1. Carlos Gomez: We said a year ago that Gomez had the talent to rank at the top of this list, so this shouldn't come as a surprise. Internally, the Mets are divided in half as to which prospect is their number one - Milledge or Gomez. In reality, they should be ranked 1 and 1A. While Milledge is the safest pick at number one, Gomez has a higher upside. He has a better arm, as much speed if not more, and more power projection. Forget the eight home runs Gomez hit for Hagerstown this past season. He has a lot more power than his numbers have shown, drawing comparisons to Juan Gonzalez from one National League scout.
2. Lastings Milledge: While Gomez might have the higher upside, there's no safer bet among the Mets' prospects than Lastings Milledge to have a flourishing Major League career. He might be the best overall hitter in the farm system, owning a .313 career batting average as he heads into the 2006 season. Some scouts believe he'll be a young right-handed hitting version of Barry Bonds (his younger days with Pittsburgh) and others believe his ceiling is as a Matt Lawton or Milton Bradley type. The truth most likely lies somewhere in the middle. He remains the Mets #1 bargaining chip in potential trades.
3. Philip Humber: Tommy John surgery or not, Humber is the clearly the pitching prospect with the highest upside among the Mets' pitching prospects. He's a true power pitcher, averaging 92-94 MPH with his fastball and he compliments it with a dominating curveball. His command and battle tested mettle on the mound are undeniable. The only question mark surrounding his game is how he responds to his recovery from Tommy John surgery.
4. Mike Jacobs: Here's the Mets' prospect most Mets' fans are most familiar with heading into this offseason. Jacobs made a name for himself in 2005 by clubbing 11 home runs for the Mets after notching another Mets' Minor League Hitter of the Year Award (first winning it after the 2003 season) this past season. We ranked him just 14th last season in our Top 50 Prospects list mostly because of the significant question marks about his power hitting ability because of his injured labrum a year ago. He puts all those questions to rest in 2005.
5. Yusmeiro Petit: Much has been made of Petit's less than dominating "stuff". Petit simply knows how to pitch, deceiving opposing batters with an excellent pitch combination, great location and command, and a surprising deception. He improved his fastball in 2005, averaging in the low 90's more consistently this past season. While the pundits may be down on his stuff, they can't overlook the tremendous results he posted as a 20-year old hurler pitching at the AA level.
6. Brian Bannister: Bannister and Petit are essentially the same pitcher. Neither one has a dominating pitch in their repertoire and both have had tremendous success on the mound with good control and pitching ability. Bannister, four years older than Petit, had a solid stint in AAA with the Tides this past season after blowing through the Eastern League at the AA level earlier in the year. We told our subscribers a year ago that his cut-fastball (or slider) would put Bannister over the top and make him an elite pitching prospect.
7. Mike Carp: Carp used a hot mini-camp last January and an even hotter Spring Training to secure the starting first base job with the Hagerstown Suns this past season. Battling through nagging injuries all season, Carp still managed to hit 19 home runs in his first 313 at-bats at the A-level. He still has a long way to go in his development, but he's a much better hitter than his .249 average in 2005 indicates. Some Mets' officials believe he could be the best left-handed hitting prospect in their system since Daryl Strawberry.
8. Shawn Bowman: Bowman had a rough go of it at the plate in 2005, getting off to a .165 start in his first two months in the Florida State League. However, he turned it around in the second half of the season, hitting .292 before a back injury ended his season prematurely. He still managed to hit 17 home runs in the pitching-friendly Florida State League and he's already one of the elite defensive third base prospects in the game. How he battles back from his back injury - he could miss the start of the 2006 season - is the biggest question mark to his game right now.
9. Ambiorix Concepcion: One of the five-tool talents in the Mets' system, Concepcion had a disappointing 2005 campaign. He hit just .251 on the year, but it wasn't too bad considering his surprisingly slow start. Concepcion has plus power, plus speed, and one of the better arms in minor league baseball. How he handles breaking pitches and his ability to make consistent contact at the plate will determine just how far he'll go. He is as talented as they come though.
10. Gaby Hernandez: Rounding out the top ten is the Mets' third round pick from 2004. Gaby impressed everyone in his first taste of long-season league baseball this past season, including tossing a no-hitter for the Hagerstown Suns before finishing the season with the St. Lucie Mets as a 19-year old in the Florida State League. He didn't do well at the higher level, but that isn't unexpected for such a young pitcher. Gaby's stuff doesn't translate to an elite pitching prospect, but he's very solid and should eventually be an excellent middle-of-the-rotation type of starter down the road.
