By Ed Coleman
» More from Eddie C.

With the Winter Meetings around the corner in December, and the annual Rule 5 draft scheduled to take place, the Mets moved some of their top prospects onto their 40-man roster to protect them from being selected by other clubs.

Seven players – RHP Jeurys Familia and LHP Robert Carson, outfielders Juan Lagares, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Cesar Puello, and infielders Wilmer Flores and Reese Havens – were added to the 40-man to bring the Mets’ roster to 38.

If a player is selected in the Rule 5, he must remain on the active roster or disabled list for the entire season, or be offered back to his original club at a discount price. The Mets had two Rule 5’s last year, one they kept (reliever Pedro Beato) and one they returned (2B Brad Emaus).

Familia was the Sterling Award winner for Double AA Binghamton this season, notching a 3.49 ERA in 17 starts. The Organizational Pitcher of the Year in 2009, Familia began the year at Single A St. Lucie with a 1.49 ERA in 6 starts. Familia is on the fast track to CitiField.

Carson, on the other hand, is a mystery. G.M. Sandy Alderson is high on him, mentioning Carson as a possible second lefty for next year’s bullpen to team with Tim Byrdak. But the numbers have been awful. The 6’4″-230 lb. southpaw was a starter at Binghamton this season, going 4-11 with a 5.05 ERA. He became a full-time reliever in the Arizona Fall League, but still struggled, giving up 21 hits in 17 innings, while walking 12 and striking out 11. Some lefties are late bloomers, and that may be the case with Carson who’s only 22. You better hope.

Lagares can flat-out hit. He split his season between St. Lucie and Binghamton, hitting a combined .349 with 9 HR and 71 RBI. Lagares batted .338 at Single A, then improved to .370 at Double AA, along with a .391 OBP and .512 slugging percentage. The corner outfielder capped off his superb year by hitting .303 with 2 HR and 18 RBI in 66 AB in the Arizona Fall League.

Nieuwenhuis opened some eyes during spring training this year, but had the misfortune of suffering a season-ending shoulder injury in June. The lefty hitter batted .298 with a .403 OBP, along with 6 HR and 14 RBI in 53 games for Triple AAA Buffalo before being injured.

Puello is only 20 and has skills though they are raw. He had 10 HR and 50 RBI in 117 games at St. Lucie this year. Puello hit .294 and had 6 of his 10 HR after June 15. He has plus strength and bat speed, and they say the ball jumps off his bat.

Flores is also only 20 and had 81 RBI in 133 games for St. Lucie this year, 5th-best in the Florida State League. But Flores may have to be a corner infielder instead of shortstop, and his power would have to increase. He had just 9 HR this season and batted .269 with a measly .309 OBP., but again is young and gifted.

Havens just wants to stay healthy because when he does he produces. Around his injuries this year, Havens hit .289 with 6 HR and 26 RBI in 58 games, along with 17 doubles. He’s a line-drive gap hitter who profiles well at 2B.

The Mets opted not to protect several players who may draw interest from other clubs. Infielder Jefry Marte, who hit .333 with 4 HR and 18 RBI in 78 AB in Arizona this fall, was left exposed. Marte struggled this season with a .313 OBP at St. Lucie. Pitcher Brad Holt was also left off – Holt had an 8.34 ERA over two levels last year, then produced a 4.71 ERA at Binghamton this year, walking 57 in 94 innings. Also, pitchers Mark Cohoon and Collin McHugh were left exposed. McHugh – a Wally Backman favorite – had a solid season, but was roughed up in Arizona to the tune of a 6.91 ERA, yielding 42 hits in just 27 innings.

Comings and goings – mostly goings:

…Joe Nathan didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about local ties. Nathan signed a 2-year, $14.5 million deal to be the Texas Rangers closer, moving previous closer Neftali Feliz back into the rotation.

…Another Twins closer – Matt Capps – is open to returning to Minnesota now that Nathan has signed with Texas. Capps – whom the Mets have interest in – had a 4.25 ERA in 66 innings in 2011, but in 2010 produced 42 saves combined for Washington and Minnesota with a 2.47 ERA.

…Grady Sizemore – an unlikely CF possibility because of salary and injuries – re-signed with Cleveland.

…I’ve seen the second coming of Rick Ankiel. The Mets signed Adam Loewen, former LHP turned outfielder who was the 4th overall pick in the 2002 draft by the Baltimore Orioles. Loewen hit .306 with 17 HR, 85 RBI and 46 doubles at Triple AAA Las Vegas this past season.

…And the Phillies always seem to do the right thing. In addition to locking up closer Jonathan Papelbon, the Phils acquired tough, hard-nosed former Met Ty Wigginton from Colorado. I’d been hoping the Mets would find a way to get the grinder Wiggy back to bolster their bench, but Philly G.M. Ruben Amaro Jr. has a sense about what his team needs to complement their immense talent, and methinks he’s hit it on the head once again.

C U soon
Eddie C.


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