The 30-year-old former Gold Glover is a seven-year Major League veteran, having played all but one half season of his career with the Minnesota Twins. He was traded to the Boston Red Sox last summer and joined the team as they rolled through the playoffs and on to the World Series.
Mientkiewicz suffered through the worst offensive season of his career in 2004, batting just .215 in 49 games with Boston and .238 overall. A career .272 hitter, Mientkiewicz's best asset is his defense, which will help the Mets' young infield immeasurably (defensively, he's a much better choice than Carlos Delgado, although Delgado's offense would have more than made up the difference).
Still, Mientkiewicz is far from an automatic out and he will be looking to bounce back to his form of 2001 and 2003, when he batted .305 and .300, respectively. Though Mientkiewicz can occasionally pound the ball out of the ballpark when he gets his pitch – he hit a career-high 15 homers in 2001 – his strength is more driving the ball into the gaps and legging out doubles, a skill set that is well-suited to Shea Stadium.
He has been able to cut his strikeouts in recent years and walks fairly often, and should be a serviceable bottom-of-the-order hitter for New York.
Ranked as the Mets' No. 4 prospect by Inside Pitch, Bladergroen could very well be in line for an Opening Day assignment at Fenway Park by 2007.
A 44th round draft choice of the Mets in 2002 out of Lamar College in Colorado, Bladergroen showed last year that his power (49 homers and 166 RBI during his junior and senior years) wasn't just induced by the Rocky Mountain air.
Bladergroen batted .342 with 13 homers and 74 RBI for Class-A Capital City last year before ending his season early to repair damaged ligaments in his left wrist, an injury which he says he's recovered from nearly completely. Despite missing more than 60 games, Bladergroen still wound up ranked in the South Atlantic League's Top 20 in RBI, and would have led the league in batting average had he compiled the necessary number of at-bats.
If not for the injury, Bladergroen might have started 2005 at Double-A – as it currently is, he'll probably begin the year in Class-A, probably in the Florida State League with Fort Myers.
"He doesn't just hit for power and average, he has a tremendous idea of the strike zone," a National League scout said. "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."
A converted outfielder who is still growing at first base, Bladergroen has a very projectable body frame that could easily pack on 10 to 20 pounds of muscle. As he currently stands, the 6-4, 195-pound slugger reminds some scouts of a young Will Clark.