The Alonzo Harris solution

Three of the things that are quite obvious about the 2013 version of the New York Mets are that the outfield situation is not ideal (to put it nicely), they lack a true leadoff hitter, and they lack speed. As an extension of their lack of speed, they lack a real base-stealing threat. The Mets were 14th in the National League and 27th in the MLB in stolen bases last year.

This spring, the Mets have invited 42 players to their STEP program, an early camp for their bigger name/more advanced minor leaguers. Among those players were 7 outfielders: Darrell Ceciliani, Gilbert Gomez, Dustin Lawley, Brandon Nimmo, Travis Taijeron, Cory Vaughn, and Alonzo Harris. There is only one player on that list who has the potential to alleviate all three of the aforementioned shortcomings and could do so relatively soon: Harris.

The 23-year-old Harris, drafted by the Mets in the 39th round of the 2007 draft, is a converted second baseman who saw most of his time last year in the outfield in A+ St. Lucie. He split time between center field and left field, but played 77 of his 116 games in center. He didn’t start really playing the outfield until 2011 but, defensively, so far so good.

Harris had an excellent 2012 season in St. Lucie and won the Mets 2012 Florida State League (FSL) Sterling Award. He hit .287/.354/.424 with 8 home runs and seven triples. He ranked third in stolen bases (40) and tenth in hits (127) in the FSL. In the second half of 2012 he really turned it up, hitting .306/.368/.433 with 5 home runs and 28 stolen bases.

Of particular note are his improvements in strikeouts (SO) and walks (BB) over the course of his five seasons in the system, especially in the last three seasons.

Year Team(s) PA SO SO% BB BB%
2008 GCL Mets 117 23 19.7 9 7.6
2009 KSPT/SAV 303 67 22.1 19 6.3
2010 SAV 417 90 21.6 20 4.8
2011 SAV 400 65 16.3 28 7
2012 STL 494 66 13.3 44 8.9

These improvements are very encouraging. He’s also a right-handed hitter, something the Mets could use more of in the outfield. His splits in 2012 were a bit stark, but not too bad. He hit .253/.326/.379 against righties and .353/.409/.513 against lefties.

Right-handed hitting outfielder? Check. Speed? Check. Capable lead-off hitter? Check. If he can bring his production up a tick against righties then he has a chance to be a good starting centerfielder with a bit of pop. If not, he could still be a good 4th outfielder with speed off the bench or a very capable platoon player.

In reality the Mets have plenty of 4th outfielder types, so this is an important year for Harris as he’s teetering on the edge of becoming a non-prospect. He should be pegged to start the year at AA Binghamton but continued improvement and a big year could help him force his way onto the big league team, especially if the outfield ends up being as atrocious as everyone says it will. He’s one to keep an eye on in 2013.

8 comments for “The Alonzo Harris solution

  1. February 24, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    I understand the guy is 23 and has been in the minors for years, but do you really think he can make the jump from St. Lucie to Queens in one year?

    • February 24, 2013 at 12:40 pm

      I’d be surprised if he doesn’t start the year at AA, and from there it’s really a matter of him continuing to perform. Of course, if he does start the year at Hi-A for some reason he’ll just need to continue what he did last year and it shouldn’t be too long before he sees AA.

      That being said, there’s always the chance he stumbles in AA. It’s a pretty significant jump from Hi-A to AA, so he’ll need to successfully make that jump (which is no small task).

  2. HarryDoyle
    February 24, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    What are the odds he sticks at CF? I doubt he would provide enough offense to start at LF. If he can’t cut it at center, I think his ceiling is a utility guy.

    • February 25, 2013 at 4:23 pm

      Well, he definitely has the speed for CF. He’s not a butcher out there, but he’s still learning the position.

  3. Yazzy
    March 6, 2013 at 9:12 am

    Harris may have a future in centerfield but it is not prudent to have him jump from A minors to the Mets. He needs to start in Binghamton at double AA and make his way from there. He is still learning the outfield as he is a converted infielder. Again, Alderson has made many mistakes but did pull off some good stuff by trading Beltran for Wheeler and hooking up d”Arnaud, Syndegaard and Becarra for Dickey. He should have taken Hairston for two years and a couple of million but he was too stubborn. Now the Mets are in a great mess of his making due to his machinations to get a halfway decent outfielder that failed.

    • March 9, 2013 at 6:56 pm

      Agreed, but I am not suggesting he go to the majors right now (from A+ to MLB). He should start in AA, and a big year there could help him find his way to the big league club in the summer or at least a September call up.

  4. Qyatez Blunt
    March 15, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    I think he deserves to be in the big league. He has the speed and talent. These days everything is about speed. And also a great outfielder. There’s a lots of guys out there rite now that’s in the big league and not meeting the standards for as speed and talent. But yeah it takes time for player to develop different things. And once that develop happens everything will succeed. I salute to you. And keep god first.

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