Height/Weight: 6’2”, 170 lbs
Acquired: NDFA 7/2/12
Born: 11/20/95 (Santo Domingo Centro, DR)
2013 Rank: 15 | Stats
Why Ranked Here: Rosario is years — and many, many adjustments — away, but he showed off skills that give him a chance to be an impact player. The Mets challenged him with an assignment to the Appalachian League, as a 17-year-old, where he was the third-youngest player overall and second-youngest position player.
Before we proceed with Rosario, I want to add a caveat: I feel very comfortable evaluating 19-, 20- and 21-year-old baseball players because, having done it for years, I know what I’m looking at. Watching a 17-year-old, the age of a junior or senior in high school, years from physical maturity, was new for me.
First, physically, he’s wiry, but there’s muscle definition on his slight frame. Calling him just “skinny” would be unfair.
At the plate, Rosario’s best swing I saw, in a few games watching him, was a flyball out to right field off a full count offering. He drove an elevated fastball well the other way, and stayed on top of the ball. He has quick wrists and generates power thanks to good batspeed and the ability to barrel balls when he connects. He could grow into average power down the road. This power is very important to his overall future value. Even MLB average power from the shortstop position would make him a potential star.
Now the negative: This is not a professional swing. Rosario starts with his hands high and he initiates his swing with a leg kick. His next move is to drop his hands near his belt. He ends up under nearly everything aside from pitches right at the bottom of the zone. As his hands drop, his whole backside collapses. This is evident in every swing in the video below to varying degrees. While he was mostly working on hitting the ball the other way in 2013, he will need new swing mechanics to be a successful MLB hitter. He needs to learn to stay firm on his backside and dramatically clean up his hand path.
In terms of approach, he was baffled by breaking stuff, which is not terribly surprising. It came up in our brief chat, he’s never seen this kind of spin before. Fixing and repeating his swing will help him handle a wider variety of pitches.
Defensively, Rosario made all the plays in game action. He showed the hands for short in game action and in early work. He has plenty of arm for shortstop. His footwork is the area that looks least polished. At times he got out ahead of his feet thanks to slightly gawky movements. As he matures and grows into his body, he will need to keep working on his footwork and movements around the bag.
On a wet track in Kingsport, Rosario turned in average to a tick below running times to first. He seemed better under way. Still, speed is not a major part of his package now. If he really fills out as he ages, and loses range, it is possible that he will have to move off of shortstop. However, that is an issue for some years in the future.
2013: Hey, he made it through 58 games as a professional in his first full professional season. That’s pretty good. He drew walks in 4.9 percent of his plate appearances and fanned in 19 percent.
Dr. Pangloss Says: There’s some star potential in here if he rebuilds his swing, stays at shortstop, and the power comes.
Debbie Downer Says: There’s also potential for a guy with a .650 OPS in advanced-A.
Projected 2014 Start: Extended Spring Training and then Brooklyn
MLB Arrival: 2018
Coming to America
In the Houston Chronicle, Jose de Jesus Ortiz takes an in-depth look at the Astros’ English and literacy program for their Latin American players.
Life and Death
In Newsday, Anthony Rieber checks in with Las Vegas 51s Pitching Coach Frank Viola who lost both parents in a 26-day span in February and March. Of going to work and the ballpark, Viola said,
“This is my home away from home. It always has been. If there was ever a time where I just needed relief or release of something, it was the ballpark. This has been the saving grace for me over the last month.”
RHP Greg Peavey and his wife Ashley welcomed a son, Graydon Maddox Peavey.
What did the Mets minor leaguers do on their off-day? Same stuff you’d want to do if you went to Florida: had breakfast with friends, golfed, went to the beach, got out on the boat, and swam with dolphins.
#10 Dilson Herrera
Height/Weight: 5’10”/150 lbs
Acquired: Trade with Pittsburgh 8/27/13 with Vic Black for John Buck and Marlon Byrd
Born: 3/3/94 (Cartagena, CO)
2013 Rank: NR | Stats
Why Ranked Here: Playing as one of the 12 youngest hitters in the SAL, Herrera acquitted himself nicely, more than holding his own against older pitchers. He projects as an above average second baseman who adds value with power, OBP and a few stolen bases. He hops in front of Kevin Plawecki in part because he played in the SAL as a 19-year-old, while Plawecki was 22.
