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Amazin' Avenue Chat Transcript: John Sickels On Mets Prospects

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Here is the transcript of our live Mets prospect chat with John Sickels of Minor League Ball. Enjoy.

Pat Andriola: Is Jenrry Mejia a top-50 MLB prospect?

John Sickels: He’d be top 100 for sure. Top 50? I don’t know. I’m going to do a new prospect list for Rotowire by the end of the month, so I’ll have a decision for that soon. He’s certainly taken a big step forward this year.

Pat Andriola: What do you make of Robert Carson and Scott Shaw?

John Sickels: I like Carson’s youth and ability to generate grounders and suppress home runs, but his strikeout rate isn’t all that great. I’d rate him a Grade C/C+ right now. Shaw is older and more advanced, but his components at St. Lucie aren’t that great and he is more of a fly ball pitcher than Carson. He throws harder, but his track record in college wasn’t that great either. I’d give him a Grade C right now. Both have major league potential but neither are elite prospects at this point.

Pat Andriola: What is Wilmer Flores’s ceiling?

John Sickels: Well he could be a superstar. He could also be just average, or he could flame out in Triple-A. His absolute ceiling would be as a .300, 30 homer guy. But it remains to be seen if his power will fully develop, and where he will fit defensively.

AnthonyR: Ike Davis is a guy who I saw quite a bit of at the Collegiate level. I’ve always thought that he had a much better "ceiling" as a back of the bullpen arm than in the field (where he was good, but I never was all that impressed). You mentioned in one of your prospect lists that this could be a potential for him should he not succeed. Am I seeing something that is not there and does he really have more potential at the plate than on the mound? I seem to be the only one who feels this way.

John Sickels: Well I liked Davis as both hitter and pitcher, but I think his ceiling his higher as a hitter. As a pitcher he looks like a short relief type. As a hitter he projects as a regular first baseman, which has more value. Give the guy a chance to hit….he’s doing a lot better this year and controls the zone very well.

viktor06: How do you Mets farm when compared to how it was one year ago and where would you rank it overall among the rest of MLB?

John Sickels: I don’t know how it ranks. I don’t try to compare farm systems during the season, there are too many moving parts. I wait until after the season is over and all the data is in before making system-to-system comparisons. off the top of my head I would rate it as average….they have some guys with great ceilings but could use more depth.

viktor06: What grades would these get from you now – Jeurys Familia, Robert Carson, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Ruben Tejada

John Sickels: All have major league potential. none are sure things.
Carson C/C+
Familia C+/B-
Nieu: C
Tejada: C/C+

viktor06: How big of a concern are Ike Davis'platoon splits?

John Sickels: Moderately concerned. If they are still sharp next year then I would be more worried.

squid92: Which prospects are closest to the majors? Who could make an impact later this season or early 2010?

John Sickels: I think they are pretty thin at the upper levels and I don’t see anyone guaranteed to make an impact this year. Niese needs more chances. For 2010 you could see Davis or Mejia but even they might be better suited for 2011.

JamesK: Who are you most looking forward to tracking on the Mets single-A short season team, the Brooklyn Cyclones?

John Sickels: Well the guys I find interesting in the 2009 draft class haven’t signed yet. Of the guys on the roster right now, it will be interesting to see if OF Luis Rivera can maintain his hot start. He has tools but was terrible before this year. Can he keep this up?

squid92: Do you have any comps for Ruben Tejada? Brad Holt? Ike Davis?

John Sickels: Tejada: pick your own good glove/bad bat utility infielder, there are a bunch of them; Holt: If he stays healthy he could be like Pelfrey. For some reason I think he’ll get hurt though; Davis: Lyle Overbay with an excellent glove.

squid92: How would you rank the three Savannah arms (Familia, Carson, Allen)? What differentiates the three? Right now, I don’t have much to go on in terms of those three separating themselves in my mind.

