Full Scouting Report for Each Mets Prospect at Spring Training
Spring training games have officially begun and the Mets—like the other 29 MLB teams—are trying to prepare for the regular season by seeing which players will have what it takes to be part of the major league roster.
Spring training is also a great time to see how far some of a team's top prospects have developed over time and see how they perform in exhibition games with major league players. The Mets' front office will certainly be analyzing the Mets' top prospects for the next month and hopefully, they will be pleased with the progress of each prospect.
Here are some scouting reports for some of the Mets' top prospects during this current spring training.
Catchers and Infielders
One of the top catching prospects in baseball, Travis d'Arnaud is the Mets' catcher-in-waiting and it will only be a matter of time before his major league debut will occur. Until then, John Buck will be the Mets' starting catcher for now.
d'Arnaud has a career .286 minor league average, and if his major league transition goes well, he could possibly turn into a .300 hitter. d'Arnaud's best minor league season was in 2011, when he hit 21 home runs and drove in 78 RBI in just 114 games. Over the course of a full major league season, d'Arnaud could reach 25 home runs and 90 RBI as long as he stays healthy.
d'Arnaud has been above average defensively as well. He has a minor league career .990 fielding percentage behind the plate, plus a 25% caught stealing percentage across six seasons. d'Arnaud's defense though has improved in the last three years, with around a 29% caught stealing percentage since 2010.
All in all, the Mets and their fans should be very excited for d'Arnaud's much anticipated major league debut, which should occur sometime this season.
Wilmer Flores has been one of the Mets' top infield prospects for years, but now that David Wright will remain a Met for the next eight years, Flores will be blocked from being able to play third base at the major league level. As a result, he has been learning second base.
Defensively, Flores—a natural shortstop—might not find a permanent position in the field just yet. But his hitting has made up for that. Between High-A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton last year, Flores enjoyed his best minor league season so far. He hit a combined .300 with 18 home runs and 75 RBI. He also hit 30 doubles and had an .827 OPS.
Flores' bat will keep him as one of the Mets' top infield prospects. However, with Wright entrenched at third base, plus other young infielders in Ike Davis, Daniel Murphy and Ruben Tejada playing every day at first base, second base and shortstop, Flores may not have an easy journey to the major leagues and could possibly become a trade chip at the right price.
Second baseman Reese Havens was once regarded as a top prospect, but injuries have had a significant impact on his career. At this point, Havens is trying to regain the credibility he once had, all while trying to stay healthy.
Havens has yet to play a full season (100 games) in the minor leagues. When healthy, though, he has produced. After batting .247 in 97 games in 2009, Havens batted .312 in 32 games in 2010 and .288 in 61 games in 2011. However, in a more healthy 2012 season, Havens' average slipped to just .215, which will not help him advance through the Mets' minor league system.
Havens' defense has not been much better. He made 21 errors in 2009, 10 errors each in 2010 and 2011 and nine errors in 2012. If he is going to advance through the Mets' system any further, Havens will have to not only stay healthy, but also improve both his hitting and defense significantly.
Cesar Puello, at just 21 years old, is already one of the Mets' top outfield prospects. The speedy outfielder had a very impressive 2010 season that included a .292 average, .375 OBP and 45 stolen bases. He then hit 10 home runs in 2011, but did not hit as well with a .259 average. Last season, Puello was only healthy enough to play in 66 games.
This year, though, Puello has already made headlines by being named as a possible performance enhancing drugs client with the Biogenesis of America clinic, that was run by Anthony Bosch. Whether Puello took any banned substances has not been proven, but it certainly raises a dark cloud over his head for the time being.
On the field though, Puello has great speed, can certainly hit and plays great defense. The one big improvement he could make though is plate discipline. Puello has averaged 14 walks per season in the minor leagues, which is well below average. Drawing more walks will help Puello get on base more and hopefully rise further through the Mets' minor league system.
Another top outfield prospect for the Mets is Juan Lagares. Lagares is similar to Puello because for one, both are tall and lanky. Lagares also has great speed and can put the ball in play. However, like Puello, Lagares has struggled to draw a noticeable amount of walks himself.
Across seven minor league seasons, Lagares has batted .280 with 28 home runs and 261 RBI. Lagares has been more of a run producer than Puello, who fits the mold of a leadoff hitter. Lagares' best season so far was in 2011, when he batted .349 with nine home runs and 71 RBI. He has spent the past two seasons in Double-A Binghamton and could possibly get promoted this season to Triple-A Las Vegas.
Matt Den Dekker
One outfield prospect that could crack the Mets' major league roster sometime this year could be Matt Den Dekker. Den Dekker has long been known for his great defense in center field, but his hitting has been more of a concern.
In 2011, Den Dekker batted .296 in High-A St. Lucie, but after his promotion to Double-A Binghamton, he hit only .235 at that level, despite hitting 11 home runs, compared to the six he had in St. Lucie.
Last season, Den Dekker was batting .340 with eight home runs and 29 RBI before getting promoted to Triple-A Buffalo. After the promotion though, Den Dekker hit just .220, yet hit nine home runs and drove in 47 RBI at the Triple-A level.
This pattern could hinder Den Dekker's progress because he has shown that he has not been able to adapt to new levels of pitching right away in the last two years. Den Dekker's speed and defense have never been the issue, but with the offensive struggles the Mets' outfielders has in 2012, Den Dekker would be expected to hit well if he were to eventually get regular playing time with the Mets.
Den Dekker will most likely begin the season in Triple-A Las Vegas, but could get promoted sooner than later if other Mets outfielders either play poorly or get injured.
As expected, all eyes are on Zack Wheeler this spring training. The Mets' top prospect could be ready for the major leagues by May, but might also not be promoted until the All-Star break. The timing of the promotion will largely depend on the health and effectiveness of the Mets' starting rotation.
Wheeler is best known for his fastball, but also has a great curveball and an improving slider. Between Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Buffalo in 2012, he went 12-8 with a 3.26 ERA and 148 strikeouts in 25 starts and 149.0 innings pitched.
Wheeler is the jewel of the Mets' farm system right now, and the duo of him and Matt Harvey are expected to help lead the Mets towards becoming postseason contenders in the future.
Among left-handed pitching prospects, Darin Gorski is one of, if not the best the Mets have right now.
Gorski had a great 2011 season in High-A St. Lucie with an 11-3 record and a 2.08 ERA. However, in 2012, Gorski went 9-8 with a 4.00 ERA in Double-A Binghamton. He clearly struggled at the new level and will try to redeem himself this year.
After bouncing around between being a starter and reliever for the past few seasons, it seems as if Jenrry Mejia will be a starting pitcher for the 2013 season. Mejia will most likely begin the year in Triple-A Las Vegas, but could be promoted to the Mets in case one of their pitchers gets hurt.
Mejia is a more-or-less raw pitcher with a great fastball, but his secondary pitches are not particularly strong, which include a curveball, slider and changeup. Mejia has also struggled with his control, as shown by the 38 walks he gave up in 108.2 combined innings last season.