Reviewing the Prospects in Big League Camp

A number of Mets prospects got their crack at playing in big league camp and in spring training games. However, as camp enters its final full week, the majority of prospects have returned to the back fields, with the big league club paring down its final spots. Nevertheless, March was an opportunity for minor leaguers to show what they've got. Look inside to find out what we learned.

Position Players

Lucas Duda:
Duda has received a lot of attention in big league camp and with each passing day Carlos Beltran is on the sidelines, the greater the chance Duda earns the right field spot when camp breaks. To date, Duda has recorded the second-most at-bats of anyone in camp (48 to Nick Evans' 52). He is showing a better understanding of playing the outfield and generally looks much more confident at the plate. Yes, he's only hit .250 so far, but for now, he's the best in-house option to hold down the right field spot until Beltran is healthy.

Justin Turner:
Turner deserved to be in the mix for the second base job after the showing he had with Buffalo last season. Nevertheless, Turner has yet to make an impression to be put atop the internal solutions even with Luis Castillo being jettisoned, and his minor league options give the Mets flexibility. He's hitting .273 with just one strikeout in 33 at-bats, and despite some improvements at the plate over the last week or so, the Mets seem ready to go elsewhere. In my opinion, the Mets' indecision to bring him up at any point last year in light of his production gives some credence to his internal value.

Brad Emaus:
Then there is Emaus who, by reading between the lines over this season, appears to be leading option now that Castillo is out. In my opinion, there is still uncertainty as to how he will hit at the highest level, having yet to record a big league at-bat. He enjoyed a very productive stint in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League and scouts like his eye and patience at the plate. In the end, it is likely to come down to the fact that he was a Rule 5 selection and though he isn't a stellar defender, he offers more than Daniel Murphy with the glove.

Daniel Murphy:
To put a bow on the second base debate, Murphy has enjoyed a solid spring at the plate. However, at this point, I think the Mets know what they're getting from Murphy at the plate and that is enough to keep him on the 25-man roster. But his second base defense has always been something of a reach. He should hang on as a utility guy that could spell Emaus or Ike Davis for a day, yet it should be fairly clear at this point that he isn't the long-term solution at second base.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis:
Nieuwenhuis was given a non-roster invite to camp to see what he could do in that environment. After 31 at-bats, I think it's safe to say he still needs more seasoning. He went just 3-for-31 and looked a bit overmatched at times. The good news is that there is no rush. Nieuwenhuis will return to Triple-A where a he will have plenty of opportunities to earn a promotion sometime in the second half of the season as projected all along.

Fernando Martinez:
Martinez has taken a lot of heat recently, but he showed this spring that he can still have a bright future with the Mets. Quietly, Martinez hit .364 (8-for-22) with one home run, two doubles with more walks than strikeouts (5:4). Now, it's not enough to earn him a big league spot out of camp, but it was enough to announce to everyone that he can still play. Take it with a grain of salt given the competition? Sure, but in March it comes down to tools and often passing the "eye ball test", and Martinez did that.

Ruben Tejada:
The Mets included Tejada in the second base competition, but it was clear early on that the coaches wanted Tejada to get a little more seasoning in Triple-A before he was included in future plans. Perhaps Tejada will use that time to become a more potent hitter. In my opinion, he still has a big league future, but in a role that is fairly limited by his bat. Now, if he it came down to him or Luis Hernandez, you're looking at a virtual wash, but his bat still can't stack up against Emaus' – for example.

Jordany Valdespin:
Conversely, Valdespin generated some excitement in camp and got his name splashed across the back pages. Valdespin has his own work cut out for him at the plate, but his athleticism and defense surely opened a few eyes in camp. That wasn't surprising to me and why his #11 ranking in the Top 50 should ultimately be proven right. Another full season in the minors should serve him very well.

Matt Den Dekker:
Den Dekker got six at-bats in big league camp, recording two singles. If anything, it showed his comparative maturity to the rest of his draft class. Maturity that could land him in Double-A in a couple weeks.

Cory Vaughn:
Vaughn received just three at-bats in big league camp, but he made the most of it by blasting a home run. He got himself some name recognition in the process. Vaughn should get comfortable in St. Lucie because he'll spending at least the next three months there.

Kai Gronauer:
Gronauer too received just three at-bats, but his time in big league camp was more notable for what he did away from the cameras. Gronauer showed defensive improvements with his mobility and catch-and-release skills. If he can keep up his strong on-base ratios, the Mets could have another internal option to slot behind Josh Thole sometime in 2012.