11. Anderson Hernandez: Obtained from the Detroit Tigers for Vance Wilson last Spring, Hernandez came to the Mets with the reputation as a defensive wizard - meaning he couldn't hit. Hernandez not only proved the critics wrong, he earned the praises of his teammates and coaches alike. He hit well over .300 in his two stops between AA-Binghamton and AAA-Norfolk, showing good speed and surprising gap power. Binghamton Mets' skipper Jack Lind called Hernandez one of the best switch-hitting prospects he has seen in 35 years of baseball. While we're not ready to do the same, his potential is unquestionable.
12. Jamar Hill: Hill's slow start was a major reason why the pre-season favorite St. Lucie Mets struggled in the first half this past season. But like Bowman, Hill turned his season around in the second half. He hit .284 with 14 of his 16 home runs in his final 85 games. Hill has a lot more power than he displayed in the pitching-friendly Florida State League and he compares to Reggie Sanders at the Major League level. Hill should not be overlooked despite the somewhat disappointing season.
13. Jesus Flores: A broken hand in the Spring's final exhibition game against the Washington Nationals delayed his start to the 2005 season over six weeks and he struggled upon his return. Flores is the most complete catching prospect in the Mets' farm system. While some of his fellow Mets' prospects have compared him to some of the game's elite power hitters, Flores compares to a Ramon Hernandez type at the Major League level. He remains a top prospect until he gets a chance to prove his worth at the higher minor league levels.
14. Nick Evans: While internally the Mets are split as to which player is the top prospect, the Mets are also split as to which first base prospect has the highest ceiling, Carp or Evans. While Carp has a distinct advantage as a left-handed hitter, Evans' talent should not be overlooked. The two player compare favorably. Evans has legit power potential and he is still very raw. He could chip in with a breakout campaign as the Hagertown Suns' first baseman in 2006.
15. Matt Lindstrom: The hardest thrower in the Mets' farm system, Lindstrom was always perceived as a relief pitching prospect by everybody outside the Mets' organization. The Mets finally realized that too in 2005 after Lindstrom got off to a disastrous start in the Binghamton rotation. He posted a 8.18 ERA as a starter but finished his 2005 campaign with a 3.12 ERA as a reliever. Lindstrom is the top closing prospect in the Mets' system and he could have a huge rebound in 2006 now that he'll be moved into the bullpen permanently.
16. Brett Harper: Harper lead the entire Mets' organization with 36 home runs in 2005, finally showing the plus power many believed he had. The 24-year old first baseman, who is mostly just serviceable defensively, is more of a designated hitter type at the Major League level. We said last season that he'll need to hit his way into the Major Leagues and he clearly has responded well. With the Mets seemingly content with Jacobs at first base for the time being, it remains to be seen what Harper's role will be in the organization in the immediate future.
17. Jose Coronado: Many within the Mets' organization have Coronado ranked as one of their top prospects already, much higher than our #17 ranking. Coronado has fantastic range for a shortstop with a good arm. He's a good switch-hitter with an advanced eye the plate. Coronado has intriguing power potential, but it is too soon in his development to get a very accurate read as to the type of hitter he'll become. At worst, Coronado is a defensive genius that will advance quickly as a result.
18. Jeremy Hill: The six-year free agent missed a good portion of the 2004 season and the start of the 2005 season after Tommy John surgery. Hill possesses a plus fastball, sitting in the 93-95 MPH range, and a plus slider. He has made immense strides with his slider and he projects to be a very good setup man out of the bullpen at the Major League level. Re-siging Hill will be a top priority for the Mets this offseason.
19. Shane Hawk: The forgotten man, Hawk missed the entire 2005 season with multiple tears in his throwing shoulder. Hawk, a starter in college, has one of the more complete repertoires of any of the Mets' relief pitching prospects. He owns a plus fastball, a devastating slider, and a very good changeup. The positive from his injury was that he was able to add some useful muscle mass to his lanky frame. Hawk is expected to return to action in 2006 and he remains a top relief pitching prospect.
