The New York Mets have one of the weaker farm systems in baseball, but have two starting pitchers – Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey – who are generally considered two of baseball's top 50 prospects. We take a look at both pitchers, as well as the Mets' hitting prospect of the week and a struggling prospect, in this week's minor league update.
Pitcher Of The Week: Matt Harvey (7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 Ks, Win)
The Mets' 2010 first-round pick is up there with Zach Wheeler for 'number one prospect' honors in the Mets system. The 23-year-old got off to a slow start in Triple A in 2012, but put together his second consecutive quality start this week. He should see time with the Mets at some point this season.
Harvey's outing of seven-inning shutout baseball came against one of the weaker offensive teams in the International League, but it was encouraging nonetheless, as he built upon his 6-inning, 10 K performance last week. In his last two starts he's pitched 13 innings, struck out 15, walked only 3 and allowed 3 earned runs.
Hitter Of The Week: Matt Den Dekker (.348, 4 Doubles, 1 Triple, 2 HRs, 5 RBIs, 4 BBs, 6 Ks)
It should be noted that Cory Vaughn, of the St. Lucie Mets, hit 4 home runs and drove in 8 this week, but Den Dekker got the nod for 'hitter of the week'.
The fifth-round pick out of Florida in 2010 doesn't have a ton of upside and profiles as a fourth outfileder-type in the big leagues. He has a decent blend of power and speed, evidenced by his 17 home runs and 24 steals between High A and Double A in 2011.
He is struggling on the basepaths in 2012 – he's 2 for 6 in steal attempts – but he's still showing above average pop, with 8 doubles, 2 triples and 3 home runs in 22 games.
Top Prospect Spotlight: Zack Wheeler
Wheeler was acquired from the San Francisco Giants in the Carlos Beltran trade, and along with Harvey, is the Mets best prospect. The 21-year-old profiles as a number two starter at the Big League level.
Overall, Wheeler is having a nice 2012 season in Double A, for the Birmingham Mets. His 1.75 ERA, .198 batting average against, 1.50 GO/AO ratio, and 30 Ks in 25.2 inning are sparkling numbers, but he's struggling with his walk rate – a problem he had in the Giants system.
In 25.2 innings, Wheeler's walked 14 batters. He's been able to get away with free passes because his stuff is so good, but he needs to get the walk rate under control to be effective at the Big League level.
He went 1-0 this week, with 10.2 innings pitched, 5 hits allowed, 1 earned run, 9 walks and 9 strikeouts. Again, his walk problem has yet to bite him in Double A, but that won't fly in the majors, no matter how good his stuff is.
Top Prospect Spotlight: Jeurys Familia
Speaking of walks, Jeurys Familia has run into a huge walk problem in 2012. Familia ranks behind Wheeler and Harvey in the Mets system, but generally considered a top 10 prospect in the organization. He throws absolute gas, running his fastball up to 100 MPH at times, and has 26 strike outs in 21.2 innings this year. The problem: he's issued 22 walks.
He started one game this week, in which he pitched 3 innings, allowing 2 runs on 2 hits and 7 walks. The 22-year-old appeared to be on his way to harnessing his pitches last season, as he walked only 43 batters in 124 innings between High A and Double A. With 22 walks in 2012, he's more than halfway to his 2011 total – in 123 less innings.
Familia's control problem is something to keep an eye on for the rest of the season.
-- For more Mets coverage, check out Amazin' Avenue. For in-depth analysis of all the Major League farm systems, as well as the MLB Draft, check out Minor League Ball.