Mets Top 50 Midseason Review Part II

Zach Lutz has been hit by a rash of injuries

In this second part of an ongoing look at last fall's Top 50, the breakdown focuses on what can be considered the middle of the pack of Mets prospects. It's a bit of a mixed bag in this group, with some prospects exceeding expectations, others falling behind those expectations and others simply leaving question marks. Did the list hold water? Look inside to follow up.

34. Blake Forsythe
Savannah: .226, 4 HR, 26 RBI, 24 R, 13 2B, 37 BB, .332 OBP, .695 OPS
The Mets used their 2010 third round pick on Forsythe. To date, the 22-year-old remains in a holding pattern. He has endured split time behind the plate in Savannah, which has led to rather muted development with the glove. At the plate, Forsythe can only be categorized as underwhelming when considering he was selected with the promise of power in the bat. His age and major college pedigree should have lent itself to more success at a level where he is older than the adjusted average age. To his credit, his batting average has increased with each month after getting off to a brutal start.

33. Ryan Fraser
Savannah: 6-6, 3.26 ERA, 102 IP, 94 H, 63 K, 44 BB, .252 OBA
Fraser, the organization's 2010 16th round pick, has at least been consistent if not overly impressive. Fraser has still been clocked an average of 92 MPH as a starter, which is down from the 95 miles per hour I clocked him at last season when he pitched in relief for Brooklyn. His secondary pitches are coming around, though not developed to the point where I think the organization needs to bump up him up to St. Lucie. He is still hindered by a high walk ratio. Fraser is putting in admirable work as a starter, but long term, I think he ultimately ends up a reliever -- a position where he can regain velocity and use his 1-2 punch with his slider to work over hitters on both sides of the plate.

32. Jefry Marte
St. Lucie: .275, 5 HR, 44 RBI, 43 R, 19 2B, 31 BB, 57 K, 11 SB, .340 OBP, .723 OPS
If you've followed the progressive Top 50 list over the last few years, you know that I've never been one to jump on board with Marte. To his credit, he's holding his own with St. Lucie this year, but after a hot April, the question is whether there is enough development to really gain confidence about his long-term projection. If you look at his numbers with St. Lucie this season, they are almost across-the-board the same as Savannah last season. What does that mean? I've never been one to rely heavily on numbers, but to me, it's a sign that he's making expected adjustments to the league and little more. His defense is progressing, but the evaporation of his power since May 1 confirms reports I've received that express little excitement in his development. At this point, it's going to be a tough sell to move him up to Double-A at the start of 2012.

31. Armando Rodriguez
St. Lucie: 2-2, 3.14 Era, 43 IP, 30 H, 50 K, 20 BB, .195 OBA
Rodriguez missed the first two months of the season, but has been very steady in his return. As he achieved with Savannah in 2010, Rodriguez has kept contact to a minimum and that is arguably his best trait. The highest opponent's average he's ever surrendered was .227 while with Kingsport in 2009. His strikeout ratio has remained strong at each level, including this year when he's boasts a 10.4 K/9 IP ratio. Rodriguez has been consistent in the low-90s with his fastball and his slider has been a much more consistent pitch. Despite his age (23), I still believe Rodriguez doesn't need to be rush. He was always something of a project and a slow developer, but he's been consistent at each level. I think the organization just needs to let him continue working and doing his thing.

30. Kai Gronauer
Binghamton: .229, HR, 8 RBI, 7 R, 2 2B, 8 BB, .317 OBP, .617 OPS
Gronauer began the season as atop the B-Mets' catching depth chart before injury took a chunk out of his season. He returned to the B-Mets roster on Thursday. Gronauer is currently in a strong position as the leading internal catching option in a system with virtually no upper-level catching depth. Gronauer's defense is unquestionable his strength, but seeing some progress with his bat will something to watch when he returns to the Binghamton lineup.

