We all know about Den Dekker’s defensive ability. In case you need a refresher, here are two highlights from the excellent defensive center-fielder: The “catch” he made in the College World Series and a nice diving play this season. Den Dekker is without question the best defensive centerfielder in the Mets system.
Den Dekker has enjoyed somewhat of a breakout season at the plate in 2011. Coming into today, Den Dekker is one of six minor leaguers with double digit totals in doubles, triples, and home runs!! Of those six players, Den Dekker is the second youngest. Only the recently promoted Houston Astros second baseman, Jose Atulve is younger. Between St. Lucie (High-A) and Binghamton (AA), Den Dekker has hit 28 doubles, 11 triples, and 12 home runs. He has also added 19 stolen bases to boot.
Before we move ahead, let those numbers sink in a little bit. Those numbers are very impressive and should not be taken lightly.
Now while Den Dekker has showed the ability to drive the ball in the gaps for extra base hits, he still has flaws in his offensive game. Let’s look at his walk and strikeout percentages for this season:
|2011||BB %||K %|
While Den Dekker has increased his walk rate, which is a very good thing, his strikeout rate has gone up considerably since moving up to AA. If he had enough at-bats to qualify, Den Dekker would rank third worst in the Eastern League in K%. This is a bit alarming considering the fact that Den Dekker is not a huge home run hitter, but more of a gap to gap type hitter.
Den Dekker’s ability to hit left-handed pitching is the other big question mark. Here are his numbers versus left-handed pitching:
|St. Lucie (80 AB)||.296||.362||.494||8.3||19.0|
Den Dekker started the season hitting lefties very well, but since the move to AA and more advanced pitching, he has clearly struggled. His stint in Binghamton is definitely a smaller sample size, but you can't ignore the staggering drop-offs in K% and SLG. The ability to hit lefties is a key determinant in whether or not Den Dekker can be an everyday big leaguer.
Den Dekker has impressed with his ability to accumulate extra base hits, and has established himself as one of the Mets best outfield prospects. The transition from Single-A ball to AA is one of the more significant leaps in a minor leaguers career, with the biggest transition being when a player reaches the big leagues. Den Dekker will have to make some adjustments to reduce the strikeouts and to hit lefties more consistently. His defensive ability alone will give him a chance to be a big league outfielder, whether or not he can hit enough will determine if he becomes an everyday big league centerfielder.
With that being said, Den Dekker has enjoyed a very productive season. In the words on the great Dick Vitale, "he is a stat sheet stuffer baby!!"
This is Ted Berg's profile of Den Dekker from spring training. Interesting stuff.