Typically speaking, every Major League team over-hypes their prospects. In the minors, everyone is an ace, and everyone is a five tool player. It’s part of the strategy to get as much positive press for your prospect to make them as valuable as possible in the event you are looking to trade them for an important piece or if you are trying to sell that prospect to sell tickets.
With that in mind, there are very few instances where an organization says something about a player that makes you take notice. When the Mets drafted Desmond Lindsay in the second round of the 2015 draft, you took notice about how thrilled the Mets were to get him. Tammy Tanous, the Mets amateur scouting director at the time, called Lindsay an “offensive machine.”
This isn’t hyperbole on the Mets part, at least not a heavy dose. While the phrase gets tossed around all too frequently that it begins to lose meaning, Lindsay does possess the characteristics to be a five tool player. Now, this isn’t just the opinion of excited Mets fans, this is a fairly widely held opinion. Baseball Prospectus said of Lindsay, the “potential is here for a five-tool first-division centerfielder.”
Lindsay is a very fast runner capable of covering center field. He’s got a strong arm that profiles well in center or right. At the plate, he not only shows the ability to hit for average and power, he is a mature hitter that has good plate discipline. Last year, Lindsay hit .303/.433/.451 in his time split between Gulf Coast and Brooklyn
This begs an obvious question: If Lindsay was this great, how was he there in the second round?
Well, for starters, not everyone was convinced he was going to sign as he had already committed to the University of North Carolina. However, the Mets did have a leg up on the rest of baseball because Lindsay grew up a Mets fan.
As Lindsay told Mets Minors in an exclusive interview, “It’s honestly a dream come true. I grew up watching baseball all the time when I was young and it’s a surreal feeling to know that I was lucky enough to get drafted by the team I rooted for when I was young.”
The other reason why Lindsay, a projected first round pick, was still there in the second round was injury concerns. During Lindsay’s senior year of high school, he dealt with a hamstring issue. Unfortunately for the immensely talented Lindsay, those issues have not disappeared. Due to a recurrence of the hamstring issues last season, Lindsay was not able to begin play in Brooklyn until over a month into the season. With his continued hamstring issues, it is something the Mets need to keep their eye on.
It is certainly something Lindsay addresses. As he told Mets Minors, “I spent the whole offseason working on strengthening it and working on flexibility and mobility in my lower half to keep me running at 100%. It all went very well and I am excited to be back playing healthy.”
If Lindsay is healthy for a full season, which he hasn’t been in a quite a while, he can really take off this year. We may get to see him putting everything together both in the field and at the plate. He could quickly enter the discussion with Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith as untouchable prospects, and he could find himself in Citi Field playing for the team he grew up rooting for sooner rather than later.
If the hamstring issues persist, though, the Mets may look to move Lindsay to another position. Coming out of high school he played first and third base. As we know, the Mets are not as deep at third base as they are other positions. If Lindsay truly can handle the position, he can be part of a dream infield with Rosario and Smith for the next decade.
However, that is still premature. Lindsay is still only 20 years old, and he is still maturing physically. There are plenty of players like Lindsay that have nagging injury issues in the low levels of the minors only to be healthy Major Leaguers who have long careers. With Lindsay aware of the issues and his working on it, it is a good bet he is going to be in center for the long haul. He could even be a star there. Overall, in a loaded Mets farm system, Lindsay just might prove to be the most talented of the group. He is definitely a prospect to watch in 2017.