Mets' top prospect Niese expected to start Tuesday vs. Brewers

Updated: September 1, 2008, 12:46 AM ET
Associated Press

MIAMI -- Top New York Mets pitching prospect Jonathon Niese will be called up from Triple-A New Orleans to make his major league debut in the heat of the playoff race Tuesday against Milwaukee.

Eight other players also will join the Mets on Monday when the active roster can be expanded to 40 players. They include pitching prospect Robert Parnell, three relievers and infielder-outfielder Marlon Anderson, who will be activated after spending a month on the disabled list with a hamstring injury.

Niese will take the rotation spot left vacant when right-hander John Maine was placed on the 15-day disabled list a week ago because of a bone spur in his right shoulder.

"We think very highly of Jonathon Niese," vice president for development Tony Bernazard said Sunday. "He's a 21-year-old that we expect to be an important member of this organization.

"You have to perform at some point, and it happens to be Tuesday against a very good team. Let's see what he has. We'll find out a lot about where we're at with him in the next month."

Niese was a seventh-round draft pick in 2005. The left-hander went 5-1 with a 3.40 ERA in seven starts for New Orleans.

The NL East-leading Mets also will bolster their shaky bullpen. Joining them Monday will be recently acquired right-hander Al Reyes from Double-A Binghamton and two pitchers from New Orleans -- right-hander Carlos Muniz and left-hander Ricardo Rincon.

"We're getting some extra bodies," manager Jerry Manuel said. "We're a little banged up, just like everybody else this time of year. We have to do what we can to keep getting it done."

Closer Billy Wagner, sidelined since Aug. 3 with a strained elbow, is scheduled for a bullpen session Monday in New York. If it goes well, the next step might be for Wagner to pitch in a game for the Mets' Class A affiliate in Brooklyn.

"He's improving," Bernazard said. "He's feeling much better."

Also joining the Mets from New Orleans will be right-hander Parnell, infielder Ramon Martinez, catcher Molina and infielder Argenis Reyes.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press