Cesar Puello is a toolsy player. There is a lot to like about him and rightfully so he has drawn a few Beltran comparison's with his speed, defense, and power potential. Puello is ranked in most top 10 prospect lists for the Mets organization and a few lists had him above Flores going into this year (ex. MLB.com had him 5th, Flores 6th). Most of the concern from scouts though and fans alike are his (sleight) injury history but more so a lack of plate discipline.
If anything stands out in the above table it has to be Puello's hit by pitch totals. 16 HBP's in 244 plate appearances year. Now there are definitely higher HBP totals in the minors especially when you get down to A-ball, but Puello has shown a real skill in getting hit. Puello had 20 HBP's in 488 PA's in 2011 and 22 HBP's in 469 PA's in 2010. To put that in perspective Puello by himself has 58 HBP's in 1201 PA's over the past 3 seasons of Low A and high A ball (and he had 20 over 384 PA's in the rookie leagues). That is a pretty good sample size. It is also the reason why a guy who is hitting .256 has a .326 OBP with only 7 walks this season in 244 PA's. If you wanted to track such things Puello's BB+HBP rate would be 9.4% in 12', 7.8% in 11', and 11.5% in 10'. Puello is tied for 2nd in HBP's this year in the FSL, although the leaders around him all have many more PA's. There are a handful of players in the league that have high HBP rates and then a large drop off.
I was unable to find any good video of Puello hitting to see his proximity to the plate which could be the cause of his enormous HBP rate. A lot of side angle shots do exist on YouTube but nothing I felt was usable. In the future the organization may ask him to stand farther back from the plate if he's getting hit too much to potentially reduce injury risk.
|2008||Mets (R)||40||163||1||24||17||13||3.1 %||19.6 %||.060||.378||.305||.350||.364||.345||109|
|2009||Mets (R)||49||221||5||37||23||15||4.5 %||23.1 %||.128||.379||.296||.373||.423||.372||128|
|2010||Mets (A)||109||469||1||80||34||45||6.8 %||17.5 %||.067||.363||.292||.375||.359||.360||124|
|2011||Mets (A+)||117||488||10||67||50||19||3.7 %||21.1 %||.138||.311||.259||.313||.397||.323||96|
|2012||Mets (A+)||64||244||4||36||19||18||2.9 %||23.4 %||.169||.329||.256||.326||.425||.361||123|
You can make a good case that Puello's plate discipline has gotten worse not better by looking at his BB rates. From an optimistic standpoint it has stayed about the same if you take into account the advancement's in level. I'd like to highlight 2010 when Puello was in Savannah playing at Grayson Stadium all season. One of the most pitcher friendly parks in all of the minors, Cesar managed just 1 homer and an ISO of .067. On the bright side Puello put up his best BB rate at 6.8% and K rate with 17.5%. In more neutral parks at other levels he has been more aggressive, but I'd look at this as a positive for his future development that while playing in a poor hitter's park he did appear to make an effort to walk more with promising results.
Overall I think there is reason to be hopeful that Cesar can walk more as his season in Savannah has shown and that his BB rate shouldn't be used as a damning stat against him as it lowballs his true on base ability.