Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Den Dekker, 25, is the most intriguing of the five invitees. He was originally drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 16th round of the 2010 draft out of the University of Florida.
His 2012 season was a year of mixed results.
He tore the cover off the ball at Double-A Binghamton. In 238 at-bats, Dekker hit .340 with a .397 on-base percentage and a mind-blowing .563 slugging percentage. He had 21 doubles, three triples and eight home runs to go along with 29 RBI.
But he was exposed at the Triple-A level, hitting only .220/.256/.373 in 295 at-bats, striking out 90 times versus 14 walks. Much of his struggles were a direct result of his lack of patience at the plate and free-swinging approach. Despite those poor numbers, he still showed some pop with 10 doubles, four triples, nine home runs and 47 RBI.
But his value truly lies in his defense. He was rated best defensive outfielder in the Mets’ system for the past three years (2010-2012), according to Baseball America. He was also rated best defensive outfielder in the Florida State League in 2011.
Baseball America raved about his defensive abilities:
Den Dekker’s value is tied to his defensive range and his speed, both of which are plus tools and crucial to the success of any center fielder. He reads balls well off the bat and takes proper routes. He unleashes accurate throws with carry, using average arm strength...
He will compete with the projected starting center fielder, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, for a spot on the Mets’ 25-man roster. This will be an interesting battle to watch as spring training unfolds.
Nieuwenhuis and den Dekker are similar players: left-handed hitters, good range in center field, some pop and a tendency to strike out, particularly against left-handed pitching.