How does one end up in this basket? We’re still dealing with players who are some years or more away from contributing. There is speed in this group, but each player has at least one serious red flag of the group of age, injury and inexperience.
36 – OF Alonzo Harris
Height/Weight: 5’11”, 165 lbs
Acquired: 39th rd ’07 (McComb (MS) HS)
Born: 1/16/89 (McComb, MS)
2012 Rank: NR | Stats
Why Ranked Here: Harris has bounced in and out of the bottom half of the rankings the last few years, peaking at #26 prior to the 2010 season. At the time, he was a second baseman with excellent speed, surprising strength for his size, a free-swinging approach and questions about whether his hands worked at second. Now, he’s a fleet outfielder (the Mets moved him from second in 2011) who has improved his approach and still has surprising pop for his size. He laced 38 extra-base hits in 2012 while going 40-for-51 stealing bases. He can really, really run and is almost certainly the best base-stealer in the system.
Here, this is a pretty chart that sums up Harris’ development at the plate.
As Mets VP of Amateur Scouting and Player Development Paul dePodesta explained, “His at-bats, his approach were vastly improved from where they had been in the past.”
The Mets started Harris’ transition to the outfield by playing him in leftfield in 2011. By 2012, thanks to the injuries to other guys, he played more center than left, and did so well.
The downside: it’s taken Harris a little while. He is 24 now. Although many documents list his birthday In November 1989, he was really born in January.
2012: Harris started as the fourth outfielder in St. Lucie behind Cory Vaughn, Darrell Ceciliani and Cesar Puello. Ceciliani and Puello spent most of the season hurt, and Harris spent most of the year playing, and doing so very productively in center and left field. dePodesta again: “We were thrilled with his progress. He had a breakout year in 2012.”
Dr. Pangloss Says: In a perfect world, Harris is a late bloomer who becomes a solid defender in center and a pesky leadoff hitter at the top of the lineup. Much likelier, he will be a fourth outfielder/second division starter who provides speed and defensive ability off the bench and a little flexibility if he can bring his second base glove along too.
Debbie Downer Says: He makes his money in Japan
Projected 2013 Start: AA Binghamton
MLB Arrival: Late 2014
37 – OF Darrell Ceciliani
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 205 lbs
Acquired: 4th rd 2009 (Columbia Basin (OR) CC)
Born: 6/22/90 (Tracy, CA)
2012 Rank: 30 | Stats
Why Ranked Here: I had Ceciliani as high as #12 in the system two years ago, but he slipped to 30 last year and then to 37 this year. He’s hit when he has played, but injuries have hampered his last two seasons. I believe in the idea (I probably learned from reading Will Carroll) that staying healthy is a skill. Ceciliani is missing the skill.
Ceciliani is a little bit like Matt den Dekker in that he’s a shade above average speed wise, but will not turn in a plus-plus time running home to first, and can still play a capable or better centerfield. To be clear, he is not the defender den Dekker is. On the other hand, his swing is simpler than den Dekker’s – he’s a more natural hitter with solid gap power. Ceciliani will turn 23 in June and has 23 games of a-ball to his credit. He’s improved his approach in his professional seasons, and his 10% walk rate would play at the top of the order.
2012: He hit when he played, but he did not play enough.
Dr. Pangloss Says: A nice career as a fourth outfielder/second division starter.
Debbie Downer Says: Another injury or two or three keeps him from ever making a 40-man roster.
Projected 2013 Start: AA Binghamton although a tour through St. Lucie to begin the year is possible.
MLB Arrival: 2015
#38 – 2B Brenan Kaupe
Height/Weight: 5’7”/175 lbs
Acquired: 4th rd 2012 (Wailuku HS, HI)
Born: 4/10/94 (Wailuku, HI)
2012 Rank: NR | Stats
Why Ranked Here: Kaupe lands in the Top 41 as a top four-round pick with a plus tool or two – his speed is a little bit above average while his bat speed is plus. Kaupe is a thickly built 5’7” and I would be suspect that by the time he reaches the big leagues he will be no better than an average runner. He needs refinement at second base but that’s not surprising for a high school draftee. He has the tools for the position for now.
Can Kaupe hit? When I saw him in Kingsport, I thought he looked overmatched. He was passive early in the count and then later chased breaking balls, and got eaten up by fastballs. The Appalachian League is a tough league for high school kids, and Kaupe struggled some. Different strokes for different folks, but Mike Newman, who’s opinion I trust came away much more impressed by Kaupe when he saw him later in the season.
2012: On the face, .173/.358/.195 is pretty ugly. Also, Kaupe managed two extra-base hits in 50 games and struck out in 25.4% of his plate appearances. Almost the only productive thing he did offensively was walk 38 times, or 22% of his plate appearances. Is that a discerning plate eye or passivity?
Dr. Pangloss Says: Jose Altuve-light.
Debbie Downer Says: AA tops.
Projected 2013 Start: Extended Spring Training then off to Brooklyn in June
MLB Arrival: Late 2017