Here's a list of the highest ceiling prospect at each position, as voted on by these scouts, and give some insights as to why they were chosen. These are the players that are not closest to the Major Leagues but rather the ones that have the highest ceiling right now and have the best chance at being impact players at the Major League level. Who better to hear about these players than the people doing the scouting?
Note: Scouts never want to go on record as being the source of quotes or information. It's against their "rules". They'll only give their thoughts on players with the premise of remaining anonymous.
Catcher - Jesus Flores
"It's not even close" says one NL scout. "He's the whole package. Flores is obviously not a runner, but he's the best defensive catchers in the system. He has a cannon for an arm, can hit for average, for power. He's got all the tools in place to be a Major League catcher. Now it is really up to him. Flores is a front-line catcher all the way."
1B - Ian Bladergroen
Without even hesitating, one National League scout blurted out Bladergroen's name in a mili-second. "He doesn't just hit for power and average, he has a tremendous idea of the strike zone. He handles the glove real well and is a level headed type of kid. Bladergroen has as much upside as any other first base prospect in the minors."
2B - Sean Henry
Playing shortstop for the Gulf Coast League Mets, a couple of scouts believe Henry's future is as a second baseman and that even without changing positions yet, he's the prospect with the highest ceiling at second base for the Mets. "He's not an everyday shortstop at the Major League level" says one scout. "Henry has very good range and fair hands for a second baseman and he's just too erratic to play shortstop. He does a little bit of everything. He runs well, hits for some power and has a good eye at the plate. Right now he's the best ceiling guy at second base for the Mets."
3B - Shawn Bowman
"Hands down Bowman is the best defensive third base prospect I can ever remember seeing", says one NL scout. "In fact, if he continues to better himself at the plate, he's got the defensive skills to move David Wright over to first base, that's how good that kid is." One scout pointed out that we shouldn't discount Bowman's offensive potential either. "He could be as good eventually as David Wright offensively", says another scout. "You have to remember that at the same stages in their development Wright probably got more than 750 at-bats more than Bowman", referring to the fact that Bowman could not play as much as Wright growing up due to the fact Bowman grew up in Canada. "He looks like Brooks Robinson".
SS - Corey Ragsdale
"Ragsdale only needs to be a consistent .240-.250 hitter to be a force at the Major League level", says a scout. "He makes the most amazing plays look routine and is one of the best defensive shortstop prospects to come around in a while. In the right lineup, he doesn't have to be a .300 hitter to make your team so much better. He teases you with hot streaks, showing you just how good he could be at the plate. If he can just make that .240 level, he's going to be really good."
OF - Lastings Milledge, Ambiorix Concepcion, and Carlos Gomez
One scout says about Milledge: "He's a five-tool talent that hits the ball with such authority. The ball simply jumps off his bat". "Forget about his hitting, the kid can flat out run. He's one of the fastest players I've scouted in a long time".
On Concepcion: "Concepcion gives the Mets two top five-tool talents in their outfield with he and Milledge", says one scout. Another scout makes a familiar comparison: "He's just like Vladmir Guerrero in one respect. He has a good eye at the plate but will swing at just about anything, but still manages to hit a ball he has no business hitting. There's little room for error when pitching to that guy."
On Gomez: "There are not as many top ceiling guys as Carlos Gomez in the Mets' system", says a scout. "He's so young and raw. You can see the bat just jumping off his bat and that he's going to develop into a big time power hitter. He goes all out, all the time and is excellent in the field. Gomez just does everything above average".
We asked scouts to give five selections for possible starting pitchers that had the highest ceilings. One scout said: "Can I choose Peterson or Kazmir?". When they were told no, they gave their selections. Names like Miguel Pinango, Kevin Deaton, Orlando Rengel, and Neal Musser were tossed around, but here's who were selected:
Yusmeiro Petit - "You have to choose Petit simply because of his success thus far", says one NL scout. "He doesn't have the stuff that other high-end pitching prospects have but that kid just makes hitters miss all the time." Another scout says: "He just hides the ball really well and his fastball just sneaks up on hitters and a lot of time they have no idea what's coming".
Gaby Hernandez - "What you can say about his debut this past season? This kid seemingly has the stuff and work ethic to be a big-time impact pitcher down the road". One scout says: "He's going to be a teenager pitching in the South Atlantic League next year. Enough said!"
Bob Keppel - "All that kid needs to do is remain healthy. There are not many 22-year old pitchers at the AAA level and there's a reason he is. Don't let the low strikeout totals fool you. He can flat out pitch", says a scout.
Aaron Heilman - "I know the Mets have soured on him somewhat but he was one of most impressive pitchers in their farm system at the end of the year this past season. All he needs is some team to give him a chance", says one scout. Another scout said: "Heilman's never going to be a front-line pitcher in a Major League rotation, but he's going to be very solid for somebody some day and among their higher levels, he's their best shot".
Brian Bannister - "Here's a kid with above average stuff and a really good fastball. I know he's down in the Arizona Fall League and from what I've heard he's working on a cut-fastball clocked in the high 80's", says one scout. "He has the pedigree, the work ethic, and the stuff to be an impact Major League starter".
When these scouts were prompted to give two names for relief pitchers with the highest ceiling, two guys were talked about in high regard.
Shane Hawk - "Hawk has the chance to be a dominating situational left-handed reliever at the Major League level", says one scout. "He's all about being a quality left-handed pitcher at the next level".
Matthew Lindstrom - "I know he's being used as a starter but I think his future role with the Mets will be as a reliever, even possibly a closer", says one NL scout. "I know Kyle Farnsworth hasn't been a closer, but he has tremendous stuff and is a very good reliever. I see Lindstrom in that same mold. I mean, the kid throws in the high 90's with an effortless motion that can even reach 100 mph. He has closer written all over him as he develops", says another scout.
The 2004 Mets' All-Prospect Team
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