Coming into the 2014 spring season, the Mets have had so many question marks regarding their roster especially which top prospects could actually break camp with the team and which would be on the verge of a debut.
Top outfield prospect, Cesar Puello is one player that is just a step away from impacting the Mets lineup, but his status was in jeopardy after he was linked to the Bio-genesis scandal that rocked all of baseball last summer. Puello was suspended for 50 games as a consequence.
I caught up with Puello while here at the Mets Spring Training complex for MMO.
He appeared genuinely remorseful when I brought up the Biogenesis scandal. This young man clearly understands all that transpired, but told MMO that he is ready to put last season behind him.
“Everything always happens for a good reason.” Puello said. “And because of what happened to me last season, I have matured more as a player and a person. I am now extremely focused and ready to start making some good decisions, because that is what is most important. I’m ready to move on and help the Mets organization.”
In 2013, while with Double-A Binghamton, Puello was i the midst of an MVP caliber season and batted .326/.403/.547, with 21 doubles,16 home runs, 73 RBI, 24 stolen bases in just 331 at-bats.
Now with the suspension behind him, Puello works toward showing everyone that the great numbers he showcased in 2013, were not a fluke and are something that he will continue to build on.
The Mets made their decision to cut him and send him back to minor league camp on Monday, but not before opening up some eyes by batting .364/.533/.545 in his small sampling. Mets VP of Player Development Paul DePodesta is impressed with Puello’s approach at the plate and believes he has all the tools to be a productive major leaguer for the Mets.
For now, the Mets are locked in with Curtis Granderson, Eric Young, Chris Young and Juan Lagares, so finding playing time for Puello, would have been extremely difficult. At least starting in Las Vegas (AAA) he will get the opportunity to work his way back into top form.
One thing that bodes well for Puello is that he is fully on board with the offensive philosophy of the organization. We talked a little bit about that and this kid gets it.
“If you focus on putting the bat right on the ball, the home runs will follow, but I have to first think about my on-base percentage, my average and then everything else will follow with good results,” says the outfielder.
Not only does Puello have a big power bat, but he also has speed, and that aspect is also a very important part of his game, “I play aggressively and intelligently, and that is another way to show what I can do on the field during the game,” he says.
After speaking with Puello and watching how he handles himself in the clubhouse, with his teammates, his coaches and also around the fans, it’s very apparent that the Mets have something very special in this young man. Everyone makes mistakes, but its what he has learned from his mistakes that will help him to continue to grow and develop into a bonafide major leaguer.
He is very thankful for a second opportunity and intends to make the best of it this time. “I thank God that everything is great now and I’m working hard everyday,” he said as our conversation came to a close. “I’m ready to showcase my abilities.”
He will get his chance to do just that. I believe in this kid. Don’t be surprised to see Puello’s name listed among the league leaders in batting, on-base and power in the PCL this Summer. My hunch is that he will force his way into the Mets lineup at some point this season.
This interview was initially conducted in Spanish and I translated into English for our readers to enjoy.