Scouting Mets Prospect #14: Ruben Tejada

The New York Mets signed the teenage shortstop out of Panama in the summer of 2006. Tejada was so impressive during his debut in rookie ball that he made the jump all the way to St. Lucie in year two, but struggled to consistently matchup against the skill level of the Florida State League. Now eyes will be on Tejada to see how he moves forward.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Ruben Tejada
DOB: September 1, 1989
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 165
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Status: Free Agent Signing (2006) – Panama

No prospect this past season received as daunting of a challenge as St. Lucie shortstop Ruben Tejada. The 19-year-old and 2006 free agent signing out of Panama made the extremely rare jump from the lowest rookie levels all the way to Florida State League with just 67 games under his belt. The promotion was a big enough challenge in its own right, but the quality of play would prove to be even tougher.

He earned his assignment after blazing through the Venezuelan Summer League and the Gulf Coast League in 2007. First in the VSL, Tejada hit .364, three home runs and drove in 25 runs in 32 games before heading to the GCL to finish the year. Over his last 25 games, he hit .283 and knocked in 16 runs, but as expected success would not come as easy at the High-A level.

Penned as the number two hitter for St. Lucie, Tejada got off to a slow start as he hit just .231 with six doubles and triple, but he never tried to do too much and showed good plate discipline earning ten walks during first month.

His production dipped the next month when he hit just .194 in May with a home run and a double. It looked like the pitching, specifically the quality breaking pitches thrown, was too much for him. But his struggles nor the occasional mismatch got the best of Tejada and that was his most favorable trait according to St. Lucie hitting coach Mike Hart.

"Tejada is not afraid to hit which is the nice thing about him. Typically, you'll find guys his age playing at this level that are intimated by the league, by the pitchers, whatever. Being that it's his first full season you'd think he'd be intimidated by all that but he[was] not by any means," said Hart.

"He goes out there, plays hard, battles even harder and has a real good idea how to play the game. I [was] really impressed by his situational hitting approach and that I think this kid as a whole lot of upside," he continued.

Tejada's tenacity paid off as he posted his best month in June, hitting .340 with his second home run and an on-base percentage over .400. But eventually it appeared the long season wore on Tejada as he recorded only 37 hits over his final 190 at-bats.

Nonetheless, the organization wanted to keep him on the field and sent him to the Hawaiian Winter League. He got off to a hot start in Hawaii as he went 11-for-34 and drove in eight runs over his first two weeks, but Tejada's bat soon turned ice cold. Over his final 18 games, he went just 9-for-52 and finished his winter league stint with a .233 average and ten RBI and only four extra base hits in 24 games.

Despite facing competition with comparatively more experience, Tejada held his own over the course of the season and showed durability by totaling 155 games played between the regular season and Hawaii. But more importantly his time in the Florida State League went a long way towards leveling his learning curve and giving him the experience to develop at an even quicker rate in the future.

Year

Team

AVG.

AB

Hits

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

K

OBP

SLG

2008

St. Lucie

.229

497

114

2

37

55

8

41

77

.293

.296

2007

GCL

.283

120

34

0

16

13

2

19

16

.401

.367

2007

VSL

.364

121

44

3

25

32

16

19

19

.466

.479



Batting and Power: Tejada possesses very good plate awareness and discipline for such a young hitter, but needs to improve his ability to put balls in play as he is often out in front of breaking and off-speed pitches. He has a lot of hand movement in the beginning of his swing which causes a hitch before he brings the bat through the zone. That elongates his swing and makes it difficult for him to consistently make good contact which leads to a high number of pop ups on breaking pitches. When on top of a pitch, he does have good drive to the outfield, but lacks any true power. He can hit to the gaps and run the bases, but do not expect any legitimate power out of Tejada. He needs a lot of polish at the plate, but once he does a better job against secondary pitches and cleans up his swing some more, he should be a good average hitter.

Base Running and Speed: Tejada has slightly above average speed, but appears faster because of his superior quickness. He has an excellent first step and quick feet which allows him to compensate for slower top end speed despite a rather compact, choppy running form. He was successful in 8 of 13 stolen base attempts, but should improve his proficiency with better technique and gait.

