1. Fernando Martinez
- Though his season was once again abbreviated because of injury, Fernando still reigns atop the Mets' farm system. He played just 90 games with Binghamton in 2008 [.287, 8 HR, 43 RBI, .340 OBP]
, but the 20-year-old outfielder continues to inch closer to the big leagues on the promise of his impressive, balanced swing and expected power. A hamstring injury threw a kink in his summer schedule, but over the season Fernando not only grew stronger all over his body which helped increase his power, but matured his plate recognition and opposite field stroke as well. There has yet to be a true "breakout" moment for the organization's top prospect, and injuries are slowly becoming a cause for concern, but Fernando's tremendous natural abilities solidly keep him number one.
2. Wilmer Flores
- Flores, who never played an inning of ball stateside prior to 2008, gained a great amount of attention for the way he tore through the Appalachian League with Kingsport. He already possesses good size at 6-foot-3 and as he continues to fill out his frame, combined with his favorable power projection, Flores figures to remain an organizational contender as he works his way up the system. That said, he is still raw in areas of his game including his bat speed and knowledge of the game, and could move around defensively as he physically matures, but his tools at such an early age are the base for a bright future.
3. Jonathon Niese
- The 22-year-old southpaw became the system's top overall pitching prospect following the arms dealt away in the Johan Santana deal and he did not disappoint. Niese demonstrated terrific growth this year as he further improved his changeup and tough cut-fastball. Though he finished his 22 starts at Double-A with a 6-7 record, his 3.04 ERA was a strong indicator of his ability to better control at-bats and work deeper into games. Following seven strong starts in Triple-A [5-1, 3.40 ERA]
, he made his debut in New York where he did toss one superb outing among two tough ones. Niese certainly put himself in position to claim a rotation spot outright in 2009.
4. Brad Holt
- The big right-hander was one of the three first-round picks for the Mets in 2008 and he went on to dominate the New York-Penn League in ways on few have before him. He possesses a big fastball that sits about 94 MPH which makes his underrated curveball an even more dominating pitch. His changeup needs refining but it proved effective in his first season which should give him all the tools to make larger strides in 2009. Though he could fit the mold of an effective late-inning reliever, Holt will remain in the rotation for the foreseeable future.
5. Daniel Murphy
- Murphy certainly made an impact in his big league debut last summer as he hit .313 with two home runs and 17 RBI in 49 games for the Mets, but he could not have done that without the growth he displayed in 95 games with Binghamton. Added power, an improved ability to hit to all fields and a uniquely acute eye all rounded out an already strong offensive game. But moving forward it will be his defense, and a possible move to second base, that could factor most into his playing time at the highest level. Nonetheless, if Murphy can continue to hit around .300, it will force the club to find a spot for him.
6. Eddie Kunz
- The 2007 top overall pick made an inauspicious big league debut in August before going back to Triple-A where he endured a rocky stint. But the bulk of his work came as Binghamton's reliable closer in which he piled up 27 saves and a .222 opponent batting average. Walks continue to hamper Kunz, but the development of his slider and changeup this year have gone a long way to making him more versatile than just his hard, mid-90s sinker which helps him average nearly four groundballs for every fly ball.
7. Nick Evans
- Evans too made his big league debut this summer and had his share of clutch moments. Like Murphy, he will be in the mix next spring thanks in large part for his ability to rake left-handed pitching and play multiple positions. His power is well-developed, but more significantly, he continues to grow as a contact hitter as he hit over .300 for the first time in his career with a .311 mark in 75 games in Binghamton. Greater consistency helped him lessen streaky patterns that plagued him in the past.
8. Bobby Parnell
- Parnell started slow in Binghamton in 2008 but persevered and eventually moved up to Triple-A before making his own major league debut in September. The right-hander throws a hard four-seamer and dancing two-seam fastball, but it is his slider that needs consistency. When the pitch is on, it can buckle knees as it breaks through the zone with the sharpest of hooks. His fastball/slider combination makes him attractive candidate for the bullpen, but his quality of pitches and stamina figures to give him a shot to stay in the rotation.
