Mets vs. Yankees: First Base Prospects

Carp is the most complete first base prospect

In the first of many comparisons between the Yankees and Mets' farm systems, we take a look at the crop of first base prospects in each system. Which system is deeper? Which prospects have the most power? The highest ceilings? Take a look at this comparison between the two New York farm systems.

The Two Farm Systems: The Yankees had a deeper crop of first base prospects a year ago and they still do after the 2006 season, especially after the likes of Duncan and Rodriguez have made the move over to first. And with Fermin still around, despite an injury plagued season, the Yankees have three high-upside first basemen.

The Mets counter with Carp and Evans, both young prodigies with plus power potential and both have made tremendous strides in the development of their defensive game around the bag.

The presence of Florida State League 'Hitter of the Year' Ehlers, who hit .298 with 38 doubles, 18 home runs, and drove home 106 runs, tilts the depth at the first base position the Yankees way however.

How Do They Compare In...

Power: From top to bottom, the Yankees collectively have more sluggers at first base. Eric Duncan, despite struggling with a back injury in 2006, has as much power potential as any hitting prospect in the game. Gerardo Rodriguez, making the transition from catcher, is an 18-year old who stings the ball like a big leaguer already. He is still very raw, but he has the type of thunder in his bat seldom found in teenagers. Angel Fermin, like Duncan, had a disappointing season but suffered through injuries. When healthy, he also has plus power potential.

Throw in the likes of Shelley Duncan (19 home runs in double-A), Randy Ruiz (26 home runs in double-A), Cody Ehlers (18 home runs in the Florida State League), Ben Jones (21 home runs in low-A), and Kyle Larsen (8 home runs in the NY-Penn League), the Yankees have a plethora of power-hitting first basemen.

The Mets have sluggers like Brett Harper (36 home runs in 2005), Mike Carp (17 home runs in the Florida State League this past season), and Nick Evans (15 home runs in low-A ball). But outside of those three, only Binghamton's Michel Abreu (17 home runs in double-A) has a chance of sniffing the 20 home run plateau. Junior Contreras has some power potential, but many scouts are extremely down on his poor conditioning and not only doubt his ability to remain at first base, but question whether or not he has the work ethic to reach even the upper minor league levels. Advantage: Yankees

Hitting For Average: Listed at 27-years old, many doubt the Mets' Michel Abreu's age, prompting some to even speculate the Cuban is already in his thirties. While he can really rake the baseball with the best of them, he isn't a legitimate prospect. Outside of Abreu, the only Mets' first base prospect many scouts consider a good bet to hit for a high average at the big league level is Mike Carp.

Carp has made marked improvements in cutting down his strikeouts and taking the ball to the opposite field. While he hit .287 as one of the youngest positional players in the Florida State League, there are some scouts who believe Carp is primed for a David Wright-like breakout sometime soon. Nick Evans also worked very hard on improving his approach at the plate, but he simply doesn't walk enough to project as a high average hitter. Brett Harper has shown to be a high average hitter, but his sub-par defensive ability at first base has many questioning whether or not he'll remain at the position.

Like Carp, the Yankees' Eric Duncan has not really chipped in with a high batting average lately, but many scouts believe he has the patience and selectivity at the plate to develop into a .300 hitter down the road. He too drives balls to the opposite field and has shown a willingness to take what pitchers give him.

While Gerardo Rodriguez and Angel Fermin have both shown an ability to hit for good averages at the lower minor league levels, and while some scouts believe they will have a chance to hit for a high average at the higher minor league levels, neither are sure-fire bets. Cody Ehlers, despite being a little old for his leagues, is a professional hitter who can hit the ball to all fields. He'll need to prove it more against competition his own age, but there are no signs that he can't. Advantage: Push

Defense: The Yankees had a clear advantage over the Mets defensively at first base a year ago, but with the rapid defensive progression of Mike Carp and Nick Evans, that gap is quickly closing. Once projecting as an average first baseman, Carp worked tirelessly on his agility, even taking ground balls at shortstop this past season to work on his footwork and hands. The hard worked paid off as he was voted the Best Defensive First Baseman in the Florida State League.

Like Carp, Evans also worked extremely hard to become a complete first baseman. He too dramatically improved his range and footwork around the bag and he has improved his stock as a result.

But outside of Carp and Evans, the Mets don't really have another solid defensive first base prospect. The Yankees on the other hand have a few defensive specialists at first base. Drafted in the 39th round this past season, Staten Island's Kevin Smith is arguably he best defensive first baseman in either farm system. Smith is the complete package at first base, comparable to the likes of J.T. Snow. Throw in the solid defensive work by Kyle Larsen and Cody Ehlers - who, despite finishing behind Carp in the Florida State League defensively, isn't that much worse - the Yankees have some pretty nifty defensive first basemen. Advantage: Yankees.

Overall Potential: Among all the first base prospects in both the Mets' and Yankees' farm systems, Mike Carp is the only safe bet to project as an everyday big league first baseman. His offensive ceiling is nearly as good as Eric Duncan's, and with his defensive prowess, he's easily the most complete first base prospect.

The Yankees' Eric Duncan and the Mets' Nick Evans not only are behind Carp projection-wise, but both have enough defensive shortcomings at first base to open up enough speculation that they may have to move to another position down the road. Duncan's offensive potential should keep him in the mix and the same could be said of Evans.

Gerardo Rodriguez, who turns 19-years old this offseason, has plus power and has quickly showed some agility at first base already. He and Angel Fermin are both raw players right now, but both have very high ceilings. Cody Ehlers may not get the credit he deserves just yet, but his professional approach to the game makes him a sleeper prospect.

Highest Ceilings: Mike Carp (Mets), Eric Duncan (Yankees), Nick Evans (Mets), Gerardo Rodriguez (Yankees), Angel Fermin (Yankees)

Best Power: Shelley Duncan (Yankees), Brett Harper (Mets), Eric Duncan (Yankees), Mike Carp (Mets), Nick Evans (Mets)

Best Average: Michel Abreu (Mets), Cody Ehlers (Yankees), Mike Carp (Mets), Eric Duncan (Yankees), Gerardo Rodriguez (Yankees)

Best Defense: Kevin Smith (Yankees), Mike Carp (Mets), Cody Ehlers (Yankees), Kyle Larsen (Yankees), Nick Evans (Mets)

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