Defense: Tejada's glove is the most stable, consistent part of his game. Right now he only has average arm strength but as he continues to put on weight and fill out his frame, he should get more on this throws. But the best parts of his defense are those quick feet. He swiftly gets into position and is always square to the ball before making his throws. He is aggressive defender with good range to both sides and is adept at charging the ball and throwing on the run.

Projection: Given his age, the way Tejada handled the Florida State League was very impressive. He is young and still has a lot of growth to experience both physically and with his tools, and even though he was in St. Lucie this season, a better grasp of his long-term value will best be determined after his third year on the farm and second in a long-season league. His value as of now rests almost entirely on the defensive side of the ball, but the challenge the Mets gave him speaks to the value and attention within the organization. He is one of the two shortstops atop the club's priority list and will be served as such in the future. His hitting skills are still very raw and need development, and Jose Reyes' presence is an obvious impasse, but his defense gives him a great starting point. A measure of offensive consistency and production should make him a big leaguer as backup or starter in the mold of Adam Everett.

ETA: 2012. The jump from the Gulf Coast League to the Florida State League moved up his big league debut from this time last year. That being said, Spring Training performances by Tejada and others will dictate where he begins the new season. He will probably head back to St. Lucie but that could create a logjam and a 400 at-bat platoon situation—a situation to be avoided—therefore Tejada could end up going to Binghamton by default.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nVital Statistics:
\r\nName: Ruben Tejada
\r\nDOB: September 1, 1989
\r\nHeight: 5'11\"
\r\nWeight: 165
\r\nBats: Right
\r\nThrows: Right
\r\nStatus: Free Agent Signing (2006) – Panama
\r\n
\r\nNo prospect this past season received as daunting of a challenge as St. Lucie shortstop Ruben Tejada. The 19-year-old and 2006 free agent signing out of Panama made the extremely rare jump from the lowest rookie levels all the way to Florida State League with just 67 games under his belt. The promotion was a big enough challenge in its own right, but the quality of play would prove to be even tougher.
\r\n
\r\nHe earned his assignment after blazing through the Venezuelan Summer League and the Gulf Coast League in 2007. First in the VSL, Tejada hit .364, three home runs and drove in 25 runs in 32 games before heading to the GCL to finish the year. Over his last 25 games, he hit .283 and knocked in 16 runs, but as expected success would not come as easy at the High-A level.
\r\n
\r\nPenned as the number two hitter for St. Lucie, Tejada got off to a slow start as he hit just .231 with six doubles and triple, but he never tried to do too much and showed good plate discipline earning ten walks during first month.
\r\n
\r\nHis production dipped the next month when he hit just .194 in May with a home run and a double. It looked like the pitching, specifically the quality breaking pitches thrown, was too much for him. But his struggles nor the occasional mismatch got the best of Tejada and that was his most favorable trait according to St. Lucie hitting coach Mike Hart.
\r\n
\r\n\"Tejada is not afraid to hit which is the nice thing about him. Typically, you'll find guys his age playing at this level that are intimated by the league, by the pitchers, whatever. Being that it's his first full season you'd think he'd be intimidated by all that but he[was] not by any means,\" said Hart.
\r\n
\r\n\"He goes out there, plays hard, battles even harder and has a real good idea how to play the game. I [was] really impressed by his situational hitting approach and that I think this kid as a whole lot of upside,\" he continued.
\r\n
\r\nTejada's tenacity paid off as he posted his best month in June, hitting .340 with his second home run and an on-base percentage over .400. But eventually it appeared the long season wore on Tejada as he recorded only 37 hits over his final 190 at-bats.
\r\n
\r\nNonetheless, the organization wanted to keep him on the field and sent him to the Hawaiian Winter League. He got off to a hot start in Hawaii as he went 11-for-34 and drove in eight runs over his first two weeks, but Tejada's bat soon turned ice cold. Over his final 18 games, he went just 9-for-52 and finished his winter league stint with a .233 average and ten RBI and only four extra base hits in 24 games.
\r\n
\r\nDespite facing competition with comparatively more experience, Tejada held his own over the course of the season and showed durability by totaling 155 games played between the regular season and Hawaii. But more importantly his time in the Florida State League went a long way towards leveling his learning curve and giving him the experience to develop at an even quicker rate in the future.
\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 \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 St. Lucie

