Posted by Mack Ade at 6:45 PM
Jon Niese P L L 6' 3" 190 10-27-1986
Niese was voted Gatorade High School Baseball Player of the Year for two straight years. The Mets drafted him in the 7th round in 2005, and Niese got his feet wet at the GCL Mets, going 1-0 in 7 games, posting a 3.65 ERA and throwing 24 Ks in 24.2 IP.
Scouting report at the time: This then-19 year old lefty shows promise, but he's not a fastball pitcher and a portrait of a young Tom Glavine comes to mind. He has an excellent curve, and needs to work on the placement of his fastball and change before he can be declared a major league prospect. 2006 started strong at Low-A, where he posted a 3.93 ERA, but faded by the end of the year at St. Lucie (High-A), where his ERA went up to 4.50. Niese averaged more than a strikeout per inning thanks to his 88-91 mph fastball, which Mets officials feel will go higher as he matures. On the down side, his mechanics need refinement. He also consistently loses snap on his curveball.
OnDeck has Niese listed as the 18th Mets prospect. John Sickles pre-season rating of Niese was a C and was ranked the 19th Mets prospect. Possesses an 88-92 mph fastball that’s described as “sneaky fast.”
Gotham Baseball updated their Mets prospect list in August 2006 and Niese was ranked 6th. The Mets named Niese as co-MVP (along with Fernando Martinez) of the 2006 Hagerstown Suns (A) of the South Atlantic League. InsidePitch lists him as the 8th top Mets prospect.
In December 2006 Scout.com listed Niese as one of the top 10 Mets prospects going into 2007 and the 133rd best pitching prospect in all of baseball. Baseball Prospectus updated their top Mets prospect list in December 2006 and listed Niese as #6, with the tag of “average prospect”. John Sickles has him as the 5th top 2007 Mets prospect, with a B- rating, and the comment: “projectable lefty is a personal favorite”.
In Janaury 2007, Rotoworld ranked Niese as the 9th top Mets prospect in 2007, stating “he should be able to avoid a trip to the bullpen, but at least he does have a fallback after limiting left-handed hitters to a .317 slugging percentage last year. “
Niese is ranked high on the list of most strikeouts per batters and delivering the most ground balls per batters.
In February 2007, Scout.com ranked Niese as the 7th top Mets propect, his highest ranking to date.
In March 2007, ‘Met Heads” broke out their Top 6 Mets Pitching Prospects… Their #6 was: “Jon Niese rounds out the list at #6. Jon is another young pitcher in the Mets farm system. At age 19 Jon had a solid season in A ball. In 123 innings he had a 9.6 K/9, 4.5 BB/9, 3.93 ERA, 3.11 to mature and improve in the minor leagues.”
Niese played the entire 2007 season for St. Lucie and posted stats of 11-7, 4.29, 1.35 in 27 starts. He also had 110 Ks in 134.1 IP.
In September 2007, Baseball America ranked Niese the 21st best Florida State League pitcher in “strikeout percentage”, 24th in ‘groundout-to-flyout ratio, 5th in “top command”, and 5th in “big seasons”.
In November 2007, both BA and Scouts.com named Niese as the 8th top Mets prospect.
In December, Jonathan Mayo/MLB.com wrote:
To be fair, he was probably on the radar after leading the organization in strikeouts in 2006, his first full season, but he jumped on it a little more firmly with in 2007. His overall numbers may not look all that exciting -- a 4.29 ERA and .285 opponents' batting average -- but it's how he responded to his struggles that was impressive. After a first half that saw the then-21-year-old post a 5.31 ERA, Niese improved to 3.52 in the second half -- and 2.62 in six August starts.
In late January 2007, Baseball America ranked Niese as the 8th overall Mets prospect.
In February 2008, Baseball Prospectus named Niese a 3-star prospect and the #2 Mets prospect overall.
Also in February 2008, Rotoworld ranked Niese as the #5 Mets prospect, saying:
Niese struggled initially in the Florida State League, but he finished up with a 3.52 ERA and a 66/16 K/BB ratio in 76 2/3 innings after the All-Star break. His command has already come a long way, and improved conditioning allowed him to maintain his stamina deep into the season. It's important that Niese keep hitting his spots with his 88-90 mph fastball, as his big curve isn't likely to result in as many strikeouts at higher levels. He also needs to perfect his changeup. A future as a No. 4 starter could be possible.
ProjectProspect also came out, in February 2008, with their revised Top 150 Prospect List, and Niese made his first national prospect list, coming in at #142, adding: “substantial BB% improvement from '06 to '07, though he couldn't sustain K%; No. 4-5?”.
In March 2008, BA wrote an article on the top 10 prospects to watch out for in 2008:
Jonathan Niese, LHP - Niese showed up to Spring Training a year ago about 30 pounds overweight and paid the price for much of the season in St. Lucie as he tried to get in shape and then readjust to his body. He took better care of himself as the season wore on and had the results to show for it (a 2.62 ERA in six August starts). Now taking conditioning and, more importantly, nutrition seriously, Niese was in tip-top shape this spring and has looked very sharp. He's got a very smooth delivery and repeats his mechanics well. That enables him to throw his fastball, changeup and his best pitch, a 12-to-6 curve, for strikes at any point in the count. With the lesson learned, Niese could step up and help fill the void left by the departures of Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra. He'll begin the year in Binghamton's rotation.
In June 2008, BA did a post-draft adjustment of their top 10 Mets prospects and Niese was ranked #4, with the comments: “4. Jon Niese, lhp Quietly having success in Double-A at age 21, he owns three solid pitches. “
In late July, Rotoworld’s came out with their mid-season adjusted Top 150 Prospect List and Niese was ranked 98th , with a June 2009 ETA.
In late July 2008, ProjectProspect.com updated their top 10 Mets prospect list and he was ranked #4
ScoutingBook updated their Top 200 2009 Prospect List in late July 2008:
Up to #129 - Jon Niese - A wiry left-hander with a deadly curve, Jon Niese is a dark-horse pitching prospect who has a shot at the Mets rotation in 2009. A graduate of the same high school as Chad Billingsley, Niese will start 2008 at AA, but he has the maturity and guile to move up quickly. He has a nice fastball and a heavy sinker, but he needs another year or two to refine his other pitches. If he can do that, he might be a front-of-rotation starter, though he could help out in the bullpen or back-end long before that.
Niese will have to be added to the 40-man roster by 11-20-09, or he will become eligible for the 2010 Rule V draft.
Jon was a late call-up by the Mets in 2008 after posting a combined 11-8,3.13 record in Binghamton and New Orleans.
Niese won the 2008 Sterling Award as the the top Met pitcher in the system.