Mets Daily Farm System Report - 8/7: Cesar Puello Spotlight

New York Mets Daily Farm System Report - Results from the night of Friday August 6, 2010

So apparently RF Fernando Martinez and IF Ruben Tejada will be called up to join the major league club.  Neither is really ready but whatever, didn't stop them the first time around.  Feliciano back down and Cora cut (thank God).

The Usual Suspects

AAA - Buffalo (58-54)

  • CF Kirk Nieuwenhuis: 0-5, 3 K
  • LF Lucas Duda: 1-3, HR(14), 2 RBI, 2 R, 2 BB (.312/.376/.665) Walk-off bomb makes 20 total in 2010
  • 1B Nick Evans: 0-1, R, 3 BB (.308/.400/.423)
  • SP Fernando Nieve: 3 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 2 BB, 2 K (0-0, 2.70, 6.2 IP, 5 H, 4 BB, 4 K, 0 HR) Unsure wherther or not they're trying to completely stretch him out
  • RP Chad Cordero: .1 IP, 1 ER. 2 H, 0 BB, 0 K (0-1, 2.08, 4.1 IP, 6 H, 2 BB, 1 K, 0 HR) Only his first earned run but he's also got just one K in five appearances
  • RP Ryota Igarashi: 1 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 0 BB, 1 K, WP (2-1, 3.68, 14.2 IP,18 H, 5 BB, 14 K, 2 HR)
  • REHAB ALERT: SP Sean Green: 1.1 IP, 3 ER, 5 H, 0 BB, 2 K (1-0, 5.73, 11 IP, 14 H, 3 BB, 15 K, 0 HR) Looks like he'll fit right into our 'pen when the time comes
  • Playing center and leading off for Columbus was our old friend Ezeqiuel Carrera who is following up his .337/.441/.416 2009 campaign with a nice .321/.379/.415 in Triple-A this year; God I hate JJ Putz

AA - Binghamton (54-59)

  • LF Sean Ratliff: 1-4, BB, 3 K (.330/.368/.579) Back in LF for some reason
  • 3B Zack Lutz: 1-4, 2B, RBI, R, BB, K (.296/.417/.642) He's got at least one XBH in seven of his eight games since returning
  • 2B Josh Satin: 2-4, RBI, BB, 2 K (.304/.397/.424)
  • SP Robert Carson: 5.2 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 4 BB, 4 K (0-4, 7.46, 25.1 IP, 33 H, 13 BB, 16 K, 4 HR) He was bound to figure things out a bit as this promotion was not as hasty as he made it look through his first four games
  • RP Dylan Owen: .1 IP, 3 ER, 2 H, 2 BB, 1 K (2-1, 3.49, 56.2 IP, 44 H, 29 BB, 47 K, 5 HR)
  • RP Eric Niesen: 4.2 IP, 3 ER, 10 H, 0 BB, 3 K, 0 HR (4-5, 5.13, 59.2 IP, 57 H, 51 BB, 45 K, 8 HR) Nice of the bullpen to show up today
  • RP Manny Alvarez: 1 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 1 K (3-1, 3.57, 35.1 IP, 29 H, 5 BB, 41 K, 4 HR) After dominating for most of the year Alvarez is suddenly looking extremely human; though to be fair he's reached a career high 65 IP (combined) after averaging just 37 IP over the past two seasons

Hi-A - St. Lucie (52-58)

  • DH Jordany Valdespin: 1-5, RBI, 3 K (.293/.327/.444)
  • SS Wilmer Flores: 2-4, 2B, BB (.314/.333/.440)
  • CF Pedro Zapata: 1-5, 4 K (.273/.298/.345)
  • SP Jeurys Familia: 6.2 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 9 K (3-8, 5.84, 91 IP, 89 H, 64 BB, 92 K, 4 HR) Nice game but wayyy too many walks this season for a top prospect
  • RP Nick Carr: 1.2 IP, 4 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HR (0-0, 7.36, 11 IP, 14 H, 13 BB, 11 K, 2 HR)

Lo-A Savannah (57-53)

  • Postponed due to power outages as a result of inclement weather

 

SHORT-SEASON LEAGUES

 

SS-A Brooklyn (33-15)

  • CF Darrell Ceciliani: 3-4, 2 2B, 3B, 2 RBI, 2 R (.387/.438/.581) With six hits in his last ten ab's (five of which being XBH's), the hunt for .400 is back on
  • RF Cory Vaughn: 1-3, HR(12), 2 RBI, 2 R, BB (.313/.406/.587)
  • SS Rylan Sandoval: 0-4, BB, 2 K (.330/.404/.551)
  • 3B Brian Harrison: 1-3, 2 RBI, BB, K, 2 E(9) (.283/.343/.533) Two more throwing errors; his D has really been an issue thus far
  • Blake Forsythe: 0-4, 4 K (.271/.354/.417) Ouch
  • SP Angel Cuan: 6.1 IP, 1 ER, 7 H, 0 BB, 5 K, 0 HR (2-0, 2.15 ERA, 29.1 IP, 26 H, 7 BB, 17 K, 0 HR) Another strong performance for the crafty lefty

