Top Prospects, Top Tools

Over the next couple of months we'll be dissecting the top ten prospects in many different tools' categories in a series of articles called "Tool Time". Before we do, here is a look at the top pitching, offensive and defensive tools as we crown players with titles such as "Best Curveball", "Best Throwing Arm", "Best Power", and many more.

Offensive Honors:

Best Hitter For Average: Lastings Milledge - Now a career .313 hitter in the minor leagues, Milledge has really only begun to tap his skills in this area. He barely beats Keppinger in this category, but both will have to watch out for Fernando Martinez down the road.

Best Hitter For Power: Brett Harper - Right now Harper is clearly the top power hitter in the Mets' farm system. For future projection, watch out for Mike Carp, Carlos Gomez, and Nick Evans. They are not far behind Harper.

Best Fastball Hitter: Ambiorix Concepcion - While a lot of Mets' fans are down on Concepcion after his disappointing 2005 campaign, the bottom line is he can turn on heaters with the best of them. Outside of Concepcion, Mike Carp and Nick Evans are devastating fastball hitters.

Best Breaking Ball Hitter: Lastings Milledge - Milledge's approach at the plate and his plus bat speed that allows him to look for breaking pitches are the reasons he is mature beyond his years. Reportedly, Fernando Martinez may be even an even better breaking ball hitter.

Best Plate Discipline: Jeff Keppinger - While scouts are down on his below average power and limited range at second base, Keppinger's plate discipline is second to none. Drawing comparisons to former Met Dave Magadan in that regard, Keppinger has drawn 28 more walks than he's struck out in his career.

Best Bad Ball Hitter: Carlos Gomez - A very impatient hitter at times, Gomez is still a good contact hitter because of his ability to hit pitches he shouldn't even be swinging at in the batter's box. It is this uncanny ability that has drawn comparisons to Vladmir Guerrero.

Best Left-Handed Swing: Fernando Martinez - He hasn't played a game yet in a Mets' uniform, but already many scouts are comparing his swing to some of the greats of all time. One scout simply called his swing "flawless".

Best Right-Handed Swing: Lastings Milledge - Milledge's swing is a thing of beauty, no doubt. He's very adept at keeping the head of the bat in the strike zone and he uses his bat speed to turn on pitches in a hurry.

Best Base Runner: Carlos Gomez - Blessed with quite a few speedsters in their farm system, the Mets' base runners are still very raw. Gomez gets the nod despite getting caught stealing 24 times in 2005. Perhaps a little overzealous at times, Gomez is still an elite base runner. Watch out for Greg Gonzalez as well. He's shown advanced base running ability in the early going.

Best Raw Speed: Carlos Gomez - Receiving an 80 on the traditional 20-80 scout's scale from many Major League scouts in speed, Gomez clearly has the best raw speed in the Mets' farm system. Nobody comes close at the current time.

Best Athlete: Corey Ragsdale - With several possible candidates in this area, including the likes of Gomez, Concepcion, Milledge, and Jamar Hill, Ragsdale gets the nod because of his overall athletic ability. A very good basketball player in high school, Ragsdale's coordination and footwork are quite exceptional.

Best Untapped Talent: Carlos Gomez - With the majority of their better prospects at the lower minor league levels, the Mets have several candidates that could fit into this category. While Fernando Martinez, Hector Pellot, Mike Carp, Sean Henry, and a host of others have a ways to go in tapping their vast ceilings, Carlos Gomez hasn't even scratched the surface of his abilities yet.

Pitching Honors:

Deepest Repertoire: Brian Bannister - The addition of his cutter/slider gives Bannister one of the more extensive repertoires in the Mets' farm system. Other pitchers might have better pitches, but few can match his depth of quality pitches.

Best Fastball For Starting Pitcher: Mike Pelfrey - Averaging 92-97 MPH with his fastball and touching the high 90's at times with great command, there isn't a starting pitcher in the Mets' farm system that can come close to his heater. While he will remain a starter, some scouts believe his fastball is dominating enough already to be an All-Star caliber closer right now.

Best Fastball For Relief Pitcher: Matt Lindstrom - Lindstrom's velocity is close to that of Pelfrey. Touching 100 MPH on the radar gun at times, Lindstrom's bread and butter is his fastball. With a seemingly permanent move to the bullpen, he clearly has the top fastball among the relief pitching prospects.

