Scouting Mets Prospect #33: Rafael Fernandez

Kingsport outfielder Rafael Fernandez was not a household name or even a name on the radar prior to the 2008 season. However, as the year progressed, his production and unique blend of tools warranted more and more attention during his first season since being signed out of the Dominican Republic.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Rafael Fernandez
DOB: August 3, 1988
Height 6'1"
Weight: 175
Bats: Left
Throws: Left
Status: Free Agent Signing (2006) – Dominican Republic

While teammate Wilmer Flores dominated most of the attention paid to the Kingsport roster during the 2008 season, outfielder Rafael Fernandez quietly put together a positive season after missing nearly all of his 2007 season in the Gulf Coast League. Fernandez, who was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2006, hit .216 with five home runs and 43 RBI in the Dominican Summer League that year. His time with the K-Mets was his first opportunity to play every day at this level, and he did not disappoint.

He went on to hit .259 with four home runs and 31 RBI, cracking ten doubles and five triples in 57 games. He showed a good compliment of developing skills that left Kingsport manager Pedro Lopez with positive feelings about his approach at the plate.

"I think he's a guy who's born with the talent in him. When you look at him, you don't think here is a guy who can drive the ball with much power, but he's got great speed and when he stays within himself, he makes good contact you hear the ball make a different sound coming off his bat than many guys his age," he explained.

However, like most young hitters, Fernandez is still learning to refine his approach. He does a very good job staying on top of fastballs, but needs to improve his ability to stay though the ball and use the middle of the field as a guide. For Lopez, that was a point of emphasis all summer long.

"Rafy's got great bad speed, though at times he can try to do too much like a lot of kids his age and that's what his plate discipline goes south. So we worked on closing up holes in his swing and improving his plate discipline because he has such good bat speed."

"Sometimes he needs to understand power will come in time and just hitting and keeping a consistent swing is the most important thing for him right now. He makes good contact, and eventually the ball will go over the fence, but right now that's not part of his game and he just needs to keep his approach up the middle so he can hit secondary pitches," Lopez continued.

That approach will help Fernandez work later into at-bats and maintain his consistency. His batting average climbed as high as .351 during the Appalachian League season before a late-season swoon sent him back to his final .259 mark, but the improvements Lopez saw in his outfielder during the Instructional League season has him believing Fernandez is executing all that is preached to him.

"In the Instructional League this year he did a much better job at the plate with everything we were teaching him during the season," Lopez said. "If staying the middle is something he can continue to do, and continue to learn, I'm sure it will all come together for him," said Lopez.

"I think Rafy is a kid that came in with a lot of tools an upside in his game," he added. "But he needs to keep working on his plate discipline. He has the power and has shown the ability to hit to all fields with authority."

"He brings great defense and can play anywhere in the outfield which only adds to his value. This is my first year with the Mets, and I know Rafy spent most of last year hurt, but he's a young kid with a big future who can do a lot of things."

Year

Team

AVG.

AB

Hits

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

K

OBP

SLG

2008

Kingsport

.259

228

59

4

31

41

4

24

69

.332

.399

2007

GCL

.625

8

5

0

2

4

0

2

0

.700

.625



Batting and Power: The most encouraging aspect of Fernandez's offensive prowess is his contact stroke. He shows maturity by using the middle of the field as a guide which helps his ability to stay back on the ball and hit to the opposite field. However, he sometimes becomes too eager or anxious to hit for power which causes him to jump at pitches, diminishing his plate discipline. When he becomes affixed on hitting for power, it opens holes in his swing to breaking pitches, but when his timing is settled, the ball jumps of his bat. Maintaining discipline and not focusing on his power are two elements that should cut his strikeouts, raise his walks, and transform him into a formidable hitter for average with good power for his build.

Base Running and Speed: Fernandez's terrific speed is his best attribute. Even though he only stole four bases this past season, he is a burner who could steal 30-plus bases per season as he develops in his skills and improves his timing of pitchers and picking his pitches. Fernandez is an instant extra-base threat and his ability to be a weapon atop a batting order will come together with his hitting. Defensively, his speed allows him to play all three positions with ease.

Defense: As noted, Fernandez can play all three outfield positions but his future is projected in the corner, likely right field, because of his big arm which makes coaches think twice before sending a runner. He takes ideal routes to the ball with good vision off the bat.

Projection: When his full compliment of tools gel in coming years, Fernandez has the look of big league outfielder, but likely in a reserve role as his consistency in the lineup will be dependent on the growth of his offense. He has the arm and the speed to roam a big league outfield, but his lack of big power could prevent him from gaining an everyday role.

