Minor League Season in Review: Kingsport Mets

For today's edition of 'Minor League Monday', we're going to continue our 'Season in Review' series by climbing the rookie ball ranks up to the Mets Appalachian League affiliate in Kingsport.

Team Spotlight

Managed by former Mets backstop Mike DiFelice, the K-Mets were the cellar dwellers in the Appy League's Western Division in 2010, posting a 28-39 record overall.  This team just wasn't that good, suffering from a lack of impact talent beyond the Rodriguez boys.  Aside from those two the Kingsport roster didn't really feature anyone that one could reasonably project to star in the upper minors, let alone the majors.  Even so, Kingsport was only a handful of games back from first place after their first full month of play but a 10-19 August put a stop to all that.  Strangely, the K-Mets didn't seem to like playing at home as they were 12-22 at Hunter Wright Stadium this season.

Final Standings:

TEAM W L PCT GB
Johnson City 42 24 .636 -
Elizabethton 41 25 .621 1
Bristol 32 36 .471 11
Greeneville 31 35 .470 11
Kingsport 28 39 .418 14.5

The Usual Suspects

3B Aderlin Rodriguez - STOCK UP

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
KNG APP .312 61 250 44 78 22 0 13 48 139 15 43 3 1 .352 .556 .908
SAV SAL .200 8 30 3 6 1 0 1 11 10 6 10 0 0 .333 .333 .667
Minors .300 69 280 47 84 23 0 14 59 149 21 53 3 1 .350 .532 .882

After an injury-shortened pro debut in '09 that left us with more questions than answers, Aderlin burst onto the scene as one of the Mets most interesting young prospects in 2010.  Aderlin was clearly the most talented player on the field in just about every game he played in with Kingsport and though he's not much of an all-around player, that's how good a power bat he featured this year.  Despite being one of the youngest players in the circuit (at the age of eighteen), Rodriguez placed second in doubles, third in homers and top five in both SLG & OPS.  This kid can flat out hit for power, there's no doubt about that.  The natural loft in his swing as well as his incredible raw strength produces the kind of pop that you rarely see in a player his age (see for yourself here, 0:47).  Unfortunately, it's not all peaches and cream for Rodriguez:  He doesn't possess much speed, nor does he profile as a third baseman long-term (think first base/corner OF) and his plate discipline/secondary skills left something to be desired.  In short, his plus-plus power will have to carry him as a prospect as the other aspects of his game are all pretty sub-par.

RF Javier Rodriguez - STOCK UP

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
KNG APP .319 41 160 29 51 15 2 4 24 82 6 28 1 2 .353 .513 .865

After a couple of short and mostly unsuccessful pro seasons with the GCL team, the other Rodriguez showed why the Mets thought him talented enough to draft with their second pick (68th overall) back in '08.  The long, athletic outfielder finally took advantage of his excellent bat speed as he made much more solid contact this season, evidenced by the 89 point jump in batting average from last year.  And though his long swing produced far too many strikeouts, he did use it to his advantage in doubling his career high in homers and increasing his OPS by an astounding 240 points.  Unfortunately, his already poor walk rate (7% career) got even worse this season (3%) which makes me kind of nervous about the kind of offensive progress he seemed to make this year.  Either way, his very strong defensive play showed once again, though he mostly resided in right field this year in something of a curious decision with a kid lauded for his superb ability to cover center field.  Though his lack of speed is somewhat disappointing, the kid clearly has major league tools and is starting to figure things out at the plate.  Now he's not old but at 20 he's got to continue to build on his development this year offensively, shaking off the nagging bumps and bruises and moving up the ladder in this system.

