The Debut: Juan Lagares

Lagares Swing Finish AFL CageToday, the Mets called up Juan Lagares to replace Kirk Niuewenhuis in the outfield mix. Lagares is a versatile defender who can capably man all three spots with the range for center, and the arm for right. A former infielder, he was slowed by injuries (back and hand) early in his minor league career, but put it togetehr in a big way in Savannah in 2010 as a 21-year old.

That defensive versatility combined with a real, consistent ability to hit left-handers makes Lagares a good fit for the current Mets roster and a potential part of a platoon either in center or in right (whenever the team tires of Marlon Byrd). In 2012, Lagares hit .331/.379/.474 in 133 AB vs. LHP in AA. That came on the heels of a .321/.333/.472 line in 53 AB vs. southpaws at the same level in 2011. This was was more of the same ahs he was 7-for-24 vs. AAA LHP with two doubles and two homers for a .625 slugging percentage. On this Mets team, Lagares should play regularly against left-handed pitching.

Lagares, when he’s right is short and direct to the ball. He’s makes good barrel contact, but he’s a heavy top-hand hitter who generates more topspin than backspin which cuts down on the ball’s carry and thus his power numbers. In the upper minors, before Las Vegas, he had never run an isolated slugging percentage above .150.

Lagares is a very aggressive hitter. The Mets have worked hard with him on his approach in the last few years, but it remains a work in progress. In a-ball, while hitting .300/.318/.459 over 67 games for Savannah in 2010, he walked in 2.3% of his plate appearances. That went down (!) to 1.5% when he was promoted to St. Lucie later that summer where he hit .233/.248/.316 in 33 games. After bumping that up to 6.4% in 2011 in the FSL when his production rose to .338/.380/.494 in 82 games, he kept right on hitting in AA (.370/.391/.512 in 28 games but did not walk – 2.9%). In 2012, he spent the whole year at AA, and his walk rate rebounded to 6.8%, but his power numbers declined (a .106 isolated slugging percentage) for a .283/.334/.389 overall line.

In 17 games with Las Vegas this year, he was hitting .346/.378/.551 – the first time he has had an isolated slugging percentage above .205, so thank you PCL. And of course, as it has every time he has moved up, his walk rate dipped, but this time less severely – only to 4.9%.

It is extremely fitting that Lagares will be wearing #12, Scott Hairston’s old number, as like Hairston, he can hit lefties and be an asset defensively. However, compared to Hairston, at this point in their careers, Lagares might be a better defender with less power.

Mets’ Hitting Coach, Dave Hudgens will have his work cut out to make the 24-year-old Lagares a complete hitter who is patient enough to play everyday. Even if that effort is unsuccessful, Lagares’ defensive ability and prowess against LHP will make him valuable to this Mets team.

AAA Monday: Ooof, PCL. Travis d’Arnaud has a TTO Night

AAA: Colorado Springs Sky Sox (COL) 19, @ Las Vegas 51s 5 

d'arnaud Vegas HeadThe wind was blowing out at Cashman Field and the two teams combined on 24 runs, 28 hits, four homers and 15 walks in an action-packed 3:24. The 51s also committed six errors. PCL Baseball!

Chris Schwinden started and wore a whole bunch of that damage – yielding eight runs, four earned including two homers in 3.2 innings. Adam Kolarek, recently promoted from AA Binghamton had a rough one as well: 2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 HR. The 51s ended the game with position player Eric Campbell on the hill – he too gave up four runs in an inning.

The good news for Vegas came mostly at the plate. C Travis d’Anaud  (pictured) had five plate appearances: all ended with one of the three true outcomes: with one homer, one strikeout and three walks. The homerun was his first of 2013, the walks were his 10th, 11th and 12th to push his line to .300/.488/.567 in 10 games for the 24-year old.

Wilmer Flores was 3-for-5 with a strikeout while playing thirdbase for the first time after nine games at second base. The 21-year old is hitting .289/.346/.378 in his 12 contests five walks and just three whiffs. He did commit an error, his third of the year.

