The Mets’ newest outfielder, Jay Bruce, was acquired from the Cincinatti Reds in exchange for second baseman Dilson Herrera and left-handed pitcher Max Wotell. Who were the pair of prospects, and what did the Reds see in them such that they sought to acquire them in the trade?
Herrera, 22, was acquired by the Mets in 2013 from the Pittsburgh Pirates, along with reliever Vic Black, in the Marlon Byrd/John Buck trade. At the time, he possessed a very rough hitting profile. His swing, with a lot of moving parts, generated a surprising amount of power during his weight transfer but forced him to commit too early, leading to a high number of strikeouts. Defensively, he showed soft hands and above-average range, but a weak arm limited him to second base. Based on his profile, and his .267/.334/.416 batting line in 116 combined games with the State College Spikes and the Savannah Sand Gnats, Amazin’ Avenue ranked the youngster the Mets’ ninth best prospect for the 2014 season.
The 20-year-old Herrera began his first full season in the organization assigned to the St. Lucie Mets, the Mets’ High-A affiliate. In 67 games there, he hit .307/.355/.410 and earned a promotion to the Binghamton Mets, the organization’s Double-A affiliate. Herrera played 61 games there, and as the youngest player in the league, hit an impressive .340/.406/.560. He earned a September call-up to the Mets at the end of the year, and batted .220/.303/.407 in 18 games with the big league club. Herrera refined some mechanical elements in his swing and improved on his pitch recognition, and the results paid massive dividends. As a result, Herrera was ranked the Mets’ fourth-best prospect by Amazin’ Avenue for the 2015 season.
After playing Dominican winter ball playing for Los Tigres del Licey, Herrera returned to the organization and was assigned to the Las Vegas 51s, the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate. The 21-year-old did not miss a beat, hitting .370/.402/.506 over the first month of the season, and he was promoted to the Mets to play second base when incumbent second baseman Daniel Murphy was shifted to third base to cope with the loss of David Wright to injury. He didn’t exactly impress, and roughly two weeks later, he broke his finger and was put on the disabled list. He returned in mid-June and was sent back down to Las Vegas roughly two weeks later, where he remained until September. For the season, Herrera batted .327/.382/.511 in 81 games with the 51s and .211/.311/.367 in 31 games with the Mets. Because of rookie eligibility rules, Herrera graduated from the Mets’ prospect lists, but if he hadn’t, he undoubtedly would have been ranked as the team’s second-best prospect for 2016, behind only Steven Matz.
Herrera began this season with the Las Vegas 51s for the second time in as many years. He appeared in 86 games for Wally Backman’s club and hit .276/.327/.462.
Wotell, 19, was drafted by the Mets with their third-round pick in the 2015 MLB draft, the 88th overall selection. The 18-year-old possessed above-average fastball velocity for a southpaw, sitting 89-91 and topping out at 93. His curveball got tight spin and projected average, and he had a feel for a changeup. Most notable about Wotell were his pitching mechanics. The left-hander threw with a delivery that Amazin’ Avenue amateur guru Alex Nelson had “never seen before.” Rather than describe the footwork and hitches, it is just better to show it:
All in all, the southpaw had projection and potential, but his delivery raised control and injury red flags.
Wotell was assigned to the GCL Mets, a Rookie-level affiliate, and appeared in nine games for the team, posting a 2.53 ERA in 10.2 innings with nine walks and sixteen strikeouts. Based on his performance and his profile, Wotell was ranked the Mets’ nineteenth-best prospect by Amazin’ Avenue for the 2016 season.
Wotell began this season with the Kingsport Mets, a Rookie-level affiliate. In six starts, the left-hander posted a 3.94 ERA in 29.2 innings, walking 12 and striking out 31.