Cesar PuelloFinally things started to click for Cesar Puello, a player who has been playing for the Mets organization since he was 17, in 2013, where the 22 year-old hit .326, slugged 16 homers, drove in 73 runs and stole 24 bags. With this promising campaign, it looked that the Mets were going to have their corner outfielder of the future, but after being connected with the Biogenesis investigation and suspended for 50 games, fans wondered if Puello would still be on the fast track to the big league.

Appearing in 105 games for Triple-A Las Vegas, Puello hit seven homers, drove in 37 runs and stole 13 bases while hitting .252. These numbers were not as good as the numbers in Double-A, however in a Metsblog Q&Acast from July, Wally Backman said that Puello is a “five-tool guy” but that it “just hasn’t come together for him”. Entering this year, we have to wonder if he will put it together and become a solid contributor for the Mets.

We know that there are some constants about Puello’s game. He can steal bases, as he has stolen more than 10 bases in seven Minor League seasons, and he is quite successful when he attempts to steal. In 187 attempts, he has stolen the base safely 148 times, meaning that he has a 79% success rate at stealing. As of now, the Mets do not have many guys who can steal bases on their team, as Eric Young Jr. is not on the ball club anymore, and other than his 30 steals, Juan Lagares and Daniel Murphy were the only players with more than 10 stolen bases.

Puello also has versatility, as he has experience playing all three outfield positions. Matt den Dekker has not had much experience in right field, but is known for his great defensive work in centerfield. However, with Juan Lagares there, den Dekker is blocked from the starting lineup. Kirk Nieuwenhuis has experience playing all three outfield positions, but he has not stuck with the big league team even though he has been given chances. With den Dekker and Nieuwenhuis competing for the forth outfielder job this Spring, where does this leave Puello?

Since he completed a season in Triple-A Las Vegas last season, Puello will most likely start off his year in Las Vegas, and play most of the season there. If he were to be called up to the big leagues, it may be to help their lineup versus left-handed pitching, as he hit .312 last season against lefties. John Mayberry Jr. was brought in to play the outfield when Michael Cuddyer plays first when there is a left handed pitcher, but Puello could be another option for the Mets.

If Puello were absolutely raking in Triple-A, it would not be a surprise to see him getting called up. After the All Star break, Puello hit .286 with three homers and drove home 15 runs in 36 games. This was a promising stretch of time, but the organization will need to see more of this over a longer period of time.

With other promising outfielders coming up through the system such as Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo, these players could pass Puello on the depth chart, making it even more difficult for Puello to reach the big leagues. That is why this is the year where Puello will have to start putting his tools to use, and he has before. 2013 was a phenomenal season, and although it may be considered tainted, we saw how talented Puello is. We know he can steal bags, and that he can drive the ball. Hopefully Cesar starts off strong, and inevitably works his way to Citi Field.

35 comments on “Cesar Puello faces crucial 2015

  • Rob

    If I were in Alderson’s shoes and wanted to cut some corners here is where I would have cut one. Instead of Mayberry I would have given Puello a shot at the RHed hitting 4th OF spot to pair with either MDD or Captain Kirk for the last two spots in the OF. As mentioned in the article he has hit left handed pitching well his entire career. And this past winter in the Dominican League he slashed .353/.393/.667/1.060 yes winter numbers but this kid has it all if he puts it together. And he is a strong thick bodied kid way before he was ever accused of PED’s.

    I know I am in the minority but I have followed this kid since before he was signed by the Mets and believe that sooner or later he is going to be a very good ML player.

    Alderson could have brought in some righthanded hitting OFers that hit lefties well on minor league contracts to compete with him for the job and saved the money on Mayberry for something else.

    • James Newman

      Great point about saving money from the Mayberry Jr. signing and using Puello. I felt that the organization could have given Puello a chance last year, and see what he was capable of doing at the big league level. Since they didn’t do that last year, we are seeing the Mets spend money on free agents who have had some success in the big leagues.

      • Rob

        I’ll never understand why he at least didn’t get a cup of coffee in September after the AAA playoffs ended he was already on the 40 man roster it isn’t like they had anything to lose.

    • Za

      It’s not a huge deal, though. With Mayberry, the team hedged its bets for cheap. Puello clearly has more talent and is much younger, but I still think the Mets want to try to stash him a bit longer in the Minors, though they’ll need to give him a contract with an enticing opt-out. That allows Puello to continue playing everyday in a tremendous hitting environment, allowing him to round out his game while increasing his trade value. The last thing we would want is for Puello to be on the 25-man roster riding the pine nearly everyday, as John Mayberry definitely will.

  • Jamie

    Why is there no mention of the fact that he is out of options?? He either has to make the team over Cambell or he is gone.

    • James Newman

      Didn’t realize that when I was doing research for the article, but realized it afterwards. Thank you for the information Jamie!