CF Juan Lagares was 2-for-5 with a triple and two RBI at the top of the order to extend his hitting streak to eight games. In 11 games, he’s hitting a batting average-heavy .346/.370/.519 with four extra-base hits.

Flores playing third for a night opened up second for Reese Havens (.276/.333/.310 – 10 games), who was 0-for-5.

Top 41: 24 – LHP Robert Carson, 25 – SS Wilfredo Tovar, 26 – Juan Lagares

After the raw potential of Cesar Puello and Wuilmer Becerra, these ranking will take a hard turn for the next eight slots into the realm of “MLB Spare Parts and Bullpen Pieces.” I view all of the next eight as very likely to play in the big leagues, or in Carson’s case already have, but unlikely to be average regulars. The big league at bats and innings this group will provide will separate them from many other players on this prospect list.

#24 LHP Robert Carson
Carson Mets headBats/Throws:  Left/Left
Height/Weight:  6’4”, 240 lbs
Acquired:  14th rd, ’07 (Hattiesburg HS)
Born: 1/23/89 (Hattiesburg, MS)
2012 Rank: 27 | Stats

Why Ranked Here: Carson made his MLB debut in 2012 and appeared in 17 games overall for the Mets. He struggled, with five strikeouts against four walks in 13.1 innings. Still there’s stuff in here. Carson’s fastball averaged 94.6 mph. In fact, Carson’s results have lagged a bit behind his fastball and raw weapons. Carson’s slider was 84. His command of both pitches was below average. If he can harness both, he could be a pretty nice reliever.

2012: Carson put together a 4.79 ERA in 35.2 innings in AA, a 1.72 ERA in 15.2 innings in AAA and a 4.73 ERA in 13.1 innings in the big leagues.

Dr. Pangloss Says: A good lefty reliever
Debbie Downer Says: Carson never learns to throw strikes, and never reaches a 100 ERA+.
Projected 2013 Start: AAA Buffalo
MLB Arrival: 2012. Back in 2013

 

ERAG/GSIPHRERHRBBSOHBPWP
2012EL-AA4.7931/035.674522192153705
2012IL –AAA1.7210/015.671643161501
2012NL –MLB4.7317/013.33137724520

BB/9SO/9SO/BBHR/9H/9R/9BB%SO%TBF
2012 EL3.89.32.50.511.45.68.922.0168
2012 IL3.48.62.50.69.22.39.223.165
2012 MLB2.73.41.31.48.84.77.08.857

 


#25 SS Wilfredo Tovar
Tovar Mets HeadBats/Throws: Right/Right
Height/Weight: 5’10”, 160
Acquired: NDFA (10/12/07)
Born: 8/11/91 (Miranda, VE)
2012 Rank: #29 | Stats

Why Ranked Here: Tovar is a skilled defensive shortstop who probably will never hit enough to hold down an every day job.

The tiny guy has quick feet, outstanding balance, lightning-fast hands and plenty of arm to play short.

At the plate, he bats out of a crouch and again, his hands work well. He never strikes out, but he’s just not big enough and strong enough to generate any power at all.

2012: Tovar conquered the Florida State League, poking 17 doubles, and walking in over 11% of his plate appearances. Promoted to AA Binghamton, his walk rate dropped in half, to 5% dragging his line to .254/.308/.332.
Dr. Pangloss Says: A second-tier starting shortstop who makes a living with his glove, contact and learns (again) to draw some walks.

Debbie Downer Says: Up and down guy who spends some seasons on MLB rosters and some in AAA.
Projected 2013 Start: AA Binghamton
MLB Arrival: 2015

Basic

GABH2B3BHRBBSOAVGOBPSLG
2012 FSL652186217112917.284.377.385
2012 EL571934911201122.254.308.332
2012 Total12241111128314039.270.345.360

Advanced

XBH%SO%BB%HR%BABIP
2012 FSL7.46.611.30.4.303
2012 EL5.910.05.00.0.280
2012 Total6.78.28.40.2.293

 

 


#26 – OF Juan Lagares
Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 180
Acquired: NDFA (5/5/06)
Born: 3/17/89 (Constanza, DR)
2012 Rank: #7  | Stats
Why Ranked Here: Lagares can play all three outfield positions and hit a little. In the big leagues, he could be an above average corner outfielder, and a little bit below average defensively in center, who is playable as a backup.