He showed batspeed, enough strength in his swing and pop. Herrera’s 11 homeruns were second among all Mets 2B, behind only Wilmer Flores, who played his home games in Las Vegas. Also, for what it’s worth, in his age-19 season in Florida State League, Flores hit nine homers. Herrera paired that damage on contact with an impressive feel for the strike zone for a player so young as he drew a walk in 8% of his 2013 SAL regular season plate appearances.
Herrera is a slightly above average runner, going 14-for-20 stealing bases, but he needs to learn the nuances of running and how to pick his spots. (A note here: Herrera played all but six of his home games in West Virginia, a fair park, but 3% friendlier to hitters than the SAL average.)
I did not see the arm to think that Herrera could play shortstop everyday in the big leagues, confining him to second base as his longterm position. However, I heard some suggestions that the Mets were going to play Herrera at shortstop some in advanced-A. Given that most of the guys playing short in a-ball are not doing so at a Major League level, there’s little downside to this idea especially if the payoff that Herrera develops the valuable skill to versatile enough to slide over to short as a backup.
I thought Herrera was a little jumpy in the final week of the regular season and then the playoffs with the Gnats. He chased pitches and “got himself out” in the language of a hitting coach.
2013: Herrera became the youngest player ever in the Sirius/XM All-Start Futures Game showcase. While his batting average bounced around every month, like you know, every player, Herrera’s power output was consistent, as he popped two or more homers every month from May-August and had between six and 10 extra-base hits every month. Lets say in the big leagues, that’s eight extra-base hits a month for 48 for the year. That’s say, 15 homers, 5 triples and 28 doubles. From a second baseman, that’s outstanding production.
Also, while West Virginia favors hitters slightly, it doesn’t matter to Herrera who hit .221/.301/.323 in 60 games at home and .311/.367/.507 with eight of his 11 homers in 56 games on the road.
Dr. Pangloss Says: There are not a whole lot of Mets position player prospects with a chance to be above average regulars. Herrera is one of them.
Debbie Downer Says: True second basemen who do not hit enough to play everyday and cannot at least fake it at short don’t make big league rosters. Herrera either has to prove he can handle short at a backstop level or hit enough to play everyday.
Projected 2014 Start: Advanced-A St. Lucie
MLB Arrival: September 2016
I had Plawecki at #11 last year and he lands there again this year in a better system. This will be a revealing year for Plawecki as he will play against age-appropriate competition for the first time as a professional at age 23 in AA.
#11 – C Kevin Plawecki
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 215 lbs
Acquired: 1st rd supplemental 2012 (Purdue)
Born: 2/26/91 (Carmel, IN)
2013 Rank: #11 | Stats
Why Ranked Here: Plawecki, the Mets’ supplemental first round pick in 2012, earns the same rank as he did a year ago because he did exactly what he was supposed to do in 2013 without changing his overall projection much. He still has a chance to be a viable starting Major League catcher.
Catcher analysis has to start with whether a guy can play the position. Plawecki can. He’s a strong receiver who works well with his pitchers. He’s a below average runner, but his feet work fine behind the plate. His biggest weakness defensively, and in his whole game, is his arm. It’s average at best, and generally plays below average. He must have everything dialed in, from pitch, to catch, to his his footwork and transfer, through release to throw out opposing runners. Too many of his throws sailed high and wide to the first base side when his body got out front of his arm in 2013.
At the plate, Plawecki is an aggressive hitter who knows the strike zone. In a-ball he regularly attacked early count fastballs. “I hate to strike out,” he told MMiLB. This is true, between Savannah and St. Lucie, he fanned in just 10.2% of his plate appearances. He makes lots of solid barrel contact with a line drive stroke. He does not generate much loft instead he uses his thick, strong frame to drill line drives to the gaps. His walk rate has slipped at every minor league stop from 9.9% in Brooklyn to 8.2% in Savannah to 7.9% in advanced-A. He supplements the walks in the Cesar Puello way: with hit by pitches. He was plunked 24 times in 2013.
