Position: CF B/T: R/R Age: 1/15/97 (22)
Acquired: June 2015 Amateur Draft – Round: 2, Pick: 11, Overall: 53, Out-Of-Door Academy, FL
Previous Rank: 19
2018 Stats (Gulf Coast League/St. Lucie Mets): 90 G, 360 PA, 314 AB, 31 R, 13 2B, 5 3B, 3 HR, 33 RBI, 9 SB/7 CS, .223/.317/.325, .309 BABIP
If you are a person who keeps up with the Mets farm and recent drafts, then Desmond Lindsay is a player who you’ve been introduced to on several occasions. For the uninitiated, we will provide you with a synopsis: Lindsay was drafted in the second round of the 2015 Amateur Draft by the Mets. He was a high school corner infielder with a strong, raw toolset that may have pushed him into the first round if not for some injury concerns.
Having the skills and speed that he did, the Mets saw it viable to play him in centerfield, rather than wasting his speed and instincts in the corner infield, and it has paid off for them. Despite some varying degrees of success so far, injuries have held him back from where he could potentially be right now.
For those of you who have kept up, the memory of Lindsay is as the first pick the Mets had in 2015 after forfeiting their first-round pick the prior offseason to sign Michael Cuddyer. That was now four seasons ago, which may seem like a long time for a player to be with an organization. Nevertheless, Lindsay just turned 22-years-old in January, and will be the same age as many of the college picks in this years Amateur Draft.
Following the 2017 season and coming into 2018, Baseball America called Lindsay the best athlete in the Mets organization, also noting him having the best outfield defense, and best strike-zone discipline. Unfortunately, his season was cut short when he underwent ulnar nerve transposition surgery to relieve a pinched nerve that was causing numbness in his hand and fingers, and ended his 2017 season.
Without a doubt, Lindsay’s 2018 campaign was one with some growing pains. Holding just a .630 OPS this season with St. Lucie, and fairing an arm injury in July, was not how this campaign was expected to go. Despite this injury, Lindsay played in more games than he ever had in any season prior.
Lindsay continued his season by playing in the Arizona Fall League. Hitting .285/.355/.643, it seems he made some adjustments from the regular season into his time in the AFL. Of course, one should take the AFL with a grain of salt, but if he had faired poorly, it would be duly noted. Just 21 this fall, Lindsay was also more than a full year younger than the competition there.
Ryan Ellis, hitting coach of the Scottsdale Scorpions, and hitting performance coordinator for the Mets said to Baseball America of Lindsay “He came in here and just refined a few things, […] he’s using his legs a lot more efficiently, and his bat plane is a lot flatter.”
Swing improvement was certainly Lindsay’s priority in the AFL. Lindsay had a quirky swing in which his lower half would start much sooner than his upper half, and his rhythm was out of sync. His bat path would also produce a lot of ground balls, as he’d chop down on pitches on both ends of the plate.
Lets take a look at how his swing has changed over the years, up until his time in the AFL:
(GIF made from video by Fangraphs)
Above is an image of Lindsay’s swing pre-draft in 2015. Lindsay already had a very quick bat path, and some power due to his upper body strength, but you can see that his body was not in sync. Everything got started from the floor up in an almost zig zag pattern, and the momentum was limited.
(GIF made from video by Columbia Fireflies)
This image is of a swing from Lindsay that lead to a home run for the Columbia Fireflies on June 9, 2017. By 2017, Lindsay started using more of his back leg in his swing, but there still many moving parts. His lower half is already moving towards the plate while he’s still cocking back his arms for his swing. It should be noted that the bat path is straighter than in the previous image.
(GIF made from video by Baseball Census)
Here we have an image of Lindsay in the AFL on October 24, 2018. Lindsay is more in sync here than in the previous two images, and he’s anchoring on his back leg and cocking his arms back simultaneously. His swing is more arched for better lift, and his bat is still quickly traveling through the plate. Forward motion is more explosive than it before. Lindsay matched his home run total from the regular season (3) in just 8 games in the AFL.
Lindsay has improved mechanically piece-by-piece, but it wasn’t till just this fall that he was able to build an excellent rhythm to his swing. In 2018, Lindsay hit the ball on the ground over 45 percent of the time. This modified swing should lead to more line drives and fly balls, which, in this era, are far more likely to drop for hits than balls hit on the ground.
Patience at the plate has never been an issue for Lindsay, and even last year, he walked at 11.1 percent clip for the full season, and 9.7 percent in the AFL. What has been a problem is cutting down on swings an misses.
In 2017, Lindsay had his highest power clip with a .168 ISO, and while his patience paid dividends with a 13.1 percent walk rate, he also struck out 30.7 percent of the time. Meanwhile, in .2018, while his eye remained solid, his k rate dropped over 4 percentage points to 26.6 percent, and 25.8 percent in the AFL.
While the focus here has been mainly on Lindsay’s offense, his defense is a lesser point of worry. Lindsay is a fantastic athlete, and has made the transition excellently year-by-year. Ellis called Lindsay “a lot more refined than he was even two months ago” in regards to his defense in the AFL, noting that he’s always working on his jumps on balls. The main concern is if his hamstring continues to ail him, he may lose the speed necessary to play center field. If that were the case, he would likely move to left field, as his arm would play better there than in right.
What needs to be watched for in 2019 is whether Lindsay takes these adjustments from the AFL with him in either repeating high-A St. Lucie, or over to AA Binghamton. The conditioning team also needs to make sure this northern trend on games played continues next season.
There could be a proper path for Lindsay in Queens, as the contract of Juan Lagares expires at the end of the 2019 season, but the earliest the Mets may take that sort of look at Lindsay would likely be in 2020. Lindsay has some proving to do before then, and he has the skill to do it.
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