The new prospects
The Mets drafted Carp in the ninth round of the 2004 draft out of California baseball powerhouse Lakewood High School in Lakewood, Calif. The lefthanded hitter signed for $60,000 and got off to a modest start in the Gulf Coast League. He put himself on the prospect radar the following year by hitting .249/.358/.476 with 19 home runs over 313 at-bats in the Sally League. He improved in 2006 by putting up a line of .287/.379/.450 in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. 2007, however, was a different story. He broke his finger in spring training and then had a disappointing season in his first taste of Double-A, hitting just .251/.337/.387 over 359 at-bats before getting some extra time in the Arizona Fall League. He repeated Double-A this year as a 22-year-old and did a nice 180, hitting .299/.403/.471 with 29 doubles and 17 home runs over 478 at-bats with an Eastern League-leading 79 walks (14.2%) and 88 strikeouts (18.4%). There has been some concern that Carp can’t hit lefties, but he seems to have improved against them this year, hitting .263/.347/.434 over 152 at-bats against southpaws. Carp doesn’t have huge power like some first base prospects, but he compares favorably to guys like Lyle Overbay and it’s nice to see Zduriencik bring in a player with good place discipline. For what it’s worth, his 79 walks last year would have led all Mariners’ farmhands and he easily becomes the M’s best first base prospect. Not that there was much competition…
Savvy Mets fans are not happy about losing Cletoâ€”and for good reason. On the surface, the 19-year-old Dominican righthander doesn’t look like much. He pitched 136 innings for Class A Savannah last season, striking out 81 and walking just 34 on his way to a 4.25 ERA. Dig a little deeper though and you learn that the 6-foot-3, 215 pounder features a mid-90s fastball and has even flirted with triple digits. That’s a rare arm and, although the mainstream media made Cleto seem like a throw-in in the deal, he reportedly would have been the Mets’ eighth-best prospect had he stayed in their system and Sally League managers rated his fastball as the best in the league. While the strikeouts seem low for a guy with that kind of heat, he’s a guy that could really take off if his secondary stuff comes around. At the very least, Cleto’s an electric bullpen arm. Cleto should join Phillippe Aumont, Juan Ramirez and Michael Pineda to form the California League’s best rotation next season.Â
The Marlins drafted Vargas in the second round of the 2004 draft as a senior out of Long Beach State, where he was a member of the Dirtbags’ rotation with Jered Weaver. Vargas started his professional career with the short-season Jamestown Jammers of the New York-Penn League where the stocky southpaw made eight starts, striking out 41 and walking 13 over 41 innings before getting promoted to the Sally League to finish the season. That winter, Baseball America ranked Vargas as the eighth best prospect in their system. He worked his way up their organizational ladder before being traded to the Mets in November 2006 along with Adam Bostick for Matt Lindstrom and Henry Owens. Vargas has a solid minor-league track record, but has struggled with injuries and inefficiency over his first 127 major league innings. Vargas has a mid-to-upper 80s fastball, a slider and a changeup. While it’s not shutdown stuff, he will compete with Justin Thomas and Jose Lugo to become the second lefty out of the bullpen.
Coincidentally, Carrera profiles pretty similarly to Endy Chavez. The small-framed outfielder doesn’t have much juice in his bat, but he’s a good defenderâ€”rated as the best defensive outfielder in the Florida State League by the league’s managersâ€”he can draw a few walks and has good speed. He stole 28 bases in 37 attempts and led the league with 12 triples … not too shabby for the seventh player in the deal.