2011 Mets Mid-Season Prospect Review: St. Lucie

Take a look at the first half that was for the Mets Hi-A affiliate as well the many prospects that play there.

Ok we've got two down and two to go. Click here to look back at the reviews for Buffalo and Binghamton. Today, we're onto Hi-A St. Lucie...

Team Spotlight

Managed by 2010 Savannah skipper Pedro Lopez, St. Lucie's 2011 season has been shaped largely by what they did in their first month. They began the season hot as a pistol, winning 17 of their first 19 games, including back to back nine and seven-game win streaks. However, since that point, they're a combined 40 and 45, though they did manage to limp to the first half finish line, title -- and automatic playoff berth -- in hand. An extremely streaky club, they've already had two more five-game win streaks and three five-game losing streaks in that time. Thanks to a down year in the Florida State League, the Mets still lead the overall leaderboard and are right in the thick of things for the second half standings.

As usual, one of the highest rates of player turnover in the organization has made it difficult for the club to find a rhythm like they had in the first month. But they have managed to keep their heads above water as ascending talent -- like Jeurys Familia, Matt Harvey and Matt den Dekker -- has been supplanted by new, young risers like Robbie Shields, Josh Edgin and Cory Vaughn -- not to mention organizational newcomer Zack Wheeler, who will make his debut tonight.

Also I feel it's important to point out that St. Lucie holds a nightly Red v. Blue Sumo Showdown and keeps everyone abreast of the results via a daily Youtube video. Always good for a nice chuckle to start the morning.

Current Standings (second half)

TEAM W L PCT GB
Bradenton 22 16 .579 -
Charlotte 21 16 .568 .5
St. Lucie 19 17 .528 2
Palm Beach 20 18 .526 2
Jupiter 15 21 .417 6
Fort Myers 15 22 .405 6.5

The Usual Suspects

SS Wilmer Flores - STOCK HOLDING

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
STL FSL .274 102 401 45 110 19 1 8 66 155 22 50 2 2 .317 .387 .704

No, he's not putting up the eye-popping numbers you might expect/want from a top 3 talent. And to be honest, this evaluation is on the 'trending down' side thanks to rather mediocre offensive totals and expectedly poor results in the field. However, beneath the surface of his eh .274/.317/.387. line, the kid who won't turn 20 for another week has continued to show truly excellent contact skills, further lowering his K-rates (11.6%), while also repairing a BB-rate (4.9%) that took a hit as he entered Hi-A in 2010. He's shown similar home run pop as last year but the big difference in terms of his power is a sharp decline in doubles. And to be honest, it's pretty easy to draw that back to a BABIP that declined by over .40 points from 2010, a year when he was probably pretty lucky.

For a youngster, his totals continue to be somewhat impressive yet to me they don't scream future stud, unless a whole lot more power emerges -- which isn't out of the question with his combination of size and contact skills. 2012 will likely bring the end of the SS experiment -- as the last two weeks have brought a boatload of errors -- and his future value depends a lot on where he lands. I don't quite buy reports that he's a corner OF at best. He may not be a future gold glover but he's got the arm and the hands to play third, if he can just squeeze out enough lateral quickness. Either way, to me he profiles like a nice bat but not the kind of middle-of-the-order slugger that many hoped for when he burst onto the scene in '08.

OF Cesar Puello - STOCK HOLDING

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
STL FSL .250 95 368 55 92 18 4 9 39 145 13 89 14 8 .303 .394 .697

Puello is pulling a similar trick as 2010 where many were disappointed with early returns but are taking notice as he rakes in the second half. On June 10th, Puello was batting .231/.290/.324 with just three home runs and was dropped to seventh in the order. Since then he's batted .275 and even better he's slugging .496 with five bombs in half the at-bats.

