Mets Minors: Reviewing MLB.com’s Mets top prospects: Part III

#11 Juan Lagares:

What They Said – ‘Since signing at age 16 out of the Dominican, Lagares had moved slowly up the Mets’ ladder. He played at two levels in 2011 and actually hit for a higher average in Double-A, but he struggled to repeat that success at the same level in 2012. He makes consistent contact and doesn’t strike out much, but he also doesn’t walk and doesn’t profile to have too much power. A converted infielder, Lagares has done well in the outfield, even if his bat doesn’t profile perfectly for a corner spot.’

What I Thought – I thought that Lagares would need to develop power in a hurry to be of value to the Mets MLB club in any serious capacity.  Sure he had a .873 OPS in A+ and a .903 in AAA for 2011, but did anyone see Lagares extra base hits and say, “This kid is a corner outfielder.”?  No!  He hits for average and can play around the OF (only sorta in center) and that means he’s no more than a 4th OF to me.

What We Got – A triple slash of .283/.334/.389, an OPS of .723 and 93 K’s in 130 games.  None of that is bad… but none of it is “Good” either.  It says to me that my projection of Lagares being a 4th OF with a little bit of power and a little bit of speed is pretty darn accurate.  When the Mets don’t pay to bring back Scott Hairston, Lagares does have a shot to be the righty OF reserve guy (but I’m pretty sure that’s Jason Bay).

#12 Matt Den Dekker:

What They Said – ‘After struggling with Double-A pitching at the end of 2011, the 2010 senior sign took advantage of his second stint at the level in 2012, batting .340 and slugging .563 in 58 games with Binghamton. Den Dekker earned a promotion to Triple-A Buffalo in mid-June and once against saw his production fall during his first look at a higher level. To be an everyday outfielder, he’ll have to be more consistent with the bat, but he has the potential to do so. If not, he still has a future as a very good fourth outfielder.’

What I Thought – I wanted to think the power was real.  I didn’t know what to think though.  He struck out a ton but if he could ever figure out how to use all his tools and get on base frequently enough he could be Carlos Beltran Lite.  A 20/30 threat who might not hit .300 but could certainly produce a .250 average.  Also… a guy I thought would be the starting center fielder in Queens by the middle of 2013.

What We Got – Again… it’s hard to say.  Matt Den Dekker earned a promotion to AAA and his power numbers proved to be real, but there are lingering ISSUES.  154 strikeouts in 135 games is not a realistic number for a major league player.  He needs to learn to make contact because, when he does, it goes a long way.  On the positive side, he basically repeated his 2011:

  • 2011: 139 Games, 143 Hits, 32 Doubles, 11 Triples, 17 Homers, .265/.337/.460 and a .797 OPS (156 Ks)
  • 2012: 135 Games, 146 Hits, 31 Doubles, 8 Triples, 17 Homers, .274/.321/.458 and a .779 OPS (154 Ks)

Both years he dominated in the league he started the year in.  He crushed Port St. Lucie in 2011 and then faded in Binghamton.  He crushed Binghamton in 2012 and then faded in Bufalo.  I’ll gladly take crushing Buffalo (or wherever) and then fading in Queens in 2013 and then crushing Queens in 2014.  Anyone else on board with that?

#13 Cory Mazzoni:

What They Said – ‘The Mets moved Mazzoni into a starting role in 2012, after using him in relief during his pro debut. He hasn’t fared as well as a starter, struggling with command and striking out fewer batters. The North Carolina State product has an excellent fastball, a curve and a splitter. He throws strikes, maintains velocity deep into starts and has a pretty clean delivery. The Mets know, though, that if starting doesn’t work out, it looks like he could move very quickly as a power-armed reliever. The Mets have continued to challenge him, promoting him to Double-A Binghamton in mid-June.’

What I Thought – As a stat guy, I hadn’t seen enough of Cory Mazzoni to have much of an opinion.  He had thrown 13 ho-hum innings for the Mets as a reliever.  How excited was I supposed to be?

What We Got – Cory began the year in Port St. Lucie.  He pitched 12 games and averaged 5.3 innings per start.  The H/9: 9.0, BB/9: 2.3 and K/9: 6.8 were all relatively normal and not something that excites me all that much.  He DID pitch well enough to be promoted to AA where in 14 games he averaged 5.76 innings per start.  The H/9: 10.0, BB/9 2.2 and K/9: 6.2 are still not impressive to me.  He throws hard (mid-90s with 97 as an upper threshold) but unless he gets more swing and miss moments or lowers his hits, I fail to see him being much more than a #5 pitcher.

