Mets Minor League Q&A With Kevin Goldstein Of Baseball Prospectus

Nearly six weeks have passed since Kevin Goldstein's Top 11 Mets Prospects list was released, but the stars have finally aligned to get those follow-up questions you submitted answered by the minor league guru. We had some queries of our own, so I packaged them all together and sent them along to KG, who was kind enough to answer them in between stops on the Baseball Prospectus book tour.

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This year you wrote that Brad Holt's fastball sits in the low 90s and touches 96. Last year it was in the mid 90s and touched 98. Did his velocity drop or is there another explanation?

I wouldn't read too much into it. I think the 98 was something we saw a lot more during the college season when he was throwing every seven days, and even at Brooklyn he was throwing way less. The number of guys who throw their hardest as amateurs is quite large. Actually, it's in the majority. I think we just saw a peak reduction, I bet his average velocity was about the same. No biggie.

Reese Havens seems low at 11; his average stayed at .247 despite a 50-point drop in BABIP. Assuming everything else remains more or less constant, how much would a .270 average help his prospect status?

Well, I think the bigger issue here is that he's just not a shortstop. He's a second baseman, and will likely be primarily playing that position this year. That's his future, and obviously right-side guys aren't as valuable as left-side guys.

Before 2008 you were bullish in ranking Jeff Francoeur in the Braves top-10 talents under 25. What are your expectations for him and where would he rank on this list of Mets top talent under 25 (or 26)?

Every time you're ready to give up on him, he gives you one more tease, like his brief run with the Mets at the end of last year. I don't think he'll be a big star or anything, but I could see him hitting .275 with 20 home runs and the lack of walks bringing his numbers down. Not good, but not a nightmare, either. He'd probably rank on the list, but not very high.

What have you heard about Zach Lutz and how far off was he from the top 15?

Pretty far. Big, bulky guy who is going to be 24 in June and has barely reached Double-A while not putting up especially impressive numbers yet. Obviously, he has some on-base skills, but little else about his skill set profiles well.

Do you think Eric Niesen has any shot at sticking as a starter?

I do. Being left-handed surely help form my opinion there, but I know plenty of scouts who think he could get there as a back-end rotation type.

What happened to Nate Vineyard?

He had shoulder surgery and he did not come back from it.

The Mets are considering trying Eddie Kunz as a starter this season. Pure desperation or is there something about his repertoire that makes them think it's possible?

I guess I kind of get it in theory, as he's big with clean mechanics and would probably be able to handle the workload, but I do think it's more of a grasping for straws type of think as opposed to anyone thinking this is the answer.

Who gets called up first: Davis, Martinez, or Thole?

Who knows? Obviously, one gets these questions a lot when they cover prospects, but if you cover them long enough, you see the patterns here and realize that far more guys get called up first out of necessity as opposed to choice. So it really could be any of the three. I do think they'd be reticent to call up Davis at this time.

Why is Bobby Parnell rated higher than Jon Niese on the best under 25 list? Wouldn't a starter who has already put up impressive numbers in the minors and majors would have more potential value than a projected career reliever?

Well, Parnell is there, and Niese hasn't quite established himself yet. Even if he does, he's no more than a No. 4 starter, and he's not even that yet.

What improvements did Kyle Allen make as the year went along? Specifically, did he add significant velocity? I’ve heard varying reports, but always that he’s had a decent fastball and projectable body type. Do you see him adding any more velocity as he moves up the system?

I think it was more of a matter of throwing more strikes and finding more confidence in his secondary pitches, as opposed to him suddenly grading out much better on a stuff level. That said, I do think there's some projection in his frame/mechanics, and could see him adding a tick or two.

"Captain" Kirk Nieuwenhuis went from virtual unknown to top-ten prospect very quickly. Is there anyone in the organization who might do likewise this year?

The first guy that comes to mind is Cesar Puello, a big, athletic outfielder with solid tools. On a pitcher level, a lot of people think lefty Robert Carson could step forward.

What is your take on the catcher's "game calling ability" and the picher's "mound presence"? How do you evaluate catchers defense (besides the arm to throw out base stealers)?

Good question. Besides the arm, you are always looking for good receiving skills. That begins with the ability to react and move well in adjusting for pitches in the dirt, but even with strikes, you want to look at, to use a ream again, how a catcher receives pitches. You want him to have the glove there before the pitch arrives, you want to see him working to frame pitches, you don't want to see him stabbing at pitches.

Rank the following prospects in terms of which are most likely to contribute to the big league bullpen this year Tobi Stoner, Roy Merritt, Brant Rustich, Nick Carr, Michael Antonini, Brad Holt, Jenrry Mejia, Ike Davis. Anyone else I missed who might be surprise bullpen contributor?

Actually, I'd think most of those guys would be pretty big surprises, though I definitely appreciate the Ike Davis inclusion. I think Mejia and Holt are the 1-2 there, but the Mets do recognize that it would just be a temporary solution for Mejia and that his long term role is a bullpen one.

Does Mejia stick as a starter or will the Mets move him to the bullpen?

Starter. The only knock against him is his height, but he's bulky, the mechanics are solid and he maintains his stuff.

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