In 2008, the Mets had one of their better drafts in recent years. That year they selected five players who have since made their major league debuts. With the 18th overall pick, the Mets took Ike Davis, who rewarded them with a 32 HR, 90 RBI campaign in 2012. They also selected Kirk Nieuwenhuis (3rd round), Josh Satin (6th round), Collin McHugh (18th round) and Chris Schwinden (22nd round).
Nieuwenhuis and McHugh contributed to the team this year and are expected to continue to be a part of the team’s future, while Satin and Schwinden may be able to fill in for injured players in 2013. There was another player who was drafted by the Mets in that year’s draft who was expected to be a regular on the major league team by now. Instead, he’s become a regular on the disabled list and has not advanced past AA-Binghamton. That player is Reese Havens.
David Reese Havens was selected by the Mets in the first round of the 2008 draft, four picks after the team yanked Ike Davis from the amateur pot. After a stellar final year at the University of South Carolina (.359, 76 runs, 18 HR, 57 RBI in 63 games), Havens was projected to be a power-hitting middle infielder. But once the Mets drafted Havens, the injuries soon followed.
Havens missed nearly two months of his first professional baseball season with injuries to his elbow and groin. As a result, he only played in 23 games for the Brooklyn Cyclones in 2008. The following season, Havens collected 430 plate appearance for the St. Lucie Mets, showing some of his power potential with 19 doubles and 14 homers. Although he hit .247, he showed great plate discipline with a .361 on-base percentage and only 73 strikeouts. But over the next two seasons, the injury bug came back to haunt Havens and stunted his development.
In 2010, Havens played in only 32 games for St. Lucie and AA-Binghamton, followed by a 61-game effort for the same two teams in 2011. When Havens was healthy, he played well, combining to hit .297 with 21 doubles, 15 HR and 47 RBI in those 93 games. But Havens was rarely healthy, losing time with oblique and back problems.
The 2012 season began with Havens once again on the disabled list with back problems, but he returned to Binghamton in April and played 94 games for the B-Mets. Despite playing most of the season, he had a poor year at the plate, batting .215 and struck out an alarming 113 times in 325 at-bats.
Reese Havens has been in the Mets’ minor league system for five seasons now, but has only appeared in 307 games. His .253 batting average in the minors has not been impressive, but he has shown outstanding extra-base hit potential (60 doubles, six triples, 42 HR) in what amounts to two major league seasons’ worth of games. He also draws a lot of walks, as evidenced by his .358 career on-base percentage. But all of this has been accomplished with Havens not having played a single game above the Double-A level.
This past Saturday was Reese Havens’ 26th birthday. He will probably play at AAA-Las Vegas in 2013, reaching the top rung of the minor league level for the first time in his sixth professional baseball season. He is no longer considered a top minor league prospect. But he is still on the Mets’ radar, especially since the team has still not fully committed to Daniel Murphy as their second baseman of the future.
It’s quite possible that last year’s poor performance at AA-Binghamton could have been because Havens was concealing an injury. After all, the former first round draft pick was already 25 and wanted to prove to the organization that he could stay on the field for an entire season. But what if Havens stays healthy in 2013 and continues to hit under .250 while striking out every three at-bats?
The Mets have already given Ike Davis, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Josh Satin, Collin McHugh and Chris Schwinden a shot at the majors. They’ve also given Reese Havens every opportunity to become the sixth player from the draft class of 2008 to advance to the big show. It’s up to Havens to stay on the field and produce on it if he wants to show the team that they were right in drafting him alongside a handful of other future major leaguers. 2013 may be his final chance to do so.