#14 Jefry Marte:

What They Said – ‘Once upon a time, Marte was a highly-regarded prospect in the Mets system, one who ranked highly on various organizational lists. But his star had faded as he struggled in A-ball the last few seasons, though he was a Futures Game participant in 2011. Still very young, Marte has plenty of time to figure things out, and he was doing just that in Double-A in 2012, taking lessons from a strong Arizona Fall League campaign and an improved approach at the plate, showing flashes of the kinds of results people once thought he was capable of.’

What I Thought – After 2011?  I didn’t think much of Jefry Marte but after a successful AFL I was at least paying attention.  To me, Marte hadn’t shown the consistency, defense or power for me to be enthusiastic but I was at least paying attention, right?

What We Got – Marte got bumped up to Binghamton early, because Wilmer Flores was being bumped to 3rd base.  Jefry made the most of the Met decision and played REALLY well for the beginning of the year.  He got hits and for a while… it looked like Marte threw a monkey wrench into Wilmer Flores’ plans because now, Marte was demanding attention at AA.  After a year of stats in the books… I’m thinking my lack of excitement was correct.  .256/.322/.366 and a .687 OPS is not a major league 3B.  A .939 Fld% in 107 games is not a major league 3B.  To say the least… I wasn’t super impressed.  The Nice thing is, he’s 21 and with Flores blown by him, he can repeat AA and get a second chance.

#15 Wilfredo Tovar:

What They Said – ‘Known initially for his defensive prowess as a shortstop, Tovar has steadily improved his offensive game to make him a more intriguing all-around prospect. He’s played both second and short in the Minors, but he would have no problem playing shortstop every-day defensively, with outstanding rang and a strong arm. His hitting remains a work in progress, but he’s shown an ability to make contact, not strike out and even draw a few walks. He’s never going to hit for much power, but his glove and his contact skills should allow him to keep climbing the ladder. He reached Double-A in 2012 at age 20.’

What I Thought – I thought of Wilfredo Tovar as Ruben Tejada Mk II.  He was good on defense and while he could hit A LITTLE, he wasn’t going to have the power or speed to be a major impact player for the Mets.

What We Got – Between A+ and AA… we basically got what I thought.  He hits (.706 OPS) but not enough power (2 HRs) or speed (14 SBs) to get overly excited about.  The good news here is that at the very worst he’d already be a serviceable reserve IF.  So if he can continue to play this well and maybe get his OBP higher, he can still become a starter.  This just isn’t the level of prospect to get too excited about.

#16 Juan Urbina:

What They Said – ‘The son of former big league reliever Ugueth Urbina, the lefty hasn’t put up the prettiest numbers in three summers, but he’s still shown flashes of his very high upside. He has a great arm and the chance to have a very exciting three-pitch mix. In 2012, he didn’t start pitching until late June, when he joined the Brooklyn Cyclones bullpen in the short season New York-Penn League. After just five innings, he left for rookie-level Kingsport, where he continued to pitch in relief.’

What I Thought – Of the three power arms of the Mets Low A group, Juan Urbina was the lowest on my totem pole.  Sure, he is Ugeth’s son and has a powerful arm for a lefty, but I just couldn’t see him being more than a reliever and even then… his control was bad.

What We Got – There’s the good: His K/9 is over 9.0 (11.9) … then there’s the bad: So is his BB/9 (9.9).  I don’t think there is much to say besides the kid has no control over his pitches and no value to the future team until he does.

#17 Cory Vaughn:

What They Said – ‘Another prospect with Major League bloodlines, the son of Greg Vaughn started out well in his full-season debut in 2011, making the South Atlantic League All-Star team and earning a promotion. Things didn’t go as well in the Florida State League as his averages across the board plummeted, but he started to right the ship in 2012 during his second stint in High A ball, adding some power to the mix. He still has the skills — some power, some speed — to profile as a toolsy right fielder, but he’ll have to prove a mastery of the level at before moving on.’

What I Thought – I was REALLY high on Vaughn.  I think he had the tools to be a corner OF and I had hoped his strong Spring Training would carry into the regular season.

What We Got – The Spring Training performance DID carry into the regular season.  Vaughn was HUGE to start the year, but his natural streaky hitting got the better of him and his low points dragged and dragged and dragged.  He did manage to take the lead for the system in terms of homers and should punch his ticket to AA to start 2013 but he needs to be FAR more consistent to be of any lingering value to the Mets.  If he can balance his highs and lows, he’s got the chops to be a starting RF in the majors (Speed and Power) but that could be said for a lot of minor leaguers.  Oh yeah… he’s still Greg Vaughn’s kid.

