Rob Patterson: Over the years, the Mets have had a series of 'premiere' pitching prospects who were either over-hyped or under-performed. Is there a true, legitimate "ace" buried somewhere in the Mets farm system right now?
Toby Hyde: The odds of any single pitcher becoming a true ace are actually pretty small. That said, I think any one of the three of Jeurys Familia, Zack Wheeler or Matt Harvey, if everything develops right, could front a playoff rotation.
RP: The Mets front office seems to be putting a lot of stock in the potential presented by Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey, Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia. We've all see the prospect lists, but who do you think arrives first and why?
TH: Familia's the obvious answer. He made 17 starts at double-A to Harvey's 12 and threw nearly 30 more innings 87.2 to 59.2 at AA and performed better. His ERA was 3.49 while Harvey's was 4.53. Familia punched out 9.9 batters per nine IP, and has more professional experience. The Mets have hesitated to put a timetable on Mejia's recovery from Tommy John surgery, and Wheeler ended the year in the Florida State League.
RP: For the Mets to contend on an annual basis, they will need significant improvements to both the starting rotation and the bullpen. With at least four options to choose from, does Jenrry Mejia's surgically repaired right elbow make him the likely choice to be transitioned into the closer's role?
TH: No. Mejia might move to the bullpen because he might never have the fastball command or breaking ball control to work his way through a lineup multiple times. His eventual role won't be dictated by his Tommy John surgery, but rather by his development when he returns.
RP: Of the top four pitching prospects in the Mets' farm system, is there one who you feel is more likely to be used as a trade chip in the coming years? What makes him more expendable than the others?
TH: This is a silly question. The most "expendable" - your word not mine - would have the lowest value both to the Mets and on the trade market. Right now, there's really no sense in the Mets trading any of them. The team is a longshot to contend in 2012, so it makes sense to use the time to figure out which of the quartet is part of the team's future.
I realize that Jenrry Mejia has sort of fallen off the radar because of his injury, but was surprised to learn that Familia has a real shot to beat both Harvey and Wheeler to the Major League level despite the hype surrounding the latter two. Nonetheless, due to the state of the franchise,the Mets really need these guys to work out in order to provide effective and inexpensive pitching options for the foreseeable future.
Thanks again to Toby Hyde for taking the time to talk with us. You can check out Mets Minor League Blog to learn much much more about the team's farm system.
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