Offensively, he’s an aggressive hitter who makes lots of contact with a line drive swing. Although he’s solidly built, he just does not have the high finish that allows him to generate much loft to put the ball out of the wall. He walks very little and has struggled learning a better, more modern-Mets approach.

Lagares was a shortstop through 2009, and one Mets person suggested to me that he could play third (although he’s only played only six games there as a professional – five in Brooklyn) and that would help him make a MLB team as an OF/3B reserve.

2012: Lagares spend the whole season with AA Binghamton. On the plus side, his walk rate of 6.8% was a career-best. The bad news is that it would still be a below average MLB walk rate. The other bad news, is that his power disappeared: his .106 isolated slugging percentage was his lowest over a full season since 2009 in the South Atlantic League as was his 7.1% extra-base hit rate.

Lagares ran an OPS that was nearly 200 points higher against lefties in 2012. (Versus lefties he owned .872 as part of a .338/.387/.485 line in 142 PA while he hit .266/.318/.359 in 401 PA against righties.)

Dr. Pangloss Says: A useful piece of a platoon who can offer a team additional value thanks to his defensive flexibility and ability.
Debbie Downer Says: He just will not hit enough for a team to carry him and he will lose steps and range in the outfield as he ages.
Projected 2013 Start: AAA Las Vegas
MLB Arrival: 2013

Basic

GABH2B3BHRBBSOSFSACHBPAVGOBPSLG
2011 Total12047016426992676342.349.383.500
2012 EL13049914129643793524.283.334.389

Advanced

XBH%SO%BB%HR%BABIPISO
2011 Total8.715.05.11.8.399.151
2012 EL7.117.06.80.7.337.106

Mailbag: Internal Right-Handed Outfielder Options

Remy asks:

Why no talk of Puello or Lagaras being a right handed bat in the OF?

Toby Hyde, Mets Minor League Blog:

There’s no talk of using either Cesar Puello or Juan Lagares as a right-handed bat in the OF because neither is ready.

Puello, who turned 21 in April, hit .260/.328/.423 in 66 games with St. Lucie this past year. An early-season muscle strain and then a broken hammate bone interrupted his season. He started to turn his powerful frame into more in-game pop. His .163 isolated slugging percentage and his 9.9% extra-base hit rate were both career-highs for full-season baseball. On the downside, he fanned in 23% of his at-bats and walked in just 2.8%. His on-base percentage, was sustained by 16 hit-by pitches. Guys who fan that much in advanced-A often see precipitous average declines at higher levels (think Kirk Nieuwenhuis or Matt den Dekker). His next step will be double-A in 2013 where he will need to show dramatically better strike zone judgment. Major League pitchers would carve him up right now.

 

Lagares, who will be 24 on Opening Day, 2013, is closer to big league ready, but did not hit for the kind of power in 2012 that would suggest he can be a Major League asset yet. He hit .283/.334/.389 in 130 games for double-A Binghamton, and apparently set a team record for most outfield putouts in a season.  Good news: he makes contact, as evidenced by his 17% strikeout rate. Bad news: he does not walk much (6.8% in 2012). Worse news: his power disappeared in 2012 as his extra-base hit rate slipped to 7.1%, his lowest rate since 2009, and his isolated slugging percentage dropped to .106. He has always been a heavily top-hand hitter, which produces line drives with top spin that sink, rather than backspin that carries for extra-base hits.

For what it’s worth, Lagares hit significantly better against lefties, with more pop than he did against righties this year.

Vs LHP: .333/.382/.477 – a .144 ISO – in 144 PA
Vs. RHP: .264/.317/.357 – a .093 ISO – in 399 PA

Lagares should start 2013 in Vegas.

