|Friday, January 31
Updated: March 13, 3:53 PM ET
Mets minor-league report
By John Sickels
Special to ESPN.com
The top tier of talent is one of the best in the game. Hitting is a weak point past the top three prospects, while things are better on the pitching end.
Shortstop Jose Reyes, catcher Justin Huber, third baseman David Wright, and pitchers Aaron Heilman and Scott Kazmir rank with the best prospects in baseball. After that group, the talent thins out, but guys like Pat Strange and Jaime Cerda could see significant action with the Mets this year in supporting roles.
There is still work to be done, but the Mets are drafting better, and the level of instruction in the system has improved. They need to maintain this momentum. It will be interesting to see how the '03 draft goes, given the loss of draft picks for free agents.
2002 amateur draft
It's good they got Kazmir, because they gave up their second and third round draft picks to sign free agents Dave Weathers and Roger Cedeno.
College outfielders Bob Malek (Michigan State) and Jon Stack (Texas Tech) were the next two picks. Malek is a good batting average/moderate power guy, while Stack has patience/speed leadoff potential. Eighth-round choice Tyler Davidson is a toolsy outfielder from the University of Washington. Both Malek and Davidson had injury problems after signing, but all three of these guys could be pretty good players.
By himself, Kazmir makes this a good draft. That also means that a lot depends on him. If he gets hurt, the lack of second and third round picks knocks this draft to below average.
WILL HELP SOON
Aaron Heilman, RHP: Inning-eating sinker/slider guy, will have a chance for a rotation spot. Not an ace, but durable and consistent.
Jose Reyes, SS: Likely to take over at shortstop, though Rey Sanchez has been brought in to provide a veteran if Reyes falters. Very fast, may develop some power, good with the glove. Not super with the bat yet, but a light year or three ahead of Rey Ordonez.
Pat Strange, RHP: Another guy with a rotation shot. Can hit 93 mph, posted 3.82 ERA in Triple-A. Low strikeout rates, however, and may be better-suited for relief in the long run.
WILL HELP SOMEDAY
David Wright, 3B: Hit .266 with 11 homers in the Sally League, but has a ton of ability. Drew 76 walks, stole 21 bases, and is a fine defensive hot sacker. Just 20, with outstanding work ethic.
Other names to know
John Sickels is the author of the 2002 Minor League Scouting Notebook, and is now working on the 2003 Baseball Prospect Book. His biography of Bob Feller will be published next spring. He lives in Lawrence, Kansas, with his wife, son, and two cats. You can send John questions or comments at JASickels@aol.com, or you can visit his homepage at JohnSickels.com.