New York Mets Top 10 Prospects
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Moderator: Baseball America's J.J. Cooper will begin taking your questions at 2 p.m. ET

Moderator: Hi guys, going to get started a couple of minutes early. Thanks to everyone for the questions and for readingsubscribing.

 Q:  Andrew from Roanoke, VA asks:
Where would you rank the Mets system in comparison with the rest of the NL East, and in MLB?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: I'd put it second behind the Braves. I'd say the Mets 1-5 guys are probably the best in the East, but the Braves depth would give them a slight edge. I'd put the Phillies next, as they're top two are outstanding, but their overall depth ranks behind the Braves and Mets. The Marlins Top 10 and Top 30 is down a little from last year, but that's not much of an embarrassment when you send Cabrera and Willis to the majors. The Expos would be the bottom of the NL East. Overall, the Mets have done a good job of bulking up their minor league talent over the last couple of years. If you compare them now to a couple of years ago, the Mets have more impact players, and more depth than they've had in recent years.

 Q:  Brad from Pittsburgh, PA asks:
Can you tell me a little about Yusmeiro Petitís repertoire? Iím surprised he didnít make the Top 20 list for the Appalachian League. Just 18, he put up some outstanding numbers between Kingsport and Brooklyn, including a .84 WHIP and a 85:10 SO:BB ratio. What kind of stuff does he have and it too early to speculate if he can be a player who advances quick through the minors?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Petit has a low 90s fastball (it sits at 91-92) to go with a potentially plus changeup and an average curve. His fastball may pick up a little velo as he matures, but he's already a solid, well-built guy. As you noticed with his K:BB ratio, Petit has an advanced feel for pitching and already knows how to change speeds and keep hitters off balance. Expect him to start the season in Capital City, but yes, he's definitely catching some notice with his performance.

 Q:  Brad from Pittsburgh, PA asks:
Brazell was ranked as the teams 9th best prospect, however I think Bobby Malek might end up being a more useful major leaguer. What is Malekís ceiling at this point and how does he project as a major leaguer?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: A year from now, Malek could easily be in the top 10. He's shown a nice swing, an idea of the strike zone (a nice OBP) and he has the Mets best outfield arm. But he has to prove that he can hit for power with a wood bat. His range in the outfield is average at best, so he has to hit for some power to have a chance to be a major league regular in the outfield--he wouldn't have much value in the majors as a .270-.370-.400 guy who can't cover much ground. The Mets believe he'll develop that power. If he shows the power he had with a metal bat in college, he has a chance to be a solid major league right fielder, but that's the big question. As far as Brazell, he has already shown a plus-major league tool, solid power and the ability to hit for average. There are some questions whether his aggressiveness will hurt him somewhat against major league pitchers, but he's closer to reaching his potential than Malek at this point, and his ceiling is a little higher as well, as Brazell could be a .300, 30 HR guy if everything works out for him.

 Q:  Michael Stern from Rochester N.Y. asks:
Any future for Wayne Lydon with the Mets? Will he even make the majors, or is he just speed and not much else?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: The Mets have a number of speedy outfielders, but Lydon may be the closest to turning his tools into production. He does a good job of taking the ball the opposite way instead of getting pull happy, and he's shown that he has a chance to make the transition to switch-hitting pay off. He's always going to be a speed guy, but he has shown some ability to turn into a top-of-the lineup guy. He did walk over 50 times last season. He can handle CF, and he is one of the best baserunners the Mets have. Lydon still has to get that batting average higher, but the Mets believe he still has a chance to be a major league regular, or at least a solid fourth outfielder.

 Q:  Matt from Los Angeles asks:
J.J, What are your thoughts of Mets 2nd basemen Danny Garcia, is he Jose Reyes future double play partner?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Garcia is a solid 2B, but I would expect the Mets to try to sign someone in a flooded free agent second base market. Garcia doesn't have any plus tool, but he's managed to turn himself into a solid prospect by getting the most out of his abilities. He's an adequate hitter, who runs OK, and he's average defensively. If the Mets get production from 3B, SS (Reyes would seem to solve that) and in the OF, Garcia is a fine second baseman, but he has very little star potential. He's a very safe choice as a future 2B, while Victor Diaz has much more star potential, but is also much more likely to be a bust. I would envision Garcia turning into a very solid utility infielder. He could handle 2B for a while without really hurting the team, but you could always do better, as well.

 Q:  Brad from Pittsburgh, PA asks:
What are the chances of Aaron Baldiris moving to second base next season? Do you think he can handle that position change with ease?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: I don't think the Mets have any immediate plans to move Baldiris. He'll likely stay at 3B for the intermediate future, following a step behind David Wright. I mentioned it in his top 10 breakdown largely because Wright is clearly ahead of him at 3B, and with Baldiris' limited power, a move to 2B could open a path for him, while alleviating the biggest knock on him. Baldiris is a very good defensive 3B, and some scouts have said they believe he could make the transition with little problem. For now, he's a 3B, and he may develop the power to be a solid 3B, but he's good enough defensively with solid range and body control, to probably make the move to 2B in the future if that will help his development.

