Ten Prospects To Keep An Eye On for 2004

In our first Mets Minor League Notebook of the new minor league season, here are ten prospects to keep an eye on for 2004. Everybody knows the Top 10 Mets' prospects. These are ten prospects that could either rebound with good seasons or make a giant leap in the prospect rankings with good 2004 campaigns.

Bobby Malek - The ultimate baseball "dirtbag", Malek still has not been able to find the power stroke that made him one of college's better pure hitters when the Mets selected him out of Michigan State University in the 2002 draft. Still recovering from Tommy John surgery, Malek has a grand total of 3 home runs in 546 minor league at-bats after hitting 16 HRs his final year of college. He possesses a great batting eye as well. In his three years at MSU, he hit .392 for his college career. Malek combines good speed, decent power, and above average defensive play in the outfield. 2004 will be a telling year for Malek's future as a prospect. If he can rediscover his power game, Malek could blossom into a 20-20 candidate down the road and become a great #3 hitter at the Major League level.

Alhaji Turay - Whether good or bad, Turay remains the outfield prospect with the highest ceiling among the long-season leagues. His strong start to the 2003 season for the Capital City Bombers was hurt by injuries. Turay still possesses all the tools: power, speed, range, and a good batting eye. Dripping with talent, 2004 will be a pivotal year for Turay. If Turay can stay injury free, he has the talent to make a giant leap in his prospect standing and quickly become the elite outfield prospect that made him a second round pick in the 2001 draft. He'll be just 21 years old when he begins this season for the St. Lucie Mets.

K. Deaton
Deaton: 8.81 strikeouts per nine innings in his career!
Kevin Deaton - Deaton is a big, strong right-handed pitcher that gets no respect as a pitching prospect. All he's done is gone 19-9 since being drafted out of Merritt High School in Florida with a career ERA of 3.31 and 282 strikeouts in 288 innings...not to mention his fantastic 1.20 career WHIP ratio. The fact that he was an undrafted free agent out of high school may be the reason he's been less than touted. A former offensive lineman, he gets lost among the number of solid Mets' pitching prospects. Deaton has a fastball that averages in the low 90's, topping off around 94 MPH with excellent movement. He has the size and strength to even improve on his fastball. He compliments his fastball with a very good curveball. At just 22 years old, Deaton will pitch for St. Lucie this year and if continues his excellent progress, he could make a major jump in the prospect rankings by season's end.

Neal Musser - Once considered a top pitching prospect, Musser's career has been marred by injuries. He had a solid, albeit unspectacular, season in 2003 after pitching just 32 innings in 2002. Musser has outstanding control of three pitches: fastball, curveball, and changeup...all of which are Major League ready. He has walked just 119 batters in his 371 minor league innings! Suffering from various injuries (rib cage injuries, sore elbow, foot stress fracture), durability remains his key issue in his continuing development. If Musser can put together a full, healthy season in 2004 he can jump right back on the radar screen among the better Mets' pitching prospects. Musser will start at AA-Binghamton this season and considering he won't turn 24 until the end of August, this former 2nd round pick still has time to rebound.

Yusemeiro Petit - The 19-year old right handed Petit does not possess "top prospect stuff" (he lacks a true dominant out pitch), which is the reason why Petit might fly under the radar for a while. However, Petit averages 88-90 MPH on his fastball that can reach the low 90's at times. He has an average curveball and a developing changeup that will most likely wind up being his out pitch. What Petit lacks in pure stuff, he makes up for in his innate ability of how to pitch. He throws all of his pitches consistently for strikes, keeping ahead of the batters. If there's an MLB pitcher he most resembles based on pitching traits, it's Greg Maddux. Like Maddux, Petit relies on pitching than pure stuff. Petit had stellar 2003 season, striking out more than one batter per inning between Kingsport and Brooklyn. Petit will start the season at Capital City for the Bombers.

Matthew Lindstrom - Unlike Petit, Lindstrom's intrigue comes from his stuff rather than from his control. A hard thrower, he has a fastball that is consistently clocks in the low 90's and tops off at 96 MPH on the radar gun. He compliments his fastball with a good changeup and has a very good curveball. A 10th round pick out of Ricks Junior College in the 2002 draft, Lindstrom performed well at both Brooklyn and Capital City last year in his first full season of pro baseball. He'll have to improve his command (career 1.44 WHIP ratio) to make the leap into one of the elite Mets' pitching prospects, but he has the talent to do so. Lindstrom will start the 2004 campaign at Capital City. At 24 years old and with one full season under his belt, the time is now for him to make a push. With a good start he should find himself in St. Lucie by mid-season.

K. Strayhorn
Strayhorn: Can bring the gas at 97 MPH!
Kole Strayhorn - Acquired from the Dodgers in the Jeromy Burnitz trade, Strayhorn is a very good closer prospect. He possesses a top-notch fastball that is regularly clocked in the mid-90's, touching as high as 97 MPH on the radar gun at times. Strayhorn is going to have to improve the movement on his fastball for him to become an elite relief pitching prospect. He compliments his fastball with a decent curveball and throws a two-seam fastball and a splitter that combine to serve as his changeup. He saved 17 games between Vero Beach and St. Lucie last season and will share closing duties with Joselo Diaz for AA-Binghamton this year.

Tyler Davidson - Davidson, an 8th round pick out of the University of Washington in 2002, has tremendous power and upside with his bat. He tore a tendon in his wrist after being drafted which delayed his professional debut all the way to extended spring training last year. His stats were phenomenal in his pro debut at Kingsport last season (.337-10-35 in just 172 at-bats), but that should have been expected considering he was 23 years old in rookie ball. Davidson will start the year at Capital City, playing some first base with Bladergroen and seeing some time in the outfield. Because of his age, he'll get promoted pretty quickly to St. Lucie.

Chase Lambin - Like Deaton, Lambin gets little respect as a top prospect probably because he was a 34th round selection out of college. Chase had a very good year for the Florida State League Champion St. Lucie Mets in 2003, hitting .289 (finishing in the Top 10 among FSL hitters) and delivering in the clutch time after time. He doesn't do any one thing very well, just solid numbers across the board while having the ability to play both 2B and SS. Chase has decent speed and power and compares to Jose Vidro of the Montreal Expos as the two deviate from your protypical middle infielder. He'll start at AA-Binghamton in 2004 and could prove to be a solid Major League contributor down the road as a utility player.

Adam Elliott - It's kind of hard to declare 2004 as a "make or break" year for a 20-year old right-handed pitcher that possesses perhaps the best ceiling of any pitcher after Matt Peterson and Scott Kazmir. But 2004 could be the year that Elliott, a sixth round pick in the 2002 draft, finally puts it together and makes a strong statement. It's too early to project where he'll start in 2004 (best bet is at Brooklyn), but Elliott will have to remain healthy as his progress has been derailed by injuries thus far. He has four excellent pitches: fastball, curveball, slider, and changeup. Watch his progress this year!

Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories