In the case of the Mets, it was the contributions from what has been an oft-maligned farm system. Ike Davis finished near the top among National League rookies in home runs and RBIs. Lefty Jon Niese led all rookie hurlers with 173 2/3 innings pitched and 148 strikeouts. Jennry Mejia showed some glimpses, largely in relief, on the mound. Josh Thole started to establish himself behind the plate. Even Ruben Tejada, while he didn't hit much, plugged big holes in the middle of the infield.
"We're happy with the year," Mets farm director Adam Wogan said. "The first thing you look at is if guys contributed at the Major League level. Hopefully they've started to establish themselves in the big leagues."
While the Mets' system was helping out at the highest level, there were also encouraging signs at the lowest levels of the system. Brooklyn finished with a .680 winning percentage in the short-season New York-Penn League, losing to Tri-City in the championship round. Savannah made the playoffs in the Class A South Atlantic League, losing in the first round. The rookie-level Gulf Coast League club finished with a .554 winning percentage to make the postseason there as well.
The struggles the Mets had during the 2010 regular season made it abundantly clear that the organization must continue to find help and build depth down on the farm. Things are clearly moving in a better direction in that regard, something the new regime, led by general manager Sandy Alderson, will certainly appreciate.
"It's always key," Wogan agreed. "There's an urgency to develop players who can win at the Major League level. There's a great opportunity for these players to prove they belong there."
MLB.com's Preseason Picks
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF: It was predicted that the 2008 third-round pick would go 20-20 in '10 and be among the system's leaders in many offensive categories. Not quite, though he did hit 18 homers and steal 13 bases. Nieuwenhuis struggled with a promotion to Triple-A for the season's final 30 games. A strong AFL campaign still gives hope that he can help out in '11.
Jennry Mejia, RHP: We warned that a big league callup could preclude Mejia from winning this honor. He was up and down quite a bit, appearing in 33 games (all but three in relief) for the Mets this year and finishing with a 4.62 ERA. When in the Minors and healthy, he was outstanding, with a 1.28 ERA in nine starts covering 42 1/3 innings.
MLB.com's Postseason Selections
Lucas Duda, 1B: Duda begain the year as perhaps more of an organizational type, a seventh-rounder out of the 2007 Draft who was starting his second season in Double-A. By season's end, he was firmly on the map and in the big leagues after hitting .304/.398/.569 across two levels in the Mets system. He tied for the organizational lead in homers (23) while leading it outright in RBIs (87) and finishing third in batting average.
James Fuller, LHP: The lefty taken in the 21st round of the 2008 Draft began the season with Savannah, but he ended up with St. Lucie. Perhaps a touch old for his level (he turned 23), he nevertheless was named the South Atlantic League Most Outstanding Pitcher and an All-Star. He led the system in ERA (2.19) while striking out 124 against just 38 walks. His 1.93 ERA in the SAL would've led the league had he stuck around long enough to qualify.