Breaking Down the First Basemen

Inside Pitch Magazine shakes down and breaks down the Mets' first base prospects to analyze which first baseman has the highest upside and which have more work to do. Here is review of who needs to step out of the shadows and who looks ready to make their mark.

For the Mets, the future of first base will be a pressing matter at the big level soon enough if it is not already. With Carlos Delgado on the backside of his career, eyes are moving to who is next coming up from the system to be a fixture on the Major League stage. The organization possesses first basemen with good offensive tools and comparable tools defensively, but it remains to be seen who can truly separate himself from the pack.

Highest Ceiling:

Nick Evans: The right-hander has been on a steady rise since being drafted before the 2004 season. He has always possessed very good natural power but was previously known for his streakiness. However, that changed last season as he put together his most stable and complete season at the plate despite missing a little more than a month with a ligament tear in his ankle. His .286 batting average was a career high and his 15 home runs and 54 RBI in 103 games played surely would have surpassed other career highs if not for his injury. Listed at just 180 pounds at the start of the season, he still has weight to add at 22 years old which should lead to even higher production.

Evans is not the most sure-handed first baseman in the organization, but his glove work is certainly more than serviceable considering the production he offers with the bat. He is still working on his improving range and continues to hone his throwing ability, but his steady defense and strengthening offense will continue to give him plenty of opportunities. He all around game should be vigorously tested in Double-A next year, but his progress in 2007 gives him the highest ceiling right now.

Closest to the Majors:

Mike Carp: Carp had a rough season with Binghamton in 2007 where he never really settled into a rhythm at the plate. A badly broken finger forced him out of the lineup just as he was starting to heat up following a scattered April and his offense was tough going from there on out. A drop in power was disconcerting following career-highs in just about every category during his Sterling Award season in St. Lucie in 2006, but Carp should still enter the season in New Orleans on the precipice of the big leagues. His will most likely face another year of hurdles in Triple-A, but with his slick glove and very good power potential, he will remain as the highest ranking first baseman in the system, ready to go after one more season on the farm.

Sleeper:

Lucas Duda: Duda was drafted high and showed a natural ability to drive the ball back through the middle and the other way. He followed up a .299 average with Brooklyn by hitting .340 in 15 games in the Hawaiian Winter League and looks to have the tools to be a quality contact hitter but questions remain as to his power potential in large part to an inconsistent swing. That swing will be a determining factor as to whether he excels as he moves up and whether he can be a mainstay at the big league level. At his size [6-foot-4] and as a left-hander, greater power is anticipated from Duda, but he still has work to do to level it out.

On the other side of the ball, Duda's defense may be a road block on his path to the big leagues. He is not too fleet on his feet and still needs work on his throwing, meaning his defense could be the mitigating factor which holds him back. However, Duda's early success at the plate bodes well for his future, and if he can put all the tools together as he moves up and collect the power the Mets hope is there, he will get his shot on the highest level.

Need to Make Their Move:

Brett Harper: Harper has spent significant parts of the last four seasons in Double-A without breaking into the next level. There has never been any question about Harper's power and ability to hit for a quality batting average, but his rather average defense at first base and inability to provide a solution anywhere else on the diamond has left him without a long term position. To get his shot with the Mets, he will have to mash his way to a promotion.

Jason Jacobs: Although Jacobs has spent the early years of his career behind the plate, his future looks to be at first base. He had his best year offensively with Brooklyn in 2007, however at 24 years old, the time has come for Jacobs to take his game to a new level. He will likely be a significant piece to the Savannah lineup this spring, but to get to where he wants to be, he needs to move at a faster rate which includes mid-season promotions.

The Jury is Still Out:

Josh Thole: The Savannah first baseman has been a steady hand at the lower levels of the organization in his three seasons. A left-hander with a good eye, Thole has demonstrated good knowledge of the strike zone and strength to keep his strikeouts at a minimum. However, Thole's lack of power – he has one home run in his last 496 at-bats across two seasons – has kept him off the radar. He is still 21 years old and will get his chances, but at the moment Thole's projection is cloudier because of his lack of power.