 Q:  Mike from New Orleans asks:
Mets have a plethora of mediocre outfield prospects, outside of Millings. Who do you think has the best chance of becoming an everyday player within the next year?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Within the next year? The Mets don't really have a lot of outfield prospects who you could say are major league ready. I'd say there are only two candidates. Jeff Duncan doesn't qualify for the top 10 prospects as he has too many at-bats, but he and Prentice Redman (who rates somewhere in the late-teens to early 20s) could have a shot. I think it's more likely that one of them earns a backupplatoon job than becomes an everyday player this year, barring injuries. Redman needs another year of Triple-A to try to build on his 2002 season, as he struggled again at the plate in 2003. I don't think Duncan is ready to be an everyday player either. If the Mets are silent in the free agent market, the pair could battle for a starting job, but I think it's more likely that the Mets will address their outfield weakness by trying to sign an outfielder among the free agentsnon-tenders.

 Q:  John from Bloomfield asks:
Given that pitching wins championships, do you think the Mets made a mistake in drafting Lastings Milledge instead of Jeff Allison?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: I'm not going to second guess the Mets on their 2003 draft, especially at a time when neither Milledge or Allison has really gotten their feet wet in the minors. The Mets pitching depth is better than their outfield depth, and Milledge was not supposed to drop to their spot in the draft (not that Allison was either). Milledge immediately became their best outfield prospect, filling a need. If he develops as the Mets expect, I think they'll be quite happy with their pick.

 Q:  Mick from Chicago asks:
Not really a Met question. Could you eleborate a little more than you did in your previous article on Kaz Matsui. I heard his arm strength was questionable for SS. That's why some teams want to sign him as a CF or 2B. Also, do you know if Iguchi (the other middle infielder in Japan) will be posted? Thanks.
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: From the limited scouting reports we've seen and heard, Matsui should be able to handle shortstop with little problem. His range is better than his arm, but his arm should be OK at SS. One scout, maybe with some hyperbole, said he'd be the best defensive SS in the majors. He should be able to handle shorstop. As far as Iguchi, it looks like he won't be posted now, as the glut of 2B on the market would hurt Fukuoka's chances of getting a good price for his posting. Beyond that, the Daiei Hawks are trying to put out the firestorm that has arisen over their giving away third baseman Hiroki Kokubo for nothing. Another P.R. hit would make hit hard to sell tickets.

 Q:  Marc from Brooklyn asks:
What kind of player does Justin Huber projects out to be on the MLB level.
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Huber has a chance to be a solid offensive catcher. However, for a player already in Double-A, he still has a ways to go. Defensively Huber has to get more consistent with his footwork and mechanics behind the plate, as his arm is borderline-average, especially when he gets out of whack mechanically. He does work hard at it, so there is a chance he will get his defensive questions answered. Offensively, there are less questions, but even there, it comes down to how he develops behind the plate. He has a chance to be an above-average offensive catcher, but if he can't handle catcher, his bat would be borderline as a first baseman.

 Q:  John from Bloomfield asks:
Whatever happened to the other Mets pitching prospects, like Pat Strange and Neal Musser? Has their stock dropped so much that they're no longer considered prospects?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Both have a chance to make the top 30. In hindsight, Strange was probably rated too highly last year. He still has good stuff, but his command in 2003 was not good enough. If he can't hit his spots, he'll get pounded, even with a 92-93 mph fastball, and he worked too many deep counts last season. He still has a chance to work into the Mets bullpen picture this season, especiallly if he improves his command. Musser has a chance to be a major league fifth starter...he battled injuries and conditioning problems last season, but when he's on, he reminds you of Kenny Rogers. His fastball is fringy to major-league average for a lefty, but he does a good job of adding and subtracting from it when he's on. He'll likely go back to Binghamton as he tries to get back on track.

 Q:  KP from Queens asks:
What prospects are prospects to watch as they may have a breakout year? i.e. Peterson, Wright, Jacobs Who are some prospects that are low A ball or rookie leagues that someone should keep a watch on?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: I'll throw out a couple of names. Yusimeiro Petit could move quickly. First baseman Tyler Davidson was old for the league, but was dominant in Brooklyn last season as he bounced back from an injury-plagued 2002. He'll get a chance to accelerate his development this year. Shawn Bowman had a 2003 he'd like to forget, but the Mets still believe he has a chance to be a very good 3B. Celso Rondon already looks like Rich Garces as a 19-year-old, but he's also got Garces' fastball. He can't get much bigger, but if he gets in a little better shape, he could impress as a closer prospect. Bob Malek could leapfrog onto the top 10 if he shows power next season. Brian Bannister also could be a top 15 guy in 2004 if he builds on his success in 2003.

 Q:  Cliff from Washington DC asks:
Do the ommission of Jeff Duncan and Danny Garcia from the top 10 list reflect their prospects are in decline or is it a suggestion that the system is deep enough that there's quality below the 10 slot?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Duncan doesn't qualify any longer, as he had just too many ABs. Garcia not making the list is more a reflection of the system's improved depth. If Diaz isn't added to the system, Garcia has a chance to make the top 10, but Diaz projects as having a higher ceiling at 2B, if he can handle the position and gets his weight under control. The Mets 10-15 spots are filled with guys who have chances to have solid major league careers.

 Q:  Scott from nyc asks:
I'm sure the mets have every intention of wanting to keep kazmir as a starter, but because of ongoing questions about his size and durability is it more likely he'll end up as the future closer?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: There are scouts who think that Kazmir will be a great major league closer, but I think the Mets intention is to let him be a starter until he, or his body, prove that he can't do it. When Pedro Martinez was coming up through the minors, some people thought he couldn't handle the stress of being a starter either...The Mets have a ton of hard-throwing relief candidates, Kazmir helps them more if he can be a top-of-the-rotation starter, although major league closer is a nice fall-back position.

