Top 10 2004 Disappointments for Mets' System

2004 was a very good year for the Mets' minor league system as only two of the seven minor league clubs (St. Lucie and Kingsport) finished with records below .500 so it's tough to find the negatives. NYfansonly.com will look at the top 10 most disappointing seasons for the Mets' minor leaguers this past season.

10) Bobby Malek - It's hard to say Malek's 2004 season was a disappointment considering he hit a career-high 14 home runs in stops with St. Lucie and Binghamton this past year, which is 13 more than his previous career-high of three. Malek was disappointing in one regard: his consistency. Malek would have periods of hot hitting followed by streaks of several games without a hit. He hasn't shown the consistency that he displayed at Michigan State where he was a .392 career hitter and made him a 4th round pick. He probably should have started the year in Binghamton and remained there for most of the year and that disappointment could have effected his performance. 2004 power resurgence is likely a springboard towards a breakout season in 2005 for Malek.

9) Alhaji Turay - A former second round draft pick, Turay's talent is unquestionable. His injury history has taken its toll in his development however. When he plays, Turay shows raw power, speed, and excellent defense. He obviously has the tools to be a top player and a good Major League prospect. His disappointment does not come with his play but rather his ability to remain injury free and be a mainstay in the lineup. The Mets are waiting to see what he can do if he could remain injury free for an entire season. If he does? Watch out! But until he does, he's a suspect, not a prospect.

8) Aarom Baldiris - Like Malek, it's tough to say Baldiris' 2004 season was disappointing considering he hit .305 in 400+ at bats for St. Lucie. However, Baldiris' disappointment comes from his power numbers. Much more is expected from playing a power position like third base. And we're not just talking home run power either. Baldiris had a stretch in the 2004 season with just two extra-base hits in 34 games, hitting just two doubles during that time and another stretch of 29 games with just four extra-base hits. That's simply not going to get it done at the hot corner, especially when you consider the Mets have David Wright locked up at 3B for the forseeable future. It might be time for position change for Baldiris.

7) Royce Ring - Ring's 2004 season was disappointing simply because he went from a dominating reliever in 2003 (4-5, 2.19 ERA, 26 saves) to decent reliever in 2004...5-3 with a 3.70 ERA and two saves in two stops that included a mid-season demotion to AA-Binghamton. A Spring Training favorite this past season to make the Major League roster, Ring was the victim of a numbers game and was sent back to AAA for some more seasoning and did not show the same brilliance as last season. He went from striking out 9.73 batters per nine innings in 2004 to striking out just 6.39 batters per nine innings in 2003.

6) Ron Acuna - A big kid at 6'4" and 225 lbs, Acuna once again showed a lack of power in 2004, hitting just one home run in 500 at-bats for Binghamton. That gives him a whopping 5 home runs in his last 1,441minor league at-bats! A really good outfielder with great range, good arm, and an excellent eye at the plate, Acuna's future is a reserve outfielder at best due to the lack of power.

5) Patrick Strange - Wow, 1999 seems really long ago especially when your name is Patrick Strange. In '99, Strange burst on to the prospect scene after going 12-5 with a 2.63 ERA in 21 starts for the Capital City Bombers and followed that season up with some good ones in 2000 and 2002. But for the second straight year, the former second round pick (in 1998) had another disappointing year. Strange finished the 2004 campaign with a 10-9 record and 5.25 ERA in 29 games for AAA-Norfolk and could have ranked higher on this list had it not been for the whaning expectation level. Still just 24 years old, time is running out for this one time top prospect.

4) Aaron Heilman - It was a tale of two seasons for Heilman in 2004. Sure 7-10 with a 4.33 ERA is not dramatically bad for overall numbers, especially considering the AAA-Norfolk Tides finished 72-72. But Heilman makes this list for his lackluster start to the 2004 season. Heilman began the year going 0-7 with a 5.55 ERA in his first 13 starts for the Tides after being considered a front-runner for the #5 spot in the Mets' rotation in Spring. Heilman's 180 turnaround and callup to the Mets gives this former first-round pick some hope for the 2005 season.

3) Corey Ragsdale - Truly one of the "good" guys in the organization, Ragsdale is a defensive wizard that is one of the most athletic players on the field and one of the easiest players to root for. He makes the incredible plays look routine. But time is running out for "Rags" to make his mark at the plate. Many a scout has said he only needs to hit near .250 to make it to the Majors and have a real impact. But after hitting a career-high .219 for the St. Lucie Mets in 2004, Ragsdale's career average stands below the dreaded Mendoza line at .193! 2005 will be a pivotal year for Ragsdale to show the talent that made him such a high draft pick.

2) Bob Keppel - Sure he battled injuries in the beginning of the 2004 season, not making his first start of the year until May 11th. But Keppel's return the Norfolk rotation (after two rehab starts with St. Lucie) was less than stellar, which is quite the understatement. The Mets' first round pick in the 2000 draft, Keppel went 0-6 with a 6.23 ERA in his first 8 starts for the Tides and struck out just 42 batters in 93 2/3 innings this season. Keppel finished the year at 3-7 with a 4.71 ERA in 16 starts for the Tides. Where's the pitcher that struck out 109 batters for St. Lucie in 2002?

1) Jeff Duncan - Once a hot-shot rising prospect in the Mets' system, Duncan's 2004 performance indicates that Duncan might need a change of scenery with a new team. Once patrolling center field for the Mets in 2003 on the strength of hitting .373 in 2002 (albeit in just 252 at-bats), Duncan was demoted all the way down to AA-Binghamton in 2004 where he hit .256 with just 19 runs scored in 38 games. With Cameron in center field for the Mets for the next two years, and Lastings Milledge as the Mets' top outfield prospect, Duncan does not appear to have a real chance in the Mets' organization.

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