Best Curveball: Philip Humber - The Mets have pitching prospects armed with serious curveballs. While Mike Pelfrey and Brian Bannister clearly have curveballs with great potential, Humber gets the nod here. Prior to his selection in 2004, some scouts not only said his curveball was the best in the draft, but one of the top five in the game.

Best Slider: Shane Hawk - With the type of success he had with his cutter/slider in 2005, it is tough not to give Bannister the edge. However, Hawk's slider is absolutely sick. Averaging 79-83 MPH with his slider and topping off around 85 MPH, its a hard-biting slider that is nearly impossible to hit.

Best Changeup: Evan MacLane - The losses of Neal Musser and Yusmeiro Petit, both with outstanding changeups, make MacLane the clear-cut choice for the top changeup. Mike Pelfrey has an advanced changeup as well, but MacLane's command of his changeup is remarkable.

Best Control: Evan MacLane - Walking barely a little over one batter per nine innings in his career, MacLane's control is impeccable. He doesn't have the dominating stuff to be a frontline starting pitcher, but nobody can boast his type of command of the strike zone.

Best Mechanics: Brian Bannister - There are a few pitching prospects that could take the top honor in this category, including Mike Pelfrey and Evan MacLane. But Bannister's fluid motion and seemingly effortless delivery are truly fun to watch.

Best Raw Arm: Deolis Guerra - The Mets have some intriguing raw and talented arms at the lower minor league levels. German Marte, Jorge Reyes, Jonathan Niese, and others give the Mets a stable of raw pitchers. But at 16-years old and throwing in the low 90's already, Guerra may be the best of the lot.

Best Overall Potential: Mike Pelfrey - Make no mistake about it. Upon signing his deal with the Mets in January, Pelfrey not only became the pitcher with the highest upside in the Mets' farm system, but arguably could be the top prospect. Some scouts believe his stuff is good enough to be a back-end starter right now and eventually be an ace of the staff for years to come.

Most Polished Pitcher: Brian Bannister - While Mike Pelfrey has the better overall potential, nobody is as polished as Brian Bannister. His combination of a fluid delivery, extensive repertoire, and command of his pitches make him the most polished.

Defensive Honors:

Best Defensive Pitcher: Evan MacLane - Brian Bannister fields his position extremely well, but nobody is better defensively among the Mets' pitching prospects than MacLane. He consistently puts himself into prime defensive position upon the release of his pitches and he's one of the more athletic hurlers on the mound.

Best Defensive Outfielder: Carlos Gomez - Blessed with the best speed in the farm system and the strongest arm in the outfield, Gomez has the potential to be a Gold Glove caliber center fielder or right fielder.

Best Defensive Infielder: Shawn Bowman - Coronado could wind up giving Bowman a run for his money in this honor down the road, but Bowman's defensive ability is truly spectacular. He has good footwork, exceptional reactionary skills, and a tremendous arm. He's one of the best at his position.

Best Defensive Catcher: Aaron Hathaway - Flip a coin among Hathaway, Jesus Flores, Joe Hietpas, and Drew Butera for the top defensive catcher and you can't go wrong. We give the nod to Hathaway because of his quicker feet and release on his throws to second.

Best Outfield Instincts: Carlos Gomez - Instinctively, Gomez compares favorably to a Torii Hunter on the defensive side of the ball. He has the knack for flagging down any ball hit his way and he's athletic enough to rob many would-be base hits.

Best Outfield Range: Carlos Gomez - With his explosive speed and great acceleration, Gomez covers as much ground as anyone in the outfield. He's also not afraid to hit the wall or reach over the wall to take away a hit.

Best Outfielder Arm: Carlos Gomez - Accurate and strong, Gomez's throwing arm could play very well in a big league outfield already. Many scouts, teammates, and opposing players believe his arm is one of the best they've ever seen.

Best Infield Arm: Shawn Bowman - Growing up a shortstop, it was Bowman's tremendous arm strength that allowed the Mets to move him over to the hot corner. While Corey Ragsdale has a tremendous arm in his own right, Bowman's accuracy is just better.

Best Infield Range: Jose Coronado - It is Coronado's tremendous range that has the Mets very excited about his future. He's very adept at putting himself into great position to make plays, but his footwork allows him to recover on balls not hit his way.

Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\n\r\nOffensive Honors:
\r\n
\r\nBest Hitter For Average: Lastings Milledge - Now a career .313 hitter in the minor leagues, Milledge has really only begun to tap his skills in this area. He barely beats Keppinger in this category, but both will have to watch out for Fernando Martinez down the road.
\r\n
\r\nBest Hitter For Power: Brett Harper - Right now Harper is clearly the top power hitter in the Mets' farm system. For future projection, watch out for Mike Carp, Carlos Gomez, and Nick Evans. They are not far behind Harper.
\r\n
\r\nBest Fastball Hitter: Ambiorix Concepcion - While a lot of Mets' fans are down on Concepcion after his disappointing 2005 campaign, the bottom line is he can turn on heaters with the best of them. Outside of Concepcion, Mike Carp and Nick Evans are devastating fastball hitters.
\r\n
\r\nBest Breaking Ball Hitter: Lastings Milledge - Milledge's approach at the plate and his plus bat speed that allows him to look for breaking pitches are the reasons he is mature beyond his years. Reportedly, Fernando Martinez may be even an even better breaking ball hitter.
\r\n
\r\nBest Plate Discipline: Jeff Keppinger - While scouts are down on his below average power and limited range at second base, Keppinger's plate discipline is second to none. Drawing comparisons to former Met Dave Magadan in that regard, Keppinger has drawn 28 more walks than he's struck out in his career.
\r\n
\r\nBest Bad Ball Hitter: Carlos Gomez - A very impatient hitter at times, Gomez is still a good contact hitter because of his ability to hit pitches he shouldn't even be swinging at in the batter's box. It is this uncanny ability that has drawn comparisons to Vladmir Guerrero.
\r\n
\r\nBest Left-Handed Swing: Fernando Martinez - He hasn't played a game yet in a Mets' uniform, but already many scouts are comparing his swing to some of the greats of all time. One scout simply called his swing \"flawless\".
\r\n
\r\nBest Right-Handed Swing: Lastings Milledge - Milledge's swing is a thing of beauty, no doubt. He's very adept at keeping the head of the bat in the strike zone and he uses his bat speed to turn on pitches in a hurry.
\r\n
\r\nBest Base Runner: Carlos Gomez - Blessed with quite a few speedsters in their farm system, the Mets' base runners are still very raw. Gomez gets the nod despite getting caught stealing 24 times in 2005. Perhaps a little overzealous at times, Gomez is still an elite base runner. Watch out for Greg Gonzalez as well. He's shown advanced base running ability in the early going.
\r\n
\r\nBest Raw Speed: Carlos Gomez - Receiving an 80 on the traditional 20-80 scout's scale from many Major League scouts in speed, Gomez clearly has the best raw speed in the Mets' farm system. Nobody comes close at the current time.
\r\n
\r\nBest Athlete: Corey Ragsdale - With several possible candidates in this area, including the likes of Gomez, Concepcion, Milledge, and Jamar Hill, Ragsdale gets the nod because of his overall athletic ability. A very good basketball player in high school, Ragsdale's coordination and footwork are quite exceptional.
\r\n
\r\nBest Untapped Talent: Carlos Gomez - With the majority of their better prospects at the lower minor league levels, the Mets have several candidates that could fit into this category. While Fernando Martinez, Hector Pellot, Mike Carp, Sean Henry, and a host of others have a ways to go in tapping their vast ceilings, Carlos Gomez hasn't even scratched the surface of his abilities yet.
\r\n
\r\nPitching Honors:
\r\n
\r\nDeepest Repertoire: Brian Bannister - The addition of his cutter/slider gives Bannister one of the more extensive repertoires in the Mets' farm system. Other pitchers might have better pitches, but few can match his depth of quality pitches.
\r\n
\r\nBest Fastball For Starting Pitcher: Mike Pelfrey - Averaging 92-97 MPH with his fastball and touching the high 90's at times with great command, there isn't a starting pitcher in the Mets' farm system that can come close to his heater. While he will remain a starter, some scouts believe his fastball is dominating enough already to be an All-Star caliber closer right now.
\r\n
\r\nBest Fastball For Relief Pitcher: Matt Lindstrom - Lindstrom's velocity is close to that of Pelfrey. Touching 100 MPH on the radar gun at times, Lindstrom's bread and butter is his fastball. With a seemingly permanent move to the bullpen, he clearly has the top fastball among the relief pitching prospects.
\r\n