C Albert Cordero - STOCK UP

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
KNG APP .277 54 206 32 57 11 2 8 32 96 8 24 2 1 .306 .466 .772
SAV SAL .667 1 3 0 2 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 .667 .667 1.333
Minors .282 55 209 32 59 11 2 8 33 98 8 24 2 1 .311 .469 .780

A relative unknown coming into the season, Cordero put himself on the map in a big way with a very strong batting line from a teenaged catching prospect (especially in a system pretty bereft of catching talent now that Thole's graduated).  In some ways this was the kind of line many had hoped we'd see from Francisco Pena in the last couple years.  But despite the lack of pedigree, Cordero is nearly as interesting considering he'd always shown a strong bat in his seasons with the Mets VSL team and according to DiFelice, exhibits a lot of potential to start behind the plate at the highest levels.  Currently he's still a work in progress back there though he has exhibited a very strong arm and soft hands this season.   Like I've said with Cordero before, you really want to pay attention to teenaged catchers with this kind of power.

RHP Orlando Tovar - STOCK UP

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
KNG APP 4 0 3.43 13 4 0 0 0 44.2 51 26 17 3 9 40 1.05 .288
STL FSL 0 1 37.80 1 1 0 0 0 1.2 8 9 7 1 1 0 0.00 .615
Minors 4 1 4.66 14 5 0 0 0 46.1 59 35 24 4 10 40 0.94 .311

The big righty from Venezuela made some waves as the team's pitcher of the year with a very strong mix of power stuff and strong command in 2010.  Though he's not going to light up the radar guns beyond the lower 90's and his secondary stuff is expectedly raw, the eighteen year old showed a very good ability to hit his spots and despite getting lit up in his one start with St. Lucie, he's at least raised some eyebrows going into 2011.

RHP Eduardo Aldama - HOLDING

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
MTS GCL 1 1 9.00 5 0 0 0 0 6.0 8 7 6 1 4 7 0.38 .320
KNG APP 2 3 4.95 8 8 0 0 0 36.1 35 22 20 3 9 30 0.88 .252
Minors 3 4 5.53 13 8 0 0 0 42.1 43 29 26 4 13 37 0.80 .262

2010 was more a year to get back healthy for Aldama than anything else and he did just that, making thirteen appearances (eight starts) and looking pretty strong in the process.  Not surprisingly, the long righty with the power arm gained strength as the summer progressed, allowing just four runs in his final fourteen innings pitched, including an eight inning, one run, six strikeout performance.  At just 20, he's touching 94 mph and should continue to add velocity as he to fills out so despite mediocre numbers the last couple seasons, he's worth watching.

More Names to Watch For:

Though he was probably their best starter in 2010 (and even made a couple of impressive starts for Savannah down the stretch), RHP Gonzalez Germen really needs to prove himself at higher levels due to his advanced age (23) before he's considered anything close to legit.  He did get a late start to pro ball out of the DR but 2011 will be a big year for him as he'll no longer be facing off entirely against younger competition for the first time as a pro....CF ZeErika McQueen wasn't terrible this year but didn't quite live up to his tools (or the greatness of his name) in 2010, batting just .264 with a sub-.350 SLG against age-appropriate competition.  However, this kind of incredible speed from a kid drafted out of high school in '09 gives him plenty more rope going into 2011...In a system bereft of hard-throwers, big, strong RHP Tony Feliz is worth watching for his sheer velocity alone.  He was too hittable for a 25 year old in rookie ball this year but he's the kind of kid that you hope can suddenly harness his rocket arm and shoot through the system...Bret Mitchell, Jonathan Kountis & Jacob DeGrom are all righty starters drafted in June and were all pretty mediocre in their brief pro debuts.  That said, I feel all three bear watching in 2011 thanks to solid-to-very strong collegiate results this spring coupled with varying degrees of good skills; I wouldn't be surprised if one or more of these guys turns out to be something interesting...Finally, ultra-toolsy '09 seventh rounder OF Chase Greene took a small step back this year, once again battling injuries but performing a whole lot worse when he did play.  As probably the most all-around athletic player the Mets have drafted in the last 2-3 years it's far too soon to write him off but he's certainly not acquitting himself well to start his pro career.

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