Down the Homestretch: Binghamton

Valdespin has been one of the farm's best

With the minor league season entering its final month, it is worth a look forward at what many of the leading names across the farm may need to end their season on a high note. This season has been an interesting year of performances, stock shifts, arrivals and disappointments. However, the look inside isn't about whose stock is up or down, but merely what will help these players finish strong.


Double-A is always a hot bed of prospect watching and that was no different during the 2011 season, especially in the second half when a number of top prospects either arrived, came back from injury or simply found a rhythm.

Robert Carson: No, the numbers haven't been pretty for Carson this year. His ERA has hovered around 5.00 for most of the year and Eastern League opposition is hitting .304 off him this season. Of course putting together a string of good starts would help boost Carson's season, but the most important thing for the left-hander is to show continued progress with his secondary pitches. His statistics alone this season shouldn't alone run him out of contention for a spot in the Mets bullpen in 2012, but consistency counts and Carson hasn't had much of that this season.

Jeurys Familia: Familia, when on the mound, has been one of the best stories of the farm system this season. His stock has definitely improved this season. So, coming down the homestretch, what does he need to do? Stay healthy. After battling tendinitis in his pitching shoulder, Familia only needs to finish the season and keep doing what he's been doing all season long, in my opinion.

Matt Harvey: The 2010 first round pick's first trip through Double-A had been a bumpy one, but not one that will diminish his value. Harvey was up and down through his first five starts before putting together a blistering seven-inning, one-run, 10-strikeout effort on July 28. For Harvey, the rest of his season should not only focus on gaining greater consistency so he can end the year on a high note, but working on his changeup as well ahead of what should be a trip to the Arizona Fall League.

Brad Holt: Holt has breathed new life into his stock after making a promising transition to the bullpen. Holt has allowed six runs in his last 10 outings, but eight of them were scoreless and he hasn't walked a batter in his last eight outings (as of Thursday). His fastball-curveball combination has been much better since he went to the bullpen, where he can continue to improve his value. Holt just needs to continue to keep his walks down and keep things simple.

Josh Stinson: Stinson's season has not gone as expected. He was in Buffalo's rotation in April and now he's in Binghamton's bullpen. He has struggled with the consistency he showed last year. The right-hander's repertoire does not have much more of a ceiling to meet, so he needs the last few weeks to get back on the track that made him so promising at the end of 2010.

Tobi Stoner: Stoner was in a position to pitching valuable innings with the Mets before injury derailed his 2010, forcing him to work his way back this season. Stoner has been mired in Double-A for much of the season. My honest opinion of Stoner's current position is that the rest of his season will be spent auditioning for other organizations.

Kai Gronauer: Gronauer missed more than two months of the season – an unfortunate turn considering he is the highest-value catcher at the upper levels of the system. The missed time hurt Gronauer's ability to develop at the plate which was the pressing need for his 2010. Defensively, Gronauer is a fairly advanced catcher. The rest of the season should be spent maximizing his reps at the plate.

Eric Campbell: As I've said previously, I've never been terribly high on Campbell's stock. What turned into a poor start has developed into a subpar season for Campbell. That being said, he did hit .303 (23-for-76) in July and he will need more of that to salvage his season. His power has been minimal at best. He will need to show more at the plate if he is to help his own cause heading into the offseason.

Allan Dykstra: So far, the Eddie Kunz-for-Dykstra deal is looking like a total victory for the Mets. The 24-year-old first baseman is hitting .261 with 14 home runs, 56 RBI, 17 doubles and a .837 OPS this season. Dykstra hit a monthly season-low of .235 in July, but hit a season-high five home runs in the month with an .802 OPS. Dykstra really does fit the Lucas Duda mold of a prospect (though with some lesser skills at the plate), but with very few options ahead of him on the farm, Dykstra should feel he has carved himself a future in the organization.

Reese Havens: Of course staying healthy is first and foremost with Havens. That goes without saying (even though I just said it). Now, more importantly, Havens needs to demonstrate the promise that I've seen in his bat and that is hit for power. Havens has zero extra-base hits in his last 10 games (entering Thursday). He has 36 hits in 36 games combined between St. Lucie and Binghamton. If he is 100 percent healthy – and his track record says he doesn't play if he's not – his productivity has got to pick up.

Jordany Valdespin: Valdespin has gotten better and better with each passing month. He went from .221 in April to .281 in May to .330 in June to .342 in july. His power numbers went up each month: .604 OPS in April, .768 in May, .914 in June, .990 in July. There is no doubt Valdespin's stock is as high as it's ever been. For Valdespin, the end of the year is about warding off the complacency that plagued him throughout his career prior to 2011. As long as he does that, it's hard to see a prolonged cold spell heading his way.

Juan Lagares: Lagares, like Valdespin, has been one of the most productive hitters on the farm this season. He raked his way through the Florida State League and in 11 games in Binghamton, Lagares – who is hitting .396 (19-for-48) entering Thursday – has shown no trouble transitioning to the next level. For the 22-year-old, even a cold month August wouldn't diminish what he did the rest of the season, but it's certainly worth anticipating that Lagares can finish the year strong. His stock is already up, now it's a matter of putting on the finishing touches.

Matt Den Dekker: After a rather slow start in Double-A (.175, 1 RBI in his first 10 games), den Dekker is showing more power and greater consistency. His strikeout rate has been rather high with Binghamton – near 33 percent – but a strong finish would allow den Dekker to build momentum heading in 2012 when he will likely return to Binghamton. Trimming down the strikeouts and attaining further consistency is the formula here. Recommended Stories