However, Puello still has some warts. His surprising 2010 speed has dropped significantly (14 SB, 8 CS). In addition, his plate discipline has taken a nosedive in Hi-A; even during his post-ASB hot streak he's managed a horrendous 3:37 BB-to-K rate. However, a move to CF certainly boosts his long-term value and while the plate discipline obviously needs a lot of help, it's a bit greedy to demand improvement in every facet of the game in this his 20-year old season. Overall, as he continues to show excellent all-around tools as well as several serious flaws, I maintain an optimistic yet very tempered outlook with Puello.

OF Cory Vaughn - STOCK UP

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
SAV SAL .286 68 245 33 70 14 2 4 30 100 36 64 8 5 .405 .408 .814
STL FSL .254 34 122 21 31 6 0 5 15 52 10 31 2 1 .336 .426 .762
Minors .275 102 367 54 101 20 2 9 45 152 46 95 10 6 .383 .414 .798

After his .250 ISO in Brooklyn last season some were disappointed by Vaughn's lack of home run pop with Savannah (4 hrs in 245 abs). However, his .286 average and .814 OPS were still more than suitable for a promotion and with St. Lucie he's already hit five homers in 122 ab's. Add in ten stolen bases on the season and Vaughn's athletic, all-around game has looked just fine as he continues to climb the organizational ladder. He's currently slumping a bit against more advanced pitching (.154 AVG over last ten games), striking out a lot even for him but his overall status as a prototypical slugging corner OF prospect is in good shape.

3B Jefry Marte - STOCK DOWN

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
STL FSL .255 99 376 46 96 20 1 5 47 133 31 67 12 1 .317 .354 .670

After a couple seasons where Marte would heat up in the second half, he's flipped things around this season busting out of the gates on fire and fading every month since (April OPS: .920 | May OPS: .674 | June OPS: .653 | July OPS: .460) Following his .321 average in April with four homers and 10 BB's vs. 16 K's, he's been very pedestrian. And don't put too much into the Future's Game appearance as he was more a choice of necessity than anything else. Aside from some additional speed he hasn't really shown any growth in 2011. With 22 errors the glove still isn't there and the seemingly improved plate discipline has gone backwards fast. In short, the overall numbers are all right for a kid who just turned 21 in Hi-A but early signs of development have faded away. To me, this is a case of losing ground by staying still.

2B Robbie Shields - STOCK UP

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
SAV SAL .274 60 226 30 62 20 4 2 26 96 29 36 9 4 .354 .425 .779
STL FSL .258 19 66 14 17 5 0 1 12 25 8 9 0 0 .329 .379 .708
Minors .271 79 292 44 79 25 4 3 38 121 37 45 9 4 .348 .414 .763

I wouldn't say that Shields has been a huge riser this year but his modest gains made during a transition to Hi-A have been a good sign for a kid who got off to a slow start as a pro in '09. Much like Reese Havens, he's made the long-term shift from short to 2B but features an offensive profile to bring a lot of value from that spot. After showing off his home run pop with a .457 SLG in Savannah in 2010, he's kept it up slugging .414 between Lo-A and Hi-A this year while featuring some speed (9 sb vs. 4 cs) and an excellent eye at the plate (37:45 BB-to-K). By this time next year Shields could very well be in the growing discussion of potential second baseman of the future.

RHP Nick Carr - STOCK HOLDING

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
STL FSL 3 0 2.40 22 0 0 0 8 30.0 26 8 8 3 14 34 0.77 .236

Carr toyed with us by serving up a single walk in April but despite the fact that they began to re-appear as the summer went on, he's still posting a BB/9 (4.20) as low as we've seen since his earliest days in the system. What's more his K/9 (10.20) continues to impress and with a .236 average against he's been harder to hit than he's ever been at St. Lucie. The big problem is that he's had a couple more nagging arm injuries this year in what has been an ongoing issure for Carr through his career.