\r\nBest Curveball: Philip Humber - The Mets have pitching prospects armed with serious curveballs. While Mike Pelfrey and Brian Bannister clearly have curveballs with great potential, Humber gets the nod here. Prior to his selection in 2004, some scouts not only said his curveball was the best in the draft, but one of the top five in the game.
\r\n
\r\nBest Slider: Shane Hawk - With the type of success he had with his cutter/slider in 2005, it is tough not to give Bannister the edge. However, Hawk's slider is absolutely sick. Averaging 79-83 MPH with his slider and topping off around 85 MPH, its a hard-biting slider that is nearly impossible to hit.
\r\n
\r\nBest Changeup: Evan MacLane - The losses of Neal Musser and Yusmeiro Petit, both with outstanding changeups, make MacLane the clear-cut choice for the top changeup. Mike Pelfrey has an advanced changeup as well, but MacLane's command of his changeup is remarkable.
\r\n
\r\nBest Control: Evan MacLane - Walking barely a little over one batter per nine innings in his career, MacLane's control is impeccable. He doesn't have the dominating stuff to be a frontline starting pitcher, but nobody can boast his type of command of the strike zone.
\r\n
\r\nBest Mechanics: Brian Bannister - There are a few pitching prospects that could take the top honor in this category, including Mike Pelfrey and Evan MacLane. But Bannister's fluid motion and seemingly effortless delivery are truly fun to watch.
\r\n
\r\nBest Raw Arm: Deolis Guerra - The Mets have some intriguing raw and talented arms at the lower minor league levels. German Marte, Jorge Reyes, Jonathan Niese, and others give the Mets a stable of raw pitchers. But at 16-years old and throwing in the low 90's already, Guerra may be the best of the lot.
\r\n
\r\nBest Overall Potential: Mike Pelfrey - Make no mistake about it. Upon signing his deal with the Mets in January, Pelfrey not only became the pitcher with the highest upside in the Mets' farm system, but arguably could be the top prospect. Some scouts believe his stuff is good enough to be a back-end starter right now and eventually be an ace of the staff for years to come.
\r\n
\r\nMost Polished Pitcher: Brian Bannister - While Mike Pelfrey has the better overall potential, nobody is as polished as Brian Bannister. His combination of a fluid delivery, extensive repertoire, and command of his pitches make him the most polished.
\r\n
\r\nDefensive Honors:
\r\n
\r\nBest Defensive Pitcher: Evan MacLane - Brian Bannister fields his position extremely well, but nobody is better defensively among the Mets' pitching prospects than MacLane. He consistently puts himself into prime defensive position upon the release of his pitches and he's one of the more athletic hurlers on the mound.
\r\n
\r\nBest Defensive Outfielder: Carlos Gomez - Blessed with the best speed in the farm system and the strongest arm in the outfield, Gomez has the potential to be a Gold Glove caliber center fielder or right fielder.
\r\n
\r\nBest Defensive Infielder: Shawn Bowman - Coronado could wind up giving Bowman a run for his money in this honor down the road, but Bowman's defensive ability is truly spectacular. He has good footwork, exceptional reactionary skills, and a tremendous arm. He's one of the best at his position.
\r\n
\r\nBest Defensive Catcher: Aaron Hathaway - Flip a coin among Hathaway, Jesus Flores, Joe Hietpas, and Drew Butera for the top defensive catcher and you can't go wrong. We give the nod to Hathaway because of his quicker feet and release on his throws to second.
\r\n
\r\nBest Outfield Instincts: Carlos Gomez - Instinctively, Gomez compares favorably to a Torii Hunter on the defensive side of the ball. He has the knack for flagging down any ball hit his way and he's athletic enough to rob many would-be base hits.
\r\n
\r\nBest Outfield Range: Carlos Gomez - With his explosive speed and great acceleration, Gomez covers as much ground as anyone in the outfield. He's also not afraid to hit the wall or reach over the wall to take away a hit.
\r\n
\r\nBest Outfielder Arm: Carlos Gomez - Accurate and strong, Gomez's throwing arm could play very well in a big league outfield already. Many scouts, teammates, and opposing players believe his arm is one of the best they've ever seen.
\r\n
\r\nBest Infield Arm: Shawn Bowman - Growing up a shortstop, it was Bowman's tremendous arm strength that allowed the Mets to move him over to the hot corner. While Corey Ragsdale has a tremendous arm in his own right, Bowman's accuracy is just better.
\r\n
\r\nBest Infield Range: Jose Coronado - It is Coronado's tremendous range that has the Mets very excited about his future. 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