Back in November, our SBN prospect guru John Sickels ranked the Mets' Top 20 Prospects. Four of those guys are gone now, but we can extract them from Sickels's list and compile a fresh Top 10 using the tattered remains of the Mets' farm system.
1. Fernando Martinez, OF, DOB: 10/10/1988 (Age: 19)
Somehow the Mets managed to hang onto their best prospect while still acquiring the best pitcher in baseball. The inclusion of Martinez in the deal would have made it tough to swallow, I think. Not that I wouldn't still be excited about Santana, but there's a lot to love about Martinez and I would really like to see him develop into a star with the Mets.
Martinez hit .271/.336/.377 in 236 at-bats with Double-A Binghamton last season as an 18-year-old. Those numbers may not seem terribly spectacular, but you have to remember that Martinez put them up in a league where the average age was better than 25. He figures to be a low Top-15 prospect in all of baseball once the 2008 rankings come out.
2. Jon Niese, LHP, DOB: 10/27/1986 (Age: 21)
Jon Niese is a lefty who pitched in A-ball last season. With their top two minor league starters en route to Minnesota, Niese becomes the Mets' top pitching prospect. He had very strong peripherals in 2007 (110 strikeouts, 31 walks, 9 homeruns in 134.1 innings) but a nothing-special 4.29 ERA. His BABIP was an absurd .346 last season, so that should come down a bit. Look for him to start the year in Double-A.
3. Eddie Kunz, RHP, DOB: 4/8/1986 (Age: 21)
Kunz was the closer for Oregon State before the Mets selected him with the 42nd overall pick last year (compensation for losing Roberto Hernandez). He appeared in twelve games with the Brooklyn Cyclones last year, stinking up the joint to the tune of a 6.75 ERA over 12.0 innings. He allowed only eight hits and no homeruns, but he walked eight while striking out nine. One of the walks was intentional, the rest presumably unintentional. Not much of a sample to go on here, but expect him to begin 2008 in A-ball Savannah.
4. Brant Rustich, RHP, DOB: 1/23/1985 (Age: 23)
Rustich was a second rounder last June out of UCLA. He allowed just six hits and a walk while striking out ten in 10.1 innings with Kingsport (Rookie). He continued pitching well after earning a promotion to Brooklyn, posting a 2.13 ERA and allowing just five baserunners (four hits) in 12.2 innings. Two of the four hits were homeruns. He should be teammates with Kunz next year in Savannah.
5. Joe Smith, RHP, DOB: 3/22/1984 (Age: 23)
Joe Smith got off to a great start with the Mets last year after making the big club out of spring training. He struck out 45 batters in 44.1 innings but allowed 69 baserunners over that span (48 hits, 21 walks, 7 HBP). The result was a crummy 1.56 WHIP and a better-than-it-should-have-been ERA of 3.45. With Duaner Sanchez possibly ready by Opening Day and Matt Wise signing a big league deal with the club a couple of months ago, Smith may be ticketed for Triple-A when camp breaks in April.
6. Nick Evans, 1B, DOB: 1/30/1986 (Age: 22)
Evans was slated to play winter ball in Hawaii this offseason but was kept out after the Mets found that he had a stress fracture in his right hand. They are hopeful that he will be ready to roll for spring training.
Evans hit an impressive .286/.374/.476 with St. Lucie last season. He annihilated lefties to the tune of .343/.431/.576, but he'll have to do better than .263/.355/.435 against righties if he has any chance to make it all the way to the bigs. He's already as far to the left of the defensive spectrum as he can be without becoming a full-time DH, so clearly his bat is going to be his ticket. His plate discipline has been impressive, and if he can add some bulk to his 6'2" frame (he's listed at 180 pounds) then he may develop the power necessary to be a big leaguer some day.
7. Stephen Clyne, RHP, DOB: 9/22/1984 (Age: 23)
Clyne was drafted out of Clemson in the third round last year, 123rd overall. Baseball America's Aaron Fitt says that he "has a funky arm action but decent stuff out of the pen, with a 90-92 mph fastball with tailing life and a slightly above-average slider in the 82-85 range". He notched a 2.05 ERA in 26.1 innings with Brooklyn last year, striking out 30 but allowing 19 walks. He's another decent relief prospect in the Mets' system and should wind up -- let me know if this sounds familiar -- with Savannah in 2008.
8. Scott Moviel, RHP, DOB: 5/7/1988 (Age: 19)
Moviel was taken 77th overall last year out of Saint Edward High School (OH) and tossed 40 innings with the GCL Mets (Rookie). He struck out 37 and walked just 11, posting a 3.38 ERA. Per Jim Callis, Moviel is a "6-foot-10, 245-pounder whose stuff keeps getting better. He could be a monster in a couple of years."
9. Brahiam Maldonado, OF, DOB: 9/18/1985 (Age: 22)
Maldonado hit .310/.349/.500 with Savannah (A) last year, showing good power if unspectacular strike zone judgment (79 strikeouts to just 19 walks in 306 at-bats). He will start the season in St. Lucie (High-A), and if his power carries over and he can improve his plate discipline he could move up this list posthaste.
10. Nathan Vineyard, LHP, DOB: 10/3/1988 (Age: 19)
Yet another 2007 draftee, Vineyard was taken 47th overall out of Woodland High School (GA), just five picks after Eddie Kunz. Mostly a starter with the GCL Mets last year, Vineyard struck out 33 batters to just nine walks in 27.1 innings. He also gave up four homeruns in that span, largely accounting for his bloated 5.27 ERA. He isn't an extreme flyball pitcher, so we'll see if the homeruns were just a small sample size fluke.