 Q:  Dan from Boston asks:
Who do you like better for the short term and the long term: Scott Kazmir, or Cole Hamels?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Short-term: Hamels, as he's more likely to make a quick rise to Philly than Kazmir is to jump to New York this year. The Mets have been very careful with Kazmir's arm...long-term, I'll take either...I guess you could say Hamels because his body is more the prototypical starter's body, but I'd love to have Kazmir's ability to blow batters away. His Krate is otherworldly.

 Q:  Michael Stern from Rocjester New York asks:
Does Lastings Milledge have star potential? Some accounts I read talk of his 5 tool ability, while others say he might have difficulty hitting - with an inability to hit breaking pitches and a lack of plate discipline. Will he just be a great athlete who hits .250, or do you see him as a future stud?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Milledge didn't get a chance to show much this season, as the delayed signing meant he only got a taste of the minors, but he does have 5-tools: his speed is above-average, he has great bat speed, he projects to be an above-average CF with a good arm. There are some questions about his ability to hit breaking stuff, but the Mets believe he'll develop into a high-average hitter. Milledge was one of the most intensely scouted high school players in many years, as he played in so many Team USA events and showcases (since ninth grade) that scouts got tons of looks at him. It's good for Milledge, as he has face more advanced pitching than most high schoolers, but it's also meant that his weaknesses have been more dissected than the average high schooler.

 Q:  Brad from Pittsburgh, PA asks:
What are the chances of Alhaji Turay or Jamar Hill ever making an impact in the majors? I must say I was expecting them to take a big leap forward this year and before Turay got hurt he was having a pretty good ceiling. On the other hand, Hill seemed to have an overall disappointing season.
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Both Turay and Hill have slipped a little in the past year, as neither had strong seasons. I'd say both still have a chance, but they have to bounce back, as I'd rank them below several others (Milledge, Malek, Lydon) on the Mets outfield depth chart. Both have potential a bigger upside than Malek or Lydon, but neither have shown nearly the likelihood of reaching their potential, yet.

 Q:  Timmy from MetsRant asks:
The Mets talk about "future closrs" all the time. Ring, Yates, Anderson etc. Who really has closer stuff in the Mets system?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: The Mets' minor league system is full of arm-strength guys with the chance to be closers is everything breaks right. Yates may have the system's second best stuff (behind Kazmir), although he's older and has an injury history. Kole Stayhorn and Joselo Diaz are also potentially dominant relievers. Neither is particularly refined, but both have potentially plus fastballs. Anderson Garcia is another guy with the fastball to be a closer. With Ring, the Mets believe he also could develop into a closer, but his stuff does not compare with the righties I just mentioned.

 Q:  David from Savannah asks:
Kazmir or David Wright? Who will be the major league all-star?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: How bout both?

 Q:  Timmy from MetsRant asks:
What position is strongest in the Mets minor league system? Also what is the weakest?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: The Mets have really done a good job of stockpiling their system with arms, especially righthanded power arms. While Matt Peterson and Bob Keppel are showing some polish, the majority of the power arms are not particularly refined, but there are enough of them that you would expect several of the Mets multitude of pitching prospects to turn out. Second base and third base are vastly improved over a couple of years ago (Diaz and Garcia at 2B, Wright, Baldiris and possibly Bowman at 3B) and between Jacobs and Huber to go with Jason Phillips the Mets should be solid at C. I'd say SS and OF are the weakest spots. Behind Jose Reyes, the Mets really don't have a solid shortstop in the minors, in fact, they probably don't have any who will make the top 30, but when you've just produced Reyes, that's not a knock. They have a number of outfielders, but only Milledge ranks in the top 10 prospects, and he's a long ways away. The upper level OF prospects all have some kind of major knock on them.

 Q:  Thom from Ann Arbor, MI asks:
How does the organization view Mike Jacobs? He seems to be a good combination of offense and defense. But I never here his name mentioned as a prospect. Assuming Huber can't even be as good as piazza behind the plate, does jacobs have a shot as an everyday catcher?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Jacobs wasn't that far from making the top 10. But I don't know if I'd go as far as to say yet that he's a good combo of offense and defense. Jacobs undoubtedly had a breakthrough season with the bat, but he ranks behind Huber defensively at the present time. He has a ways to go to prove he can be an everday catcher. For now, I think Craig Wilson is a good comp, although Jacobs could exceed that if he gets better behind the plate. The Mets are still high on Huber developing into an everyday catcher. With Phillips, Vance Wilson and Piazza (barring a trade) in New York, they have time to be patient with their two catching prospects.

 Q:  Ricardo from Los Angeles asks:
Who would you compare Victor Diaz to? Is Carlos Baerga a legitimate comparison?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: It could be. Both arewere good hitting 2B who were thick around the middle. But Diaz has a ways to go to earn that comparison, as Baerga was one of the better 2B of the early 1990s. The Dodgers tired at Diaz's seeming inability to devote himself to getting into shape and developing defensively. In coming to the Mets, Diaz gets another chance. If he shows up to spring training in shape, it's a pretty good sign he's on his way to the majors, but if he shows up fat and slow, than the Mets may tire of him before too long.

 Q:  Daveed from GA asks:
Will David Wright be just another Scott Rolen, or can he be a superstar?...more than just another all-star?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Wow, harshing on Rolen...I think you could define a prospect as a great success if he develops into a regular all-star. I'd say that the Mets, and David Wright, would be quite happy if he developed into Scott Rolen, as it would mean that year-in and year-out he's in the argument to be the best 3B in the national league. I'm not a scout, but the scouts we talk to would say that it's nearly impossible to project to any level of certainty that a Class A player would develop into a Pujols type compared to a Rolen type. Scouts would say that if they could find a Scott Rolen every year, they'd be thrilled.

