Scouting Mets' Prospect #38: Dante Brinkley

The New York Mets drafted outfielder Dant Brinkley with their 23rd round draft choice in the 2003 draft out of Southwest Missouri State University. Brinkley, who models himself after current Mets' CF Mike Cameron, ranks #38 among our Top 50 prospects. Here is a scouting report on Brinkley.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Dante Brinkley
Position: Left Field
DOB: August 21, 1981
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 180
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Dante Brinkley did not begin playing the outfield until his freshman year of college. After growing up as a shortstop, Brinkley moved to the outfield when he got to college so he could get some playing time. Playing college ball at Southwest Missouri State, Brinkley earned team MVP honors three years in a row and also helped lead his team to the College World Series his final two years. The model of consistency, Brinkley hit .345 each of his final two seasons at school, hitting 18 doubles each year, and stealing 24 bases his senior year after 25 his junior season. Brinkley, who models himself after Mike Cameron and Torri Hunter for their intense attitude and great hustle, actually got a little inspiration from Hunter when he called Brinkley during the College World Series in 2003. "He just told me to stay with it and not get caught up with the high and low points because eventually they even themselves out. He told me to stick with it and have fun playing the game", Brinkley told NYfansonly.com earlier in the season.

After signing with the Mets in June of 2003, Brinkley was sent to the Appalachian League to make his professional debut with the Kingsport Mets. Despite making the adjustments from college to the pros and playing a much longer season, Brinkley continued his good hitting. He hit .303 in his first 44 professional games and was promoted to Capital City to start the 2004 campaign as the Bombers' reserve outfielder. For the first time in his baseball life, Brinkley struggled as he found it incredibly hard to find the consistent at-bats he needed. When St. Lucie's outfield came down with a rash of injuries to Alhaji Turay and Jonathan Slack, Brinkley made an emergency appearance in the Florida State League, hitting a home run in his very first game of high-A ball.

Brinkley was pretty much penciled in as the Cyclones' starting left fielder back in Spring Training and was sent to Brooklyn once the NY-Penn League began play. In Brooklyn, Brinkley was clearly one of the team leaders. He led the Cyclones in runs scored and on-base percentage, hitting anywhere in the lineup from leadoff to the #3 spot. "Any spot as long as I am in the lineup I am happy with. You take different approaches depending on where you bat, and the pitchers pitch to you differently but I just remind myself what type of hitter I am, and what I need to do to get on base or move a guy over or steal some bases. No matter what position I am hitting at, my goal is the same, and that is to get on base. If a guy is on second with nobody out I just try to move them over and let Tyler and Concepcion drive them in", Brinkley told us back in August.

While Brinkley was one of the offensive leaders on the field for the Cyclones, his biggest attribute may be the leadership skills he brings to the team. "There is no way I will let a guy to get down on himself", Brinkley said. "If I see any guy just trying to stress out, I'll go to them and crack a joke or mess with them a little", say's Brinkley. "We keep a relax atmosphere here, and that allows everyone to play to the best of their abilities." "One of Dante's biggest qualities to the team is that he just relaxes everyone and makes them smile", said Cyclones' hitting coach Donovan Mitchell.

Year

Team

AVG.

AB

Hits

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

K

OBP

SLG

2004

St. Lucie

.250

16

4

1

1

4

1

4

4

.400

.500

2004

Capital City

.228

101

23

2

14

20

2

9

41

.295

.396

2004

Brooklyn

.316

234

74

6

30

47

14

25

59

.396

.440

2003

Kingsport

.303

142

43

0

17

23

9

16

28

.399

.394


* Stats as of 10/1/04

Batting and Power. Brinkley is a very good contact hitter who uses all fields. He's adept at taking the ball the other way and stays back on pitches really well. Despite not being the biggest player (5'11", 180 lbs), Dante has good line drive power and will hit it out of the park with a bit of regularity. He tied for second with Tyler Davidson on the Cyclones' with six home runs this past season. He's got enough pop in his bat to hit 20 home runs each season given enough at-bats and projects to be a good #2 hitter down the road. He has a knack for getting on base and has excellent small ball skills that you'd like to see utilized at the #2 spot.

Base Running and Speed. Brinkley has above average speed and is a very good base runner. He stole 49 bases in his final two years at Southwest Missouri State with an 84.5% success rate. While he had early struggles with Kingsport in 2003 (thrown out 7 times in 16 attempts), Brinkley found his comfort zone in 2004 for the Cyclones. He stole 14 bases for Brooklyn in 15 attempts. He's an intelligent base runner with good baseball instincts.

