Monday, June 28, 2010

Down on the Farm

I’ll be doing a team by team update of the Mets farm system focusing on some of the big name prospects, starting with Binghamton because Kingsport and Brooklyn only started their seasons this week and the FSL team hasn’t gotten all of the draft picks yet.

Shall we say ‘up’ on the farm in Binghamton, New York, the B-Mets are 39-36 and 6.5 games out of first place. They have recently won 9 of their last 11 games.
The pitching for Binghamton has been ordinary at best. Josh Stinson is the only B-Met in the Eastern Leagues top ten ERA’s. He’s been solid of late, not allowing more than 2 earned runs in his last 5 starts. Josh has never really been a highly touted prospect but he’s putting together a solid campaign in 2010.

One of the more well known names on the team is former 1st round pick Eddie Kunz, who has struggled ever since he got his first taste of the big leagues. After finishing 2009 with an ERA of 5.02, the Mets decided to switch Kunz from a reliever to a starter even though he’s always been a closer in college and in his first few minor league seasons. On May 25th Kunz pitched 7 2/3 innings, the longest outing of his career, giving up only 4 hits and not allowing an earned run. Since that game Kunz has been used in a relief role and has allowed 9 earned runs in his last 15 2/3 innings pitched. Eddie still hasn’t really figured the professional ranks out, but that mid 90’s fastball is enough to still have some hope for this once dominating college closer. If Kunz can make it back to the show, he’ll be a middle reliever, probably more of an innings eater than a dominant back of the bullpen arm.

On the offensive side, Kirk Nieuwenhuis has continued to be an excellent surprise from the small Azusa Pacific College. In his three professional seasons, Kirk has been a solid run producer and racked up 145 hits between Single A and Double A in 2009. In the 2010 season for Binghamton, Nieuwenhuis has truly broke out; he is amongst the league leaders in hits, RBI’s and batting average. I see Kirk as a potential Carlos Beltran replacement in the years to come, a guy who can be productive off the bench in key situations, has decent speed (Stole 17 bases in 2009) and has a solid glove. At this point, the only thing holding Kirk back from being a top tier prospect is his high strikeout rate (127 K’s in 2009). Look for Nieuwenhuis to be one of those spring training invitees that makes a huge impact on the coaching staff next spring, much like Angel Pagan did a few years back.

Two other big names in Binghamton are former 1st round pick Reese Havens, and former 5th rounder Zach Lutz, both of whom are currently on the 15-day DL. This has been a huge blow to this team since these guys were playing well before going down. Lutz has done nothing but hit since making his professional debut with Brooklyn, however he lost most of 2008 to a leg injury and hasn’t played for the B-Mets since May 20th. Zach has some raw power; he launched 11 homers in 385 at-bats in 2009 and had 8 homers in his first 126 at-bats in 2010.

Havens’ journey on the farm has hit far more obstacles, however. He had a rough first two minor league seasons; he batted .247 in both 2008 and 2009. The positive of his 2009 campaign was his 14 homeruns, showing the promise the Mets had seen when he was drafted out of South Carolina. Injuries also plagued Havens in his first two minor league seasons and again this year when after a hot start to the season (.338 through 18 games) Havens strained his oblique muscle and has been out since June 11th. According to Toby Hyde of, Reese has only participated in 47% of his teams games. If Havens wants to join his former 1st round draft buddy and Brooklyn teammate Ike Davis, then he’s going to need to stay on the field. All the tools are there, if he can stay healthy he has a great shot at being the Mets future second basemen, considering he continues to progress like he has the last year and a half.
Stats courtesy of,

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