Others who participated in big league camp: Sean Ratliff, Darrell Ceciliani, Josh Satin, Eric Campbell, Wilmer Flores, Jose Coronado, Emmanuel Garcia, Jeff Glen, Francisco Pena, Cesar Puello

Pitchers

Dillon Gee:
Gee came into camp as one of the main competitors for the fifth spot in the rotation. However, Gee's shot seemed to end early. He received only two appearances, totaling five innings, before he was sent back to the minor league side on Friday. Nevertheless, Gee should still be in good standing to be the first guy off the farm if/when another starter is needed.

John Lujan:
Lujan was brought over from the White Sox organization last year and immediately impressed me with a live fastball (92-94 MPH) and a slider that shows sharp bite. If he gets off to a good start in Triple-A, he could find himself in New York should others falter.

Jenrry Mejia:
Unlike 2010, Mejia enjoyed a much quieter spring. He tallied only four innings on the big league side, and receiving confirmation from the organization that there would be no situation in which he'd start the year in New York. Finally, Mejia can return to the minors and take a starter's role as he should have this time a year ago.

Armando Rodriguez:
Rodriguez, perhaps surprisingly, was added to the 40-man roster in the fall. That gave him a shot to pitch in big league camp, which he did but only totaling 3 1/3 innings. Scouts told me they liked the arm strength he showed and his slider showed greater bite than it did last summer. That is a good start as he heads into the Florida State League.

Josh Stinson:
Stinson, also new to the 40-man roster, received limited opportunities in camp. He tossed three innings, giving up two earned runs on five hits without a strikeout or a walk. Stinson has slowly but surely proven the organization right with their confidence behind him. Now he faces a "barometer year" in Buffalo, which could dictate how he can help the Mets at the highest level.

