rotation before the All-Star Break, he is likely to get more than a handful of starts prior to the end of the year.
Nick Evans – Already with some major league experience under his belt, Nick Evans has the bat to be a major league contributor as soon as the 2009 season. Evans' above-average power bat (.252 IsoP in AA) definitely has a future in the big leagues. He was a force last year as a 22-year-old in Double-A (.403 wOBA in 323 PA), though his Double-A walk and strikeout rates weren't anything special (8.0% and 19.8%, respectively). Evans is a first baseman who primarily played left during his time with the Mets last season (.301 wOBA in 119 PA). Even if Evans starts the 2009 season in the minors, he'll likely spent some time in the big leagues over the next few seasons as a replacement level or better first baseman.
Jefry Marte – Like Wilmer Flores, Jefry Marte showed no problems transitioning to professional baseball as a 17-year-old. The Dominican native put up an impressive performance Gulf Coast League (.400 wOBA, .204 IsoP, 7.4% BB, 16.0% K, 163 PA). One thing that may have contributed to Marte’s incredible success was his unsustainable .381 BABIP. Still, a kid with the raw ability that Marte showed in 2008 is one to follow very closely. He has a chance to turn into one of the top prospects in the minors.
Ike Davis (3/22/87) – Here you have a guy who was an exceptional college hitter but over the course of 235 short-season plate appearances, couldn’t hit a lick (.293 wOBA, 9.8% BB, 18.3% K, .071 IsoP). Davis’ prospect status currently hinges on his ability to translate his college success (12.4% BB, 13.6% K) to pro ball. The 18th overall pick of the 2008 Draft, Davis missed time during his final college season with a ribcage and hamstring injuries. He exhibited next to no speed during his pro debut, though he was a solid runner in college. Davis isn't nearly as polished as guys like Justin Smoak, Buster Posey, Gordon Beckham, or Yonder Alonso, but he's a college hitter who could eventually become an average or better big leaguer.
Brett Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.