Sizing Up the Second Base Prospects

Blake Whealy Has Plus Power

Inside Pitch analyzes the Mets' second base prospects. Which 2B prospect has the highest upside? Which are the ones ready to make a Major League impact soon? Who needs to make their mark quickly?

Highest Ceiling

Aarom Baldiris: He played all 125 of his 2004 games at third base, but yet, Baldiris is already the Mets' second base prospect with the highest ceiling despite playing the position only in the Instructional League and winter leagues this past offseason. A very good defensive player at third base, the Mets feel Baldiris can make the move over to second base much in the same manner Edgardo Alfonzo did.

Baldiris is a very good contact hitter, boasting a minor league career average of .310 and showing some of the best plate discipline among all the Mets' positional players. The combination of depth at the third base position and lack of quality starting second base prospects makes the move over to second for Baldiris seem logical. If Baldiris does make the permanent switch over to second base, he's easily the Mets' second base prospect with the highest upside and projects to be an Edgardo Alfonzo type of player.

Closest to the Majors

Jeff Keppinger: It is easy to say a player is closest to the Majors after logging 33 games in 2004 at second base for the Mets. Keppinger, like Baldiris, is a very good contact hitter, hitting .284 for the Mets last season after accumulating a career .309 average at the minor league level. With Kaz Matsui firmly implanted at 2B for the Mets, Keppinger appears to be headed back down to AAA to start the 2005 season and be the first call up to Shea should an injury arise.

Danny Garcia: Like most of the Mets' second base prospects, Garcia projects to be more of a utility player down the road. He does everything well and could prove to be a very good bench player for the Mets someday. His lack of power and consistent contact hitting relegates him to a backup position at the Major League level.

David Bacani: The ultimate teammate in the clubhouse, Bacani has shown good success at the minor league level despite his smallish size (5'7", 170 lbs), earning the nickname "Pound for Pound". It is his size that is his biggest barrier to being an everyday second baseman at the Major League level, but with his attitude, defensive ability, good bat, and versatility, Bacani projects to be a very good backup second baseman and utility prospect for the Mets. Bacani will be in Norfolk in 2005 and could find some time with the Mets next season.

Chris Basak: Basak has an advantage over the likes of Bacani and Garcia in that, while playing a good second base and shortstop, he can also fill in admirably at third base. Despite playing more games in his minor league career at shortstop, Basak projects to be more of a utility prospect for the Mets. It appears Basak will see action at AAA for the fourth straight year in 2005 and could earn a September call-up next season.

Chase Lambin: Lambin, like Bacani, is a leader in the clubhouse and does a little bit of everything on a baseball field. He played all 96 of his games in AA-Binghamton at 2B but has also played SS in his career. Lambin saw action at 3B and 1B in the Instructional Leagues last fall, improving his overall worth even more. While he has the look of very good utility prospect, Lambin does have a decent ceiling as a starting second baseman at the Major League level, higher than that of Bacani, Garcia, Basak, and possibly even Keppinger. Unfortunatley with the AAA level stacked with veterans, Lambin could find himself back in AA in 2005.

The "Sleepers"

Wilson Batista: Batista, who played mostly at shortstop in 2004, is a raw talent from the Dominican Republic despite being 24 years old. A speedster on the base paths with an advanced eye at the plate, Batista was quite erratic in the field while playing SS for the Bombers last season, making 29 errors. Seeing as the majority of his errors came on throws, the Mets moved him over to second base when they promoted him to St. Lucie later in the year last season. His speed (40 SBs) and patience at the plate (56:77 walk to strikeout ratio) make him an intriguing second base prospect. 2005 will be a pivotal season for Batista's worth as a legitimate prospect.

Armand Gaerlan: Speaking of an advanced eye at the plate, Armand Gaerlan opened a lot of eyes with his professional approach to hitting in the Gulf Coast League last season. A #3 and #4 hitter in college while playing for the University of San Francisco, Gaerlan made a smooth transition to hitting atop the GCL Mets' lineup in his professional debut. His 42:35 strikeout-to-walk ratio was outstanding and he does all the little things that help teams win. He can hit for adequate power, hit for average, bunt, run, throw, etc. At 23 years old and as accomplished a collegiate player as he was, Gaerlan needs to be challenged in 2005 and should break camp as the starting second baseman for the Hagerstown Suns. He does everything well and is one to watch over the next couple of seasons.

Need to Make Their Move

Blake Whealy: Blessed with the most power of any of the Mets' second base prospects, Whealy hit double digit home runs (24 in 2004) for the fourth straight year last season while showing vast improvement in his patience at the plate. However, Whealy turns 25 years old in May and he's never gotten one at-bat at high-A ball or above. The Mets need to challenge Whealy to see what he is capable of and he is a good candidate to reach the AA-level in 2005, a year that will be his biggest test to prove his worth as a true starting second base prospect for the Mets. Whealy is unique in that he could be a candidate for "Closest to the Majors", "Highest Ceiling", and a "Sleeper" all wrapped up in one player.

The Jury is Still Out

Kevin Rios: Rios is cut in the same mold as most of the Mets' second base prospects...he can play a couple of other positions. He saw action at 2B, 3B, and SS in 2004 for the Brooklyn Cyclones and appears to be another utility prospect for the Mets. A world-beater in batting practice, Rios has demonstrated a lot of untapped potential.

Matt Fisher: A 33rd round pick in the 2004 out of the University of California-Irvine, Fisher did not show any ill effects making the transition to the wooden bat. His three home runs for the Cyclones in 2004 almost matched his collegiate career total of five.

Bryan Zech: A four-year starter for Florida State University, Zech's patience at the plate in his professional debut was not nearly as good as it was in college. He split time in Brooklyn and Kingsport last season.

Marcos Cabral: A very good defensive player, Cabral repeated another year in the Appalachian League with the Kingsport Mets in 2004. Cabral turns 21 in April and has yet to play a game above the rookie league as of yet.

Todd Dulaney: The 21-year old Dulaney, like Cabral, hasn't seen any action above the rookie leagues in his two years with the Mets. He has shown good patience at the plate and decent speed.

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