9. Mike Carp
- Carp stayed healthy and productive for 134 games in 2008 which was the ideal remedy coming back from a subpar 2007 season. His .299 batting average was a career high while his 17 home runs tied his high water mark from 2006 in St. Lucie. He was very balanced at the plate and executed well against all pitches in all hitting quadrants which made him less prone to pull the ball, but inconsistency versus left-handed pitching remains his last hurdle. His 79 walks and .403 on-base percentage certainly garnered attention and was indicative of his improved offensive skills.
10. Brant Rustich
- Arm injury prevented Rustich from throwing more than 50 innings this season, but facts remain that the 6-foot-6 right-hander's stuff is ready for the big leagues. He already sits 94-95 MPH and throws a devastating slider off of it. Throw in a good curveball and a nasty changeup and Rustich has the makings to be a successful starter. Simply put, the second-year right-hander needs innings and needs his health. Once he puts it all together, his stay on the farm may not be too long.
11. Tobi Stoner
- Stoner went a long way towards refining his deep repertoire this past season. Though he lacks the heat or name recognition than others ahead of him on this list may possess, he does own a complete game and an unflinching desire for success. His average fastball velocity increased to 90-92 MPH up from the high-80s in 2007 and his tough secondary pitches make him efficient in the strike zone which is a quality that will continue to bode well for him as he ascends the organization. 2008 was his third season in the system and the second straight in which he received an in-season promotion.
12. Ezequiel Carrera
- The speedy outfielder's stock continues to rise following a very productive season in St. Lucie in which he racked up seven home runs, 12 doubles and 11 triples while swiping 28 stolen bases. His .263 average was down from his 2007 mark of .329 in short-season ball, but Carrera has a compact swing that generates good of pop from his 5-foot-11, 180-pound frame. His speed makes him a constant threat on the bases from atop the order and allows him to cover lots of ground in the outfield.
13. Scott Shaw
- The club's 13th round selection in this year's draft instantly impressed with his own deep repertoire and aptitude for the game. Though Shaw pitched mostly in the high-80s this summer, expect his velocity to push into the 90s next year to go along with his terrific slider, tumbling changeup and budding curveball. He brings good size to the mound and his consistency in the strike zone is a mature characteristic not often found in rookie pitchers. He is absolutely one to watch in 2009.
14. Dillon Gee
- This second-year right-hander, who did not even crack the Top 50 list following the 2007 season, blazed up the list because his skills have so effectively translated into growth and production. Physically, Gee is stronger and in greater control of his body on the mound which gives him an easy, repeatable delivery that allows him to pound the strike zone with all of his pitches—none of which move in a straight line. Walks come few and far between with Gee who issued just 24 free passes in 154 1/3 innings in 2008, and 33 over 216 1/3 career innings.
15. Matt Bouchard
- A hernia-like injury disrupted much of Bouchard's second season, but when he is on the field, he continues to show why the organization favors him. He ranks near the top of the farm in terms of athleticism, has good bat speed through the zone and possesses power which has yet to translate to game action. Defensively, he has a very strong arm and patrols his shortstop position with very good agility and range which should help him move up quickly as his bat catches up.
16. Ruben Tejada
- Tejada arrived on the radar following his .324 combined average in 2007 and made a huge jump from the Gulf Coast League to the Florida State League, not turning 19 years old until September 1. He struggled in St. Lucie and the long year took a toll on him as he finished the year with a .229 average with just one month over .270. His quick feet and hands make him a slick defender and like Bouchard his defense will carry him a long way, but he has more work to do at the dish to compete against more skilled pitching as he moves up.
17. Juan Lagares
- Lagares, also 19, got a late start to his season because of a shoulder injury and finished the year with a .253 average, three home runs and 24 RBI. However, once he adapts plate discipline and continues to fill out, the production should come. Defensively, Lagares has struggled as a shortstop as he has racked up over 70 errors combined in the last two seasons, but with physical gains the expectation is that he will move to the outfield.
18. Michael Antonini
- Another fast mover from the 2007 draft class, Antonini climbed from Savannah to Binghamton this season because of increased velocity, a terrific ability to locate his pitches and a changeup effective against hitters on both sides. His slider still needs work but for now remains a useful weapon against left-handers. He finished the year with the lowest ERA of any pitcher on a long-season club [2.77] and walked just 39 batters in 162 2/3 innings pitched while striking out 126.
