I recently received both John Sickels' The Baseball Prospect Book 2011 and Baseball America's 2011 Prospect Book,. in addition to having a subscription to Baseball Prospectus, and a myriad of other minor-league rank-and-review primers by virtue of a spreadsheet also provided by BP. Now that I have more sufficient sources, I might as well collate them to for your enjoyment and analysis. I will transcribe the full review wherever applicable, and will include the rankings wherever necessary.
Wouldn't wanna let go... to a potential future ace.
(NOTE: For logistic purposes, I'm using the Top 30 as used by Baseball America and going in order from 1-30 in this series and many sites do not deem Mejia as a prospect so there will be far fewer rankings than say, a Cesar Puello)
First up, the Mets' 21-year old Dominican flame-thrower, Jenrry Manuel Mejia.
DOB: 10/11/89; Height/Weight: 6-0, 180, B/T: R/R
Signed out of the Domincan in 2007 by the trio of Ramon Pena, Ismael Cruz, and Sandy Rosario, Mejia made his organization debut in 2007 for the Dominican Summer League Mets posting a 2.47 ERA and 27 BB/47 K in 44 innings while holding hitters to a .160 batting average.
In 2008, after a three start stint in Gulf Coast League (15 K in 15 IP, 0.60 ERA), Mejia progressed to Brooklyn where his stint was quite the mixed bag. He was 3-2 with a 3.45 ERA and 25 BB/52 K in 57 NYPL innings but only allowed 42 hits and held batters to a .209 BA.
Kevin Goldstein said the following about Mejia after the season while rating him 3 stars and 7th best Met farmhand:
He has the best pure arm in the system with a fastball that sits at 94-97 mph consistently and touches 99. He made good progress with a split/changeup as an off-speed pitch, and he gets good spin at times on a slurvy breaking ball.
However, Mejia is all arm right now. He overthrows his secondary offerings, has trouble commanding all of his pitches, and his mechanics are downright cringe-inducing. If his secondary stuff doesn't come around, he's just a little guy with a fastball who is far better suited to a relief role. He will be yet another high-ceiling Latin American talent on the squad at Low-A Savannah in 2009.
Mejia actually never started a game at Savannah, as the Mets aggressively assigned him to High-A St. Lucie where he pitched 50 stellar innings (9 starts), went 4-1 with a 1.97 ERA to go with 16 BB/44 K, and stellar BAA (.217) and GO/AO ratio (2.21). He was then promoted to Binghamton where despite ugly peripherals (0-5, 4.47 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 9 H/9) he missed bats at an solid rate (47 K in 44 IP), had a GO/AO ratio of nearly 3, and a very respectable FIP (3.49) for a 19 year old at AA.
Goldstein, 2/12/10 (Mejia #1 prospect and 5-stars):
It's rare to find a fastball with plus-plus velocity and movement, but Mejia has just that. His heater sits at 93-95 mph, touches 98, and features heavy, hard sink, generating as many grounders as it does swings and misses. He'll flash a plus changeup that also features significant downward action. While he's a bit undersized for a starter, he's broadly built (well over his listed weight), has clean arm action, and scouts have no problem projecting him as a starter.
Yet Mejia needs to find a consistent breaking ball. He gets around on his slider too often, leading it to sweep across the plate on a single plane. His pitches have so much movement that at times he has trouble controlling them in the strike zone. While Mejia will continue his development as a starter, his fastball alone could land him in the Mets bullpen at some point during the season. (emphasis mine)
2010 was... enigmatic, to put it in nice and non-vulgar terms. Mejia made the team and was the 4th youngest player in baseball last year (youngest pitcher and player to make an Opening Day roster). While a Met, he continued to induce ground balls (2.64 GO/AO) but that really was the only peripheral from his 39 innings as a Met last year that didn't scream that this was a rushed move. He was optioned to Double-A Binghamton on June 20 (with a 3.25 ERA in 27.2 IP), and left his second AA start with a strained shoulder that caused him to miss a month of action. Upon returning, Mejia torched AA and AAA to the tune of 35 K in 36 innings and a GO/AO of over 4 and earned his first major league start September 4th. He was shelled in his first two starts, and left his third 7 outs in with what was later revealed to be a rhomboid strain of his should blade.
Goldstein: 12/22/10 (Mejia still #1 and 5-star):
Mejia has pure power stuff. He generates both strikeouts and plenty of ground balls with a heavy 94-97 mph fastball that features natural sinking action. He'll flash a plus power curveball, but his changeup is his best secondary offering, with plenty of deception and late fade. His wide shoulders and thick lower half give scouts fewer concerns then they have for most shorter-than-average pitchers.
