Mets Minors: Outfield of dreams (nightmares)

The Mets’ biggest concern in the offseason (after securing the futures of David Wright and R.A. Dickey… or trading them) is making something out of the nothing that is the New York Met outfield.  Filled with vaunted names like Jason Bay, Lucas Duda, Mike Baxter, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Jordany Valdespin, the outfield leaves quite a lot to be desired.  The obvious solution (barring an investment of money) is to trade for outfield help… but that requires both and investment of money and an investment of prospects or solid controlled players.  The obvious solution doesn’t really gel with the Met issues of not having the money to even keep David Wright on the team, so let’s just look at the names in the farm who could eventually come up to help.

Matt Den Dekker, 26 [L] (LF, CF, RF): Den Dekker is an interesting name on this list because he’s both so close and so far from helping the Mets.  I’m betting on Den Dekker winning the starting CF job this spring (unless the Mets sign someone) because he’s simply got more potential and better defense than anyone else.  His power is well above average for a centerfielder while his speed numbers are probably average to below average.  The speed is more about base running smarts than his physical speed, which is pretty good.  The big issue with Den Dekker is his TOTAL lack of patience at the plate which led to catastrophic strikeout numbers in AAA.  (Due 2013)

Juan Lagares, 24 [R] (LF, RF): Lagares is not super intriguing as of yet but I’m betting he’s called pretty quickly for two important reasons.  One: He’s a righty and the Met outfield only has one of those listed right now (Jason Bay).  Two: He’s going to be hitting in Las Vegas and I think you will see a lot of power numbers become a little inflated over what we would see if the Met’s AAA affiliate were staying in Buffalo.  Lagares has fair speed and below average power but does swing for contact.  He’d be a solid #4 or #5 OF on most teams, being used as a right handed pinch hitter and pinch runner as the case was called for.  I just don’t see a starting player in my crystal ball.  (Due 2013)

Alonzo Harris, 24 [R] (LF, CF, RF): A dark horse to win a starting outfield job this spring, Harris (a converted second baseman) actually has the ability to help the Mets right away.  The Mets have been hard at work with Harris for the past couple of years and the results are evident.  In 2010: Harris had 90 Ks and 20 BBs, in 2011: Harris had 65 Ks and 28 BBs and in 2012: Harris had 66 Ks and 44 BBs.  All of this begins to round Harris into a leadoff hitter.  Perhaps even a leadoff hitter with a little power: 23 2Bs, 7 3Bs and 8 HRs.  The question is, How quickly can a player who has not played above High A be ready for the majors.  At 24 I would actually argue that the Mets might behoove themselves to give him a real shot as early as Spring Training. (Due 2014)

Cesar Puello, 22 [R] (LF, CF, RF): People love what they see physically but Puello has yet to put everything together for an entire season.  He’s got speed (Stole 45  bases in 2010), power (Slugged: .423 in 2012) and people like his work in the field.  His issue is less definable than Den Dekker’s, he strikes out too much but not on the same level of craziness.  Puello’s issue is that he does not walk… almost at all.  In 66 games he only walked 7 times and there are jokes on Met Blogs about him not being likely to take a single walk in the entire AFL.  All and all he needs 1-2 more seasons in the minors before he becomes a thought for the majors. (Due 2015)

Cory Vaughn, 24 [R] (LF, CF, RF): The son of former great, Greg Vaughn is up in most power rankings, but the Grand Slam hitter we saw in 2010 just isn’t there.  Vaughn is one of the most powerful Mets in the minor leagues and he notched 23 homers in 2012.  He also managed 21 stolen bases  (only caught 3 times).  The issue with him is in two parts.  Part A: Vaughn swings for the fences.  This leads to a less than spotless average and a high strikeout rate.  Part B: Vaughn is either REALLY hot or REALLY cold.  He’ll go weeks where his OPS is well over 1.000 but he’ll also go months where his batting average is beneath the Mendoza line (See June 2012).  He’s a touch old and needs to get in gear but the Mets might actually be wise to give him a full year in AA and AAA without even considering the majors and option. (Due 2014)

