The Keepers - #25 - OF - Juan Lagares


25.           Juan Lagares OF

Juan Mercado, the scout that found Jose Reyes, said in (2006) a Dominican newspaper that 16 year old SS Juan Lagares is better than Jose Reyes at the same age.  Lagares was signed by the Mets in 2006 and assigned to the DSL team, where he played 57 games and hit .255/.339/.412. He was 3rd in the league in triples. 
In March 2007, Lagares got his first taste of prospect-hype when this was written about him on the MiLB web site:  “Remember the name Juan Lagares, a 17-year-old shortstop the Mets signed out of the Dominican Republic. It has yet to be determined where he will start the season, but he had a strong Instructional League in the fall and, according to Minaya, "does things ahead of what Jose Reyes was doing [at that age]." Lagares hit .255 in 57 Dominican Summer League games last year and collected eight triples and 12 stolen bases. "He's very talented," vice president of player development Tony Bernazard said. "He's going to be special." 
Lagares got off to a rough start in 2007 for Savannah, especially defensively, and was optioned back to extended spring training in early May. He returned on 5/12/07 and immediately was slotted back in the starting lineup, but eventually wound up on the IR list through the end of the season (.210/.262/.317 in 281 at bats). 
Legares was born in Constanza, Puerto Rico. In September 2007, Baseball America ranked Lagares as 16th in the SAL in ‘speed score’. 
In 2008, Juan started the season on the IR and eventually played for Savannah, where he went .254/.285/.337 in 181 at bats.

5-15-11: - There’s a 22-year old outfielder in St. Lucie hitting .302/.340/.479/.819. He has four home runs, knocked in 19 runs in 27 games, has struck out only ten times and has stolen three bases. The only problem is we gave up on this guy three years ago, plus he’s been around for what seems like ten. It’s Juan Legares, the once top infield prospect that broke his Mets cherry in 2006, when he was 16. I had the pleasure (?) of watching him for three years in Savannah and, honestly, I forgot he was still around.  Well, this is what happens when you sign 16-year olds. Some of them grow up and become baseball players.

6-17-11: - We need to take another look at Juan Legarus. It’s easy to forget about him because he’s been around so long, but he is still only 22 years old. Right now, he is the the most solid outfielder in the system. He’s playing for St. Lucie, hitting .339/.379/.495/.873 in 192-AB.This comes off a 2010 where he hit .300 for Savannah. Yes, he doesn’t ealk that much (12), but he also doesn’t strike out much either (29). Defensively, he only has two errors all season. And there’s not much more he can do at this level. Lagarus isn’t know for his pop, but he does have five home runs this season and definitely deserves a promotion to Binghamton as much as Matt den Dekker. He will; however, start slow there, which is his motis.

7-11-11: - Top 10 Minor League Performances in 2011 - 3. Juan Lagares – OF – A+/St. Lucie: .343/.382/.496/.878, 6-HR, 43-RBI, 268-RBI – I give Lagares the top ranking for hitters because no one expected to ever see stats out him like this in 2011. No one likes his BB/AB ratio, which is about his only weakness right now in his game.

7-25-11: - Lagarus made it known last night that his recent promotion to AA-ball should have happened earlier. Juan went 5-5, with two doubles, a triple, three runs scored and one run batted in, raising his AA-BA to .667. Remember, he’s still only 22-years old and could be someone we will be talking a lot about next season.

7-26-11: - http://www.amazinavenue.com/2011/7/26/2287253/mets-mid-term-farm-system-review-2011-binghamton#storyjump  - OF Juan Lagares - STOCK UP - Lagares has seemingly come all the way back from one of the worst botched prospect mishandlings of the Minaya era. It's a testament to his talent that he's lived up to his initial billing as an IFA Robin to FMart's Batman back in the summer of '05. Lagares was only recently called up to Binghamton but in his time with St. Lucie he was tremendous, posting a .339/.389/.495 triple slash. He's added a lot of muscle to his athletic frame which has meant far more in-game power yet he's still showed good speed, even filling in at CF when needed.  The reason why he toiled away at Hi-A for so long is the plate discipline, or lack thereof. Yes, the .339 average is nice now but do not forget, Lastings Milledge once batted .337 with Binghamton leading many to minimize his poor on-base skills, yet I'd say they caught up with him quickly and thoroughly. However, like Valdespin, Lagares has made strides in the BB% department this season which is a good sign going forward. Despite more room for improvement his excellent tools and emerging production are forcing his name into the discussion as a top tier prospect in this system.

