These next ten days are going to be very stressful for Sandy Alderson. He can blame Carlos Beltran for most, if not all, of that anxiety.
Not only is Beltran the biggest, most talented bat on the trade market, but he has become the Mets' most important player. Without Jose Reyes, Beltran has kept the Mets relevant (they are only 7.5 games back of the Wild Card), and over the last two days he has gotten on base seven out of ten times, with an enormous, game-tying home run to boot in Wednesday's victory.
One thing that will help Mr. Alderson is that with every day Carlos remains a Met, his value goes up because of his production. As the pennant race gets closer every day, each contending team is seeing Beltran as the final piece to the puzzle, and with that, is offering a nice prospect from their organization. With Atlanta, Philadelphia, Boston and San Francisco rumored to be making the strongest pursuit, here are some of the high-end prospects the Mets may receive.
Atlanta Braves's Mike Minor:
Despite the Braves being a division rival, this would be a huge coup for the Mets. Minor, 23, was the Braves first round pick (7th overall) in the 2009 draft out of Vanderbilt, and has pitched well enough to fly through the minors and already have 14 starts for the major league squad. He has had limited success with the Braves, but his peripherals (8.39 K/9, 3.39 K/BB) show his potential as a #2 or #3 starter.
Add to that Minor's sheer dominance in the minor leagues. Over the course of three seasons, Mike pitched 216 innings across three levels striking out 243 batters (10.1 K/9), walking 70 (good for a 3.47 K/BB) and combining for a 3.12 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. It is not as though these numbers came at the low levels either. At AAA, Minor has accumulated 115 innings, striking out 117 batters with a 2.74 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP. This is a pitcher who is MLB ready, who the Mets can slide their rotation right away and expect to immediately contribute.
Philadelphia Phillies' Domonic Brown:
Keith Law, the senior baseball analyst for Scouts Inc. and ESPN, ranked Brown as the third best prospect in all of baseball before the season (Mike Minor was ranked 61st). While he has not had the same profound success that Minor has had, his minor league career has still been prolific. Through two seasons in AAA, he has hit .345 with a .546 slugging percentage, showing he is ready to take his talents to the majors.
He has been with the Phillies for the majority of this season and has shown his explosive talents, but has also shown he is still a bit raw, hitting .247 through 162 at-bats. Before the season Law wrote in his blog, "he may be the rare, special talent who has to complete most of his baseball development in the majors." He continues by saying Brown is the prototypical "five tool player" with very quick hands and plus power. If the Mets can get their hands on this kid, they will have themselves a right fielder for the next decade.
Boston Red Sox: Josh Reddick, Jose Iglesias, & Anthony Ranaudo:
Through great drafting and international free agent signing, the Red Sox have a loaded farm system, even after trading three big pieces in their acquisition of Adrian Gonzalez. The three mentioned above are all signs of their front office genius.
Ranaudo was hyped as a potential number one overall draft pick last season, but fell to the Sox with the 39th pick because of potential arm troubles. He even ranked higher than Minor on Keith Law's rankings, registering at 54th. He has silenced those critics by starting 19 games so far this season in low A and into high A ball with 85 K's in 95 innings. He has a power fastball, a nasty slider, and coming out of college, if he can stay healthy he will reach the big leagues sooner rather than later.
"Iglesias is the best defensive shortstop prospect I've seen." For a guy such as Keith Law who has seen thousands upon thousands of players, that is no small feat. Even if this kid hits for no power, he will hit for average creating the comparison to Elvis Andrus. Andrus generates 3-4 WAR per season, and considering how vital Andrus was and is to the Texas Rangers, grabbing a player of this caliber would have immense value, especially with Jose Reyes and his contract situation.
Reddick's pedigree is the opposite of Ranaudo and even Iglesias in that he was not highly rated out of high school or college. He went to Middle Georgia junior college, and was drafted in the 17th round of the draft in 2006. Despite that, all this kid has done is hit. Over the last two seasons in AAA he has 32 home runs, and with the Red Sox this season he has hit .378 with a .672 slugging percentage, recently taking the starting job away from J.D. Drew. While it is a small sample size for a kid without the best background, scouts love his swing and he looks like a solid contributor for a major league club.
San Francisco Giants' Zack Wheeler and Gary Brown:
The Giants have fallen back slightly in the race with recent reports that they are not as willing to trade top prospects and would rather take on salary. Regardless, Wheeler and Brown would be great additions to a team built around the dimensions of Citi Field.
Wheeler was the 6th overall pick in the 2009 draft, one ahead of Minor, and ranked 30th on Keith Law's rankings. Zack is only 21 years old but has been dominant in high A ball, striking out 95 batters in only 82.2 innings. He has struggled with his control, and his delivery has scared off some people with injury concerns, and both are things that teams will need to keep an eye on long term.
Brown is a Jose Reyes type player, built around speed and more speed. Already this season he has 39 steals in high A ball, while hitting .313. He is a player who plays plus defense as an outfielder for the San Jose Giants, and should be able to use his speed and get to the majors fairly quickly.
At the end of the day, I do not think Alderson has a tough decision to make. This is obviously easy for me to say sitting on a couch, but while the Mets could make a magical run towards the playoffs, especially with David Wright returning, Alderson needs to take the long term approach for this organization. By acquiring any of the names above, or whatever top prospects are made available, Alderson may lose some dollars and wins this season, but should see a great return starting in 2012 and beyond.