Can Richard Lucas and Javier Rodriguez Bust Out of Brooklyn?

The Brooklyn Cyclones opened up their 2011 season with prospects who need to have an eye-opening season before they jump the ship. In particular, third baseman Richard Lucas and outfield prospect Javier Rodriguez.

Richard Lucas has backtracked since being drafted in the 4th round of 2007. Teams don’t waste high-round picks on prospects they think won’t pan out. But Lucas has not panned out in any parts of his game.

As a 21 year-old, Lucas belted 11 homeruns in 129 games at St. Lucie last season. But he also had a batting average of .212, with an alarming 149 SO in 434 at bats. According to FanGraphs, Lucas walked back empty handed 34.3% of his at bats. To make matters worse, he walked only 34 times.

Signed for $150,000 to forgo a Florida State commitment, this year is the most important for Lucas. There are no more excuses in regard to his age or ability. Considering this step backward, the 2011 season is a make or break one for his career.

So far — and while it’s only been 3 games — Lucas is batting .182 with 5 strikeouts in 13 plate appearances. Not an ideal start.

All in all, the 2007 draft was nothing memorable. The Mets’ top pick Eddie Kunz, who’s supposed to be closing games for the Mets now, is instead with the Padres. Fellow supplemental #1 choice Nathan Vineyard, a promising left-handed high school arm, has disappeared from baseball. Second-rounder Scott Moviel is finally looking like a prospect, but it’s taken him four years to accomplish that. Another #2, Brant Rustich, seemed like a promising fireballer until injuries derailed him; he recently had a rib removed (I still have hope for Rustich.) Other than Dillon Gee and Lucas Duda, the 2007 MLB Draft is one to forget.

Another player going backward is 21-year-old Javier Rodriguez, a 2008 2nd round pick. After a promising 2010 campaign in Kingsport, the outfielder looked like he was about to break out. But Mets fans are used to expecting the worst, so this one doesn’t come as a shocker. He began 2011 playing for low-A Savannah, where he struggled immensely. In 26 games, he had a .209 BA before being reassigned to Brooklyn.

Of course, every year is important for prospects. But this season could determine whether some play for another year or two, or if they will be serving me on a late-night run at Taco Bell. For Lucas and Rodriguez, this is their last chance.

Some quick notes about other prospects in the system:

Matt Harvey, the Mets 1st round selection in 2010, will pitch one more game for St. Lucie before being called up to Double-A Binghamton. Also, 5th round selection Matt den Dekker has been promoted to Binghamton.

— The Mets might have found a diamond in the rough with left-hander Chase Huchingson. Signed as un-drafted free agent in 2010 out of Central Arkansas, Huchingson has been worth the tab the Mets picked up. While in the shadows in low-A Savannah, Huchingson is 4-2, appearing in 13 games, starting 6 of them. He possesses a fantastic 10.63 K/9, holding opponents to a .199 batting average. He’s one to watch.

— The Brooklyn Cyclones currently have two 2011 draft picks on the team, 8th round selection Danny Muno and 18th round pick Travis Taijeron.

— Parts of the Kingsport Mets roster has been announced, including intriguing arms Juan Urbina and Akeel Morris.

Kyle Schnitzer's biggest memory as a Mets fan is when Carlos Beltran went down on strike 3 against Adam Wainwright in game 7 of the NLCS. Since then, he hasn't expected much from the Mets. The new regime gives him hope. When he's not writing here, he's writing somewhere else, bussing tables, tweeting, or riding his bike. Follow him on Twitter: @dakyleschnitzer