Adam Rubin of ESPN reports that 23-year-old outfield prospect Cesar Puello has cleared waivers and will be assigned to Triple-A Las Vegas. The team has confirmed.
Stephen Guilbert- No, it may not seem like much, but this is great news for the Mets and Mets fans. I wrote earlier in the spring about Puello and how much his tools stand out. Puello may never be one of those guys who puts it all together but at the same time I also see two 65 grade tools in his arsenal (on the 20-80 scouting scale): his arm from the outfield and his speed. His arm might be more of a 70. There are not many players in the Mets system or elsewhere with two tools that good. The rest of his game still needs work and he simply needs to play better in the Pacific Coast League than he did last year (.252/.355/.393) and he has to put the PED suspension and connection to Tony Bosch and Biogenesis long behind him. He may still have quite a bit of work but keep in mind that he is still a very young player. He happened to be exposed to waivers for a few reasons. He was signed as a 16-year-old, was put on the 40-man roster probably a year earlier than he needed to and has spent quite a bit of time in the system already.
I am very surprised a team like the Phillies did not claim him. While they would have needed to keep him on their 25-man roster all year or expose him to waivers again, their current outfield is Ben Revere, Odubel Herrera (yes, Odubel Herrera) and Grady Sizemore. Not only do I think Puello could have been a bench piece on that team, I think he could have ended up being their best outfielder.
A reason I am very excited that Puello cleared waivers is that he provides nice insurance in the event that one of Granderson, Cuddyer or Lagares get hurt. Given the age of Granderson and Cuddyer, Cuddyer's injury history over the last few years and Lagares' style of play, finding replacements in the middle of the season will likely be necessary. While Kirk Nieuwenhuis and John Mayberry Jr. end up platooning for whichever outfielder misses time, Puello can slot right in as the backup outfielder who can pinch hit, start, and come in late for defense depending on the need. Having him in the system makes that replacement option much better than the alternative, who I imagine would be someone like Alex Castellanos.
And, if Puello just spends the year in Vegas and the Mets use Kirk, Campbell and Mayberry throughout the year and everyone stays healthy, it gives us another year to figure out what we have with young Mr. Puello. His talent should not be ignored and it pained me to see him placed on waivers a couple days ago. This is a good day for the Mets and Mets fans. While Puello's ultimate role in the organization is unknown (he is both blocked at the big league level and is being chased by prospects Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto), stranger things have happened to give talented players opportunities. If one arises for Puello and he figures it all out, he could be a pretty darn good major leaguer. I like having those around.