Providing the weather clears, the New York Mets will run out another rookie this afternoon: lanky center fielder Matt den Dekker. This kid can fly and run down a ball in the gap with anybody the Mets have, but is a slow study at the plate.
Den Dekker’s opportunity comes in the aftermath of the trade of Marlon Byrd to Pittsburgh.
A capsule of den Dekker’s production was last year when he hit .340 at Double-A Binghamton, but .220 at Triple-A Buffalo. Den Dekker was producing for Triple-A Las Vegas, hitting .296 with six home runs, eight doubles and 38 RBI in 53 games.Like other outfield prospects in the organization – Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Juan Lagares – den Dekker has had too high a strikeout ratio for his production.
However, after starting the season with a broken wrist, den Dekker’s strikeout ratio has dropped and he’s walking more. The speculation is the injury forced him to shorten his swing.
When the Mets opened Citi Field, they did so under the pretext of defense and pitching, but their first significant signing was Jason Bay.
From left to right, the Mets will likely go with Eric Young, den Dekker and Lagares, easily their fastest and best defensive outfield alignment they’ve had in a long time.
The projected power numbers from that trio would be too low for the major leagues, but theoretically it could be acceptable if they were getting it elsewhere, but David Wright is on the disabled list (he leaves for treatment in Florida today) and they are getting nothing from Ike Davis.
The Mets will use the final month to get an idea of what their outfield could look like next year. With the absence of Byrd, the Mets will still look for a power-hitting outfielder over the winter.
Should they obtain that kind of outfielder, it could come down to den Dekker or Lagares for the starting job in center. Lagares has been impressive in streaks, but strikes out too much. Defensively, den Dekker goes back on the ball better, which is very important in Citi Field, but Lagares, who already has 11 assists, might have a stronger arm.
Thoughts from Joe D.
The one thing that has always intrigued me about Den Dekker is the ongoing pattern of getting off to a slow start at every level of his pro career and eventually pouring it on and finishing hot. It’s been his calling card for the last four seasons and he was doing it again at Las Vegas just prior to his promotion.
He strikes out a lot and that’s a concern, but he does show an ability to adjust which offsets that somewhat. He’s here now and the 26-year old will finally get the chance to prove if he belongs.
He’ll be in center field today, not because he’s replacing Juan Lagares there, but mostly so he has a comfort level in his big-league debut.