Flashback: Prospect Pulse On Outfielder Juan Lagares

juan lagares

I thought it would be cool to look back at one of my very first Prospect Pulse pieces that I did here on MMO from about a year ago. It was on the Mets’ current centerfielder Juan Lagares.

I remember when I first wrote this, I didn’t think Lagares had a shot at getting to the big leagues until 2014 at the earliest. Matt den Dekker seemed to be all the talk headed into spring training for 2013, and I was definitely down with MDD at the time. Juan Lagares surprised many, and has become the perfect example of how you don’t always find guys that contribute to major league ball clubs ranked in the top five or ten prospects in an organization.

Enjoy.

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Player Name: Juan Lagares
Bats: R  Throws: R
Height: 6’1”  Weight: 175 lb.
Position: Outfield
Age: 23 (turns 24 in March)
MMO Top Prospect Ranking: 21
ETA: 2014

Over the next couple of weeks, we will be taking an in-depth look at the prospects that will be joining the Mets in spring training as members of the 40-man roster. We are starting it off with Juan Lagares.

Background:

Lagares is what most would consider an under-the-radar type of prospect. You won’t find him on any top prospect lists, but after a very solid 2011 season, Lagares put himself on the map in the Mets organization. He split time in 2011 between Binghamton and St. Lucie and put up some pretty impressive numbers. In 470 at bats, he compiled a .338 batting average, hit 9 home runs, added 71 RBI, swiped 15 bases and finished with a .383 OBP. Yeah, that will turn some heads. His 2012 season took a bit of a dip, but he still put up some solid numbers.

Most analysts project Lagares as a left fielder, although he could probably play any of the three outfield positions. He has a nice athletic build, but seeing as he is turning 24, he probably won’t fill out much more (current weight is 175 lb.). That will limit his power numbers, but he still probably has the potential to be a 10-15 home run type of guy. Most believe his power numbers will limit him to a fourth outfielder role some day.

Analysis:

I’ve come across some scouting reports on Lagares’ hitting mechanics that have said he is ultra-aggressive at the plate. This is a cause of concern considering he isn’t much of a power guy. Lagares is a guy that has the potential to steal 20-25 bases in a season, so his goal should be to get on base as much as possible and to be ultra-patient at the plate.

After viewing the video on Lagares batting practice session above, a couple of things jumped out at me. Lagares opens his hips up slightly early, which is a tell-tale sign of over-aggressiveness at the plate. When I slowed down the video, it was very evident (not so easy to pick up during live speed). He should work on keeping his hips closed and allow the pitch to get closer to him which will make him a better overall hitter. If I were I pitcher I would pepper him with off-speed stuff on the outside half of the plate because that is probably his “cold zone.” You can actually see on the fourth or fifth pitch in his BP session how off-balance he was on an outside pitch. That is a pitch he should be driving to right-centerfield. By keeping his hips closed longer, it will allow him to drive the outside pitch, instead of taking defensive swings and fighting them off.

It also seemed like the bat head dragged through the zone. Lagares should be throwing his hands through the zone straight to the ball. Imagine a lumberjack chopping at a tree, which we don’t see with Lagares’ swing. This may not necessarily be an issue, and could just be the fact that he was trying to generate more power to put on a little show during batting practice. But his swing didn’t look very crisp in this particular BP session.

SNY took a look at Lagares last September on their Mets Minor League Report. Here is what Lagares’ coaches said about him:

It was nice to hear Binghamton manager Pedro Lopez say that Lagares can go as far as he wants to go. He also added that he believed Lagares was the best defensive centerfielder in the league last season. Lopez also stated that 2011 was a “Cinderella Season” for Lagares, and he had to live up to very lofty expectations in 2012. He may have fallen a tad short of expectation in 2012, but Lagares has a bright future. If he continues to work hard, maybe he can surpass the expectations that he will just be a fourth outfielder someday. Pedro Lopez seems to think he can. Depending on how he performs this spring, expect Lagares to begin 2013 with Triple-A Las Vegas.

PROSPECT PULSE

  • Alex68 (Ch)

    So you said he’ll be a 4th OF and he ended up outplaying every single PO’s not named Byrd sandy brought in…..

  • mitchpetanick

    Due to his offensive production, I saw him as a fourth outfielder. This was before I had the chance to see him on defense…I knew he was a solid defender, not a great one.

  • Alex68 (Ch)

    Right… It’s ok to admit you were wrong. If somehow Nimmo and Cecchini find the majors and they are miraculous productive i will say sorry and apologize to them publicly!

  • CJM

    Funny that Pedro Lopez had Lagares pinned perfectly when describing him as the best center fielder in the league with a great arm. Lagares really did shine for the Mets last year. So much so that you forget how poorly he hit.