5 comments for “Mets Minors: Reviewing MLB.com’s Mets top prospects: Part III

  1. Mack Ade
    September 9, 2012 at 4:11 am

    This is just my opinion.

    1. Cory Vaughn has the overall talent to get to the majors is someone would make him do things no one else has made him do in the past, including his father.

    2. It’s hard to describe Vaugn’s swing. It’s choppy and wrist like and is only designed for him to hit balls out of the park. He has proven he can do that well, but this same swing will never consistently create enough other hits to BA at a passable level. Everyone who scouts this kid agrees on the samw thing, so you’d think his batting coach would do something about it, right?

    3. Benny DeStefano has been Vaughn’s hitting coach for two years and enjoys a “special” relationship with him and Darrell Ceccilini. They act like three kids in the same frat house and, IMO, DeStefano has not addressed this issue, among others. This is the same coach that allowed DC to talk him into allowing him to come back too early TWICE from a now 2-year old hammy problem.

    This would all go away if you break up this vaudeville act and get Vaughn a hard ass batting coach that will set the law down about Vaughn’s swing. Frankly, if this was a voting issue by the players, I don’t think DeStefano woill be around next year.

    • David Groveman
      September 10, 2012 at 8:49 am

      Wonderful color on Vaughn’s swing etc…

      Thanks Mack!

  2. Metsense
    September 10, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    It seems that Tovar can field at the major league level but can’t hit enough. He will be good insurance at the AAA level in case of an injury to Tejada. In a few years Muno or Cecchini will pass him on the depth chart and Tovar will be forgotten. (unless he learns to hit).
    MDD will get a chance to compete for the starting CF job with Nieuwenhuis and Valdespin.“He a good defender,” the scout said. “He throws good enough. He’s got some power — not great power, but he’s got some power. He’s making adjustments. I’ve been there [to watch Binghamton] three times. Every time he’s gotten better with the bat. He’s not flailing. He’s not trying to pull the ball. He’s making adjustments. It looks natural. He will cut down on his strikeouts with this new approach. He’s more patient. He’s going to be OK. I was prepared to not like this kid. He’s really won me over. It’s going to be a very spirited competition for center field between him and Nieuwenhuis, who are both better than Torres.” 6/13/12 I don’t forsee any of the three being better than an average major league CF.
    The other five mentioned in the article will probably never have an impact at the major league level.
    Great articles David.
    .

    • Mack Ade
      September 10, 2012 at 12:51 pm

      This is what always pisses me of about Mets draft picks.

      We keep having to say “he’ll get better, he’ll gain 100 pounds of muscle, and he’ll grow a third arm, and…” etc.

      Meaning, all you had do do was draft Giancarlo Stanton in 2007, Ike Davis in 2008 (they did), Will Myers in 2009, Yazmani Grandal in 2010, Brandon Nimmo in 2011 (they did) and Courtney Hawkins in 2012. This is what your team could have looked like if they picked the obvious ‘bat’ available on the board after their first pick.

      The Mets made the right choice two out of five times whiich ranks them in the top end of teams.

      You may be asking too much for people like den Dekker and Muno.

      The system currently has three potential every day major leage bats: Aderlin Rodriguez, Wilmer Flores, and Nimmo. You want more, you have to even sign or draft more.

      You still need more bats? Get on the phone like all the other teams do this time of the year.

    • September 10, 2012 at 1:29 pm

      I’m not sure why we should plan on Cecchini surpassing Tovar. Now, I understand that it’s a mistake to take a player’s season right after signing and claim that’s his true talent level. After all Chipper Jones had a .592 OPS in the GULF after he was drafted. But it’s not like the polished Cecchini tore things up in the APPY this year

      As an 18-year-old, Tovar saw time in Hi-A while Cecchini got a few games in at Brooklyn. Two years from now, are you confident that Cecchini will post a .762 OPS at SLU and get a promotion to Double-A like Tovar did this year? I’m not saying it’s impossible – I’m just saying it’s not a given.

      Tovar needs to go back to Double-A but the fact that he reached that level at age 20 (and not under the Minaya/Bernazard promote players too fast method, either) is a pretty good thing. I think it’s too soon to be capping his upside as MLB backup and projecting him being passed on the depth chart by a guy like Muno, who is three years older and who comes with a PED suspension earlier this year.

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