Scouting Mets Prospect #30: Francisco Pena

The Mets signed Francisco Pena as a 16-year-old back in the summer of 2006 and made no hesitation to challenge the young catcher every step of the way. Pena was one of the youngest players in the Florida State League in 2009, but the demand for greater results is rising given the aggressiveness of his promotions. How does Pena's game stack up? Look inside to find out.

Vital Statistics
Name: Francisco Pena
DOB: October 12, 1989
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 230
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Status: Free Agent Signing (7/8/2006)

After spending the first two seasons of his career in Savannah, Francisco Pena finally advanced in 2009. The Mets sent Pena, their big international free agent signing of 2006, to St. Lucie where he would not only be one of the youngest players in the Florida State but have to handle many of the organization's top pitching prospects. It was a promotion that would offer challenges to every aspect of Pena's game.

It was two rather unassuming seasons spent in the South Atlantic League for Pena where he had the opportunity to play in the comparative anonymity of a struggling Sand Gnats squad. However, playing on a roster loaded with big arms and high draft picks like the one fielded in St. Lucie at the start of the season, Pena performance naturally drew more attention.

Unlike 2008 when he split time behind the plate with former Mets farmhand Sean McCraw, the catching position belonged solely to Pena. He struggled early on, hitting just .218 with two home runs and just five walks through the seasons first two months.

"I didn't try to do too much. I didn't want to do too much and get ahead of myself. Just see the ball, make sure I made good contact and try to drive it to the gaps," Pena told Inside Pitch early in the season. "Quality at-bats are what it's all about at this point, and that's all I was trying to do at the start of the season."

The lull carried into June when he hit .224 and recorded just four extra base hits. However, Pena experienced a power surge in July. He hit five home runs, a career-high for any month in his career, in 86 at-bats. The burst was directly associated to Pena having a moment of clarity with an up the middle approach he and coaches have worked on since his arrival.

"You have to be able to do the same things in repetition and I'm make sure that whenever I'm hitting, I'm keeping things the same," he said. "You just have to be consistent and that's what I'm trying to do, always working on my consistency."

Pena finished his season with a .224 average, eight home runs, 44 RBI and 15 doubles for the St. Lucie Mets. A disappointing average to say the least, but there were strides made this season and his summer was enough to head into the off-season with positive feelings. But 2010, his fourth year on the farm, will have its demands. With a lack of depth at catcher up and down the system, the organization needs Pena to elevate his game. How he responds will be a storyline to watch.

Year

Team

AVG.

AB

Hits

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

K

OBP

SLG

2009

St. Lucie

.224

392

88

8

44

43

0

15

78

.258

.329

2008

Savannah

.264

397

105

6

41

34

0

25

95

.308

.380

2007

Savannah

.210

367

77

5

30

26

1

24

76

.263

.283


Batting and Power: Pena has good natural power, but it has not wholly translated to game action. His power showed signs of coming on in the second half when he underwent a power surge in July. He hit five of his eight home runs of the season during July and demonstrated his home run capability. Nearly all of his power and contact remains to the pull side but he showed an improving up the middle approach later in the season. Pena was burned by a long swing in previous seasons, but he is trying to shorten up his swing which ties in with a more successful centerfield approach. He struggles with high pitches but gets around on low pitches with consistency. Making adjustments is a pressing need for Pena as a lack of them opens holes in his swing. Pena is a more rudimentary hitter who drops the bat head to make contact.

Base Running and Speed: Speed is a non-factor for Pena. He is a hard runner, and runs with authority, but the foot speed is not there. He is a station-to-station runner who needs well-placed hits to advance two bases.

Defense: While Pena still has many strides to take behind the plate, he is improving in my facets and has the necessary work ethic to make himself better. Improved physical conditioning has made him more mobile behind the plate, giving him added ability to block balls in a limited area when he was previously a target and little else. His receiving is the best part of his play as he sets a good target, catches the ball flush and committed very few drops. He has average arm strength and at times does not finish his throws which can cause the ball to sail, and tail, which limits his accuracy. He did a better job calling games this season and is strengthening his relationships with the pitching staff.

Projection: Despite limited athleticism, Pena has worked diligently to improve his body and his game thanks to a grinder's mentality and greater maturity. He made important steps this season, but he lacks the one standout either at the plate or behind it that catchers need. His defense is sound but not imposing, and he has raw power but little contact ability. That combination will not be enough to make him a starter at the highest level. His continued growth behind the plate will fit the requirements of a big league backup, but his bat could keep him limited to a 40-man roster spot to be called upon in the event of a temporary replacement.

ETA: 2012. Pena spent the whole season in St. Lucie, but his arrival date could be determined by where the organization decides to place him this upcoming season. The organization could keep him on track and send him to Double-A or have him return to St. Lucie with a possible move up during the season. With either route, the latter half of 2012 is a fair estimate at this point.


Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nVital Statistics
\r\nName: Francisco Pena
\r\nDOB: October 12, 1989
\r\nHeight: 6'2\"
\r\nWeight: 230
\r\nBats: Right
\r\nThrows: Right
\r\nStatus: Free Agent Signing (7/8/2006)
\r\n
\r\nAfter spending the first two seasons of his career in Savannah, Francisco Pena finally advanced in 2009. The Mets sent Pena, their big international free agent signing of 2006, to St. Lucie where he would not only be one of the youngest players in the Florida State but have to handle many of the organization's top pitching prospects. It was a promotion that would offer challenges to every aspect of Pena's game.
\r\n
\r\nIt was two rather unassuming seasons spent in the South Atlantic League for Pena where he had the opportunity to play in the comparative anonymity of a struggling Sand Gnats squad. However, playing on a roster loaded with big arms and high draft picks like the one fielded in St. Lucie at the start of the season, Pena performance naturally drew more attention.
\r\n
\r\nUnlike 2008 when he split time behind the plate with former Mets farmhand Sean McCraw, the catching position belonged solely to Pena. He struggled early on, hitting just .218 with two home runs and just five walks through the seasons first two months.
\r\n
\r\n\"I didn't try to do too much. I didn't want to do too much and get ahead of myself. Just see the ball, make sure I made good contact and try to drive it to the gaps,\" Pena told Inside Pitch early in the season. \"Quality at-bats are what it's all about at this point, and that's all I was trying to do at the start of the season.\"
\r\n
\r\nThe lull carried into June when he hit .224 and recorded just four extra base hits. However, Pena experienced a power surge in July. He hit five home runs, a career-high for any month in his career, in 86 at-bats. The burst was directly associated to Pena having a moment of clarity with an up the middle approach he and coaches have worked on since his arrival.
\r\n
\r\n\"You have to be able to do the same things in repetition and I'm make sure that whenever I'm hitting, I'm keeping things the same,\" he said. \"You just have to be consistent and that's what I'm trying to do, always working on my consistency.\"
\r\n
\r\nPena finished his season with a .224 average, eight home runs, 44 RBI and 15 doubles for the St. Lucie Mets. A disappointing average to say the least, but there were strides made this season and his summer was enough to head into the off-season with positive feelings. But 2010, his fourth year on the farm, will have its demands. With a lack of depth at catcher up and down the system, the organization needs Pena to elevate his game. How he responds will be a storyline to watch.
\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 2009

\r\n

\r\n St. Lucie

\r\n

\r\n .224

\r\n

\r\n 392

\r\n

\r\n 88

\r\n

\r\n 8

\r\n

\r\n 44

\r\n

\r\n 43

\r\n

\r\n 0

\r\n

\r\n 15

\r\n

\r\n 78

\r\n

\r\n .258

\r\n

\r\n .329

\r\n

\r\n 2008

\r\n

\r\n Savannah

\r\n

\r\n .264

\r\n

\r\n 397

\r\n

\r\n 105

\r\n

\r\n 6

\r\n

\r\n 41

\r\n

\r\n 34

\r\n

\r\n 0

\r\n

\r\n 25

\r\n

\r\n 95

\r\n

\r\n .308

\r\n

\r\n .380

\r\n

\r\n 2007

\r\n

\r\n Savannah

\r\n

\r\n .210

\r\n

\r\n 367

\r\n

\r\n 77

\r\n

\r\n 5

\r\n

\r\n 30

\r\n

\r\n 26

\r\n

\r\n 1

\r\n

\r\n 24

\r\n

\r\n 76

\r\n

\r\n .263

\r\n

\r\n .283


\r\nBatting and Power: Pena has good natural power, but it has not wholly translated to game action. His power showed signs of coming on in the second half when he underwent a power surge in July. He hit five of his eight home runs of the season during July and demonstrated his home run capability. Nearly all of his power and contact remains to the pull side but he showed an improving up the middle approach later in the season. Pena was burned by a long swing in previous seasons, but he is trying to shorten up his swing which ties in with a more successful centerfield approach. He struggles with high pitches but gets around on low pitches with consistency. Making adjustments is a pressing need for Pena as a lack of them opens holes in his swing. Pena is a more rudimentary hitter who drops the bat head to make contact.
\r\n
\r\nBase Running and Speed: Speed is a non-factor for Pena. He is a hard runner, and runs with authority, but the foot speed is not there. He is a station-to-station runner who needs well-placed hits to advance two bases.
\r\n
\r\nDefense: While Pena still has many strides to take behind the plate, he is improving in my facets and has the necessary work ethic to make himself better. Improved physical conditioning has made him more mobile behind the plate, giving him added ability to block balls in a limited area when he was previously a target and little else. His receiving is the best part of his play as he sets a good target, catches the ball flush and committed very few drops. He has average arm strength and at times does not finish his throws which can cause the ball to sail, and tail, which limits his accuracy. He did a better job calling games this season and is strengthening his relationships with the pitching staff.
\r\n
\r\nProjection: Despite limited athleticism, Pena has worked diligently to improve his body and his game thanks to a grinder's mentality and greater maturity. He made important steps this season, but he lacks the one standout either at the plate or behind it that catchers need. His defense is sound but not imposing, and he has raw power but little contact ability. That combination will not be enough to make him a starter at the highest level. His continued growth behind the plate will fit the requirements of a big league backup, but his bat could keep him limited to a 40-man roster spot to be called upon in the event of a temporary replacement.
\r\n
\r\nETA: 2012. Pena spent the whole season in St. Lucie, but his arrival date could be determined by where the organization decides to place him this upcoming season. The organization could keep him on track and send him to Double-A or have him return to St. Lucie with a possible move up during the season. With either route, the latter half of 2012 is a fair estimate at this point.
\r\n
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