19. Reese Havens
- The Mets second of three first-round selections was limited in his time in Brooklyn due to elbow and leg injuries, appearing in just 23 games in which he hit .247 with three home runs and 11 RBI. Havens boasts established home run power and a mature opposite field stroke which leaves many in the organization confident that when he returns to full health he can be an offensive force. However, currently a shortstop, his defensive positioning is something that will likely change in coming years.
20. Greg Veloz
- The 20-year-old second baseman pieced together a huge turnaround season in 2008, hitting .286 in 111 games with Savannah after compiling a .224 mark in 132 games in 2007. His quick swing, good gap and emerging home run power are punctuated by his ability to steal bases as his 29 steals led the organization. His defense still needs refinement, but for a player that previously came with some skepticism, he has become a contender on the farm at second base.
21. Shawn Bowman
- Bowman appeared in 55 games in 2008 which was a marked improvement considering all the time he missed the previous two seasons. When healthy, Bowman is a slugger who can hit for contact and power. His game is well-balanced by a vacuum for a glove and a rocket arm from third base. Plate discipline was a sore spot for him this year, but that can be corrected when he settles in and tempers his desire to make up for lost time. However, a measurable increase of his on-base percentage would go a long way. His future path relies on health, but if healthy, the organization has a player who should not stay down long.
22. Scott Moviel
- The right-hander progressed over the course of the season as much as any other on the farm. Delivery and mechanics are always a premier focal point for the 6-foot-11 Moviel, but as he cleaned up his motion his low-90s fastball had more life and he had better command and effectiveness of his breaking ball. Moviel is a hard worker who gains confidence with each stepping stone and will only get better with more coaching.
23. Zach Lutz
- A foot/ankle injury has sidelined the 2007 5th round pick for virtually his entire career to date, but it does not discount the fact that Lutz entered with a tremendous bat and is one of the best pure hitters in the system. He has excellent plate awareness, quick bat speed and can drive the ball to the opposite field. He offered a limited sample of those skills with a .333 average, three home runs, 12 RBI and 14 walks in 24 games with Brooklyn this summer, but his ankle injury is a concern moving forward. His offensive skills should make him a quick riser if he can stay on the field.
24. Jenrry Mejia
- This season, the hard-throwing right-hander arrived from the Dominican Summer League with little fanfare, but quickly moved himself up the depth chart thanks to a rocket arm which allows him to sit 94-95 MPH on his fastball. He comes back with a snapping curveball and good changeup which induce a high number of groundballs and make his heater even tougher. Mejia compliments his strength and durability with a quick learning curve that will help him succeed when he moves onto a long-season club.
25. Ike Davis
- The top overall pick in 2008 did not offer the production anticipated prior to suiting up for the Cyclones, but Davis does possess good power potential and the look of a high-average hitter despite hitting just .256 and going homerless in 215 at-bats. Defensively, he is agile, has a quick glove and a very strong arm, but his future success will be determined by his ability to demonstrate progress at the plate.
26. Jefry Marte
- Marte, at just 17 years old, offers a lot of promise and backed it up by hitting .325 with four home runs and 24 RBI in 44 Gulf Coast League games this summer. Looking at him, you can see his body still needs to fill out but he is strong especially in the hands and wrists. He also needs to shorten his swing, but he has a lot of room to grow and plenty of time to do it.
27. Dylan Owen
- In his second season, Owen was tied with two others for the most wins in the Florida State League  and finished fourth in strikeouts . Owen's bread and butter are his tough breaking pitches—both his slider and curveball—which allow him to rack up strikeouts at a high rate, but he quickly found out during his promotion to Binghamton that fastball consistency and a sharper changeup will go a long way. His clean delivery and competitive streak are two elements the organization holds in high regard.
28. Eric Niesen
- Niesen endured a rocky season as he continued his education of becoming a full-time starter, finishing the year with a 6-12 record and 4.64 ERA with St. Lucie. But the left-hander is a very heady pitcher who constructs a good plan of attack on the mound and owns a good changeup which can alter the timing of swings on his 91-93 MPH fastball. He needs to piece together all of his pitches, but upon doing so Niesen should become a very formidable southpaw.
