The names keep popping up like popcorn. Wherever you look a baseball analyst or soothsayer includes the name of another Met minor league prospect on a list of up-and-comers. These Met prospects are not confined to the pitching core. Names like Flores, Puello, Taijeron, Dykstra, Centeno, and Plawecki are tossed to and fro as promising future Mets. Joining the milieu, Jayce Boyd.
On Friday, Nathaniel Stoltz posted a piece on FanGraphs identifying five minor league first base prospects who project well as potential future big time major league baseball potency. According to Stoltz, first base can be a thorny spot for a minor league prospect. Too many times shoddy defending third basemen, outfielders or even catches who still show life with the bat are channeled toward first base. Consider the Mets.
Earlier in the season when John Buck raked and Travis d’Arnaud was expected to make an early season arrival at Citi Field speculation swirled that perhaps Buck could play first. In a previous season when the Daniel Murphy left-field experiment failed where did he go – first base. Josh Satin, Justin Turner…. you get the picture.
All that re-positioning around the first base bag at the big league level narrows the available ML slots at that position for minor leaguers. Stoltz emphasizes that first base prospects who do climb the minor league ladder to the majors are often those “big time” names like Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez or Mark Teixeira.
With that backdrop, Stoltz identifies five current minor league first sackers that he believes might have that “big time” shine. The list includes Max Murray in his first year of professional baseball at the High-A level, a guy who walks as many times as he strikes out, and has already blasted 20 home runs.
Consider Stetson Allie, drafted 52nd overall as a triple-digit pitching prospect who had unmanageable command issues and was redirected to first base. A High-A Pirate prospect with big time power to all fields Allie blasted through Low-A play earlier in the season batting .324/.414/.607 with 17 HR’s before he was elevated to High-A.
24-year old Andy Wilkins, a White Sox farmhand, is the only Triple-A prospect on the list. Wilkins had 20 homerun power in Double-A before a recent call-up with .286/.388/.477 stats.
Ronald Guzman is an 18-year-old kid making big noise for Texas at the Low-A level. A hulking 6-foot-5” slugger, Guzman is in his first full professional season with a noteworthy 16.3% strikeout rate on a team fanning at a 28.3 percent clip. Guzman is hitting .326 with a .357 on-base-percentage.
Coming in on the trail position on Stoltz’ list is Jayce Boyd, the 22-year old first base prospect of the Mets. Boyd edged another Met aspirant Allan Dykstra of the Double-A Binghamton Mets to make the last slot on the list.
Boyd, a 6th round draft pick out of Florida State, is earning a reputation for incredible focus and a sharp batting eye at the plate. Last year, Boyd struggled in most batting categories playing short season ball in Brooklyn but one offensive category may have signaled a brighter future for the young Met prospect. Boyd walked almost as many times as he struck out for Brooklyn.
Boyd attributes fatigue for his slow first year. Nearly 75 college games and then 60 pro contests eventually wore the young first baseman out. Boyd simply needed a break. “I think it was more so, just having that off-season to be a little more physically fit,” Boyd told Adam Rubin of ESPN when explaining his blistering 2013 start.
Boyd was the “Best Deal in Baseball” in Savannah leading the Sand Gnats to the top first half record in the South Atlantic League. Boyd raked, hitting at a sizzling .366 clip, the best in the league, with a .441 on-base-percentage and a .494 slugging percentage.
Stoltz fusses about Boyd’s lack of power noting the Sand Gnat first baseman had only 7 home runs before his call to St. Lucie. But, Boyd walked 35 time against only 32 strikeouts in Savannah,and Stoltz applauds his approach and focus on taking good at bats and hitting up the middle or to the gaps. There’s an old saying; “Good hitters develop power, but power hitters don’t learn how to hit,” Stoltz notes when citing Boyd’s future power potential.
Boyd has always had clean, pure hitting ability and a good approach in the batter’s box. He hit .326 as a freshman, .343 as a sophomore and .376 as a junior at Florida State. Boyd was an All-ACC team selection at first base in 2012 leading the league in hits with 96 and finishing in the top ten in batting average, doubles, RBI’s total bases and on-base-percentage. The FSU first-sacker hit a league best ,381 in 30 contests against ACC opponents in 2012.
Boyd is no slouch on defense logging an impressive .988 fielding percentage in his final season at FSU. In fact, Mike Martin, Boyd’s FSU coach called the Met prospect the best defensive first baseman he has ever coached. Martin should know since he’s been at the helm at FSU since 1980.
Boyd has also shown the capacity to adapt. Moving from college to professional baseball, Boyd widened his stance reducing movement and allowing him to see the ball longer. And, Boyd has not needed a transition time after being summoned to High-A ball in St. Lucie. In his first 48 at bats, Boyd is batting .396 with 2 HR’s and 11 RBI’s. A .396 OBP and .420 slugging percentage complete and impressive stat line.
Jayce Boyd, another kernel of hope popping into the conversation of what position players might be part of a brighter future for our New York Mets.