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Inside Mr. Met's Head


March 1, 2010 4:37 PM

Mets Plotting Own Demise by Rushing Prospects

Jenrry-Mejia.jpgMets camp has been abuzz with nothing but high praise for up and coming Mets prospects. The two names that have stood out thus far have been Jenrry Mejia, a hard throwing 20 year old righty, and Ike Davis, the heavy hitting first baseman of the future. Both rank highly in almost every Mets top-10 prospect list and the future seems bright for both of them. They could have a substantial impact on the future of the Mets and if they can live up to their potentials (a hefty task for highly touted prospects) it could mean the difference between the Mets competing in the future or going gentle into that good night.

The issue is that both may play into a last ditch effort by both Jerry Manuel and Omar Minaya to save their jobs. If that happens, and these two are rushed into the major leagues early this year, there could be severe repercussions that could set the Mets franchise back years.

Jenrry Mejia is the one I'm most worried about. The 20 year old hurler has electrifying stuff. His 93-97 mph fastball is wonderful but his curveball and changeup just aren't there yet and have caused him to be extremely wild at times, with him posting a 4.67 BB/9 in AA. However, this goes with an impressive 9.54 K/9, the best of his small minor league career. Despite the high walk rate, his raw stuff is great. His 3.49 FIP isn't fantastic but remember, he's remarkably young. If he can learn to control his secondary stuff, we may be looking forward to the heir apparent to Johan Santana's ace role.

Ike Davis began his career in the minors on a sour note. With zero home runs and an uninspiring on-base percentage in low A, it appeared that Davis might be a bust. However, his 2009 in high A and AA removed any fears that this was the case, posting a .907 OPS between the two levels. This is all well and good but Davis is still extremely raw. While his patience has improved (9.6 BB% in 2008 compared to 11.7 in 2009) he still strikes out a ton (26.2 K%) and his BABIP of .365 is extremely high (this is due to awful defense in the minor leagues and will level out as he moves through the system) and could hurt him in the majors. His platoon splits between righties and lefties are night and day, posting a .774 OPS versus lefties and 1.010 OPS against righties. He is also apparently not a great defender, although there is no UZR ratings for minor leaguers.

While it's true that they both have a ton of potential and should be players to be excited about, they are both still extremely raw players. Davis has only had 727 plate appearances and Mejia has only pitched 165 innings. These are not significant enough samples to make an informed decision on promotion unless they are completely destroying all competition during Spring Training. Since neither have faced any real competition so far, it's almost impossible to justify promoting them.

Another in-camp discussion is converting Eddie Kunz into a starting pitcher. The former heir to the closer role post-Billy Wagner around 2008, that plan completely fell apart after a muggy night in Houston where Kunz looked lost on the mound, lost his composure, and imploded. The first college reliever drafted during the awful 2007 draft, Kunz has not started a game in professional or collegiate ball. He has been mostly a bust in the minors as a reliever, most recently posting a 5.53 FIP, 4.57 BB/9, and 5.61 K/9. Although he is no longer the prospect he once was, converting a guy like this into a starting pitcher is such a mistake. Yes, he's only 23 but his only pitch is a plus 90-95 mph fastball. Guys like that do not make good starting pitchers. 

Kunz is essentially the proof that rushing pitching prospects doesn't work. The aforementioned implosion in Houston happened after the Mets rushed him up to the majors after only 60.1 innings of minor league ball and it's clear that whatever confidence he had previous to his promotion is now gone just by looking at his stats. The Mets are not known for learning from their mistakes and rushing Mejia and Davis would do the same damage to them as the damage done to Kunz. 

If they rush Mejia and Davis it just shows how little the Mets understand player development. If they ruin these two, the Mets are setting themselves up for futility for years.

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