8-20-11: - http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/prospect-hot-sheet/2011/2612241.html   - Once upon a time, Juan Lagares was a lithe, athletic shortstop. He made 40 errors in 82 South Atlantic League games back in 2007, yet his athleticism prompted BA to rank him No. 28 in the Mets' farm system that offseason. Our report quoted a Mets official as saying that long-term, Lagares' bat would be his best tool. Since then, Lagares evolved as a prospect, moving to the outfield (mostly the corners) and actually starting to hit. He's just 22 and has earned his first trip to Double-A by batting .339/.381/.495 for high Class A St. Lucie, and he hasn't stopped hitting with Double-A Binghamton. He's hit safely in 20 of 21 starts for the B-Mets, carrying a nine-game hitting streak into the weekend, and is batting .400/.420/.589 overall. "He's a very quiet hitter," B-Mets manager Wally Backman told Gannett Newspapers. "He's got a nice swing . . . He's a pretty good-looking player." Lagares doesn't have one carrying tool, and he's lost his plus speed over the years while filling out (though he's still listed at 6-foot-1, 175 pounds). He'll go as far as his bat will take him.

8-28-11: - #41 – OF Juan Lagares – This is one of the great positive stories of the 2011 season. Lagares almost played himself off the map after the 2009 season, but what do you expect from a teeneage who originally came up as an infielder. Right now, he’s the top hitting outfielder in the system. He has a combined A+/AA BA of .354/.391/.508/.899, with 9-HR and 67-RBI. The Mets have already announced that he is playing winter ball in Arizona which is probably a combination of more experience plus showcasing. Where is he going? Well, I have him in Buffalo in 2011 with F-Mart, Captain Kirl, and Mike Baxter (though Baxter may be in Queens). This is a real good problems. ETA: part of a pre-2012 trade.

9-3-11: - http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/09/prospect-pulse-buffalo-2012-help-on-the-way.html  - Juan Lagares - 2011 has been a breakout season for Lagares in the truest sense of the word. After totally demolishing the Florida State League in the first half, with a .338/.380/.494 slash line, he went to Bingo and started hitting even better, to the tune of .376/.397/.523. He is off to the Arizona Fall League after the regular season, and barring a total meltdown, should be starting in LF for the Herd next year. This guy is coming very fast now and has a well-rounded game. It may sound like a broken record, but there is no reason why he can’t break-in at Citi sometime next year too.

9-14-11: - http://www.metsminorleagueblog.com/juan-lagares  - Defensively, Lagares can play both left and right field, and also is a good enough athlete to play some center-field in a pinch.  While Lagares would not be a liability in centerfield, he is not an everyday centerfield type mainly due to lack of foot speed.  Lagares shows good instincts in the outfield to go along with smooth clean actions. Lagares does not fit the mold of a starting corner outfielder in the big leagues (on a championship type team).  His lack of power is the biggest reason for this.  Lagares would need to hit a ton in order to make up for the lack of power to be an everyday corner outfielder.  The closest comparison I can see Lagares becoming is perhaps a Jose Tabata type. Lagares looks the part of a solid fourth outfield type.  His ability to play all three outfield positions to go with his ability to hit, gives Lagares a chance to be a future solid bench contributor to the Mets organization