    • Rob

      If he wasn’t taken in the rule 5 draft it isn’t certain he won’t pass through waivers and be reassigned to Vegas if he doesn’t make the team out of ST.

      • TexasGusCC

        He is on the 40 man roster, so he cannot be drafted in Rule 5.

        • Rob

          Oops your absolutely right my bad.

    • Za

      Or he could become a Minor League FA with the Mets giving him a decent, low-money contract with an enticing opt-out date. That way, he’d still play everyday in Vegas for a few weeks giving the Mets longer to decide and allowing Puello to play everyday while increasing his own value.

  • Scott Ferguson

    The real problem is that Puello is out of options, so to have him start the year in Vegas, he’d have to pass through waivers, which might not happen due to his skill set. It’s one of the reasons he has a chance to be a fifth outfielder on the roster, with Campbell being the odd man out. I’d hate to lose Puello and watch him have success on another roster.

    • James Newman

      Thanks for the information Scott, I was not aware of Puello being out of options. The worst part about him not making the team, is that he wasn’t even given a chance to show how his skills would translate into the majors. However, if it came down to Campbell and Puello, I think Campbell has the upper hand as of now, because Campbell is more versatile, although Puello has more upside.

    • Rob

      Possible but nobody took him in the rule 5 draft and every team had a chance not a sure thing he won’t pass through waivers.

      • Za

        Nobody could have taken him in the Rule 5 because he was on the 40-man.

  • TexasGusCC

    This can be looked at from two directions:

    1. Puello is treated like all Minaya brought in youngsters on the Mets where a veteran is preferred. Before anyone says a word to me consider that Puello would have been a fifth outfielder, thus about 150 at bats. You already have Campbell and Cuddyer for first base. Wheeler was not blocked; Herrera was not blocked; TDA was not blocked. I cannot understand how this organization has Nimmo as a sure thing (that they only need a plug-in in RF like Cuddyer and don’t need a longer solution like Upton or Kemp or Bruce) when I see him struggling at AA. But, anyway…

    2. Puello has a Tejada-like reputation of not working as hard as the organization would like to see. Backman last year made reference to it when asked why Puello wasn’t playing everyday. Backman said that he was hurt early and also, they would like to see Puello put in a little more work on his tools.

    I think it’s a combination of both and prefer to acknowledge the second reason but cannot get the first reason out of my mind because Montero also deserves a chance and instead of getting rid of Colon and Gee to open up spaces for the future, they keep clogging up the pipeline and some of these kids (MDD?) may turn out pretty good, but we don’t know.

    • Rob

      Over at that other place we see each other at they say that Harvey, Niese, Gee Mejia, Parnell, Familia, Duda, Flores, Lagares, Matz, Montero (yes he was courted, scouted and had an agreement with Minaya all Alderson did was approve the deal) and any other Minaya left over are actually Alderson’s successes since he developed them.

      LOL

      So it shouldn’t matter who brought them in all that succeed are Alderson’s greatness shining through and all that fail are Minaya’s stupidity.

      But it does seem that Alderson’s personal draft picks and guys he trades for get a clearer path to succeed in the ML’s than the Minaya left overs to me also.

      • TexasGusCC

        I agree Rob. And I really didn’t want to go there. But…

        Let’s just play along for the last six months:

        In July, they eat a few million dollars to get a nice prospect or two in A ball. They don’t need to screw another team every time. So, now we plug in Montero. Then, in early October you trade Gee to keep Montero in the rotation and get another prospect. This will allow you to keep Verrett as your pitching insurance and so you lose Colon and Gee for a few prospects and Verrett.

        When you are making a plan, why isn’t clearing room for you prospects part of it?

        Likewise, if they were to give Puello a chance, what did they have to lose? Likewise, by signing Mayberry, what do you really gain?

        • Rob

          Couldn’t agree more I felt losing Verrett was due to bad planning as well , he may never be a star in the league but he has a chance to be a decent pitcher either at the back of a rotation or the pen. Nice logical thinking on keeping Montero in the rotation as well gaining experience and value as we move forward.

          There truly are some curious things with this “rebuild”, like I never understood why Reyes and Wright were not both traded for a boatload of prospects as soon as or soon after the “rebuild” started. While they were both under contract, both young and still under team control for at least a year or two.

          Ah to late now to cry about it but many of us were saying that back then.

        • Za

          Mayberry won’t play everyday. He’ll ride the pine for most innings. Bringing up Puello to ride the pine would not have made sense in any world if you care about player development.

  • Joe Gomes

    Thank You Jamie,
    It seems the OP doesn’t know that Puello is out of options and either makes the team or gets traded or exposed to waivers. That is why signing Mayberry made no sense.

    But for whatever reason, it seems this FO is trying hard to kill Puello’s career. Why are the Mets not giving at bats to their most powerful bat in the minor leagues?