20. Corey Ragsdale: Ragsdale's bat and surprising error totals has drawn many a collective sigh from Mets' fans, even being considered overrated by many. The bottom line is he still remains an elite defensive shortstop prospect with plus power and good speed. Internally, Ragsdale ranks much higher on the prospect list and his 19 home runs in 2005 were a career high. It was his finest offensive season by far and he could be ready for an even better 2006 campaign. He doesn't turn 23 years old until November so he's still very young.
21. Angel Pagan: Pagan has always been considered a future role player with the Mets, a very solid fourth outfielder. The 24-year old outfielder has the defensive ability to play all three outfield positions in a pinch and his offensive game, while predicated mostly on speed, is quite good overall. He still strikes out a bit too much but will be a welcomed addition to the Mets' bench in the future.
22. Chase Lambin: Lambin had a career year in 2005, hitting a combined .309 with 33 doubles and 24 home runs in two stops between AA-Binghamton and AAA-Norfolk. He had always projected as more of a utility player because of his lack of offensive production, but his breakout year this past season could have the Mets revisiting that thought. Able to play a multitude of positions well defensively, Lambin projects to be a Joe McEwing-type, with better offensive potential, at worst. His attitude and hustle will be welcomed additions to the Mets, possibly as early as next season.
23. Kevin Deaton: Deaton got off to a hot start with the Binghamton Mets in 2005 before a series of injuries ended his season prematurely. Armed with a very good sinking fastball and a solid breaking repertoire, Deaton will most likely miss the start of the 2006 season after Tommy John surgery. He has excellent control of his pitches and when healthy, has a bulldog mentality on the mound.
24. Aarom Baldiris: Baldiris finally made the move over to second base because of his lack of power. A very good defensive third base prospect, Baldiris didn't look as comfortable defensively at second base and he doesn't have the good range associated with a middle infielder. Baldiris, who smacked 33 doubles and a career-high 11 home runs, finally put together a respectable season in the power department. But as of now, Baldiris figures more as a key role player at the Major League level instead of a full-time player.
25. Scott Hyde: Hyde missed the entire 2005 season after Tommy John surgery. Armed with an average Major League fastball, Hyde is more of a backwards pitcher, setting up his fastball with excellent breaking pitches. His curveball is among the best in the farm system and he does have a very good changeup. His ranking is based solely on potential. How he responds from his surgery and what he does at the A-level in 2006 will dictate if he remains this high next season.
26. Evan MacLane: People have been telling MacLane he didn't have the stuff to make it to the Major Leagues for a long time. All MacLane has done is continue to put up the solid numbers, proving people that he's a lot better than they think. Drawing comparisons to Jamie Moyer, MacLane is all about his excellent control. He's one of the more intelligent pitchers on the mound, mixing in his pitches very well. MacLane might not have the stuff of a top pitching prospect, but he's letting his results speak for themselves.
27. Grant Psomas: The former shortstop has become one of the better defensive third base prospects in the system. Psomas, who makes good contact, has very good power as well. He doesn't project to be an elite third base prospect, but his overall ability is very solid. Psomas projects to be a Chase Lambin type as a super-sub coming off the bench. He can play second base in a pinch and his hustle on the field and leadership in the clubhouse is truly fantastic.
28. Dante Brinkley: We made the statement last season that Dante Brinkley was one of the biggest sleeper prospects in the farm system. And judging by his 2005 performance, even we may have underestimated him. Brinkley looked like a world beater with the Hagerstown Suns this past season and held his own in the Florida State League upon his promotion. He may not have the plus power enough to be a starting outfielder with the Mets someday, but with his overall ability and unbelievable leadership skills, Brinkley would make a great fourth outfielder.
29. Jeff Landing: Stuff-wise, there's not much separating Landing from the likes of a Gaby Hernandez. The main difference between the two pitchers is confidence, location, and guile on the mound. Landing had a solid start to the 2005 season with the Hagerstown Suns before opening more eyes in the organization with his performance with the Brooklyn Cyclones. He projects to be a solid fourth starter at the Major League level someday if he can start pitching with more confidence.
30. Sean Henry: Henry is slowly but surely opening some eyes in the organization with his steady progress at the plate and in the field. With Jose Coronado now the organizational favorite at shortstop at the lower levels, Henry's progression to second base could become permanent as soon as next season. Henry's a very good gap hitter with a good plan and approach at the plate. His combination of power and speed at the middle infield position makes him an intriguing prospect as a starter down the road, but his versatility gives him a nice fallback option as a reserve player.
