Down on the Farm for Thursday, April 20: Two Norfolk errors cost Heath Bell a decision against…
Sizing Up The Outfield Prospects - Part Two
Ambiorix Concepcion: Make no mistake - Concepcion is one of the high-ceiling outfielders in the Mets' farm system. But at 23-years old and struggling with the breaking ball the way he has, he's also the high-ceiling talent with the most to prove in the organization. Reportedly clashing with the management style in 2005, he struggled to hit .251 in the South Atlantic League, but he still managed to hit 15 home runs and steal 25 bases.
Many scouts believe he's the type of prospect that needs to be challenged and that he'll see better pitches at the AA-level and beyond. Whatever the case, time is running out for excuses. Concepcion needs to make his move in 2006 and show the Mets' brass that he is worthy of top ten prospect consideration. He has the talent. He just needs to back it up on the field.
Elvis Cruz: A physically imposing figure, standing 6'3" and 190 pounds, Cruz looks like an elite masher in batting practice. Originally signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Mariners, the Mets signed Cruz as a free agent in 2005. He hit four home runs in just 104 at-bats with the Kingsport Mets and some scouts believe he's a sleeper candidate because of his power potential. But at 22-years old, he'll need to improve on his .198 career batting average and show he can hit for power in the long-season leagues first.
Jonathan Slack: Drafted in the 5th round out of Texas Tech University, Slack has very good speed, adequate gap power, and is a solid defensive player (he didn't commit an error in 2005). Outside of his stint in the Florida State League however, he hasn't been able to secure a starting outfield position in the Mets' farm system. He owns just a .257 career batting average and, at 24-years old, he'll need to force his way into the starting lineup to garner any serious consideration.
Caleb Stewart: Somebody needs to send a memo to the Mets that Stewart has proven he can handle pitching at the lower levels. A 22nd round pick out of the University of Kentucky, all Stewart had done is hit .271 with 40 doubles, 18 home runs, and stolen 12 bases in the equivalency of a full minor league season over the last two years. He may not have the ceiling of some of the other outfield prospects, but he certainly has warranted a shot at the higher minor league levels. Until he gets that shot however, he's a non-factor in prospect circles.
Alhaji Turay: While David Wright has become a household name, Turay, who was picked in the round right after Wright, has struggled to put one healthy season together. In five minor league seasons, Turay has played the equivalent of two full years, averaging 28 doubles, 16 home runs, 70 RBI, and 22 stolen bases per full minor league season. The talent is certainly there to be an impact prospect, but at 23-years old, he needs to put one full healthy year together before he can revitalize his fading prospect status.
Cory Wells: The Florida native grew up competing against Lastings Milledge in high school and became good friends as they entered the Mets' organization together. However, the similarities end there. Drafted in the 28th round of the 2003 MLB Draft, Wells hasn't been able to force his way into the long season leagues, amassing just 361 career at-bats along the way. In the equivalency of less than one full minor league season, he has hit 26 doubles, 7 home runs, and stolen 18 bases. He has some talent, but at 21-years old, he'll need to show he can get into a starting role in the long-season leagues before he can be taken seriously as a prospect.
The Jury Is Still Out
Parris Austin: Drafted in the 16th round of the 2004 MLB Draft, Austin opened some eyes by hitting over .300 in his two stops between the Gulf Coast League Mets and Kingsport Mets in 2005. He has a little bit of speed to his game, but he has collected just 231 professional at-bats so far. He needs a full-time opportunity before we can make any accurate assessments to his prospect status.
Greg Cain: A five-tool talent in high school, the Mets drafted Cain in the 6th round of the 2005 MLB Draft. A raw player with plus power potential and plus speed, Cain hit just. 202 in his professional debut with the Gulf Coast League Mets. While he was on pace to draw nearly 100 walks in the equivalency of a full minor league season, he was also on pace to strike out nearly 180 times. Potentially a sleeper candidate, he has a long way to go in tapping his potential and he seems destined for Kingsport in 2006.
Jesus Gamero: An athletic outfielder who opened some eyes in Kingsport in 2004, Gamero played through some minor injuries in 2005 but didn't look like the same player. He has some power and speed to his game and he'll be out to prove his sub-par performance last season was more of a fluke. At 22-years old, he could be in the 'Need To Make Their Mark' category, but we'll give him one more year before doing so.
Joe Holden: A scrappy outfielder drafted in the 21st round of the 2005 MLB Draft, Holden became a fan favorite in Brooklyn last summer after hitting .291 with five triples and 22 stolen bases. He has shown a patient approach at the plate and his plus speed should afford him some opportunities. Holden needs to prove he can handle the long-season leagues before his stock as a prospect rises.
Jose Mateo: A product of the Dominican Summer League Mets, Mateo is an intriguing prospect because of his power and speed combination. He hit 10 doubles and 6 home runs in just 185 combined at-bats between the Gulf Coast League and the Appalachian League. However, at 22-years old, he's in the Jesus Gamero category of being on a short "prospect" leash.
Jonathan Sanchez: A product of the Dominican Summer League Mets, Sanchez is a raw left-handed hitter with power and speed. After an injury plagued 2005 that saw him miss the entire year, he's in camp and the early word is he'll begin the 2006 season in Hagerstown. At 6'2" and 180 pounds, the 20-year old Sanchez is a mild sleeper candidate at this point because of his patient approach at the plate.
Michael Sharpe: A native of Queens, New York, Sharpe was drafted in the 35th round of the 2005 MLB Draft. At 23-years old, like Parris Austin, he seems to be more of a non-prospect at the current time but we'll reserve our initial judgment right now seeing as he managed to collect only 41 at-bats with the Brooklyn Cyclones last summer.
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