2013: Plawecki hit his way out of Savannah in his age 22 season by bopping .314/.390/.494 in 65 games. Promoted to advanced-A, Plawecki again had batting average near .300 and an on-base percentage near .400 but the power disappeared. His extra-base hit rate fell from 11% in the SAL to 6.7% in the FSL. His homerun rate fell further on a percentage basis, from 2.1% to 0.8%. Was he fatigued in his first full season? Is he a sub-10 homerun guy per year at the upper levels?
Dr. Pangloss Says: His low strikeout rate, and enough walks and hit by pitches keep his on-base percentage high enough to make him a viable starting catcher.
Debbie Downer Says: Or his arm makes him a defensive liability and upper level pitchers who do not fear his power attack the strike zone against him and relegate him to backup or up AAAA status.
Projected 2014 Start: AA Binghamton.
MLB Arrival: 2015
Brender and I look at the “spring training from hell” for Jon Niese, and break down the Mets starting rotation. The guys also continue their NL East preview with guest Dave Jageler, who does the Nationals radio play-by-play.
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Jon Niese and his “spring training from hell”
The rest of the rotation
NL East Preview: Nationals edition, with Nats radio play-by-play man Dave Jageler (15:00)
One Good Thing, One Bad Thing (35:35)
Good: Juan Lagares, Phil Jackson
Bad: Ump Goes Down, Unbalanced Brackets
If you hear a dog barking in this episode, I apologize. It was this one at right.
RHP Noah Syndergaard and RHP Rafael Montero were both reassigned.
RHP Joel Carreno, RHP Cory Mazzoni, INF Brandon Allen and INF Matt Clark were also reassigned, while C Juan Centeno and RHP Ryan Reid were optioned to the minor league camp.
This spot, #12, and shortstop Gavin Cecchini is the spot where my tiered ranking concept is no longer useful. Cecchini is different enough from the guys behind him on the list RHP Gabriel Ynoa and Michael Fulmer and the guy in front of him, that it just does not make sense to group them all together.
#12 – SS Gavin Cecchini
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 180 lbs
Acquired: 1st rd (12th overall) ‘12 (Alfred M. Barbe HS)
Born: 12/22/93 (Lake Charles, LA)
2013 Rank: #7 | Stats
Why Ranked Here: Cecchini slips five spots from a year ago because the system has gotten better and he performed to expectations, but not above them in 2013.
The Mets’ first round pick in 2012, the key to his value is his position. The Mets think he can be an average, to slightly above defender at short. He’s not going to blow anyone away with his speed – at best he’s an average runner. However, when I’ve seen him, I thought his hands worked well enough and he had plenty of arm for shortstop. The speed will be something to watch – if he does fill out and lose a step or two, his range will be subpar.
Cecchini’s defense will get him to the big leagues. However, he will have to hit to project to be an above average regular. The range on value of average defensive shortstops in MLB spans replacement-level performers and borderline stars like Ian Desmond and Jhonny Peralta. At the plate, I like the way his hands work, he gets to the ball quickly and efficiently. He has almost no stride, putting his front foot down in almost the same spot in which it started. Mostly, he needs to add strength to help his offensive game. He will always have below average power, so there’s relatively little chance he can be a star. However, a shortstop who plays average defense and gets on base is a well above average regular.
2013: A sprained ankle kept Cecchini out of action from July 4th through 26th. When he returned, he hit, putting together a 16-game hitting streak in August from July 31-August 18, finishing one shy of Lucas Duda’s Brooklyn franchise record, bopping .409/.437/.470 in his run with four walks against nine strikeouts and a .466 BABIP.
One other thing to keep in mind about Cecchini’s performance in 2013: he was playing two years younger than NYP average, and the League as a whole hit .242/.313/.338.
Dr. Pangloss Says: Above-average MLB shortstop. The Mets could use one of those in a hurry.
Debbie Downer Says: Omar Quintanilla.
Projected 2014 Start: Savannah
MLB Arrival: Summer 2016.
