Why Ranked Here: He hit, and hit and hit in 2011, blasting his way out of advanced-A into double-A where he continued to hit. He hit some more in 15 games in the Arizona Fall League going .303/.343/.485 in 15 games before finishing up by going 2-for-16 for Aguilas in the Dominican Winter League.
Lagares, who will be 23 in 2012, has a number of average or better tools. He’s an above average runner with an above average arm. His hit tool, simply the ability to put the bat on the ball is above average as well. He struck out in just 15% of his plate appearances in 2011, and 17% in double-A. He battled injuries from 2007-2010, so 2011 was his first full healthy season in full-season ball.
It’s not just that Lagares has tools – he’s learned to turn them into baseball production and he’s getting better. His nine home runs were one shy of his total of 10 from the years 2008-2010 combined. He improved his plate discipline. In 2010, he walked in 2% of his total plate appearances, which rose to 5.1% in 2011. Specifically, he went from 1.5% in St. Lucie in 2010 to 6.3% in 2011.
Now the negatives. He might be a tweener who does not quite have the speed to play centerfield everyday in the big leagues without the power to profile on a corner. Now, at 23, he could, and should, develop some more power. However, he’s a top-hand dominant hitter, which limits his ability to generate backspin to drive the ball. His walk-rate is still low. His batting averages were supported by very high BABIPs, which to some degree was a reflection of how hard he was hitting the ball.
He’s a big leaguer. The question is whether he’s a fourth-outfielder, or more. If he improves as much in 2012 as he did in 2011, he could be a starting outfielder even on a corner by running high batting averages with just enough walks and a little power.
2011: Hey, dude hit .349/.383/.500 in 120 games between St. Lucie and Binghamton as a 22-year old. That included a nuts .370/.391/.512 month and change in double-A.
Dr. Pangloss Says: Well-rounded starting outfielder who makes a few All-Star games in his prime.
Debbie Downer Says: A BABIP fueled mirage in 2011 means he’ll never be more than a fourth outfielder.
Projected 2012 Start: AAA Buffalo
MLB Arrival: Late 2012
Lagares in Binghamton