Patience essential regarding Mets' top talent

Patience essential regarding Mets' top talent

Though previous Mets general manager Omar Minaya's last few Draft classes did not leave the cupboard barren for Sandy Alderson, who took over in late October, the most prized prospects will need a while before they show up at Citi Field.

The top three members of MLB.com's list of top Mets prospects are all currently playing for Class A Port St. Lucie, and just one of those players was acquired via the Draft.

Still, there is hope that these players will eventually progress through the Mets' farm system and become impact players in the Major Leagues.

Last year's first-round Draft pick, Matt Harvey, has excelled in his first season of professional baseball since being selected seventh out of the University of North Carolina. The 6-foot-4 righty did not allow an earned run in his first four starts. Ranked the No. 2 prospect in the Mets' system by MLB.com, Harvey is currently 5-2 with a 2.67 ERA and a 62:18 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

The 2010 Draft also gave the Mets a hitter who is progressing nicely through the system. In the fourth round, the club took Cory Vaughn, the son of former Major Leaguer Greg Vaughn. Unlike Harvey, Vaughn played short-season ball for the Brooklyn Cyclones after signing last year. He led the New York-Penn League in OPS percentage and made the league's All-Star team.

In 58 games this year with Class A Savannah, Vaughn is batting .317 with a .439 on-base percentage and a .452 slugging percentage. The San Diego State product has played all three outfield positions and designated hitter for the Sand Gnats this season.

The Mets did not have a first-round pick in 2009, and their second-round pick, Long Island high school pitcher Steven Matz, has yet to pitch professionally after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

The 2008 Draft, by contrast, was much more fruitful. With the 18th pick, the Mets selected their current starting first baseman, Ike Davis, out of Arizona State.

They took South Carolina's Reese Havens with their other first-round pick, and Azusa Pacific's Kirk Nieuwenhuis in the third round. Havens and Nieuwenhuis are currently ranked sixth and fourth, respectively, among Mets prospects according to MLB.com.

Havens' progress has been slowed by injury, but he appears to be back on track. After having rib surgery during the offseason, Havens is back in action and was just recently promoted to Double-A Binghamton. He is batting .278, with a .350 on-base percentage in nine games.

Nieuwenhuis is possibly the most Major League-ready of any of the Mets' prospects, projecting as somewhere between an above-average fourth outfielder and an average MLB starter. A power hitter who posted a .510 slugging percentage at Double-A Binghamton in 2010, Nieuwenhuis was promoted to Triple-A Buffalo midway through last season. This season, he is hitting .301, with a .918 OPS for the Bison, and he could make his Mets debut later in the year.

The Mets didn't have a first-round pick in 2007, but found a potential diamond in the rough in Round 7. That's where they selected Lucas Duda, a junior first baseman out of the University of Southern California.

"The Dude" mashed his way to Triple-A Buffalo in 2010, where he hit 17 home runs in 70 games and batted .314. His strong play earned him a September callup to the Mets, where he played left field for the injured Jason Bay, but struggled at the plate.

Duda made the big club out of Spring Training this year, but was sent back to Triple-A after hitting .118, with a .250 on-base percentage in eight games. He has since rebounded in Buffalo, where he is batting .295, with a .971 OPS in 36 games.

Aaron Taube is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.