2010 St. Lucie Mets Preview

Jeurys Famila takes the ball as the Mets #1 guy

The High-A St. Lucie Mets begin the year with as much as intrigue as any level of the system. Led by its deep starting rotation and potential sleepers in the field, the 2010 St. Lucie Mets personify the growing depth of the farm system as a whole. With its pitching, the Mets have a chance to be a threat in the Florida State League. Now, it is a matter of all the talent coming together.

2010 Roster: [Inside Pitch Magazine Prospect Guide rankings in parenthesis]

RHP Kyle Allen (16) [2009 SAV – 9-6, 3.45 ERA, 125.1 IP, 111 K, 25 G, 19 GS]
RHP Manuel Alvarez [2009 SLU – 4-3, 5.09 ERA, 46.0 IP, 32 K, 35 G]
RHP Eric Beaulac (35) [2009 SAV – 7-7, 2.95 ERA, 116.0 IP, 133 K, 26 G, 19 GS]
RHP Jose Bierd [2009 GCL – 0-0, 4.50 ERA, 2.0 IP, 2 K, 2 G]
LHP Angel Calero [2009 SLU – 3-11, 4.61 ERA, 107.1 IP, 93 K, 22 GS]
LHP Robert Carson (18) [2009 SAV – 8-10, 3.21 ERA, 131.2 IP, 90 K, 25 GS]
RHP Rhiner Cruz [2009 SAV – 3-3, 1.92 ERA, 61.0 IP, 22 SV, 55 K, 50 G]
RHP Jeurys Familia (11) [2009 SAV – 10-6, 2.69 ERA, 134.0 IP, 109 K, 23 GS]
LHP Jimmy Johnson [2009 SAV/SLU – 2-2, 2.65 ERA, 52.0 IP, 47 K, 37 G]
RHP Scott Moviel (24) [2009 SLU – 4-5, 3.92 ERA, 64.1 IP, 46 K, 13 GS]
RHP Elvin Ramirez [2009 SAV – 3-7, 4.09 ERA, 72.2 IP, 48 K, 15 GS]
RHP Chris Schwinden (48) [2009 SAV/SLU – 10-6, 3.34 ERA, 126.2 IP, 92 K, 23 G, 19 GS]

C Jordan Abruzzo [2009 SAV/SLU - .208, 3 HR, 8 RBI, .250 OBP, 101 AB, 28 G]
C Jean-Luc Blaquiere [2009 SAV - .238, 5 HR, 21 RBI, .326 OBP, 240 AB, 70 G]
C Francisco Pena (30) [2009 SLU - .224, 8 HR, 44 RBI, .258 OBP, 392 AB, 100 G]
[Pena will begin the season the disabled with a stress fracture in his foot]

1B Eric Campbell [2009 SAV/SLU - .249, 5 HR, 47 RBI, .352 OBP, 361 AB, 102 G]
1B Stefan Welch [2009 SAV/SLU - .266, 7 HR, 47 RBI, .327 OBP, 308 AB, 82 G]
2B Matt Bouchard (23) [2009 - .254, 3 HR, 22 RBI, .301 OBP, 260 AB, 72 G]
2B Josh Satin [2009 SAV - .288, 8 HR, 65 RBI, .389 OBP, 462 AB, 132 G]
SS Jordany Valdespin (44) [2009 - .298, 4 HR, 28 RBI, .349 OBP, 258 AB, 67 G]
3B Richard Lucas (37) [2009 - .318, 4 HR, 30 RBI, .414 OBP, 176 AB, 47 G]

OF Emmanuel Garcia [2009 BNG - .249, 4 HR, 40 RBI, .305 OBP, 491 AB, 130 G]
OF Brahiam Maldonado [2009 SLU - .273, 18 HR, 73 RBI, .348 OBP, 410 AB, 122 G]
OF Sean Ratliff (32)[2009 SAV/SLU - .266, 15 HR, 74 RBI, .311 OBP, 496 AB, 129 G]
OF Raul Reyes [2009 SAV - .253, 9 HR, 51 RBI, .333 OBP, 371 AB, 111 G]
OF Seth Williams [2009 SLU/BRK - .266, 3 HR, 11 RBI, .363 OBP, 203 AB, 62 G]

Notes: Every member of the St. Lucie starting rotation made the 2010 Top 50 Inside Pitch Top Prospects. Those pitchers include Familia, Allen, Carson, Moviel, Beaulac and Schwinden. All except Moviel pitched in Savannah last season. Raul Reyes, Richard Lucas, Jordany Valdespin, and Jean-Luc Blaquiere are the only position players who have yet to get a taste of the Florida State League in their careers.

Edgar Alfonzo moves up with much of his club from Savannah last season. Alfonzo managed in the South Atlantic League in 2009 and served as the Brooklyn Cyclones manager the previous two seasons. He brings with him Jose Carreno who served as the Savannah bench coach in 2009. Coaching staff holdovers from last season include both pitching coach Phil Regan and hitting coach George Greer. St. Lucie finished 66-68 in 2009.

