MMLN - Analyzing the Starting Pitchers Pt. 1

InsidePitchMagazine.com continues its break down of the position depth charts, this time looking at the starting pitchers. The depth chart has significantly improved in recent years, but in Part One we take a look at those who need to make their move in 2010 and those who the jury is still out on. Look inside to see how it shapes up.

Jury Is Still Out

James Fuller: Fuller pitched his second season in Brooklyn and was very sharp in the New York-Penn League. He demonstrated good command with his fastball and changeup, mixing in his curveball as needed. The biggest question surrounding Fuller is whether or not he can hang on as a starter at the full-season level. His curveball is a fringe pitch and there is nothing deceptive about his repertoire which will lower his ceiling as a starter. However, Fuller's fastball can touch 91 MPH which could help him develop his spot as a reliever. That will likely be his role should he go to St. Lucie in 2010 and his prospect path will be heavily determined by any future success in a role change.

Nick Carr: Carr's live arm is a serious weapon. Carr can hit the high-90s coming out of the bullpen and that is likely the role he will fill when he returns from Tommy John surgery. That rehab is the only element that keeps him in this category. Carr pitched to success coming out of the St. Lucie bullpen in 2009, but the challenge will be greater in the Binghamton bullpen and the need for greater consistency with his slider will be in higher demand.

Jose De La Torre: De La Torre was on his way up the Mets prospects rankings after the 2007 season, but Tommy John surgery knocked him off his path. Nevertheless, De La Torre has carved a niche for himself with a very solid low-90s fastball and one of the best sliders for a right-hander reliever in the system. De La Torre will pitch this season as a 24-year-old, likely in Binghamton again, but another strong season could put him back on the radar.

Roy Merritt: Merritt had a strong season against left-handed pitchers and that is where his future lies in the organization. Right-handed hitters tuned up Merritt for a .344 average last season. Merritt has his bouts of inconsistencies which is the last hurdle for him to get over. Merritt features a good fastball/slider combination, but more is required from Merritt again at Binghamton or Buffalo this season to confirm a future LOOGY spot in the Mets' bullpen.

Steven Matz: Early reports indicate a lot of promise in Matz's arm. A fastball sitting 90-92 MPH and a good curveball to back it up are good foundations for his career. Matz will be off to short-season ball this season where he will face his first live competition and scouts, including this publication, will get a much better look at the organization's top pick last year.

Juan Urbina: Urbina, like Matz, is a young left-hander brought into the organization based on the prospects of his live arm. Urbina's fastball currently sits in the mid-80s and he possesses a budding curveball. However, he turns just 17 years old this year and has a long way to go. At best, Urbina will be log some innings in the Gulf Coast League this season, but it is certainly possible he spends his first season in the DSL. At this point, the focus is building on his raw talent before any truly long term projections can be made.

Zachary Dotson: Dotson is the third of young left-handers the Mets picked up in 2009. Dotson has been very limited in his mound time since last June's draft. As of the start of Spring Training, Dotson has not been stretched out to a full work load. Dotson's scouting reports from last spring indicated a 89-91 MPH fastball and a solid breaking pitch, but little can be discerned about the southpaw right now. More will be learned during Extended Spring Training and the regular season.

Angel Cuan: Cuan is a short, small-built left-hander who throws a fastball in the mid to high-80s fastball that lacks life. Cuan's best pitch his is overhand snapping curveball. He backs it up with a fringy changeup that flashes potential but needs greater consistency. The organization was a bit ambitious sending him to Brooklyn last summer, but two poor performances quickly transferred him to Kingsport. Cuan, 20, needs to show more-especially with his fastball-in 2010 to enter the prospect discussion.

Yohan Almonte: Almonte is a lanky right-hander with a solid 89-91 MPH fastball, but backs it up withan 81-82 MPH changeup. The ball comes out of his hand well and there are some fringy tools present, but Almonte was inconsistent in Kingsport and scouts point to limited projectability in his repertoire. Almonte could put it together but the learning curve appears longer for him.

Jhonathan Torres: Torres raced through the Gulf Coast League in 2009 before running into some trouble in Kingsport. Torres' fastball hit 86-87 MPH in Kingsport and he showed limited pitchability and situational understanding. Torres, 20, is a raw commodity with a lot of pitching education still necessary.

