With the unsurprising news that Mets top outfield prospect Fernando Martinez is once again ailing on the DL, I’m losing patience in that entire situation.
The teenage hitting machine has failed to show me any skills worthy of his enormous hype. The minor leagues are full of prospects with a .277 minor league batting average, and for now that’s all F-Mart really is and has been. Just a mediocre talent performing at a mediocre level who has looked terrible in two short Major League stints. That’s the real story behind the Mets top hitting prospect.
This season, another Mets outfield prospect has seen his stock rise considerably. Lucas Duda has never been a highly regarded prospect like F-Mart, and has never been part of the Mets hype machine either. In fact, since beginning his professional career with the Mets in 2007, this seventh round draft pick had done very little to distinguish himself in his first three seasons with the Mets although he did manage to outhit the mighty morphin F-Mart in each of those seasons. Still, Duda kept a low profile and never came into discussion whenever the subject of Mets prospects came up.
That was then and this is now. Say hello to the new and improved Lucas Duda who is taking the International League by storm. The 2010 season has been very kind to Duda who has seen his stock value skyrocket in the last five months. After starting out the season in Double-A Binghamton and posting an impressive .910 OPS in 45 games, Duda was promoted to Triple-A Buffalo where it was thought he’d face a tougher challenge and better pitching. So what does Duda do? Two words… HE RAKED!
In 65 games for the Bisons, Duda has batted .315 with a .389 on-base percentage. In 265 at-bats he has slugged 17 home runs, 21 doubles and driven in 53 runs. So basically, this kid goes to Buffalo and raises his OPS over one-hundred points to 1.015. Not too shabby, kid…
As many of you know, once I get my brain wrapped around an idea, I can’t let it go until it comes to fruition, much like my bring Dickey to Citi Field campaign that actually started over a month before he finally got called up. But sometimes I also have boneheaded ideas too… Need I remind you of my desire to see the Mets give Jeff Francoeur a 3-year deal back in December? So based on my propensity to be so hit and miss, I was determined to look at Duda a little more objectively, and ask a lot of people a lot of questions about him. Here is what I managed to dig up…
First off, I contacted a Mets scout who I’ve known for several years. He told me that when Duda gets a hold of one, he can demolish a pitch. He also told me that despite playing primarily leftfield, the choice to put him there was simply a case of finding a spot where he would do the least amount of harm defensively. Ideally he told me, “Duda has no business owning a baseball glove”. (That’s an exact quote!) It was a very short and simple email reply, but it spoke volumes.
I took a look at Duda’s stats and I’ve come to the determination that he could be very similar to Adam Dunn. Why Dunn? Well for one, his defensive limitations are strikingly similar, but besides murdering baseballs, one other thing that Adam Dunn does very well is he draws a lot of walks. And you know what? So does Lucas Duda, and this season he has a higher walk rate than Dunn. (Duda (.575) also has a higher slugging percentage than Dunn (.537) as well.)
Okay, so besides being a defensive liability, a decent slugger, and having an uncanny ability to draw a lot of walks, what else did I find…
Regarding everyone clamoring to promote Duda on Wednesday when rosters expand to 40, lets all take a deep breath and slow down a little.
Duda is not currently on the Mets 40 man roster. That means before they can bring him up, they would have to make room for him by cutting or releasing another player. Don’t worry though, there’s plenty of scrubs the Mets could get rid of like Omir Santos or Sean Green, but until they do, Lucas Duda will not get called up. Adam Rubin who does a great job of communicating with Mets fans on Twitter, isn’t so sure Duda get a look:
“With the outfield crowded, Lucas Duda and Kirk Nieuwenhuis may get snubbed. Duda might have a slight edge because he needs to be added to the 40-man roster if the Mets want to shield him from the Rule 5 draft, but even adding Duda to the 40 isn’t assured.”
Did you catch that part about Duda being potentially exposed in the Rule 5 Draft?
I checked it out further and I was assured by a few of the fans I follow on Twitter, that that is in fact the case. So let me be the first to say that if we lose Duda in the Rule 5 Draft, I’ll be one ornery critter this offseason.
I really like this kid…
Since his promotion to Triple-A, he leads the league in extra-base hits, home runs, RBI, and slugging percentage. God knows the Mets can use all the offense we can get right now, but more than that, I want to see him get some regular at-bats as we complete the garbage time portion of another lost season. I want to see if he is really as bad as they say in leftfield and if his bat more than makes up for the lack of a glove.
It could end up being that what I heard and read is true, but call him up anyway and maybe an American League team might just like what they see and would consider him for a DH role this offseason.
He may prove to be just another bargaining chip that can help the Mets shore up another position or area of weakness, or he may be better than anyone could have predicted much like Angel Pagan and R.A. Dickey, two wild and crazy guys…
At this point we have nothing to lose. It’s obvious that Francoeur won’t be back next season anyway, so why not move Pagan over to rightfield (or centerfield) and lets see what Duda can do in leftfield.
Come on Omar! Give the people what they want!