Hey Mack. What if we don’t sign one decent outfielder in this off season. Is our minor league players that bad?
A very timely question.
This would be a good time to go over the guys in the system, in the order they will become eligible for the majors. I’m only going to break out the guys I feel can possibly have a decent career at this level:
Kirk Nieuwenhuis – Kirk obviously comes first. He’s already been there (2012: 282-AB,, .252) though he was demoted to Buffalo after playing bad at the end of his first major league stint. The major concern right now is whether he comes back 100% from his injury (partial tear of the plantar fascia in his right foot) in Buffalo.
I have faith in Kirk, though I don’t see him someday as HOF material. I’ve penciled him in as my 2013 starting centerfielder, with Lucas Duda in right field and Mike Baxter in left. I have Jordany Valdespin as my 5th outfielder and the 4th OFer is open right now, pending the Rule 5 Draft.
Matt den Dekker – We all seem to have forgotten that he was leading the Eastern League in hitting (.340) when he was promoted to Buffalo. He didn’t hit as well in Buffalo (.220), but we’ve seen these slow transitions from players like him before, but he did hit 17-HR, 76-RBI, .274 combined for the AA/AAA season.
Obviously, 2013 is a critical year for Dekker. It would be nice to think that we could find our future centerfielder from one of these two guys, but there’s still a road to travel here. Dekker does strikeout too much, but it’s equally important that he concentrates on a more consistent approach to his batting average results. We saw this same inconsistency in 2011 (St. Lucie: .296, Binghamton .235) so, if he keeps to his schedule, the results in Las Vegas in 2013 should be positive. I’d like to think that the Mets won’t rush him under any situation and I want his pro-ready for opening day 2014.
Cory Vaughn – Vaughn will be the next guy in order, and seems to have more talent than the two just mentioned. Vaughn has sacrificed BA for power and continues to have mechanics problems, but he potentially projects as a future major league starter. He also has one of those infectious personalities that everyone loves to be around in the clubhouse.
Vaughn is at least two years away and needs to play the entire 2013 season in Binghamton with a new batting coach.
Darrell Ceciliani – Cecilliani cost himself dearly in 2012, dicking around with an unhealed groin injury from the beginning of the 2011 season. He got in only 85 at bats last season, though he did hit .329. No one has ever questioned his ability to hit the ball, but he’s fallen a year behind in the future plans of this team.
The Mets will play him back in St. Lucie for the beginning of the 2013 season, but expect him to move to Binghamton by the all-star break. There’s no way to ETA him yet because it will take another season and a half to determine if ‘DC’ has the potential to be successful at the major league level.
Cesar Puello – In my opinion, Puello is the most talented outfielder in the Mets organization and will have the most success at the pro level… if… he stays healthy. He hasn’t and that has set him back, but none of his injuries have been career threatening.
Puello is your classic #2 hitter with excellent speed both on the bases and the outfield. He has gap power and has one of the strongest, most accurate arms in the organization. He lacks the power, though he did show glimpses of it this past season. He’s played two seasons with St. Lucie, so I hope we’ll see him in Binghamton come spring. It will be his 6th year with the Mets and he will play it at only 22.
I still have him as my starting left fielder in Queens in 2014.
Brandon Nimmo and Vincente Lupo – I’m sorry folks, but there just isn’t enough on these guys to project them out.