By Ed Coleman
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Brooklyn born and bred John Franco – the club’s all-time leader in saves and games pitched – will be the 26th member of the Mets Hall of Fame, to be inducted prior to the June 3 game against the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals at CitiField.
Franco was very appreciative of the honor that was bestowed upon him.
The native New Yorker appeared in almost 700 games with the Mets, compiling 276 saves in 14 years with the team – the second-longest tenure behind only Ed Kranepool (18 years) in franchise history. Franco, a 4-time All-Star, ended up with 424 career saves – tops amongst left-handed closers and the 4th-most in major league history. So what were the highlights of his career in New York in a Mets uniform?
After Tommie Agee was inducted in 2002, the Mets Hall of Fame lay dormant until 2010 when G.M. Frank Cashen, manager Davey Johnson, Dwight Gooden and Daryl Strawberry were all inducted. The last few years have not been easy for Met fans with what has transpired, but Franco had words of encouragement for the long-suffering masses.
A big part of that resurgence may very well lie in whether the new ” Generation K” can deliver the goods – as opposed to the old one (Isringhausen, Pulsipher and Wilson) which never did mainly because of injuries. But Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia all registered on the Top 100 Prospects list issued by MLB.com recently – young Wheeler the highest at # 28. Harvey placing at #38, and Familia coming in at #90.
Wheeler is the youngest, but may have the biggest upside of the three. Despite his age, he may be tops in the farm system already at polishing off hitters when he gets a two-strike count. After arriving in the Carlos Beltran deal at the trading deadline last season, Wheeler registered a 2.00 ERA in 6 starts at Class A St. Lucie, striking out 31 and walking just 5 in 27 innings.
Harvey possesses a mid-90’s fastball along with a mid-80’s slider, and has also brought along his secondary pitches rather nicely. Paul DePodesta – the Mets Vice-President of Scouting and Player Development – paid Harvey a great compliment, saying that he conscientiously works on the things that may not benefit him immediately, but definitely will benefit him down the line. Harvey started out strong last season at St. Lucie, then was bumped up to Double AA Binghamton where he hit a speed bump. He was 0-3 in his first 5 starts and ended up with a rather high 4.53 ERA. But Harvey went 5-0 with a 2.68 ERA in his last 7 starts, striking out 36 in 37 innings. Overall, at two levels, Harvey whiffed 156 in 136 innings.
Met fans are probably not as familiar with Familia, but they will be. Much like Jenrry Mejia, there is a division on whether Familia will project better as a starter or reliever. But he handled the role of a starter so well last season he will continue to do so. After being promoted to Binghamton, Familia struck out 96 batters in 88 innings, and pitched to a combined 2.90 ERA over two levels, notching 132 strikeouts with just 43 walks in 124 innings at St. Lucie and Binghamton.
There’s a good chance that all three might start the season at Double AA, providing a formidable rotation for the B-Mets. When they’re ready for the major league callup is anybody’s guess, but the Mets will be patient, because when they arrive, they should be sticking around for awhile.
C U soon
Who should the Mets induct next? Let Eddie know in the comments below!