On the Rise: Jeurys Familia was far from sharp in his Florida State League debut, surrendering seven earned runs over 3 2/3 innings. Nevertheless, the right-hander is emerging as the tip of the spear of a collection of promising young talent in the St. Lucie rotation. Familia's fastball sits 91-93 MPH, but the right-hander has shown the ability to dial it up another tick at times. A sharp, late-breaking slider is Familia's top secondary pitch while a rapidly improving changeup will provide him the depth to become a deeper pitcher and even better prospect.

Pitching: Behind Familia is a collection of talent that any organization would take on the mound at this level. Right-hander Kyle Allen only turned 20 years old just weeks before Spring Training, but already has the repertoire that could help him move quickly up the ladder. A 91-93 MPH fastball and plus changeup are the backbone to his game, and he is working to implement a cut fastball with higher frequency in his repertoire.

Scott Moviel returns to the St. Lucie rotation after pitching there in the second half of 2009. The 21-year-old Moviel, the youngest player the Mets sent to the Arizona Fall League last year, has regained the touch of his curveball and now features four pitches.

Robert Carson is the rotation's lone left-hander. The combination of his strong body, good fastball velocity fro the left side (89-92 MPH) and a slider with plus projection should help him transition to the Florida State League with relative ease.

Eric Beaulac and Chris Schwinden figure to share time in the rotation. Both right-handers were effective with their fastball/slider combinations in Savannah, but both are working to incorporate a changeup in their repertoires with greater effectiveness and repetition.

The Mets farm system is rather short on true closers, but Rhiner Cruz holds the distinction of being one closer on that list. Cruz locked down the back of the Savannah bullpen last season, recording a system-high 22 saves and holding the opposition to just a .199 average.

Position Players: The St. Lucie infield is loaded with intriguing talent, but most still have to answer uncertainties regarding their projection. First baseman Stefan Welch is the only infielder who saw prolonged time in the Florida State League last year. A lanky hitter with solid pop, Welch could be in position to share time at first base with Josh Satin.

Satin split time at first and second base last year with Savannah. Satin is as good a fastball hitter as any in the system, and he feasted on against comparatively young pitching in the South Atlantic League last season. However, he will need to show greater authority and consistency against the FSL's more polished pitchers.

Third baseman Richard Lucas begins the season in St. Lucie for the first time. Lucas enters his fourth season in the organization, but has mostly bounced around the lower levels prior to 2010. Lucas torched his way through the Appalachian League last summer before bouncing around Savannah and Brooklyn. He possesses solid-average defensive tools, but it is the promise with the bat that makes him intriguing.

Jordany Valdespin and Matt Bouchard figure to split time in the middle of the infield. Neither are young prospects, but both have high internal value to the organization. Valdespin bounced like a superball all over the farm system last year while Bouchard has been besieged by injuries that have prevented his talent from coming to the surface. Both are plus defenders, yet each needs a positive season with the bat to confirm their long term value.

Sean Ratliff and Brahiam Maldonado will be looked at to provide the power in the lineup. Maldonado's 18 home runs in 2009 led the Florida State League while Ratliff showed his power in the South Atlantic League with 15 homers a year go. Maldonado's career has stalled at this level while Ratliff looks to emerge from the shadows of the outfielders above him on the depth chart who all had big years in St. Lucie last season.

Raul Reyes has a big arm and plus raw power, but has yet to overcome the valuable time he lost to injury in 2008 when his prospect star was on the rise. Seth Williams is a system veteran who begins the year in St. Lucie for the second straight season. Emmanuel Garcia spent the last two seasons in Double-A Binghamton, but depth chart priorities boxed him out of Binghamton. Now he faces the dicey scenario of just holding on to a spot in the organization.

On the Spot: Right-hander Elvin Ramirez was on his way up the prospect depth charts following the 2008 season. Despite losing the last eight weeks of 2008 with a lower back injury, Ramirez showed enough promise with a low to mid-90s fastball and a tough, biting slider that made him a promising prospect.

Though raw, Ramirez had the tools for a steady climb. Ramirez was set back again by injury in 2009, this time his shoulder which forced a shut down after 15 starts. Now, Ramirez finds himself in the bullpen hoping to re-establish his career. His fastball/slider combination should play well in relief, but he's got a fairly daunting task ahead to regain excitement in prospect circles.

Outlook: This year's St. Lucie squad will rely heavily on the pitching. The lineup has more questions than answers, especially in the infield where power is tough to come by. Additionally, the outfield possesses streaky run producers. Therefore, it will be on the shoulders of by far the most talented starting rotation in the organization this year. The move to the more pitcher-friendly Florida State League should only enhance their talents and help St. Lucie remain competitive in the FSL. But the rotation can't do it all on its own and will need the lineup to provide the run support. If the bats can back up the pitchers, the Mets should be in for an over-.500 season.

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