10) Daniel Murphy - Despite hitting just .213 in limited action in three minor league stops last season, the Mets' 13th round pick in 2006 has a knack for making contact. He led his college conference with a .389 average before signing with the Mets and he already is one of the more patient batters in the farm system. Injuries to his leg and knee in his professional debut season didn't allow him to get comfortable at the plate, but most scouts believe he will be a high-average hitter in the pros.
9) Mike Carp - He hit 38 points higher in 2006 with the St. Lucie Mets, mostly due to the fact he began commanding the outside part of the plate and taking pitches to the opposite field. He still strikes out a bit too much and he's not the most patient of batters, but Carp's presence in the batter's box has some scouts believing he could be a left-handed version of David Wright as a player capable of putting up high averages with solid power production. Once he learns to cut down on the strikeouts - and me made marked improvements in that area a year ago - his batting average could really take off.
8) Daniel Stegall - Stegall and his .214 average in his professional debut with the Gulf Coast League Mets may seem like an odd selection in this ranking. And while he struck out 42 times in just 145 at-bats, it was mostly because he works himself deep into counts. He drew 23 walks as an 18-year-old last season and scouts believe his advanced and patient approach will be a great recipe for batting average success as he continues to develop. Stegall also has very good gap power with above average speed so his .214 average thus far is not emblematic of his abilities.
7) Emmanuel Garcia - After hitting .339 in his professional debut with the Gulf Coast League Mets in 2005, Garcia responded with a solid season with the Kingsport Mets last year, hitting .291 in 51 games and once again showing a very patient approach at the plate. He owns a .304 career average with a .380 on-base percentage. Throw in the fact he is an accomplished bunter with blazing speed, Garcia has all the tools to be a high-average hitter for the Mets.
6) Carlos Gomez - His approach at the plate leaves little to be desired. He routinely swings at the first couple of pitches he sees in his at-bats but, possessing incredible bat speed, he has an innate ability to consistently make contact. Like Garcia, Gomez is a very good bunter with world-class speed who can hit his way on base in a variety of ways. While his 'grip it and rip it' mentality needs some refining, it's hard to downplay his .341 batting average in his final 61 games in Double-A last season, especially after skipping a minor league level.
5) Dustin Martin - All Martin did after hitting .389 in his senior year of college was lead the Brooklyn Cyclones with a .315 average last season in his professional debut. Offensively, Martin can do it all. He employs a very patient approach and mixes in good speed and contact hitting ability. He is an excellent gap hitter who focuses on spraying line drives from the middle to the opposite field and most scouts believe he will be a high-average hitter for years to come.
4) Brett Harper - Harper was finally beginning to show he can duplicate his high-average hitting that he had at the lower minor league levels at Double-A last year, hitting .338 in his first 19 games, before a torn labrum ended his season in April. He owns a career .296 batting average and has vastly improved his patience at the plate since signing with the Mets. Harper may never win a batting title, but he has the contact hitting ability to chip in with batting averages around the .300 mark annually.
3) Corey Coles - Everybody knew Coles could flat-out hit but a lack of power and seemingly buried on the depth charts in previous seasons limited his opportunities, that is, until he won the Florida State League batting title with a .341 average for the St. Lucie Mets last season. He is very adept at taking pitches the other way and he has the legs to beat out infield hits with regularity. He hit just one home run in 2006 however and considering he'll be 25 years old in 2007, he'll need to continue hitting for average to get his shot. Lucky for him, that's his biggest strength.
2) Michel Abreu - The 28-year-old Cuban defector isn't really a true prospect with his professional experience overseas but he still maintains rookie status. The right-handed slugger hit .332 in his first season with the Mets and while he is somewhat patient at the plate, he simply knows how to make contact. He is an excellent gap hitter and works the counts in his favor. Abreu and his potent bat are a nice insurance policy should Carlos Delgado go down with a lengthy injury anytime soon.
1) Fernando Martinez - It was a tale of two seasons for the teenage prodigy in 2006. After hitting a robust .333 in 45 games for the Hagerstown Suns, the 17-year-old Martinez could only muster a .193 batting average in 30 games for the St. Lucie Mets. Don't be fooled by his sub-par performance in the Florida State League. Martinez's bat is extremely advanced for a player his age. Possessing a remarkable ability to hit gappers from right-center to left field, Martinez has the look of a very special hitter. While most scouts believed he had a minor league batting title or two coming his way when he signed with the Mets, the fact is he may not be in the minor leagues long enough to make those predictions come true. His bat is so advanced that some insiders believe he could reach the big leagues by 2008 - if not sooner!
Tool Time: Top Ten Hitters For Average
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