Hector Pellot: Depending on who you ask, the Mets either reached to draft Pellot in the 4th round of the 2005 MLB Draft or found themselves a high-ceiling talent in that same spot. Judging from the early results of the Instructional League and from his first taste of Spring Training, it appears it is more towards the latter. Pellot is an athletic second baseman with good range, solid command of the strike zone, who has surprising power for a player his size, and very good speed.
Ticketed for the South Atlantic League as one of the youngest position players, Pellot already has the look of possessing All-Star caliber talent at a position that has been devoid of any true high-ceiling talent in the Mets' farm system over the last few seasons. He has a long way to go towards tapping his potential, but in the early going, he's the prospect who has the fewest holes in his game.
Anderson Hernandez: Obtained from the Detroit Tigers in the Vance Wilson deal prior to the start of the 2005 season, Hernandez was known more as a defensive specialist than a good offensive player. He switched over from his natural shortstop position over to second base upon his promotion to Norfolk last year since Jose Reyes was blocking his path to the Major Leagues.
The switch-hitting Hernandez, in a lot of ways, is a carbon copy of Reyes. He has plus defensive ability at either middle infield position and offensively, Hernandez is a hacker with good gap power and plus speed on the base paths. The early front runner to assume the second base position if Matsui continues to struggle with injuries or in his production, Hernandez not only his a high-ceiling talent, he's also the one closest to the Major Leagues.
Closest to the Majors
Jeffrey Keppinger: Keppinger has quickly become a fan favorite because of his solid play and steady bat. He raised his career average to .314 with a .337 performance with the AAA-Norfolk Tides in 2005 and with nearly 30 more walks than strikeouts in his career, nobody has better command of the strike zone. Keppinger has been fighting the stigma of his sub-par range in the field and below average power at the plate ever since being drafted out of the University of Georgia. He's on the short list of possible second base candidates should either Matsui or Hernandez struggle in 2006.
Chase Lambin: While fans have been clamoring for Keppinger to get his shot with the Mets, hardly anybody is paying attention to what Chase Lambin has been doing. His versatility in the field - able to play second base, third base, shortstop, first base, catcher, and even some outfield - has helped disguise the fact that he hit well over .300 with 59 extra-base hits in 2005. A switch-hitter, Lambin doesn't have the greatest range in the field but he could make up for it by swinging a potent bat in the lineup.
Sean Henry: Steadily climbing the prospect rankings and forcing the Mets' brass to sit up and take notice of him is Sean Henry. The former shortstop has begun his transition over to second base because of the combination of his erratic defensive work and the presence of better defensive shortstops at the lower levels. He is very athletic and agile, boasting solid range at second base. Offensively, like Pellot, Henry has an intriguing combination of power and speed. In less than the equivalency of a full minor league season, Henry has smacked 9 home runs and stolen 25 bases. He is still very raw, but few possess the tools he has at the middle infield position.
Need to Make Their Move
Chris Basak: Like Lambin, Basak is a former shortstop who has assumed more of a utility role in the Mets' farm system over the last couple of seasons. Offensively, he does a little bit of everything. He doesn't have a plus tool in his game, which is the reason he has been shifted from position to position, but he can hit for some power and also steal some bases. Basak just turned 27-years old in December and while he figures prominently in the Norfolk Tides' plans in 2006, he is still stuck behind Lambin, Hernandez, and Keppinger at the middle infield depth charts.
The Jury is Still Out
Kevin Rios: Rios is a solid player who can play a multitude of positions: second base, third base, and shortstop. Like Basak, Rios doesn't have a plus tool in his game and he projects to be more of a utility player. He teases the Mets' coaching staff with impressive batting practices but he hasn't been able to transfer that same success in game situations.
Ryan Coultas: Another former shortstop, Coultas is 'Steady Eddy' at the plate and in the field. He does play solid defense at second base and he does contribute some things in the batter's box. The soon-to-be 24-year old needs to put together a hot streak to force some more playing time. If he can do that, he could become a possible sleeper. Currently, he projects to be more of a Chris Basak type and future utility player.
Armand Gaerlan: Gaerlan is an intriguing second base prospect. Like most other second base prospects in the Mets' system, Gaerlan can play other positions and he projects to be more of a utility player. He has a patient eye at the plate - drawing 70 walks in 133 career games - and he does have good gap power for a guy his size. Like Coultas however, he needs to find a way to force his way into the everyday lineup since he doesn't have a plus tool in his game.
Ivan Naccarata: Possessing an intriguing combination of selectivity at the plate and decent power, Naccarata has some ability. Many inside the Mets' organization are interested to see what the 24-year old can do in the long-season leagues in 2006. Until that time however, the jury is out as to what type of prospect he could become.
Jose Castro: The Dominican native can play solid defense and offensively, he's shown he can do a little bit of everything. He'll need to find a way to force himself into the everyday lineup however before anybody can get an accurate assessment of his future potential. Castro is a mild borderline sleeper at this point.
Jonathan Schemmel: Hitting .347 with nearly twice as many walks at strikeouts in the Gulf Coast League in 2005 was certainly impressive, but at 23-years old, he was much older than his competition a year ago. Schemmel doesn't have much power to speak of however and he has a lot to prove in 2006 and beyond.
Sizing Up the Second Base Prospects
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