The Mets' outfield so far this season hasn't been as terrible as preseason prognostications would have you imagine. Lucas Duda is tearing the cover off the ball and Marlon Byrd has proven to be not completely washed-up. Nevertheless, there is still room for improvement, which leads us to the report that the Mets are about to promote Juan Lagares.
Lagares has started the season hot, and is hitting .346/.378/.551 at Triple-A Las Vegas with three home runs. Of course, the Pacific Coast League is notoriously hitter-friendly, and it should be noted that Lagares hit a good-but-not-great .283/.334/.389 with Binghamton last season.
This winter we ranked Lagares as the 24th-best Mets prospect.
Despite quite different results, the 23-year old Lagares wasn't a drastically different player than the version that hit .350 in '11. Very similar strikeout rate (17%), similarly improving walk rate (6.8%) and good speed on the basepaths (21 sb's). Now a few more homers dropped in for doubles this season, but the main difference was a drop in BABIP from an unsustainable .399 mark in 2011 down to .337 in 2012 -- much more in line with his .329 career mark. Not to mention improved defensive play in his new home in center. In fact, after playing the majority of his games in center in 2012, that storyline will be the key for Lagares' prospect stock going forward. While he's shown the ability to hit some against advanced pitching, he doesn't feature a corner outfield profile due to a lack of home run power.
Lagares has appeared exclusively in center field for Las Vegas this season. It's not clear yet who the Mets would send down to make room for Lagages, who is on the 40-man roster. The first two guys that come to mind are light-hitting center fielders Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Collin Cowgill.