MMLN – Analyzing the Shortstops

Over the last few seasons, the shortstop position has become one of the most competitive spots in the infield. 2010 should be a compelling season for a number of reasons, including likely graduations and a possible position change of one of its best prospects. Behind the leaders are sleepers, new draft picks and others who need make their mark on the system.

Highest Ceiling

Wilmer Flores: The 18-year-old Flores is among the organization's top prospects and currently remains the highest ceiling shortstop. Now, his long term viability at shortstop is continually questions, but the organization will give him every opportunity to grow at the position which strengthens both the depth chart and Flores' overall value. Scouts point to a .264 average, three home runs and 36 RBI as underwhelming numbers for Flores with Savannah last season.

Those numbers do not concern the organization whose goal is allow Flores to learn at a methodical pace and let his talents come naturally. Flores has plus-big league potential in his bat and that is a trait coaches and the organizations want to foster before any discussion about a position switch comes up.

Reese Havens: The 2008 first round pick is another top prospect who faces an uncertain future at the position. A decision about his future at shortstop should come this season when Havens will likely move to second base at some time with Binghamton, possibly as early as Opening Day. Havens has the swing and enough power to hit at the big league level, but how he fares with his move to second base will tell us a lot about his future standing.

Havens, who hit 14 home runs and drove in 52 runs in 97 games last season, has the offensive pedigree to get him to the big leagues in 2011. If he cannot adapt to second base, the Mets will be left with another Daniel Murphy-like prospect who can force his way into the big leagues with his bat but remains a defensive question once he gets there.

Closest to the Majors

Ruben Tejada: The news broke that with Jose Reyes' time away from the field will be met with the possible and/or likely ascension of Tejada to the big leagues. Reyes' thyroid condition only expedited Tejada's promotion that was likely to come sometime in 2010 whether it was to spell Reyes or provide the bench depth behind Luis Castillo. Tejada isn't the offensive threat to fill the void left by Reyes', but his contact approach and solid defense will make him a reliable stop gap if given the opportunity.

Even before this situation with Reyes, Tejada was considered internally as a possible successor to Luis Castillo whether after Castillo's contract ran out or a trade occurred. Tejada's time in New York will come a bit earlier than expect, yet it was only a matter of time.

Sleepers

Matt Bouchard: Why is a sleeper? If you missed Thursday night's live chat, here is a synopsis of Bouchard's positioning and value in the organization. The combination of defensive tools-the best in the system-combined with solid skills with the bat keep his stock higher in the organization than it is perceived on the outside.

Injury and having to learn a new position have hampered Bouchard's ability to demonstrate his skills and his value. It has to be restated that the organization's decision to have Bouchard jump from Savannah to start as second in Binghamton exemplifies the value Bouchard retains. Bouchard, who could be in position to earn the shortstop job in Binghamton in 2010, hits enough and can play three positions which may allow him to hang on as a superutility player if he can stay healthy. This upcoming season will dictate much of this.

Wilfredo Tovar: Tovar is a young, speedy shortstop who put together a quality 2009 season split between Venezuela and the Gulf Coast League. Tovar needs to clean up his defensive skills like most teenagers at this level. Positively, Tovar demonstrated strengths with a promising contact swing and strong stolen base skills, swiping 17 bags in 26 chances. Tovar should repeat the short-season level, but he is a shortstop at the lowest levels on the farm worth watching.

Jury Is Still Out

Robbie Shields: The Mets went high on Shields with a third round pick in 2009, however the combination of a disappointing first summer in Brooklyn and his following Tommy John surgery has dimmed his standing in the organization. Shields, 22, may miss all of the 2010 season which may prove tough to overcome. At this point, Shields and the organization are holding out for a speedy recovery and production upon his return. Shields' first season production is not indicative of the kind of player he is, but a final judgment cannot be made until he returns.

Need to Make Their Movie

Juan Lagares: Lagares is back in camp after two injury-shortened and comparatively unproductive seasons. Once upon a time Lagares was a higher commodity prospect who jumped from rookie ball to Savannah with possibility of becoming a fast riser. However, he never put it together since that jump in 2007 and has since battled injuries while other more recently acquired talent passed him by. Lagares, who turns just 21 years old next week, now faces a likely position switch to the outfield in order to get additional playing time.

Emmanuel Garcia: Garcia is the later model version of what Lagares is about to undergo. Garcia, who came up as a shortstop, became a utility infielder before switching to centerfield in Binghamton last season. The B-Mets outfield will be stacked in 2010 which means Garcia will have to compete for a spot in the Buffalo outfielder or may have to compete for a job anywhere. At this point, Garcia is an organizational player, but he needs to show enough in camp to remain in the system.

Jake Eigsti: Eigsti is another organizational piece looking to hold on to a job in 2010. Eigsti played at four different levels in 2009. The 2006 29th round pick has carved a niche for himself in the organization and will fight for a bench spot in St. Lucie or Binghamton during Spring Training.

Ryan Mollica: Mollica, a 47th round pick, was the lowest drafted member of the Mets' 2009 class. Mollica appeared in 30 games with Kingsport where he hit .287 with one home run, 19 RBI and 21 runs scored. It was unassuming first season, but one good enough to get him a look possibly as a bench player in Savannah this season.

Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nHighest Ceiling
\r\n
\r\nWilmer Flores: The 18-year-old Flores is among the organization's top prospects and currently remains the highest ceiling shortstop. Now, his long term viability at shortstop is continually questions, but the organization will give him every opportunity to grow at the position which strengthens both the depth chart and Flores' overall value. Scouts point to a .264 average, three home runs and 36 RBI as underwhelming numbers for Flores with Savannah last season.
\r\n
\r\nThose numbers do not concern the organization whose goal is allow Flores to learn at a methodical pace and let his talents come naturally. Flores has plus-big league potential in his bat and that is a trait coaches and the organizations want to foster before any discussion about a position switch comes up.
\r\n
\r\nReese Havens: The 2008 first round pick is another top prospect who faces an uncertain future at the position. A decision about his future at shortstop should come this season when Havens will likely move to second base at some time with Binghamton, possibly as early as Opening Day. Havens has the swing and enough power to hit at the big league level, but how he fares with his move to second base will tell us a lot about his future standing.
\r\n
\r\nHavens, who hit 14 home runs and drove in 52 runs in 97 games last season, has the offensive pedigree to get him to the big leagues in 2011. If he cannot adapt to second base, the Mets will be left with another Daniel Murphy-like prospect who can force his way into the big leagues with his bat but remains a defensive question once he gets there.
\r\n
\r\nClosest to the Majors
\r\n
\r\nRuben Tejada: The news broke that with Jose Reyes' time away from the field will be met with the possible and/or likely ascension of Tejada to the big leagues. Reyes' thyroid condition only expedited Tejada's promotion that was likely to come sometime in 2010 whether it was to spell Reyes or provide the bench depth behind Luis Castillo. Tejada isn't the offensive threat to fill the void left by Reyes', but his contact approach and solid defense will make him a reliable stop gap if given the opportunity.
\r\n
\r\nEven before this situation with Reyes, Tejada was considered internally as a possible successor to Luis Castillo whether after Castillo's contract ran out or a trade occurred. Tejada's time in New York will come a bit earlier than expect, yet it was only a matter of time.
\r\n
\r\nSleepers
\r\n
\r\nMatt Bouchard: Why is a sleeper? If you missed Thursday night's live chat, here is a synopsis of Bouchard's positioning and value in the organization. The combination of defensive tools-the best in the system-combined with solid skills with the bat keep his stock higher in the organization than it is perceived on the outside.
\r\n
\r\nInjury and having to learn a new position have hampered Bouchard's ability to demonstrate his skills and his value. It has to be restated that the organization's decision to have Bouchard jump from Savannah to start as second in Binghamton exemplifies the value Bouchard retains. Bouchard, who could be in position to earn the shortstop job in Binghamton in 2010, hits enough and can play three positions which may allow him to hang on as a superutility player if he can stay healthy. This upcoming season will dictate much of this.
\r\n
\r\nWilfredo Tovar: Tovar is a young, speedy shortstop who put together a quality 2009 season split between Venezuela and the Gulf Coast League. Tovar needs to clean up his defensive skills like most teenagers at this level. Positively, Tovar demonstrated strengths with a promising contact swing and strong stolen base skills, swiping 17 bags in 26 chances. Tovar should repeat the short-season level, but he is a shortstop at the lowest levels on the farm worth watching.
\r\n
\r\nJury Is Still Out
\r\n
\r\nRobbie Shields: The Mets went high on Shields with a third round pick in 2009, however the combination of a disappointing first summer in Brooklyn and his following Tommy John surgery has dimmed his standing in the organization. Shields, 22, may miss all of the 2010 season which may prove tough to overcome. At this point, Shields and the organization are holding out for a speedy recovery and production upon his return. Shields' first season production is not indicative of the kind of player he is, but a final judgment cannot be made until he returns.
\r\n
\r\nNeed to Make Their Movie
\r\n
\r\nJuan Lagares: Lagares is back in camp after two injury-shortened and comparatively unproductive seasons. Once upon a time Lagares was a higher commodity prospect who jumped from rookie ball to Savannah with possibility of becoming a fast riser. However, he never put it together since that jump in 2007 and has since battled injuries while other more recently acquired talent passed him by. Lagares, who turns just 21 years old next week, now faces a likely position switch to the outfield in order to get additional playing time.
\r\n
\r\nEmmanuel Garcia: Garcia is the later model version of what Lagares is about to undergo. Garcia, who came up as a shortstop, became a utility infielder before switching to centerfield in Binghamton last season. The B-Mets outfield will be stacked in 2010 which means Garcia will have to compete for a spot in the Buffalo outfielder or may have to compete for a job anywhere. At this point, Garcia is an organizational player, but he needs to show enough in camp to remain in the system.
\r\n
\r\nJake Eigsti: Eigsti is another organizational piece looking to hold on to a job in 2010. Eigsti played at four different levels in 2009. The 2006 29th round pick has carved a niche for himself in the organization and will fight for a bench spot in St. Lucie or Binghamton during Spring Training.
\r\n
\r\nRyan Mollica: Mollica, a 47th round pick, was the lowest drafted member of the Mets' 2009 class. Mollica appeared in 30 games with Kingsport where he hit .287 with one home run, 19 RBI and 21 runs scored. 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