John Sickels: they all look like C/C+ guys to me right now. I don’t see a lot to distinguish them either.

viktor06: Josh Thole - whats the latest status on his defense?

John Sickels: I can’t get through to half the websites on the internet right now so I can’t look up the numbers directly. the last i heard about his glove a month ago was ’making good progress.'

TheBigStapler: Steel cage match: Holt and Mejia. Who is the better prospect?

John Sickels: hmm….i’d say mejia. pretty close….i’d have mejia as a B+/B right now and Holt as a B.

JoshNY: When you’re evaluating a young player who’s in the process of changing positions (such as Josh Thole), how does that differ from the process of evaluating a player who’s simply not a very good defender (such as how Ryan Braun was as a prospect)?

John Sickels: Well that’s a very good question. Not trying to dodge it, but it really IS a case-by-case thing…what positions are involved? Why is he being moved? Is he being moved from an easier position to a more difficult one, or vice versa? Does he just need more experience? Physical tools? etc. etc. There is no hard and fast rule. Generally speaking, all other things being equal, the more athletic player has the edge over the less athletic player, but there are exceptions. I don’t have a hard and fast rule about it.

squid92: What's the good word on Scott Moviel? I know he’s been out of commission for a while, but is there anything good to go by on for now?

John Sickels: Well he’s on the mound at least, though I don’t have any recent reports about what his velocity/stuff is like post-injury. Personally I tend to be somewhat suspicious of the super-tall pitchers…guys like Moviel or Brackman with the Yankees. I think it is hard for them to keep their mechanics and command in gear…lots of moving parts…and I think they tend to get overrated, just as smaller pitchers are sometimes underrated.

whynot: Possible bullpen piece by 2010 a la Parnell? Or do the Mets really want to try him as a starter?

John Sickels: I don’t know what they want, but he looks like a reliever to me. Probably more 2011 though.

whynot: Reese Havens: Why not just move him to 2B now? Clearly he can’t play short. Good comp? Aaron Hill maybe or is that wishful thinking?

John Sickels: I could see Hill at this peak, perhaps with a few more homers and a bit less batting average. I agree with you, move him to second base.

jasondg: Fernando Martinez: Is his AAA success for real, or do you need to see more? Anything we should take away from his early struggles (in limited action) on the big club, or do we just need to be patient and let him adjust?

John Sickels: He just needs time. remember, he’s been rushed considering his age. I don’t know if he’s ever going to be a huge star that lives up to the hype, but he should be a solid player for a long time to come. He’s been awfully young for his leagues, and that combined with his injury problems have made it a bit hard to get a read on exactly how good he might be. Even scouts who have seen him a lot have mixed opinions about how much power he will show at his peak. in other words, i’m confident he will be a succesful player, but the exact SHAPE that success will take, I don’t know.

Evan_S: Regarding Francisco Pena, does he have a chance to become a decent hitting major league catcher? And how good his he behind the plate?

John Sickels: He sucks. He can’t hit and I don’t think he’ll start. He has a good arm but is still raw behind the plate. Maybe he’ll make it as a backup, but I don’t buy him as a regular at all.

JamesK:Where do you see Steve Matz's fastball topping out?

Meddler: I heard some message board buzz that he’s still thinking about declining the Mets offer and attending college. Have you heard anything on that front?

John Sickels: I rather like Matz and could see him being a consistent 90-94 guy with maturity. I would avoid worrying about signability rumors right now. Everything is all posturing at this point.

squid92: Any preliminary info on "Machete" Urbina Jr.?

John Sickels: I don’t know anything more than you do right now, and perhaps less. :)

TheBigStapler: Jon Niese: Does his newfound 2-seamer alter his projection at all?

John Sickels: My opinion hasn't changed. He can be a good 3/4 starter if given enough adjustment time and if he stays healthy.

squid92: What do you think of Aderlin Rodriguez? Obviously, not much data to go on. But have you seen any BP or fielding practice that gives any more information on him?

