With recent word that Bisons outfielder Mike Baxter will be getting the call, I thought it prudent to introduce Baxter to the Mets faithful, as he is still a newbie to the organization. We've covered him a couple of times in the Daily Farm Reports but for anyone that missed it, here goes.
The 26-year old Baxter was an intriguing waiver steal by the Mets back on July 22nd when they nabbed him from tonight's opponent, the San Diego Padres -- no doubt another player DePo kept an eye on from his time there. The Padres had been stashing him on the 60-day DL since he tore thumb ligaments back in March, but lost him to a numbers crunch when he returned -- probably hoping he'd quietly slip through waivers without any notice.
The 26-yr old Queens native was originally drafted in the fourth round -- 128th overall -- in ‘05 after playing first at Columbia and then transferring to baseball powerhouse Vanderbilt. For those wondering, yes he WAS a teammate of fellow Buffalo outfielder Fernando Perez with Columbia. He also teamed with David Price in his junior year with the Commodores.
As far as his ability, he’s not a stud — as evidenced by a career .278 average in the minors. In fairness he probably isn't exactly a true 'prospect', but as a minor leaguer about to join the major league roster, close enough. What makes him intriguing, intriguing enough for the Mets to snap up, was his excellent .301/382/.517 year at Triple-A in 2010, which also included 18 hrs and 22 sb’s. He clearly features a nice power/speed game, he doesn’t strike out much and best of all he’s got outstanding plate discipline from the left side.
In fact, he regularly walked in upwards of 10% of his ab's between Double and Triple-A, while striking out in the 12-14% range; just DePodesta's kind of player. He can also play a little center field, though mostly he's been used as a corner outfielder. In a perfect world he's sort of a Mark Kotsay type.
In 11 games with the Herd, Baxter is batting .256/.341/.436 with a pair of triples and a homer. He's not a long-term option as a starter -- with much of the Mets minor league strength lying in the outfield -- but with many cost-controlled years left, don't be surprised if Baxter pushes Jason Pridie for the 4th-5th OF job next spring.
I should point out that there is a case to be made for a couple of other worthy candidates to fill Murphy's spot -- as Toby Hyde did earlier today. Namely, Buffalo IF Josh Satin comes to mind as he just keeps on raking no matter what the level. Also, Murph's utility infielder slipper fits him quite snugly. The other is Binghamton's 2B Jordany Valdespin who is having a breakout year in Double-A.
The problem is with guys like Evans and Duda around to man first and Tejada and Turner handling the MI, there likely won't be many ab's for whoever gets the call. And by all rights the first shot at first base should go to the constantly jerked-around Evans anyway -- instead of the capable Satin. Plus, if we're talking about adding a guy at the end of the bench why not go with the one who's already on the 40-man roster, letting the other guys -- especially Valdespin -- continue to get regular ab's? At least that's how I see it.