    • Za

      Mayberry is a bench player. The team, from a prospect development standpoint, would not have wanted Puello to ride the pine in the Majors since that’s terrible for development. That’s pretty straightforward.

  • Joe Vasile

    As long as Backman and the rest of the organization refuse to allow him the playing time at AAA that he needs to develop, he’ll never reach his potential.

  • Chris F

    Is he really still a Met?

  • Name

    Convicted cheater. I hope for the sake of baseball he never makes it to the big leagues.

    And out of options as many have noted.

    • Za

      Five tool player potential at a position we’ve had garbage at? Sign me up. He’s got power, speed, and the best outfield arm in our system. You’d be crazy to not want him in your organization.

      • Name

        That was from an ethics viewpoint rather than a baseball viewpoint.

        I’d vote for a one and done system in baseball if i had a say. I have no sympathy for cheaters. Baseball players need to learn that you have to pay for your mistakes.

  • Metsense

    I liked the Mayberry signing because of John Maberry’s career vs LHP:269 avg, .324 OBP,. 533 Slg, .857 OPS .263 ISO. He is a veteran presence for the bench.
    That will leave either one or two more outfield spots to fill. 2014 not 2015 was the crucial year for Puello coming off the suspension. He didn’t rise to the challenge and he didn’t show enough to stop the Mets from looking for an alternative like Mayberry. Puello has the tools and should get a long, hard look this spring. Puello should compete with Kirk, MDD and Campbell and let the best men win.

  • Pete

    James what happens if Puello does have an outstanding first half of the season in Las Vegas? If the Mets were to bring him up after the All-Star break Terry would do what he is accustomed to doing with rookies. Sitting him on the bench to be used as pinch runner while starting in the outfield one game per week. And the irony here is that Cuddyer will continue to block him in 2016 because what team is going to take on a 37 year old with a 12.5 million dollar price tag who can’t field his position?

    • Trotter76

      Why do Mets fans have to be so neurotic?? One minute it’s “Cuddyer’s too injury prone! He’s not gonna last 50 games!” Next it’s “Cuddyer’s gonna block all our young talent!” Well, which is it? He can’t both be hurt all the time and also prevent the rookies from playing.

      Most armchair GMs have no idea about building organizational depth, and furthermore I guarantee less than 10% of the people commenting on this board (myself included) have ever seen Puello play with their own eyes. Yet we feel so confident in our analysis of his game.

      Editor’s Note – Please do not capitalize words in your post, as that is a violation of our Comment Policy.

      • pete

        Those same 100-120 games Cuddyer is going to play has the net same result. Met fans have always been a little neurotic.More so than their counter parts in the Bronx. At least there you have an ownership that believes winning a World Series is the objective year in and year out. Just to note that in three years in Colorado Cuddyer has averaged less games than Tulo. Cuddyer is a bridge to where? For what? To appease or reward David Wright for his quiet leadership on and off the field? Is Cuddyer the move that will put the Mets in a wildcard? And at what price? The Mets are stuck with him next year at 12.5 million dollars so Puello isn’t going to be brought up any time soon. What team would be willing to take Cuddyer at age 37 and pay him 12.5 million dollars? The Mets are taking an unnecessary risk just as they did with Chris Young. Maybe if James has an opportunity he can answer my question. It’s only a question. I would think that any GM would have a back up plan after just signing an injured defensive liability. So here’s hoping that Cuddyer does not become this years Chris Young.

        • TexasGusCC

          Pete, I actually think Cuddyer will be pretty decent. I am not too worried about his defensive metrics, which I think are a joke. Yes, our eye test tells us Lagares is the bomb! But, how do we know that Cuddyer is another Duda? I’ve seen Cuddyer and he isn’t that bad. He may not be great, but he will be serviceable.

          And, on MLB Now the top 10 Right Fielders Right Now, the Shredder had Cuddyer at #5. While no one else had him in the top ten, his offense will be everything we wished we had last year. We bitched about CY because he hasn’t done squat since 2010. But, why are we complaining about a guy that has been effective right up until his injury last year? Y’all think he will automatically stink because he put on orange and blue? Man, I know we are pessimists, but…

  • Charlie Hangley

    At the QBC, Backman said Puello “needs to work” on his defense, even making the point that he often does NOT know which is the correct base to throw to.

    At AAA!

    That boggles my mind…

    • Pete

      How can a top outfield prospect in an organization after how many years? not know what base to throw to? What does that say about Met instructors and his baseball acumen?

    • Michael Geus

      Thanks Charlie, was going to mention this, Backman basically said the guy showed up at AAA clueless.

  • pete

    I know Gus that Cudyyer at least will not be Mo Vaughn. I am the eternal optimist You have to be as a Met fan. But I have a feeling the baseball gods are punishing the Wilpons for their duplicity in the Madoff scandal. So here’s hoping for 120+ games from Cuddyer and having meaningful games in September.

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