The 2012 New York Mets Top 40 Prospect List: 15-9

11 Nov

15. Cory Vaughn, OF

Grade: C+

Age (as of Opening Day 2012): 22.9

Predicted 2012 Assignment: Adv. A St. Lucie

Optimistic Projection: Average corner outfielder with some pop

Pessimistic Projection: Star outfielder for the Hanshin Tigers

Notes: I’ve been a bit down on Vaughn since this Spring when I finally got good video of his swing from Mike Newman over at Scouting the Sally and Fangraphs. It has a lot of moving parts, so I questioned if he will be able to catch up to good fastballs or adjust to good breaking stuff. This came to fruition at St. Lucie, where he struggled with contact after having a strong first half with Savannah. Vaughn’s limited to a corner, so he is going to have to hit, though I believe he will be above average with the glove. He’s also not going to be particularly young for St. Lucie this year, so you would like to see him really mash Advanced A pitching. AA is usually the ultimate test for these types of hitters, but Vaughn has to get there first. I do think he will be able to make the adjustments and have a career, but it would be wise to remember he is still more on the raw tools end of the spectrum right now.

14. Juan Lagares, OF

Grade: C+

Age (as of Opening Day 2012): 23.0

Predicted 2012 Assignment: AA Binghamton

Optimistic Projection: A poor man’s Marquis Grissom

Pessimistic Projection: 4th or 5th  OF who PHs a lot because he “makes things happen”

Notes: I have trouble jumping on the Juan Lagares bandwagon. For one, if he was really a centerfielder, he would have actually played more CF than he has. I think he is athletic enough to be a plus defender in a corner, but there just aren’t that many guys who can play CF in the majors and be even average at it. If he’s going to be a corner outfielder, he will have to hit, and boy did he ever this year. However, I don’t really see a change in skill set. He walked about the same as ever, K’d about the same. His ISO went up a bit, but the big difference is, of course, his BABIP. Minor league BABIPs aren’t quite like MLB BABIPs. For one, we don’t have even semi-reliable stringer data for line drive rates. Two, with the lower quality of minor league pitching and defense, we expect more line drives and more balls to drop in for the better hitters. Lagares can clearly hit, but you simply can’t expect a .400 BABIP as he moves forward. If you take a look at his more reasonable .329 BABIP from Savannah in 2010, you see a .290-.300 hitter with little in the way of secondary skills. So like Jordany Valdespin, he is going to have to learn to walk if he wants to have a real career, but unlike Valdespin, he’s not going to have the lower offensive bar of that comes with playing a premium defensive position. I think it would be wise to temper expectations here.


13. Aderlin Rodriguez, 3B

Grade: C+

Age (as of Opening Day 2012): 20.4

Predicted 2012 Assignment: Adv. A St. Lucie

Optimistic Projection: Power hitting first baseman

Pessimistic Projection: Brahiam Maldonado

Notes: You could easily drop Rodriguez lower than I did, but he is one of the few guys in this range that has an obvious plus tool. Rodriguez’s power is for real. The .150ish ISO doesn’t look that impressive, but he was 19 this season and Historic Grayson Stadium is death to right-handed power hitters. I expect he will show more pop at St. Lucie this season. He also seemed to be a little unlucky on balls in play. Now he does need to work on his command of the strike zone, there are some questions about his work ethic, and yes, he is aggressively not a third baseman. But if they move him across the diamond and just let him mash, I could see him having a bounce back year. He’s kind of a sleeper again.

12. Phillip Evans, SS

Grade: C+

Age (as of Opening Day 2012): 19.6

Predicted 2012 Assignment: Class A Savannah

Optimistic Projection: I believe it was Mike Diaz who said Omar Infante, and that sounds about right to me

Pessimistic Projection: Utility guy

Notes: This is probably going to be the most controversial ranking on my list, but you can pretty much shake the C+ guys up in a coffee can and pour them out however you like, I guess. That’s not to say the ranking is arbitrary, because I actually spent way too much time agonizing over how to rank this section of the list. But I was always fairly sure Evans was going to be up at the top end, because up the middle prospects are just so scarce. Now Evans is unlikely to remain at shortstop all the way to the majors, because MLB shortstop prospects tend to thin out as you move through the minor league system. But I’d say he has a 40% shot, which is better than anyone else in the Mets organization other than maybe Tovar. He is also remarkably polished for a prep guy and in my brief look at him, looked very comfortable and fluid in the field. He’s listed at 5’10,” which appears generous (he’s at least a couple inches shorter than Muno), but he’s not going to have the bat knocked out of his hands. He is an older prep pick, and Jazayerli’s research suggests he might not have the upside of a Brandon Nimmo, but I think the polish is the attraction here anyway. He’s also the player in the Mets system most likely to be comped to David Eckstein at some point in the future. So there’s that.

11. Wilmer Flores, SS

Grade: C+

Age (as of Opening Day 2012): 20.7

Predicted 2012 Assignment: AA Binghamton

Optimistic Projection: Some sort of above average major league ballplayer, probably at 3B or LF

Pessimistic Projection: The bat never comes around and Flores tops out at AAA

Notes: Oh, Wilmer Flores, so many tools, so little actual production. It seems like the Mets are going to keep him at shortstop for another year, because, well, Binghamton does have to put nine players out in the field every inning. The endgame here is probably third base, though Flores has played some 2B in the Winter Leagues. Flores can hit, but much like Lagares, hasn’t shown much in the way of secondary skills and is going to turn 21 next summer. That’s not old of course, but nobody is hanging a Miguel Cabrera comp on him anymore either.

10. Jordany Valdespin, SS/2B

Grade: C+

Age (as of Opening Day 2012): 24.3

Predicted 2012 Assignment: AAA Buffalo

Optimistic Projection: Howie Kendrick minus the fluky 2011 UZR

Pessimistic Projection: Up the middle bench guy

Notes: Valdespin had a bit of a coming out party this year, hitting 17 home runs and slugging .468 between AA and AAA. He has always had the physical tools to be an all-star, but was dogged by make-up questions and underperformance. He’s played almost as much SS as 2B, but he’s really stretched at short. He could fake it once a week for you, but he’s a second baseman in the end. Fortunately for him, it looks like the Mets will be in the market for one in the proximate future. Valdespin will have to prove the power spike was for real, and like Lagares, he needs to walk at least a little bit more, but he could be the future at 2B.

9. Reese Havens, 2B

Grade: C+

Age (as of Opening Day 2012): 25.5

Predicted 2012 Assignment: AA Binghamton

Optimistic Projection: Todd Walker with closer to average defense.

Pessimistic Projection: Chronically injured AAA guy

Notes: If Valdespin isn’t the second baseman of the future, how about Havens? Well, there are a couple problems here. Well, one problem. Havens simply can’t stay on the field. He has never played more than 96 games in a season, and that was in 2009. The bat is major league caliber, and the injuries haven’t sapped his range yet, but he is a full year older than Valdespin and now behind him in terms of development. I think the total package here is better than Valdespin, but Havens really needs to spend a full year healthy. Sadly, this is now 3 straight years you could write that about him. He rates this high since I still think there is an all-star second baseman ceiling lurking in there, but the window is closing. For whatever it’s worth, Sandy Alderson has mentioned him as a guy that is underrated in the system, so it seems like the front office is still high on him.


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