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Update to the Rotation Previews

Mike SteffanosMonday, January 8, 2007
By Mike Steffanos

I posted Alay Soler's feature early this morning, and am working on my preview of Jason Vargas. There's a couple of updates I'm making to some of my already finished ones. Baseball America came out with their Top 10 Mets prospects list today, and I am adding some of the scouting reports to the previews of Mike Pelfrey, Phil Humber and Alay Soler. Here is the 2007 Mets top 10 from BA's Matt Meyers:

  1. Mike Pelfrey, rhp
  2. Fernando Martinez, of
  3. Carlos Gomez, of
  4. Philip Humber, rhp
  5. Deolis Guerra, rhp
  6. Kevin Mulvey, rhp
  7. Jon Niese, lhp
  8. Mike Carp, 1b
  9. Joe Smith, rhp
  10. Alay Soler, rhp

As much as some of you have told me you have enjoyed these, I'm guessing that you wouldn't want to re-read the previews that you have already read, so here is what I'm adding to Pelfrey, Humber and Soler:

Mike Pelfrey, rhp
Strengths: There are few pitchers in the minors whose fastball can rival Pelfrey's. His two-seamer sits at 92-95 mph with fierce sink and late life and rates as a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale. He throws it effortlessly from a 6-foot-7 frame on a steep downhill plane with great extension and solid command. ... Though Pelfrey barely needed to use a changeup as an amateur, he already has a good feel for it and it's his No. 2 pitch.

The Future: Though he needs better command of his secondary stuff, there's little left for Pelfrey to prove in the minors. With Martinez out until at least the all-star break, Pelfrey will definitely be in the mix for the Opening Day rotation. He should be in the Mets rotation for years to come and has the potential to be a legitimate No. 1 starter.

Meyers feels Pelfrey is ready for a rotation slot right now. If he wins a starting job this spring, Mets fans will have to be patient with the learning curve, but at least we'll be watching a guy who has a chance to be a legit number one starter.

Philip Humber
Strengths: Humber's curveball is one of the best in the minors. Thrown at 74-78 mph, it has tight rotation with a powerful downward action. His fastball sits at 90-94 mph. He also features a developing low-80s changeup with late sink. He throws strikes with all three pitches.

The Future: Though his Arizona Fall League stint ended with a sore shoulder, an MRI revealed no damage and Humber is primed for his first full-season workload. Though his stuff is good enough to pitch in the big leagues, Humber will probably be better served with a full season in Triple-A to improve his endurance. He profiles as a No. 2 or 3 starter.

What Meyers has to say here about a full season in Triple-A to build his endurance back up would the sound approach with Humber, but I still think he has a chance to start 12-15 games later on in the season for the Mets or possibly pitch out of the bullpen.

Alay Soler
Strengths: Soler has success when he attacks the strike zone with his low-90s fastball and above-average slider.

Weaknesses: Soler is his own worst enemy and gets in trouble when he tries to nibble and play around with his offspeed stuff in what looks like an attempt to emulate fellow Cuban Orlando Hernandez. He needs to dedicate himself much more to conditioning after making a bad first impression.

The Future: If Soler plays to his strengths, he has the chance to be a solid back-of-the-rotation starter or setup man. How much time he spends getting in shape likely will dictate his assignment in 2007, when he could contribute in the majors.

I don't like to do hatchet jobs here, but apparently I tip-toed a little too much in my preview of Alay Soler. Here is the gist of my summation of the Cuban:

Some wondered if Soler's failure to attack the strike zone in his poor performances from 2006 showed a lack of intestinal fortitude on the part of the Cuban. I don't think so, but I do believe it showed a level of immaturity and lack of clear focus. Combined with whatever physical problems he was experiencing, I just thought he looked a little overwhelmed at times. To my mind, he seemed unprepared to pitch in the major leagues.

It will be very simple with Alay Soler. He needs to get into good physical shape and improve his mental focus. He has a chance to help this team -- whether as a starter or in the bullpen -- but if he fails to grab the opportunity this time around, it won't come again for him with the Mets.

I can't give you too much of the Baseball America scouting reports since this is premium content. If you love all the debate over prospects, you really need to subscribe to BA. A one year subscription, web only, costs $62. Info can be found on their website here.

MetsBlog's Matthew Cerrone interviewed Matt Meyers about the Mets top 10. Check out his interview here.

About Mike: I was the original writer on this web site, actually its only writer for the first 15 months of existence. Although I am grateful for the excellent contributions of my fellow writers here, I have no plans of stepping back into strictly an editorial role. I started this thing in the first place because I love to write and I love the Mets, and blogging here keeps me somewhat sane. If you haven't had enough already, more bio info can be found here.

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