Michael Hebert: Hebert is another tall, thinly built right-hander who relies on his fastball while trying to develop his secondary offerings. Hebert's fastball sits anywhere from 87-91 MPH. His slider remains a fringy pitch. If Hebert is going to get his career going, he may have to switch to the bullpen to break through short-season ball.

Need To Make Their Move

Jimmy Johnson: Johnson was very successful in the South Atlantic League last season, but ran into trouble when he got to St. Lucie. That is a trend that could continue seeing as Johnson's fastball tops off at 83-84 MPH with a changeup that lacks disparity in the mid-70s. Johnson could hang on as a LOOGY, but he's got to find a way to get more developed hitters out despite his lacking velocity.

Michael Antonini: Antonini has struggled to breakthrough a barrier at Double-A. Antonini is a quality strike thrower who can command his 88-91 MPH fastball and changeup on both sides of the plate. However, a lacking breaking pitch does not afford him the opportunity change hitters' eye-levels. That allows hitters to sit on his fastball and wait on location. Antonini needs to develop a more formidable breaking pitch if he is to break through as a reliever at the highest level.

Brandon Moore: Moore possesses a deep repertoire headlined by a 90-91 MPH fastball and a sweeping slider. The right-hander had one of the best seasons in the New York-Penn League last season. However, it is now time for Moore to show he can success at the full-season level and get moving quickly. Moore is already 24 and is likely off to Savannah in 2010. He needs to separate himself from the pack in a hurry.

Angel Calero: Calero is a 23-year-old left-hander who found success at lower levels, but endured a difficult year in the Florida State League in 2009. Calero's fastball sits only in the high-80s with a fringy breaking ball to back it up. Rough mechanics and lacking pitchability will make it tough on Calero to keep up with rising talent. A shift to the bullpen is likely.

Stephen Clyne: Clyne, a third round pick in 2007 draft, entered the organization with a 93-95 MPH fastball and tough slider with good swing and miss movement. However, Clyne suffered a shoulder injury in 2008 and he has yet to recover his fastball velocity. Additionally, Clyne has twice failed to overcome the hurdle of Double-A despite strong success in the Florida State League. Clyne will continue to tread water until he breaks through that barrier.

Chris Schwinden: Schwinden ‘s first two seasons in the system have gone fairly unrecognized. A 14-7 career record and 2.90 ERA in 189 1/3 innings make a strong case, but Schwinden remains on the periphery of pitching prospects due to limited projection in his repertoire. His fastball sits 90-91 and he possesses excellent command of all four pitches. Schwinden needs sharpen his slider to offer a more dynamic secondary pitch behind his above-average changeup.

Elvin Ramirez: Ramirez's prospect status took a hit last season with an ill-timed shoulder injury. Even before that Ramirez's stock slid due to a lack of a third pitch and spotty command of his 90-92 MPH fastball. In the meantime, the development of the Savannah staff in 2009 pushed him further down the depth chart and now he has ground to recover. A likely move to the bullpen will give him that opportunity.

Dylan Owen: Owen, like Antonini, has found it tough to sustain success in Double-A. For Owen, however, his success will be determined by his ability to confidently throw his 88-91 MPH fastball with better command. Owen's slider and curveball effectively get outs, but he runs himself into trouble with a fringy fastball. Owen needs to establish his fastball to get back on track.

Josh Stinson: Stinson made a successful transition to a full-time relief role in 2009. He may repeat St. Lucie to start to 2010, but Stinson took positive steps by keeping things simple out of the bullpen and pitching more aggressively than he ever had before. Now coaches and scouts want to see him continue that path at a higher level when gets to Binghamton either early or later this season.

Mark Cohoon: Cohoon is nearly a left-handed version of Owen. Cohoon has quality second pitches, led by a reliable curveball, but a lack of fastball velocity (86-88 MPH) and pitchability create a lower ceiling. Cohoon has a very adept pitching mind, yet lack of projection in his repertoire means he has to find creative ways of working over hitters when he gets to full-season ball.

Jeff Kaplan: Kaplan's repertoire is fairly limited, but he's got enough with his fastball/slider combination to develop into a sound reliever. Kaplan's 88-91 MPH fastball features good running and sinking action and his slider has enough bite to play as a late-inning reliever. Kaplan is also the type of pitching that could get a little more juice on his fastball in short-inning situations. A lack of a viable third pitch will limit him as a starter at higher levels, but Kaplan has the tools for a successful transition to the bullpen.