Brandon Nimmo, 20 [L] (LF, CF, RF): Nimmo only just graduated from the NYP short-season A-Ball league but he’s on the radar for the Met outfield ahead of many other names.  Because he’s only had limited experience it’s hard to say too much or project Nimmo anywhere, but we can see that Nimmo was ready for the challenge of Brooklyn, which is a step in the right direction.  Some of us bloggers suggest that the Mets would be well served by advancing Nimmo past Low-A and directly into Port St. Lucie.  I’m in this camp and I’ll give you a few reasons why.  One: Savannah is a BAD place for power.  Nimmo could suffer a very discouraging year if the Mets send him to Savannah and he continues to approach the game as a power hitter.  Two: The Mets need him ready sooner than later.  I’m not so sure that the pitching in High-A vastly exceeds that seen in Low-A and we see other players skipped from Short Season A to High-A all the time.  If the Mets want Nimmo in the Met outfield before 2016 they need him in Port St. Lucie in 2013.  Three: Port St. Lucie is the “Home Base” of the Met system.  It’s the place where Nimmo can get a taste of true pro camp and also the place where Met regulars will go to rehab injury.  It seems like a good nest for the Met prospect.  I’d like to see Nimmo run… a little.  I just want to see 10 or more stolen bases in 2013 to prove he can do it.  Otherwise… Nimmo is still 2-3 seasons away from being in Queens. (Due 2015)

Vicente Lupo, 20 [R] (LF, RF): Can we trust numbers from the DSL?  Not really.  Can we get excited about .343/.500/.608/1.108?  I don’t know about you… but I certainly am.  Lupo will be placed in either Brooklyn or Kingsport and will need to stay strong or risk being quickly forgotten but those are the only offensive SUPERSTAR numbers that I can see in the Met farm system.  If he manages to put up those numbers state-side… he’s in the top 5 prospects to start 2014. (Due 2016)

15 comments for “Mets Minors: Outfield of dreams (nightmares)

  1. David Groveman
    October 15, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    In the end, I think I’m calling for Alonzo Harris to get a legitimate shot at cracking the team this spring.

    • Hobie
      October 15, 2012 at 3:44 pm

      Dave,
      NO thought of a Flores OF experiment? Just asking.

      • David Groveman
        October 15, 2012 at 4:28 pm

        Look, I’m the guy who kept suggesting Flores for catcher so I’m willing to be creative but bad range is bad range and bad range in the outfield is really not good. If you wanted to get creative and we re-upped Wright, he’s the guy you ask about the outfield.

  2. TJ
    October 15, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    Dave,
    Good stuff. Harris is intriguing, but I just can’t see Harris making the jump from A+. At 24, Binghamton would be the logical starting point and go from there. Remember that Den Dekker tore it up at A and AA, even with high K rates. He is the closest, but he needs to make huge strides in his Ks and BBs. He should get a lift from hitting in Vegas, but he will need to show the discipline to hold back on the free swinging and demonstrate some command of the strike zone in order to make it to the show.

  3. Charles
    October 15, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    I think Kirk has the inside track on center to start the year. I would think any trades that might happen would be to increase power on the corners. Den Dekker did great in A+ & AA, but needs more time to mature at the plate. I don’t think there’s a chance in hell Harris overtakes those two guys before 2015. Plus, Den Dekker is a gold glove caliber outfielder with pop. If he can cut his strikeouts, he’s the one to watch. Normally, I’d say 2013 will be like watching a 2012 recap…but Sandy all but said he’s changing this team through trades. That tells me that no one is safe.

    Think of all the talent the A’s traded away last offseason yet still won their division. Knowing that, no matter who is dealt, we all must wait it out and hope for the best. 2014 is when they will really be free to maneuver. 2015 is when it all(free agent spending/minors) should come together for this team.

    What do I want for Christmas? Jason Bay to man up and retire. Where is his pride? Yes THEY sign him, but wow, even he must know cashing those checks is criminal.

    • Name
      October 15, 2012 at 7:48 pm

      It would be nice if Jason Bay were willing to retire and forgo his contract and retire, or even defer his payments, but he won’t.