10-11-11: - http://bullpenbanter.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=481:arizona-fall-league-who-to-watch-a-what-to-watch-for&catid=18:articles&Itemid=11  - Juan Lagares: (ER) Lagares will head to the AFL following what has been a breakout season. After a scorching 335 plate appearances in the FSL he's only been hotter at Double-A Binghamton. He's always shown a good speed/moderate power tools package, but is finally starting to show it on the field, and at just 22 is positioned to be a player of great interest to a Mets team which has been forced to give prominent roles to Jason Pridie and Willie Harris this year. Like many young players, Lagares' weakness is his walk rate, which hasn't hindered him this year but will almost surely do so at the highest level. He has shown solid contact skills, consistently good BaBIPs, and completely acceptable mid-teens strikeout rates the last three years, so there's much to like here. Lagares has played both OF corners this year, and while it's more likely he ends up a good back-up at multiple OF spots, he could become a fringe every day player in the mold of fellow Met Angel Pagan.

10-25-11: - http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=15358   - Juan Lagares, OF, Mets - Lagares quietly had a breakout season for the Mets in 2011, splitting time between High- and Double-A and hitting a combined .349/.383/.500. A 22-year-old Dominican who began his career as a shortstop, Lagares never found a defensive home in the infield, and his time chasing fly balls has only proved that he's stuck in a corner for the long term. What he can do is hit, but it doesn't come with much else; Lagares has below-average power and isn't a big fan of working the count. He's 11-for-28 in Arizona, and he'll need to keep hitting to improve his prospect stock. The hit tools trumps all, but there has to be at least something to go with it.

10-26-11: - http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2011/10/26/colemans-corner-mets-position-players-shining-in-arizona-sun   - We’ll start with Juan Lagares, a gap hitter and likely corner outfielder. Lagares split time between Single A St. Lucie and Double AA Binghamton this past season. At St. Lucie he hit .338 – which led the Florida State League when he was promoted – with 7 HR and 49 RBI in 82 games, but at Binghamton he performed even better – in 38 games, Lagares batted .370 with 2 HR and 22 RBI while also stealing 10 bases. His combined average of .349 was the 4th best overall in the entire minor leagues. And Lagares has not disappointed thus far in Arizona. He’s hitting .393 with 2 HR and 9 RBI and an OPS of 1.128. Last Saturday, he went 3-5 with a HR, triple and 4 RBI. That extended his hitting streak to 6 games and his RBI streak to 4 games. Lagares also has 4 multi-hit games out of 6 games and ironically, a righty hitter, he’s batting .500 (11-22) vs. righthanders and is 0-6 vs. lefties.

10-25-11: - http://www.minorleaguerundown.com/2011/10/25/2011-top-20-new-york-mets-prospects   - 2011 Top 20 New York Mets Prospects -  11.Juan Lagares, INF/OF (High Class A, AA): The free-swinging former shortstop is now manning the outfield in AA Binghamton, and it has brought him new life. While much of this new life is inflated by a big BABIP numbers (.379 at A+, .439 at AA), Lagares definitely knows how to put bat to ball. With just around average power, it will be key for him to keep making quality contact going forward. On top of this, he’ll need to maintain nothing less than to the 6.3% walk rate that he showed at High A this year to be relevant. It’s not impossible, but he needs to keep evolving to be anything more than a 4th outfielder/bench bat.

11-13-11: - http://www.metsblog.com/2011/11/13/afl-round-up-juan-lagares-has-been-stellar-this-fall  - •OF Juan Lagares has been an elite performer throughout the league so far this fall. He’s hit .364 with with a .989 OPS for Peoria with four doubles, a triple, two home runs and 17 RBI in 55 at bats. This comes off a stellar season between Single-A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton in which he hit a combined .349 with 26 doubles, nine home runs and 71 RBI in 120 games.

