Ladies and gentlemen, we just might have ourselves a replacement for one Mr. Curtis Granderson in a couple of years, and his name is Wuilmer Becerra, currently hitting only about .400 right now in the Florida State League. Coming into Thursday night, Becerra sat at a ridiculous .415, an even .060 points ahead of the guy second to him in the entire league. Becerra, after going 0-4 last night, is now sitting at a still crazy insane .398 BA.
Young Mr. Becerra, perhaps also known as "the other throw-in kid" in that R.A. Dickey trade, will play out the entire 2016 season as 21 year old. That's right, he's 21 years old and he's hitting over .400 in what many regard as a pitcher friendly league.
I was able to watch Wuilmer LIVE last month at Tradition Field and have already written about him, and I was just hoping to spend a few minutes also singling him out in my recent string of prospect watch posts.
Like I've said recently, Becerra is a physically imposing young man. He looks tall, muscular and athletic. From the looks of things he appears to be destined to perhaps remain strictly positioned at RF for the Mets at this point. Based off what I've seen he certainly to the naked eye just doesn't have the look of a guy who could man CF, and I believe the Mets already have their LF'er for the next decade in Conforto. And with former first round pick OFer Brandon Nimmo appearing to now play exclusively CF that appears to also leave a strong clear path for Wuilmer all through the system.
Along with my eyeball test, my ear test tells me that Wuilmer uses his strength to make more solid contact on the ball then your average minor leaguer and professional hitter in general.
From last year up until now, I have in the past also written about a few other players who've come through the Mets St. Lucie Mets affiliate having that 'grown man strength'. Some of those have included Matt Oberste, Colton Plaia and Maikis De Le Cruz. One glaring difference, outside of discussing all strengths, projections and overall talent observations, is that while the others having passed through did so while pushing their mid-20s, Becerra again is just barely old enough to drink and could easily be in college ball right now.
However, when discussing Wuilmer and his stats this year, two quite interesting things stand out for two different reasons. His batting average and his power numbers. Again, his .398 BA EASILY leads the league in hitting. What's interesting is the currently low power outage up to this point. Again, we are talking about a large and in charge man whose projections can and should remain as a corner outfielder, of which many are stereotyped into needing to carry some pop. While with the rookie ball Kingsport affiliate, Wuilmer hit 7 homers in 58 games in 2014, and the followed that up with a VERY respectable 9 homers in 118 games while with the then Low A Savannah Sand Gnats affiliate in a pitcher friendly league with pitcher friendly ball parks including his own at the time home park where balls refused to ever really leave the yard. So what to make of things in the early going this year?
Also in those 118 games last year, Wuilmer racked up 27 doubles and 3 triples. This year, Wuilmer perhaps quite surprisingly only has 6 doubles and zero triples in his first 26 games with the club. Becerra also has 28 career minor league stolen bases in his 265 game career, but none this year. My eye ball test showed him being more a lumbering kind of runner on one play, but then later showing solid agility and quickness on the bases later in the game. Regardless the point reverts back to "chicks dig the long ball" even in an era where not as many are being hit out by individual players per season.
The question perhaps more importantly is what is going on 'behind the scenes' in the development of this obviously very gifted and talent young man? Statistically we've seen players like Gavin Cecchini look underwhelming throughout the low minors, only to hit all star mode in AA level. We've seen young teenage super prospect Amed Rosario put up pedestrian numbers his entire minor league career, only to shoot out the gate this year for the same St Lucie Mets hitting over .300, belting a few homers, and cranking out doubles and triples on a weekly basis on the club.
So are things being strongly developed into Becerra game this year, as he matures further along? For the most part, he has pretty much maintained a 3 to 1 ratio of K's to BB's in his career, and this year so far he has about 17 K's and 6 BBs which has him about the norm for him right now. His .479 SLG and .935 OPS going into Thursday nights game doesn't look too shabby to me folks.
In my opinion, stick with the Dom Smith route (this is a Dove post, you know I can't go but so long without mentioning Rosario, Dom or Jeff McNeil). Hit first, worry about power later. I'd MUCH rather see Becerra hitting well over .375 right now with no homers and 6 doubles then be hitting .215 with 5-7 homers and 10 or so doubles. In terms of power, let's discuss everyone's reactions on any given night when Grandy or Duda are going 0-4 or struggling through a 1 for last 10 type of slump in a given series. Bring on the base hits ! It's only the low minors, but Becerra has also tended to be somewhat of an RBI machine as well, so there must be some kind of consistency in his ability to hit in the clutch. He has 136 RBI's in his 265 career games in the minors. Imagine those numbers if the power does come?
All in all, I like what I see in this 21 year old. I like the sound of the ball off his bat. I like his overall physical tools, look and make up. He pretty much already looks the part of a big bruising corner outfielder. Crazy things always happen in life, in general, let alone professional sports, but at this time Becerra and his progress still do line up perfectly with the pending end of Grandy and his contract in the years ahead.
We've heard about and discussed other prospects within the farm system currently and over the years who show that overall make up, talent, and overall physical tools, but none of them that I could remember were hitting .398 in the middle of May in the pitcher friendly A ball level. So let's keep an eye on this young man. The issues is not the ball finding a hole, its finding the seats. Maybe check back mid summer, when the heat rises, and maybe the ball rises, and we'll discuss more about this later.