The losses of Wayne Lydon, Angel Pagan, Jeff Duncan, Prentice Redman, and Dante Brinkley over the…
Scouting Report: OF Joe Holden
(FREE PREVIEW OF PREMIUM CONTENT) Vital Statistics: Name: Joe Holden Position: Centerfield DOB: April 10, 1984 Height: 5'11" Weight: 175 Bats: Left Throws: Right The second time around was a change for Mets prospect Joe Holden, who reprised his role as a scrappy Lenny Dykstra-type with Class-A Brooklyn, helping bolster a floundering Cyclones club back to respectability. But Holden's approach in repeating the New York-Penn League level was different than they had been during his debut season of 2005, when he earned selection as a New York-Penn League All-Star and finished the season batting .291. Batting mostly leadoff (44 games), Holden had 15 multiple-hit games in the 65 contests he played for Brooklyn, including a three-hit game on Aug. 17 at Auburn. The 22-year-old finished the season batting .225 with six home runs and 24 RBI in 258 at-bats. An increase power production, Holden said, that was not by accident. "The first priority as a leadoff guy is to get on base and make things happen," Holden said, "but at the time I was more worried about trying to get runners in, whatever the count. I was swinging for the fences, I guess you could say." Holden didn't expect to be taking aim for the outfield walls in Brooklyn and so near home – a Wantagh, N.Y. native, Holden earned the nickname "Wantagh Joe" from the KeySpan Park faithful in 2005. He eventually embraced the fact that he was able to come back to Brooklyn for that role once more. "It was a good time," Holden said. "I look back on it and I think it was a good move. I had so much fun and I got to live at home again." Following a stint of over a month in extended spring training, Holden joined the Hagerstown (A) Suns of the South Atlantic League, replacing 17-year-old prospect Fernando Martinez in centerfield after the talent suffered a hand injury. Though Holden carried decidedly less fanfare than Martinez – GM Omar Minaya's vaunted international free agent signing – Holden performed capably. The outfielder quickly reeled off an eight-game hitting streak from May 16-22, over which he batted .393 (13-for-33). "Joe's done a nice job, because losing Fernando at the top of the lineup hurt us," Suns manager Frank Cacciatore said in May. "Fernando was a guy hitting (.322) and doing a heck of a job, and Joe has come in and played like an experienced player. He's got a little bit of knowledge and he's swinging the bat real well for us." Quietly playing through injuries to his groin and leg, Holden also put together a seven-game hitting streak for Hagerstown from May 28-June 5 and had been promising on the bases, stealing 12 bags in 14 attempts. He was making good use of a patient approach – batting .300 in 38 games for the Suns -- when the Cyclones came calling for the second time in late June. Perhaps the most prized of the Mets' farm clubs, Brooklyn had struggled mightily out of the gate, losing their first seven decisions. Helped by an array of reinforcements imported from higher levels, including Holden, the Cyclones finally won their first game with a 4-0 decision over Hudson Valley on June 28; coincidentally, Holden's first game back at his former stomping grounds. "They changed a lot of guys and mixed up the roster. We all just kind of came together," Holden said. "The next thing you know, we've won 12 games (in a row), we're in first place by a couple of games. Everything just started rolling and it was pretty fun. I had a great time." Home for the winter, Holden has been able to take positives from his 2006 campaign. For one, Holden was able to exhibit some of the power he had showed as a senior at Molloy (N.Y.) College, when he slugged 13 home runs and earned a 21st round selection from the Mets. Between the two levels he played in 2006, Holden cracked 12 home runs and stroked 16 doubles in 398 at-bats, a vast improvement over the seven doubles and no home runs he had to show for 223 at-bats in 2005. "Two years ago, I was more of an average hitter, and this year I hit for some power," Holden said. "I don't know how. This year, I was more thinking about driving runs in and hitting the long ball instead of being focused more on being on base. I guess it was like two different seasons. I don't really know how to compare the two." He hopes the performance could help him jump past the South Atlantic League this spring and gain entry into the Florida State League, where he would play for the St. Lucie Mets. "The most important thing is moving on up," Holden said. "I've been working out hard this winter four times a week, so I'm going to come back to spring training and hopefully keep moving up the ladder." That, however, will have to be determined on the back fields in March. "I would like to hopefully make the St. Lucie team, but you never know," Holden said. "That's what my focus is on, and if not, I guess I'll go to Savannah and play as well as I can to get moved up. It's up to me." Year Team AVG. AB Hits HR RBI R SB BB K OBP SLG 2006 Hagerstown .300 140 42 6 25 24 12 15 31 .367 .464 2006 Brooklyn .225 258 58 6 24 31 4 13 57 .264 .345 2005 Brooklyn .291 223 65 0 15 33 22 22 30 .361 .368 Batting and Power. Holden is a much better hitter than his average in Brooklyn this past season indicates. A .390 hitter in college, he drew more walks than strikeouts in his amateur days and he had displayed a patient approach at the plate until his recall to the NY-Penn League. He showed an ability to hit for more power this past season, which helps his cause as he climbs the minor league ladder. The next step in his development will be combining the two, hittig for adequate power while making consistent contact and cutting down on the strikeouts. He's a solid .300 hitter when he's going right. Base Running and Speed. Focused more on his power game in 2006, Holden's speed game suffered a tad as well. He stole a few less bases this past season, but the speed is still there to be a 30+ stolen base threat. He has good instincts on the base paths but he hasn't adapted as well to reading pitchers' moves at the professional level yet. Defense. Holden is an all-out defensive player in the field. His hustle is second to none and with his speed, boasts solid range in centerfield. His arm is solid, strong enough for either center or left field and he projects to be a solid defensive outfielder at the big league level someday. Projection. Holden won't blow anybody away with tools and as a result, he'll never be a top prospect. But as gritty and determined as they come, he's got enough moxie in the field and at the plate to prove his critics wrong. If he can prove his power game in 2006 was no fluke, while rediscovering his contact hitting ability, he could surprise some folks and become a solid big league reserve outfielder in the future. ETA. 2009. Holden proved enough in Hagerstown this past season that he could begin the 2007 campaign with the St. Lucie Mets, which would put his career back on schedule. If he can see significant time in the Florida State League, it would put him in a position to possibly break in the big leagues by 2009. ____________________________________________________ Subscribe to NYfansonly.com today! 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