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December
9th
2004
Your Daily Fantasy Rx
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Post-2004 Prospect Review: New York(N)
by Tim Polko

Today's Fantasy Rx

Prospects with Double-Digit Upside
Likely 2005 September Call-ups
Potential Reserve Help
Minor League Draft Picks
Organization Rankings
The Mets' Top 15 Fantasy Prospects


Prospects with Double-Digit Upside

Heath Bell, 27, RH Reliever
0-2 on a 27:6 K:BB in 24.1 IP over 17 G
with 22 H, 5 HR, a 1.36 G-F, and a 3.33 ERA for New York(N).
3-1 and 16 Saves on a 68:24 K:BB in 55.2 IP over 45 G
with 42 H, 4 HR, and a 3.23 ERA for AAA Norfolk(IL).
0-0 on a 0:0 K:BB in 2 IP over 1 G
with 2 H, 0 HR, and a 0.00 ERA for AA Binghamton(EL).

Bell pitched exceptionally well down the stretch, even overcoming his elevated AAA walk rate upon his promotion. Of course, this level of dominance shouldn't surprise anyone given Bell's career 390:91 K:BB in 349 IP over the last six minor league seasons. New York needs to guarantee him an Opening Day roster spot barring a terrible spring, and I expect Bell will reward them by emerging as one of the more impressive sophomore relievers in baseball. His overall skill set also already warrants Bell a Dollar Days' selection in the deeper NL leagues.


Victor Diaz, 23, OF-R
15/51 for .294/.321/.529 with 3 HR, 8 RBI, 8 R, 0/0 SB%,
and a 1:15 BB:K for New York(N).
154/528 for .292/.332/.491 with 24 HR, 94 RBI, 81 R, 6/13 SB%,
and a 31:133 BB:K for AAA Norfolk(IL).

Diaz looks like the brightest offensive prospect remaining in a system depleted by promotions and short-sighted trades. He demonstrated excellent power in his late-season cup-of-coffee, however a 2.56 G-F concerns me, especially when coupled with Diaz's historically poor plate discipline. While he could contribute in the majors now, spending another season at Norfolk instead might allow him to develop into a better offensive prospect with the patience required to overcome his strikeout problems and lack of a firm defensive position. Don't gamble more than a late-round pick on Diaz unless a spring surge results in an unexpected starting job.


Jeff Keppinger, 24, 2B-R
33/116 for .284/.317/.379 with 3 HR, 9 RBI, 9 R, 2/3 SB%,
and a 6:7 BB:K for New York(N).
6/19 for .316/.458/.368 with 0 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 0/0 SB%,
and a 4:2 BB:K for AAA Norfolk(IL).
125/370 for .338/.389/.416 with 1 HR, 38 RBI, 59 R, 12/19 SB%,
and a 33:19 BB:K between AA Altoona(EL) and AA Binghamton(EL).

Acquiring Keppinger with Kris Benson from the Pirates easily compensates for moving Ty Wigginton in that deal. While Keppinger lacks power and rarely walks, his .93 career minor league contact rate insures a respectable batting average. He certainly appears capable of posting an empty .300 BA if a trade of Kaz Matsui or Jose Reyes opens a short-term hole at second base, however Keppinger's negligible upside makes him a questionable pick as anything more than supplementary BA foundation. Of course, his great contact rate also should result in a bench spot on the Mets, making him an adequate Dollar Days' MIF pick.


Likely 2005 September Call-ups

Craig Brazell, 24, 1B-L
9/34 for .265/.286/.412 with 1 HR, 3 RBI, 3 R, 0/0 SB%,
and a 1:7 BB:K for New York(N).
126/475 for .265/.300/.465 with 23 HR, 67 RBI, 66 R, 1/3 SB%,
and a 21:99 BB:K for AAA Norfolk(IL).

An improved contact rate and somewhat respectable September performance give Brazell a chance to win a job in the spring, but his poor patience could keep him in the minors indefinitely. I simply see little to like here given due to his sub-.325 career OBP. Do not draft Brazell anywhere until he begins posting solid numbers after earning regular role in the majors.


Wayne Lydon, 23, OF-L
137/506 for .271/.338/.360 with 5 HR, 43 RBI, 78 R, 65/85 SB%,
and a 49:119 BB:K for AA Binghamton(EL).

Very impressive speed skills and good patience could result in Lydon earning regular work as a leadoff man. However, I expect his contact problems and limited power output will keep him as a reserve. Of course, Lydon still should earn double-digit value regularly even as just a part-time player, so feel free to target him as soon as he reaches the majors.


Blake McGinley, 26, LH Reliever
3-3 and 2 Saves on a 28:7 K:BB in 26.2 IP over 13 G
with 30 H, 1 HR, and a 4.05 ERA for AAA Norfolk(IL).
9-2 and 1 Save on an 83:15 K:BB in 72.2 IP over 33 G
with 61 H, 9 HR, and a 3.72 ERA for AA Binghamton(EL).

