I came into this season with high hopes for guys such as Cory Vaughn, Cesar Puello, Wilmer Flores and Aderlin Rodriguez. However, not a single one of the players I just listed came close to their 2011 expectations, especially for where they were ranked in the system. I understand that they are young, and still have time to develop, but was it to much to ask for one of them to perform at a high level?
Wilmer Flores: Coming into this season he was touted as the top prospect in the Mets entire farm system. Scouts have raved about his bat and “special hands” for years, but when are we going to see it? I know he is young, and just turned 20 years of age, but he has now played 4 full seasons in the Minor leagues and we are still waiting. His season line was just very unimpressive with the exception of the fact that he drove in over 80 runs. At this point in his young career he doesn’t walk enough (26 in 507 AB’s), and his power stroke has not fully developed like many had hoped it would. He had just 9 home runs this year, down from his professional high of 11 last season. He still has not consistently driven the ball in the gaps as he only had 26 doubles on the season, also down from his high of 34 last season. His production is not awful, it is just not worthy of all the hype, and especially not worthy of an organizational top prospect ranking. He began the year playing for Single-A St. Lucie, and that is exactly where he finished the season. He did not perform well enough to be promoted like many of his teammates did. Being that this is his fourth full professional season, not being promoted speaks volumes for where he is right now.
Cory Vaughn: My personal favorite in the Mets system, had me very excited early on. He was hitting well over .300 for Savannah, and was beginning to drive the ball early in the year. He then began to slide and was eventually promoted to Single-A St Lucie. Once he arrived there he began a downward spiral, that officially put a damper on his sophomore season in the pros. He was coming off a season where he his a Brooklyn Cyclones record 14 home runs and drove in 56 RBI, while hitting .317, so there was reason to be excited. He hit just .219 for St. Lucie in in 59 games. He did hit 8 home runs, but really did not do much else to get you excited. Vaughn is considered the total package as he a good blend of speed and power to go along with his above average defense.
Cesar Puello: Cesar’s season was not terrible, but it was not great either. He surprised some people with his power display, which most of it game during a hot streak in middle of July. He played an exceptional center field, and is already playing for Single-A St. Lucie as their lead off hitter at just 19 years of age. However, with that has come with a lot of disappointments. He has walked just 18 times all season in over 400 total at bats. His batting average was a mediocre .260, and as a lead off hitter a .316 on-base percentage is just not going to cut it. Another disappointment is the fact that the young speedster has just 19 steals on the season. Puello was also caught 9 times, so he may have been a little gun shy after getting caught almost 50 % of the time. This is after he swiped 45 bags last season and looked like the next coming of Jose Reyes. Scouts rave about Puello’s potential as a 4-tool player, but he showed some pop this season that may translate to bigger power number than originally thought. If Cesar is going to continue his ascension through the Mets minor league system then he is going to need to progress and mature as a hitter and as a player. He needs to learn more patience at the plate, and understand how to read pitchers better when attempting to steal. All of those things will make him a much better player, and a much more dynamic lead off hitter.
Aderlin Rodriguez: Aderlin had just an awful year in 2011, aside from one highlight stat which was the fact that he drove in 77 RBI. In saying that the power hitting third baseman regressed in almost every facet of the game that matters. He was abysmal in the field as he made 35 errors manning the hot corner. The player with the greatest power potential in the system hit just 17 home runs in a full seasons of 510 at bats. After batting .290 and .300 in his first two professional season, his average dipped to unsightly levels as he finished the season hitting .222. Not only did he not hit, he did not get on base in any way with just 29 walks and a .286 on-base percentage. With all of the that said there is still reason for optimism going into 2012. His first two seasons in the pros were much better than what we saw in 2011, and to me that just speaks to a bad season, it happens. He has youth on his side as he will be just 20 years of age on opening day next season.
Jefry Marte: Marte was an international signing back in 2007. He burst onto the scene and hit .324/.398/.532 during his debut in the Gulf Coast League in 2008. The 20 year old third baseman was a Futures Game participant this past July despite having a down year. Since his initial season for the Mets he has under performed each season. He has not reached double digit home runs in any of his 4 seasons, and has yet to drive the ball consistently in the gaps topping out at 21 doubles twice in his young career. 2011 was no different as he batted under .250 for the season and had just 7 home runs and 54 RBI. He has a little bit of speed as he swiped 14 bags, but has not yet displayed the potential he supposedly has. Scouts say he has a good approach at the plate, makes consistent contact and usually doesn’t hurt himself by chasing balls in the dirt. However, that good approach at the plate has yet to translate into big numbers in the minors that move him through a weak hitting system on the fast track to Flushing.
Of these five guys I mentioned in this post I am most excited about Cory Vaughn and Cesar Puello. They have the best all around skill set, and have produced the best to this point of these guys mentioned. I will not be surprised if both of these players are patrolling Citi Field by 2013. With so little depth in the minor league system, unless Sandy brings in some outside players the road to Flushing is paved for these guys.