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Hello (with Notes!)

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Hello, everyone. For those who don't know me, I'm Alex Nelson, a writer over at MetsGeek. Eric has graciously invited me to give him a hand over here with a few things, so I'll be around posting news, notes, and general commentary for awhile. Without further ado, here are a pair of notes on a pair of Mets prospects.

  • Over at ESPN.com, former Blue Jays Special Assistant to the GM Keith Law gives his list of the top 25 best prospects in baseball (subscription required). What's especially interesting is that he places Mets OF Fernando Martinez sixth on that list, easily the best ranking for the 18-year old out there.

    By way of comparison, over at SI.com, Bryan Smith places Martinez twenty-first on his own list. Given Fernando's extreme youth, I think the later ranking makes more sense -- a lot can happen by the time he's ready to roam the outfield in the majors -- but either way, the Mets have a jewel.

    Scouts were especially impressed by his display of power against more advanced pitching in the Arizona Fall League, where he put up an impressive .126 isolated power.

  • One guy who gets a little less credit is Jon Niese, a 20-year old lefty who pitched with Hagerstown last year. At Baseball Analysts, Rich Lederer posts a graph where he charts how every pitcher performed according to strikeouts per batter faced and groundball ratios. I couldn't help but notice Niese's name in the "Northeast Quadrant" of his chart, which lists the pitchers with both an above average number of strikeouts and an above average number of groundballs induced.

    Here's what Rich has to say on the matter:

    It's no secret that strikeouts are the best outcome for a pitcher. Next to infield flies, grounders are the least harmful among batted ball types. Although groundballs result in a higher batting average than fly balls, their run impact is lower because the hits are usually limited to singles and an occasional double down the first or third base line, whereas balls in the air that turn into hits become doubles, triples, or home runs.

    Groundball rates are an important predictor of home runs because the latter can be influenced to a much greater degree by park factors, which vary significantly from one minor league stop to another. Keep in mind that no attempt has been made to adjust the data for classification, league, or park factors.

    Basically, strikeouts keep the ball out of play, and groundballs keep the ball in the park. Last year, Niese went 11-9 with a 3.93 with 132 strikeouts and 62 walks over 123 innings. The walks are still a little high, but his future looks promising.