A Look into the Future: Top 3B Prospects

A grand slam that turned into a single,

A backward-diving bare hand catch that caused them to mingle,

Those are the memories that I have as a Mets fan,

Maybe one day I can be the man,

Who’s manning third.

Ten years ago the Mets added a free agent who became a fan favorite: Robin Ventura, who is now the skipper for the Chicago White Sox. Who can forget the slick glove work displayed by Ventura or the miraculous walk-off grand-slam single in game 5 of the 1999 NLCS?

Another fan favorite — Edgardo Alfonzo — manned the bag for one season in 2002, followed by the then-lackluster Ty Wigginton, who kept the hot corner warm until the young man who was supposed to be the Mets ‘franchise player’ arrived, David Wright. Arguably one of the most beloved Mets players in franchise history and one of the most productive, David Wright is staring into a path of uncertainty. It would have been ludicrous to think of trading David Wright three years ago, but here we are, reading different writers offer up crazy trade scenarios. As Sandy Alderson said during Spring Training last season, no Met is safe.

So what would happen if the Mets trade away David Wright? Either A, that player will become the most hated player since Oliver Perez, or B, the Mets throw Daniel Murphy into the position to become the consistent topic of discussion as to why the Mets lost the previous night’s game.

Surprisingly, there may be an answer in the minor leagues. But how long are you willing to wait?

3. Zach Lutz
DOB: 6/3/1986
Birthplace: Reading, PA
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 222

If the Mets were to part with Wright, Zach Lutz would be the first one to fill the hole because of his experience. The 25-year-old would have been in Queens sometime this year if he didn’t get hurt midway through the Triple-A Buffalo season. Prior to the injury, Lutz was tearing up International League pitching, batting .295 with 11 homeruns and 31 RBI. Those numbers look very good for an MLB-ready talent like Lutz, however he strikes out too much, conjuring thoughts of Casey McGehee or Mark Reynolds. In 220 at-bats, Lutz whiffed 70 times, while accumulating just 27 walks.

Surprisingly, Lutz hits for average, as he’s never hit below .275 in his 5 years in the minors. At worst, he becomes a Mike Hessman kind of player, minus the hype that Hessman had as a prospect. At best, he’s a serviceable third basemen. Because of his injury, he’ll likely start off in Buffalo again and will definitely get a taste sometime during the season.

2. Aderlin Rodriguez
DOB: 11/18/1991
Birthplace: Santo Domingo, DR
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 210

Rankings 1 and 2 is a crapshoot, it could be either player. I’ve stuck Aderlin Rodriguez here based on the fact that his 2011 campaign was a letdown in many respects. The power numbers are something to drool over: 17 homeruns in Class A Savannah. His average is something else, batting .221 while striking out 106 times in 516 at-bats.

The one thing fans must love is the power. It’s been a long time since a lower level prospect in the Mets system has displayed this kind of pop in his bat. However, there’s a lot of room for improvement. A .221 average at low-A is frightening and it is something to think about going into next season. Not to mention, Rodriguez committed 44 errors at third. A position change could be in his future if he cannot solve his fielding troubles.

With many Dominican prospects, it takes time to become comfortable and adjust to the role of a full-time baseball player. He’ll be in Savannah again next season to adjust to the pitching and cut down his swing to make him a complete player. He is one of the more intriguing prospects in the Mets system if he can get it all together soon.

1. Jefry Marte
DOB: 6/21/1991
Birthplace: La Romana, DR
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 187

Four months older than Rodriguez and just a bit more intriguing is Jefry Marte. Unlike Rodriguez, Marte has not demonstrated power, hitting 7 homeruns in his 2011 St. Lucie campaign. Unlike Rodriguez, draws walks at the plate, walking 41 times while striking out 86 times.

Like Rodriguez, a concern is his lack of average, .248. If power never develops, he’s a bench player. Marte brought a new element to his game, swiping 14 bags in 16 attempts. That speed reminds me of what David Wright does on the base paths. The speed element of Marte’s game is crucial and in my opinion, it’s what puts him above Rodriguez.

Marte is currently playing in the Arizona Fall League, one of the prestigious off-season leagues for top prospects, for the Peoria Javelinas. In 13 games, he’s hitting .333 with 3 homeruns and 14 RBI. I really do not like to consider these stats as anything because the Arizona air makes the AFL a hitter-dominated league. But it’s a sign of promise and it’s definitely a positive for Marte to get more reps.

