he True Fans Bleed Blue and Orange: Interview: St. Lucie Mets Writerh

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Interview: St. Lucie Mets Writer

I recently exchanged e-mails with Eric Pfahler of the Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers. Eric covers the St. Lucie Mets, and was kind enough to answer a few of my questions of the single A Mets.

True Fans Bleed Blue and Orange: The last few seasons St. Lucie has seen many top prospects, and future major leaguers play games on Tradition Field, however it seems right now that the single A Mets are a bit weak in terms of future talent. Only a handful of names are even recognizable. Deolis Guerra, John Niese, and Ambiorix Concepcion have all been considered and still considered prospects, however (with the exception of Guerra) Niese and Concepcion have been let downs this season. What have you seen from Niese and Concepcion, and do you feel that both still have a chance of making the majors?
Eric Pfahler: The New York Mets' efforts to test players have left a gap in the system -- and that gap is at St. Lucie. Every major league team has a gap or two. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays might have the best system in baseball, yet their Single-A team is under .500. The St. Lucie Mets still have talented players, but they are young for this league. Deolis Guerra is only 18. Almost the entire infield was born after 1985 and those who are older are either college players in their second professional season or fringe players that will have trouble capturing prospect status. Prospects like Fernando Martinez, however, would be playing in this league were they with other clubs. Concepcion needs plate discipline in order to get to the next level.He's had a lot of trouble adjusting to the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. A .282 on-base percentage is not going to get it done. I have trouble gauging Niese because he has the stuff to get through this league, but he needs consistency. His curveball is a great pitch when it's on. He's not striking out as many guys as you'd like to see,but perhaps his problem is that he's trying to strike out too many.Anything can happen as far as these two making the majors. Look at Joey Votto with the Cincinnati Reds. He's a player who fell off for a season and regained prospect status within a year.

True Fans Bleed Blue and Orange: Back to Guerra. At only 18 years old Guerra has been relatively dominant in his brief minor league career. Guerra's scouting reports early have been nothing but positive. Do you feel that Guerra's dominance at such a young age will continue on throughout his minor league career, and into the majors. Or do you feel that Guerra is simply dominating equally young hitters with his advanced stuff.

Eric Pfahler: Guerra has a major-league change-up. It's fantastic. The Mets pulled him out of some starts in order to take it easy on his young arm, but he is well ahead of the curve. I wouldn't be surprised if the team had him spend the next two years in Double-A in order to build up some arm strength. He needs to work on his curveball, which he's doing.

True Fans Bleed Blue and Orange: Outside of the three players I've named thus far are there any hidden gems you see on Mets? Ryan Coultas and Joshua Petersen are both hitting over .325 this year, do you see any future for them?

Eric Pfahler: Coultas plays enough positions and has a good attitude. Petersen also has some versatility. Both of these players need to make sure this is their last season with the St. Lucie Mets. Dan Murphy is a player that has a good arm and can hit the ball well. As far as tools, Sean Henry is above average, but he's stuck behind some pretty good outfielders in the system. Henry has improved his plate discipline throughout the season,but he'll need to make further adjustments to get to the majors

True Fans Bleed Blue and Orange: The Mets are currently in fourth place, what has been their biggest problem this year, just one year removed from a championship?

Eric Pfahler: The biggest problems for this team is youth and health. They don't know how to win games at this level yet and two of their best players(Guerra and Nick Evans) have been on the disabled list for considerable time. If Niese can make further adjustments to give the Mets a solid top three and Evans can continue to rake like he has been, then this team should go far. It's impossible to compare this team to last season's squad since few players remain.

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