31. Andrew Wilson: Wilson has proven over the last two seasons that he can hit a baseball, and hit it for power. He doesn't have a full-time defensive position however. Wilson has been tested all over the diamond, even getting further looks as a catcher in the Arizona Fall League this year. Not blessed with one of the better arms around, Wilson's lack of a true position hurts his overall chances as a prospect with a National League team. But he'll just continue hitting his way to the Major Leagues.
32. Jorge Reyes: Sleeper alert! We were tempted to rank Reyes higher on this list, but the 21-year old flamethrower didn't exactly light up the box scores with the Brooklyn Cyclones this past season. Many in the Mets' organization are high on the big right-handed hurler. He throws a fastball consistently in the low to mid 90's, a plus slider with tremendous downward action, and a developing changeup. Reyes could climb the charts in a hurry if he can put it all together.
33. Marcelo Perez: Perez has flown under the radar the last couple of seasons, but quite frankly he has done very well. Perez, like Reyes, is armed with a plus fastball and solid breaking pitches. But unlike Reyes, Perez projects to be more of a relief pitcher and possible setup man down the road. He was the pitcher that Gene Richards and the Suns leaned on the most this past season. The only drawback to Perez is his advanced age. The 25-year old could rank higher on this list once he shows he can get out batters closer to his age at the higher minor league levels.
34. Robert Paulk: Armed with one of the best curveballs in the system, Paulk served a "rehab" assignment with the Brooklyn Cyclones in 2005. He has a good fastball and a plus approach on the mound. Paulk projects to be a solid setup man at the Major League level. Ranking much higher on the Mets' list, Paulk needs to be challenged in 2006. He could see ample time with the Binghamton Mets next season.
35. Kole Strayhorn: Strayhorn is another fire-baller who throws some serious gas. Armed with a mid-90's fastball and a good curveball, Strayhorn is nearly unhittable when he's throwing his splitter well. However, inconsistent command of his splitter and health issues have risen concerns over his future. It was a positive sign that he finished the season healthy and the Mets are hoping the 23-year old can bounce back with a solid year in Binghamton in 2006.
36. Alhaji Turay: Turay's injury problems are now causing him to miss significant development time. When he was healthy to begin the year this past season, Turay looked lost at the plate despite playing a full year in the Florida State League the year prior. He has some of the best raw power of any hitting prospect in the farm system, but it is tough to prove if you can't get on the field. He makes the top 50 because of his talent, but until he can remain healthy and put up numbers, his value as a prospect continues to fade.
37. Miguel Pinango: Pinango is slowly becoming the pitching version of Turay because of his inability to remain healthy. Pinango is a solid pitcher with good control. He has an average Major League fastball, sitting 88-91 MPH with it, and he compliments his fastball with a good changeup and a developing slider and curveball. Pinango has Yusmeiro Petit-type ability, able to mix in his pitches very well. He's still just 22 years old and he could see significant time with Binghamton in 2006.
38. Aaron Hathaway: Hathaway is a very good defensive catcher who is blessed with a tremendous arm behind the plate. He's also very athletic for a catcher with good speed who also played some backup third base this past season. Hathaway doesn't hit for enough power to project as a starting player at the Major League level, but with his defensive prowess behind the plate and his athleticism in the field, he could become a key role player for the Mets coming off the bench.
39. Rafael Cova: Sleeper alert! Cova has some wicked stuff in his repertoire. Our subscribers probably remember his name being mentioned in the post-Instructs interviews we conducted as a guy to watch out for. Cova is a big-bodied pitcher that throws heat in the mid-90's consistently. He also has a solid curveball and a changeup. Cova can be wild at times and he doesn't appear to have the smartest plan on the mound. But his stuff is tremendous and once he learns to hone his control, he could be an outstanding pitching prospect.
40. Wayne Lydon: Lydon repeated the AA level in 2005 and wound up hitting 27 points lower and saw his stolen bases totals tumble for the fourth straight year. Lydon, who once appeared to have the look of a reserve outfielder, still might fulfill those projections, but has the look more of a pinch-runner. Speed is his only plus tool and he's been overtaken on the depth charts for reserve outfielders by the likes of Pagan, Brinkley, and others.