John Sickels: Nope. all I have are scouting reports right now. Great tools, raw, too young to know what will happen yet.

I’m happy to see international signees get more attention over the last few years, but expectations for these guys are even harder to live up to than for the North American kids…they are so young,and most of them are SO raw. The hype gets awfully thick.

Zwill: Ruben Tejada: Will his bat improve enough to make him an everyday player or will he just be a defensive replacement at the MLB level?

John Sickels: I don’t think he’ll hit. he’s got a great glove though.

Meddler: Anyway, has Kyle Allen shown any legitimate improvement yet this year? Folks around here know he’s "my guy" as Adam Schein would say.

John Sickels: I like the ground balls and the decent strikeout rate, and he’s made the jump from rookie ball without getting killed. I’d rate him as a Grade C right now, but with the potential to get well beyond that. Let’s see what the final numbers and scouting reports look like…he could be a big sleeper for 2010.

Meddler: Where are all of Zach Lutz’s doubles? That seems to be the issue holding his ISO back more than his raw power. Is he a better prospect than Lucas Duda or Shawn Bowman? If so, is he good enough that the Mets should consider supplanting one of those two and moving Lutz to Binghamton?

John Sickels: Well let’s see….bowman is the best athlete, but he strikes out way too much and probably always will. Duda just doesn’t have enough pop for a first baseman. Lutz hasn’t shown huge power this year either, but he’s still working off some injury rust. Right now, if i were the Mets, i think i’d leave things just as they are right now. I would rank Lutz and Bowman ahead of Duda since they have more defensive value.

Meddler: Reese Havens: He hurt his hand on a HBP recently, and I’ve heard zero diagnosis, but he hasn’t been in the lineup since. Have you caught any buzz on that front? What do you think of Havens’ low average in the FSL? Is his power/patience enough to make up for the lack of line drives?

John Sickels: I haven’t heard anything either. Yes, the low batting average is a concern, but power/patience were his calling cards anyway. Right now I’m more concerned abou this durability than anything….he seems to get hurt a lot and that could cut into his offensive development.

squid92: What’s happened to Jefry Marte? I see he’s got 31 errors in 70 games and he’s not hitting either?

Meddler: Did the organization just get a little over-zealous here? The numbers scream "over-matched". How much should we read into this?

John Sickels: They keep pushing these Latin American kids awfully hard and Marte doesn’t seem to be responding well. I’d send him back to the NYP and try to rebuild his confidence. But they don’t ask me about these things, lol. And I tend to lean conservative about promoting players.

squid92: How far away is Havens from being major league ready (as a 2nd baseman)?

John Sickels: I think his timetable has been pushed back. I’d say 2011.

squid92: James Fuller: Future lefthanded reliever maybe, or is he just putting up nice numbers in a pitchers league for Brooklyn?

John Sickels: Probably projects as a LOOGY type. Good numbers but needs to get exposure at higher levels.

wobatus: If Jeri was a prospect, who would she be?

John Sickels: Stephen Strasburg. Duh.

Meddler: Is Eddie Kunz stuck in some kind of repeating time loop? He’s been in the upper levels for what seems like forever and put up basically the same ratios and generated the same results. Has he just hit his ceiling?

John Sickels: He is what he is. He can be a competent middle reliever who gets ground balls.

squid92: Dillon Gee: He was recently diagnosed with a torn labrum. I know you’re not a doctor, but in your experience, are there any significant examples of pitchers who had this and were able to attain a major league career? Gee was still sorta a fringe prospect before hand, so this might do it for him?

John Sickels: Well there are different kinds and severities of labrum tears. I haven’t read the reports on Gee so I don’t know how extensive his was or what exactly they did during surgery. so I can’t really answer this.

Meddler: Eric Beaulac: Pretty old for the SAL, does a move to the pen speed up his timetable? He’s really overmatching A-ball hitters as a reliever. Does he have the stuff/profile to be more than a ROOGY?