 Q:  Mike from New Orleans asks:
BA Rated Brian Bannister and Matt Lindstrom as the 2 best Right Handed in the Penn League. Who has the better chance to succeed as they progress through the system and why?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Lindstrom is one of my favorites sleepers in the Mets system. He was too old for the league, but that can be explained by his two-year Mormon mission. Lindstrom's stuff compares favorably with almost anyone in the system. He still has to get his mechanics refined and become more consistent, but Lindstrom has a chance to be a very solid No. 3 starter in the majors. That's not a knock against Bannister, but Lindstrom's arm is special.

 Q:  Michael Stern from Rochester N.Y. asks:
How high of a ceiling do you see for Craig Brazell? He has big time power and the Mets could use that. How do you see his future in N.Y. ?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: As I mentioned earlier, Brazell has definite big-time power. If I was looking for a comp right now, Eric Karros comes to mind. Solid batting average, low OBP and good power. That's not an all-star, but it's solid. There are some scouts who thing Brazell will end up as a backup, Triple-A guy, as they think his inability to take a pitch will come back to haunt him, but others point out that he's usually managed to hit for average despite his poor K:BB ratio. He could fit into the Mets 1B situation before long depending on what shakes out with PiazzaPhillips, and if he gets a chance I wouldn't be surprised if he was a solid starter, although never a star.

 Q:  Brad from Pittsburgh, PA asks:
What is your opinion on Aaron Heilman? It seems like everyone is down on him these days. Does he still have a chance to become a solid major league starter? Why did he struggle so bad with the Mets last season?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Btw, we're getting a ton of questions, so just a reminder, I'm trying to get to as many as I can, but as a good idea, don't put your question in ALL CAPS, it's a good way to help ensure I'll skip by it. Heilman still has a chance to be a solid major league starter, but he really could use a little more polishing. There is some thought that Jeremy Griffiths may actually be a little closer to being ready to pitch in the majors. Heilman has trouble repeating his motion, which means that there are days when Aaron can show four major league pitches and locate them. But there are other days when his mechanics were out of whack, where he couldn't locate any of them. On those days, he was in for a quick shower. Long-term he has a chance to be a solid major league starter, but he has to get his mechanics under control.

 Q:  Peggy from New York asks:
If you were running the Mets would you move Reyes to 2b in favor of Matsui? Thanks
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: No, but of course, I'm not the GM. Reyes is the Mets most excitingpromising player in the majors. Why ask him to switch positions while still trying to get comfortable in the majors when you could spend that money to fix another position that is a bigger need (outfield, bullpen, starting rotation).

 Q:  Timmy from Compton, CA asks:
Is Jeremy Griffiths really a top prospect at 26 years of age? Is this ranking legitimate or is it to just boost his trade value? He's been pretty bad so far in the majors.
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Top prospect? No, which is why he ranked where he did. But Griffiths has a chance to be a solid major league starter, as bad as he was in the majors, he was also one of the best pitchers in Triple-A, and he has solid major league stuff. Griffiths could be a solid member of the Mets rotation if things break right for him this season. The number of major league pitchers who got torched in their first exposure to the majors is long and illustrious, I wouldn't give up on him because of six bad starts.

 Q:  Rave from Teaneck, NJ asks:
Who amongst the slew of relief pitchers Jim Duquette has compiled: Yates, Anderson, Moreno, Cerda, Ring, Diaz, Bevis, Strayhorn, etc. have the most promise and who may be able to help significantly in 2004?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Most promise? I'd say Yates, Diaz and Strayhorn. Most able to help in 2004? Moreno, Yates and Ring.

 Q:  Michael from New York asks:
What do you see as the potential for Ps Andrew Sides and Lenny DiNardo?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Sides is a long ways away, but with some promise. DiNardo is fascinating. He dominated (with the exception of one bad outing) in the AFL, but he did it by throwing 85 mph cutter after 85 mph cutter. Mariano Rivera gets away with just throwing a cutter, but it comes in the mid 90s...there's a question of whether DiNardo can survive in the majors unless he develops another pitch...however, he has shown that can keep his pitches down and no one, as of yet, has been able to torch him.

 Q:  Bob from New Haven ,CT asks:
I have a question regarding the mets catchers. Is Mike Jacobs gonna stay behind home plate? I have seen him play a few times and it doesnt look like he has the defensive capabilities to be an average catcher. Also, on the organizations best tools you have a catcher named Joe Heitpas as the best defensive catcher in the oraganization. Though I looked up his stats and he has not hit above .200 yet in rookie ball or A ball. Is he just an organizational guy?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Joe Heitpas is probably ready to play in the majors right now defensively--when he caught Glavine in spring training Glavine started asking who this guy was, but at the same time, he's not shown any ability to hit enough to make it. Because of his defensive skills, Heitpas will get many, many chances, to develop at the plate, but as of now, he looks like an org player, although one that any, and every, pitcher in the organization would love to throw to. Jacobs definitely still has a ways to go to be an average catcher. As a lefty hitter with power, he'll also get chances to develop, but he's still raw behind the plate.

