Minor (League) Questions

Loyal MetsToday reader and commenter “isuzudude” brings up two points for discussion:

1. It looks as though the Mets are going to pass on Botts. Reason being they recently signed another power-hitting 1B/OF in Val Pascucci, whom I’m thinking was cut from the Phillies organization earlier this year. His 34 HR led the PCL last year while hitting a cool .284. He’s shaping out to be a career journeyman minor leaguer, but his stats look very similar to Botts’…with perhaps the two biggest differences being that Botts can switch hit, and age. I’m assuming this is going to be Omar’s fail-safe in case Delgado is still hitting .200 by Memorial Day.

2. Playing for AA Binghamton, top prospect Fernando Martinez has struck out a whopping 32 times in 114 ABs. Both of those stats lead the Eastern League. My question to you is: is this something to be concerned about? He’s on a pace to strike out 128 times in 456 ABs, a scary projection.

In regard to the first point, I’d have to agree — the Mets aren’t going to go after Jason Botts now that they’ve signed essentially the same player in Valentino Pascucci. Pascucci, like Botts, has recently put up impressive power numbers at the AAA level and is a first baseman. Valentino PascucciAlso like Botts, the jury is out as to whether he can succeed at the MLB level or if he’s a career “quad A” or “AAAA” guy. While I’ve actually seen Botts play, I don’t know much about Pascucci other than what I’ve seen in his stat line and read in Baseball America, so I can’t comment. But he does appear to be something of a low-risk / high-reward type — not unlike last year’s pickup of Jake Gautreau.

Will Pascucci be the fallback if Delgado continues to struggle? I doubt it, unless he absolutely goes crazy with the bat down in New Orleans. The “Italian Bazooka” has never been considered a top prospect, and has only garnered attention recently because of his big year in the PCL (34 homers … ironically, eeking out former Mets farmhand Craig Brazell for the minor league lead) … so it’s not like he’s another Carlos Pena — a guy who was highly regarded, had some success at the big league level, then fell out of favor after a few down years. If Delgado is around the Mendoza Line on Memorial Day, I think the Mets will go outside the organization to replace him — my best guess being a guy like Kevin Millar, a veteran bat who won’t cost more than a few fringe prospects.

As for F-Mart’s struggles with making contact, no I’m not concerned in the least. He’s been a strikeout king since he joined the professional ranks, averaging one K for every five at-bats. He had a similar problem swinging and missing early last year in high-A ball, but by the end of the year had worked his way up to AA. Remember, this is a teenager we’re talking about — he’s only 19 years old and playing at a high level.

Let’s face it: Fernando Martinez is not, and never will be, a contact hitter. He’s projected to be a slugger, a major homerun threat, and guys like that do a lot of whiffing. I think he’s going to continue to strike out at a high rate for much of his first full season in AA, but also hope that by the second half, he learns to adjust. I haven’t seen him play yet but my guess is that there is a scouting report going around instructing pitchers to feed him plenty of breaking balls. If he sees enough of them — and it’s likely he’s seeing zero fastballs right now — eventually he’ll learn to recognize the spin and lay off.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. […] a post to Mets Today, Joe Janish writes about the future of Fernando Martinez, while discussing the team’s recent […]
  2. Micalpalyn May 2, 2008 at 10:02 am
    Fmart needs time. But I dont think its fair to say (infer) he will be a perennial strikeout king. In fact if I could forecast I would project him to be more Albert Pujols especiaslly if he learns how to judge pitches.

    Mike Carp is under the magnifying glass. In my optimism I am hoping for a new Mike Jacobs:

    METSBLOG- “Carp isn’t much of a fielder, but if his bat continues to develop at this pace he can be as starting first baseman in the majors. If I were the Mets, I’d leave him in Double-A until the end of June, then promote him to Triple-A on his birthday (June 30th) and see how he handles the International League. I have no idea how the Mets plan on fitting him into the lineup in the long run, but grade-wise I’m moving him back up to Grade C+ right now, and if he is still hitting like this on June 30th I will make that a B- or perhaps a straight B.”

    Carp is currently batting .356 (36-for-101) with 6 HR, 7 2B and 20 RBI through his first 26 games this season with the Mets Double-A Binghamton affiliate.

  3. sincekindergarten May 2, 2008 at 10:45 am
    I seem to recall a discussion in that MetsBlog thread about the date–what made it so special? Well, his birthday, for one, and by then, the Mets might have a better sample size on which to base such a decision.
  4. isuzudude May 2, 2008 at 12:53 pm
    Comparing F-Mart to Pujols is unfair, in my opinion, Mic. Ever since coming up for the Cardinals Pujols has been on pace to shatter offensive records and be a first ballot hall of famer. I’d be happy if Martinez turns out to be a Darryl Strawberry or Carlos Beltran clone. High punchout guys, but also guys who have the ability to hit 30+ HR, steal a bunch of bases, and keep their averages over .270. But I don’t even think we should expect that kind of production from F-Mart until 2011 at the earliest.

    I know Martinez has got nothing but praise from anyone whose seen him play so far, but I tend to remember another highly touted OF prospect that came up thru the Mets organization not too long ago, who had very similar stats as Martinez while playing in the minors, but was a complete flop. Anyone know where I’m going with this? Alex Escobar. I certainly hope the Mets’ judgment of young talent has improved since that mistake.

  5. Micalpalyn May 2, 2008 at 1:16 pm
    As usual we are saying something similar from different spectrums. Straw was a notoriously low average hitter, he compares more with Andruw jones. but my point is that F-marts forecasts should not be low either. Granted I agree that F-mart the 21-23 yr old is where we need to relook our estimations.

    Alex Escobar: Also unfair given the fragility he has had in the minors AND majors. but Bowden who once almost got him for Barry Larkin, had him in 2006 and at times he gave some wonderfull glimpses of what could have been. He (of course was injured and ) played only 33 games but 4HR/358 avg. This yr he is (right now) healthy (?)and hitting .333/1HR/28AB at AAA. BTW Escobar is the same age as Val Paccucci. he turns 30 this yr.
    Isuzu: what if we dont trade for Alomar, and he doesnt tear his ACL and we have Alex in CF in 2002?

    http://www.sportsline.com/mlb/players/playerpage/174680
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alex_Escobar

    Seperate topic- http://www2.nysun.com/article/75689