2003 Scouting Report: C, Justin Huber

Despite signing as an International free agent in July 2000, Justin Huber made his professional debut in March 2001. Huber delayed his debut to complete his high school in Australia. Huber, the Mets top catching prospect, should challenge Scott Kazmir for the Mets overall top prospect, if he continues to perform well at Binghamton.

Despite being plagued by shoulder injuries and knee soreness that cost him perhaps 4 weeks, Justin Huber has had a remarkable season at St. Lucie with 24 XBH in 183 AB (an extraordinary XBA of.131 especially since shoulder injuries normally rob players of power). His other combined peripheral numbers have improved over previous seasons: 1 K per 6.3 AB; 1 BB per 9.8 AB; and K/BB of 1.58. Only the BB-rate represents a decline from the previous season -- 1 BB per 7.7 AB combined in 2002. But, his improved K-rate more than balanced the reduced BB-rate being 1 per 4.3 AB in 2002. Thus, his K/BB ratio improved from 1.77 in 2002. His 10 home runs is second best in the system to Craig Brazell.

Often, high BA hitters have good speed, high XBA and a low K-rate. Huber's K-rate is approaching a rate where a fairly high prime BA is a possibility. While Huber doesn't run all that well, he may well hit enough HR, XBH and low K-rate to become a good hitter for average.

Year

Team

AVG.

AB

Hits

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

K

OBP

SLG

2003

Binghamton

.233

30

7

1

6

2

0

5

6

.333

.367

2003

St. Lucie

.284

183

52

9

36

26

1

17

30

.370

.514

2002

St. Lucie

.270

100

27

3

15

15

0

11

18

.370

.400

2002

Cap City

.291

330

96

11

78

49

1

45

81

.409

.470

2001

St. Lucie

.000

6

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

.000

.000

2001

Brooklyn

.000

9

0

0

0

0

0

0

4

.000

.000

2001

Kingsport

.314

159

50

7

31

24

4

17

42

.415

.528


*Stats as of 7/6/03.

Batting and Power. Huber should hit for 25-30 HR power plus a good number of doubles. He already can drive the CB for extra-base hits. The steady decline in K-rate and improved XBA strongly suggests that Huber might eventually hit for average at the MLB level. He has good plate discipline, however, the high OBP percentage is also due to being hit by a lot of pitches. With his frame, Huber should be able to add another 10-20 lbs.

Base Running and Speed. Huber has decent speed for a catcher. He can steal a base. He is an aggressive base runner.

Defense. Huber's needs to improve his throwing, but he has a good arm, blocks balls in the dirt well and blocks home plate well. He's made progress in calling a game and handling pitchers.

Projection. Starting catcher. A Quality Regular at a difficult position. Perhaps, in his prime, Huber might develop into a .280-.300 hitter with 25 HR plus even playing regularly in Shea Stadium.

ETA. Mid-Season 2005.

Catchers Team
Joe Depastino AAA - Norfolk Tides
John Wilson AA - Binghamton Mets
Justin Huber AA - Binghamton Mets
Michael Jacobs AA - Binghamton Mets
Brett Kay A - St. Lucie Mets
Jimmy Anderson A - Capital City Bombers
Brandon Wilson A - Capital City Bombers


COMMENTS


Catching represents an organizational strength. With Jason Phillipsnow with the Mets and Justin Huber the likely catcher of the future, Jacobs, Wilson, and Kay are likely candidates for reserve positions. The Mets will move other prospects aside whenever they fell Huber is ready to be promoted.

1. Justin Huber, the Mets top catching prospect has been plagued by a variety of ailments in 2003. Nonetheless, he has had a very productive season. Basically only needs to improve his throwing and gain experience against higher levels of competition.

2. Brandon Wilson, probably has the best ceiling of the other catchers, has been slow to develop due to a degenerative shoulder condition that has arrested by medication. He's very athletic and has great power potential. With the shoulder ailment slowing development, Wilson remains very raw.

3. Mike Jacobs, that rare commodity a power hitting left-handed hitting catcher, has improved his defensive ability enough for him to remain behind the plate. He should be a good backup catcher.

4. John Wilson's development has been plagued by shoulder ailments as well. His power has yet to return, but he has seen a resurgence in his performance in 2003. He was part of a failed 3-headed catcher experiment at St. Lucie in 2002.

5. Brett Kay resurged some in 2003, but no longer looks like more than a back up catcher.

6. James Anderson is an excellent catch and throw catcher with a good mix of speed and power potential.

7. Yunir Garcia has solid potential behind the plate.

8. Tony Piazza is a recent signing from Southwest Missouri State who is n ot related to Mike Piazza.

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