the Winner Is...
SS Jose Reyes. Reyes
(23 points) barely edged 1B Earl
Snyder (22 points) in our voting system using the following formula: 5 points
for 1st place votes, 4 points for 2nd place votes, 3 points for 3rd place votes, 2 points
for 4th place votes, and 1 point for 5th place votes. Not too far behind was 1B Craig
Brazell, who came in 3rd place with 18 points. Unlike the numerous pitchers
selced, three different players were selected by six different writers as the "2001
Mets' Minor League Hitters of the Year" and 10 different players were selected for
the Top Five, which only shows what kind of year the Mets' minor league pitchers had in
Mets Minor League Hitter of the Year
...2001 was a down year for the bats in the Mets' Minor
League system. Before I get to my selections, I would like to make observations of a
few of the players not in my "Top Five". First and foremost, Alex Escobar did not make
my list. Perhaps expectations were too high for him this season. But be that
as it may, 12 home runs in 397 at-bats isn't too juicy...especially when 5'9" Frank
Corr hit one more home run in 185 LESS at-bats. Also, when you consider
Escobar struck out a whopping 146 times this season, you have a recipe for
disappointment. Escobar's 146 K's were the second highest total in the entire Mets'
farm system. I desperately wanted to include Angel Pagan in my "Top
Five" but couldn't find the room. If this list was based on prospect potential,
I would obviously take out Scott Hunter and put Pagan in his place. Pagan hit .315
and stole 30 bases for the Brooklyn Cyclones in the short season NY Penn League.
Though Rob Stratton has
monstrous power, I couldn't feel right about putting a player who struck out 201 times
this season on my list.
At 18 years old, SS Jose Reyes
is my "2001 Mets' Minor League Hitter of the Year". Reyes was simply
fantastic for the A - Capital City Bombers. After a slow start to the season, Reyes
went on fire and ended the season hitting .307 with 71 runs scored, 22 doubles, 15
triples, and 5 home runs. He also wound up 48 RBIs batting leadoff most of the
season and he stole 30 bases. As impressive as those stats are, Reyes finished the
2001 campaign with a robust .472 slugging percentage. When you compare his slugging
percentage to those of the current New York Mets, only Mike Piazza (.562) has a higher
Snyder is not considered to be one of the Mets' top prospects. However,
Snyder had a good season for the Binghamton Mets in 2001. He hit .281 with 69 runs
scored, 20 home runs, 75 RBIs, and 4 stolen bases. They were not fantastic numbers,
but better than most Mets' minor league hitters this season. Since he does not have
the prototypical numbers for a first baseman, Snyder has been testing a move to third
base...most likely to make room for 1B Craig Brazell. Brazell, like
Snyder, had a fine season. Hitting for the A - Capital City Bombers, Brazell
finished the season with a .308 average. He had 25 doubles, 19 home runs, and 72
If Scott Hunter (who turns 26
in December) was five or six years younger, the Mets' would be touting him as a
top-notch prospect after his 2001 season. Hunter came close to recording a 20-20
season, playing for both the Binghamton Mets and the Norfolk Tides. His totals for
the 2001 season: .274, 17 HR, 72 RBI, 19 SBs. To round out my "Top
Five"....Frank Corr of the Brooklyn Cyclones. Corr, a
17th-round selection in the 2001 draft out of Stetson University, did not scare opposing
pitchers with his size (5'9"), but did with his bat! Corr clubbed 13
HRs in 202 at-bats to be one of the league leaders. He quickly became a fan favorite
of the Brooklyn Cyclones.
Snyder - Snyder, a former 36th round draft choice, made a seamless
transition to the AA level, and for some stretches was downright dominant. Snyder put up a
.281 batting average, almost identical to the .282 he had in St. Lucie in 2000. The
progress, however, was that his walk rate improved significantly, and he hit for a bit
more power as well, giving him excellent figures of a .374 OBP and .526 SLG. Snyder is
still a bit old for a prospect (25), but he has undeniable hitting skills.
Jose Reyes -
Snyder could almost be the 18-year-old Reyes's father (well, not quite), but that didn't
stop Reyes from hitting his way into national recognition as one of top 5 or so SS
prospects in the game. Reyes' horrific early season struggles were sharply reversed after
he became old enough to buy cigarettes in mid-June; he went on an absolute tear, and
finished at .307/.337/.472, with 30 steals. He needs to get on base more, but those
numbers are still superb compared to positional averages for a SS, let alone one playing
against competition that's generally two or three years older.
Craig Brazell - I'll penalize Brazell a little because he was repeating the Sally
League, but if you take that and position (1B) out of the equation, Brazell was the most
productive hitter in the minors for the Mets this year. His season was cut by injuries to
only 83 games, but he raked the ball to the tune of 19 homers, a .308 average, and a
blistering .586 slugging percentage. The only downside, as with Reyes, is that he doesn't
walk (.343 OBP), which is odd for a power hitter.
Joe Jiannetti - Jiannetti, 19, came out of nowhere (he was a late round JuCo draft
choice in 2000), but was a mainstay in the middle of the Brooklyn Cyclones batting order
after being recalled from Kingsport. Combining both stints, he batted .324/.391/.477.
Hopefully for the Mets, who need a 3B prospect desperately, he will continue to hit for
average the way he did in Brooklyn (.348). He showed the ability to walk and hit for
power, but could stand to do both a bit more.
