"Second base prospect" is a funny term. By definition, all second basemen would be more valuable at shortstop, but for one reason or another, they are not everyday shortstops. Meanwhile, second base itself is a plenty demanding position in its own right.
- Dilson Herrera
- Matt Reynolds
- LJ Mazzilli
- Danny Muno
- Tyler Moore
At age 20, Herrera, who was our No. 10 Mets prospect entering this season, had a terrific year that culminated in the big leagues. He dropped a leg kick from his swing early in the year, which helped him cut down on his strikeouts as one of the youngest players in both Double-A and the big leagues. He has the batspeed and footspeed to help a team in multiple ways as he showed when he put three balls over the wall in 18 games as a Met in September.
Now a member of the Mets' 40-man roster, he could use a little more seasoning in Triple-A to start 2015, but he is the heir apparent to Murphy. He could be an above-average MLB second baseman for a long time, starting relatively soon.
There is certainly a very good argument for putting Reynolds, who will turn 24 in December, on the list as a shortstop. I saw a lot of Reynolds in 2012, the summer in which he was drafted at short. He was fine. His feet moved well and he could make most of the throws. However, I just felt a spark -- the superior athleticism I associate with big league shortstops -- was missing. Reynolds could fill in at short certainly, but I think over a long big league season, he would be a little bit below-average at the position.
Meanwhile, after a disappointing 2013, when he did not hit in advanced Single-A, he produced in a big way in Double- and Triple-A this year. He talked to Rob Brender about the change in his approach and the cat-and-mouse game he and Pacific Coast League pitchers played. They found they could beat him in with fastballs, and only when he adjusted to show them that he could hit the pitch hard, did they go back away from him. There is a line drive swing that works well and he knows his strike zone reasonably well. However, his power is below average: the 2012 second-round pick hit five home runs in 2014, playing everyday.
Add it all up, with defensive versatility and his hitting ability, and he's a big leaguer.
Mazzilli, the Mets' fourth-round pick in 2013, had a solid first full-season, hitting .302 with a .363 OBP and .442 SLG in 130 games between Savannah and St. Lucie in his age 23 season. He turned his season around in May with the help of some advice from Yogi Berra.
Now, the skeptical note: In moving from Single- to advanced Single-A, Mazzilli's strikeout rate went down which is good (from 17 to 12 percent), but his walk rate also fell dramatically (from 10 to 6 percent). That's an alarming decline in his plate discipline, as clearly he was more aggressive at the higher level. Mazzilli is cut, and generates decent pull power, as evidenced by his 29 doubles and 11 homers. Also, he was 23. He needs to show he can do it against better competition, as he's three months older than Reynolds. Moreover, Mazzilli is limited to second, where scouts described his work as "mechanical."
4. MunoMuno played all over the infield for Wally Backman in Las Vegas (69 games at second, 24 at third and 21 at short). After hitting .259, with a .372 on-base percentage and .418 slugging percentage with 14 home runs in his age 25 season, the scouting report has not changed on him much. He's an extremely patient hitter with secondary skills (walks and homers) but without the pure hit tool to play everyday in the big leagues. He certainly has organization value as a high-OBP infielder in Triple-A.
5. MooreThe Mets drafted Moore in the sixth round in 2014 out of LSU as a catcher and assigned him to Brooklyn, where he played more second base than catcher. His work behind the plate was rough, and limited. In his first look at professional baseball, Moore hit .240, with a .321 OBP and .333 SLG in 63 games. He'll head to Savannah in 2015 looking for his niche in baseball.