Prospect Spotlight: Dustin Lawley Shined Brightly In The Florida State League

MiLB: April 29 - St. Lucie Mets at Tampa Yankees

With the sun setting on another year of Mets minor league baseball, let’s spotlight some of the players who made us stop and take note of what’s been quite an impressive collection of outstanding performances this season.

We begin with 24 year old Dustin Lawley. While it’s undeniable that his age played a significant factor in his performance and future with the Mets organization, Lawley still managed put up some impressive numbers in 469 at bats for the St. Lucie Mets this year. He had a breakout season in which he displayed legitimate signs of gap to gap power, making solid contact and flexible fielding.

Lawley was drafted by the Mets in the 19th round of the 2011 amateur draft out of Division II University of West Florida. He was scouted as a transitional outfielder with some pop in his bat, mostly gap power, and impressive speed. However, this year, Lawley undeniably had his breakthrough season.

Before jumping to AAA Las Vegas on August 28, Lawley was leading the Florida Coast League in a number of offensive categories.

He leads the league in home runs with 25, six more homers than the next highest in the league, and more home runs than he had hit in his previous two years combined. Lawley is also the league leader in slugging percentage, .512, and total bases, 240, while ranking second in the league with 92 RBIs.

While jumping two levels, Lawley hasn’t slowed down while playing for Las Vegas. Even though his time may have only amounted to just six games and 21 plate appearances, the righthanded slugger still managed to collect two doubles, one home run and four RBI’ while batting .300/.333.550.

His 96 combined RBI’s is the most by a Mets farmhand since Brett Harper hit 102 in 2005.

Lawley has shown a lot of promise this season, truly finding his bat and putting some legitimate power on the ball. He appears to be doing well in AAA, but there’s not nearly enough time to accurately tell how he will perform at this new level. And while a powerful outfielder with decent speed and fielding ability is certainly nice to have, his age (he will be 25 next season) is just too much of a factor for him to be seriously considered for the future..

Thoughts from Joe D.

ny_lawley_200I’ve never put that much emphasis on age when it comes to prospects trying to work their way up to the majors. Not all players are created equally and some take a little longer to find themselves than the norm. I look at a player like Josh Satin who I’ve promoted on MMO for 2-3 years and I used to see many readers discount him because of his age. They never considered things like whether the player was blocked, or if injuries wiped out a good portion of his development, or a number of many other reasons.

All of a sudden here comes Satin at the ripe old age of 28 and everybody loves him. Only five other players in the majors have a better average and on-base percentage against lefthanded pitching than Satin.

Now that Lawley is at Triple-A at the age of 24, he’s exactly where Travis d’Arnaud was two weeks ago, who is also 24. It says a lot that this front office who rarely rush anyone, promoted Lawley from Single-A to Triple-A  and bypassing Binghamton altogether. The scouts must have all been convinced he was ready and so far he’s proving them right and rewarding the team’s confidence in him.

Remember that right after Lawley signed he made it all the way to Low-A Savannah in his first taste of professional baseball, and lets not forget he was 22 when the Mets drafted him. He made it to Triple-A in his second full season of pro ball. If he continues to hit as he has through May of next season, who’s to say he won’t be playing left field for the New York Mets?

I’ve enjoyed watching Lawley this season. He’s a grinder who is highly motivated to be a major leaguer and his coaches all speak highly of his character and his openness to their advice. I put a high value on things like that. There’s a few players in our system who get knocked because of their age and level. Most of you know about my high expectations on Kevin Plawecki and Allan Dykstra – who I had a great chat with two weeks ago. There’s a few others like them on the pitching side I plan to write about next week.

Don’t worry so much about age, and instead consider whether a player’s production can or cannot help the major league team when he’s finally called up. Ruben Tejada made it all the way to the majors at 21… where is he now?