"Splitsville" is a series of articles on the Mets' prospects that we'll be doing throughout their…
Mets vs. Yankees: Outfield Prospects
Throwing in Jamar Hill and Ambiorix Concepcion into the mix, both more four-tool prospects than five-tool prospects because they both haven't shown a consistent ability to hit for average, gives the Mets' stable of outfield prospects a lot of depth.
The Yankees have really one five-tool talent among their outfield prospects. Jose Tabata, at 16-years old, displayed his plus tools with the Gulf Coast League Yankees this past season. It remains to be seen if he'll prove it at the higher levels or not, but he already is a special talent at such a young age. People forget that Melky Cabrera, who played at AAA, AA, and even some time in the Majors in 2005, spent the majority of the year playing as a 20-year old. Writing off Cabrera, who some scouts compare to Bobby Abreu of the Phillies, would be a huge mistake.
The all around games of centerfield prospects Tim Battle and Brett Gardner for the Yankees gives their outfield prospects an athletic look. Battle - drawing comparisons to the Mets' Mike Cameron because of his good power, defensive ability, and propensity to strike out a lot - is a game changer. Gardner is one of the elite small-ball players you'll find. He resembles a young Bret Butler and he is already one of the finest bunters in all of professional baseball, not to mention one of the fastest.
Both the Mets and Yankees have a few outfield prospects that have all the tools in their bag but haven't shown it enough on a consistent basis or have age working against them to garner serious attention at this time. Players like Dante Brinkley and Bobby Malek of the Mets, and Matt Carson, Erold Andrus, and Rudy Guillen of the Yankees should not be forgotten.
Each system has a wild-card outfield prospect that still has the raw ability to be an elite hitting prospect. Alhaji Turay of the Mets and Jonathan Poterson of the Yankees have some of the best raw power found anywhere. Turay hasn't shown an ability to remain healthy for an entire season throughout his minor league career and time is beginning to run out for the former second-round pick. Poterson, who just completed his first full season, is still just a teenager and just needs some more time to hone his skills.
Finally, both the Mets and Yankees have outfield prospects that could be key contributors at the Major League outfield in more of a reserve role. Angel Pagan of the Mets and Kevin Thompson of the Yankees are two of the more complete outfield prospects that project to better serve their teams as a fourth or fifth outfielder. Each are very good defensively, each has good speed, and each can play any of the three outfield positions in a pinch.
How Do They Compare In...
Power: Jonathan Poterson of the Yankees is arguably the best power hitting prospect at the outfield position between the two farm systems. The former catcher is a switch hitter with power from both sides of the plate and is as raw as they come. Once he learns to become a better hitter, Poterson should become an elite power hitting prospect.
Carlos Gomez of the Mets is one of the more underrated prospects in the game today. He hit just eight home runs in his first full season as a 19-year old in the South Atlantic League. Some passive observers will take a quick look at his 64 stolen bases and judge that he's a leadoff type hitter from the stats. Don't be fooled! While his stats haven't shown his plus power yet, pundits need to remember that Miguel Cabrera of the Marlins hit just 7 home runs in a comparable league (Midwest) at the same age. One National League scout believes he could easily become a Juan Gonzalez type, he has that much raw power.
Lastings Milledge is one of the more devastating hitters in baseball. He can do whatever he wants to do on a baseball field. Milledge could use his speed to bat leadoff or hit third in the lineup to take advantage of his power. There are mixed feelings among scouts however as to his overall potential. Some believe he could be an elite player, drawing early comparisons to a right-handed version of Barry Bonds, albeit a younger version of Bonds and not the current incarnation. Other scouts believe he'll be more of a Milton Bradley or Matt Lawton type. The truth most likely lies somewhere in the middle.
Outside the big three of Poterson, Gomez, and Milledge, Ambiorix Concepcion and Jamar Hill of the Mets and Melky Cabrera and Jose Tabata of the Yankees project to hit for plus power at the Major League level someday. The Mets have a few more power hitting prospects among their outfield prospects at this time. Advantage: Mets
Hitting For Average: Lastings Milledge of the Mets projects to be the most complete hitter among the outfield prospects between the two farm systems. He is now a career .313 hitter in his two seasons in the Mets system and the best is yet to come from the former first-round pick. If there's a prospect that could become a Milledge-type in the Yankees farm system, it is Jose Tabata. Tabata has an advanced batting eye at the plate and he's still just 17-years old. And like Milledge, Tabata is just scratching the surface of his talent.
Brett Gardner of the Yankees and Dante Brinkley and Carlos Gomez of the Mets each project to hit for a high average not only for their hitting ability, but because their speed will allow them to get more hits over the course of a season. Throw in Melky Cabrera's prowess at the plate, this is a close race. Advantage: Even
Defense: The Mets clearly have an edge over the Yankees on defense among their outfield prospects. While Brett Gardner, Tim Battle, and Kevin Thompson are all fine defensive players for the Yankees, the Yankees don't have a true right fielder in their farm system. The Yankees have quite a few outfield prospects with plus range, but none of them can touch the outfield arms that the Mets have. Only Jose Tabata and Wilkins De La Rossa have plus arms in the Yankees' stable of outfield prospects.
Between Carlos Gomez, Ambiorix Concepcion, and Bobby Malek, you'd be hard-pressed to find three outfield prospects with better arms in one farm system. Throw in the Gold Glove caliber defensive ability of Lastings Milledge and the plus defense played by Jamar Hill, outfield defense is a strong suit for the Mets. Advantage: Mets
Speed: Here is where the comparison between the two farm systems gets fun. Seeing a foot race between the likes of Brett Gardner, Tim Battle, Jose Tabata, and Kevin Thompson of the Yankees, and Carlos Gomez, Lastings Milledge, Ambiorix Concepcion, and Wayne Lydon of the Mets, would be well worth the admission price. Both have a plethora of outfield prospects with plus speed with no discernable edge between the two groups. Advantage: Even.
Overall Potential: Carlos Gomez and Lastings Milledge are the top two outfield prospects if you combined the two farm systems, period! Both project to be elite outfielders at the Major League level someday. But the gap between the two farm systems is slowly closing as the Yankees' Melky Cabrera, Jose Tabata, Tim Battle, Austin Jackson, and Jonathan Poterson all have untapped potential.
If the likes of Eric Duncan and/or C.J. Henry eventually make the move to the outfield for the Yankees, as some have suggested, the pendulum would swing in the favor of the Yankees. However, until that time, the Mets have a slight edge over their cross-town rivals among the outfield prospects mostly because of the immense talent of the Mets' top two prospects. Advantage: Mets.
Highest Ceilings: Carlos Gomez (Mets), Lastings Milledge (Mets), Melky Cabrera (Yankees), Jose Tabata (Yankees), Ambiorix Concepcion (Mets).
Best Power: Jonatan Poterson (Yankees), Carlos Gomez (Mets), Lastings Milledge (Mets), Ambiorix Concepcion (Mets), Jamar Hill (Mets)
Best Average: Lastings Milledge (Mets), Jose Tabata (Yankees), Dante Brinkley (Mets), Brett Gardner (Yankees), Carlos Gomez (Mets)
Best Defense: Carlos Gomez (Mets), Ambiorix Concepcion (Mets), Lastings Milledge (Mets), Kevin Thompson (Yankees), Brett Gardner (Yankees)
Best Speed: Brett Gardner (Yankees), Carlos Gomez (Mets), Lastings Milledge (Mets), Tim Battle (Yankees), Wayne Lydon (Mets).
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