Eric Niesen:
Niesen tossed one perfect inning with one strikeout. 2011 will be very important for Niesen. Coming off a disappointing year, with the right breaks and good consistency, Niesen could pitch his way into the Mets bullpen in the second half of 2011 or the start of 2012.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nPosition Players
\r\n
\r\nLucas Duda:
\r\nDuda has received a lot of attention in big league camp and with each passing day Carlos Beltran is on the sidelines, the greater the chance Duda earns the right field spot when camp breaks. To date, Duda has recorded the second-most at-bats of anyone in camp (48 to Nick Evans' 52). He is showing a better understanding of playing the outfield and generally looks much more confident at the plate. Yes, he's only hit .250 so far, but for now, he's the best in-house option to hold down the right field spot until Beltran is healthy.
\r\n
\r\nJustin Turner:
\r\nTurner deserved to be in the mix for the second base job after the showing he had with Buffalo last season. Nevertheless, Turner has yet to make an impression to be put atop the internal solutions even with Luis Castillo being jettisoned, and his minor league options give the Mets flexibility. He's hitting .273 with just one strikeout in 33 at-bats, and despite some improvements at the plate over the last week or so, the Mets seem ready to go elsewhere. In my opinion, the Mets' indecision to bring him up at any point last year in light of his production gives some credence to his internal value.
\r\n
\r\nBrad Emaus:
\r\nThen there is Emaus who, by reading between the lines over this season, appears to be leading option now that Castillo is out. In my opinion, there is still uncertainty as to how he will hit at the highest level, having yet to record a big league at-bat. He enjoyed a very productive stint in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League and scouts like his eye and patience at the plate. In the end, it is likely to come down to the fact that he was a Rule 5 selection and though he isn't a stellar defender, he offers more than Daniel Murphy with the glove.
\r\n
\r\nDaniel Murphy:
\r\nTo put a bow on the second base debate, Murphy has enjoyed a solid spring at the plate. However, at this point, I think the Mets know what they're getting from Murphy at the plate and that is enough to keep him on the 25-man roster. But his second base defense has always been something of a reach. He should hang on as a utility guy that could spell Emaus or Ike Davis for a day, yet it should be fairly clear at this point that he isn't the long-term solution at second base.
\r\n
\r\nKirk Nieuwenhuis:
\r\nNieuwenhuis was given a non-roster invite to camp to see what he could do in that environment. After 31 at-bats, I think it's safe to say he still needs more seasoning. He went just 3-for-31 and looked a bit overmatched at times. The good news is that there is no rush. Nieuwenhuis will return to Triple-A where a he will have plenty of opportunities to earn a promotion sometime in the second half of the season as projected all along.
\r\n
\r\nFernando Martinez:
\r\nMartinez has taken a lot of heat recently, but he showed this spring that he can still have a bright future with the Mets. Quietly, Martinez hit .364 (8-for-22) with one home run, two doubles with more walks than strikeouts (5:4). Now, it's not enough to earn him a big league spot out of camp, but it was enough to announce to everyone that he can still play. Take it with a grain of salt given the competition? Sure, but in March it comes down to tools and often passing the \"eye ball test\", and Martinez did that.
\r\n
\r\nRuben Tejada:
\r\nThe Mets included Tejada in the second base competition, but it was clear early on that the coaches wanted Tejada to get a little more seasoning in Triple-A before he was included in future plans. Perhaps Tejada will use that time to become a more potent hitter. In my opinion, he still has a big league future, but in a role that is fairly limited by his bat. Now, if he it came down to him or Luis Hernandez, you're looking at a virtual wash, but his bat still can't stack up against Emaus' – for example.
\r\n
\r\nJordany Valdespin:
\r\nConversely, Valdespin generated some excitement in camp and got his name splashed across the back pages. Valdespin has his own work cut out for him at the plate, but his athleticism and defense surely opened a few eyes in camp. That wasn't surprising to me and why his #11 ranking in the Top 50 should ultimately be proven right. Another full season in the minors should serve him very well.
\r\n
\r\nMatt Den Dekker:
\r\nDen Dekker got six at-bats in big league camp, recording two singles. If anything, it showed his comparative maturity to the rest of his draft class. Maturity that could land him in Double-A in a couple weeks.
\r\n
\r\nCory Vaughn:
\r\nVaughn received just three at-bats in big league camp, but he made the most of it by blasting a home run. He got himself some name recognition in the process. Vaughn should get comfortable in St. Lucie because he'll spending at least the next three months there.
\r\n
\r\nKai Gronauer:
\r\nGronauer too received just three at-bats, but his time in big league camp was more notable for what he did away from the cameras. Gronauer showed defensive improvements with his mobility and catch-and-release skills. If he can keep up his strong on-base ratios, the Mets could have another internal option to slot behind Josh Thole sometime in 2012.
\r\n
\r\nOthers who participated in big league camp: Sean Ratliff, Darrell Ceciliani, Josh Satin, Eric Campbell, Wilmer Flores, Jose Coronado, Emmanuel Garcia, Jeff Glen, Francisco Pena, Cesar Puello
\r\n
\r\nPitchers
\r\n
\r\nDillon Gee:
\r\nGee came into camp as one of the main competitors for the fifth spot in the rotation. However, Gee's shot seemed to end early. He received only two appearances, totaling five innings, before he was sent back to the minor league side on Friday. Nevertheless, Gee should still be in good standing to be the first guy off the farm if/when another starter is needed.
\r\n
\r\nJohn Lujan:
\r\nLujan was brought over from the White Sox organization last year and immediately impressed me with a live fastball (92-94 MPH) and a slider that shows sharp bite. If he gets off to a good start in Triple-A, he could find himself in New York should others falter.
\r\n
\r\nJenrry Mejia:
\r\nUnlike 2010, Mejia enjoyed a much quieter spring. He tallied only four innings on the big league side, and receiving confirmation from the organization that there would be no situation in which he'd start the year in New York. Finally, Mejia can return to the minors and take a starter's role as he should have this time a year ago.
\r\n
\r\nArmando Rodriguez:
\r\nRodriguez, perhaps surprisingly, was added to the 40-man roster in the fall. That gave him a shot to pitch in big league camp, which he did but only totaling 3 1/3 innings. Scouts told me they liked the arm strength he showed and his slider showed greater bite than it did last summer. That is a good start as he heads into the Florida State League.
\r\n
\r\nJosh Stinson:
\r\nStinson, also new to the 40-man roster, received limited opportunities in camp. He tossed three innings, giving up two earned runs on five hits without a strikeout or a walk. Stinson has slowly but surely proven the organization right with their confidence behind him. Now he faces a \"barometer year\" in Buffalo, which could dictate how he can help the Mets at the highest level.
\r\n
\r\nEric Niesen:
\r\nNiesen tossed one perfect inning with one strikeout. 2011 will be very important for Niesen. Coming off a disappointing year, with the right breaks and good consistency, Niesen could pitch his way into the Mets bullpen in the second half of 2011 or the start of 2012.
\r\n
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