The best Mets position prospects I saw this year: #7 Wilfredo Tovar

Chris Gardner

The countdown of the best Mets prospects we saw in 2013 continues with slick fielding shortstop, Wilfredo Tovar

Disclaimer (because someone will ask why a player I didn't see isn't on this list): This is a ranking of the best Mets prospects I saw in person this year. This is not a comprehensive Mets prospect list. I did not see Las Vegas, St. Lucie or the GCL team this year. If a player is not on the list, it is most likely because I did not see him. Otherwise, all rankings are consistent with how I would order the players within the Mets system. Oh yeah, and I am not a scout.

7. Wilfredo Tovar, SS

5'10", 160 lbs

Bats/Throws: R/R

Age: (as of Opening Day 2014) 22.3

Acquired: International Free Agent, 2007

2013: 486 PA, .263/.323/.340, 49 K, 33 BB for Binghamton (AA)

Date(s) seen: 4/11/13- 4/14/13 vs. New Hampshire Fisher Cats (TOR)

5/20/13-5/22/13 and 7/18/13-7/21/13 @ New Britain Rock Cats (MIN)

The short of it: If you can pick it at short, they will come.

The long of it: Your first impression of Tovar is: "Oh, that's a major league shortstop." The glove stands out, especially at the Double-A level. Tovar doesn't get it done with raw physical tools. He's a below-average runner and the arm is good, but not standout for the position. However, Tovar reacts well, has a quick first step, and very smooth actions at the position. Scouts often talk about a player being able to 'slow the game down,' and that is exactly what Tovar does in the field. He's not flashy and isn't going to win gold gloves, but he'll be an above-average shortstop in the majors. That's a really nice start, but the bat is going to be a pretty big limiting factor here. Tovar chokes up a bit and has a short, contact-oriented stroke from the right side. He's probably not as tall as he's listed, and there isn't any physical projection left here anyway. He probably has even less power than Tejada, and while his approach is good, pitchers will be able to challenge him in the zone knowing he's probably only going to single at worst. I don't see enough secondary skills here to support an everyday role as a .240 or .250 hitter, but if you can handle a major league shortstop, a team will keep a spot on the bench for you.

The projection: Utility infielder/backup shortstop

Risk Factor: Low. Glove-first profile, and the glove is already there. Some risk that the hit tool collapses as major league pitchers knock the bat out of his hands with better fastballs. Even then, he's basically Omar Quintanilla.

What’s next: If the Mets wanted to keep a true backup SS/2B on the roster (ideally they'd find a true starting shortstop first of course), Tovar is pretty much ready for that assignment. But with the news that the Mets plan on tendering Justin Turner, I suspect Tovar will be playing shortstop in Vegas until an injury forces him to the bigs again.

What I'll be looking for in 2014: Can Tovar maintain a palatable walk rate as better pitchers challenge him in the zone?

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