\r\n \r\n\r\nJury Is Still Out
\r\n
\r\nJames Fuller: Fuller pitched his second season in Brooklyn and was very sharp in the New York-Penn League. He demonstrated good command with his fastball and changeup, mixing in his curveball as needed. The biggest question surrounding Fuller is whether or not he can hang on as a starter at the full-season level. His curveball is a fringe pitch and there is nothing deceptive about his repertoire which will lower his ceiling as a starter. However, Fuller's fastball can touch 91 MPH which could help him develop his spot as a reliever. That will likely be his role should he go to St. Lucie in 2010 and his prospect path will be heavily determined by any future success in a role change.
\r\n
\r\nNick Carr: Carr's live arm is a serious weapon. Carr can hit the high-90s coming out of the bullpen and that is likely the role he will fill when he returns from Tommy John surgery. That rehab is the only element that keeps him in this category. Carr pitched to success coming out of the St. Lucie bullpen in 2009, but the challenge will be greater in the Binghamton bullpen and the need for greater consistency with his slider will be in higher demand.
\r\n
\r\nJose De La Torre: De La Torre was on his way up the Mets prospects rankings after the 2007 season, but Tommy John surgery knocked him off his path. Nevertheless, De La Torre has carved a niche for himself with a very solid low-90s fastball and one of the best sliders for a right-hander reliever in the system. De La Torre will pitch this season as a 24-year-old, likely in Binghamton again, but another strong season could put him back on the radar.
\r\n
\r\nRoy Merritt: Merritt had a strong season against left-handed pitchers and that is where his future lies in the organization. Right-handed hitters tuned up Merritt for a .344 average last season. Merritt has his bouts of inconsistencies which is the last hurdle for him to get over. Merritt features a good fastball/slider combination, but more is required from Merritt again at Binghamton or Buffalo this season to confirm a future LOOGY spot in the Mets' bullpen.
\r\n
\r\nSteven Matz: Early reports indicate a lot of promise in Matz's arm. A fastball sitting 90-92 MPH and a good curveball to back it up are good foundations for his career. Matz will be off to short-season ball this season where he will face his first live competition and scouts, including this publication, will get a much better look at the organization's top pick last year.
\r\n
\r\nJuan Urbina: Urbina, like Matz, is a young left-hander brought into the organization based on the prospects of his live arm. Urbina's fastball currently sits in the mid-80s and he possesses a budding curveball. However, he turns just 17 years old this year and has a long way to go. At best, Urbina will be log some innings in the Gulf Coast League this season, but it is certainly possible he spends his first season in the DSL. At this point, the focus is building on his raw talent before any truly long term projections can be made.
\r\n
\r\nZachary Dotson: Dotson is the third of young left-handers the Mets picked up in 2009. Dotson has been very limited in his mound time since last June's draft. As of the start of Spring Training, Dotson has not been stretched out to a full work load. Dotson's scouting reports from last spring indicated a 89-91 MPH fastball and a solid breaking pitch, but little can be discerned about the southpaw right now. More will be learned during Extended Spring Training and the regular season.
\r\n
\r\nAngel Cuan: Cuan is a short, small-built left-hander who throws a fastball in the mid to high-80s fastball that lacks life. Cuan's best pitch his is overhand snapping curveball. He backs it up with a fringy changeup that flashes potential but needs greater consistency. The organization was a bit ambitious sending him to Brooklyn last summer, but two poor performances quickly transferred him to Kingsport. Cuan, 20, needs to show more-especially with his fastball-in 2010 to enter the prospect discussion.
\r\n
\r\nYohan Almonte: Almonte is a lanky right-hander with a solid 89-91 MPH fastball, but backs it up withan 81-82 MPH changeup. The ball comes out of his hand well and there are some fringy tools present, but Almonte was inconsistent in Kingsport and scouts point to limited projectability in his repertoire. Almonte could put it together but the learning curve appears longer for him.
\r\n
\r\nJhonathan Torres: Torres raced through the Gulf Coast League in 2009 before running into some trouble in Kingsport. Torres' fastball hit 86-87 MPH in Kingsport and he showed limited pitchability and situational understanding. Torres, 20, is a raw commodity with a lot of pitching education still necessary.
\r\n
\r\nMichael Hebert: Hebert is another tall, thinly built right-hander who relies on his fastball while trying to develop his secondary offerings. Hebert's fastball sits anywhere from 87-91 MPH. His slider remains a fringy pitch. If Hebert is going to get his career going, he may have to switch to the bullpen to break through short-season ball.
