For today's farm system ranking, we're going to take a look at baseball's guilty pleasure, power. Deny it all you want but deep down we all know what puts butts in seats, what the chicks dig and what fires up a stadium like nothing else; that's right, the longball. And in the prospect world, if you can hit for power well then you've got a nice head start on your minor league brethren.
Now the problem is that the Mets haven't been great at churning out power hitters in recent years, and that's putting it lightly. Aside from David Wright, the last Mets minor leaguer to produce 20+ home runs -- in a Mets uniform -- was Edgardo Alfonzo. Butch Huskey did it before him -- once -- and Todd Hundley before him. Sadly, Darryl Strawberry was the last one before that. There have been guys to do it for other teams -- Ty Wigginton & Jay Payton hit 20+ homers in another uniform, Mike Jacobs, Jeromy Burnitz & Preston Wilson all hit 30+ for other teams -- but obviously the Mets are not quite adept at developing boppers.
However, even with the distant specter of Citi Field awaiting them, there is some hope in the current crop of Mets minor leaguers:
1) 3B Aderlin Rodriguez
This one is a no-brainer as Rodriguez showcased the kind of power as an teenager that the Mets system hasn't had in decades. In his first exposure to pro baseball in the States Aderlin collected 13 bombs in just 250 ab's, not to mention 22 doubles and an eye-popping .244 ISO. Aderlin showed the kind of raw strength rarely seen in an 18-year old and even better, the type of swing to take full advantage of it. The Mets farm system hasn't seen this kind of power since the likes of Alex Escobar and to his credit, Aderlin showed more plate discpline and pure hitting ability than Escobar at the same age. Rodriguez won't stick at third defensively but if he continues to show such prolific pop (0:48) and can keep the strikeout totals manageable, we could be looking at a slugging first baseman with 30+ homers in his sights.
2) RF Fernando Martinez
Gone are the days of an all-around hitter who can patrol all three outfield positions; however, despite injuries and sluggish development FMart can still do one thing above average and that is hit for power. Like scouts raved back in A-ball, when Martinez connects the ball seems to just carry extremely well off of his bat. As a 21-year old in Triple-A Fernando slugged 12 home runs in just over 257 ab's which is no small feat. In fact, Fernando's impressive .202 ISO was better than fellow NL East top prospects Logan Morrison & Freddie Freeman at the same level. And this was nothing new as FMart posted a .250 ISO at Triple-A in '09. FMart's ability to hit for power is what keeps him in the discussion as an everyday major leaguer, with the very real potential for a low on-base, high power corner OF if he can only stay on the field.
3) OF Lucas Duda
Ironically, Duda was always considered a nice bat whose lack of power would be his downfall. In 2010, all that changed for the 24-year old LA kid as he finally took advantage of his huge frame -- 6'5", 230lbs -- as well has his sweet lefty stroke to start sending balls over the fence. In fact, it's pretty incredible how quickly he seemed to just flip that switch: In '09 he hit just nine bombs and in '10 he hit 27 -- including four in the majors. Duda's ridiculous .295 ISO & .999 OPS at Triple-A Buffalo pretty much erases any concern about his pop and immediately puts him in the discussion as a potential slugging left fielder in the bigs, especially thanks to his tremendous plate discipline -- 84:60 K-to-BB in '10. What's more, like Ike Davis when Duda hits one there is little doubt so Citi's dimensions shouldn't be a problem.
4) OF Sean Ratliff
You rarely see a center fielder lead an entire league in OPS yet that's what Ratliff nearly did in the Double-A Eastern League in 2010, had he gotten about 30 more ab's. Underrated in prospect circles thanks to his poor plate discipline -- 72 strikeouts vs. 23 walks in 2010 -- the 23-year old Ratliff still showcases the kind of lefty power (0:30) that could make him an impact player in the big leagues. In 2010, Ratliff was one very few Mets farmers to reach the 20 homer plateau in the last few seasons and his exceptional .246 ISO and .333 average against lefties really bear watching. Though he won't likely stick in center and I doubt he keeps that average much above .250-.260 in the bigs, Ratliff has the kind of pop to expect 15-20 homers from the very first day he shows up.
5) OF Cory Vaughn
Bloodlines certainly don't hurt Vaughn, the son of the one-time 50 home run masher Greg Vaughn. After being drafted in the fourth round this June, Cory wasted no time knocking ten bombs in his first 160 ab's. Vaughn went on to post a magnificent .250 ISO in his pro debut, finishing top 3 in the NYPL in homers, slugging, extra-base hits & RBI's, pretty much cementing his status as a potential middle-of-the-order threat. The 21-year old Vaughn possesses an ultra-athletic 6'3", 225lb frame which just oozes raw strength and allows for easy power to all fields as well as huge pull-side strength, figuring to cancel out the unfriendly righty dimensions at Citi. It remains to be seen whether Vaughn will continue to excel against more age-appropriate competition but he certainly possesses the kind of tools to project for big things.
Honorable Mention: 3B Zach Lutz
Like Ratliff, Lutz is underrated but for him it's because of injuries. Lutz has a hard time staying on the field in his three seasons as a pro but when he does he hits (0:22). He knocked an amazing 17 big flies in under 230 ab's with Double-A Binghamton which cemented his astounding .289 ISO, the only such figure in the Mets system to challenge Duda's monstrous total. Lutz also shows some strong plate discipline, walking in over 12% of his ab's in each of the last three seasons. Despite the high strikeout totals, if Lutz can stay on the field I see no reason why he can't be a very solid, impact third baseman at the major league level.