Danny Garcia - Garcia, the Mets' 5th round pick out of Pepperdine this year, is so
far looking like a steal. Garcia started off the year at Brooklyn, hitting .321/.387/.411
in a 15-game stint. But lest one think he's another Chris Basak, he actually improved when
moved to full-season ball in Capital City, hitting .301/.409/.495 in 30 games there.
Garcia plays 2B, another position of need in the Mets organization, and if he can continue
his all-out play and solid all-around hitting, he may move through the system quickly.
...The one thing that none of the Mets' minor league
clubs did well, was hit. Compared to the likes of Calgary (AAA), Edmonton (AAA), Salt Lake
City (AAA), New Britain (AA), and Reading (AA), the Mets looked like Little Leaguers. The
one guy, though, who was really able to smack the ball this year was Earl Snyder. In his first
year of AA ball Snyder showed everyone that that's where he belongs: hitting .282 in 481
games, collecting 69 runs, hitting 20 homers, while knocking in 75 runs. The only thing
Snyder did wrong was strike out: going down hacking 111 times while walking only 58.
Snyder finished the season with a .571 slugging percentage and a .371 OBP.
Tony Tarasco is a little old to be a minor leaguer, but I think that he
was the best, all around batter this year. Tarasco kept his average above .300 for most of
the season, but lost his swing in the last few weeks, fininshing off with a .292 average.
In 366 games, Tarasco crossed the plate 53 times, while hitting 7 homers, and bringing in
57 runs. What made Tarasco possibly the best hitter at AAA-Norfolk this year, was his walk
to strike out ratio, 48:43, and his 14 stolen bases.
The Brooklyn Cyclones (A) finished the season as co-champions with a
great deal of thanks to Frank Corr. In 212 games, Corr hit .302, with 38
runs, 13 homers, 46 Runs Batted In. in his first year of A-ball, Corr was able to make
contact as well as hit the ball over the fence. The only thing that Corr lacked this year
was patience at the plate and speed on the bases.
Rob Stratton has been
in the Mets' Minor leage System for some time now. Known for his power at the plate, and
he didn't disappoint this year; hitting 28 homers and driving in 71 runs. Stratton is also
known for his impatience at the plate, and boy did he follow suit; striking out 197 times.
In spite of the outragous number of strikouts stratton managed to bat .248.
Jason Phillips has always been know as a catcher with great defense, but
little offense. Well, Phillips still does have great defense, but he's finally established
some pop in his bat. In AA-Binghamton Phillips batted .293 through 317 at-bats; while
hitting 11 homers and driving in 55 runs. Phillips established much patience at the plate,
having a 31:25 base-on-ball to strikeouts ratio. Phillips was moved up to AAA-Norfolk
towards the end of the season where he continued to hit well, posting a .303 average while
hitting 2 dingers and driving in 14 runs, through 66 games.
...Comments: Not much to choose from, not an Adam Dunn
or Albert Pujols in sight, demonstrating how depleted the farm system is
I like Stratton's power very much, but he
strikes out at an alarming rate. Corr reminds me of the Giles Brothers, Brian and Marcus,
he's hit with some power
just hope he can keep it up. Reyes is the
man of the system now, along with Brazell. Mets lineup desperately needs speed, just hope
he's around long enough to help at the majors and isn't included in a trade somewhere down
Reyes for an 18-year old had a remarkable season in which he hit .307 with 5
home runs, 48 RBI, and 30 SB. Reyes had an OPS of .807 and played exceptional defense.
Several coaches have indicated that based upon his tremendous maturity, Reyes might be
able to make the jump to the majors sometime in 2002. I hope the Mets have a little more
patience than that. He was rated the South Atlantic League's #2 prospect by coaches and
managers. To put his performance in perspective, Reyes is respectively 20 months and 14
month younger than Alex Escobar's and Andruw Jones' assaults on the SAL.
Earl Snyder was
considered a marginal prospect prior to his stellar 2001 season when he passed the
critical AA test. Older minor leaguers are not normally considered prospects until the
pass the AA test.
...No one really put up monstrous numbers in 2001, but
several players, particularly in the lower leagues, had excellent seasons. If the stats
from Capital City and Brooklyn are any indication, there's a group of real solid positions
players making their way to Shea.
Topping the list is SS Jose Reyes,
who started the season at Capital City at age 17, young even for low-level Class A play,
but rebounded from early struggles to hit .307 with excellent speed (30 steals) and some
pop (42 extra base hits, including 15 triples). And he's got a fantastic glove. Reyes
needs to show more patience from the leadoff spot, as he walked just 18 times in 108
games, but he's off to a flying start.
Capital City teammate Craig Brazell also stung the ball. The first
baseman was limited to just 83 games because of injuries but hit 18 home runs, drove in 72
runs and hit .308.
Moving up a level, Binghamton 1B Earl
Snyder hit .281 in his first season in AA, adding 20 homers and 75 RBI,
second in both categories. The numbers aren't staggering, but the Eastern League is
annually a pitcher's league. On the down side, Snyder did strike out 111 times, which was
only 3rd-worst for the free-swinging B-Mets.
A little man with a big bat, Brooklyn OF Frank Corr made the most of his
first minor-league season. The Mets' 17th-round pick in June, the 5-foot-9 Corr led the
Cyclones with 13 home runs and 46 RBI in 202 at bats in the short-season Class A season.
Corr showed good plate discipline too for a power hitter, striking out just 32 times in 61
Rounding out the top 5 is another 2001 draft pick, 2B Danny Garcia, who
split time between Brooklyn and Capital City. In 45 games, Garcia hit .308, scored 31
runs, stole 10 bases and had an on-base percentage of over .400.