Don’t give up on Reese Havens … yet

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.

12 comments for “Don’t give up on Reese Havens … yet

  1. Tommy2cat
    January 27, 2013 at 9:22 am

    Havens should play at AAA Las Vegas to be within his own age group and to enjoy a hitter-friendly environment. To paraphrase Yogi, fifty percent of hitting is 90% mental, or something like that. In any event, Havens could use some sunshine in a hitter-friendly environment without feeling like an old man.

    I haven’t given up on him. The question is whether he hasn’t. I believe he has the tools. The Dude needs a little self-esteem and AAA Vegas is just what the doctor ordered.


    • January 27, 2013 at 9:43 am

      You bring up an excellent point about confidence. I went to a couple of B-Mets games in 2012 and he kind of just LOOKED down. Sort of low-energy. Maybe that had to do with confidence? Then again, I’ve read that he’s a really mellow, unemotional (externally) player. So who knows? Besides him, at least.

      I think it really depends on what they end up doing with Flores. They both need reps at 2B, but for different reasons. If they start Flores at AAA, or expect to after a short while, maybe it’s best for Havens to remain (yet again) at AA? In order to get confidence, he actually needs to play.

  2. David Groveman
    January 27, 2013 at 9:41 am

    I love Reese but he is on his last stand.

    Danny Muno is likely the next 2B on my radar.

    • January 27, 2013 at 9:56 am

      I was really high on the Mets drafting of Muno in 2010 and he did actually make the shift to 2B in 2012. I was a bit put off by his PED suspension, but he seems to have an advanced approach at the plate. I’ve seen him pegged as ultimately a utility infielder at best, and I’m not quite sure why.

      What are you thoughts?

  3. January 27, 2013 at 9:45 am

    What Havens is trying to do now – carve out a useful career as a second baseman while making his MLB debut after the age of 25 – is nearly unprecedented in the past 25 years. Everyone will point to Dan Uggla, and it’s basically he and Junior Spivey and that’s it, but Uggla is not really a worthy comparison.

    Uggla was healthy and generally more productive, especially from a HR standpoint. In the year before he was exposed in the Rule 5 Draft, Uggla had an .880 OPS. Havens had a .691 OPS last year.

    The Mets are lucky they didn’t lose anyone in Rule 5 by protecting Havens. I’ve always liked Havens and I’m rooting for him to turn things around in Las Vegas. But I’m also rooting for Charlie Brown to not have the football yanked away from him when he tries to kick it. The odds seem about the same …

    • January 27, 2013 at 9:58 am

      True enough. However, if he’s able to actually stay healthy at any point I think he has the skill set to at least be a nice bench piece. Which, sadly, is more that he actually showed potential for in 2012.

  4. AV
    January 27, 2013 at 10:56 am

    Glad to see I’m not the only one not yet willing to give up on Havens. I’m glad you mentioned the apparent lack of self esteem in his body language at Binghamton. I suspected that based on what happened in Spring Training last year, when he hurt his back almost immediately after Terry Collins said he was looking forward to watching Havens play in camp. It seemed from the reports I read like he was playing not to get hurt last year so it helps that someone that watched him play can confirm that.

  5. Charles
    January 27, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    Nelson Cruz and Jose Bautista….just two examples of players that needed a lot more time to grow into the player that their ability suggested they could be.

    Last spring training, when asked which player he was most excited to see on the field, Terry Collins said Reese Havens. Of course, Havens showed up, hurt his back and had a lousy year. I’d suggest that since Reese always produced when he was healthy and in the lineup, I think Reese was most likely feeling a lingering back issue all year and was afraid to come out of the lineup. He knows the clock is ticking. Who knows, maybe the time off has recharged those batteries.

  6. TJ
    January 28, 2013 at 8:37 am

    Good references. I am still hopeful for Reese, but he really needs a healthy and productive year in 2013. If not, he is the type of guy I can see resurfacing on another team in a couple of years and tearing it up. Maybe that’s the paranoid Met fan in me, but it would really help the team if he got back on track in Vegas and stayed healthy.

  7. Joe Vasile
    January 28, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    I don’t know about Havens. It seems from his 2012 production that the injuries and subsequent development time that was missed has finally caught up to him. I’m ready to give up on him, but I’ll still be rooting for him to carve out a useful major league career. Doesn’t seem likely at this point though.

  8. Metsense
    January 29, 2013 at 7:50 am

    The Mets really need to play Flores at 2B in AAA. If Havens is the casualty, so be it. If he wants to play MLBball he is going to have to push his way forward. If he is deserving he will find a way to make it happen even if it starts at AA. Flores is the priority now.

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