The New York Mets infield has rounded out in home grown fashion as this season has progressed. With Ike Davis coming up early to relieve Mike Jacobs of his duties and Josh Thole recently doing the same at the expense of Rod Barajas, the dirt at Citi Field was blue and orange as far as the eye could see. In fact, in looking around and seeing David Wright at third and Jose Reyes at short, one could not help but imagine that this young infield has the potential to stay ‘home’ for quite some time. The youngest of the infielders and the one who most recently began getting a shot to play every day is also the kid with the most questions surrounding his future. Of course I’m talking about 20-year-old Ruben Tejada.
While we have chronicled Tejada’s adventures in Queens throughout the year we wanted get an overall view of the position he mans and see what options the Mets might have in the farm system for 2011 and beyond. Mack Ade of the popular site MacksMets.blogspot.com was kind enough to take some time and answer our questions about what may lay ahead for that little piece of land between Jose Reyes and Ike Davis in Citi Field. For anyone looking to get an incredibly informed and entertaining view on the Mets farm system and insight into the next crop of youngsters that may one day storm Roosevelt Ave., we highly recommend checking out Mack’s page. Mack is a ‘Minor League Mets historian’ and we are grateful that he took the time to join us:
Metszilla.com: I guess Ruben Tejada is a perfect place to start, since he will enter 2011 as the incumbent starting second basemen for New York. Having followed his aggressive progression through the system, what stood out to you about him (good or bad)? Given his defense, what do you think he would need to contribute (minimally) on the offensive end in order to retain the job?
Mack Ade: First of all, I always considered the “pass point” of a major league second baseman would be .250BA and less than 20 errors. Most of them have been #8 batters and having the ability to walk only brings up the pitcher.
Regarding Tejada, this is a kid that has been overly rushed since the get-go, and people have already forgotten that this isn’t the first time he had a slump while changing levels. In the long run, he always came out, batting wise, on top, but that’s the minor leagues. And, his success has been being a .280 hitter, not a .380 hitter.
Tejada is a gem defensively, but his natural and best position is shortstop. Yes, he is the 2011 second baseman, but also because he’s the top shortstop prospect as well.
It’s impossible to speculate what his success level would be when we have no idea who will be his manager and how he would be handled. If he was to bat second, behind Jose Reyes, then he would have to produce a lot better than a number eight hitter.
My guess… Ruben Tejada will be a Met for a long time… but, starting either next year, or 2012, as the starting shortstop.
Metszilla.com: Reese Havens; We see that you have him listed as the teams highest ranked second base prospect (click here for Mack’s full list). His injuries, the myriad of them, they all seem unrelated and in a sense that in itself is somewhat frustrating and alarming. Have you heard anything with regards how coaches or scouts view his ‘make up’ and how hesitant would you be to count on him contributing in 2011? In your opinion, IF healthy (notice the big IF), is he going to get a look at second as early as next season and if so, what’s the best fans can expect?
Mack Ade: First, let me remind your readers that I didn’t like this pick. That being said, I was wrong.
Havens is a hitting machine. In addition, he has incredible power for an infielder. The Mets were rumored to having plans to convert him to a catcher when they drafted him because he was considered a liability in the field.
The current Mets management plan to never play him again at any other position than second base. That’s how much they want his bat in a future Mets lineup. The problem now is his extended health, Yes, he has had a number of ticky-tacky injuries, but the current one is a big one. There’s a real good chance that he will have back surgery and might miss the entire 2011 season.
We saw this kind of frustration with ex-3B prospect Shawn Bowman, who lost 2 1/2 years due to two back surgeries. Shit happens and not all of us are built the same. I don’t happen to believe that anyone comes back 100% from back surgery. I’ve had it myself and I’m less than 50%. The back is not a broken bone that can heal.
I still list him the highest second base prospect because he has the most talent, but my guess… the Mets will never see Reese Havens play in Queens.
Metzilla.com: Wilmer Flores; I know you’ve previously mentioned that Flores may move to the OF, but is there any chance, given the teams need, that he could be transitioned to a second base? At 19-years-old I’m amazed that I’ve heard his name for the past few years. What do you see in him that, in your opinion, has created all the buzz?
Mack Ade: I had the privilege of seeing him play first hand for parts of two seasons. It amazed everyone in the stands, which includes all the scouts, how this kid carried himself at such a young age.
Is he a good infielder. Yes, but he’s not fast enough to play short in the majors.
Can he run? Yes, but only as fast as a wounded turtle.
But, can he hit? Oh, God yes, he can hit. The only person I ever saw at this stage of their career, with this kind of controlled bat speed, was Ryan Zimmerman when he played for two weeks in Savannah.
The Mets have him targeted as the 2013 RFer. But, there will be tremendous pressure to trade him. Every scout loves him. EVERY one.
Metzilla.com: The drop off in the farm system seems significant, in terms of development, after Tejada and Havens. At 25-years-old Josh Satin seemed to put up a decent line at AA Binghamton this year while Alonzo Harris (21) had a poor season at single-A Savannah. Do you think either will offer much down the line?
Mack Ade: First, Alonzo Harris… it’s too early to analyze someone who has only played A level, but, in my opinion, he’s far from being a future major league infielder. He does have some decent pop, but he’s very streaky. The Mets are going to have to decide who their long term second baseman will be long before this kid is ready, if ever.
Regarding Josh Satin, he’s my favorite for getting the job. Satin has never got any press (except from me) and will be next year’s Kirk Nieuwenhuis when it comes to additional positive press. He hits as well as Havens, and is showing signs of pop (12-HRs, 74-RBIs in 2010 at A+/AA). He’s adequate defensively and I expect him to have a breakout year at AA/AAA in 2011, but he would not be ready until earliest 2012.
Don’t forget Justin Turner… no flash, but just good defense and decent hitting. Hit .333 at AAA in 2010.
One more name no one talks about… Daniel Murphy … right now, on paper, he has proven his ability to hit major league pitching. Wasn’t he the leader in doubles in 2009 for the Mets? If he learns to play this position well….
Metzilla.com: In your opinion, are the Mets likely to look outside the family for help in 2011?
Mack Ade: Again… who are “the Mets”? If it is Omar, yes, he would look outside for a quicker solution. That has been his motis, though it hasn’t worked most of the time the last few years.
We’re going to have to wait until the new management team is named. And, even then, it will take a half a season to figure out how they do things and whether or not Jeff Wilpon stays out of the decision process.
IMO… 2011: Castillo will be gone… Reyes will be the SS… Tejada/Murphy will platoon at 2B
2012: Tejada will play SS… Murphy and Satin will compete in ST for the job
Metzilla.com: Parting thoughts: What do you think of the Mets overall minor league system and how it has progressed in recent years? Given the infusion of youth onto the major league roster, are things down on the farm somewhat barren or are more fruitful crops growing quickly?
Mack Ade: The Mets farm system has got a lot of grief over the past 4-5 years, which has been unfair.
It has produced a higher percentage of major league players than most systems, as well as produced a number of secondary prospects that were used in trades that benefited the Mets.
Right now, the upper levels are sparse. I say that only two additional prospects will make this team over the next two seasons. One will be Flores and the other will be SP Matt Harvey. Harvey will start 2011 at St. Lucie, but there is talk about starting him in Binghamton also.
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