\r\n
\r\nNeed To Make Their Move
\r\n
\r\nJimmy Johnson: Johnson was very successful in the South Atlantic League last season, but ran into trouble when he got to St. Lucie. That is a trend that could continue seeing as Johnson's fastball tops off at 83-84 MPH with a changeup that lacks disparity in the mid-70s. Johnson could hang on as a LOOGY, but he's got to find a way to get more developed hitters out despite his lacking velocity.
\r\n
\r\nMichael Antonini: Antonini has struggled to breakthrough a barrier at Double-A. Antonini is a quality strike thrower who can command his 88-91 MPH fastball and changeup on both sides of the plate. However, a lacking breaking pitch does not afford him the opportunity change hitters' eye-levels. That allows hitters to sit on his fastball and wait on location. Antonini needs to develop a more formidable breaking pitch if he is to break through as a reliever at the highest level.
\r\n
\r\nBrandon Moore: Moore possesses a deep repertoire headlined by a 90-91 MPH fastball and a sweeping slider. The right-hander had one of the best seasons in the New York-Penn League last season. However, it is now time for Moore to show he can success at the full-season level and get moving quickly. Moore is already 24 and is likely off to Savannah in 2010. He needs to separate himself from the pack in a hurry.
\r\n
\r\nAngel Calero: Calero is a 23-year-old left-hander who found success at lower levels, but endured a difficult year in the Florida State League in 2009. Calero's fastball sits only in the high-80s with a fringy breaking ball to back it up. Rough mechanics and lacking pitchability will make it tough on Calero to keep up with rising talent. A shift to the bullpen is likely.
\r\n
\r\nStephen Clyne: Clyne, a third round pick in 2007 draft, entered the organization with a 93-95 MPH fastball and tough slider with good swing and miss movement. However, Clyne suffered a shoulder injury in 2008 and he has yet to recover his fastball velocity. Additionally, Clyne has twice failed to overcome the hurdle of Double-A despite strong success in the Florida State League. Clyne will continue to tread water until he breaks through that barrier.
\r\n
\r\nChris Schwinden: Schwinden ‘s first two seasons in the system have gone fairly unrecognized. A 14-7 career record and 2.90 ERA in 189 1/3 innings make a strong case, but Schwinden remains on the periphery of pitching prospects due to limited projection in his repertoire. His fastball sits 90-91 and he possesses excellent command of all four pitches. Schwinden needs sharpen his slider to offer a more dynamic secondary pitch behind his above-average changeup.
\r\n
\r\nElvin Ramirez: Ramirez's prospect status took a hit last season with an ill-timed shoulder injury. Even before that Ramirez's stock slid due to a lack of a third pitch and spotty command of his 90-92 MPH fastball. In the meantime, the development of the Savannah staff in 2009 pushed him further down the depth chart and now he has ground to recover. A likely move to the bullpen will give him that opportunity.
\r\n
\r\nDylan Owen: Owen, like Antonini, has found it tough to sustain success in Double-A. For Owen, however, his success will be determined by his ability to confidently throw his 88-91 MPH fastball with better command. Owen's slider and curveball effectively get outs, but he runs himself into trouble with a fringy fastball. Owen needs to establish his fastball to get back on track.
\r\n
\r\nJosh Stinson: Stinson made a successful transition to a full-time relief role in 2009. He may repeat St. Lucie to start to 2010, but Stinson took positive steps by keeping things simple out of the bullpen and pitching more aggressively than he ever had before. Now coaches and scouts want to see him continue that path at a higher level when gets to Binghamton either early or later this season.
\r\n
\r\nMark Cohoon: Cohoon is nearly a left-handed version of Owen. Cohoon has quality second pitches, led by a reliable curveball, but a lack of fastball velocity (86-88 MPH) and pitchability create a lower ceiling. Cohoon has a very adept pitching mind, yet lack of projection in his repertoire means he has to find creative ways of working over hitters when he gets to full-season ball.
\r\n
\r\nJeff Kaplan: Kaplan's repertoire is fairly limited, but he's got enough with his fastball/slider combination to develop into a sound reliever. Kaplan's 88-91 MPH fastball features good running and sinking action and his slider has enough bite to play as a late-inning reliever. Kaplan is also the type of pitching that could get a little more juice on his fastball in short-inning situations. A lack of a viable third pitch will limit him as a starter at higher levels, but Kaplan has the tools for a successful transition to the bullpen.
\r\n
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