A strong spring should propel McGinley onto the Mets' 25-man roster, but he also qualifies as a superb choice in Monday's Rule 5 draft. Career marks of a 10.3 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 give him a strong skill foundation, and his success in the upper minors this year suggests he shouldn't struggle in the majors. While McGinley appears unlikely to develop into more than a quality set-up man, feel free to roster him once he compiles several solid outings.


Yusmeiro Petit, 20, RH Starter
1-1 on a 16:5 K:BB in 12 IP over 2 GS
with 10 H, 0 HR, and a 4.50 ERA for AA Binghamton(EL).
2-3 on a 62:14 K:BB in 44.1 IP over 9 GS
with 27 H, 0 HR, and a 1.22 ERA for A+ St. Lucie(FSL).
9-2 on a 122:22 K:BB in 83 IP over 15 GS
with 47 H, 8 HR, and a 2.39 ERA for A Capital City(SAL.

With a 12.0 career strikeout rate after two seasons in affiliated ball, Petit ranks among the most dominant minor league pitchers in baseball. Compiling a 2.2 BB/9, 5.8 H/9, and .4 HR/9 similarly leave him with no statistical weakness. All owners who target dominant young starters nearly ready for the majors should place Petit very high on their spring minor league draft lists.


Royce Ring, 23, LH Reliever
3-1 on a 22:12 K:BB in 34.2 IP over 29 G
with 37 H, 5 HR, and a 3.63 ERA for AAA Norfolk(IL).
2-2 and 2 Saves on a 23:11 K:BB in 28.2 IP over 19 G
with 25 H, 5 HR, and a 3.77 ERA for AA Binghamton(EL).

Ring stopped closing in the minors and then watched his dominance continue to evaporate. The former fireballing southpaw simply looks like a different pitcher since his trade from the White Sox. He merits little fantasy consideration right now and might peak as a middle reliever unless he rediscovers his lost skills.


Esix Snead, 28, OF-S
0/0 for .000/.000/.000 with 0 HR, 0 RBI, 1 R, 0/0 SB% SB%,
and a 0:0 BB:K for New York(N).
71/269 for .264/.348/.316 with 0 HR, 21 RBI, 42 R, 40/50 SB%,
and a 35:53 BB:K for AAA Norfolk(IL).

As Snead still owns outstanding speed, he almost certainly will receive a regular September promotion in any season he spends with a contender. He also can contribute a couple bucks even while just pinch-running, so although I can't recommend him anywhere now, Snead likely will merit at least a low FAAB bid whenever you see him on an active free agent list.


Potential Reserve Help

David Bacani, 25, 2B-R
38/144 for .264/.350/.410 with 2 HR, 14 RBI, 20 R, 4/6 SB%,
and a 17:34 BB:K for AAA Norfolk(IL).
52/158 for .329/.414/.500 with 4 HR, 29 RBI, 21 R, 8/14 SB%,
and a 19:29 BB:K for AA Harrisburg(EL).

Rising surprisingly quickly through the Mets' ranks, the 22nd round pick in 2001 appears nearly ready to contribute as a big league reserve. While his weak quantitative skills and unimpressive upside render him largely useless to roto teams, Bacani at least shouldn't hurt you as roster filler within a couple of years.


P.J. Bevis, 24, RH Reliever
1-2 and 2 Saves on a 16:23 K:BB in 26.2 IP over 22 G
with 28 H, 3 HR, and a 5.06 ERA for AAA Norfolk(IL).
1-2 and 12 Saves on a 32:8 K:BB in 32.1 IP over 27 G
with 26 H, 3 HR, and a 3.06 ERA for AA Binghamton(EL).

The evaporation of his command at Norfolk forced Bevis back to Binghamton, where he rediscovered his lost dominance. Unfortunately, although his skills still intrigue me, he no longer merits any fantasy consideration until he conquers AAA, especially with his uncertain status as a minor league free agent.


Ken Chenard, 26, RH Starter
9-6 and 3 Saves on a 122:48 K:BB in 123.1 IP over 17 GS(27G)
with 101 H, 17 HR, and a 4.45 ERA for AA Binghamton(EL).

Strong skills across-the-board could push the 1998 46th round pick to the majors later in 2005. While Chenard doesn't look likely to contribute as a big league starter, his overall effectiveness in recent seasons at least warrants occasional monitoring due to his surprising dominance.


Bartolome Fortunato, 30, RH Reliever
1-0 and 1 Save on a 25:15 K:BB in 26 IP over 18 G
with 24 H, 3 HR, a 1.04 G-F, and a 3.81 ERA between Tampa Bay and New York(N).
4-3 and 9 Saves on a 59:24 K:BB in 50 IP over 40 G
with 32 H, 4 HR, and a 2.52 ERA between AAA Durham(IL) and AAA Norfolk(IL).

