Minor leaguers on the rise

The Mets have promoted Lastings Milledge, Philip Humber, Gaby Hernandez and Brian Bannister to higher minor league levels.

Several of the Mets' brightest minor league prospects are moving up the ladder in concert with one another. The club has promoted Lastings Milledge, Philip Humber, Gaby Hernandez and Brian Bannister to higher levels.

Milledge and Humber are on the rise from St. Lucie (A) to Binghamton (AA), while Hernandez is being sent to St. Lucie from Hagerstown (A), taking Humber's spot in the rotation. Following the Double-A All-Star Game on Wednesday, Bannister will turn in his B-Mets uniform for a Norfolk (AAA) Tides jersey.

The promotions are no great surprise, but it is interesting that they would happen all at once. Milledge and Humber were the club's consecutive No. 1 draft picks in 2003 and 2004 respectively, and after a slow start and early injuries, both have showed a good handle on Florida State League life for St. Lucie.

Milledge, 20, was batting .302 with four home runs, 22 RBI and 18 stolen bases in 62 games for St. Lucie, and was 7-for-17 (.412) in five games this month.

He suffered a wrist injury earlier in the season, costing Milledge two weeks, and was 0-for-1 in Sunday's All-Star Futures Game (Binghamton's Yusmeiro Petit, not promoted, tossed a scoreless inning in the contest).

Philip Humber Humber, 22, started his professional career winless in his first 10 appearances for St. Lucie before finally scoring a win on June 11 against Jupiter. He had to overcome an early abdominal strain in that stretch, but appeared to be getting the hang of life in the pros over his last four starts.

Humber – 2-6 with a 4.99 ERA overall – reeled off three back-to-back seven inning starts against Jupiter, Daytona and Brevard County from June 11 to June 29, going 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA over that span. Humber lost his last start against Vero Beach on July 4.

Gaby Hernandez Hernandez, 19, was a third round selection of the Mets in the 2004 draft and quickly rose as one of the club's highest regarded pitching prospects, especially after his no-hitter against the West Virginia Power on June 19.

Overall, the righthander was 6-1 with a 2.43 ERA for Hagerstown, with opposing batters hitting just .179 against Hernandez.

Bannister, 24, was arguably the Mets' most effective minor league pitcher of the first half.

Bannister started the season 5-0 for Binghamton and was 9-4 with a 2.56 ERA in 18 starts at the time of his promotion, despite losing his last three starts.

Since his June 28 start against New Britain, Bannister has allowed 18 hits and 13 earned runs in 15.1 innings, a 7.63 ERA.

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