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The View From Behind the Backstop: Dilson Herrera

After a strong first half in St. Lucie, Dilson Herrera has arrived in Binghamton as the Eastern League's youngest player. What can Mets fans expect from the crown jewel of the Marlon Byrd trade?

Bryan Green

Dilson Herrera
2B, Binghamton Mets (AA)
Height, weight: 5'10", 150
Age (2014 season age): 20
Acquired: Trade, 2013 (Pirates for Byrd/Buck) 
Date(s) seen: 6/30-7/3 @ New Britain Rock Cats: 3-14, HR, 2B, BB, 2 K
2014 so far:

A+: 309 PA, .307/.355/.410, 44 K/18 BB

AA: 71 PA, .313/.380/.469, 16 K/7 BB

The short of it

Herrera is the youngest player in the Eastern League, and the rawness often shines through. However, he has a real shot to be a solid every day second baseman at the major league level.

The long of it

Herrera may be the youngest player in the Eastern League, but there isn't much physical projection left in his frame. Probably an inch or two shorter than he's listed and closer to 170, he's built like a strong safety in 7/8 scale. He carries it well and is an easy plus runner with a good second gear once he gets going. Ran right through a Pedro Lopez stop sign and scored without a throw. He doesn't have the greatest first step in the field, and his lack of short-burst quickness will probably limit him to second even without the concerns about his arm (which I didn't see really tested in this series). Looked a bit mechanical in the field, especially on the backhand side and double play turns, but projects as an average second baseman. Some evaluators have suggested a move to the outfield might be in his future, and I think he could handle centerfield.

At the plate, Herrera's strengths and weaknesses are a pretty easy scout. He has easy plus bat speed and is quiet in the box with a simple weight transfer before he fires his hips. He does have a tendency to load his hands high and create a bit of a bat wrap in his swing. This can lead to a few problems. One, because of his easy weight transfer, his upper half ends up dragging behind his lower half, cutting off his power; and two, he tends to collapse his backside and uppercut at the ball when this happens. When he keeps the hands under control, he is still strong enough to drive the ball into the gaps and pull major league velocity.

Herrera's approach was impressive for a twenty-year-old at this level. He was able to lay off spin around the zone, but he will expand the zone vertically, especially up. You can beat him with good fastballs at his eyes, but you better get it all the way up. He yanked an 0-2 fastball at the letters off the scoreboard at New Britain Stadium. Now, I don't think that will be a regular occurrence, but he is strong enough and has enough bat speed to run into 8-12 home runs a year to go with plenty of doubles. The danger here is if he lets the swing get long to sell out for that fringy power. He showed me enough of a two-strike approach and an ability to keep the swing path shorter that I think he could be a solid-average hitter in the majors (.270). Couple that with some gap power and an improving approach, and you have a very nice offensive profile at the keystone.

The optimistic projection

Above-average everyday second baseman. Something like .270/.320/.400 with average defense.

The pessimistic projection

Herrera may still be a bit raw and only 20, but he sure looks like a future major leaguer. Even if he is stretched a bit at short, could settle into more of a utility role if he struggles to lay off the fastballs up and out of the zone.

What to look for during the rest of the 2014 season

Early returns in the Eastern League have him showing more pop and patience. Keep tabs on whether or not that continues with more exposure to the level.