 Q:  Scott from Winston-Salem, NC asks:
I worked for the Capital City Bombers this past season and I am glad to see Aaron Baldiris getting some well-deserved recognition. I was wondering if you could talk a bit about the big league projection for the Bombers other all-star, Kevin Deaton. Deaton was dominant most of the season but seemed to tire down the stretch when he passed his career high in innings. What kind of ceilingbig league future do you see for him?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Deaton is another of the Mets pitchers with major league stuff, but questions to answer. He's got a 87-91 mph fastball and the potential for four major league pitches, although none of them really looks to be a plus pitch. He has a chance to be a major league starter. He's probably in the 20-30 range on the top 30, although he'll be pushed, as the competition for the final spots is pretty fierce...

 Q:  Pam from Long Island, NY asks:
Who do you think is the better all-round catcher of the Mets 2 studs, Justin Huber or Mike Jacobs???
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Huber has a better chance to be a solid all-around catcher, although Jacobs has a better chance to hit 30 home runs.

 Q:  Dave from Great Neck asks:
The best Mets prospect we've never heard of?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: I'll go back to Matt Lindstrom, although I know that with BA readers that may be a little obvious. He's got a chance to be a solid major league starter, although as a guy who's too old to be getting ready for a full season of A ball, he's a little risky. Miguel Pinango, the Mets' fifth-rounder this year, has a nice chance to be a quality starter or reliever, and I haven't mentioned him yet, so I'll throw him out there as well.

 Q:  Anthony from Bronx asks:
What do you think are the chances of Tyler Dvaidson being the mets future ckeanup hitter?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: It's way too early to say he projects to be their cleanup hitter, but Davidson went a long ways toward getting back on track with a monster season. He was really too old for short-season ball, so he can go a lot further to getting on track by coming close to repeating those numbers in Class A. (OK, he doesn't have to slug .600+), but if he can show solid power, he can quickly become one of the Mets best 1B prospects.

 Q:  Bob Wagner from Alameda, CA asks:
PJ Bevis has put up some big K numbers the past 2 years, but rarely gets mentioned as a prospect. Is he a potential big league closer?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Bevis still has to improve his command, but his stuff is closer quality. He should get a chance to compete for a major league job during spring training.

 Q:  Hank Lee from Westport, CT asks:
What about Chase Lambin at second base? I like what I have seen out of him as far as how he approaches the game, but I have heard he may be too old of a prospect to succeed?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Lambin ranks behind Diaz, Garcia, and possibly Whealy right now...but if he keeps doing what he's done, he could slip into the picture eventually...kinda like what Simon Pond has done in Toronto.

 Q:  Manny from NYC asks:
Is there any particular reason why Griffiths was ranked so high ahead of Diaz, Brazell and Baldiris, as well as moving the likes of Petit and Ring out of the top ten? Is there a chance David Wright andor Scott Kazmir could duplicate what Willis and Cabrera did for Florida this past season in terms of jumping early from AA and succeeding in the Majors. Thank you for your time.
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Griffiths was bad in his stint in New York, but he still has a chance to be a solid major league starter. When comparing him to Diaz, Brazell and Baldiris, there's not much separation there, there's kind of a dropoff after Peterson, as everyone else has more questions--in Diaz's case there are more questions about his weight and defensive position, Brazell has to prove he can be an everyday major league 1B, Baldiris has to develop his power, and Griffiths has to show he can translate his minor league succes and command to the majors. When comparing Griffiths to Ring, a starter has more value, and ranks higher, than a reliever, especially when there are questions whether RIng will be more than a lefty setup guy. Petit ranks lower largely because he's so young and far away. His ceiling is high, but he's also several years away. It's hard to imagine any team getting two players in 2004 with the impact that Willis and Cabrera did for Florida in 2003.

 Q:  M. L. from Queens, Ny asks:
Up until these past couple months David Wright always seemed to have been underrated or overlooked, has this changed and is he now a top 20 major league prospect, what range in rankings do you see him among the rest?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: He's definitely moving up the lists, scouts were raving about him in the AFL.

 Q:  Juan from New York asks:
Other then Kazmir, and Yates, what other Flamethrowers do the Mets have which can bring the heat up to the mid 90's. Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Strayhorn, Joselo Diaz, Anderson Garcia, Celso Rondon, Matt Lindstrom and P.J. Bevis can all touch 94-95, Jason Anderson comes close as well, and I'm sure I'm forgetting at least one or two.

 Q:  Mike from New Orleans asks:
There has been much press that Dinardo was overworked throughout his amateur career and has lost 2-3 MPH off his fastball which explains his lack of success this season. What changed between the end of the season and the AFL that allowed Dinardo to seemingly dominate as he did?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: It looks like DiNardo will never throw as hard as he did as a college sophomore. His velo has remained the same, he's just getting guys out with 85 mph queso.

 Q:  MC Carter from Bergenfield, NJ asks:
Where are Royce Ring and Len DiNardo in the Mets top 30 list, assuming they make it?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Ring didn't miss the top 10 by much...he'll probably crack the top 15. DiNardo will probably crack the top 20.

 Q:  Brent from Corona asks:
Can you explain why Keppel was elgible for the Rule V draft and Peterson and Huber Weren't?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Both Peterson and Huber signed 2001 contracts and made their pro debuts in 2001, which means they'll be Rule V eligible (and protected on the 40-man) next season.

 Q:  Kyle from California asks:
Are the Mets set on using Tyler Yates as a starter? It seemed a weird decision to me last year to convert him, and he definitely struggled in it. What are the chances he'll be back in the bullpen for 2004?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: The Mets wanted to give Yates regular innings to get him back in shape after injuries, so it made sense to put him in the rotation. It may end up paying off with a serendipity. Yates has a chance to be a major league starter, but the Mets have a bigger need for help in the bullpen, so he's more likely to end up in the 2004 pen than as a starter. However, Yates showed that he has the chance to have a major league curveball to go with his already impressive fball and slider.

