Monday, November 09, 2009

Quick Thought on Baseball America's Top 10

As most die-hards already know, Baseball America recently released their "Top 10 Prospects" list for the Mets for 2009.

The one thing that stands out on the list (written by Mets beat writer Adam Rubin, who does a terrific job) is that Fernando Martinez, our former #1 prospect, slipped down the list to #3. So after two years atop the list, why now?

Jenrry Mejia, a 19-year-old righty with the best fastball in the system, according to BA, ascended to the top spot. He had a pretty good season last year for a young guy:

A+ St. Lucie: 4-1, 1.97 ERA, 50.1 IP, 16 BB, 44 K, 1.13 WHIP
AA Binghamton: 0-5, 4.47 ERA, 44.1 IP, 23 BB, 47 K, 1.51 WHIP

To hold your own in AA as a 19 year-old is impressive. People who have seen him pitch really like his stuff. Mejia could really go places.

But I am worried that Fernando, after so many years as a stud prospect, is being looked at as an afterthought. In fact, just last week, I reminded people not to sleep on Fernando Martinez. Why?

Fernando hit .290/.337/.540 in AAA last season at the age of 20. And this is building on a season where, at the age of 19, and after a slow April, he hit .303 in AA from May til the end of the year."

It appears the guys at Amazin' Avenue might feel the same about the drop in the rankings and the perception of Fernando. They worry that perhaps "the Mets are putting stock into his worthless sample-size major-league audition, because I find it hard to believe an injury could hurt his stock so much in a season where he had a break out."

And break out he certainly did. We are watching Fernando Martinez finally tap into the immense potential we've been told about for three years. If you told anyone that you had a 20 year-old in Triple-A and posting an OPS of 877, they would probably be willing to trade the farm for him(1). But in New York, the hype machine starts young and fizzles out quickly.

As a Mets fan, one can only hope that the flip-flop in the rankings comes as a compliment to Jennry Mejia (and Wilmer Flores, who ranked #2) and not as part of a decrease in Fernando's perceived value.

With prospects, anything can happen -- but the bottom line is that to be in AAA and doing what he did at the age of 20 is remarkable.

(1) Just for fun, let's play a quick game of "what were they doing when they were 20!" I'm going to pick a few names -- some of mega stars and some of random regular outfielders.

No direct comparison picked at random would ever create a set of fair expectations for Fernando - but I think it is instructive that many of the best were way behind where he is (and vice versa, many better prospects do not succeed at all).

Category 1 -- Star Talents

Mark Teixiera: In college. Posted an 1008 OPS in AA at the age of 22.
Derek Jeter: 808 OPS in A+, 962 OPS in AA, 931 OPS in AAA.
David Wright: 828 OPS in A+, did not reach AA until 21.
Manny Ramirez: 881 OPS in A+.
Gary Sheffield: 640 OPS in MLB for Milwaukee - previous season had already posted obscene 968 OPS in AAA at age 19.
Alex Rodriguez: In majors.

Category 2 -- Good/Great Players

Matt Holliday: Posting a 724 OPS in A+ ball.
Raul Ibanez: 799 OPS in rookie ball, did not reach AAA until age 24.
Nick Markakis: 841 OPS in A ball.
Grady Sizemore: 853 OPS in AA.

Category 3 -- Others

Carlos Gomez: 772 OPS in AA.
Alex Escobar: Missed age 20 season, but in age 21 season posted an 862 OPS in AA. Never had an OPS higher than 758 in AAA as a Met.
Nate McLouth: 716 OPS in A+

No comments: