Havens is in Arizona Fall League, but as a member of the taxi squad for the Surprise Rafters, is only eligible to play twice a week, on Wednesday and Saturday. I saw him play one game and take a few BPs and two infields. Havens admitted that the unusual playing schedule forced him to adjust, "That’s been a little different out here just trying to find a routine that works for me just playing two days a week," he said before a Tuesday game.
As for the transition to second, Havens has played only a handful of games at the position, and unsurprisingly admitted that he's still "getting used to it. It’s just something you need to get a bunch of reps. I’m just trying to get comfortable over there." He did not have to turn a double play at game speed in the game I saw him play, but pointed to the new angle to the second base bag as his biggest challenge at his new home, "Probably the biggest difference is the footwork around the bag."
How about his range? He was tested three times last Wednesday. In the first inning, he stabbed a sharp liner down and to his right on a complete reaction play that would have been right at home at third base. The subsequent batter, Jays 1B David Cooper bounced a ball up the middle. Havens, after a few steps, dove, and was in a position to make the play, but the ball took a tricky hop, kicking at the last second, bounding out of his glove into center field. That was pretty much the only action for Havens until the ninth inning when Mesa SS Jose Iglesias bounced a ball up the middle past a diving Havens for the game winning single in the bottom of the ninth. It would have taken extraordinary range for Havens to have made that play near the second-base bag. So, I came away thinking that Havens will make an adequate second baseman.
It's absolutely impossible for me to judge a player in such a limited viewing, but there were things to like, and things to give one pause. In the prior category, Havens was patient and worked at bats. Since a three-strikeout day in his first game, in which he said, he was, "late on everything," he's walked six times and fanned four in his subsequent seven games. His leg kick is minimal. His swing is short in back. He drives very well off his front leg. However, in the latter category, I didn't see as much power as I was expecting, but I saw less of Havens than I wanted. In the game I saw, he squared up one ball on a clean single into center. In BP, he did not drive the ball with as much authority. Perhaps he was trying to feel out his timing for one of his two starts in a week. He has more than solid power numbers (19 2B and 14 HR) in 97 games in the Florida State League and he just his his first AFL HR Saturday in a game in which he also walked three times.
Havens also pointed out that he's made a small mechanical tweak in his swing. "I’m pretty much the same stance-wise, just moved my hands up a little bit. My hands were down a little bit and I kinda had a tough time getting on that high fastball. I’m a lefty, I like the ball down like most lefties do. I moved my hands up, just to try to get in that comfort zone," he explained.
The AFL numbers, in a tiny sample size, in an offensive environment, mean little for Havens. However, the game film validates, to some degree, the power he showed in St. Lucie, and his approach was plenty patient. Add a few more singles to his batting average in the FSL (where he struck out just 73 times against 55 walks in 97 games) and his .247/.361/.422 line would look a lot better. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see Havens hitting .280/.380/.450 by July of next year for AA Binghamton.
Havens, who missed chunks of time in both 2008 and 2009 with injuries to his elbow, groin and hamstring, knows that to produce next year, he'll need to be healthy. Or as he put it, "the key to putting up numbers is staying in the lineup."