11-23-11: -   http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/news/article.js p?ymd=20111110&content_id=25949502&fext=.jsp&vkey=news_milb&partnerId=rss_nym     -   Juan Lagares, Binghamton (38 games), St. Lucie (82 games): Lagares suffered an ankle injury in 2010 and, according to the Mets, it slowed him during Spring Training. Everything appeared OK by Opening Day, however, as he went on to lead all Mets full-season players in batting (.349), increasing his .338 mark at St. Lucie to .370 in Binghamton. The six-year Minor League veteran had never batted above .279 at any level. "Unbelievable year," DePodesta said from Arizona, where Lagares hit .303 in 15 games in the Fall League. "The move obviously didn't faze him." While Lagares drew only 26 walks, he also fanned only 76 times in 120 games. "The biggest thing for Juan this year was his plate discipline," said St. Lucie skipper Pedro Lopez, who also managed Lagares, as a taxi squad player in the AFL. "Managing the strike zone has helped him out. We're talking about a kid who was a free swinger a year ago; now he has a better understanding of what a strike is." "He can definitely play [defense] in the big leagues right now," Backman added. "It will depend on what the organization wants, but for me, he can go to Triple-A [in 2012]. He is probably the best player I had for the year, and I only had him for half a year."

1-3-12 - http://mets360.com/?p=8885&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Mets360%2Ffeed+%28Mets360+Feed%29    - 9. Juan Lagares, OF, Hi-A/Double-A, .338/.380/.494 in 335 PA - This is Lagares’ line in Hi-A. He hit even better in Double-A, with a .903 OPS in 170 PA. But there are two red flags surrounding him in that he doesn’t have much power and his walk rate collapsed when he was promoted. Lagares has a lower ceiling than Vaughn, but his floor is much higher. At this point it would be a surprise if Lagares did not make the majors. He seems like a 4th OF, a guy who could be useful against LHP (.914 OPS overall versus lefties last year) and he could even fake it in CF for brief stretches.

1-20-11 – http://seedlingstostars.com/2012/01/20/the-problem-with-juan-lagares/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter   - It’s pretty simple. Lagares puts the ball in the field of play around 83-84% of the time, so if his BABIP randomly goes up 80 points, his batting average goes up about .08*.84 = .67. Lo and behold, the difference between his 2010 and 2011 batting averages was 70 points. It doesn’t seem that Lagares was rocketing the ball around the field in 2011, either: per Minor League Central, his line-drive rate was just 12.1%. Now, minor league batted ball data is notoriously unreliable, but Lagares ranked eighth in line-drive rate among regular batters on his High-A team and tenth on his Double-A team. There certainly seems to be little reason to believe he was significantly better at making hard contact in 2011 than 2010. What are we left with, then? An impatient left fielder without much home run power, and whose declining speed (15-for-23 SB in 2011) isn’t helping him either. Don’t get fooled by the gaudy batting average, as it appears to be very illusory; Lagares isn’t much of a prospect.

1-27-12 – http://www.213milesfromshea.com/2012/01/27/get-to-know-a-mets-minor-league-player-juan-lagares/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter  - Juan Lagares is a member of the Mets’ large group of young, far away prospects. Lagares has been in the Mets system since 2006 when he was only 17 years old (played in the Mets Dominican Team). Since then he has worked up the Mets system, reaching AA last season. In terms of his progression since playing in America (2007), his batting average and power (doubles, homers, SLG) have improved every season (with the exception of 2009, where his power dipped a bit). Statistically speaking, last season was by far his best as he destroyed A+ ball, and then did even better at the AA level: 

St. Lucie: 308 AB, 51 R, 104 H, 15 2B, 6 3B, 7 HR, .338 BA, .380 OBP, .494 SLG
 B-Mets: 162 AB,  21 R, 60 H, 11 2B, 3 3B, 2 HR, .371 BA, .391 OBP, .512 SLG
In his last season, his hitting pace really increased as did his slugging. There has been a lot of buzz that Juan is knocking down the door to be named a top 10 prospect in the Mets system, and it will probably happen if he has another year in AA like he did last season. In 2012 he’ll be 23 and with a positive year, depending on how positive and the health of the Mets, he could be looking at a late season call up, to competing for a spot on the 2013 roster (and entering starting talk in 2014).


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