Mets Honor 2004 Minor League Sterling Recipients

NEW YORK- The Shea Stadium faithful got a glimpse of the future of the New York Mets Sunday afternoon in a pre-game ceremony honoring the Sterling Minor League Player-of-the-Year, Pitcher-of-the-Year, Rookie-of-the-Year, and the 2004 Sterling Award winners, representing the team's Most Valuable Player, for each of their seven minor league clubs.

David Wright was named the Sterling Player of the Year after batting .363 in 223 at bats, with 44 runs scored, 27 doubles, 10 home runs, 40 RBI and 20 stolen bases with the Binghamton Mets before he was promoted to Norfolk. With the Tides, Wright had 34 hits in 114 at bats for a .298 average. He scored 18 runs while hitting 8 doubles, 8 home runs and 17 RBI in 31 games before being called up to the major leagues on July 21. With the Mets, Wright is currently batting .293 with 12 home runs and 35 RBI. His 12 home runs are second most by any Met after the All-Star break (Strawberry hit 18 in 1993).

Right-hander Yusmeiro Petit earned the Sterling Pitcher of the Year honors for 2004 after climbing from the Capital City Bomber of the low- A South Atlantic League, to the Binghamton Mets of the Eastern League (AA). Petit finished the year second among all minor league pitchers with 200 strikeouts, and with a 12.92 strikeout per innings pitcher ratio, which topped all minor league players. He was also to the World Team roster in the 2004 Futures' Game. With the Bombers, Petit went 9-2 with a 2.39 ERA. In 83 innings he allowed 47 hits, 22 earned runs, 22 walks while striking out 122 batters, and was honored by being named to the South Atlantic League Mid-Season All-Star Game. Petit was given a promotion to the St. Lucie Mets, of the Florida State League and went 2-3 with a 1.22 ERA. In 44.1 innings he gave up 27 hits, 6 earned runs, 14 walks and 62 strikeouts. Petit finished the season with the Binghamton Mets, of the Eastern League going 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in 2 starts.

Lastings Milledge won the Sterling Rookie-of-the-Year, presented to the player who excelled in his first full season in professional baseball. Lastings batted .337 while belting 13 home runs and driving in 58 runs with the Capital City Bombers. He scored 66 runs and hit 22 doubles and 1 triple in 261 at bats while stealing 23 bases before being promoted to the Florida State League and playing 22 games with the St. Lucie Mets. In 81 at bats he had 19 hits while hitting 6 doubles, 2 triples, 2 home runs and 8 RBI.

"I give myself a B/B+" said Milledge when asked to grade his first season in professional baseball. "There are a lot of things I could have done better this season including cutting down on my strikeouts and drawing more walks, however overall it was a solid year for me."

Outfielder Victor Diaz was the Sterling Award recipient for the Norfolk Tides of the International League (AAA). Diaz finished third in the League with 94 RBI and fifth in hits with 154. In 528 at bats he hit .292 with 24 home runs. He scored 81 runs, while hitting 31 doubles, 1 triple before joining the New York Mets on September 11th as a reward for his successful season.

"It is a wonderful feeling right now that I am being rewarded for my accomplishments" said Diaz. "I now can see that all my hard work in my life paid off right now since I am wearing a big league uniform."

Angel Pagan was the Sterling Award winner for the Binghamton Mets of the Eastern League (AA). Angel hit .287 with 4 home runs and 63 RBI in 449 at bats. He scored 79 runs and stole 29 bases while hitting for 25 doubles, 8 triples and 4 home runs before getting a promotion to the Norfolk Tides. In 12 games at AAA, Pagan batted .289 with 3 doubles, 3 triples, 1 RBI and 4 stolen bases.

"It makes me feel great because I worked real hard for this, and right now I can see it paying off" said Pagan. "I am enjoying this moment, getting this award, and it is just a great feeling for me."

Brett Harper received the Sterling Award for the St. Lucie Mets of the Florida State League (A). He batted .350 with 9 home runs and 55 RBI in 60 games with the Mets. In 220 at bats he hit 18 doubles and 1 triple while scoring 32 runs. He received a promotion to Binghamton on July 25, and hit .247 with 24 runs scored, 12 doubles, 7 home runs and 26 RBI in 45 games with the B-Mets.

"It is just a great feeling for me right now getting an honor like this, and I feel real pleased about it" said Harper.

Blake Whealy was the beneficiary of the Sterling Award for the Capital City Bombers of the South Atlantic League (A). He batted .281 with 32 doubles, 5 triples while finishing third in the South Atlantic League with a .541 slugging percentage, and second in runs scored with 100. In 427 at bats, Blake slugged 23 home runs while driving in 82 runs.

Ambiorix Concepcion earned a trio of post season honors for his outstanding 2004 season with the Brooklyn Cyclones. He was named to the New York Penn League All-Star team, won the league's Stedler Award which is presented to the player deemed most likely to advance the farthest in professional baseball, and was voted the number 1 prospect in the NY-Penn League by Baseball America. In addition to those three honors he received the Sterling Award for the Brooklyn Cyclones (A) after batting .305 in 259 at bats. He established a pair of records for the Cyclones with his 79 hits and his 46 RBI. To go along with all that, he belted a team high 8 home runs and had 14 doubles while stealing 28 bases and showing his five tool ability in right field with 6 outfield assists.

"It is very exciting for me" said Concepcion. "I feel happy right now that so many people recognize me and see me as a good player."

Jesus Gamero received the Sterling Award for the Kingsport Mets of the Appalachian League (R). In 44 games he hit .323 which was good enough for third in the league to go with his 3 home runs and 32 RBI, while scoring 32 runs and hitting 7 doubles and 4 triples.

Catcher Jesus Florez was named the Sterling Award winner for the Gulf Coast League Mets (R), after hitting .319, with 16 runs scored. In 141 at bats he had 12 doubles, 3 triples, 4 home runs, and 25 RBI. He was named to the Gulf Coast League All-Star Team as well as being named the 16th best prospect in the GCL by Baseball America.

"It is a great day for the Mets minor league farm system" said Kevin Morgan, director of Minor League Operations for the New York Mets. "Our minor leagues teams finished a combine 83 games over .500 and these players went a long way in helping their teams accomplish that."

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