Who will be playing second base for the New York Mets this season?
It’s doubtful that any of these players will be a permanent fixture at second base with New York, so what does the future hold?
In Emaus, New York is hoping to find another Dan Uggla.
Emaus will be 25 on Opening Day and has 87 games experience above Class AA since being drafted in the 11th round in 2007 out of Tulane by the Toronto Blue Jays. He was drafted by J.P. Ricciardi, who is now a special assistant with the Mets.
Uggla was a 5-11, 200-pound infielder with pop and decent plate discipline who couldn’t catch a break in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ organization.
He was selected by the Marlins in the Rule 5 draft, turned 26 during spring training and proceeded to slug 154 homers in five years, becoming the first second baseman ever to homer 30 times in four consecutive seasons. He has played in two All-Star games and snagged a five-year, $61 million contract with the Atlanta Braves this past offseason.
The Mets would consider themselves fortunate if they could get anything close out of Emaus, who has a similar profile to Uggla.
He’s a 5-11, 200-pound right-handed hitter who doesn’t stand out tools-wise, but can hit for average, has some pop and has an excellent command of the strike zone. Emaus has 212 walks compared to 220 strikeouts over four seasons, 425 games and 1,559 at-bats. In stops at Class AA and AAA last season, Emaus hit a combined .290/.397/.476 with 32 doubles and 15 homers with 81 walks and 69 strikeouts in 445 at-bats. He’s 1-for-7 thus far this spring with two walks and a strikeout.
There’s a ton of candidates for the second base job and Emaus, who must either stay with the team or be offered back to the Jays, is no gazelle nor star with the glove. However, if the Mets can look past how he looks in a uniform and can see what he can do in the uniform, they might have a decent offensive option.
The second of two first-round picks by the Mets in 2008, Havens was selected with the 22nd pick, four slots after first baseman Ike Davis. While Davis skyrocketed to the majors in less then two years, Havens spent most of his first three years on the sidelines watching.
The 24-year-old has been limited to 152 games in three years due to a laundry list of injuries, with oblique and back problems his latest. Havens says he’s ready to go this year, and 2011 could be considered his make-or-break season.
Havens likely will take his potent left-handed bat to either high Class A St. Lucie, where he began last season and played 14 games, or Class AA Binghamton, where he suited up 18 times and hit .338 with six homers and 12 RBI.
Havens is a hitter first, defender second. A college shortstop at South Carolina, Havens made the move to second base last season and still has a long way to go defensively. An excellent chance to gain experience at the new position last season was ruined due to all of the injuries.
Statistically, Havens has the rare combination analysts like; he can hit for average, has some pop and works the count. He has 60 extra-base hits in 570 at-bats with 80 walks – both excellent markers. However, if Havens can’t stay on the field the Mets will never get a chance to see if he could be a possible solution at the unsettled position in 2012.
The enigmatic Valdespin has had several clashes with coaches, twice resulting in suspensions, but his performance in the Arizona Fall League and raw tools landed him a spot on the Mets’ 40-man roster this November.
The 23-year-old has taken a tour of the lower-level Mets affiliates over the past two seasons, playing at six stops from the Dominican Summer League to the Eastern League.
The lefthanded hitter has hit .277/.328/.406 in his four years and prior to last season had shown very little extra-base potential. His had 25 extra-base hits (16 doubles, 3 triples, 6 homers) in 270 at-bats in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League last season and chipped in 13 steals.
Valdespin followed that by hitting .355 with a .848 on-base percentage in the Arizona Fall League with five extra-base hits and four walks in 76 at-bats. He was 7-for-7 in stolen base attempts.
However, take away his FSL power numbers and Valdespin has demonstrated limited pop, no ability to command the strike zone – he had just 10 walks in 382 at-bats last season – and mediocre stolen base ability.
He’s split time between shortstop and second base but looks like he’ll settle on the right side of the bag.
The 6-foot, 180-pounder profiles as a utility infielder unless he can follow up on his 2010 power numbers and draw more walks in 2011. He’ll likely start at St. Lucie or Binghamton, depending upon where New York decides to put Havens.
Valdespin is 2-for-11 so far this spring with a double, RBI, walk and three strikeouts.