MMs Top 25: #18 OF Cesar Puello

#18 OF Cesar Puello (LR#11)
Bats: R Throws: R
Height: 6' 2" Weight: 220 lb
Age: 24
Acquired: 2007 International Signing, $400,000 signing bonus, La Romana, Dominican Republic

2014: (AAA) .252/.355/.393, 7 HR, 37 RBI, 13 SB (93%), 30 BB, 72 K
2013: (AA) .326/.403/.547, 16 HR, 73 RBI, 24 SB (77%), 28 BB, 82 K
2012: (A+) .260/.328/.423, 4 HR, 21 RBI, 19 SB (90%), 7 BB, 58 K
2011: (A+) .279/.330/.405, 10 HR, 50 RBI, 19 SB (68%), 18 BB, 103 K
2010: (A) .292/.375/.359, 1 HR, 34 RBI, 45 SB (82%), 32 BB, 82 K

     Oh my.....what are we suppose to do about Cesar Puello. He has been one of the most talked about situations this off-season due to the odd predicament the Mets find themselves in. Puello became eligible for his 1st Rule 5 draft after a pretty decent 2011 season production wise. At the time though, he was only in Advanced A Port St. Lucie and was considered a low risk to be selected in the Major League Phase. The Mets front office added him to the 40 man roster anyway to protect him. Three years later, with all 3 option assignments burned, Puello now finds himself potentially participating in his final spring training with the club.

     As a former Top 100 prospect, Puello has a number of plus tools that teams would be interested in. He has a pretty strong hit tool that consistently puts the ball in play, but, since he does not take many walks, his batting average can fluctuate due to its dependency on his BABIP. He also has that rare combination of power + speed. his 2013 Binghamton season proved out to team that he has the potential to be a 20 HR/20 SB guy over a full season of healthy play. He's got pretty good defensive skills too. Although he has enough range to stick in CF, he carries a monster strong "70 grade" arm that's more valuable in RF. His above average glovework, range, and arm, makes him a plus defender (potentially plus plus "70"), in RF.

     That's 5 average to above average tools folks....A 5-tool player. Here's the thing though, having the tools and utilizing them are 2 completely different stories. After being suspended the remainder of the 2013 for his involvement with Biogenesis, his 2014 season did not help reinforce scouts and executives faith that he will eventually pull the whole package together like he did before his suspension in Binghamton. Puello was the starting RF in 16 of the first 21 Las Vegas games and was just not very good. He hit .244 with 0 HR, 2 SB, and K'd in 24% of his Plate Appearances. This led to him losing playing time to Brandon Allen and Andrew Brown, both of which had monster April, in the month of May. He was given opportunities to start in short 4 to 5 games bursts and found his swing again hitting .291 with a .863 OPS with more BB's (7) than K's (5) but as soon as the club gave him an extended starting run again in June he faltered once again hitting only .137 AVG.

    The continued inconsistencies has frustrated the front office enough that he's no longer viewed as a potential future team contributor. It doesn't help either that he has developed extremely stark L/R splits as he obliterated lefties to the tune of a .942 OPS but was lackluster against righties with a .647 OPS. Even his winter league team, the Toros del Este, recognized how severe the splits were and started him mostly only against lefties.
While I personally am a huge supporter of Puello, we need to take this into account when evaluating him. So, unfortunately, we have to drop his ceiling and drop his floor, which in turn, has severely impacted his ranking. While I hate to say it, I do not believe that Puello will make the team out of Spring Training and another club is bound to give him the oppotunity that the Mets are refusing to give.

Ceiling: MLB Platoon Starting RF (John Mayberry Jr.)
Floor: MLB 5th OF....on another team
Anticipated Assignment: Waivers...with another team claiming him April 1st


Thomas Brennan said...

You're probably right that he does not make the team this spring. He is one of the few who we may really regret that happening when he turns into a stud in a year or 3 when he does finally get it.

I just thought I'd note that his OPS in 2013 vs lefties was 1.325!!

Make him the 5th OF, it is a long season, injuries happen, and send down Dekker and Campbell (for now, since they have options) to make that happen.

Keep in mind that despite his time in the system, he is only just about to turn 24. Dekker was far from a major leaguer as he was turning 24.

Soup is turning 28 soon, and 4 years ago, his AA #s were .247/.345/.343, paling in comparison to Puello, and without the speed, arm, power of Puello.

In 2011, at almost 24, Dekker was getting promoted to AA, where he hit .235. When he was almost 25, he hit .220 in AAA in over 300 plate appearances.

All to say, Puello likely has not plateaued - those 2 guys had not plateaued at a comparable age, they have both gotten much better.

Puello, in fact, may be much, much better at 26 than he was last year.

Stephen Guilbert said...

"Having the tools and utilizing them are 2 completely different stories"

^That's the key right there. Puello has always oozed with talent but has either struggled with patience at the plate, inconsistency, and did have that unfortunate Biogenesis period as well. It also begs the question if some of his performance in 2013 was...enhanced. I don't think it was but it still puts enough red flags on the guy to move him down the depth chart and, you're right, probably to waivers.

I see two scenarios in which the Mets keep him--An outfielder gets injured (Mayberry's injury would all but guarantee him a spot. Mayberry, too, is an extreme platoon split guy) or the Mets place him on waivers and he clears. Neither are particularly likely, but anything can happen in spring training.

Thomas, good point about his age, too. Puello, for reference, is a full four months YOUNGER than Matt Reynolds.

Zozo said...

I totally agree with you here buddy

Anonymous said...

I think both of you guys are right about the player. But at the same time, it's hard for me to blame the Mets organization. The clock has kind of run out. I don't see him as an effective sub with Mayberry around; sitting in the bench is not what Puello needs. With so much invested in the success of Nimmo & Conforto, it's hard to see where Puello fits. I wish Sandy could manage the pipeline -- trade guys in minor deals rather than allow them to walk -- but I understand it's tough. You'd hate to see Verrett stick with the O's and succeed, then lose Puello, etc. But I don't know that there's an easy solution.

James Preller

Stephen Guilbert said...

I agree, but part of me is hoping for an injury to one of the 24th/25th Quad-A guys (Campbell, maybe) just to give him a shot. I hate seeing former Mets get good with other teams. I also can't help but think that Verrett is going to be another Colin McHugh.

Personally, if I'm GM (and it's a good thing I'm not), my bench is Ruben, Recker, Kirk, Puello, Mayberry at least to start the season. It's very light on infield help but both den Dekker and Campbell have options. This at least extends the evaluation period for Puello a bit longer. Having both Mayberry and Puello on the roster is absolutely redundant, though, so it's unsustainable, I'm just not ready to expose Kirk or Puello to waivers just yet.

I'd love to get a community post going on what we should do with those two guys in re: waivers/roster spots.

eraff said...

Tom...excellent comments regarding his development and age versus dd and soup---- but the Mets were able to allow those guys to continue at the MILB Level. Puello needs to be on the 25 or he's free to go...

Thomas Brennan said...


I was a bit disappointed they did not trade Verrett before Rule 5, but he has limited upside so it did not trouble me much, especially with so much other pitching bubbling up.

Puello could come back to bite us. One could make the case that he is the best athlete in the organization, tools-wise.

Mack's Mets © 2012