The U Files # 79: Regrouping and Reckoning

Despite the shortsighted ways the Mets had followed for a number of years, the club had rebuilt the farm impressively after the depleting trades made early in the regime. The Mets had made it known that they were going to build around the farm, including the names that were best known like Scott Kazmir and Justin Huber. After the two trades the Mets made last week that stripped the farm system of their top names, it is time to recap what's left. <b>Free Preview of Premium Content</b>

The profile of the farm in terms of weak and strong areas remains similar. The weakest area is in outfielders, the stronger areas infielders and right handed pitchers. As a result of the trades, nearly all of the notable names are at the lower levels. Another result is the depletion of catchers.

Right now the profile "names" for the Mets farm are Yusmeiro Petit and Lastings Milledge. Some prospects to keep an eye on beyond that include a number of interesting hitters manning the corner infield positions: Brett Harper, Shawn Bowman, and Ian Bladergroen (proposed nicknames "Blade" and "Harpoon").

Milledge is the one most commonly known outside of the buffs, the first round pick by the Mets in the 2003 draft. An outfielder, he is said to have the defensive capability to play center field. Taken out of high school, he has as much work ahead of him as his youth suggests. Scouts rave about his tools. He is said to have the abilities to hit for average, to hit for power, to field, to run, and to throw. Based on the early results these tools are in evidence and the ability to draw the walk seems to have been misplaced. In just under 200 AB with the Capital City Bombers in class low A ball, he hit .321/.359/.546. He missed time early in the season due to broken hand bones sustained bunting (another skill that looks like it could use work). He has 16 SB in 21 attempts.

Petit is a 19 year old RHP currently at Class A St. Lucie after a promotion from Capital City. While he has not blown the eyes off of scouts, he certainly has set the stats pages on fire. At Capital City, in 83 IP, he struck out 122 and walked 22 (13.2 k/9 and 2.39 bb/9). He allowed 8 HR, which is solid. In 30.1 IP at St. Lucie, he has struck out 41 and walked 13 (12.16 k/9 and 3.86 bb/9). He has not allowed a HR for St. Lucie. His pure "stuff" is unremarkable, he has the ability to locate a number of pitches. He has drawn comparisons to El Sid, Sid Fernandez. Like Fernandez, he throws a fastball at ordinary speeds, however one which can be unhittable nonetheless. The fastball is one which is highly deceptive, opposing hitters claim the ball is on top of them before they pick it up. It also has good, late movement. Unlike Fernandez, Petit throws his fastball down in the zone and compliments it with a slider.

Of the corner infielders, Harper is the most advanced, having been promoted to class AA Binghamton. The 23 year old first baseman forced the promotion, having hit .350/.438/.564 at St. Lucie. The batting average is obviously great; his eye was remarkable as he walked better than once per ten PA and his power was solid. His isolated power was over 200 (564-350); he sent 36.4 percent of his hits for extra bases –above the magic number around 30 percent. At Binghamton he has held his own, hitting .260/.308/.493 in 73 AB. Though his batting average lost 90 points and his walk rate was halved, his pure power has remained intact. In fact more than half of his Binghamton hits have been for extra bases.

Bowman (19) and Blade (20) are both at Capital City, a third baseman and first baseman, respectively. Bladergroen is currently on the disabled list with a broken wrist. In 269 AB before the injury, Blade hit .342/.397/.595. His walk rate was solid at .081 BB/PA and his power was impressive, more than 40 percent of his hits for multiple sacks. With 13 HR, his power is projectible with 23 2b. Bowman is not blowing the doors of the stats page, but he is the youngest of these hitters. He has hit .260/.337/.463. His discipline is solid, his walk rate nearly identical to Bladergroen's. His ISO is just about an even .200 with about 38 percent of his hits going for bonus points.

Among the players discussed in earlier reports was Aaron Baldiris, the Alfonzo clone. At St. Lucie, his batting average and eye are without reproach but his power remains MIA. He is hitting .303/.379/.392. Drawing just about a walk every 10 PA is a fine thing to do but he'll have to produce more power than an ISO under 100 to be a big league player.

With Huber gone, the catching options are Mike Jacobs, or at single A. Jacobs, at class AAA Norfolk did nothing for a while, then was shown to have a balky shoulder. He is currently in for surgery. He had increased his stock in 2003 with a year that was inflated with a likely flukey batting average. He has solid power when he's right and a left handed hitting catcher is a cool thing to have, but his approach won't make anyone forget Huber (the OBP machine). The other catcher is Yunir Garcia, who is posting admirable numbers but doing it at Capital City. The 22 year old (as of six days before this was written) is hitting .287/.411/.463. It can't be a bad thing to lose a .400 OBP catcher and have another one behind him in your system. His power is solid.

Among the pitching depth there is a kid who hasn't gotten the hype yet, Kevin Deaton. At St. Lucie the 23 year old is posting an ERA of 2.69, which is legitimate. In 77 IP he has whiffed a solid 64. The keys to his game are these: he has walked just 16 (1.87 bb/9) and allowed one home run in those innings. Miguel Pinango posted an ERA of 2.75 before he came in for "Tommy John" elbow ligament replacement surgery – which these days can easily be recovered from; it's not half the concern that a major shoulder operation is. Matthew Lindstom is posting an ERA of 3.69 at St. Lucie.

Remaining at the highest level are the second-tier prospects, Victor Diaz (acquired in the Jeromy Burnitz trade) and Craig Brazell. Diaz has always hit for solid average and power (.295/.500). His discipline is the weak spot; his OBP is .330 despite the high average. Brazell is in the pure slugger mold; the highlight of his numbers are the 20 HR (.464 SLG).

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