Cesar Puello, RF
DOB: April 1, 1991
Acquired: Dominican Republic, 2007
2013: Binghamton (AA) 377 PA, .326/.403/.547, 21 2B, 16 HR, 73 RBI, 24 SB
Recently, there has been some speculation about whether Cesar Puello is a top ten prospect for the Mets. Major sites like Baseball America and Fangraphs have excluded him from their annual team top ten lists. This is likely the result of Puello’s connection to the Biogenesis scandal, and his suspension at the end of last season. Even though he used performance enhancing drugs, I believe he is still a top ten prospect in our system.
With his excellent combination of speed and power, Puello is one of the most talented prospects on the Mets. At 6’2” 195 pounds, he is a strong right-handed slugger with plus power potential. Last season Puello smashed 16 home runs with a .547 slugging percentage for AA Binghamton. He is also an excellent base runner, and has averaged 26 steals a season over the past four years.
Furthermore, the 22-year old is a strong defender in right field with good range and a strong arm. He is a five tool player, and has a tremendous upside. Considering the lack of Mets position players in the minors, it’s hard to believe that there are so many position players better than him that would preclude him from a top ten ranking.
While Puello’s association with Biogenesis is concerning, it should not affect his value drastically. I keep hearing fans say to wait and see how he performs off of the PEDs, but there is no evidence of him taking them in 2013 when he was tested monthly. Puello was named in the scandal prior to the season, and the Biogenesis clinic closed in 2012. If skeptics want to see how he plays off performance enhancers, then all they have to do is look at his 2013 season. It should also be noted that Puello has never failed a drug test once in his entire career.
Mets fans in general have been forgiving of other players with past steroid/PED suspensions, so it is only fair to do the same for Puello. Marlon Byrd was suspended for PED’s, yet most fans did not seem to care last year. The same seems true with the Mets latest significant acquisition, Bartolo Colon. Not only was Colon suspended for steroids in 2012, but he was also connected in the same scandal that Puello was. If fans are counting on Colon to be a solid starter this season, then it is hypocritical to use Puello’s suspension against him.
Puello is an excellent prospect, who made one big mistake. It’s understandable to be outraged by this mistake, but it should not unfairly deflate his value. He is an extremely talented outfielder, and he could be an impact player for this team in the very near future.