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Mets see mixed results from farm in '09

Mets see mixed results from farm in '09

Life in the Mets organization is rarely dull, what with the New York spotlight and all. The 2009 season, however, brought the kind of attention the team would probably rather avoid.

In late July, Tony Bernazard was dismissed as the head of player development after a series of issues gave general manager Omar Minaya no other choice. On Mets.com, there is no one listed as working on player development, but Adam Wogan is the director of Minor Leagues, and the organization has tried to forge ahead the best it could.

"It was very unfortunate what happened," Wogan said. "The intent was on getting the players better and doing what's right for the players. We have a lot of good baseball people here. We dealt with injuries, dealt with setbacks, some of which were not under our control and probably some things we contributed to.

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"What matters is we have quality baseball people and some quality players who will help us, some soon, some down the road. We have a plan in place to have these players help us, and maybe sooner than some will give us credit for."


NL East
ATL | FLA | NYM | PHI | WAS

AL East
BAL | BOS | NYY | TB | TOR

NL Central
CHC | CIN | HOU | MIL | PIT | STL

AL Central
CHW | CLE | DET | KC | MIN

NL West
ARI | COL | LAD | SD | SF

AL West
LAA | OAK | SEA | TEX

On the field, there were some signs of life from a system that hasn't provided a whole lot of help in New York of late. The upper levels were fairly barren and couldn't provide reinforcements following the injuries that decimated the big league roster. But Fernando Martinez did make his long-anticipated big league debut and showed some glimpses of his huge potential before getting hurt. Bobby Parnell made a valuable contribution out of the bullpen, and Jon Niese filled in the rotation. Catcher Josh Thole flew up to the bigs under the radar and continued to show an ability to hit for average.

The Mets' combined .466 winning percentage among the affiliates was third worst in baseball, so most of the accomplishments were isolated and individual. The 2008 Draft looks like it might provide some value, with Ike Davis having a terrific first full season and Reese Havens having a solid, if unspectacular campaign. Kirk Nieuwenhuis might be the sleeper of that class and made it to Double-A in his first full season.

For the past few seasons, much has been made of the Mets' activity in international scouting, particularly in Latin America. They've promoted young players aggressively without too many positive results. The 2009 season may have been the starting point of reversing that trend, with a young arm like Jennry Mejia reaching Double-A and exciting everyone with his potential, and teenager Wilmer Flores holding his own in full-season ball.

"What we talked about was the maturity level and whether they were ready to handle the challenges and the failure that would inevitably come with that," Wogan said. "It's a different approach and we'll continue to evaluate the criteria about who is ready for that challenge."

It's not a lot to hold onto, but they are steps in the right direction. As the 2009 season showed, just showering money to build a big league roster may not be enough. For the Mets to have long-term success, they're going to have to continue to build from this small foundation moving forward.

ORGANIZATIONAL PLAYERS OF THE YEAR

MLB.com's Preseason Picks
Wilmer Flores, SS: The thinking was that the teenaged Flores would be more than up to the task of playing full-season ball. He wasn't terrible, but he didn't take the South Atlantic Legaue by storm as a 17-year-old, either. The shortstop hit .264 over his 488 at-bats with an OPS of .637.

Brad Holt, RHP: It seemed like this was a no-brainer pick after his pro debut, but something went awry. The prediction that he'd make it to Double-A worked out, as he was promoted after a 3.12 ERA and .215 batting average against with St. Lucie. But with Binghamton, the right-hander went 3-6 with a 6.21 ERA and .270 BAA. An ankle injury slowed him down somewhat, but it's safe to think the Mets had higher hopes for their 2008 supplemental first-round pick in his first full season.

MLB.com's Postseason Selections
Ike Davis, 1B: The 2008 first-rounder out of Arizona State University didn't make the best first impression when he hit .256 for Brooklyn in 2008, with a .652 OPS, but he more than made up for it in his first full season. The son of former big league reliever Ron Davis, Ike started the year in the Florida State League and ended it in the Double-A Eastern League before heading to Europe to help Team USA win its second straight World Cup gold medal. Before his travels, he hit .298 with 20 homers and a .524 SLG.

Jeurys Familia, RHP: While Mejia generates most of the buzz in this system because of his pure stuff, Familia certainly shouldn't be overlooked. Pitching at age 19 in the South Atlantic League, the right-hander went 10-6 with a 2.69 ERA, good for second in the SAL and the organization. He gave up just 109 hits in 134 innings for a .221 batting average against.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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