Farm Report II – Rookie Pitchers

In 2003, 8 rookie pitchers graced the Mets roster during the season. Several had notable impacts and others were disappointing. Disappointing or not, these rookies bode well for the future of the Mets. Despite the fact that the 2003 season hasn't ended, the performance and future of the rookie pitchers will be assessed in the second farm report. In the previous farm report, I listed the top 60 prospects that retain their prospect status after 2003 and are not potential minor league FA.

Edwin Almonte

There should always be a place in the Mets organization for natives of the NYC area. Almonte was acquired in a deal that sent Robbie Alomar to the Chicago White Sox. Almonte is a soft tossing RHP who features a 88-mph FB and an outstanding CU. Almonte struggled with his command in 2003 both at AAA and for the Mets. In particular, Almonte regularly leaves his CU up in the strike zone where it is very hittable. With improved command, Almonte projects as a serviceable middle RP, although some claim he might become a decent setup. I can see no useful role for Almonte with the Mets in the foreseeable future. As a middle RP, Almonte would functions best as a change of pace following hard throwing starters; and, if also followed by a hard-thowing pitcher. The 2003 Mets lacked hard throwing pitchers whether starters or relievers in 2003 and that problem is likely to continue in 2004. Thus, no advantage would be gained by including him on the 2004 staff as a regular or as a pitcher shuttled between Norfok and Shea. Perhaps, he could find a suitable role in 2005 with enough turnover in the Mets staff.

Jason Anderson

Anderson, a 24-year old RHP, struggled with his control in his debut with the Mets and Yankees. Anderson was acquired in the trade that sent Armando Benitez to the Yankees. Anderson fastball occasionally reaches the mid-90s but sit mostly in the low 90s. He has the potential to be a solid setup RHP. The lack of hard throwers in the Mets bullpen opens the door for him in a middle RP role in 2004 as a bridge between soft-tossing starters and soft-tossing setups.

Jaime Cerda

Cerda, a 24-year old LHP, debuted in 2002 and was quite effective. Inexplicably, Cerda lost 3 mph on his FB early in the season and that caused him to struggle. His post All-Star performance was solid with a 4.26 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 6 appearances. Cerda needs to improve the break on his CB and projects to a potential lefty setup or second lefty out of the pen. He should eventually be equally effective against both left- handed and right-handed hitters.

Pedro Feliciano

Feliciano, a 27-year old LHP from Puerto Rico, has a 3.65 ERA, but his 1.62 WHIP belies his being very effective. The Mets acquired Feliciano in 2002 in the Shawn Estes trade with the Cincinnati Reds. The Detroit Tigers then claimed him on waivers and the Mets reclaimed him off waivers. Feliciano relies upon a standard 4-pitch repertoire (FB, CB, SL, CU) and location. He projects to be a decent middle RP who might be much more effective with a hard throwing pitching staff.

Jeremy Griffiths

Griffiths, a 25-year old RHP, had two impressive starts against the Atlanta Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals. He struggled otherwise due to poor control. Despite the impressive starts, Griffiths future remains likely to be in the bullpen. Griffiths has an extensive repertoire (4-seam FB, 2-seam FB, CB, slurvy SL, and CU), but his secondary pitches aren't of a quality to allow him to consistently pitch through the order more than twice. His delivery is deceptive enough for him to use his repertoire effectively once or twice through the order. Thus, Griffiths can function in any number of roles in the bullpen – spot starter/long relief, middle relief, setup and, perhaps, closer – due to the excellent sink on his 92-93 mph 4-seam FB with good late sinking action and which reached 96 mph in 2002 and 2-seam FB with solid movement.

Aaron Heilman

Heilman inexplicably had substantial problems with his command in 2003. But, Heilman clearly demonstrated that he has the repertoire (FB, splf FB, SL, CU) to succeed in the major leagues if he issued fewer BB. Should Heilman solve his control problems that may have been due to either nervousness or faulty mechanics, then he should be a very effective #2 or #3 type starter.

Orber Moreno

Moreno, a 26-year old RHP hailing from Venezuela, demonstrated the repertoire (4-seam FB, 2-seam FB, SL, CU) to eventually develop into a decent but not dominate closer despite his struggles in limited appearances. He dominated at AA and AAA, but his 93-94 mph 4-seamer and 91-92 mph 2-seamer won't dominate MLB hitters. He'll have to rely more upon location and pitching than just throwing.

Jae Seo

Jae Weong Seo, a 26-year old RHP from Korea, was the big surprise and Godsend in 2003. He should become an above average #3 SP type similar to former Met pitcher Rick Reed with whom Seo is often compared. Seo relies upon an 87-92 mph FB, plus CU, extensive repertorie (4-seam FB, 2-seam FB, splf FB, CB, SL, CU) and great command for his success. Seo uses his SL and splf FB as his K-pitches. Seo struggled for a while when he was getting his CU up in the K-zone and hitters anticipated that he would throw mostly CUs in 1-0 and 2-1 counts rather than FBs that most pitchers throw in those counts. Howe, Ruhle and Waite encourage Seo to throw more 2-seam FBs in those counts.

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