Today, he released his Top 20 for the Mets Organization for 2010:
1) Jenrry Mejia, RHP, Grade B+
2) Wilmer Flores, SS, Grade B+
3) Fernando Martinez, OF, Grade B+
4) Ike Davis, 1B, Grade B
5) Jon Niese, LHP, Grade B
6) Reese Havens, SS, Grade B-
7) Kyle Allen, RHP, Grade B-
8) Jeurys Familia, RHP, Grade B-
9) Brad Holt, RHP, Grade C+
10) Ruben Tejada, INF, Grade C+
11) Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF, Grade C+
12) Eric Niesen, LHP, Grade C+
13) Jefry Marte, 3B, Grade C+
14) Cesar Puello, OF, Grade C
15) Josh Thole, C, Grade C
16) Juan Urbina, LHP, Grade C
17) Steve Matz, LHP, Grade C
18) Brent Rustich, RHP, Grade C
19) Tobi Stoner, RHP, Grade C
20) Dillon Gee, RHP, Grade C
Now first of all, I think this is a great list. I think that if you were to put all the lists from all the organizations which do rankings side by side, this would be the one most different from the others. Sickels doesn't have any qualms about ranking someone in a far different slot than everyone else - and that's great. He likes Kyle Allen a lot, so he's high on the list Jefry Marte is very low on his list in comparison to others. Stoner and Gee just make the Top 20 at the end when I think other lists would have them higher based on name recognition.
But here's the most important thing:
First I want to clarify something I wrote earlier about propaganda and groupthink surrounding the Mets system. Everyone is vulnerable to the lure of crowd opinion. . .even people who regard themselves as independent observers still absorb biases, or conversely, they fight so hard against other people's biases that they go too far in the other direction. This is especially true for any organization which has a substantial media presence surrounding it and a motivated fanbase. It cuts both ways: a run-of-the-mill Grade C prospect can easily get overhyped, but at the same time a guy who is really an excellent prospect can fall victim to unrealistic expectations. Fernando Martinez, as I point out above, is absolutely still an elite prospect, yet people are disappointed in him through no fault of his own.
Fernando Martinez IS still an elite prospect. In fact, if I was making a prospect list, Fernando would be my #1 still. We wrote several entries here on Fonzie Forever about this very topic a few months back:
But I am worried that Fernando, after so many years as a stud prospect, is being looked at as an afterthought ... 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."
* * *
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. 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.
Compare that to the blurb on Fernando Martinez that Sickels published today in his article:
People are now too negative on him. The guy was the equivalent of a college sophomore last year. If a college sophomore got drafted and hit .290/.337/.540 in Triple-A, people would be drooling over him. He's made significant progress refining his tools. My main concern now is health and durability, which keeps him from ranking higher.
Perhaps Mr. Sickels reads Fonzie Forever! Or, more likely, he is just a voice of reason trying to be heard above the din and clatter of impatient Met fans who want instant gratification. Sure, Fernando might get injured or not reach his potential, just like anyone else. But for now, he is an excellent prospect who is very young, and doing very well.