Joshua Petersen: Petersen has been on a steady rise ever since his rookie season in Kingsport back in 2004. He played a bit of a hybrid role, filling in on both sides of the diamond and spelling Nick Evans and Dan Murphy when needed. His offense has grown at a steady rate, culminating in careers best in average, home runs, and RBI last season. His future will be based on performance at the plate and based on his track record, it appears more success will come. Yet moving forward, promotions will have to come at an accelerated rate.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nFor the Mets, the future of first base will be a pressing matter at the big level soon enough if it is not already. With Carlos Delgado on the backside of his career, eyes are moving to who is next coming up from the system to be a fixture on the Major League stage. The organization possesses first basemen with good offensive tools and comparable tools defensively, but it remains to be seen who can truly separate himself from the pack.
\r\n
\r\nHighest Ceiling:
\r\n
\r\nNick Evans: The right-hander has been on a steady rise since being drafted before the 2004 season. He has always possessed very good natural power but was previously known for his streakiness. However, that changed last season as he put together his most stable and complete season at the plate despite missing a little more than a month with a ligament tear in his ankle. His .286 batting average was a career high and his 15 home runs and 54 RBI in 103 games played surely would have surpassed other career highs if not for his injury. Listed at just 180 pounds at the start of the season, he still has weight to add at 22 years old which should lead to even higher production.
\r\n
\r\nEvans is not the most sure-handed first baseman in the organization, but his glove work is certainly more than serviceable considering the production he offers with the bat. He is still working on his improving range and continues to hone his throwing ability, but his steady defense and strengthening offense will continue to give him plenty of opportunities. He all around game should be vigorously tested in Double-A next year, but his progress in 2007 gives him the highest ceiling right now.
\r\n
\r\nClosest to the Majors:
\r\n
\r\nMike Carp: Carp had a rough season with Binghamton in 2007 where he never really settled into a rhythm at the plate. A badly broken finger forced him out of the lineup just as he was starting to heat up following a scattered April and his offense was tough going from there on out. A drop in power was disconcerting following career-highs in just about every category during his Sterling Award season in St. Lucie in 2006, but Carp should still enter the season in New Orleans on the precipice of the big leagues. His will most likely face another year of hurdles in Triple-A, but with his slick glove and very good power potential, he will remain as the highest ranking first baseman in the system, ready to go after one more season on the farm.
\r\n
\r\nSleeper:
\r\n
\r\nLucas Duda: Duda was drafted high and showed a natural ability to drive the ball back through the middle and the other way. He followed up a .299 average with Brooklyn by hitting .340 in 15 games in the Hawaiian Winter League and looks to have the tools to be a quality contact hitter but questions remain as to his power potential in large part to an inconsistent swing. That swing will be a determining factor as to whether he excels as he moves up and whether he can be a mainstay at the big league level. At his size [6-foot-4] and as a left-hander, greater power is anticipated from Duda, but he still has work to do to level it out.
\r\n
\r\nOn the other side of the ball, Duda's defense may be a road block on his path to the big leagues. He is not too fleet on his feet and still needs work on his throwing, meaning his defense could be the mitigating factor which holds him back. However, Duda's early success at the plate bodes well for his future, and if he can put all the tools together as he moves up and collect the power the Mets hope is there, he will get his shot on the highest level.
\r\n
\r\nNeed to Make Their Move:
\r\n
\r\nBrett Harper: Harper has spent significant parts of the last four seasons in Double-A without breaking into the next level. There has never been any question about Harper's power and ability to hit for a quality batting average, but his rather average defense at first base and inability to provide a solution anywhere else on the diamond has left him without a long term position. To get his shot with the Mets, he will have to mash his way to a promotion.
\r\n
\r\nJason Jacobs: Although Jacobs has spent the early years of his career behind the plate, his future looks to be at first base. He had his best year offensively with Brooklyn in 2007, however at 24 years old, the time has come for Jacobs to take his game to a new level. He will likely be a significant piece to the Savannah lineup this spring, but to get to where he wants to be, he needs to move at a faster rate which includes mid-season promotions.
\r\n
\r\nThe Jury is Still Out:
\r\n
\r\nJosh Thole: The Savannah first baseman has been a steady hand at the lower levels of the organization in his three seasons. A left-hander with a good eye, Thole has demonstrated good knowledge of the strike zone and strength to keep his strikeouts at a minimum. However, Thole's lack of power – he has one home run in his last 496 at-bats across two seasons – has kept him off the radar. He is still 21 years old and will get his chances, but at the moment Thole's projection is cloudier because of his lack of power.
\r\n
\r\nJoshua Petersen: Petersen has been on a steady rise ever since his rookie season in Kingsport back in 2004. He played a bit of a hybrid role, filling in on both sides of the diamond and spelling Nick Evans and Dan Murphy when needed. His offense has grown at a steady rate, culminating in careers best in average, home runs, and RBI last season. His future will be based on performance at the plate and based on his track record, it appears more success will come. Yet moving forward, promotions will have to come at an accelerated rate.
\r\n
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