\r\n

\r\n .229

\r\n

\r\n 497

\r\n

\r\n 114

\r\n

\r\n 2

\r\n

\r\n 37

\r\n

\r\n 55

\r\n

\r\n 8

\r\n

\r\n 41

\r\n

\r\n 77

\r\n

\r\n .293

\r\n

\r\n .296

\r\n

\r\n 2007

\r\n

\r\n GCL

\r\n

\r\n .283

\r\n

\r\n 120

\r\n

\r\n 34

\r\n

\r\n 0

\r\n

\r\n 16

\r\n

\r\n 13

\r\n

\r\n 2

\r\n

\r\n 19

\r\n

\r\n 16

\r\n

\r\n .401

\r\n

\r\n .367

\r\n

\r\n 2007

\r\n

\r\n VSL

\r\n

\r\n .364

\r\n

\r\n 121

\r\n

\r\n 44

\r\n

\r\n 3

\r\n

\r\n 25

\r\n

\r\n 32

\r\n

\r\n 16

\r\n

\r\n 19

\r\n

\r\n 19

\r\n

\r\n .466

\r\n

\r\n .479


\r\n
\r\nBatting and Power: Tejada possesses very good plate awareness and discipline for such a young hitter, but needs to improve his ability to put balls in play as he is often out in front of breaking and off-speed pitches. He has a lot of hand movement in the beginning of his swing which causes a hitch before he brings the bat through the zone. That elongates his swing and makes it difficult for him to consistently make good contact which leads to a high number of pop ups on breaking pitches. When on top of a pitch, he does have good drive to the outfield, but lacks any true power. He can hit to the gaps and run the bases, but do not expect any legitimate power out of Tejada. He needs a lot of polish at the plate, but once he does a better job against secondary pitches and cleans up his swing some more, he should be a good average hitter.
\r\n
\r\nBase Running and Speed: Tejada has slightly above average speed, but appears faster because of his superior quickness. He has an excellent first step and quick feet which allows him to compensate for slower top end speed despite a rather compact, choppy running form. He was successful in 8 of 13 stolen base attempts, but should improve his proficiency with better technique and gait.
\r\n
\r\nDefense: Tejada's glove is the most stable, consistent part of his game. Right now he only has average arm strength but as he continues to put on weight and fill out his frame, he should get more on this throws. But the best parts of his defense are those quick feet. He swiftly gets into position and is always square to the ball before making his throws. He is aggressive defender with good range to both sides and is adept at charging the ball and throwing on the run.
\r\n
\r\nProjection: Given his age, the way Tejada handled the Florida State League was very impressive. He is young and still has a lot of growth to experience both physically and with his tools, and even though he was in St. Lucie this season, a better grasp of his long-term value will best be determined after his third year on the farm and second in a long-season league. His value as of now rests almost entirely on the defensive side of the ball, but the challenge the Mets gave him speaks to the value and attention within the organization. He is one of the two shortstops atop the club's priority list and will be served as such in the future. His hitting skills are still very raw and need development, and Jose Reyes' presence is an obvious impasse, but his defense gives him a great starting point. A measure of offensive consistency and production should make him a big leaguer as backup or starter in the mold of Adam Everett.
\r\n
\r\nETA: 2012. The jump from the Gulf Coast League to the Florida State League moved up his big league debut from this time last year. That being said, Spring Training performances by Tejada and others will dictate where he begins the new season. He will probably head back to St. Lucie but that could create a logjam and a 400 at-bat platoon situation—a situation to be avoided—therefore Tejada could end up going to Binghamton by default.
\r\n
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