RK Kingsport (20-23)

  • CF ZeErika McQueen: 3-7, HR(2), 2 RBI, R, E(3) (.279/.363/.430) Walk-off bomb in the thirteenth
  • CF Chase Greene: DNP (.274/.318/.387) Out again, looking for injury info here
  • 3B Aderlin Rodriguez: 2-5, 2B, R, BB, E(14) (.290/.339/.533) I'd be surprised if the big guy ends up anywhere but first base long-term
  • RF Javier Rodriguez: 0-0 (.325/.360/.523) pinch ran, still nursing the hand after that HBP this week
  • SP Jonathan Kountis: 6 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 4 K, HB (0-1, 3.78, 16.2 IP, 19 H, 7 BB, 10 K, 2 HR)

RK GCL Mets (20-18)


Star of the Night

Let's go with joint Stars for the two walk-off heros, Buffalo's LF Lucas Duda & Kingsport's CF ZeErika McQueen.  As I stated, both of these guys ended their respective matches with game-winning homers.  For Duda it was his 14th with Buffalo, 20th overall which is a new career high.  Despite his poor platoon splits (.259 vs. LHP in 2010, .206 career), Duda could absolutely help the major league club as a righty-killer right now; I'd love to see an Evans/Duda platoon.  Unfortunately that's the role Chris Carter is currently playing to some acclaim for the Mets right now.  As for McQueen, it's been a solid season for the '09 29th rounder out of Carthage, Miss.  Though I will say that for a toolsy OF that doesn't yet offer much power, I'd like to see more than just 10 sb's. 

On a night where there are PLENTY of eligible candidates, this one goes to the Binghamton 'pen after an atrocious performance in last night's 7-4 loss.  Three B-Mets relievers (Owen, Niesen & Alvarez) allowed all seven of those runs over 1.1 IP directly after starter LHP Robert Carson had been pulled from his best effort since joining the team.  Extra emphasis on Niesen who came in with the bases loaded and walked the only two batters he faced; and to make matters worse, they were both lefties (who are still hitting just .224 against him this year).  Yuck.

 

System Roundup

  • Despite compiling less than half the hits as their opponents, the Bisons walked off against the Clippers in this 7-5 win.  The game ball goes to LF Lucas Duda here as he continued his tremendous breakout season with a game-winning homer in the bottom of the ninth to cap this back and forth affair.  And in yet another Nieve-induce bullpen game, the three pseudo-major league relievers who appeared in this one (Cordero, Igarashi & Green) couldn't quite cough it up, despite their best efforts. Boxscore
  • Despite by far the best Double-A outing for LHP Robert Carson as well as the B-Mets hitters tallying ten baserunners in less than five innings off of highly-touted Yankee pitching prospect Andrew Brackman, the B-Mets dropped this one to the Trenton Thunder 7-4 last night.  Carson showed why he belongs with Binghamton, keeping the Thunder scoreless for five and some change but unfortunately the bullpen was worse than bad after that.  Over the next 1.1 IP three Binghamton relievers (Owen, Niesen & Alvarez) allowed seven runs and completely gave away this game.  Oh and another day, another 3B Zack Lutz XBH.  Boxscore
  • This one reads a lot like the Bingo game but St. Lucie managed to pull it out:  Starter RHP Jeurys Familia throws 6+ shutout innings, Mets lineup outhits opponent, bullpen tries to give game away but they hold off Yankees Tampa affilliate 6-4.  For St. Lucie it was RHP Nick Carr who blew up, allowing four runs in under two innings of work.  But despite accumulating 14 strikeouts last night, the lineup managed to save this one, thanks to a big 2-for-3 night with four RBI's from French-Canadian organizational catcher Jean-Luc Blaquiere.  Boxscore
  • Brooklyn continued their dominance at home by winning this extra inning thriller 5-4 against Batavia. They've just about got their winning formula down to a science by this point:  Great pitching performance out of starter LHP Angel Cuan, three more hits out of NYPL-leading hitter CF Darrell Ceciliani, a 2-run bomb from NYPL-leading slugger RF Cory Vaughn and a shutdown effort out of the 'pen.  Vaughn's ninth inning bomb would send this one to extra innings while DH Joe Bonfe's walk-off shot in the eleventh would send everyone home happy.   Boxscore
  • Like Brooklyn, Kingsport won a marathon thriller last night, outlasting the Danville Braves 10-9 in thirteen.  And they should consider themselves lucky too, having made six(!) errors over those thirteen innings.  Credit the pitching staff here who weathered seven unearned runs and still managed to hold the Braves hitters to just two earned runs, none after the seventh inning.  Also credit CF ZeErika McQueen for homering in the bottom of the 13th to end this sloppy mess.  Note:  It tells you a lot about this lineup that of the 55 men who came to the plate last night, only three managed walk. Boxscore
  • Like the last game, the GCL Nats somehow managed to survive six errors and edged the Mets 4-3.  Not many big hits aside from rehabbing 3B Eric Campbell's RBI double for the Mets in this one as 2010 OF draftees CF Matt Den Dekker and LF Tillman Pugh were quiet.  The Mets were still leading into the ninth but 2010 28th round draftee out of Duke RHP Jeremy Gould blew this one in walk-off fashion.  Boxscore

