We break down the top five prospects for each organization for 2010, taking into consideration: games, at-bats, innings and major-league service time. We expect these players to have rookie status remaining heading into next year.
According to MLB rules: "A player shall be considered a rookie unless, during a previous season or seasons, he has (a) exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the major leagues; or (b) accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a major league club or clubs during the period of 25-player limit (excluding time in the military service and time on the disabled list)."
Note: Statistics are those at each stop in the minors this season and age represents how old they will be on opening day 2010.
New York Mets
The Mets' season was an unmitigated disaster from the major leagues all the way to the minors, where they boasted the worst combined record in all of baseball. Somehow through the weeds of garbage, though, the Mets have some decent prospects to hang their future on or dangle for some major win-now pieces this winter.
1. Isaac Davis, 1B, 23
The son of former major league Ron Davis had a breakthrough in 2009 that carried him to Double-A, a victory in the World Cup and the Rising Stars Game in the Arizona Fall League. Davis, who didn't homer in 215 at-bats after being a first-round pick in 2008, hit .298 with 20 homers, 71 RBI, 58 runs, a .381 on-base percentage and a .524 slugging percentage in 429 at-bats between high Class A and Double-A. He then hit over .300 with power in the AFL to boot. He looks like a legitimate future first baseman for the Mets, who don't figure to bring back free agent Carlos Delgado going into the offseason. Davis will have to break in at a deep position, but he has a good chance of making an impact in deeper Fantasy leagues in 2010.
2. Fernando Martinez, OF, 21
Martinez's major league debut in 2009 went the way his young pro career has gone altogether: injury-riddled and disappointing. Martinez has a lightning-quick bat that should generate good power numbers, but he needs to prove healthy before we can consider him a candidate to reach his once limitless potential. Martinez is coming off major knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus, which ended his rookie season early and leaves him eligible for NL ROY honors next year. He is going to compete for at-bats in left field out of spring training, barring a major move, but he really needs to dominate Triple-A before he gets a real look in a big market that hopes to field a contender. His .290-8-28-24-2 (.337-.540) in 176 Triple-A at-bats shows the hype all these years has been justified, but he needs to put a full season together. Consider F-Mart a sleeper to help in deeper leagues next season, barring a trade or signing of a big-time left fielder this winter.
3. Jonathon Niese, SP, 23
Niese, who tore his hamstring off the bone in his fifth and last major league start of 2009, remains our pick for the Mets' top pitching prospect -- even though a lot of hype is being bestowed on the just-turned 20-year-old phenom below. Niese should win a back-end rotation spot out of spring training and has the potential to surprise in deeper leagues from wire to wire next season. He had a slow start in Triple-A in April and May, but he developed a cut fastball that made him far less hittable. He scorched in June (3-2, 2.43 and a .215 BAA) and July (2-0, 0.41, .195) before his call-up. He showed enough in his five ensuing starts in the majors (1-1, 4.21, .276) for the Mets to count on him as one of their five starters out of spring training.
4. Jenrry Mejia, SP, 20
Most other prospects lists would place Mejia No. 1 among Mets farmhands, but we are a bit more stubborn here. For one, Deolis Guerra was once highly hyped, too, before he got lost in the Twins organization after the trade for Johan Santana. Two, Mejia wasn't spectacular as a teenager in Double-A (0-5, 4.47, .263 BAA) and likely needs to repeat that level for a full season, unless ... the Mets use him out of the bullpen. The latter role wouldn't do anything for his Fantasy value, since Francisco Rodriguez isn't going to allow him to be a closer in the next few years.
5. Bradley Holt, SP, 23
It was a tale of two seasons in Holt's first full year in the major leagues. He was a dominant ace in high Class A -- the pitcher-friendly Florida State League -- going (4-1)-3.12-.215, but he struggled in his Double-A promotion at (3-6)-6.21-.270. He combined to strike out about a batter per inning, though. He is a potential contributor to the Mets rotation in 2010, but he will need to prove dominant in Double- and Triple-A before a big-market team trusts him. Consider him a keeper stashee to watch in spring training and the first half down in the minors.
Best of the rest: Wilmer Flores, 2B; Reese Havens, SS; Josh Thole, C; Ruben Tejada, SS; Juan Urbina, SP; Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF; Cesar Puello, OF; Steve Matz, SP; Jefry Marte, 3B; Tobi Stoner, SP; Dillon Gee, SP; Scott Moviel, SP; Brant Rustich, RP; Eddie Kunz, RP; Mike Antonini, SP; Shawn Bowman, 3B; Francisco Pena, C; Nick Carr, SP; Nathan Vineyard, SP; Zach Lutz, 3B; Robbie Shields, SS; Darrell Ceciliani, OF; Lucas Duda, OF; Scott Shaw, SP; Elvin Ramirez, SP; Javier Rodriguez, OF; and Eddie Lora, 1B.
Last year's top five here: Martinez, OF; Niese, SP; Parnell, RP; Holt, SP; and Flores, SS.
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