The latest chip to move in Florida's ongoing "market adjustment," the 33-year-old Lo Duca batted .283 with six home runs and 57 RBI over 132 games last season for Florida, his first full season with the franchise after being traded from Los Angeles in July 2004.
|Inside Pitch Scouting Report|
|Repertoire:||Fastball (90-95 MPH), curveball, changeup.|
|Pitching:||A bulldog who goes after hitters with confidence and command... has a very projectable body that could add velocity.|
|Projection:||Highest upside in Mets' system with since-traded Yusmeiro Petit... MLB debut on track for 2008.|
|Misc.:||South Florida high school standout... idolizes Roger Clemens.|
But the Mets would likely be satisfied if Lo Duca is able to duplicate his 2005 statistics for the bottom of their order. After parting ways with Piazza following the season, the Mets tendered a pair of near-identical offers to free agent catchers Ramon Hernandez and Bengie Molina, but did not show any immediate urgency in securing a contract with either.
Lo Duca figures to be New York's starting catcher going into spring training, with Ramon Castro - who batted .244 with eight home runs and 41 RBI in 99 games last year - slotted in as a capable reserve.
Hernandez, 19, started 2005 with the Hagerstown Suns of the South Atlantic League and earned a promotion after going 6-1 with a 2.43 ERA in 18 starts, including a no-hitter against the West Virginia Power on June 19.
A third-round pick in the June 2004 draft, Hernandez finished the year with St. Lucie of the Florida State League, going 2-5 with a 5.74 ERA in 10 starts.
The trade is the second between the Mets and the Marlins this winter. On Nov. 24, the two clubs finalized a deal that sent Carlos Delgado to New York in exchange for Mike Jacobs, Yusmeiro Petit and Grant Psomas.
The pair of deals moved a total of four Top 30 talents from the Mets farm system to Florida's, as ranked by Inside Pitch on Nov. 1, with three of the players ranking in the Top 10.
Hernandez ranked tenth on that list, and fourth among Mets pitching prospects.
On Nov. 24, the two clubs finalized a deal that sent Carlos Delgado to New York in exchange for Mike Jacobs (No. 4), Yusmeiro Petit (No. 5) and Grant Psomas (No. 27).