Sterling Awards: Andy Wilson

Heralded for his bat, 24-year-old converted catcher Andy Wilson ripped up the Florida State League en route to selection as the Mets' Sterling Award winner at Class-A St. Lucie, and is headed to the Arizona Fall League to continue his progress.

A non-drafted free agent who signed with the Mets in 2003, Wilson has run a little behind on his progress – 24 is considered an advanced age to still be toiling in the Florida State League.

The lack of a consistent position had held the utilityman back – he caught, played first base, third base, left field and designated hitter for St. Lucie this season – but coupled with his offensive production, the Mets are beginning to look at Wilson's versatility as a strength.

After leading St. Lucie in hits (132), home runs (28 - a club record), doubles (25) and RBI (89), Wilson was rewarded not with a promotion to Double-A Binghamton (where he'll likely begin 2006) but to Triple-A Norfolk, where he went hitless in seven trips to the plate.

"I think [Wilson's] value increases with his ability to play multiple positions," former Mets vice president of scouting and player development Gary LaRocque said.

"He's played first, he's catching some, he has played left field. The big thing there is bringing his bat to the table and we're pleased with that. Right now, his ability to play more than one position really helps him."

Season in review

APRIL: Wilson's eye-opening season gets off to a solid start, beginning the year with a .320 average, six home runs and 12 RBI in his first 20 games. The Mets start to catch a glimpse of what they might have in Wilson's second game of High-A, when he falls a single short of the cycle at Vero Beach.

MAY: Wilson collects the most RBI of any month this year, plating 21 runs, but also posts his lowest average (.265). A 3-for-4 day with two runs scored, three RBI and a homer stands out on May 6 vs. Lakeland, as does another three-hit showing with a long ball on May 27 vs. Clearwater.

JUNE: The hot Florida sun is no match for Wilson's sizzling bat. Playing mostly first base – except for a nine-game stretch in which Wilson was dispatched to left field – he rakes at a .325 clip for the month, slugging four homers and driving in 20 runs. Top performances include three-RBI days on June 8 vs. Brevard County, June 13 at Jupiter and June 21 vs. Jupiter.

JULY: As the summer plods on, Wilson's power numbers remain constant – in four of the season's five full months, Wilson slugs six home runs, as he does again in August. A .272 average and 19 RBI streak across his stat line for July, with homers in three straight games from July 14-16 highlighting the month.

AUGUST: Finishing solidly with a .266 average and six home runs in August, Wilson puts the wrap on a season in which he'll hit .284 with 28 home runs and 89 RBI in 127 games. The keynote moment of Wilson's month is the Mets' Aug. 17 affair with Palm Beach, when Wilson goes 3-for-4 with a home run, six RBI, two runs scored and a walk. A four-RBI day vs. Jupiter on Aug. 24 earns an honorable mention.

SEPTEMBER: Wilson wraps the season by going 0-for-3 in his last game with St. Lucie on Sept. 1, then joins the Triple-A Tides as a bench player while Norfolk pursues the Governor's Cup. Wilson goes 0-for-7 in the stint, but impresses manager Ken Oberkfell, who tells reporters he admires Wilson's bare-knuckle grit.

Splits and minutia: Racked up most of his at-bats (217) as a first baseman. Designated hitter (135) was second, followed by catcher (61), left field (43) and third base (6). … Hit best as a DH, batting .319 with eight homers and 22 RBI. … Preferred home games (.314) and left-handed pitching (.308). … Mostly batted cleanup (203 at-bats)… Hit into five double plays all year. Three were in July.

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