29. Matt Den Dekker
Total: .277, 8 HR, 45 RBI, 74 R, 26 2B, 10 3B, 35 BB, 16 SB, .348 OBP, .809 OPS
The now B-Mets outfielder got off to a very hot start in St. Lucie before he was called up to Double-A in late June. He has started to come out of the drought he experienced when he arrived in Binghamton, but there is still more desired out of the former fifth round pick through the rest of the year. He is currently hitting .232 through 29 games while an already high strikeout rate has spiked a bit since coming to the B-Mets. Despite that, den Dekker has provided a well-balanced compliment of extra-base power. He has the swing mechanics that should carry such production moving forward, but I think den Dekker's overall stock remains in a holding pattern.

28. Josh Satin
Binghamton: .321, 11 HR, 59 RBI, 58 R, 34 2B, 57 BB, .421 OBP, .956 OPS
From a statistical standpoint, there is nothing else Satin can do to be impressive. Entering Thursday, he ranks in the Eastern League accordingly: batting average (4th), slugging (5th), OPS (3rd), RBI (4th), doubles (T-1st), hits (4th), runs (T-5th), walks (3rd). So what is keeping him at Double-A? It's an intriguing question and one that really has no concrete answer. Satin's defensive limitations are enough to lower the ceiling on his big league projection, but he has now ranked among Eastern League leaders in all the pertinent categories for more than a season now. No reason he should remain in Double-A.

27. Brant Rustich
Rustich, despite all the offseason promise that the surgery to repair his thoracic outlet syndrome would have him on the field by this spring, has not pitched one inning this season. The issue appears to be a recurring plateau for Rustich that he could not overcome, leaving the once-promising right-hander on the shelf. Unfortunately, Rustich's stock has to be considered null. A promising career derailed by injury.

26. Steven Matz
Matz's throwing program was shut down earlier this month, extending his recovery from Tommy John surgery when the initial goal was to have him on a mound in a game by this time. Matz had the surgery around the time he was drafted with the Mets' top pick in 2010, but seeing him in game action remains a wait-and-see proposition.

25. Eric Niesen
Total: 1-5, 6.54 ERA, 37 G, 42.2 IP, 42 H, 34 K, 34 BB, .263 OBA
The thinking/anticipation prior to the season – like previous seasons – was that this would be the year Niesen would figure it out and put himself in a position to help the Mets bullpen late in the season. That has certainly not been the case and Niesen went backwards, returning to St. Lucie in late June. Command remains the issue for Niesen, and while he appears to have figured it out in St. Lucie, too much time has passed to maintain much confidence in his ability to help the club long-term. Maybe he figures it out and helps the Mets in the future, but for now, his stock is unquestionably down.

24. Wilfredo Tovar
Savannah: .232, 23 RBI, 79 H, 46 R, 12 2B, 3 SB, 7 SB, .239 OBP, .578 OPS
Tovar has spent the entire year in Savannah, which was the right call. Tovar, who turns 20 in a few weeks, remains one of – if not the – best defensive infielders in the system. However, though expectations of his bat were rather low, his offensive output has still been a bit disappointing. His command of the strike zone and ability to put the bat on the ball should translate to an on-base rate north of .300, but that hasn't come to pass. That being said, he is still young and remains something of a project that should pay off in years to come.

23. Robbie Shields
Total: .269, 2 HR, 35 RBI, 40 R, 24 2B, 34 BB, 9 SB, .344 OBP, .749 OPS
Shields moved up to St. Lucie in June and while his time on the field has been disrupted by nagging injuries and some inconsistencies with the bat, he is showing improvements defensively and providing the versatility that was expected of him. There's little about his season that has been eye-catching, and I'd be surprised to see him start anywhere else but St. Lucie next season.

22. Nick Carr
St. Lucie: 3-0, 2.40 ERA, 22 G, 30 IP, 8 SV, 34 K, 14 BB, .236 OBA
Carr was having a promising before injury once again disrupted his year earlier this month. Before that, Carr's season has progressed as he showed improvements with his slider, giving him a formidable 1-2 punch with his mid-90s fastball. If all had gone well, Carr would have like been in Binghamton by early next month, but now it's back to the waiting game for a guy who still has a track to help the Mets bullpen down the road.

