2B, Jeff Keppinger: It is tough to say that a player with a .309 career average at the minor league level is a prospect that is on the rise, however, Keppinger is showing even greater success at the highest minor league level in 2005. He is a run producer at the top of the lineup (19 runs scored) and is the epitome of a contact hitter, drawing more walks (9) than strikeouts. With Kaz Matsui's continued problems with striking out, the Mets may find it hard not to give a Keppinger a shot at some point this season.
UT, Chase Lambin: There might not be another prospect in the Mets' farm system that has made the most of his opportunities this season than Lambin. He has 10 extra-base hits in just 15 games this season and his 5 home runs not only leads the Binghamton Mets, they equal the combined totals of sluggers Mike Jacobs and Jay Caligiuri...and Lambin has done that in just 47 at-bats!
RP, Juan Padilla: The right-handed Padilla was released by both the Reds and the Yankees, despite pitching well for the AAA-Columbus Clippers, and was signed by the Mets as a minor league free agent this past winter. Padilla surely has not disappointed in 2005, anchoring the Norfolk Tides' bullpen. He has yet to give up an earned run through his first ten appearances this season, walking just one batter in 16 2/3 innings.
SP, Jason Scobie: Scobie has flown under the radar in his time with the Mets, partly because of his age for each level he had pitched at and partly because of subpar 2003 season. He had a career year for AA-Binghamton in 2004 (2.82 ERA in 26 games) and now he's duplicating the same success at the AAA level with the Norfolk Tides this season. He is 4-0 in his first four starts, posting a 1.57 ERA and holding opposing International League batters to a .157 average. He might be the next starting pitcher to get called up to Shea should the need for a starter arise.
SP, Brian Bannister: Nobody has been hotter to start the 2005 season than Binghamton's Brian Bannister. He's been a good pitching prospect in his 2+ years in the Mets' farm system since being drafted out of USC, but Bannister has taken his game to the next level in 2005. As we reported over the winter, Bannister added a nasty cutter/slider to his arsenal and that many scouts believed it could be the pitch to get him over the hump. Well, his results thus far (4-0, 0.33 ERA) speak for themselves.
SP, Kevin Deaton: An undrafted free agent has the unenviable task of having to put up great numbers in order to make his way through the minor league system. And even when they do that, skeptics still want to see even better numbers at the higher levels. Well Deaton sure has answered the bell in the first month of the 2005 season! Despite going just 1-2 in his first four starts, Deaton's peripheral numbers are fantastic. He has a 20-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a 1.27 ERA so far this season.
1B, Brett Harper: With just five career home runs entering the 2004 season, the one knock on Harper's game was his lack of power. After hitting 17 home runs last season, Harper was able to silence many of his critics but still needed to prove that his power numbers from a year ago were not a fluke. Well Harper has done exactly that in his first 23 games with the St. Lucie Mets. Even though St. Lucie was technically a demotion for him after finishing the 2004 campaign with AA-Binghamton, Harper has responded in a positive manner, stroking nine home runs in the month of April.
UT, Andrew Wilson: The man without a position was supposed to be St. Lucie's catcher in 2005. He has played catcher just three times in his first 19 games this season, but has shown that his breakout season of a year ago was not a fluke. Like Deaton, Wilson was an undrafted free agent signing that needed to put up the numbers to get noticed. After hitting five home runs in the first month this season, in a notorious pitchers' league, Wilson is well on his way towards proving he is legit.
RP, Eddie Camacho: Camacho is yet another undrafted free agent signing that has made the most of his opportunities with the Mets. He went 3-1 with a 0.69 ERA with the Brooklyn Cyclones last season but many pundits wanted to see him duplicate his success at the higher levels before considering him as a legitimate pitching prospect. Camacho has done exactly that through his first eight games with the St. Lucie Mets in 2005, not allowing an earned run while picking up three saves. He has held opposing Florida State League batters to an .089 average in April.