 Q:  John from New York asks:
Why were R. Ring and J. Anderson left off the top ten and Griffiths up at 7? Are they not as good or is Griffiths that much better than them?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: I take it from the questions that my slotting of Griffiths is too high for many of your tastes...in general, we rank starters higher than relievers, as it's a lot easier to find relievers (failed starters can become great relievers, i.e. Eric Gagne, while very few relievers become great starters)....if you put Griffiths in the pen, he'd be a 93-94 mph guy, which is what Jason Anderson is, but Griffiths has a better feel for pitching at this point, and a potential knee-buckling 12-to-6 curveball. Ring has been effective, but he's more of a 88-89 mph guy with a good slider and good movement, which makes him hard to project as more than a setup man, although Eddie Guardardo has had plenty of success with similar stuff.

 Q:  Pete from Hawthorne, NJ asks:
How well do you think Jim Duqette did in the five trades he made last summer? It seems that, based on their performance after the trade, he really fleeced the Dodgers for Burnitz, and did pretty well for Alomar, also.
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: I think he got some very interesting guys in the Burnitz deal. Neither Joselo or Victor Diaz or Kole Strayhorn are sure things, but all three are interesting prospects. The haul for Alomar is less impressive now that Almonte has been lost when he was left unprotected off the 40-man, but Ring has a chance to be a solid major leaguer as well.

 Q:  Kyle from California asks:
Blake McGinley was ridiculously dominant for St. Lucie this year. What kind of ceiling does he have?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: To quote someone I asked about McGinley "He may NP his way all the way to the big leagues." It's impossible to explain McGinley's success, as he has fringy stuff, no trick pitch and not even a particularly deceptive delivery, but something's working very well. You can't deny that K:BB ratio, so he gets a chance next year to prove he can do it against Double-A hitters.

 Q:  Manny from NYC asks:
With the exception of Milledge, this past draft looks very poor, will it hurt the Mets prospect depth in the coming years?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Bannister, Hawk and Pinango all started out fine...but not having second and third round picks the past two years obviously hurts. Overall, the Mets prospect depth has improved....look at the trades of Burnitz and Alomar as more than a good compensation for losing the second and third round picks this year.

 Q:  Timmy from Manhattan asks:
The Mets seem to be set at the SS for the next 15+ years. However who would be next in line right now? Do they even have any quality SS prospects now that Reyes in the majors?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: After Reyes it's pretty thin, but hey, when you have a Reyes in the majors, that;s not nearly as bad a problem.

 Q:  Kevin from Da Bronx asks:
Aren't the Mets moving Mike Piazza because of his questionable defense at catcher? Are the grooming another all bat no defense catcher in Huber?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Huber has made strides as far as handling pitchers. His biggest question is his arm, (like Piazza). The mets believe he'll end up being an all-around catcher, but he still has work to do. With Jason Phillips and Vance Wilson already there, there's no real rush.

 Q:  Manny from Lorras asks:
Where would you rank David Wright, Scott Kazmir and Justin Huber among all major league prospects?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Kazmir and Wright rank high. Huber lower, as there are a number of interesting catching prospects right now (Mauer, Quiroz, Navarro, Mathis, Shoppach).

 Q:  Manny from NYC asks:
What's the scoop on Miguel Pinango?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Solid stuff 89-92 mph fball, good curve and change. Interestingly available in the Rule V, although Anderson Garcia would probably rank to me as the most likely Met to be taken in the Rule V draft.

 Q:  LF from The CranePool Forum asks:
Obviously the top of this list takes a hit this year after the promotions of Reyes & Heilman ... but how does the second half of the top 15 compare depth-wise to recent Met lists?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Comparing it to last year, I think it's better, but that;'s in large part because of the influx of arms in the midseason trades. Adam Elliot, Corey Ragsdale and Ross Peeples were 28-30 last year, I think this year's 31-34 will be better than them.

 Q:  John from Georgetown asks:
I can't help but feel as though Bob Keppel is overrated. With his low K rate and only modest stuff, how do you project him at the major league level?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Keppel's strikeout rate has always been solid, if not spectacular, until he went to Double-A this year. His stuff is also solid, as he projects to have four major league pitches, and he has shown a very good feel for pitching and an ability to work both sides of the plate. Unlike Peterson and Kazmir, he doesn't have No. 1 or No. 2 starter stuff, but scouts who saw him in the EL think he has a chance to be a very solid major league starter, as he is usually able to outthink the hitter.

 Q:  Manny from NYC asks:
Of the top 10 prospects which are most likely to succeed in the major leagues and fulfill their potential?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Kazmir and Wright are the surest bets I'd say.

 Q:  Adam from Clinton, NJ asks:
Do you see Ron Acuna as being a sleeper prospect or is his time up?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Acuna is one of those guys who has to have everything break right to have a major league career, but he has a good idea of what he wants to do at the plate and a very good outfield arm. It wouldn't stun me to see him find 300 at-bats in the majors some year for somebody, but don't ask me to predict how long it will take for that to happen.

 Q:  Ron from Ohio asks:
Who could the Mets take in the rule five draft? thanks
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Impossible to say...check back with Josh Boyd in about a week or two as he pores through the lists and talks with scouts.

