LHP, Michael Antonini – The third-year southpaw's stock shot up the charts in 2008 as he showed the ability to handle three different levels including a sound performance in eight starts with Binghamton to close the year. Antonini possesses a good fastball/changeup combination with a viable slider that needs greater consistency at Double-A and above.
His walk total spiked in Binghamton where he issues 16 of his total 39 free passes in 45 2/3 innings, but that total should decrease when he stays on top of his slider which improves the effectiveness of his fastball. His ability to work the strike zone should give him a future at the highest level at least as a middle reliever or swingman.
LHP, Eric Niesen – In 2008, Niesen had his first crack at starting for the entire season and endured his share of ups and downs, but while he works on the consistency of his secondary pitches, he remains a valuable arm because of his velocity from the left side. At 91-93 MPH and a history of late relief in college, he has options to return to the bullpen the closer he gets to the big league level. He may not have the standout pitch scouts look for from a left-hander, but his arm strength and mound intelligence should find him a place in coming seasons.
LHP, Robert Carson – Carson's game, like Niesen's, is born from fastball velocity from the left side and a quality slider that that should continue to get him looks as he moves into the long-season leagues and beyond. He has the velocity, especially as a southpaw, that should speak to an ability to rack up higher strikeout numbers [46 K in 53 2/3 IP in ‘08] , but Carson works the bottom of the zone and pitches to contact. The 20-year-old's development should become more widely known as he emerges in the Savannah rotation next year and works his way to the back of the Mets' rotation or a reliever.
RHP, Kyle Allen – Allen's biggest hurdle is the development of a usable breaking pitch and when that does arrive, his game should strengthen and be more effective. For now, he employs a fastball/changeup combination though some scouts question whether his 90-91 MPH fastball will hold up as he moves up the ranks. That velocity is why the development of a sound breaking pitch is important as he needs to generate a swing-and-miss pitch to pair with his plus changeup. Coaches like his makeup and advanced changeup, believing he should be a player in the organization as he ages and gains more experience.
RHP, Jeurys Familia – 19-year-old Familia impressed scouts during his debut season in the Gulf Coast League as he showed off a live arm, good velocity and an advanced slider. He generates a lot of movement on both his four-seam and two-seam fastballs using the two-seam's tailing action on right-handers and the four-seam's cutting action on lefties. The biggest key to his development is his mechanics. His motion is very rough and could be a hindrance to the maturation of his secondary pitches, but he is an arm scouts like and one that may be a fast riser.
Jury is Still Out
RHP Brant Rustich – The 2007 second round pick can also be classified in the "highest ceiling" category, but injuries and lack of mound time over his first two seasons have raised concerns about his future. The right-hander has some of the best stuff in the entire organization and could be an electric late-inning reliever if starting does not work out, but he needs to first show that he can stay healthy and pitch his way into higher levels. The Mets may find themselves in a position to move him up just on the promise of good health, however, he must first show he has shaken off injury and set himself on a successful path.
RHP, Elvin Ramirez – The right-hander's season was limited to just 81 innings in 2008 but he should be ready to hold down a spot in the St. Lucie rotation this season. He possesses a very hard fastball at 93-94 MPH and backs it up with a tight, diving slider but the lack of a consistent changeup could make it tough for him to remain in the rotation in coming years. He has the top two pitches to move to the bullpen but as for his ability to remains a starter, well, the jury is out.
RHP, Eduardo Aldama -- Aldama is another young hurler who relies on his fastball to stay ahead of batters. The right-hander, originally signed in the summer of 2006, possesses only fringe secondary pitches including a mid-70s changeup and mid-70s curveball. Some scouts have been discouraged by lack of fastball velocity as his heater sits only 89-91 MPH, but his youth and aggressiveness could pay off as he returns to the short-season leagues this summer.
Needs More Work
RHP, Eric Brown – Throughout his tenure in the organization, Brown has been a very stable and consistent producer at every level but heading into the 2009 season he will need a boost to receive stronger consideration for the big league bullpen. The chances are good that he will spend a bulk of the upcoming season in Buffalo—if not start there out right—but a high-80s fastball despite excellent command may make it tough for the decision makers to call on him. Nonetheless, Brown is a known, proven commodity who will remain a trusted organization arm until the opportunity arises.
RHP, Dylan Owen – The third-year right-hander had his way with the opposition during his rookie season in Brooklyn in 2007 and again with St. Lucie in 2008. But when he moved up to Binghamton in the last weeks of August, he found the road much tougher to hoe due to inconsistent fastball command. His breaking pitches are strong enough for the higher levels of the farm, yet he needs a sharper fastball to repeat the same type of success he previously experienced.
LHP, Angel Calero – Calero posted fine numbers during his stints in Kingsport and Savannah, but trouble found his way during his debut in the Florida State League due to ineffectiveness that was the result of a shoulder injury. His fastball sits in the low-90s and the lack of a respectable breaking pitch and stable delivery could lead to his exposure at the High-A level and above.
RHP, Eric Beaulac – The 2008 ninth round pick got a taste of three different levels last season with half of them in Savannah, registering more innings with a long-season club than any other hurler from his draft class. Beaulac was selected on the promise of his arm strength which he demonstrated as he routinely hit 93-94 MPH on his fastball paired with a good slider. That duo has served him well but he needs to improve his changeup and work the kinks out of his delivery to gain better efficiency in the future.
RHP, Pedro P. Martinez -- The 23-year-old has spent his first four seasons in the short-season leagues but should finally break through with Savannah this season. He continues to work on the sequencing of his pitches and remains in favor of pitching coaches at that level. He does not blow hitters with his high-80s fastball, but his grasp of the strike zone gives him a solid foundation from which to work.
Analyzing the Starting Pitchers - Part II
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