Acquired with Victor Zambrano in the worst deal of the year, Fortunato's walk rate remained high in the majors. He also held a strong strikeout rate, giving him a good chance of remaining with the Mets in 2005, however you need to wait until he begins posting an acceptable WHIP before rostering Fortunato anywhere.


Joe Hietpas, 25, C-R
0/0 for .000/.000/.000 with 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 R, 0/0 SB%,
and a 0:0 BB:K for New York(N).
32/139 for .230/.335/.367 with 3 HR, 19 RBI, 13 R, 0/2 SB%,
and a 19:41 BB:K for AA Binghamton(EL).
48/191 for .251/.329/.372 with 2 HR, 27 RBI, 23 R, 1/2 SB%,
and an 18:51 BB:K for A+ St. Lucie(FSL).

Hietpas ranks among the worst rookies I reviewed this fall. Poor averages, contact problems, and negligible upside drain the value from his otherwise passable plate patience, rendering him completely useless to fantasy owners and MLB teams.


Bob Keppel, 22, RH Starter
3-7 on a 42:22 K:BB in 93.2 IP over 16 GS(17G)
with 111 H, 8 HR, and a 4.71 ERA for AAA Norfolk(IL).
1-1 on a 6:2 K:BB in 10 IP over 2 GS
with 7 H, 0 HR, and a 0.90 ERA for A+ St. Lucie(FSL).

Additional shoulder problems and a falling strikeout rate leave Keppel with little immediate upside. He almost certainly should shift to relief if his dominance doesn't improve, rendering him useless to fantasy teams until he secures a regular role in a big league bullpen.


Neal Musser, 24, LH Starter
2-4 on a 24:17 K:BB in 36 IP over 7 GS
with 39 H, 4 HR, and a 6.25 ERA for AAA Norfolk(IL).
9-6 on a 70:40 K:BB in 108.1 IP over 19 GS
with 103 H, 7 HR, and a 3.41 ERA for AA Binghamton(EL).

Musser experienced another round of command problems at Binghamton, yet still earned a mid-season promotion to Norfolk, where he unsurprisingly struggled. I simply see nothing in Musser's skills since leaving A-ball to suggest he should continue starting, although he at least should spend some time in the majors later this decade if he successfully converts to relief work.


Rodney Nye, 28, 3B-R
117/423 for .277/.330/.376 with 5 HR, 50 RBI, 44 R, 0/4 SB%,
and a 33:81 BB:K for AAA Norfolk(IL).

The worst OBP of Nye's career coupled with David Wright's emergence to leave him stranded in the upper minors. Considering he owns decent plate discipline, intriguing power potential, and even decent defense, Nye should emerge as a useful big league backup, however I don't expect him to receive the opportunity he needs until he departs the Mets.


Prentice Redman, 25, OF-R
54/213 for .254/.308/.408 with 4 HR, 30 RBI, 29 R, 9/12 SB%,
and a 17:57 BB:K for AAA Norfolk(IL).
70/245 for .286/.367/.571 with 13 HR, 49 RBI, 46 R, 9/13 SB%,
and a 28:68 BB:K for AA Binghamton(EL).

I expected Redman to challenge for a starting job at some point this year. Instead a poor spring pushed him back to Binghamton, and although he unsurprisingly dominated AA, his failure to match his 2003 performance after a return to Norfolk dramatically reduces his immediate upside. Redman no longer merits any fantasy consideration until he wins a steady big league job.


Jason Roach, 28, RH Swingman
2-5 on an 80:30 K:BB in 90.2 IP over 8 GS(39G)
with 90 H, 12 HR, and a 3.47 ERA for AAA Norfolk(IL).

A slight homer problem apparently irritated the Mets since Roach otherwise pitched quite well at Norfolk. The minor league free agent deserves another shot at the majors, so hopefully he'll find a better situation in an organization at least willing to promote him during the season if Roach remains effective.


Jason Scobie, 26, RH Starter
5-5 and 1 Save on a 95:49 K:BB in 147 IP over 24 GS(26G)
with 137 H, 11 HR, and a 2.82 ERA for AA Binghamton(EL).

Despite continued success at Binghamton, Scobie's unimpressive skills leave him likely to struggle when he returns to Norfolk in 2004. I don't expect him to reach the majors any time soon, although at least his normally solid control gives him a chance to eventually advance to New York.


Kole Strayhorn, 22, RH Reliever
5-4 and 8 Saves on a 43:27 K:BB in 50 IP over 39 G
with 49 H, 10 HR, and a 5.22 ERA for AA Binghamton(EL).

