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The Mets Top Ten Prospects - 30 Years Ago

Barry DuchanSunday, March 11, 2007
By Barry Duchan

Editor's Note: We will publish a post from Barry Duchan every Sunday covering some aspect of Mets history. - M.S.

In retrospect, as good as the 1967 crop proved to be, including Seaver, Ryan, Koosman, and Boswell, the 1977 edition of the Mets' prospect list was a pretty good portent of the lean years to come. The list actually produced just one good future major leaguer - Neil Allen. He did a decent job as a reliever, but his greatest value to the Mets was as the key player used to acquire Keith Hernandez. A few of the others made the big leagues, but did little for the Mets. Top hitting prospect Marshall Brant had a cup of coffee in the majors after the Mets let him go, but he basically stalled at AAA. Top pitching prospect Roy Jackson was eventually traded for Bob Bailor, who was later part of the trade for Sid Fernandez. But probably the most fascinating future belonged to Ed Cipot, who became an actor after retiring from baseball, appearing as a New York Knight in The Natural and was later ordained as a Catholic priest!

Here then is the Mets' Top 10 Prospect List for 1977 from "Baseball Scouting Report -1977".

  1. Roy JacksonRoy Jackson - Will be ready for big league rotation with one more solid year in minors. One of best pitchers in Texas League, needs a year in AAA.
  2. Marshall Brant - Big, slow power hitter. Bat may take him far. Needs to make better contact, but has chance for long big league career. Pencil him in as Mets' first baseman of the future.
  3. Juan Berenguer - Hard thrower, but still very wild. May develop into big league reliever. Needs work.
  4. Butch Benton - High draft pick had poor year defensively, leading Midwest League in errors by a catcher and passed balls. May move to first base, but doesn't hit enough to make it unless his catching skills develop. Still in Mets' plans. Should improve.
  5. Ed Cipot - Sweet-swinging lefty hitter, makes better contact than Brant and will eventually battle him for Mets' first base job. Can also play outfield.
  6. John Pacella - Shows good stuff, but inconsistent. Might make majors in a couple of years.
  7. Neil Allen - Good curve, raw, but good arm and could come fast.
  8. Juan Monasterio - Good outfielder. Needs 3 years before he gets his shot at the big leagues. Needs to hit more.
  9. Dave Von Ohlen - Raw lefty with potential. Decent stuff. A few years away.
  10. Cliff Speck - Not coming along as expected. Just fair in all aspects. May pitch in big leagues, but more likely to top out at AAA.

I think it is only fair to point out that the 4 best "prospects" the Mets had in 1977 had already played a little in the majors, thus disqualifying them from the list. Those players were Lee Mazzilli, John Stearns, Bruce Boisclair and Nino Espinosa. Presumably, all would have been listed ahead of Roy Jackson if they were eligible. I also remember Jackson Todd as a well-regarded prospect at that time and I'm not sure why he didn't make the list. Also, in the infamous Tom Seaver deal in 1977, the Mets acquired the Reds' #1 prospect in Steve Henderson, as well as #6, Dan Norman.

Note: More of Barry Duchan's writings can be found on his own Metscentric blog.

About Barry Duchan: I've been following the Mets since 1962. Have to admit I was a Yankee fan as a kid, but I found it to be so much more interesting to see how a young team could build itself up rather than following a team where the season didn't really begin until October. I remember them all - Casey, Marv, ChooChoo, Don Bosch, The Stork, etc. As the years went on, I became more and more of a Mets fan, and a Yankee hater once Steinbrenner and Billy Martin entered the picture.   Read More -->

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