  • Run Support Group

    I believe he can hit .270 and play GG defense.

  • Alex68 (Ch)

    Thoughts on D’arnaud? and if while you at it, pretty much every PO’ss brought in by sandy did worst than him….

  • Agee’s Catch

    I think that is spot on. And if we have the luxury of hitting him 8th, we’ll be in far better shape.

  • CJM

    Most people just write POS. No need for the apostrophe.

  • mitchpetanick

    I don’t think anyone could have predicted that he would get called up and stick – and his story isn’t written yet, so if he doesn’t start to produce offensively, he will end up as a fourth outfielder. There is already talk about C. Young playing centerfield. I hope he does start producing more offensively…the kid is fun to watch out in center!

  • Run Support Group

    My hope is he develops this year and can become a leadoff hitter for us.

  • He didn’t surprise me. 🙂 I never got the fascination with MDD that everyone else seemed to have. Lagares is a tools guy and I never saw MDD that way.

  • Alex68 (Ch)

    i’m not most people, i write it how i wanted….

  • mitchpetanick

    I remember MDD from his Gator days making ridiculous catches on ESPN – I admittedly didn’t get to see Lagares much until he got called up…I think that that’s the difference. Most people remember MDD from college and nobody really got to see Lagares until he got to Citi.

  • oleosmirf

    he might be able to hit .270, but I doubt he can ever be a leadoff hitter. His walk rate his simply too low. A .270/.310 line not enough to leadoff…

  • Benny

    Man I really hope this FO does not mess with this kid, leave him in CF, and let EYJ come off the bench (or split time with Chris Young).

  • Run Support Group

    Torres, EYJR for McHugh, Byrd, getting Herrera and Black for a month of Byrd and Buck, were all good moves by Sandy this year

  • CJM

    I would say in terms of range in the outfield, MdD is right there with Lagares. Lagares’ huge defensive advantage comes with the elite arm. I agree though that den Dekker never truly fascinated me. He always seemed like a player who would wind up pinch hitting and being double switched into the game for defense.

  • Run Support Group

    I know, but in my dream world he raises his OBP. It probably won’t happen, but a guy can hope. I just really hope that EYJR doesn’t start over him this year.

  • Run Support Group

    The nice thing about this year is that we have some nice backup OF”s. Brown has power and can mash lefties, EY is speedy and can be a pinch runner, Den Dekker is a good late inning replacement

  • Good point. My views on Lagares came from our two Backman interviews in 2012 and from watching him on MiLB TV when I used to help cover for the minor league recaps. Boy I really miss those days. (cough, cough).

  • Run Support Group

    I swear to Harvey, if EY starts over Lagares….

  • oleosmirf

    Given the fact that Young is the only capable leadoff hitter on the roster, its going to happen some games.

    Lagares controls his own destiny though. If he can hit and play GG caliber defense, he’ll stay in the lineup, but its going to be musical chairs in the OF…

  • Run Support Group

    I can live with EY starting here and there against a tough lefty as Lagares doesn’t really have big platoon splits and EY hits lefties better.

  • oleosmirf

    D’Arnaud is considered the best C prospect in baseball. I expect him show why in 2014.

  • Run Support Group

    He also didn’t get that many at bats in the minors before he got called up this past year. I expect d’Arnaud to hit much better this year

  • sperry

    Yea. I really don’t want this to be another Duda where we never really give him an extended look so we just keep him around for 4 years. They absolutely need to see if Lagares can hit enough at this level. Provided there are no injuries, there should be no question about him by 2015–either way.

    Hopefully TC’s new contract will give him the freedom to just play the damn kids instead of managing for a job.

  • CJM

    I wouldn’t classify Young as a “capable” lead off hitter. There are better options, too. Let Murphy lead off against righties and let Chris Young lead off against lefties.

  • Agee’s Catch

    While it would be nice if he’d walk more, his aggressiveness is what drops him from 1st or 2nd in the order to 7th or 8th.

  • sperry

    We had some pretty nice back up OF’s last year too.

    Only they called them starters.

  • Run Support Group

    Are you saying Colin Cowgill isn’t the gritty, Dykstra clone we thought he was??

  • Benny

    If that was TC managing for a job, I am terrified for our future…

  • Agee’s Catch

    The grammar police have arrived…
    In all seriousness, these guys have already achieved what most of us dreamed about while playing Little League. I hate to read derogatory language towards players who have achieved so much, but have fallen a little short.

  • Agee’s Catch

    This is the season. I hope he stays healthy.

  • You gotta give Sandy credit for getting rid of Cowgill as quickly as he did. Another GM would have waited until the All Star break.

