New York Mets’ Top 10 Outfield Prospects
New York Mets' Top 10 Outfield Prospects
For much of the 2013 season, the New York Mets had one of the worst outfields in baseball; it was just a void of production that really held them back for the first two months of the season. The Mets knew coming into the season that the outfield was going to be a concern for them, but the beginning of the season was even worse than expected.
Eventually, the Mets were able to find the right combination of outfielders. They traded for Eric Young, who provided a spark to the lineup and could have a future with the team; rookie Juan Lagares emerged as the everyday center fielder as well as the possible center fielder of the future; and until he was traded, Marlon Byrd had an exceptional season for the Mets and was arguably their best player.
While Lagares, and possibly Young, will factor into the Mets’ outfield for next season, there are still openings in the outfield for 2014, and it would be great if the Mets had some homegrown players that could fill those spots. Other than Lagares, the Mets haven’t had a homegrown outfielder in more than half a decade, with the possible exception of Lucas Duda, who’s more of a first baseman the Mets forced into the outfield.
The Mets’ situation in the outfield down on the farm isn’t as promising as they’d like it to be, but they do have a few quality prospects that they have high hopes for. Here’s a list of the top-10 outfielders in the Mets' farm system.
10. Ivan Wilson
The Mets drafted Wilson in the third round of this year’s draft with the hope that his large frame (6-foot-3) and raw power will eventually translate into production. Wilson has a lot of good tools with plenty of power potential, good speed, and plenty of arm strength to handle playing right field, assuming he eventually gets too big for center field. As an 18-year old kid coming straight out of high school Wilson is four or five years from being anywhere close to the big leagues, but the organization wants strong and powerful athletes in the outfield. That's exactly what Wilson could turn into for the Mets.
9. Champ Stuart
Stuart is a 2013 draftee out of junior college who immediately became the fastest player in the Mets’ organization, which is saying something. He’s an incredible runner with good bat speed and a lot of raw tools that he’ll have to translate into baseball activities. He’s a 20-year old native of the Bahamas who has a long way to go because he has so much to learn about hitting, fielding, and base running, but the tools and athleticism are definitely there. Oddly, he has a good approach at the plate which is reason to have some optimism about his chances of putting it all together because Stuart has plenty of ability and potential.
8. Travis Taijeron
Taijeron possesses a ton of power, hitting 23 home runs in 2013, which keeps him on the Mets' radar, but he strikes out a lot and both his batting average and on-base percentage took major dips after a mid-season promotion to double-A this year. Outside of his power he doesn’t bring a whole lot to the table with regard to speed or defense so he’s a bit one-dimensional, although his one dimension is a great dimension to have. His age is another issue, as Taijeron will be 25 at the start of spring training next season, but if he can find a way to cut down on his strikeouts and get on base more the Mets could sure use his power.
7. Darrell Ceciliani
Ceciliani’s development has been slowed by injuries, but he possesses some good tools and has been productive whenever he’s been healthy. He has plenty of speed, good plate discipline, and a little bit of pop. He might have a chance to be an everyday center fielder, but he profiles more as a fourth outfielder and has the tools to be a good one. However, 2014 will be a big season for him as he needs to stand out before he gets lost in the shuffle.
6. Dustin Lawley
Lawley has never been considered much of a prospect, but 26 home runs this year definitely put him on the radar. His strikeout rate is high but not egregious considering his power, and his speed and defense aren’t obvious deficiencies which helps his prospect standing as well. Lawley has never played at the upper levels of the minors until late in the 2013 season, so he still has to prove he can hit at those levels before playing in the majors is a possibility for him, but his power is something to watch.
5. Cory Vaughn
Vaughn is a player the Mets had high hopes for because of his skill set and his major league genetics, but he’s struggled to make enough contact the past couple of seasons and his promising start to the 2013 season was interrupted by injury. The silver lining to Vaughn’s season this year is that he crushed lefties, hitting .344/.403/.578 against them this season, which means he could potentially be a platoon player for the Mets. That wouldn’t be such a bad thing, but he still has a lot to prove before he can even get to that point.
4. Wuilmer Becerra
Becerra was part of the R.A. Dickey trade and a reason why the Mets are bigger winners in that trade. Toronto paid $1.3 million to sign him, which is a huge sum, and makes trading for Becerra like adding an extra first or second round draft pick without having to pay the signing bonus. He’s a big kid who’s still 18 years old and held is own in the Gulf Coast League. Becerra is a five-tool player who is years away from the big leagues, but he has the talent to ultimately be the best player the Mets acquired in the Dickey trade which is saying something.
3. Matt den Dekker
If not for a broken wrist late in spring training this year, it could have been den Dekker who got promoted at the end of April instead of Juan Lagares. He rebounded from his injury and had a strong second half in triple-A before getting promoted to the big leagues in September, although he couldn’t hit lefties at all. Of course, den Dekker is best known for his defense with highlight reel plays being a common occurrence. His role with the Mets is unclear going forward, but his defense and his ability to hit righties gives him a chance to have some kind of big league role next season.
2. Brandon Nimmo
Nimmo was the Mets’ first round pick in 2011. He possesses a lot of tools and a high ceiling. A thumb injury held him back considerably in 2013, but he had a strong start to the season before the injury and a strong finish when the injury started to heal. His final line of .273/.397/359 isn’t necessarily emblematic of how he performed this year. His strikeouts are high and his power isn’t what the Mets would like it to be, but he won’t be 21 until next spring so there’s plenty of time for him to improve in those areas. He hasn’t stood out as much as Mets’ fans would have liked for a former top pick, but it’s obvious that he has the tools to be an above average major leaguer. Even though he’s at least two or three years away, he’s on the right track.
1. Cesar Puello
Puello was in the midst of an outstanding season when things came to a screeching halt because of his Biogenesis suspension. After a couple of subpar seasons, in part due to injury, Puello exploded in 2013 and began to showcase all five of his tools and his high potential making his suspension all the more disappointing. Despite a shorter season, Puello hit .326/.403/.547 at double-A, indicating that he’s not all that far from being ready for the big leagues. While he will have a lot to prove in 2014 coming off the suspension he’ll come to spring training next year with a chance to win a spot on the major league roster, and he could figure prominently into the Mets’ outfield next season and for years to come.
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