With decreasing effectiveness and growing control problems, Strayhorn now may peak as a AAAA reliever. Don't expect him to reach the majors any time soon.


Pat Strange, 24, RH Starter
10-9 and 1 Save on an 88:53 K:BB in 135.1 IP over 19 GS(29G)
with 152 H, 18 HR, and a 5.25 ERA for AAA Norfolk(IL).

The Mets unsurprisingly allowed Strange to depart as a minor league free agent after another terrible performance at Norfolk. However, Strange's skills still hint at the potential for success, so hopefully he soon completes his surprisingly gradual move to the bullpen, thereby expediting his emergence as a viable big leaguer.


Minor League Draft Picks

None.


Aside from players listed above, no other New York(N) prospect deserves consideration in 2005 fantasy drafts. Tyler Yates lost his rookie status by exceeding the service time minimum.


Organization Rankings

While trading Scott Kazmir, Justin Huber, and Matt Peterson didn't gut the system, the loss of three top prospects for overpaid middling starters will hurt the franchise for years. I also don't expect any of the position players remaining in the minors following David Wright's promotion to emerge as stars. Wayne Lydon might spend some time as a top speedster, but I generally expect the Mets to continue to look outside the organization for hitting help. Of course, Heath Bell appears ready to dominate in a big league bullpen. Yusmeiro Petit also looks like a very special prospect due to his combination of exceptional skills and effectiveness. The problem is I just don't see that much depth or much chance of New York allowing the borderline prospects here to develop into useful big league contributors.

Current ranking of potentially helpful fantasy depth for teams discussed thus far in 2004, based on both the quality and quantity of players ready to contribute in the majors, as well as consideration of the trade value of minor league draft picks from the lower levels of each system:

1. Colorado Rockies(Atkins, Closser, Barmes, Hawpe, I.Stewart)
2. Minnesota Twins(Bartlett, Kubel, Tiffee, Crain, S.Baker)
3. Oakland Athletics(D.Johnson, Swisher, Blanton, Street)
4. Seattle Mariners(Je.Reed, Choo, J.Strong, Fe.Hernandez)
5. Tampa Bay Devil Rays(Gathright, Kazmir, Delmon Young)
6. Anaheim Angels(McPherson, Kotchman, Callaspo, E.Aybar)
7. Cleveland Indians(F.Cabrera, Denney, F.Gutierrez, Aubrey)
8. Arizona Diamondbacks(C.Snyder, Kroeger, Quentin, C.Jackson)
9. Milwaukee Brewers(J.Hardy, C.Hart, Krynzel, P.Fielder, Weeks)
10. Atlanta Braves(Da.Meyer, J.Capellan, Marte)
11. Texas Rangers(Kinsler, Ad.Gonzalez, C.Young)
12. Los Angeles Dodgers(Brazoban, Ed.Jackson, Loney, Joel Guzman)
13. Florida Marlins(Hermida, Willingham, Stokes)
14. New York Yankees(Halsey, D.Navarro, E.Duncan)
15. Baltimore Orioles(Majewski, W.Young, Maine)
16. Toronto Blue Jays(R.Adams, F.Rosario)
17. Chicago White Sox(W.Valdez, B.McCarthy)
18. Kansas City Royals(Teahen, Den.Bautista, Maier)
19. Houston Astros(C.Burke, Josh Anderson)
20. Boston Red Sox(H.Ramirez, B.Moss)
21. Cincinnati Reds(E.Encarnacion, W.Bergolla)
22. New York Mets(Lydon, Yusmeiro Petit)
23. Detroit Tigers(Granderson, Giarratano)
24. Montreal Expos(Hinckley)
25. Chicago Cubs(DuBois)


Today's Fantasy Rx: New GM Omar Minaya appears determined to add power-hitters at first base and right field while securing a top starter like Pedro Martinez to replace the departed Al Leiter ahead to Tom Glavine. Barring the unlikely trade of Kaz Matsui or Jose Reyes, I don't expect any Mets' rookie to play an important role outside of the unsettled bullpen. While Victor Diaz and Jeff Keppinger could contribute in 2005, and Yusmeiro Petit ranks with the brightest young starting prospects in the game, New York again appears inclined towards deploying a maximum number of veterans, making many of the players discussed above no more than trade bait to the club.


The Mets' Top 15 Fantasy Prospects for 2005
1. Victor Diaz, OF
2. Jeff Keppinger, 2B
3. Wayne Lydon, OF
4. Heath Bell, RP
5. Esix Snead, OF
6. Yusmeiro Petit, SP
7. Ken Chenard, SP
8. Rodney Nye, 3B
9. Craig Brazell, 1B
10. Bartolome Fortunato, RP
11. Prentice Redman, OF
12. Blake McGinley, RP
13. Jason Scobie, SP
14. Royce Ring, RP
15. Bob Keppel, SP


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