Dante Brinkley: "I think Dante Brinkley is a guy that is very underrated and deserves more than he gets", said Lastings Milledge. "He's a little guy but he's just a special player. He's going to pull a Juan Pierre on people and just come out of nowhere to be a very good Major League player for somebody. He just knows what it is all about and can do a lot of things on a baseball field. Mark my words - he's going to be a very special player!" Obviously Lastings Milledge, one of the more talented players in minor leauge baseball, believes Brinkley is a big time sleeper.
Brinkley can hit for power and average, steal bases, play any of the outfield positions, and is one of the better clubhouse leaders in the entire Mets' farm system. After beginning the 2004 season as a fourth outfielder with the Capital City Bombers, Brinkley became the leader of the playoff bound Brooklyn Cyclones. He may not have plus tools across the board, but he's got all five tools and has the talent to get all the way to Shea.
Ryan Harvey: After being used as a reserve outfielder for the Cyclones and Bombers in 2003, the 2003 19th round pick became an All-Star in the South Atlantic League by hitting .325-10-69 with 12 stolen bases and 32 doubles. The only knock on Harvey is his lack of home run power. But Harvey makes up for it with excellent contact hitting, driving the ball from gap to gap and providing the big hits in the clutch. Harvey could have a Jason Bay like rise to the Major Leagues, flying under the radar along the way.
Cory Wells: Drafted in the 28th round of the 2003 draft, Cory Wells is a prime candidate to be a "sleeper" among the Mets' outfield crop. Wells, who grew up playing against Lastings Milledge in high school, has many of the same tools as Milledge, albeit maybe not at the same level. Wells has the chance to develop into a five tool talent, although there's some thought by scouts that he may not hit for a very high average. He has developing power and only needs some success to breed more confidence. Wells could have a breakout season in 2005 and show the Mets he's for real. He's shown up in Spring Training with a renewed drive.
Jonathan Slack: Seldom do you find a player selected in the 5th round (Slack was drafted in the 5th round of the 2002 draft out of Texas Tech University) that would qualify as a "sleeper". However, in his tenure with the Mets, Slack has taken a back seat to the plethora of power hitters and five tool talents in the Mets' outfield. Slack is one of the better defensive players and has a lot of speed to his game. He's a patient hitter at the plate but has yet to make the consistent contact desired from a leadoff hitter. If he can learn to hit the gaps more, Slack has the chance to be a fine outfielder someday. As it stands right now, Slack projects to be a fine fourth outfielder at minimum.
Jesus Gamero: The Venezuelan product had a very good season in Kingsport last season, hitting .323 with three home runs and three stolen bases. Gamero has one of the quickest bats going and he generates a lot of power from a short, compact swing. He showed up to Spring Training in excellent shape, adding 10-15 lbs. of muscle and should hit for more power as he matures. Some scouts believe he could develop into a Brian Jordan type player.
Need to Make Their Move
Jeff Duncan: Most Mets' fans know by now that Duncan is one of the fastest players in the Mets system and is a great defensive outfielder. The 26-year old outfielder hasn't hit above .290 since hitting .373 in 2002, although that was in just 252 at-bats. He has struggled making contact and he seemingly has fallen out of favor with the Mets. One of two things has to happen for Duncan next season: either he's going to have to rebound in a big way with his batting average or find a fresh start with another club.
Prentice Redman: Redman is a solid all-around outfielder that does a little bit of everything on a baseball field. He's entering his seventh season in the Mets' system in 2005 and will need to prove he can handle the rigors of AAA pitching after hitting just .254 for the Tides in two different stints in Norfolk. Like Duncan, Redman could benefit from a change of scenery if he doesn't produce soon. Time is running out for Redman to make his mark with the Mets.
The Jury Is Still Out
Corey Coles: Coles is the ultimate "dirt bag", throwing his body around with reckless abandon diving after everything. He was among the leaders in hits and batting average in the NY-Penn League last season before a meltdown in the waning weeks hurt his overall numbers. Coles has above average speed and makes good contact. He's 23 years old however and has never seen an at-bat in any of the long season leagues.
Derran Watts: Watts is another toolsy outfielder in the Mets' system, but he hasn't shown enough consistency in his contact hitting to be a regular in the lineup. He has served more as a fourth outfielder with the Mets since being drafted in the 12th round of the 2001 draft. Watts, like Duncan, has above average speed and plays good defense but needs to show more if he's to remain a prospects. His career .244 average does not help his case.
Joshua Wyrick: Wyrick, drafted in the 11th round in last year's draft, had a good debut with the Kingsport Mets last season. Batting leadoff, Wyrick showed good power (4 HRs) and decent speed while playing a fantastic center field. He's 23 years old however and he'll need to hit his way up the ladder to garner any attention as a legitimate prospects. His defense could carry him a ways though.
Kyle Brown: Talk about the jury still being out! Brown amassed a total of six at-bats in his professional debut with the Brooklyn Cyclones last season after missing time due to injury. The book on Brown is he can flat out fly, stealing 42 bases in his final year of college. He's a good contact hitter and can play tremendous defense. The question will be how he'll handle the transition to wooden bats.
Seth Pietsch: Pietsch is somewhat of a masher despite his small size (5'9"). There are quite a few question marks about his defensive game however and whether or not he'll be able to handle all the offspeed pitches he's bound to face at the higher levels. At 23 years old, Pietsch is going to have prove he can make all the necessary adjustments.