41. Jeff Keppinger: One of the more advanced batting eyes at the plate, Keppinger's a light-hitting version of Jeff Kent. Keppinger has little or no power, certainly not enough to put a stranglehold on a starting position at the Major League level. He could hit for a high enough average, which makes his eventual role as a pinch hitter a valuable one. Keppinger hasn't come close to reaching his previous career-high of 10 home runs, set back in the South Atlantic League back in 2002. His lack of range limits his projectablity as a utility player.
42. Jason Scobie: Scobie is one of many fourth or fifth starting pitching prospects in the Mets' farm system. While the likes of Gaby Hernandez, Jeff Landing, Petit, and Bannister still have some projection left, Scobie has reached his ceiling. The 27-year old has a solid four-pitch repertoire (fastball, curveball, slider, changeup) and his fastball stands in the 87-90 MPH range. Scobie has proven he'll battle on the mound and he could be the first pitcher called up in a spot start situation next season.
43. Joe Hietpas: One of the more solid defensive catchers at the minor league level, Hietpas has become the personal favorite battery mate of several pitchers in the Mets' organization. Pitchers just love the way he calls a game, receives the ball, and blocks anything thrown in the dirt. The problem is Hietpas doesn't appear likely to hit enough to warrant a starting spot in a Major League lineup. But he's the type of guy that could have a 15-year career in the Majors as a solid backup backstop.
44. Royce Ring: Once considered a solid setup man or possible left-handed closer, Ring has settled down into a possible left-handed situational reliever at the Major League level. His control is solid and the soon-to-be 25-year old limited left-handed batters to a .145 batting average at the AAA-level this past season. Righties however hit him way too much to be much more than a lefty specialist.
45. Drew Butera: See Joe Hietpas above. Butera is a wonderful defensive catching prospect. He has arguably the best arm behind the plate and can be an absolute game-changer throwing out would-be base stealers. But even with his professional career just beginning, there doesn't appear to be much projection in his bat, not enough to project as a starting catcher at the Major League level. But like Hietpas, he'll reach the Bigs as a backup signal caller.
46. Anderson Garcia: Obtained from the Yankees in the Armando Benitez trade, Garcia is a hard thrower. He averages 90-97 MPH with his fastball and he compliments it with a biting slider. The problem with Garcia is that he hasn't mastered his changeup, a pitch he'll need to be successful at the higher levels. He throws his changeup to fast, 87-88 MPH, which often times becomes a meatball pitch in the middle of the zone. He could turn a corner if he could throw it a little bit slower.
47. Greg Gonzalez: Gonzalez already has opened some eyes in the Mets' organization with his speed, hitting ability, and approach at the plate. In fact, several scouts compare him to Angel Pagan. He can make a big difference on the base paths and he has tremendous range in the outfield. The question will be can Gonzalez hit for high enough average at the higher minor league levels in order to become a solid fourth outfielder. The Mets, and Inside Pitch, believe he can.
48. Edgar Alfonzo: Alfonzo is almost the left-handed reliever version of Yusmeiro Petit. He doesn't have overwhelming stuff. His fastball is only 87-91 MPH, but he does have a solid curveball and changeup. Alfonzo mixes his pitches well and he keeps hitters off balance. However, he'll need to start posting the numbers many believes he is capable of in order to hold of the likes of German Marte and others overtaking him on this list.
49. Greg Ramirez: Ramirez is another back-end rotation type of guy or solid reliever. He has pitched primarily as a starter in his minor league career thus far. Ramirez has a solid four-pitch repertoire. His 2-seam fastball has some excellent movement and sink to it. He compliments his fastball with a good curveball, a solid slider, and a developing changeup. His problem at this point is age. He'll be 25 years old next season and he hasn't pitched in AA yet. A hot stretch in Binghamton next season could put him a stone's throw away from Shea though.
50. Matt Durkin: Durkin is the classic example of why it is prudent to wait on ranking new players to a farm system. Drafted in the 2nd round of the 2005 MLB Draft, Durkin was shaky in his professional debut with the Hagerstown Suns. His velocity was down in 2005 and so was his command. Durkin prides himself on being a power pitcher, so with his velocity down, he obviously wasn't the same pitcher. He'll need to rebound in 2006 in St. Lucie to climb the rankings.