John Sickels: I kind of like Beaulac actually, though he doesn’t have the ceiling of his teammates at Savannah. I could see him as a ROOGY, yes.

MatthewA: Should the Mets be kicking themselves for trading Humber, Mulvey, or Guerra? Hindsight’s always 20/20, but it’s those pitchers that will determine the Santana trade a win or a loss.

John Sickels: I don’t think they should have any regrets about it. And I’m a Twins fan. Mulvey could still be a good pitcher but I have little hope for Humber or Guerra.

squid92: Cesar Puello vs. Javier Rodriguez

John Sickels: Puello.

JoshNY: Speaking of Strasburg: I know this is more along the lines of rumor-mongering than player evaluation, but is there any chance the Nationals fail to sign him and he winds up back at SDSU for his senior year?

John Sickels: He’ll sign. about 2 minutes before the deadline, but he’ll sign. he’d be a fool to go back to college and risk blowing his arm out, and I don’t see him taking the indy ball route.

Meddler: The GCL catcher Nelfi Zapata: A 2009 draftee, is generating some nice buzz. Worth paying attention to, or do we need to see a lot more first?

John Sickels: Worth tracking, definitely. he could have gone within the first 10 rounds if his signability had been more clear That’s a nice pickup for them in the 19th round.

AnthonyR: Earlier, you said Francisco Pena "sucks" (absolutely spot on awesome). Are there any other prospects in our system that you feel less strongly about than most?

John Sickels: Well i have to admit, I’m not especially passionately positive OR negative about most Mets prospects. But Pena…well, he just sucks. If he wasn’t the son of a major leaguer he wouldn’t have gotten as much attention as he has.

Eric Simon: Is there such a thing as a pitching prospect?

John Sickels: Of course. But they are DIFFERENT than hitting prospects and can’t be directly compared, which is why I split them up on my 50/50 lists.

David G: Adam Bostick: He’s pitching well this year, but he’s 26 now, can he be a successful reliever? Does he hit 90 mph? I’ve wondered why the Mets went with Misch over him (though Misch has pitched well.) And thanks again for taking the time to do this, very cool of you.

John Sickels: Bostick is a guy that i’ve been watcihng for what seems like 10 years now. i’ve seen him throw 93 MPH and I’ve seen him throw 86…..i don’t have a current velocity report on him for 2009, but his track record is that of a pitcher with potential who could sneak up on us just as soon as eveyrone gives up. He reminds me of Dennis Reyes, who was a failed starting pitcher prospect with injury and weight problems, but who ended up being a pretty useful pitcher once everyone gave up on him.

EMSfan9: I know this is a bit broad but with all the trade rumors flying around, who, if any, of the Mets prospects would you consider untouchable?

John Sickels: No one. I don’t regard anyone in the mets system as untouchable. except maybe fmart.

Meddler: What's the word on Brad Holt's curveball? With all the back and forth and spotlight dueling he’s had with Mejia, I really haven’t heard as much about this as I imagined I would by now, yet it seems to be the biggest hurdle for Mr. Holt. What are you hearing? Has he wrangled it in and got it a bit more consistent? Does it still look like a possible plus pitch in the making?

John Sickels: Well supposedly it was looking pretty decent in the FSL, but Holt has been knocked around a bit in Double-A. Small sample and I don’t have a current scouting report. He does sound an awful lot like Pelfrey: great arm, secondary stuff needs help.

squid92: Just as Meddler said Holt's curveball is his biggest hurdle, Mejia’s mechanics would seem to be his. Anything new on his motion? Has he improved his mechanics?

John Sickels: Well his command is better this year and that is usually a result of better mechanics.

MatthewA: Is Tobi Stoner worth keeping an eye on?

John Sickels: Could see him as an 11th man if it comes together.

John Sickels: Thanks guys. This has been fun and we will do it again. Next time I will do this from home with a better connection and can hopefully provide more detailed answers for you!