Defense. He has tremendous range in the outfield and can play any of the outfield positions if called upon. Brinkley gets a good jump on balls in the outfield and takes smart routes. He has an average arm, more suitable for left field and that's the position he projects to play as an everyday player.

Projection. Brinkley has a ton of talent and the tools are all there. The rest is up to him to continue to put up numbers at the higher levels. He could wind up being a starting left fielder some day, hitting #2 in the lineup. At minimum, Brinkley would make an excellent fourth outfielder for a Big League club with his versatility. Until he puts up the numbers he's capable of, he projects more as a reserve outfielder and excellent bench player for the Mets.

ETA. 2007. The Mets have a logjam of outfield prospects at the lower minor league levels and Brinkley is the leading candidate to skip a level in 2005. It would not be surprising to see Brinkley begin the 2005 season in St. Lucie. His 2005 campaign will go a long way towards figuring out a more succinct timetable.

Outfielders

2004 Team

Victor Diaz

AAA - Norfolk Tides

Prentice Redman

AAA - Norfolk Tides

Jeff Duncan

AA - Binghamton Mets

Angel Pagan AA - Binghamton Mets
Wayne Lydon AA - Binghamton Mets
Ron Acuna AA - Binghamton Mets
Bobby Malek AA - Binghamton Mets
Alhaji Turay A - St. Lucie Mets
Jonathan Slack A - St. Lucie Mets
Joseph Jiannetti A - St. Lucie Mets
Lastings Milledge A - Capital City Bombers
Jamar Hill A - Capital City Bombers
Ryan Harvey A - Capital City Bombers
Rashad Parker A - Capital City Bombers
Caleb Stewart A - Capital City Bombers
Ambiorix Concepcion A - Brooklyn Cyclones
Corey Coles A - Brooklyn Cyclones
Dante Brinkley A - Brooklyn Cyclones
Derran Watts A - Brooklyn Cyclones
Seith Pietsch R - Kingsport Mets
Carlos Gomez R - Kingsport Mets
Joshua Wyrick R - Kingsport Mets
Jesus Gamero R - Kingsport Mets
Horace Lawrence R - Kingsport Mets
Cory Wells R - Gulf Coast Mets
Brahiam Maldonado R - Gulf Coast Mets
Parris Austin R - Gulf Coast Mets
Miguel Garcia R - Gulf Coast Mets


Comments

Two years ago, the Mets were really devoid of any real threat in the outfield among their prospects. They currently have a handful of legitimate outfield prospects, players that could become full-time starters at the Major League level. While Victor Diaz and Prentice Redman are the closest to the Major Leagues, Lastings Milledge, Jamar Hill, and Ambiorix Concepcion give the Mets a very athletic look in the future. The Mets could have a very, very good outfield down the road.

1) Victor Diaz - AAA-Norfolk Tides - Diaz, making the switch from second base to right field in 2004, looked pretty comfortable in the field and at the plate. There's never been a question about his bat (he has won two minor league battle titles), just his attitude and defense. It will be interesting to see if the Mets make the commitment to Diaz in their outfield after a very good AAA debut in 2004, or use him as a trading piece for an established Major League talent.

2) Prentice Redman - AAA-Norfolk Tides - Redman does a little bit of everything well. He can run, hit, hit for power, and possesses speed. The problem is he doesn't any one of them very well. His future at the Major League level is as a reserve outfielder.

3) Jeff Duncan - AA-Binghamton Mets - Once patrolling centerfield for the Mets, Duncan was demoted all the way down to AA this past season. With Cameron tied up for the next two seasons, and with Milledge right behind him (or ahead of him in many ways), Duncan needs a change of scenery with a new organization.

4) Angel Pagan - AA-Binghamton Mets - Pagan is developing into a very good reserve-type outfielder that can play all three outfield positions and can hit at the top or bottom of the lineup. He make very good contact at the plate, has excellent speed, a good arm, and brings good enthusiasm into the clubhouse.

5) Wayne Lydon - AA -Binghamton Mets - Lydon is all about the speed. With 227 stolen bases the last three seasons, Lydon's a light-hitting defensive player that has a knack for the stolen bases. His ticket to the Majors is as a defensive replacement and pinch-runner.