RP, Anderson Garcia: The right-handed reliever was supposed to be the top prospect obtained from the Yankees in the Armando Benitez trade in 2003. After going 9-2 with a 4.72 ERA with bouts of wildness in the Capital City bullpen in 2004, Garcia fell off the prospect map a bit. However, Garcia has begun turning heads in 2005 after posting a 0.87 ERA in the month of April and holding opposing Florida State League batters to a .108 batting average.
SP, Evan MacLane: It is not just the undrafted free agent signings that get no love in the prospect world. "Soft tossing" pitchers that hardly ever break 90 MPH on the radar gun have a hard time garnering attention, no matter how good the results. MacLane falls into this category. He entered the 2005 season with 15-6 record and a career 2.49 ERA but only brings the heater in the 85-89 MPH range. Often compared to Jamie Moyer and Tom Glavine, MacLane has started off the 2005 season with the same success at high-A ball. His 2-1 record and 2.49 ERA in his first five starts are right on course with his fantastic career totals.
SP, Greg Ramirez: Despite his success in the Mets' farm system prior to this season (8-3 with 11 saves and a 2.38 career ERA), Ramirez hasn't been a highly touted prospect, mostly due to being drafted in the 22nd round of the 2003 draft. However, Ramirez continues to roll along and he is posting the same fantastic results at the higher levels. He finished April with a 3-1 record and a 2.67 ERA in five games while posting an impressive 8-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
OF, Dante Brinkley: Lastings Milledge told InsidePitchMagazine.com this past offseason that Brinkley would be a sleeper among the Mets' prospects and Brinkley sure has done all that he can to prove Milledge was right! Brinkley finished up the month of April hitting .377 with 5 home runs, 16 RBI, and posting an incredible .513 on-base percentage. Throw in his six stolen bases and you'll see why Lastings Milledge was so high on Brinkley.
1B, Mike Carp: Carp has been compared to a left-handed version of David Wright early in his career. And after hitting a Hagerstown-leading 6 home runs in the month of April (Wright had 11 home runs in a full year in the South Atlantic League) while batting cleanup as an 18-year old, Carp has done nothing to disprove those comparisons. Some Mets officials believe he could be the best left-handed hitting prospect in their farm system since Darryl Strawberry!
3B, Grant Psomas: Psomas, who hit just .233 with three home runs in 2004 for the Brooklyn Cyclones, did not do anything to differentiate himself from any of the other Mets' prospects last season. However, Psomas' hot April may have put him on the radar. He started off the 2005 season reaching base safely in 22 straight games and blowing past his home run total of a year ago, hitting five home runs in April. Psomas used a 12-game hit streak to finish the month hitting .363 with a team-leading 7 doubles.
SP, Jeff Landing: When you enter a season with a career mark of 0-8 with a 10.08 ERA, chances are you have nowhere to go but up. Still, nobody could have expected the tremendous turnaround from Landing. Landing went 2-1 with a 2.16 ERA in his first five starts to be one the more pleasant surprises on the Hagerstown staff this season, especially when you consider five of his six earned runs came in one bad start against the West Virginia Power.
SP, Jose Sanchez: Like Landing, Sanchez had one really bad start to skew his overall numbers. Even still, Sanchez has begun the season going 4-0 in his first four starts with a 2.45 ERA. Throw in his 3-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, his .190 against batting average, and the fact he has allowed less than one base runner per inning pitched in the early going, there's no wonder why he has won all of his starts.
RP, Chuck Smith: Another undrafted free agent signing by the Mets, Smith has done more than he can to put himself among the better Mets' pitching prospects. What Smith accomplished in the month of April was simply downright amazing! Through his first six appearances out of the bullpen, he has yet to give up an earned run this season. His 0.36 WHIP ratio (walks + hits per innings pitched) is truly unheard of and opposing South Atlantic League batters are hitting just .065 off of him. Undrafted or not, his numbers are just way too good to ignore.
Prospect Pulse: Stock Rising
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