By Mike Steffanos
While I try to put the finishing touches on part 2 of my 2007 season recap, I see that Baseball America has posted its Top 10 prospect list for the Mets:
- Fernando Martinez, of
- Deolis Guerra, rhp
- Carlos Gomez, of
- Kevin Mulvey, rhp
- Eddie Kunz, rhp
- Brant Rustich, rhp
- Philip Humber, rhp
- Jon Niese, lhp
- Nathan Vineyard, lhp
- Robert Parnell, rhp
If you are a subscriber you can view all of the scouting reports. Of more interest to me were these comments:
Scouts from other organizations say the Mets have little immediate help on the way in the farm system. The jury is still out on how much Pelfrey and Humber can be counted on, and there's not much in the way of upper-level position players behind outfielders Lastings Milledge and Carlos Gomez.
The lack of talent reflects New York's decision not to wield its large-market resources to acquire talent the last two years, particularly in the draft. The Mets have surrendered their first-round choice as free-agent compensation in each of the past two drafts, and haven't tried to compensate by exceeding MLB's bonus guidelines with other picks. Minaya said that could change in the near future.
"We've adhered to the commissioner's slot recommendations," Minaya said. "We've been good citizens. But not all the teams have done that, and the competitive balance is not fair. We have to take that position under review as an organization."
For those of you who don't understand the second paragraph above, basically the commissioner's office is pressuring all MLB teams to follow what amounts to a de facto slotting system for signing draft picks. They can't really enforce this, since there is no actual rule in place, but they exert pressure on both the front office and ownership of all teams in an effort to hold down the bonus money given to draft picks. When the Mets failed to sign pitcher Pedro Beato a couple of years ago they were bowing to the will of the commissioner.
Teams like the Yankees and Tigers have been routinely ignoring these guidelines and, as a result, have stocked their systems with talent that has paid dividends. I hope the Mets organization does more than review their position in this matter. If major league baseball wants a slotting system for draft picks, they should negotiate one into their agreement with the player's union. A voluntary system is only as effective as the willingness of all teams to follow it, and that's clearly not happening. By passing up on an opportunity to draft the best talent possible and pay what it takes to sign them, the Mets are indeed putting themselves at a competitive disadvantage with other teams who ignore the strident complaints of Selig and company.
3 of the pitchers drafted high in 2007 (Kunz, Rustich and Vineyard) are on this list, so all is not lost. As a fan, though, I will be watching with interest to see whether the Mets continue to kowtow to the commissioner in the upcoming 2008 amateur draft, or do everything in their power to draft the best talent.