Mets' Gary LaRocque discusses top talents

Inside Pitch caught up with Mets vice president of player development and scouting Gary LaRocque this week, gathering insight on Mike Jacobs, Yusmeiro Petit, Brian Bannister and more of the organization's promising prospect crop: (Premium Content)

The Mets knew they had a legitimate hitting prospect in Mike Jacobs, of course, but no one expected him to hit four home runs in his first four major league games.

Or did they? Inside Pitch caught up with Mets vice president of player development and scouting Gary LaRocque this week, gathering insight on Jacobs, Yusmeiro Petit, Brian Bannister and more of the organization's promising prospect crop:

Prospect - Mike Jacobs: 24-year-old catcher and first baseman. Has four home runs in first 13 major league at-bats… hit .321 with 25 home runs and 93 RBI in 117 games at Double-A Binghamton before recall.

LaRocque on Jacobs' early success: "The timing of it was just right for him as far as going up. He's had a very good year and he's healthy, and he's done everything we've asked at the Double-A level. Early in the year, he had to fight through a couple of leg pulls, so he played primarily first base, but in the second half of the year he's caught a little bit more. We tried to balance that out to give him experience at both positions, and he's done it well and he's hit throughout. From a timing standpoint, he deserved a shot at it."

On Jacobs' future defensively: "I think that's still in development. He continues to improve behind the plate, but he's also shown he can handle first base. He's still a work in progress and he knows that, so he continues to work hard at it. We really feel that his value is to do both with the bat he has, and that's the way we're proceeding right now."

Prospect - Yusmeiro Petit: Bulky, deceptive 20-year-old Venezuelan righthander… widely regarded as organization's top pitching prospect… went 9-3 with a 2.91 ERA in 21 starts at Double-A Binghamton, striking out 130 and walking 18 in 117.2 innings, before joining Triple-A Norfolk on Aug. 22.

Prospect - Brian Bannister: Crafty, studious 24-year-old righthander… son of former big leaguer Floyd Bannister… whispered as the new top organizational pitching prospect after going 9-4 with a 2.56 ERA in 18 starts at Double-A, striking out 94 and walking 27 in 109.0 innings… is 4-1 with a 2.97 ERA in his first seven starts at Triple-A.

On who's in the lead as the No. 1 pitching prospect – Norfolk's Petit or Bannister: "To be very honest, the idea that one's ahead of the other … they've both had very good years. We're very pleased to have them both. We're fortunate that we have some young pitching like those two, and Gaby Hernandez, who've come along and had good years, and I say that knowing that Phil Humber unfortunately had to have surgery. In the case of Bannister and Petit, we're just fortunate. It'd be a disservice to one or the other to pick which one's ahead."

On if Petit and Bannister pushed each other: "I think that's exactly what they did. They're both very competitive and their numbers show that. It's been one of those cases where they've taken advantage of the innings, they've had good seasons with great stretches at times, and we're pleased for both of them."

On Bannister's rise through the depth charts: "I think the people in the organization who'd scouted him the last couple of years understood he had the ability. I would say in-house we felt good about his potential. He needed innings, and now he's getting the innings and people are seeing his talent. He's a great competitor and he's got wonderful poise on the mound."

Prospect - Lastings Milledge: Speedy, confident outfield prospect… First-round selection in 2003 draft… hit .302 with four home runs, 22 RBI and 18 steals at Single-A St. Lucie before promotion to Double-A in early July… batting .345 with four homers, 21 RBI and 11 steals through first 44 games for Binghamton.

On Lastings Milledge: "Every challenge he's been presented with, he's taken it and gone ahead a level. Clearly he's handled Double-A well; you can see his poise when he comes up to the plate. The thing I distinguish with him is that he has confidence. He plays with confidence. He believes in himself and knows he has the ability to make a difference on the field, and he does. He didn't skip a beat from St. Lucie to Binghamton, he just did what he had to do."

More from Mets VP of player development and scouting Gary LaRocque later this week, with comments on St. Lucie's Andrew Wilson and other players.


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