      When you’re young, you’re underpaid, and when you’re old you’re overpaid. That’s how the system works in MLB now. It has its positives and negatives. You can’t really call it criminal that he’s getting this much money for doing nothing now, because when he was a rookie he was productive yet he was getting paid chump change(in terms of mlb). Free Agency is all about compensating the players for the work they did during their arbitration and pre-arbitration years. That’s why i believe that FA contracts are usually not worth it(and long-term contracts are Never worth it)

      • TJ
        October 15, 2012 at 9:52 pm

        FYI – Gil Meche recently retired and left $11 mil on the table for the KC Royals. Due to injuries and ineffectiveness, he chose to not hold the Royals to the final year of the deal. It is far fetched to thing Bay would do this, but it is not unprecedented.

        • Name
          October 15, 2012 at 10:22 pm

          Yea, i know all about Gil Meche, but cases like that aren’t the norm.

          Apart from performance related issues, there’s really only 2 things that will cause a player to retire.
          1. Injuires
          2. Family reasons

          I bet if you asked all the ballplayers, they would tell you they would like to play baseball forever. After all, they are getting paid to play a game. Millions of childs aspire to be them, and millions of adults wish they were them.

          So, there’s really no good reason for Bay to retire. I’m sure he still wants to play.

          • Mack Ade
            October 16, 2012 at 2:33 pm

            Jason Bay will NOT walk away from the money.

            He’s a businessman first and always has been.

    • David Groveman
      October 16, 2012 at 12:35 pm

      Skipping from A+ to the bigs is a little silly and I’m not suggesting the Mets “Just Do That.” I’m suggesting that Harris (who needs to be protected from the Rule V draft) be given reps in Pro Spring-Training as he is the closest thing to a lead-off hitter in the Met system.

  4. 7rain
    October 15, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    Most of the players that skip A- are college players. Ike Davis and Matt Harvey for instance who played three years at Arizona State North Carolina respectively and were 22, Nimmos’ 20 next year.

    I don’t think getting a hold of one and having it run down will demoralize Nimmo and might even help develop his line drive swing as well as be invaluable in learning proper routes. What could demoralize Nimmo is being abused by advanced pitching and having his already too high strikeout rate balloon leading to a demotion. That would be the worst case scenario.

    You can’t make up for the lack of work done in prior years by rushing talented but raw kids to the Majors to make up for it. The goal is to get the most out of Nimmo, not try to make up for neglecting the outfield in the system for years. If he’s ready we’ll know it and he can be moved up at that point. Savannah is the right destination for him and I don’t see St. Lucie in his future until 2014 and Queens 2016-2017.

    Till then we’ll just have to do what everyone else does when they fail to prepare. Get a bookmark.

    I don’t see Harris getting a real shot in ST either. The jump from A+ to the Majors is huge. He does have some serious advantages over some of our other prospects though. Right handed, neutral platoon splits, low strikeouts, good BB/K rate, steals bases and he can play two positions. LF or CF. I would hope for AA and AAA with a September call up but I wouldn’t mind being wrong one bit.

    • Mack Ade
      October 15, 2012 at 8:11 pm

      I’ll play the bad guy…

      Live with 2013

      Play Bay, Kirk, and Duda

      keep your rotation and infield intact

      stay on track for 2014

      • Willis
        October 15, 2012 at 8:18 pm

        2/3 right, I think. The Mets have to acquire an outfielder. They just have to do it. One if those AZ guys will do for now. They can get Young for near nothing.

        • 7rain
          October 15, 2012 at 11:02 pm

          Just don’t expect those Arizona guys to hit like their in Arizona. Check out Aaron Hill’s before and during Arizona experience and turn it around for a very likely result.

          I still say the best trade(s) we can make are for someone’s prospects in A+ or AA because we would get better talent and more chances that way.

          I also don’t see how Upton or Young’s salaries fit into the 2013 budget.

  5. October 15, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    I don’t think the desert air in Las Vegas is going to make a difference like it did in Denver. The temperature for June,July and August will make it impossible to play day games. Elevation is only 2,000 ft.above sea level.It’s not like they’re playing in Albuquerque,New Mexico(PCL).I do agree with Mack and take our lumps for 1 more year and plan for 2014 when Johan and Jason’s salaries are no longer an issue.

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