- The Las Vegas 51s have a new groundskeeper, which hopefully will improve the condition of the infield, which was bad in recent years. (Vorkunov, The Star-Ledger)
- After a four-year hiatus, Adam Rubin is back writing about the Mets for Baseball America. He discussed Erik Goeddel, who was a reliever in college, transitioning back to the bullpen as a professional.
- Dominic Smith picked up an infield single in his first MLB Spring Training action Saturday.
- The Jenrry Mejia to the bullpen idea will not die, but now the Mets are pairing it with the notion that it will help him return to the starting rotation. Here’s an idea: if he’s better than Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lannan (and he is) put him in the starting rotation to begin the year.
- John Harper in the Daily News thinks the Mets should trade some (young) pitching for some young hitting.
- In a combined project, Jim Bowden, Buster Olney and Keith Law placed the Mets #11 in their MLB Future Power Rankings. The aggressive ranking, above say, the Yankees, Orioles, Rays and A’s, all playoff teams in recent years, reflects the Mets rotation’s potential behind a healthy Harvey, Wheeler and Syndergaard and depth beyond.
Olney for one, is already rethinking the rankings as he wrote that the Cubs, at #7 are too high, because they aren’t spending yet.
- The Lansing Lugnuts are planning, with the City of Lansing on a $22 million project that would put a series of apartments immediately beyond the outfield walls, which is cool.
- There’s a baseball angle to President Obama’s proposal to expand overtime protections to professional workers. No minor league front office staffs – where 80 hour+ hour weeks are the norm during home stands receive overtime as they are currently classified as exempt. It’s possible the enforcement of the new rules would change the salary structure for minor league and low-level MLB front office employees.
- At MiLB.com, Jake Steiner writes about the top defensive right fielders and first basemen in the minors, or the position where glove is least valued and the players have to hit to be really valuable.
“Elite” is how a rival front office person described Smith’s defense this offseason, adding he had the “potential [to win] multiple Gold Gloves.”
Mets Infield Coordinator Kevin Morgan:
“He’s really just one of those guys who naturally gets it with the glove. He has great hands, soft hands, and actually has a strong, accurate throwing arm. He has a lot to work with.”
Here’s the thing about first base defense: it’s not as important as hitting. Being a good defender at first will help his value, but it cannot carry him.
Just for fun, I looked at all first basemen in baseball who played at least 1,000 innings at first over the last three seasons, 2011-2013. The best defender: Adrian Gonzalez and his 12.2 UZR/150. That’s basically saying Gonzalez is worth a full win or more with his defense at first. The other guys above 10 UZR: Mark Teixera and Anthony Rizzo. By fWAR over the same time span, Gonzalez was the third most valuable 1B in baseball (behind sort of 1B Miguel Cabrera and Joey Votto, both hitting savants). Teixeira, hurt by his lousy 2013, was the 14th most valuable 1B in baseball. Rizzo was 22nd.
Again, first baseman have to hit, and hit a lot. Smith’s defense will be a nice bonus but for him to be an impact player in the big leagues, he’s going to have to be a superlative hitter.
- Relatedly, at Grantland, Michael Baumann points out that 1B are very underrepresented on prospect lists. Of course, many future MLB 1B play other positions as amateurs and in the minors.
- David Conde at MetsMerized spoke to RF Cesar Puello, who told him, about his approach: “If you focus on putting the bat right on the ball, the home runs will follow, but I have to first think about my on-base percentage, my average and then everything else will follow with good results..”
- Some good pithy fun from Keith Law in his latest ESPN chat.
Danny Abriano (Brooklyn, NY): Thoughts on Steven Matz? He’ll open in High-A and likely make it to Binghamton before the season ends. Rotation piece for you?
Klaw (1:07 PM): Not with that delivery.
Gary (NY): If Bartolo Colon and EYJ both appear in the same game with Juan Lagaras on the bench, should Terry Collins be fired right then and there?
Klaw (2:23 PM): Yes. The EYJ fascination befuddles me. He has demonstrated so many times that he’s not a viable regular that I can’t grasp benching a 70 defender for him.