Mets Minor League Report: Juan Lagares

 

SNY.tv’s Ted Berg profiles Binghamton Mets outfielder Juan Lagares in the latest installment of the Mets Minor League Report.

 

Upper Minors Wednesday: Juan Lagares Leads B-Mets to W

AA: Binghamton Mets 6, @ Reading Phillies 2

RF/CF Juan Lagares was 3-for-5 with a double. Lagares is hitting .300/.343/.444 after the AA All-Star Break in an Eastern League that hits .260/.330/.392 overall. Note that most of Lagares’ distance from League average is driven by batting average. He needs to hit for a high average to have value.

The Phillies slowed down 2B Wilmer Flores, who was 0-for-5 with two strikeouts.

RHP Gonzalez Germen (8-11, 4.42) was solid: 7.2 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K. Germen now has allowed 121 hits in 114 innings in double-A this year.

 


The Bisons were off Wednesday and finish up with five games on the road: two in Rochester and then three in Lehigh Valley over the weekend.

Kevin Goldstein on Juan Lagares

From Monday Morning’s Prospect Ten Pack

Lagares made some noise last year when he hit .349 between two levels, but as an outfielder without much in the way of power or patience, he had to keep hitting to maintain his prospect status. …  He’s far from perfect, but he’s improved both his physical conditioning and his defense this year, to the point where he still fits better in a corner but can at least hold his own in center. It’s hard to see him becoming an everyday guy with his skill set, but he does look like the kind of player who could have a career.

Upper Minors Sunday: Juan Lagares is Hot

AAA: Charlotte Knights 10, @ Buffalo Bisons 8

Garrett Olson’s return to the Bisons’ rotation for his first start since July 7 was something far less than triumphant: 2.2 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 2 K.

In slightly better pitching news, Jenrry Mejia tossed two scoreless innings out of the bullpen with two strikeouts and zero hits. Perhaps most encouraging, he threw 70% of his pitches for strikes (21 of 30).

3B Zach Lutz was 3-for-5 with a triple and an RBI. The 26-year old is hitting .296/.407/.464 in 37 games for the Bisons this year.

 


AA: @ Bowie Bay Sox 6, Binghamton Mets 2 

Oof. Darin Gorski: 4 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 6 BB, 5 K, 2 HR, 1 WP. So, in 98 innings of work this year, while working to a 4.13 ERA (slightly above the Eastern League average of 3.94) he’s walked 40 and fanned 76 (1.9 K/BB and 7 K/9).

CF Juan Lagares (pictured) was 2-for-4 with a triple, his fifth of the year. It was his third straight two-hit game and his sixth in his last eight contests. Thanks to a .340/.361/.479 July, the 23-year old is up to .284/.335/.385 for the year. The Eastern League as a whole hits .261/.332/.391.

In his third rehab game with the Binghamton Mets, Mike Baxter played the outfield for the first time. He was 1-for-3 and lined up in leftfield.

Wilmer Flores (0-for-4) played second, Jefry Marte (1-for-4) played third and Reese Havens (1-for-4, 2 K) DHed.

Upper Minors Sunday: Bats Carry the B-Mets and Bisons to Wins

AAA: Buffalo Bisons 10, @ SWB Yankees 3 

The Bisons won four straight to head into the AAA All-Star Break on the strength of an offense that has scored 31 runs in those four games.

Sunday, CF Matt den Dekker led the way in a 3-for-5 effort with a homerun, 3 RBI and a strikeout. In 25 games with the Bisons, he has six homers, and 13 extra-base hits overall as part of a .211/.235/.459 line with four walks and 33 strikeouts.

Adam Loewen is back with the Bisons and hitting. After a 2-for-4 with a double and a homer Sunday, he’s 7-for-15 in July with 4 extra-base knocks in four games. Another left-hitting corner guy is pretty low on the Mets’ needs right now.

Collin McHugh earned his first AAA win on Sunday: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K. He threw 64% of his pitches (52 of 81) for strikes.