29. Francisco Pena
- Pena returned to Savannah in 2008 where he became a mid-season All-Star at 19 years old. While Pena hit .264 with six home runs and 41 RBI in 105 games, the greater objective was to have him build durability and show he could handle the physical rigors of a full season behind the plate which he did because of greater conditioning. His bat will come around in time, but currently his development behind the plate is of higher priority.
30. Lucas Duda
- The St. Lucie first baseman has good size, power potential and very sharp eye [his 66 walks led the Florida State League]
all of which helped him hit .263 with 11 home runs, 66 RBI last season. A prolonged mid-season dry spell kept his average low and was a product of needed consistency particularly against left-handed pitching, against which he had a .187 average. Duda does a very good job of recognizing his pitch and location, but greater execution of when he sees it will go a long way for his production.
31. Robert Carson
- Though his fastball sits 92-94 MPH, Robert Carson prefers to pitch to contact rather than go for the strikeout. However, his ability to strikeout hitters should increase as he continues to strengthen his rapidly improving slider. He tops off his repertoire with a changeup more formidable than most other 19-year-old pitchers, and he brings an air of confidence and leadership to the mound that provided guidance to his short-season league teams.
32. Josh Thole
- Thole underwent an offensive surge this season and rocketed up the system's catching depth chart after posting his first .300 season with five home runs and 56 RBI. Despite hitting his first home runs since 2006, his excellent command of the strike zone allowed him to hit .300 with just 38 strikeouts in 111 games. It is that plate discipline that should continue his rapid growth with the bat while he continues to solidify his play behind the plate. A slightly better than average arm limits his ability to throw out baserunners, but he has good mobility and rarely finds himself out of position.
33. Kirk Nieuwenhuis
- While other names may have garnered more attention in Brooklyn, it was Nieuwenhuis who delivered more consistency than any other position player. The third round pick has a good contact stroke that can find the gaps and allows him to use his above average speed to work the bases. There are a couple of holes in his strike zone, but overall he displays good plate coverage and knows how to work the count. Defensively, he saw time in centerfield for the Cyclones but his speed and arm are better suited for a corner position.
34. Jeurys Familia
- Coming over as a Dominican free agent signing in 2007, the early returns on 19-year-old Familia have been very positive. While in the Gulf Coast League in 2008, he continued to fine tune his mechanics but demonstrated a consistent effort to pound the strike zone with all three pitches—all of which have very good movement. He is still a bit raw but is ahead of the curve with the work ethic to excel.
35. Rafael Fernandez
- A still rather unknown commodity in many circles, Fernandez, 20, is rather raw but brings exciting elements to the field. He has top flight speed that allows him to play all over the outfield though he has yet to translate it to base-stealing ability. He hit .259 with Kingsport in 2008 but saw his average rise as the summer went on. His bat is unpolished but when it does come around it should transform him into a balanced player who can stick and glove with the best of the younger crop of prospects.
36. Josh Stinson
- Challenging seasons can often get the best of a young pitcher's confidence, but 20-year-old Josh Stinson has persevered better than anticipated. Stinson possessed a deep repertoire heading into the year, but it was upon his return to Savannah for the second straight season that he achieved measured improvement with both his slider and changeup. That added vital depth to his game. Most of his 2008 innings came in relief, a role which he smoothly transitioned to, giving the organization flexibility in his future.
37. Raul Reyes
- Injury removed any opportunity for Reyes to climb further up the rankings. Had Reyes not suffered a broken ankle just 13 games into the season, he would have shown off his big league power. The lack of playing time did not help him mature his rather raw contact stroke, but his prolific power and big arm in the outfield figure to make him an intriguing comeback story for 2009.
38. Maikel Cleto
- If one were to make a list of the hardest throwers in the entire organization, Cleto could possibly rank at the top of that list. With a fastball that sits 95-96 MPH [with many recorded triple-digit readings this season]
, Cleto bring sheer power to the mound. However, it will be the development of his breaking pitch and changeup that allow him to become more than just a flamethrower.
39. Elvin Ramirez
- Ramirez's game is predominately based on movement as he sets up hitters with his tough, sinking fastball before putting them away with his biting slider which is tough for hitters to lift. His improving changeup will fill out his game, but his future success will be based on his ability to trust his stuff. His pitches are there, but his sequencing still requires work which should come together with added experience.
