Juan LagaresB/T: R/R
Ht, Wt: 6'1", 175
I left Lagares off the list the first time because of his 120 games played in the minors between advanced-A and double-A in 2011, he only played seven in centerfield. In St. Lucie to begin the year, Matt den Dekker had dibs on center, then after den Dekker was promoted to double-A, Cesar Puello was shifted to center. By the time Lagares reached AA Binghamton, den Dekker was once again installed in center. Then, in the Arizona Fall League, Lagares played 10 of his 15 games in center. It's a little hard to be the center fielder of the future playing the less-demanding corner spots in the minors. If the Mets start finding him regular playing time in center in 2012 either splitting time with Nieuwenhuis in Buffalo or den Dekker in AA, then we'll upgrade Lagares' status. Lagares, who has been playing the outfield for three years, runs well, but isn't a true burner. He's more explosive, than a gliding runner. I don't see him as a plus defender in center, but he could handle the position as a backup. He should get stronger and slow down a bit in the coming years.
Of course, he hit the cover off the ball in 2011 going .354/.391/.508 in 112 games between St. Lucie and Binghamton. If his .379 BABIP at advanced-A looked unsustainable, his .457 BABIP in 30 games in AA was even more so. Still, to some degree, it was an indication that he learned to make more solid contact. He didn't strike out much with k-rates in the mid-teens. Even though he didn't walk much at all (6.3% of his PA in advanced-A and 3.7% in AA) manager Pedro Lopez thought he had dramatically improved his pitch recognition. It's hard to scold a guy who hit .350 for the year for not walking enough, so the test will come in 2012, if, or rather when, the singles don't fall, whether Lagares can learn to take his pitch. His isolated slugging percentage of .156 in St. Lucie and .150 in Binghamton was remarkably similar.
To rise to the level of everyday player, he'll either need to 1. maintain his batting average, 2. draw more walks, 3. hit for more power or 4. prove he can play center field. Any combination of those would be even better. At 23, he's two years younger than Kirk Nieuwenhuis and two years older than Cesar Puello. I think everything about Lagares' 2012 season will be fascinating. Where will he be assigned? Where will he play? Can he build on 2011's break out with more secondary skills?
If his 2012 looks at all like his 2011, Lagares, who was added to the 40-man roster this fall, could well show up in Citi Field.
Darrell CecilianiB/T: L/L
Ht, Wt: 6'1", 200
Ceciliani followed up a monster .351/.410/.531 line in Brooklyn in 2010, with a .259/.351/.361 performance in the South Atlantic League in 2011 in the season in which he turned 21. His BABIP dropped from .435 in Brooklyn to .327 in Savannah. More concerning, his isolated slugging percentage dropped from .181 to .102 as he struggled to drive the ball consistently. Historic Grayson Stadium in Savannah, where he played his home games is a tough place to hit, but Ceciliani didn't display a huge home/road split that would make the ballpark a major explanation. On the plus side, he really improved his plate discipline over the course of the year, and finished up with walk rate of 10.7%.
Hampered by a hamstring problem in April, Ceciliani's year started late, but he was still 25-for-33 stealing bases.
More than one scout who liked Ceciliani compared him to Matt den Dekker, just younger.