Scouting Ian Bladergroen

Reports out of New York are circulating that the Mets have traded 1B prospect Ian Bladergroen to the Red Sox for 1B Doug Mientkiewicz. Ranking 4th in our Top 50 Mets' Prospects, here's a scouting report on the epitome of a team leader, Ian Bladergroen.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Ian Bladergroen
Position: First Base
DOB: February 23, 1983
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 210
Bats: Left
Throws: Left

One of the great mysteries of the Mets' 2004 minor league system remains just how far Ian Bladergroen might have gone if not for a torn ligament in his left wrist that ended his season in July.

Despite missing more than 60 games due to the injury, Bladergroen was still able to finish in the South Atlantic League's top 20 with 74 RBI and would have led the league with a .342 batting average, had he compiled the necessary number of at-bats.

Injuries will happen, of course, but luckily Bladergroen has recovered nicely and appears on track to resume his career as one of the top first base prospects in all of baseball.

"It really blows my mind where I could have been had I not had the injury," Bladergroen said. "I'm thinking, because of the injury, that I'll most likely start off [2005] in St. Lucie, and that's fine. My goal for next season is to get to Double-A at some point. My ultimate goal is to get to Shea and I know I will get there. It is just a matter of when."

Bladergroen has good reason for his confidence. Drafted by the Mets in the 44th round of the 2002 draft out of Lamar College in Colorado, where he pumped 49 home runs and 166 RBI through the Rocky Mountain air in his junior and senior years, Bladergroen has the frame and muscle to project as a major league power hitter in the next few years.

In fact, 2004 was just the tip of the iceberg for Bladergroen – it's scary to think that, had Bladergroen already stuck two or three years of professional experience under his belt, he could have been the answer at first base for the Mets already.

"I have never seen a person that just 'does it,'" Capital City teammate Shawn Bowman said. "If he's sick, not sick, if he's hot, or not hot, he just goes out there and does it every day."

"He doesn't just hit for power and average, he has a tremendous idea of the strike zone," a National League scout said. "He handles the glove real well and is a level-headed type of kid. Bladergroen has as much upside as any other first base prospect in the minors."















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* Stats as of 10/1/04

Batting and Power. Sure Bladergroen's 49 homeruns at Lamar Community College were hit in the thin air of Colorado. But don't discount his power projection solely on that. Lamar Coach Scott Crampton said, after Bladergroen was drafted, he thought Bladergroen would eventually hit 25+ homeruns at the Major League level, and that may have been a somewhat conservative estimate. The "Blade" is a big, strong kid with power to all fields. He's a big time competitor and yearns to drive in the big run. He is a very good hitter and projects to hit for power and average. As clutch as they come, Bladergroen can be an RBI machine. Despite missing 60+ games with his injured wrist, he still finished in the Top 20 in RBI in the South Atlantic League last season. Bladergroen projects to be a .300 hitter with 30+ homerun power in his prime.

Base Running and Speed. As big as he is, it is not surprising that he has below average speed. What he lacks in speed he more than makes up for in instinctive base running ability and hustle.

Defense. A converted outfielder, defense is the weakest part of Bladergroen's game. That said, he is more than adequate defensively at first base. He has decent range and soft hands. His exceptional leadership skills are very much welcomed at first base. He may never win any Gold Glove awards at first base, but he'll work his tail off trying to do so. Bladergroen was one of the better defensive first baseman in the Mets' system and projects to be an average, to slightly above average, first baseman at the Major League level.

Projection. Bladergroen was the first baseman with the highest upside in the Mets' system and has as much upside as any other first baseman in the minors. His biggest strength is ironically one of his glaring weaknesses - he hates to lose! The consummate team player, Bladergroen is all about the team. He would much rather win championships than receive personal accolades and awards. Offensively, his approach at the plate and his offensive potential remind some scouts of a young Will Clark. Bladergroen projects to be a starting first baseman at the Major League level and a very productive run producer.

ETA. 2007. With the type of season Bladergroen was having in 2004, there's no guessing how far up the minor league ladder he could have gotten if not for the injured wrist. The Mets would have most likely taken a conservative approach in 2005 and begin the "Blade" in the Florida State League with the high-A St. Lucie Mets, with a realistic possibility of reaching AA-Binghamton. Bladergroen likely needs just two more minor league seasons before he's ready to help out at the Major League level by 2007, when he'll still only be 24 years old.

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