40. Sean McCraw
- It was a disappointing year to say the least as McCraw hit .220 with zero home runs in 66 games combined first with St. Lucie then Savannah. When going right at the plate, McCraw can drive the ball to the opposite field with authority while benefiting from a strong eye. As he works to get himself back on track at the plate, his defense will provide a suitable anchor as he knows how to work with a pitching staff and owns a very strong arm.
41. Nick Carr
- When it comes to adversity, perhaps no pitcher faced more of it than Nick Carr. The hard-throwing right-hander fell to 0-10 with St. Lucie before finishing the year strong with two victories on two earned runs in his final 23 innings pitched. Carr has an assortment of pitches but his game begins with his 93-94 MPH fastball to set up his steep breaking pitches. Still just 21 years old, Carr will have the opportunity to rebound and regain momentum in 2009.
42. Cesar Puello
- Few in the Gulf Coast League this past season are as naturally gifted as 17-year-old Cesar Puello. Though still a teenager, at 6-foot-2 and nearing 200 pounds, he already has the strength to hit with good power to the opposite field to go with his steady pull approach. Defensively, he boasts a strong arm—particularly from the corners—and the speed to play centerfield. Though a bit raw, Puello shows enticing promise.
43. Kyle Allen
- Not many players drafted directly from high school own a refined changeup, but in the case of the 2008 24th round pick, that is what makes him so impressive so early in his career. His changeup makes his low-90s fastball an even more effective pitch, helping him rack up 45 strikeouts in 34 innings this summer.
44. Eric Beaulac
- Beaulac spent half his rookie season in Savannah and with the club he posted a 1-2 record with a 3.55 ERA in six starts. He was able to have that success as a rookie thanks a to a 93-95 MPH fastball, but for now it remains the only steady part of his game. His slider has good movement but he struggles to locate it from start to start while his changeup is still a work in progress. However, his ability to spot his fastball gives him a reliable base to work from.
45. Jeff Flagg
- The 27th round pick in the 2008 draft missed nearly two collegiate years to injury, so spending the summer in the Gulf Coast League as a 23-year-old was a matter of getting Flagg playing time. He hit just .223 in 45 games, but Flagg owns the best power to enter the farm this season. At 6-foot-4, 215 pounds and well cut, Flagg will need his power to quickly ascend the ranks.
46. Stephen Clyne
- Clyne's stock slipped a bit this year after an early season injury caused him to lose rhythm during his stay with St. Lucie in the first half of the season. But with Brooklyn, he regained the strong aspects of his game which are working the bottom-third of the strike zone with his heavy, mid-90s sinker and sharp slider. He has the make of a tough, late-inning reliever but he needs to get back on track.
47. Guillaume Leduc
- In his second season, Leduc remained in short-season ball which hampered his ability to rack up innings, something he absolutely needs. He owns a sinking, low-90s fastball and plus changeup, both of which induce a high number of groundballs, but he needs consistency with his breaking pitch to find his next level.
48. Sean Ratliff
- It takes a dedicated worker to mature raw parts of his game in his rookie season, but that's what the Mets have with Ratliff. A highly drafted slugger out of Stanford
, Ratliff hit just .229 in 59 games with Brooklyn, but cracked seven home runs with 22 RBI. He continues to work to on his swing which should help improve his contact stroke to go along with is power. Defensively, he is best served in left field where he can maximize his speed and arm.
49. Junior Guerra
- Guerra accumulated innings at four different locations this season, but it was done to have him collect innings. The right-hander compiled a 1-1 record with a 2.12 ERA in 34 innings while the opposition hit just .130 against him. Armed with a lively fastball, the focus moving forward will be to develop his secondary pitches which at the moment are still rather raw. Despite being classified as a project, Guerra's strong arm will continue to earn him opportunities late in ballgames.
50. Eric Brown
- Consistency and command were Brown's hurdles in 2008 as he moved between the rotation and the bullpen with regularity throughout the year. His game works best when he establishes location with his sinking fastball and then mixes in his secondary pitches which include a big, hooking curveball. A positive sign to build on for next season was his second half rebound that saw him go 1-3 but with a 3.74 ERA after posting a 4-6 record with a 5-6 record with a 5.76 ERA prior to the Eastern League All-Star Break.
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