MMLN – 2009 Predictions: A Look Back Part II

Nieuwenhuis was Inside Pitch's breakout player

In the second part of Inside Pitch's look at its preseason predictions, we take a look at how the superlatives stacked up over the season. Who projected to have the bounce back season? Who was predicted to first be called up to the big leagues? Who would bounce back from injury? Find out about those predictions and more…

For Reference, Here Are the Preseason Predictions


First Player to be Called Up to New York

Preseason Prediction: Fernando Martinez
Actual: Fernando Martinez

Not that this was such a difficult prediction, but Martinez's promotion still was very much predicated on performance though the ravaged Mets outfield certainly helped move things along. Martinez was going to make his debut in 2009 at some point, but he finally got the call on June 22 after tearing through the International League where he hit .290 with eight home runs and 28 RBI in 45 games. A red hot month of May during which he hit .337 with seven home runs and 20 RBI cemented his promotion.

A meniscus tear was yet another season-ending injury for the organization's top prospect, further raising the red flag about his durability. He should be back by Spring Training where he will compete for a starting job on the 25-man roster and potentially put the farm system behind for good.

Comeback From Injury

Preseason Prediction: Brant Rustich
Actual: Zach Lutz

The season never materialized for Rustich who suffered bouts of wear and tear with his shoulder, experienced recurring blister and muscle issues with his finger which all resulted in yet another disappointingly low innings total. Many expected and/or hoped, including Inside Pitch, that this would be the breakout year for the 2007 second round pick. There is still belief that Rustich can move quickly up the system, but he needs his health and consistent time on the mound.

In the preseason prediction, Lutz was mentioned behind Rustich as a viable candidate following two seasons cut short with ankle injuries—which could still creep up at any time. Lutz surely handed the Florida State League in the first extended playing time of his career. He did not make it the full season, but in 99 games he hit .284 with 11 home runs, 62 RBI, and a .381 on-base percentage. He was called up to Binghamton in the closing weeks of the season. It was without question a successful, and necessary, season for the third baseman.

Best Bounce-Back Season

Preseason Prediction: Ike Davis
Actual: Ike Davis

And no one else was even close. The 2009 Sterling Award winner for Organization Player of the Year rebounded from an extremely disappointing season in Brooklyn to rocket up the system with authority as he found his groove in St. Lucie before erupting in the Eastern League. In the preseason prediction, it was noted that the full season would allow Davis to work out the kinks in his swing and he did exactly that, finishing the year with a .298 and organization lead in home runs. He certainly recovered the stock he lost after 2008.

International Signing to Move Up the Rankings

Preseason Prediction: Aderlin Rodriguez
Actual: Aderlin Rodriguez

As mentioned in the preseason edition, seeing as Rodriguez was the organization's lone international free agent signing in 2008, this prediction was not to difficult to peg. But also has predicted, the 17-year-old Rodriguez began his career stateside, like Wilmer Flores, but in the Gulf Coast League unlike Flores' Appalachian League assignment. Additionally, his debut was delayed further after he was hit by a pitch on the wrist during Extended Spring Training. However, the third baseman's debut, which can be amounted to a tutorial, was successful as he hit .290 with one home run and 10 RBI in 17 games.

Current Prospect to Crack the Top Ten

Preseason Prediction: Scott Moviel
Actual: Ruben Tejada

Moviel's expected return from knee surgery was delayed until July and even then his season was more about finding his rhythm and trusting the strength in his repaired meniscus. Moviel, a top 20 prospect heading into the season, did nothing to damage his position but did not have the time afforded to him to raise his standings.

Tejada on the other hand showed that perhaps the organization is pushing the correct buttons when it comes to his assignments. The shortstop surely held his own in Double-A this season and grew stronger as the season went on. Tejada, who ranked 14th heading into the season, will surely crack the top ten while the organization continues to challenge him heading into 2010.

Breakout Player

Preseason Prediction: Kirk Nieuwenhuis
Actual: Kirk Nieuwenhuis

Once again the prediction was right on the money. During his stay with Brooklyn in 2008, Nieuwenhuis displayed the athleticism and strong tools at the plate that made believers out of many that he would take his game to the next level. He got off to a comparatively slow start through the first three months of the season, but took off after the All-Star break for his much celebrated run that saw rise him atop the Florida State League leaderboard in many categories. That streak also elevated him to the top of the list when it comes to outfield prospects (not named Fernando Martinez). Before the season, observers knew the outfielder for his unique last name, now they know about his game.

Current Non-Top 50 to Break Into the Top 50 Next Season:

Preseason Prediction: Jordan Abruzzo
Actual: Alonzo Harris / Josh Satin / Ryan Coultas

An elbow injury prevented Abruzzo from building upon his 2008 season as he appeared in just 28 games this season, all spent as the designated hitter. Abruzzo hit a cumulative .290 with 14 home runs and 59 RBI last season across three levels in an effort to get him playing time. Prior to the 2009 season, there was a strong case for him to start the season in Binghamton but injury prevented the promotion and now the 2007 13th round pick faces an uphill climb.

Harris and Satin were two guys who fell just outside last fall's Top 50 but will all surely get there this season on the heels of their individual performances. Their exact standings will be outlined in the scouting reports to come, but both come with varied projections.

Harris will have to show he can handle pitching above the short-season level while maturing his swing. Satin, an older prospect for his level, will have to show he can keep up his pace of production he showed in 2009 in High-A or above. As for Coultas, whose age (27) would make him a non-prospect in other organizations, he will have to fight his way back from a labrum injury that came at the absolute wrong time and could take away his prospect standing if he cannot make it back in the first of 2010.

Top Prospect for 2009

Preseason Prediction: Wilmer Flores
Actual: Jenrry Mejia

It was expected that Fernando Martinez' ascension to the big leagues would open the door for Flores, but the young shortstop had his adversity in Savannah and was exposed somewhat for his inconsistent defense and poor athleticism. Brad Holt was another option, but the designation would have to go Mejia who displayed the most rapid maturation and has scouts believing he is the top guy in the organization.

Players to Skip a Level to Start 2009

Preseason Predictions: Wilmer Flores, Jefry Marte, Brad Holt, Scott Shaw, Ike Davis, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Reese Havens, Robert Carson.

All those came up aces as they were promoted over a level from there 2008 seasons whether they be from GCL/Kingsport to Savannanh (Flores, Marte, Carson) or Brooklyn to St. Lucie (Holt, Shaw, Davis, Nieweunhuis, Havens).

Others who skipped a level include: Kyle Allen, Jeurys Familia, Rafael Fernandez, Stefan Welch (GCL/Kingsport o Savannah), and Jenrry Mejia (Brooklyn to St. Lucie).

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