Prospect Spotlight:  Savannah RF Cesar Puello

It's been very exciting to watch Puello's second half surge which has been nothing short of sensational: 

Pre-ASB: .249/.336/.302

Post-ASB: .362/.440/.456 AND he's riding a current 15-game hit streak

Even better, it seems his newfound hitting prowess may be sustainable as it looks to be coming as a result of some mechanical changes they've made to his swing.  Specifically, they shortened the path of his hands through the hitting zone and brought his lead foot down quicker as well as bringing him farther back from the plate.  So are we witnessing the emergence of a Top 5 prospect right before our eyes?

Well while his speed (44 SB, 9 CS) and burgeoning hitting skills are easy to dream on I'm trying to temper my enthusiasm with Puello as he's still a big-time work in progress.  Here's a simple litmus test I like to use to on Mets prospects:  If this were a kid in another organization would I still be as impressed?  I'm pretty sure I'd say that Puello's improvement is impressive but it's hard to go nuts over a right fielder batting under .300, with one home run and twice as many K's as walks.  If he ever moves to center it'll be a completely different story but as a kid with a big frame, he'll fill out quite a bit and probably won't ever make that switch; it's pretty telling that the Mets haven't ever tried him there beyond one game.

Now the batting average/LD % is on the rise and the plate discipline/K-rate is actually a big improvement over last season so I like to think that as a talented 19 year old he'll keep that up.  But the biggest issue with Puello is that for a corner outfielder with a muscular build he should be hitting more homers.  And a good explanation for his lack of power to this point is in his swing.  Coming into 2010, Puello typically released the bat with his top (right) hand very early on; couple that with a close-up stance and his swing makes more of an inside-out motion, which is great for using all fields but not as great for driving balls out.  Take a look at the video below of Puello knocking a base hit through the middle back in April (you'll probably want to expand the video before viewing):

 

Notice how most of his swing path is carried by that left hand and he basically leaves his right hand hanging.  Another mitigating factor here is the relatively low loft (AKA line drive) approach he takes, which again is good for pure hitting but not as much for power hitting.  In general, Puello's overall approach has made it tougher to turn on a ball and drive it to his pull side.

To confirm this idea, let's take a look at his 2009 hits on the below spray chart in comparison with another highly touted teenage Mets prospect, Jefry Marte, who is known for his power (keep in mind Puello had only about 200 ab's while Marte had over 400):

                              4862588061_be54a27519_m_medium    4863209520_079a2e2bda_m_medium

Marte clearly has a much higher concentration of hits on the left side of the field, his pull side, including his home runs.  Meanwhile, Puello's hits are disbursed much more evenly throughout the field, including his homers.  And this year has been more of the same from both of them.

Now it's hard to project someone at any age to jump from 1 home run to upwards of 20 (which pretty much comes with the territory if he's going to play RF).  But the good news is that he's hit a good amount of doubles (in '09 & '10) and in BP he consistently shows the kind of raw strength that has scouts believing those homers will come.  Now will he ever hit 30+?  Probably not, but thanks to a much shorter, more effective new swing/offensive approach I think it's quite feasible for him to turn his 20+ doubles (near the top in the SAL among teenagers) into 15+ homer, foul pole-to-foul pole kind of power one day, especially as he continues to fill out.

As far as where Puello stands among Mets prospects, he certainly deserves to shoot up prospect lists based on his 2010 performance.  He'll certainly push for a Top 10 spot once we put together our post-season list this winter but despite a sudden surge in enthusiasm surrounding his stock, I still hesitate to call him a Top 5 guy.  Although at this point who knows where he'll end up the way he's playing right now.

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