    That said, I don’t know what was more sickening all the pre-season Cowgill puff pieces or the ones for Andres Torres.

  • Run Support Group

    I’ll admit I (and I think all of us were a bit) caught up in the Cowgill hype after the opening day grand slam. It was all down hill after that.

  • He won’t be a leadoff hitter, because his on-base approach will not improve as much as it needs to. But he’ll hit for more power and his upside is a solid six hitter or two hitter.

  • Agee’s Catch

    EYJ has a chance to pickup a couple of hundred at bats if he subs for the 3 OF spots, 2B and DH.

  • CJM

    I don’t care about other people’s grammar. I made that post for a specific point. The nature of his post was valueless in response to what I posted–in fact it didn’t have any relation at all to my post. So I rebutted with similarly valueless post.

  • Are you trying to set a record for how many times you can use PO’s in one day?

    Come on it’s 2014! Show a tiny bit of optimism!

  • Alex68 (Ch)

    #GoodLuckin2014
    I could care less how he’s rated, i care about his production in the majors. i was high on him because i heard he could hit. he was ho horrible offensively that they started talking about him defensively a guy who couldn’t catch a ball or couldn’t throw a runner out if it depended on his life.. the lower the expectations are, the lower the disappointment

  • Agee’s Catch

    The MDD over the shoulder catch is one of my favorite highlights. Just watched it for about the hundredth time. It is a thing of beauty.

  • Run Support Group

    Agreed. When one of these knuckle draggers calls into WFAN saying “Aw, dis (insert struggling player here) is awful.'” These guys are the best of the best to make it to the majors.

  • Alex68 (Ch)

    All of us???? Speak for yourself buddy, #CORE members were VERY skeptical of that bum… we all knew!

  • Agee’s Catch

    If we have a base stealer leading off, I wouldn’t want Lagares aggressiveness behind him. Given Duda’s and Davis’ approach, hitting them 2nd and Murphy lower in the order might be an idea worth not laughing at.

  • Alex68 (Ch)

    At least it’s not open CURSE as some people were doing before. i am optimistic, i said we’ll win 77 games.. what else you want?

  • Run Support Group

    Off topic, but news is the Orioles are close to completing a deal for a hitter. Could it be Ike Davis? Have they finally agreed to the Adam Jones for Ike Davis trade that was inevitable?

  • Run Support Group

    I was too, but for that short 24 hour span i was actually thinking he could be a serviceable ML player. of course, it all came crashing down very, very quickly

  • Agee’s Catch

    The grammar line was in jest, considering where a few of us have recently migrated from.

  • Benny

    Eduardo Rodriguez and Manny Machado or NO DEAL!

  • Run Support Group

    Markakis, Tillman, Rodriguez, Machado,and Jones for Davis and Montero

    TRAID

  • WillisReid

    Snitches………:-)

  • Benny

    PO’s Snitches!!!

    Fixed it!

  • mikeb

    I wouldn’t worry about that. I see it as all depending on how they start. If Lagares goes 3 for 28, or something like that, he’s going to be subbed for. I think that’s true for all except Granderson. But it will be interesting to see where Grandy is by June 15. If after 60 games or so, if he’s at .220 with 9 hr’s, what will the Mets do? The Yankees didn’t seem too interested in keeping him. I was a little surprised at the C Young signing. I’m convinced on Lagares, but I’d have liked to see den Dekker and E Young battle things out for a spot. Maybe that happens. We’ll see.

  • Alex68 (Ch)

    Lol, at least i do it publically, unlike some people here who go bts to Joe D to complain about certain #CORE members including moi

  • WillisReid

    Just kidding!

    You should be banned for this much pessimism so early in the new year though.

  • Run Support Group

    Granderson was awful unlucky last year with his injuries. I think since he doesn’t have to focus on the short right porch he can hit .250 or .260 with 25-30 Hr’s with a bunch of doubles and good defense

  • Alex68 (Ch)

    Nah, MMO needs me around here to battle sandy lovers and saber geeks…

  • WillisReid

    I’d prefer a Davis for Davis swap.

  • Pedro’s Rooster

    I agree with you, but I anticipate that Lagares will get shortchanged badly.

    I’m sure old-school TC will insist on playing EY too much (“I need a leadoff guy!”), TC and Sandy will insist on playing CY too much (“I need his bat!” or “I paid $7.5M!”), and Granderson will be out there every day, even if he goes Full Bay.

    Unless Lagares rakes from Day 1, they’ll use some period of underperformance to squeeze him. They’ll use him as a defensive replacement, squander his development window, and he’ll be another team’s 4th OF in a few years.

  • Run Support Group

    Throw in Machado and Bundy and we got a deal

  • WillisReid

    I’d like to have their manager too.

