2009 St. Lucie Mets Preview

Reese Havens will be the starting shortstop

The High-A affiliate of the Mets begins the season with perhaps the greatest intrigue of any level of the system. There are host of top prospects, high draft picks, big arms and notable position players. This club has the talent to be a threat in the Florida State League, now it is a matter of all the talent coming together.

2009 Roster: Inside Pitch Magazine Prospect Guide rankings in parenthesis]

RHP Manuel Alvarez [2008 KNG – 0-4, 6.59 ERA, 27.1 IP, 17 G]
RHP Jose Bierd [2008 SAV/SLU – 3-1, 3.91 ERA, 53.0 IP, 36 G]
LHP Angel Calero [2008 SAV/SLU – 4-6, 3.35 ERA, 80.2 IP, 16 GS]
RHP Nick Carr (38) [2008 SAV/SLU – 3-12, 5.22 ERA, 119.0 IP, 25 GS]
LHP Matias Carrillo Jr. [2008 BRO/SLU – 1-1, 3.20 IP, 45.0 IP, 20 G]
RHP Stephen Clyne (43) [2008 TOTAL – 3-5, 4.77 ERA, 60.1 IP, 44 G]
RHP Jose De La Torre [2008 – INJURED]
RHP Emary Frederick [2008 SLU – 2-5, 4.50 ERA, 50 IP, 35 G]
RHP Brad Holt (4) [2008 BRO – 5-3, 1.87 ERA, 72.1 IP, 14 GS]
RHP Jenrry Mejia (22) [2008 GCL/BRO – 5-2, 2.89 ERA, 71.2 IP, 14 GS]
RHP Scott Moviel (20) [2008 SAV/SLU – 10-8, 4.25 ERA, 125.0 IP, 25 GS]
LHP Eric Niesen (26) [2008 SLU – 6-12, 4.64 ERA, 118.1 IP, 24 GS]
RHP Brant Rustich (10) [2008 SAV – 3-4, 3.62 ERA, 49.2 IP, 20 G, 8 GS]
RHP Scott Shaw (11) [2008 BRO – 6-3, 2.80 ERA, 74.0 IP, 15 G, 14 GS]
RHP Nick Waechter [2008 SAV/SLU – 4-1, 3.16 ERA, 77.0 IP, 30 G, 3 GS]

C Rafael Arroyo [2008 BNG - .213, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 80 AB, 28 G]
C Francisco Pena (27) [2008 SAV – .264, 6 HR, 41 RBI, 397 AB, 105 G]

1B Ike Davis (23) [2008 BRO - .256, 0 HR, 17 RBI, 215 AB, 58 G]
3B Jacob Eigsti [2008 TOTAL - .223, 1 HR, 16 RBI, 233 AB, 73 G]
SS Reese Havens (16) [2008 BRO - .247, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 85 AB, 23 G]
3B Zach Lutz (21) [2008 BRO - .333, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 72 AB, 24 G]
2B Hector Pellot [2008 SLU – .165, 0 HR, 4 RBI, 85 AB, 23 G]
2B Luis Rivera [2008 SLU - .222, 1 HR, 15 RBI, 198 AB, 61 G]
2B Greg Veloz (18) [2008 TOTAL - .278, 6 HR, 56 RBI, 532 AB, 132 G]

OF Carlos Guzman [2008 SAV – .269, 8 HR, 33 RBI, 294 AB, 84 G]
OF Brahiam Maldonado [2008 SLU - .238, 5 HR, 33 RBI, 290 AB, 80 G]
OF Kirk Nieuwenhuis(31)[2008 BRO - .277, 3 HR, 29 RBI, 285 AB, 74 G]
OF Seth Williams [2008 BRO/KNG - .319, 1 HR, 21 RBI, 116 AB, 36 G]

Notes: 14 of Inside Pitch Magazine's Top 50 Mets prospects broke camp with the club including nine pitchers. Pellot, Rivera and Maldonado are the only position players who broke camp with St. Lucie in 2008. Nick Carr and Eric Niesen are the only two pitchers to repeat the assignment. Six members of the 2008 draft class are on the roster. At 19 years old, pitcher Jenrry Mejia and catcher Francisco Pena are the two youngest members of the team and will play the entire season as teenagers. They are separated by one day Mejia (10.11.89), Pena (10.12.89).

On the Rise: The aforementioned Mejia is quickly gaining attention in many circles. Mejia, an international free agent signing, comes to St. Lucie after one season of rookie ball. Armed with a mid-90s fastball and rapidly developing secondary pitches, Mejia is the youngest cog of what is shaping up to be a very formidable staff. Listed at 6-foot, 162-pounds, Mejia's strength and stamina are two of his best traits and his leap to St. Lucie speaks volumes about his ability.

Pitching: The 2009 St. Lucie Mets are anchored by the rotation with the highest collective ceiling of any in the system. Led by 2008 supplemental first round pick Brad Holt, the staff contains four of the system's top 22 prospects including Holt, Mejia, Shaw, Rustich and it will become five when right-hander Scott Moviel returns from knee surgery later in the season. Moviel is the only one of the bunch to see time in St. Lucie last season and that was in his final start of the year.

Nick Carr shifts to the bullpen where he and 2007 third round pick Stephen Clyne provide manager Tim Teufel with a duo of hard-throwers. Angel Calero, Matias Carrillo Jr. and Eric Niesen are the three left-handers on the staff. Niesen and Calero were both full-time starters last season but both should see more time as swingmen this season. Jose De La Torre, who missed all of 2008 due to Tommy John surgery, last pitched in 2007 with St. Lucie.

Position Players: The infield is headlined by the Mets top two picks in the 2008 draft, first baseman Ike Davis and shortstop Reese Havens. Davis looks to rebound from an inauspicious first season in Brooklyn while Havens enters the season after a rash of injuries sidelined him last summer. After spending his first two professional seasons in Savannah, catcher Francisco Pena takes over behind the plate in St. Lucie.

Second basemen Greg Veloz hit .234 in 21 games with St. Lucie in August last summer and figures to be the leadoff man this year. Hector Pellot returns to St. Lucie after he was knocked out by a hip injury 23 games into the 2008 season.

2008 third round pick Kirk Nieuwenhuis will roam centerfield and the corners should be held down by Brahiam Maldonado and Carlos Guzman. Guzman, a free agent signing in 2007, moves up to St. Lucie after 84 games in Savannah last season.

On the Spot: It is tough to put pressure on a player who missed almost all of his first two seasons to injury, but for third baseman Zach Lutz, the promotion to St. Lucie after 73 at-bats over two summers in Brooklyn comes with expectations. Lutz is average with the glove, but as long as he shows off the promise of his bat, his lost time will be quickly forgot. However, he must stay healthy.

Under the Radar: Conversely, it is tough to say a recent third round pick can slip under the radar, but such was the case for Kirk Nieuwenhuis entering the 2009 season. He brings a blend of speed, defense and athleticism that makes him a very intriguing prospect and one to watch this season.

Outlook: The 2009 St. Lucie Mets unquestionably have the most talent of any affiliate in the system. Their pitching should provide a very reliable base and if the lineup can produce as their respective projections forecast, the High-A Mets should be vastly improved over their recent predecessors and provide plenty of excitement around the Mets complex.

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