The preliminary 2013 Mets prospect rankings have been unkind to Reese Havens, to say the least. He’s gone from “Mets second baseman of the future” to off of some lists entirely. This is not without good reason, though. Most Mets prospect watchers know the story of Havens all too well. He was the 22nd overall pick by the Mets in the 2008 draft, four spots after they selected Ike Davis. He started off well in both Brooklyn in 2008 and in A+ St. Lucie in 2009. While his potential has never been questioned, his problem has been his inability to stay healthy.
Last year at AA Binghamton, Havens cracked over 90 games played for just the second time in his professional career and the first time since his 2009 season in A+ St. Lucie. It was hoped that surgery after the 2010 season, in which one of his ribs was shaved to correct Rib-Tip Syndrome, would put his health concerns behind him. Although he missed time at the beginning of the season recovering, a strong ending to his 2011 season was reason for optimism. Then, 2012 happened.
Havens hit an awful .215/.340/.351 in 2012. While he has tended to have a high-ish strikeout rate, his ~29% rate in 2012 was utterly disastrous. Although he did crack 300 plate appearances, he again spent time on the disabled list. Wilmer Flores‘ promotion to AA did not help him with playing time, as it triggered a game of musical chairs in which Flores (rightfully) took playing time away at third base from Jefry Marte and second base from Havens. On the upside, he still displayed patience and hit 10 home runs.
Why should you not give up on Havens? While his ceiling on the defensive end is really about average, his hitting ability, power, and patience shows the potential for an offensively above average second baseman. At 26 years old and in a vacuum, he would certainly be considered old for a prospect. However, his injuries must be taken into account in another way. They are a red flag, obviously, but they’ve also derailed his growth. With this seemingly insufficient lack of playing time it is a wonder that some are predicting him to play at AAA Las Vegas in 2013. It may seem ridiculous to suggest a 26-year-old at AAA as being rushed, but when you factor in just how little playing time he has had as a professional it doesn’t seem so absurd.
Who do the Mets have in their system at the second base position that projects as an impact player? Phillip Evans, a 19-year-old short stop drafted in 2011, will probably slide over to second and is at this point a higher rated prospect. But he spent 2012 in Brooklyn and is still far away. There’s a chance that Flores sticks at second base, though it seems unlikely he’ll ever thrive there. Then again, the Mets haven’t been shy about shoving a square peg in a round hole and hoping for the best. The truth is, unless you believe in Flores’ ability to stick at second, there really doesn’t appear to be a clear cut “Mets second baseman of the future” in the system right now that is close to being ready.
The door is still open for Havens. Make no mistake, it’s do or die time for him. The Mets clearly haven’t given up on him, as they kept him on the 40-man roster to prevent exposing him to the Rule 5 Draft. Don’t give up on Havens either…yet.