The Bisons got all the hard-throwers in their bullpen (Jenrry Mejia, Josh Edgin and Elvin Ramirez) some work on the final day before the break.

And yes, that’s former Met, and “habitual liar” John Maine who started for SWB.

 


AA: Binghamton Mets 10, @ Altoona Curve (PIT) 9 

The B-Mets built a 9-3 in this one, and just held on at the end when the Curve scored five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning.

CF Juan Lagares (pictured) was 3-for-6 with two doubles to help construct the B-Mets’ advantage. Lagares (.274/.332/.364 – 84 games) already has four doubles in July, equalling his total from the entire month of June. The 23-year old had a more patient season versus a year ago – his walk rate is up to 7.8%, but oddly at the expense of his power. He has just one homerun, and his extrabase hit rate has dropped from about 9% in 2011 to 6% in 2012. Usually, when batters become more patient, their power production goes up.

1B Alan Dykstra was 3-for-5 with a homer. Having him back and active will certainly help the B-Mets’ offense.

While Wilmer Flores was off playing third for the World Futures Team, 3B Jefry Marte was 0-for-3 with two walks and a strikeout for Binghamton while 2B Reese Havens was 1-for-3 with a double, two walks and a strikeout. Marte, who turned 21 in June, is hitting .230/.304/.351 since May 1. Like Lagares, his increased walk rate (up to 9.7%) since May 1, has come without a corresponding power surge as his extra-base hit rate is down to 5.7% since May 1 as his overall line sits at .260/.331/.381 in 80 games.

The 25-year old Havens is hitting .218/.352/.354 in 61 games in Binghamton.

Gonzalez Germen’s ERA rose to 4.27 when he walked five and gave up five runs on five hits in 7.1 innings.

Upper Minors Thursday: The Kids Hit in AA

AAA: @ Buffalo Bisons 4, Louisville Bats (CIN) 2 

Collin McHugh lasted four innings in his third Buffalo start: (4 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 1 HBP) and the offense came from SS Josh Rodriguez and 3B Oswaldo Navarro. So, there’s that.

CF Matt den Dekker (.206/.247/.456 – 16 games) and 2B Jordany Valdespin were each 0-for-4.

 


AA: @ Bowie Bay Sox 8, Binghamton Mets 6

Darin Gorski gave up four runs in the fourth, and the B-Mets’ bullpen of Ryan Fraser and Robert Carson allowed four more in the eighth and ninth innings to give the bats too big a margin to come back against.
Gorski: 6 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K. Gorski, last year’s Florida State League pitcher of the year, when he had a 2.08 ERA in 138 innings with a 4.8 K/BB ratio (140 K/29 BB) owns a 4.14 ERA and a 2.01 K/BB ratio this year (58 K/28 BB) in 72 innings.   Note that his walkrate has almost doubled, and his strikeout rate is down.

Carson has to rank up there among Mets disappointments on a team that just added a left-handed reliever to the big league roster. Thursday, he gave up three runs in the ninth on two hits, and three walks. In 26.1 innings in AA  this year, he has a 4.44 ERA with 32 hits allowed and 12 walks against 25 stirkeouts. He’s been a B-Met since the middle of the 2010 season.

CF Juan Lagares (.273/.333/.364 – 74 games – picured) was 2-for-3 with a double and a walk. It was his third double in his last four games and his fourth walk in his last three. His .697 OPS is his highest at any point in June. In his last six games, he’s 11-for-23 (.478).

Reese Havens (.206/.340/.335) was 1-for-4 with a walk. The 25-year old has hit safely in six straight, drawn a walk in seven straight and reached base at least once in each of his last 11 games.

Wilmer Flores DHed while Jefry Marte played 3B. Each guy was 2-for-3. Flores walked once and added a sacrifice fly and Marte walked twice. Flores is hitting .367/.417/.567 with four walks, four strikeouts and four extra-base hits in his first eight games at AA. Marte, who has been at AA all year is sitting at .275/.343/.403. A .343 on-base percentage would be his highest since the GCL in 2008.