Lagares Punctuating His Big Year

BINGHAMTON, NY - Juan Lagares entered the Mets organization with much promise way back in 2006. However, a rushed approach and injuries curbed that potential for a number of years. This season has been different though, as Lagares' breakout season has brought him to Double-A where his success continues. What has made the difference for the .350 hitter? Look inside to find out.

Reaching the big leagues is the ultimate goal of every young baseball player, but actually making it to the sport's biggest stage is never an easy task. The unpredictable nature of the game brings injuries, setbacks, slumps and struggles, and overcoming them is often difficult.

For Juan Lagares, overcoming these obstacles has been the story of his minor league career. The 22-year old, who at 17 was signed by the Mets as an international free agent, has spent six seasons in the club's minor league system. Multiple injuries and a position change have complicated his young career, but Lagares is finally putting it all together.

In 81 games in the Florida State League, Lagares batted .339, tallying 104 hits and 49 RBI. His performance earned him a promotion to Double-A Binghamton, joining the B-Mets on July 23. In the Eastern League, Lagares continues to thrive, and through 24 games his batting average stood at a robust .381.

"For me, it's just working," Lagares said of his offensive production. "Coming to the field and trying to work hard every day is the main thing, and that's [contributed to] my success."

Through August 20th, Lagares was riding an 11-game hit streak, and had 40 hits in the same 24 games. His effectiveness, according to B-Mets hitting coach Luis Natera, comes directly from his ability to cover the entire plate.

"He has the ability to cover the other half of the plate, and when you have that ability things are going to go in your favor," Natera said. "We worked a little bit on his lower half, sometimes he got into trouble when he tried to pull the ball and he'd step out, but other than that it's been going well."

While Lagares has exceeded expectations offensively, his strong defense has also turned heads. Drafted as a shortstop, Lagares committed 40 errors at the position in his first season with Savannah in 2007 (after spending 2006 in the Dominican Summer League) and the Mets eventually moved their prospect to the outfield in 2009. Though the transition was at times, difficult, the natural infielder seems well at home in left field.

"At the beginning it wasn't easy for me since I was a shortstop my first three years and was then moved to the outfield," Lagares said. "I wasn't sure how to judge balls at first, but now I feel really good out there."

But acclimating to a new position hasn't been the biggest obstacle, as overcoming numerous injuries was arguably the biggest challenge. In 2008, Lagares had a delayed start to the season as the result of a nagging arm injury. In 2009, issues with his wrist allowed him to see action in just 47 games.

Last season, after hitting .300 with Savannah and being shipped to St. Lucie, things finally seemed to be turning around. But on July 28, Lagares broke his ankle holding up at third base, and after playing two weeks through pain was eventually shut down for the remainder of the season.

"It was a little frustrating for me," he said. "When you want to play and you can't, that hurt. I feel like I want to do the job I came here to do."

But in 2011, Lagares has put his past injuries and struggles behind him, and has established himself as one of the organization's most exciting prospects – and one of its biggest stock-climbers across the farm.

"He was a little faster before [the injury], but he's ok right now and nothing's bothering him," Natera said. "He's happy and he's been ready to go."

"Early in his career he went to Class-A right away, and at the time he felt, ‘I'm still only in A-ball'," he continued. "But now he's excited and he knows how good he is, and everything's been good."

Continuing to showcase his abilities on both sides of the ball, Lagares has set his sights high and hopes to join the big club in the upcoming year. While Lagares has expressed confidence in his skill and playing style, members of the B-Mets' coaching staff also have an opinion on his potential.

"I think he'll play in the majors," Natera said. "I don't know when, we'll see how consistent he can be, but yes I think he'll play there. He's still young, but I know his ability will take him there and I think he's going to be a solid player in the big leagues."


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nReaching the big leagues is the ultimate goal of every young baseball player, but actually making it to the sport's biggest stage is never an easy task. The unpredictable nature of the game brings injuries, setbacks, slumps and struggles, and overcoming them is often difficult.\r\n

\r\nFor Juan Lagares, overcoming these obstacles has been the story of his minor league career. The 22-year old, who at 17 was signed by the Mets as an international free agent, has spent six seasons in the club's minor league system. Multiple injuries and a position change have complicated his young career, but Lagares is finally putting it all together.\r\n

\r\nIn 81 games in the Florida State League, Lagares batted .339, tallying 104 hits and 49 RBI. His performance earned him a promotion to Double-A Binghamton, joining the B-Mets on July 23. In the Eastern League, Lagares continues to thrive, and through 24 games his batting average stood at a robust .381.\r\n

\r\n\"For me, it's just working,\" Lagares said of his offensive production. \"Coming to the field and trying to work hard every day is the main thing, and that's [contributed to] my success.\"\r\n

\r\nThrough August 20th, Lagares was riding an 11-game hit streak, and had 40 hits in the same 24 games. His effectiveness, according to B-Mets hitting coach Luis Natera, comes directly from his ability to cover the entire plate.\r\n

\r\n\"He has the ability to cover the other half of the plate, and when you have that ability things are going to go in your favor,\" Natera said. \"We worked a little bit on his lower half, sometimes he got into trouble when he tried to pull the ball and he'd step out, but other than that it's been going well.\"\r\n

\r\nWhile Lagares has exceeded expectations offensively, his strong defense has also turned heads. Drafted as a shortstop, Lagares committed 40 errors at the position in his first season with Savannah in 2007 (after spending 2006 in the Dominican Summer League) and the Mets eventually moved their prospect to the outfield in 2009. Though the transition was at times, difficult, the natural infielder seems well at home in left field.\r\n

\r\n\"At the beginning it wasn't easy for me since I was a shortstop my first three years and was then moved to the outfield,\" Lagares said. \"I wasn't sure how to judge balls at first, but now I feel really good out there.\"\r\n

\r\nBut acclimating to a new position hasn't been the biggest obstacle, as overcoming numerous injuries was arguably the biggest challenge. In 2008, Lagares had a delayed start to the season as the result of a nagging arm injury. In 2009, issues with his wrist allowed him to see action in just 47 games.\r\n

\r\nLast season, after hitting .300 with Savannah and being shipped to St. Lucie, things finally seemed to be turning around. But on July 28, Lagares broke his ankle holding up at third base, and after playing two weeks through pain was eventually shut down for the remainder of the season.\r\n

\r\n\"It was a little frustrating for me,\" he said. \"When you want to play and you can't, that hurt. I feel like I want to do the job I came here to do.\"\r\n

\r\nBut in 2011, Lagares has put his past injuries and struggles behind him, and has established himself as one of the organization's most exciting prospects – and one of its biggest stock-climbers across the farm.\r\n

\r\n\"He was a little faster before [the injury], but he's ok right now and nothing's bothering him,\" Natera said. \"He's happy and he's been ready to go.\"\r\n

\r\n\"Early in his career he went to Class-A right away, and at the time he felt, ‘I'm still only in A-ball',\" he continued. \"But now he's excited and he knows how good he is, and everything's been good.\"\r\n

\r\nContinuing to showcase his abilities on both sides of the ball, Lagares has set his sights high and hopes to join the big club in the upcoming year. While Lagares has expressed confidence in his skill and playing style, members of the B-Mets' coaching staff also have an opinion on his potential.\r\n

\r\n\"I think he'll play in the majors,\" Natera said. \"I don't know when, we'll see how consistent he can be, but yes I think he'll play there. He's still young, but I know his ability will take him there and I think he's going to be a solid player in the big leagues.\"\r\n

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