6) Bobby Malek - AA-Binghamton Mets - There's a reason the Mets made Malek their 4th round selection in the 2002 draft. Malek is a very good defensive player that possesses a rare combination of power and speed. After struggling last season after elbow surgery, Malek regained his college form in 2004, hitting 14 home runs and stealing 15 bases. Malek still has the potential to be a starting outfielder at the Major League level. 2005 could be a breakout year for Malek.

7) Ronald Acuna - AA - Binghamton Mets - A very good contact hitter and excellent defensive player, Acuna's lack of power is his downfall as a prospect. He has just 5 HRs in his last 1,441 minor league at-bats. He's a 4th or 5th outfielder at the Major League level.

8) Joseph Jiannetti - A-St. Lucie Mets - Originally drafted as a 3B, the Mets moved him to 2B back in 2002 and then moved him to the outfield in 2004. Jiannetti is a nice hitter with decent pop. He's got the potential to be a reserve outfielder or as a possible utility player.

9) Jonathan Slack - A-St. Lucie Mets - Slack is a good defensive centerfielder much in the same mold as Lydon. Good defensively, decent hitter, great speed, and not much power. He's got the look of a possible reserve outfielder.

10) Alhaji Turay - A - St. Lucie Mets - The talent is there. A good defensive player, Turay has big time power potential and excellent speed. He has 30-30 potential and is easily one of the Mets' best run producing prospects....WHEN HEALTHY! Turay has to put together a full, healthy season before he becomes an elite prospect, but he does have that kind of talent.

11) Jamar Hill - A - Capital City Bombers - Hill, with 26 HRs & 20 SBs in 2004, had a breakout season this past year and showing the promise he displayed in Kingsport back in 2002. If he can duplicate the same success at St. Lucie in 2005, Hill could make that leap into one of the better outfield prospects in all of baseball.

12) Lastings Milledge - A- Capital City Bombers - Already considered the Mets' top prospect after the Mets trade Scott Kazmir, Milledge had a very good first year of long-season baseball. Milledge does it all: power, speed, defense, hitting, etc. He strikes out a bit too much, but could learn more selectivity as he matures. Easily the top outfield prospect for the Mets!

13) Ryan Harvey - A - Capital City Bombers - Harvey certainly gets overlooked by many despite being a very solid outfielder. Harvey, the Bombers' lone All-Star in '04, does a little bit of everything. Currently, he has the look of a reserve outfielder at the Major League level but he could be a late bloomer much in the same manner Jason Bay was. He's one to keep an eye on.

14) Rashad Parker - A - Capital City Bombers - Parker's a defensive and speed replacement at the minor league level. There's no reason to expect anything else.

15) Caleb Stewart - A - Capital City Bombers - Stewart is a big kid that moves very well. He has a very good batting eye and decent power. He could develop into a Major League starting outfielder down the road.

16) Ambiorix Concepcion - A - Brooklyn Cyclones - The player formerly known as Roberto Solano, Concepcion is a five-tool talent that has the raw ability to be an elite outfield prospect for the Mets. Voted by Baseball America as the top prospect in the NY-Penn League this year, Concepcion reminds scouts of Vladmir Guerrero at the same point in development.

17) Corey Coles - A - Brooklyn Cyclones - Coles had a tremendous start to the 2004 season for Brooklyn and then had a disasterous finish. At 23, he's going to have to have some success at higher levels before we get too excited about him.

18) Dante Brinkley - A - Brooklyn Cyclones - Brinkley is a nice player that can do a little bit of everything. He has the look of a future reserve outfielder.

19) Derran Watts - A - Brooklyn Cyclones - Has more speed than Brinkley, a better arm, and is better defensively. But has a long way to go to become legit outfield prospect.

20) Carlos Gomez - R - Kingsport Mets - Gomez was a wide-eyed 18-year old kid playing rookie ball this past season, but has the raw talent to be a special prospect. He's got a cannon for an arm, good batting eye, and developing power. He could be atop this list next year along with Lastings Milledge and Jamar Hill as the Mets' best outfield prospects.

21) Seth Pietsch - R - Kingsport Mets - A little old for the Appy League, Pietsch is a strong kid with good power and speed. He needs to show some success at the higher levels.

22) Joshua Wyrick - R - Kingsport Mets - Wyrick, an 11th round pick in the 2004 draft, had a decent professional debut. He's a speedster with great range.

23) Jesus Gamero - R - Kingsport Mets - Has an excellent batting eye and developing power.

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