Future Mets outfielders show promise

Mets outfield prospects turning heads

Hot topic: He is listed at 6 feet and 180 pounds. The height may be a bit generous. When Fernando Martinez swings, though, he looks significantly taller. His left-handed bat moves easily through the strike zone and he drives to ball to all fields.

His power to left-center field is extraordinary for a player of any size, but one of his size and age -- he's 18 -- isn't supposed to reach the places in the outfield Martinez regularly reaches in batting practice.

He creates something of a dilemma for the Mets. Who should they gush about? Martinez is as talented as he is young. But fellow outfielder Carlos Gomez is more advanced and likely to reach the big leagues sooner, maybe even by the end of the 2007, but certainly by the end of the 2008 season.

The club's whispered fantasy is to have Martinez (probably in left) and Gomez flanking Carlos Beltran when the new ballpark, Citi Field, opens in 2009.

On the move: Catcher Mike Nickeas turned 24 two days before the first day of batters-only workouts and has turned heads as well. Thought to be a "catch and throw guy," he has impressed the staff with his skills as a receiver. But the Mets say they have been pleasantly surprised by his swing, too.

Names in the game: This name is quite familiar to Mets fans and quite popular with them too. Howard Johnson, the third baseman from the highly successful Mets teams of 1985-91, has been appointed first-base coach with the big- league team. A three-time 30-30 man, HoJo will work with baserunners and enjoy his renewed relationship with David Wright, who considers him "my baseball father."

Class of '06: The Mets have seen more than they expected from Kevin Mulvey, the right-handed pitcher they selected in the third round last year. Mulvey has modest numbers, pitching for Villanova in the Big East, which hardly is a baseball conference. But the staff has been struck by his velocity (91-93 mph) and his ability to throw four pitches for strikes.

What they're saying: "It's been a good pitch for me. My name is pretty plain. My nickname [Smitty] is pretty plain. I had to have something unique." -- Joe Smith, the right-handed sidearm pitcher from Wright State

Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.