21. Kyle Allen
St. Lucie: 4-5, 5.09 Era, 18 G, 13 GS, 76 IP, 84 H, 55 K, 42 BB, .281 OBA
Allen's year has definitely been a tumultuous one. Struggles with his command a lot of contact given up early in the year have made his second year in the Florida State League a rocky one. There hasn't been a noticeably decrease in the quality of Allen's stuff. Instead, it's about consistency and Allen's command of his secondary pitches. The strikeout-to-walk ratio is a continuation of a pattern that plagued him last season. However, after a short stint in the St. Lucie bullpen, Allen may be digging out of his early-season hole. He had his best start of the year on July 19 (8 IP, 6 H, 6 K, 0 BB), his 3.27 ERA this month and 20/8 K/BB ratio this month is by far his best to date this season. Additionally, his ground ball ratio continues to climb, nearing 3-to-1 this month.

20. Zach Lutz
Buffalo: .313, 5 HR, 15 RBI, 24 R, 42 H, 9 2B, 15 BB, .391 OBP, .883 OPS
I've always maintained that Lutz could roll out of bed and hit. The problem is that he is unable to hit when he's sidelined with a fractured finger and later taking multiple beanings to the head this month. All the disruptions have limited to him 38 games this month. Just keep him on the field and his stock will continue to climb, but that has been an issue for much of his career.

19. Josh Stinson
Total: 5-8, 6.70 ERA, 26 G, 15 GS, 90 IP, 111 H, 52 K, 44 BB, .308 OBA
It has definitely been a disappointing year for Stinson, who was put on the 40-man roster last winter. His first half with Buffalo was a tough one, pitching to a 3-7 record, 7.44 ERA while walking 33 batters with just 32 strikeouts. He returned to Binghamton in mid-June, where he has been sent to the bullpen and found tough treading there. I've never thought putting Stinson in the bullpen was a valuable move as his stuff just doesn't translate to relief. Stinson's trajectory has been one of the better stories of the last few years on the farm, but for now, it appears like he's finally plateaued.

18. Cory Vaughn
Total: . 292, 8 HR, 43 RBI, 49 R, 95 H, 18 2B, 44 BB, 10 SB, .406 OBP, .840 OPS
Vaughn's power has not come as expected this year, but his raw power is there so his eight home runs is nothing to be concerned about – especially given the unfriendly confines of Savannah's home ballpark. Instead, he should be lauded for maintaining an impressive slash line from Savannah where he overmatched pitching to St. Lucie where pitching usually gets the best of hitters. In 23 games in the Florida State League, Vaughn is hitting .313 (25-for-80) with four home runs, 13 RBI, .513 slugging and .921 OPS. I don't think there is much more to ask from Vaughn in his second season.

17. Sean Ratliff
Ratliff went down for the season when suffered a significant eye injury during spring training when he was struck by a foul ball. The injury was absolutely devastating given Ratliff's improving stock over the last season and a half. He is another in a line of prospects that have suffered injuries this season.

16. Robert Carson
Binghamton: 2-8, 4.60 ERA, 17 GS, 86 IP, 102 H, 63 K, 38 BB, .297 OBA
Carson too has endured an up-and-down year, but behind the numbers is a pitcher who is showing necessary improvements with his secondary pitches. The addition of a cutter is one of the biggest and best improvements he made this year, to go with a strengthening slider and his 91-94 MPH fastball (while hitting 95 MPH a few times). For a while I've though Carson ultimately ends up in the Mets bullpen, and while his starting numbers are a tough on sight on paper, I don't think he's done much to disrupt that projection. His value among scouts I've talked to is definitely stronger than what his numbers say.

InsidePitchMagazine.com Recommended Stories