New York Mets
Position: 3B Height: 6-0 Weight: 190 Born: 12/20/82 Bats: Right Throws: Right
The Mets drafted David Wright in the supplemental first round of the 2001 draft, out of high school in Chesapeake, Va. He has progressed steadily up the ladder, and is now the premier prospect in the Mets system, dominating the Double-A level in the Eastern League for Binghamton in '04. Wright does everything well, and is one of the most complete prospects in the game today.
Wright is a solid all-around athlete. His weakest tool is his running speed, which is average. But he has excellent instincts on the bases, and has shown he can steal a base. His aggression on the basepaths has increased as his confidence has grown. Defense is another strength. Wright has above-average range, a strong arm, and soft hands. Some scouts believe he could be a Gold Glove at third base with more experience. But where Wright really stands out is with the stick. His strike-zone judgment is outstanding. He shows power to all fields, but can go the opposite way when pitchers try to pound the outer half of the zone against him. He handles fastballs and breaking balls equally well. His hands are quick, enabling him to deal with inside pitches. He should hit for average and power at all levels. Scouts say that Wright has no real weaknesses. His main problem in past seasons has been streakiness, especially in cold weather, but he's been incredibly consistent so far in 2004. His work ethic is exceptional and he loves the game.
Statistically, Wright has improved at every level. His walk rate has always been strong, but his strikeout rate has declined as he's moved up, an excellent marker for a developing hitter. His batting average in '02 and '03 was mediocre, but it's been excellent this year, combining with his high walk rate to give him terrific OBP/SLG/OPS marks. He may be a .260ish hitter in his initial exposure to the major league level, but in time he should hit in the .300 range. His large number of doubles is an indicator of more home run power to come. Scouts like to compare him to Scott Rolen, and the numbers back this up.
Wright has had no serious injuries or health concerns. His biggest problem has been maintaining his physical strength over a long season. He is a workout nut and the Mets worry that he works too hard sometimes. Generally speaking, a player who works too hard at staying in shape is likely to have a better career than one who doesn't work hard enough.
What to expect
Several clubs have asked about Wright in trade talks, particularly the Kansas City Royals, who are looking to trade Carlos Beltran for an impact prospect. The Mets so far have balked at giving Wright up; they understand his value. He's the most complete third base prospect in the minor leagues, and second only to B.J. Upton among all upper-level position players in terms of long-term impact. He will be ready for a major league job in 2005, in Shea or elsewhere, and should be regarded as an early candidate for '05 Rookie of the Year.
John Sickels is the author of The Baseball Prospect Book 2004, which can be ordered through his Web site, Johnsickels.com. His other book, "Bob Feller: Ace of the Greatest Generation," is also out, and can be ordered through online book outlets or your local bookstore. He lives in Lawrence, Kan., with his wife, Jeri; son, Nicholas; and feline friends Toonces and Spot.