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.
1. Cesar Puello, RF
Age: (as of Opening Day 2014) 23
Acquired: International Free Agent, 2007
2013: 377 PA, .326/.403/.547, 82 K, 28 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: Sometimes tools guys just figure it out, and Puello definitely took a big step in that direction in 2013
The long of it: Probably about 10-20 pounds heavier than his listed weight, strong kid that shows power to all fields in BP and in games. His approach and pitch recognition improved throughout the year, but Puello still has trouble with breaking balls, especially down in the zone. He's aggressive early in the count, and I have no idea why anyone throws him a first pitch fastball. Got more comfortable working counts as the year went on, but still has plenty of 'grip it and rip it' hiding in there. More experienced pitchers that could work backwards or execute on offspeed stuff ahead in the count can get him out, but Puello will make you pay if you make a mistake out over the plate and has more than enough bat speed to turn on inside heat. Knows he's good and has what my colleagues at Baseball Prospectus would refer to as serious #rig. Baseball magnet due to him stepping towards home and diving a bit to cover outside stuff. Puello's gotten a bit stocky, but he's still a good athlete and average runner. He's aggressive and smart on the base paths as well and could be a potential 20/20 guy. However, the hit tool might limit the power numbers unless he continues to make strides with those pesky sliders in the dirt. He's an able rightfielder helped out by an easy plus arm. Saw him throw multiple guys out at third and home throughout the year. Closes on balls well and can really let it fly, and I get the feeling he wants guys to run on him. Biogenesis suspension will bring out the doubters if he flounders some in Vegas, but I expect his potential undoing will be breaking-ball-related rather than chemical-related. Oh, and potential plus-plus 'fro when he grows it out.
The projection: Everyday major league rightfielder
Risk Factor: High. Approach and pitch recognition (especially on breaking balls) needs to continue to improve in order for him to hit enough to win and maintain an everyday job in the majors.
What’s next: Puello will have a normal winter ball season/spring training and likely break camp as the everyday rightfielder in Vegas. Could be up as soon as June if he continues to rake or there is a need at the major league level.
What I'll be looking for in 2014: Can he continue to refine his approach as he started to do before his suspension? Is there enough hit tool in here to make the potential plus power play at the highest level?