 Q:  Seth Samuels from Middletown, CT asks:
I noticed that Lenny Dinardo did not make the top 10, even though he put up better numbers this year than Keppel and had an excellent fall. Is this simply because his repertoire is not as deep? His stuff isn't as good? As far as I can tell from the things I've read, he seems to have a good idea of how to pitch. What can you tell us about him?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Bingo, DiNardo's stuff is not as good and his repitoire is much more limited. DiNardo has a very good idea of what he wants to do on the mound, but he projects more as a reliever unless he develops his secondary pitches.

 Q:  Dan from Bethlehem asks:
Care to project who the Mets might take with the third pick in the draft?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Getting a lot of questions about who the Mets will take with the No. 3 pick...It's really way too early to say. At this time last year, Andrew Miller would have likely rated as one of the top five high school pitchers in the draft and ended up not being selected in the first two rounds...the college and high school seasons will go a long way toward solidifying the draft boards.

 Q:  Greg from North corolina asks:
You mention Yates as a potential starter. I know they had him starting this year to build up arm strength. Do the Mets view him more as a starter or reliever and where would he have a bigger impact?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: I think he's more likely to end up as a reliever, but there are some in the Mets organization who believe he could be a quality starter in the majors.

 Q:  Tony from Toledo from Toledo asks:
What are Jason Anderson's chances of closing in the future? He was picked up in the Benitez trade...
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: He's got a chance, but the Mets have a ton of closer candidates as I alluded to earlier. Also, it wouldn't surprise anyone to see the Mets sign a veteran reliever to join their pen.

 Q:  BBFAN from Houston asks:
Just how good is Scott Kazmir? I heard rumors that he was hitting 98-99 during instrux last year, did you hear the same??
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: He's got as good a fastball as about anyone in the minors, especially for a lefty. throws in the mid 90s occassionally touching 97, saying he hit 99 wouldn;t stun me.

 Q:  Jesse Alson-Milkman from Brooklyn, NY asks:
Who's #11? I'd guess either Jacobs or Petit. How'd you say the Mets' system rates among all organizations?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Jacobs or Yates probably gets the No. 11 spot.

 Q:  Brian from Brooklyn asks:
Are some of the top Mets prospects as good as advertised or are they just a product of the New York hype machine?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: New York hype machine? Reyes showed pretty good signs of living up to it...Kazmir and Wright would be hyped no matter if they were playing in the Expos system.

 Q:  doug from los angeles asks:
What's up with the Lenny Dinardo omissions. First he was not even mentioned as being a Met in the AFL articles when he led the Sagueros in strikeouts and would have been in the Top 10 in the league in ERA if not for his last disastrous outing. And then left off the Prospect list in favor of Diaz and Brazell. What gives?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Last Dinardo question. His stuff simply doesn't rate with some of the other guys in the top 10. Compared to Diaz and Brazell, his ceiling is not as high.

 Q:  Kyle from Staten Island asks:
Do you think Kazmir has a shot to come up in 2004, ala Gooden in 84?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Probably not, at least til late in teh season. The Mets have been very careful with their lefties young arm.

 Q:  Lenny from New York, NY asks:
How does the Mets farm system rate to the Yankees farm system? (I hate the Yanks and at least want to beat them in something) Could we have gotten more for Benitez from the Yanks? What would you say was Duquette's best trade from last season?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Better system, especially at the top than the Yankees...while the Yankees impact prospects right now starts and probably ends with Navarro, the Mets have Kazmir, Wright and Peterson at least.

 Q:  Matt from Kansas City asks:
Are you related to Cecil?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Nope...wish I had his swing though, would help my rec softball career.

 Q:  Nate from Des Moines, IA asks:
Besides Milledge, who are the best guys the Mets got from the 2003 Draft?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Bannister and Miramontes looked pretty good....best to check back in mid June when they've hit Class A for a better read.

 Q:  Mike Sullivan from Upstate New York asks:
What is the outlook for catcher Brandon Wilson? Seems ever since he was drafted everyone else has passed him. Will he be traded this year?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: He's deep on the catcher's list...not much trade value for guys slugging .226 in Class A...

 Q:  Rich from New Jersey asks:
Is there any chance the Mets would move Huber or Jacobs to 2B because of their lack of defense prowess at C, but good bat production, or is their defense so poor it would be worse at another position (ie. Piazza)?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Zero, absolutely no possible chance ever...Is 2B a typo, as neither has the bodies, the agility or the skills to be a 2B.

 Q:  Adam C from Troy, NY asks:
Do you think the Mets volume of strong, but not outstanding prospects will take a hit from the rule V draft this year? I'm thinking of Cruz being taken by the Brewers last year. Could this happen again?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: The Mets definitely have some interesting guys available for the Rule V. Anderson Garcia seems like the kind of guy who gets taken, good arm to work a couple of innings out of the pen. The Mets have several interesting starters--Miguel Pinango, Neal Musser, David Mattox and Ken Chenard available, and while he doesn't have good stuff, I could see a sabermetrics-oriented team taking a swing at Blake McGinley to see if he can continue to work his magic in the majors, but with him just pitching in Class A, that's be a big, big jump.

 Q:  Dan from Maryland asks:
When I read about Aaron Baldiris I think of a young Edgardo Alfonzo. Is there any chance that Baldiris will become comparable to Alfonzo?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Baldiris would love to be another Alfonzo, but it seems like a good comp, athough that would be Baldiris at his best.

 Q:  Adam from Clinton, NJ asks:
Do you think it was poor management by the Mets to not put Phil Seibel on the 40-man yesterday and would he have made a differnce anyway?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: They took a risk, but with his fringy stuff, (85-88 mph fball, nice big curveball), he ranked below a number of other pitchers.