It’s hard to predict where Marte will fall in 2012. The Mets are obviously aggressive with him, hence Marte playing in the AFL. Should he repeat a year in St. Lucie? Or should they push him on the fast track and let him find his way? My guess is St. Lucie, so he gets more comfortable — like Rodriguez repeating in Savannah. But as a Mets fan, I look forward to watching both Rodriguez and Marte battle it out throughout the minors.

What do you guys think? Are you comfortable with giving up David Wright for prospects? Is there an answer in the minors?

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
  1. MikeT November 11, 2011 at 10:18 am
    Not comfortable trading Wright for two reasons: his value is the lowest it has ever been, and his contract is more valuable to the Mets than to anyone else. If traded the receiving team gets one year of Wright, the Mets have two. With the new dimensions it is worth seeing if Wright can increase his value before considering a move. If he does, and the Mets do decide to move him, look for it to happen around the trading deadline the earliest.
  2. Mike November 11, 2011 at 10:34 am
    I would not trade Wright at all. He provides leadership in the club house, wants to play in and can handle the NY market plus he is the face of the franchise. they NEED to resign Reyes and Wright and get someone to protect them in the lineup or somehow figure out what the hell is wrong with Bay that he cant hit. Ike Davis is a corner stone and they need to decide to plays 2b, Tejada or Murphy.
  3. NormE November 11, 2011 at 11:07 am
    MikeT, I agree with you.
    One looks at the Reyes/Wright scenarios with tremendously mixed feelings. Reyes is exciting but he may cost too much.
    Wright is an enigma. Can he regain his earlier form, or is he on a downward curve?
    The fact is that the Mets have not won in recent years with
    Reyes and Wright. When is the proper time to move on?
    In a perfect Mets world they would keep them both and build a winner around them. However, a pitching staff that features too many starters who can’t go late into ballgames, and relievers who either don’t have the talent or get worn out from too much use, does not bode well.
    My own feeling is that if we lose Reyes, we should look to get the most value for Wright, either in the off season or
    sometime in mid-season. Then the Mets should go into full
    rebuilding mode. My deepest wish is for Bud Selig to force the Wilpons to sell.
  4. KenH November 11, 2011 at 1:02 pm
    You’re not going to get too much for a third baseman making $16m per year, one year from free agency (if traded). Sign the guy. We need some “very good” players, and it might as well be Wright.

    Almost every year, the Pirates decide they are a couple of years away and trade quality players (like Bay or Benson) for prospects to rebuild. They trade a few wins in the present, for a possibly better future. Where does that get them. Nowhere. Let’s not become the Pirates.

    Keep Wright, sign Reyes, sign that Japanese pitcher and Joe Nathan, and get on with it – win close to 90 games and be in the race. A few lucky bounces we make the playoffs. Why can’t we be Arizona – we’re a young team too.

  5. Tommy2cat November 11, 2011 at 2:05 pm
    Any consideration toward moving David Wright is premature, unless we are presented with the kind of offer that we cannot turn down (example, Wright for Colorado’s pitching phenom Drew Pomeranz & stud catching prospect Wilin Rosario). Here’s the reason:

    David Wright’s current market value is still high, but lower than it could be due to a sub-par year caused largely by a spinal fracture. According to Wright, he still experiences some discomfort.

    Contractually, we control Wright for the next 2 years because we have a team option for 2013 that is nullified if he is traded in 2012. Therefore, we should allow Wright to re-establish himself as a top NL 3rd baseman and exercise his option for 2013.

    If Wright has a great season, then we benefit directly from his performance, and derivatively because his trade value increases. Once we exercise his option for 2013, we can trade him if we so desire or, preferably, keep him as an important component of our roster moving forward.

    If he does not have a great season for any reason, injury or otherwise, we are really no worse off next year then we are this year. We could exercise his option and trade him, or we could simply buy out his contract.

    Possible ML options currently include Daniel Murphy and Justin Turner. By this time next year, we’ll have a better sense of where Lutz, Marte and Rodriquez are along their development.

    After listening to Sandy Alderson, I don’t think he expects to trade David Wright at this time.

  6. Vance November 12, 2011 at 10:42 am
    Trade him in the middle of next season.

    Between the fences moving (even if it’s just psychological) and getting over his back issues, he should perform better and increase his trade value.