LHP Darin Gorski - STOCK UP

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
STL FSL 10 1 2.20 22 16 2 0 1 110.2 92 32 27 10 27 115 0.76 .223

In short, the '09 seventh rounder has been one of the biggest surprises in the entire system in 2011. After beginning the season as St. Lucie bullpen depth, he's cemented himself as a dependable, even dominant starter at the Hi-A level and a major league career is suddenly a distinct possibility. By gaining a few ticks on the fb -- which tops out around 91mph -- and tightening up his command, the deceptive, long-armed lefty has been FAR less hittable this year. After posting a .280 AVG against in Lo-A in 2010, he's currently at .236 in Hi-A -- .188 against lefties -- with a K/9 that's jumped up to nearly 10. He's labored a bit more in July, posting a 3.60 ERA and allowing six homers in his last four starts but he's clearly mastered the Florida State League. How he fares in Double-A will go a long way to prove if Gorski should move into the realm of top organizational pitching prospects or if this is just a mirage.

LHP Josh Edgin - STOCK UP

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
SAV SAL 1 0 0.87 24 0 0 0 16 31.0 14 4 3 0 10 41 2.53 .135
STL FSL 1 0 0.84 14 0 0 0 5 21.1 17 2 2 0 7 21 1.56 .224
Minors 2 0 0.86 38 0 0 0 21 52.1 31 6 5 0 17 62 2.03 .172

Like Gorski, Edgin came into the season on the back burner but has placed himself firmly into the prospect discussion. The 2010 30th rounder out of Francis Marion U had a strong pro debut with Kingsport but has surpassed all that, posting ERA's of 0.87 and 0.84 with Savannah and St. Lucie, respectively. Even better, he's posted strikeout totals of well over a K/IP, he's got good command (2.95 BB/9), keeps the ball on the ground (2.03 GB:FB) and with an eye on his potential future role, lefties have hit just .143 off him. With a low-to-mid 90's heater and a wipeout slider from the left side, Edgin should continue to move fast and if he keeps this up may see Citi Field as some point next season.

RHP Armando Rodriguez - STOCK HOLDING

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
STL FSL 3 3 3.96 11 11 0 0 0 50.0 41 27 22 8 21 55 0.58 .222

After an extended look in major league camp, Rodriguez began the season on the DL with a strained oblique which kept him out of action until June. Since his return he hasn't been great, showing a bit of very out of character wildness. However, he hasn't been awful either, striking out seven or more batters in three of his first eight starts. As we said before the season, his lack of quality secondary stuff and extreme flyball tendencies point to a future bullpen role but he's been passable thus far as a starter in Hi-A.

Odds & Ends

RHP Eric Beaulac has had yet another injury-plagued campaign but as in the past, when he pitches he looks like a very solid future relief prospect. Through just seven appearances he has posted a 2.53 ERA with St. Lucie while exhibiting trademark extreme ground ball rates...RHP Kyle Allen dropped down to no. 42 on the pre-season Top 50 and after 2011 he's liable to drop of the list entirely. He's posted a 5.25 ERA in Hi-A, allowing opponents to hit .292 with no platoon splits, so no ROOGY potential. After showing great potential with Savannah back in '09, the big, athletic righty just never developed further, maintaining a mediocre fastball in the high 80's...24-year old OF Pedro Zapata is a bit old and doesn't show the power to enter the prospect discussion, but currently batting .312 he has shown himself an effective slap hitter with excellent speed and 4th-5th OF potential...Aussie 1B Stefan Welch hasn't blown anyone away but he's continued to be good enough to deserve an offseason promotion, batting .283 with 13 bombs...For the third straight season RHP Scott Moviel is posting pedestrian totals in the FSL and doesn't look like he'll ever develop the kind of dominant stuff the Mets hoped for when they first saw that imposing 6'11" frame...Ditto C Francisco Pena who is batting .217 with a .597 OPS...On the other hand, intriguing '08 fifth rounder C Dock Doyle is finally making good on his strong plate discipline, batting .342 through his first 13 games after starting the season on the DL...And once again, former second rounder RHP Brant Rustich seems to be losing the season to injury. After looking good in bullpens this spring, he is supposedly throwing in PSL but has yet to get in a game after undergoing offseason surgery to cure Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

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