 Q:  Max from Los Angeles (USC) asks:
Will Ken Chenard ever live up to his potential, or is he through?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Injuries keep derailing him, but he still has good stuff.

 Q:  Max from Los Angeles (USC) asks:
What can you tell me about Anderson Garcia, David Mattox, Neal Musser, and Kevin Deaton? Who will be the best? Who has the most upside?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: All four have good arms....best upsdie, Garcia and Mattox because they have the best arms...

 Q:  Brian from Brooklyn asks:
Looking at his numbers from this past season and with his history of injuries I was wondering why everyone is so high on Tyler Yates? Also what is your opinion of Jason Anderson? Joe Torre was a big fan of his and I was wondering what to expect from him as a Met fan.
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Yates has had injury problems, but he also has electric stuff when healthy, which is why the Mets are still high on him. As far as Jason Anderson, he's an arm strength guy right now, but with decent potential.

 Q:  Kyle from Staten Island asks:
Does Jaime Cerda still hold any kind of prospect label?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: He has too many major league innings to qualify for the top 10 or 30

 Q:  Josh from Brooklyn, NY asks:
What do you think of Rodney Nye? I know he's 27, but he really seemed to turn the corner this year at Binghamton. Good average, High OBP, seems like he could be a pretty useful utility guy.
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Rodney has a breakthrough year...with his age and tools he'll have to prove himself every year at every stop, but there are some within the organization who think he could end up as a major league backup infielder.

 Q:  Manny from NYC asks:
PJ Bevis had insane peripherals but ugly ERA. What's the deal with him?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Really good stuff, less than great command right now, which means good innings and some bad ones.

 Q:  aaron from delmar asks:
whats the deal with corey ragsdale? scouts seem to think he's athletic, but so far he's been an atrocious hitter. he seems to have patience and speed. you ranked him asthe mets best defensive infielder. do the mets plan to keep him at ss, or does corey ragsdale have a better chance at success by being converted to a pitcher (As i heard one scout mention somewhere-forget where though)?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Great arm means it would make some sense..he's great defensively, but time is running out for him to prove he can hit enough to put out there everyday.

 Q:  Otto from Puerto Rico asks:
Do you think Angel Pagan will get to patrol the outfield in Shea in the future?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: He's got a long ways to go...less strikeouts, needs to worry less about driving the ball and more about getting on base.

 Q:  john from queens, ny asks:
How good do you feel Celso Rondon can be. Carlos Muniz was amazing at Brooklyn, how come they get no pub?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: great arm, but bad body for Rondon, let's see how he looks when he comes into spring training...Muniz doesn't have as good an arm (88 mph fball, very good slider), but his slider could be a good enough pitch to help him move up. Little pub because they're short-season guys...they have a long ways to go....

 Q:  Brad from Pittsburgh, PA asks:
I thought Tyler Davidson was an outfielder, not a first baseman? Also, tell me a little bit about Ian Bladegroen's future.
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Davidson is starting to work at 1B as well, and he may end up being a 1B as he moves up. He's an OK LF, but kind of big and slow (4.4 to 1B) so 1B might be a better fit. As far as Bladegroen, he had a very nice season...he's clawing his way into their prospect lists, but another season like last year will help him emerge....

 Q:  CP from Washington asks:
Given Jacobs higher offensive potential and the abundance of backstops in the system - is there a chance he could be moved down the line to 1B or OF?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Could be, but his overall ceiling is higher if he proves he can be at least a backup C, especially as a lefty hitter.

 Q:  Mike from New Orleans asks:
If Yates is left as a starter rather than reverted to a closerRP is that a grave mistake or can Yates succeed evenly well as a starter?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: No grave mistake, if he has to move back to the pen, working as starter will have helped him refine his secondary offerings, if he remains a starter, the Mets got more out of him than they would have as a reliever.

 Q:  James Selario from Morgantown, WV asks:
What is the deal with David Wright? Seems like after the AFL, he is suddenly a stud. Has he always projected to be a top prospect?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Not suddenly a stud, he's been on scout's radars for a while.

 Q:  LouieF from Newark asks:
Does the Mets have any 5-Tool prospects in the OF?
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Milledge could be 5-tool...Redman comes close tool wise, but he hasn't put it together....

 Q:  Brad from Pittsburgh, PA asks:
Miguel Pinango was around before this year. He's been around for a few seasons already. By the way, thanks for answering questions.
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: My apology, I meant to say Miramontes when I was talking about this year's draftees....

 Q:  aron from nyc asks:
Manny from nyc has gotten 23 questions in, can you please answer my timeline question?? When do you expect each of the following players to get to Flushing? Kaz Wright Peterson Huber Keppel
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Sorry, not really checking the names when I answer questions.... I'll try, Kazmir --late 2004, early 2005 Wright 2005 Peterson mid-late 2004 Huber 2005 Keppel late 2004 or 2005

 Q:  Jim Bullard from Santa Barbara, Ca. asks:
I played and lived with Royce Ring the first half of the 2003 season in Birmingham, before his trade to the Mets. I was wondering how he did not crack the Top 10 with the Mets and also, would he have been a Top 10 guy if he was still with the Sox. Thanks
 A: 

J.J. Cooper: Ring fits in the 10-15 range...he narrowly missed making the top 10...

Moderator: Ladies and gentleman, that's three hours of non-stop Mets info from Mr. Cooper, a new alltime record. And he's catching a cold too. A healthy Josh Boyd will discuss the Reds on Monday afternoon. See you then.