  • Denelor

    “A .270/.310 line not enough to leadoff”

    “Young is the only capable leadoff hitter on the roster.”

    These two statements are fundamentally incompatible.

    EY hit .249/.310/.336 last year. If he was the every day lead off guy, EY wiould be the worst lead off guy in the league.

    This team doesn’t have a lead off hitter on the big league roster right now. Not one.

  • Run Support Group

    I believe in Sandy enough to get these deals done.

  • CJM

    Ok fair enough.

  • LongTimeFan1

    I disagree, Benny. Lagares is replaceable, EY is not and should thus start in Left and CY in center. Speed guys like EY drive the pitcher and defense crazy, is huge advantage for us that should be in the lineup most days, working hard to get on base, steal one or two, and score, or get on base, score from first on double.

    As a Met, he stole 13.11.13, July-Sept – that’s over 70 for full season just like he did in the minors – Career high 87. Speed is the weapon that keeps giving and should be the one that keeps playing.

    He’s also our lone switch-hitter, is one of few without high K’s and is full of energy plays the game hard. He just needs to elevate his OBP which he can do having had .388 OBP in the minors.

    Just think about the threat of speed when someone from the other team steps to the plate or is on the basepaths with that ability – we hate it. 70 stolen bases from EY is very realistic in full season.

  • BehindTheBag

    I think I just threw up in my mouth a little…

  • Benny

    You’re trolling right?

  • Hitmanᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ ✔

    Lagares is replaceable but you want a mediocre player who has no business being a starter in CF? Alrighty then.

  • Captain America

    Seems the FO isn’t sold on Lagares yet. Wonder where MDD fits in…

  • Juan Lagares. Still awesome. And now…with much more upside than even we his most ardent supporters ever imagined…so quickly too. I just wish the Mets were willing to give him everyday at-bats at the big league level instead of the usual jostling back and forth they tend to do with young players.

  • mitchpetanick

    love that catch – love this catch that I attached also…look where MDD is when the hitter makes contact and where he ends up making the catch…

    http://youtu.be/8H_-xrRHTMU

  • Taskmaster4450

    “Juan Lagares surprised many, and has become the perfect example of how
    you don’t always find guys that contribute to major league ball clubs
    ranked in the top five or ten prospects in an organization.”

    This is a great line. I am amazed how many simply look at the BA’s top 100 or whatever to determine what an organization’s minor league talent looks like. Sure, everyone wants to have BA Top 25 players. However, there are gems that emerge to be quality big league ballplayers, something the Mets havent really produced in the last decade or so.

    I wish someone would take a look at Lagares’ number after he got his starting position. I know he tailed off at the end, but we must remember that he was hitting a buck fifty or so in his part time duties. If memory serves me, didnt he also have a month where he hit close to .350? This kid will hit well in the majors. Just put him in CF and let him alone.

  • Taskmaster4450

    Most likely Vegas.

  • Taskmaster4450

    How many OFs are you putting on the team?

    Add those guys to Lagares, CY, and Granderson and you have 6 OFs.

  • mitchpetanick

    The only way these kids are going to adjust and excel against major league hitting is to get them at bats.

  • Taskmaster4450

    How poorly he hit?

    Are you kidding me?

    After being played only occasionally by Collins, he hit .255 after getting a starting position and that includes a .168 September. The other three months he hit .271, .353, and .259.

    The kid can and did hit. So what if he slumped at the end. Arent players allowed to slump?

  • Taskmaster4450

    Funny you defend Flores by saying he was hurt and we shouldnt judge a player by 100 ABs.

    Yet you are ready to cash TdA in after the same number of ABs.

    Very interesting.

  • Taskmaster4450

    Wright also.

  • Taskmaster4450

    You are correct Mitch. Big league pitchers adjust. Now it is time for Lagares to make adjustments himself and fix the holes in his ABs.

  • Run Support Group

    I see EY and Brown making the ML roster out of camp with Tejada and maybe even Seratelli as a dark horse as a utility guy. I see Den Dekker getting various call ups whenever someone gets hurt

  • Hitmanᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ ✔

    #LOLDoubleStandards

  • Harvey33

    I do have a ball signed by MDD which I got going to Binghamton back in August 2011 to see Reyes rehab.(he hit a homerun too) But den Dekker is inferior to Lagares easily. Lagares showed he could hit for a decent average in the big leagues last year.. DD strikes out too much and isn’t nearly as good as Lagares is defensively. I’ve all but forgotten about him.

  • Captain America

    Lagares hit .242 and DenDekker is also a ++ defender.

  • Nmartz

    We finally have found our everyday Center fielder, maybe in some year the next Beltran, of course with extra less power.

  • Nmartz

    Sorry for the pic 😛