    He might be viewed as a difference maker down the stretch.

    My main reason for wanting him off the team is his lack of leadership. He’ll chat with the media sure, but how many reports have indicated him actually *leading* anyone at any time?

    Giving company lines of “we just need to try harder”, “the manager’s not on the field, we are” and “… Fred might be going through a difficult time right now.” don’t display leadership. They display a ‘this is what I should do, so I’ll do it’ mind set.

    Goodness, Delgado may have been the last “hey, buttercup, put on your big boy panties, we’ve got stuff to do” kind of personality in the clubhouse.

    All I know for certain is it’s been a long, LONG downward trip since 2006.

    This franchise needs a culture change. That starts with moving the face of the franchise.

    What do you get in return?

    2007 and 2008 were MVP quality seasons. There is no doubt about that. 2009 was “subpar”. 2010 was better, but certainly not MVP quality. 2011 … hopefully another team will let Sandy play the “he was injured” card. I wouldn’t, but maybe someone else would. It’s also getting late in the game for the “Citi Field” card. The only thing that’s increased is his SOs, and boy oh boy how they have increased.

    Considering the Beltran trade, Sandy would probably get the #1 prospect from someone’s system, a mediocre AA and a high A player with decent starter potential. That says more about Sandy than it does about David Wright.

  7. izzy November 13, 2011 at 8:49 am
    Ah yes, reading the trade the best player comments and getting that big time A league prospects makes me think I’m reading the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. I actually believe that Sandy Alderson is the Pied Piper. Someday the Pirates will actually have a winning season or two, and you all will proclaim look it only took 25-50 years to make it happen. sandy’s on the right track.
    Seriously, trading a guy in his 30’s with a very bad set of wheels is one thing but do you really think you have to dump 20 something year olds? Why does Wright have to be a “leader”? Was every star a leader? Nope. I guess the Red Sox should have dumped Williams because he was all about Teddy. DiMaggio was not a leader, Mantle was not a leader. Great player does not mean he has to be a leader. The only question thatt matters is do you get better by trading Wright and do you get better by not re-signing Jose. The answer is probalby going to be no in both cases but the Pied Piper ha convinced us that a never ending rebuilding plan is the best.
  8. Mike C November 13, 2011 at 10:15 am
    If trading Wright frees up the money to keep Reyes, do it.

    If it isn’t a factor in keeping Reyes, keep him.

    It’s not rocket science.

  9. mic November 13, 2011 at 3:39 pm
    None of us are sandy alderson so what really is happening can only b postulated here. But that said I cant resist the bait and so here is my opine: (Not that I want him traded)

    When is he more tradeable than now?
    – You get a full season.
    -he could walk at season’s end
    -he is healthy
    -he is in his prime

    -If (Colorado?) offers the above package, The Mets essentially restock the farm in one swoop. Would anyoe offer 3 top talents in July for a 2 month rental? i think not.

    -can the Mets risk not cashing in on such an opp given he has started to miss time after a Cal ripken-esque run?

    -He makes 16M.

    -DW deserves a WS run and that wont be happening in Flushing.

    -Speaking of cash….Joe; What would you do with the payroll if you traded DW, restocked the farm and now could take aim at the FA market with 60M to use?

  10. PT November 13, 2011 at 4:23 pm
    Any discussion of Mets 3B prospects that goes lower than AA should probably include Wilmer Flores.

    Scouting consensus is that he won’t stay at SS, due mostly to lack of range and/or foot speed. Hands & arm are said to be at least average. So you have to figure 3B is the natural next move for him. (I’m sure OF remains a possibility.)

    He’s the same age as AdRod & Marte (born 8/6/91) and has more FSL ABs than either of them.

    • Joe Janish November 13, 2011 at 6:33 pm
      PT, you bring up a valid point — and I agree, Wilmer Flores is more likely to become a MLB 3B than a SS.

      However, we already covered Flores in the shortstop version of this series:

      and to avoid redundancy, we chose to leave Flores in the shortstop discussion — mainly because until further notice, Flores is, technically, a shortstop.

      Otherwise, we’d probably have Flores appearing in the 1B, 3B, and the OF parts of this series — and I’d prefer that Kyle write about other players in the Mets organization, rather than talking about the same player over and over.