There are some concerns about Mejia's ability to handle a full-season workload, as he's missed considerable time each of the last two years and has yet to cross the triple-digit hump as far as innings. He can fall in love with his fastball and needs to work more on pitch sequencing as opposed to just blowing every hitter away. His velocity comes with some effort, and he can overthrow and lose his command.
The most important thing for Mejia is innings, and he'll get those as the ace of the Triple-A Buffalo rotation, with the Mets hoping he can return for a September call up in preparation for a 2012 rotation spot.
(minor league stats here)
Baseball Prospectus - 5-Star Prospect, 45th-best prospect on Kevin Goldstein's Top 100 (22nd best pitcher)
Baseball America: #1 Met Prospect (31st on Will Lingo's Top 50 List)
"Unlike many pro baseball players, Mejia didn't sign his first contract for the love of the game. He began playing at age 15 after only seeing how lucrative the sport could be for many impoverished young Dominicans citing Pedro Martinez's $53 million deal with the Mets as an eye-opener. Scouted by the Red Sox and Yankees, among others, Mejia struggled to get noticed because he was undersized and skinny. When the Mets offered $16,500 in April 2007 he signed on the spot -- it sure beat the $8/day he was making shining shoes in Santo Domingo. Mejia made a much quicker impression in his US debut in 2008, when he came out firing mid-90s heat for Brooklyn. He began the 2010 season in the Mets bullpen, at 20 the youngest player to make an Opening Day roster. ....
Mejia adopted a reliever's mentality while working the big-league bullpen, showcasing his plus-plus fastball at the expense of his secondary pitches. He sits at a steady 94-96 and induced boatloads of groundouts because his ball features late cutting action. Mejia throws a firm 86-88 change that behaves like a splitter and is a second out pitch. Scouts like his 12-to-6 downer curve, which is a plus pitch at times at 79-81 mph. Since he struggles to repeat his release point on his curve, he tends to shy away from it. Concerns about Mejia center on his inconsistent secondary stuff and smallish build -- though his strong lower half mitigates that somewhat. He worked just 81 innings in 2010 and 95 in 2009, when he missed seven weeks with a strained right middle finger.
Mejia has the raw stuff tio pitch at the front of a rotation, but he has yet to prove he can complete anything close to 200 innings in a season. Even if he flames out as a starter he can be a dominating late-inning reliever with just slight improvement to his control. The new front office regime intends to slow down Mejia's development track and have him build innings at Buffalo in 2010.
Tools (20-80 scale): Fastball 70, Changeup 60, Curveball 50, Command/Control 50, Delivery 50
(As written in BA Handbook 2011)
John Sickels: B
Mejia should have been in AA last year working on his slider. It is to his credit that he wasn't totally overmatched in the majors, but the K/BB ratio shows he wasn't ready for the competition. I fail to see what the Mets gained by having him in The Show last year. They could have replicated his numbers by picking up some AAAA guy toiling in the minors, which wouldn't have cost any more money, wouldn't have burned service time, and wouldn't have put Mejia's development at risk.
Where does Mejia stand now? I still like him, if he stays healthy I think he could be a very good, possibly excellent pitcher. But health is a question; I'm reducing his grade a notch to a Grade B, but that's more due to the health question than any doubts I have about him.
(As written in Sickels' book)
Diamond Futures: Grade A
1) Jenrry Mejia, RHP (2010 Performance Scores – Dominance 54; Control 52; HRrate 49; Stamina 69)
Back for a return engagement as the Mets’ top prospect, Mejia should have been collecting frequent flier miles in 2010, as he pitched at five different levels—most of them quite effectively. The bouncing around, for the most part had to do with a nagging shoulder problem that saw him make rehab starts in the Gulf Coast League (GCL) and Florida State League (FSL). And it is things like that ‘nagging shoulder’ that prevent Mejia from ranking higher on our list, as he has yet to pitch more than 95 innings in any of his four professional seasons. With a mid-90s fastball, a plus change and a potentially plus curve, the Mets are convinced that he has the stuff of a front of the rotation ace. We have our doubts. Start with the demonstrated lack of ability to stay healthy. Add to that the command issues that earned him a demotion in June. Then, for good measure, throw in some good—but underdeveloped—secondary offerings that are still quite a ways away from being consistent Major League quality. In the end, it is beginning to look more and more like Mejia’s best days may come in the bullpen. There is a substantial ceiling here, but plenty of questions. The Mets are likely to give Mejia a chance to earn a rotation spot this spring. Even if he comes up short, he is likely to open the season as part of the bullpen.
Deep Leagues: 33rd best prospect in minors, 15th best starting pitching prospect
Fantasy Baseball 101: 37th-best prospect in minors
Project Prospect: 83rd-best prospect in minors
Prospect Junkies: 42nd-best prospect in minors, 21st best starting pitching prospect