ETA: 2012. Three more full seasons on the farm is a fair estimate, but the Mets may look to take advantage of Fernandez's speed and arm prior to the 2012 season. Yet, there is no need to move him quickly through the ranks. Fernandez should open the year in Savannah which will leave him plenty of time over the next three seasons to harness his offensive progression.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nVital Statistics:
\r\nName: Rafael Fernandez
\r\nDOB: August 3, 1988
\r\nHeight 6'1\"
\r\nWeight: 175
\r\nBats: Left
\r\nThrows: Left
\r\nStatus: Free Agent Signing (2006) – Dominican Republic
\r\n
\r\nWhile teammate Wilmer Flores dominated most of the attention paid to the Kingsport roster during the 2008 season, outfielder Rafael Fernandez quietly put together a positive season after missing nearly all of his 2007 season in the Gulf Coast League. Fernandez, who was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2006, hit .216 with five home runs and 43 RBI in the Dominican Summer League that year. His time with the K-Mets was his first opportunity to play every day at this level, and he did not disappoint.
\r\n
\r\nHe went on to hit .259 with four home runs and 31 RBI, cracking ten doubles and five triples in 57 games. He showed a good compliment of developing skills that left Kingsport manager Pedro Lopez with positive feelings about his approach at the plate.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think he's a guy who's born with the talent in him. When you look at him, you don't think here is a guy who can drive the ball with much power, but he's got great speed and when he stays within himself, he makes good contact you hear the ball make a different sound coming off his bat than many guys his age,\" he explained.
\r\n
\r\nHowever, like most young hitters, Fernandez is still learning to refine his approach. He does a very good job staying on top of fastballs, but needs to improve his ability to stay though the ball and use the middle of the field as a guide. For Lopez, that was a point of emphasis all summer long.
\r\n
\r\n\"Rafy's got great bad speed, though at times he can try to do too much like a lot of kids his age and that's what his plate discipline goes south. So we worked on closing up holes in his swing and improving his plate discipline because he has such good bat speed.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"Sometimes he needs to understand power will come in time and just hitting and keeping a consistent swing is the most important thing for him right now. He makes good contact, and eventually the ball will go over the fence, but right now that's not part of his game and he just needs to keep his approach up the middle so he can hit secondary pitches,\" Lopez continued.
\r\n
\r\nThat approach will help Fernandez work later into at-bats and maintain his consistency. His batting average climbed as high as .351 during the Appalachian League season before a late-season swoon sent him back to his final .259 mark, but the improvements Lopez saw in his outfielder during the Instructional League season has him believing Fernandez is executing all that is preached to him.
\r\n
\r\n\"In the Instructional League this year he did a much better job at the plate with everything we were teaching him during the season,\" Lopez said. \"If staying the middle is something he can continue to do, and continue to learn, I'm sure it will all come together for him,\" said Lopez.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think Rafy is a kid that came in with a lot of tools an upside in his game,\" he added. \"But he needs to keep working on his plate discipline. He has the power and has shown the ability to hit to all fields with authority.\"
\r\n
\r\n\"He brings great defense and can play anywhere in the outfield which only adds to his value. This is my first year with the Mets, and I know Rafy spent most of last year hurt, but he's a young kid with a big future who can do a lot of things.\"
\r\n
\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n
\r\n

Year

\r\n

\r\n Team

\r\n

\r\n AVG.

\r\n

\r\n AB

\r\n

\r\n Hits

\r\n

\r\n HR

\r\n

\r\n RBI

\r\n

R

\r\n

\r\n SB

\r\n

\r\n BB

\r\n

K

\r\n

\r\n OBP

\r\n

\r\n SLG

\r\n

\r\n 2008

\r\n

\r\n Kingsport

\r\n

\r\n .259

\r\n

\r\n 228

\r\n

\r\n 59

\r\n

\r\n 4

\r\n

\r\n 31

\r\n

\r\n 41

\r\n

\r\n 4

\r\n

\r\n 24

\r\n

\r\n 69

\r\n

\r\n .332

\r\n

\r\n .399

\r\n

\r\n 2007

\r\n

\r\n GCL

\r\n

\r\n .625

\r\n

\r\n 8

\r\n

\r\n 5

\r\n

\r\n 0

\r\n

\r\n 2

\r\n

\r\n 4

\r\n

\r\n 0

\r\n

\r\n 2

\r\n

\r\n 0

\r\n

\r\n .700

\r\n

\r\n .625


\r\n
\r\nBatting and Power: The most encouraging aspect of Fernandez's offensive prowess is his contact stroke. He shows maturity by using the middle of the field as a guide which helps his ability to stay back on the ball and hit to the opposite field. However, he sometimes becomes too eager or anxious to hit for power which causes him to jump at pitches, diminishing his plate discipline. When he becomes affixed on hitting for power, it opens holes in his swing to breaking pitches, but when his timing is settled, the ball jumps of his bat. Maintaining discipline and not focusing on his power are two elements that should cut his strikeouts, raise his walks, and transform him into a formidable hitter for average with good power for his build.
\r\n
\r\nBase Running and Speed: Fernandez's terrific speed is his best attribute. Even though he only stole four bases this past season, he is a burner who could steal 30-plus bases per season as he develops in his skills and improves his timing of pitchers and picking his pitches. Fernandez is an instant extra-base threat and his ability to be a weapon atop a batting order will come together with his hitting. Defensively, his speed allows him to play all three positions with ease.
\r\n
\r\nDefense: As noted, Fernandez can play all three outfield positions but his future is projected in the corner, likely right field, because of his big arm which makes coaches think twice before sending a runner. He takes ideal routes to the ball with good vision off the bat.
\r\n
\r\nProjection: When his full compliment of tools gel in coming years, Fernandez has the look of big league outfielder, but likely in a reserve role as his consistency in the lineup will be dependent on the growth of his offense. He has the arm and the speed to roam a big league outfield, but his lack of big power could prevent him from gaining an everyday role.
\r\n
\r\nETA: 2012. Three more full seasons on the farm is a fair estimate, but the Mets may look to take advantage of Fernandez's speed and arm prior to the 2012 season. Yet, there is no need to move him quickly through the ranks. Fernandez should open the year in Savannah which will leave him plenty of time over the next three seasons to harness his offensive progression.
\r\n
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