Mets Scouting Report: OF Joe Holden

Holden wanted more offensive growth this year

In his third season in the organization, the Savannah outfielder continues to piece together the elements of his game. 2007 was his first opportunity to play exclusively for a long-season squad, where he provided stability in the outfield. Here is a scouting report on Joe Holden.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Joe Holden
Position: Centerfield
DOB: April 10, 1984
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 175
Bats: Left
Throws: Right

For Joe Holden, his third season proved to be his most challenging. After two grinding, yet successful seasons split between Brooklyn and Hagerstown, he earned a permanent spot in Savannah where he remained atop the order and a steady spot in centerfield.

Yet, Holden knew his new location would offer challenges to his game and that making the proper adjustments would be that much harder. Coming off a season in which he hit six home runs, drove in 25 runs and hit .300 in 38 games in the South Atlantic League, Holden aimed to duplicate those statistics, particularly his batting average.

However, he got off to a .250 start [38-for-152] and soon realized his goal of getting back to .300 would be a tall task. What hampered Holden most was his streaky trends, which prevented him from finding extended consistency.

"I didn't do to well in meeting my goals. I wanted to hit around .300 and be the contact hitter I'm supposed to be," he said. "As far as the season went, I think it was a streaky season. I was trying to work my way up to .290 but then I lost it again. At the end, I was trying to bring my average back up, but the coaches stuck with me, with the team, and I made the best of the opportunity."

"I thought I swung the bat pretty well, but there were times I would hit well, I wouldn't hit well and it came down to figuring out how break out of bad streaks and keep the positive streaks going," he continued.

Holden's same problem reared its head once again this season, and that was swinging for power when what he really needed to do was further develop his contact stroke as a leadoff hitter. Much like 2006, he admitted that many times he was swinging for power which threw off his timing and plate awareness.

"I got carried away with trying to hit for power and do the stuff I'm really not supposed to. The biggest problem was my timing and getting ready to swing the bat at the right time. When I was hitting well, everything was working, but when the problems hit I was trying to do too much or getting ready too early and not recognizing pitches well," he explained.

He does not struggle against any particular pitch, but rather it is his ability to predict pitches and pitch counts, and how to execute in those situations. To improve upon that trait, he lent his ear to his not just his coaches, but pitchers and catchers as well to better understand a pitcher's tendencies.

"The coaches here took me aside and told me that power is not my game, that my game is hitting for contact and getting on base, so I started to learn from pitchers and catchers about what to look for in certain counts and that has gotten me to know how to guess the pitch before it comes. I think that really helped me get a better grip on what I need to do," he detailed.

His .326 on-base percentage this season was not favorable as a lead-off hitter, but he still knocked 14 doubles, three triples and six home runs this year. Those numbers have let Holden know that with his natural tools and speed, once his swing straightens out, the rest of his game will head in the right direction.

"I just need to let my power happen and not think about it. My scout always told me that home runs came by mistake and I'm learning that. I can't go out there trying to hit home runs, I need to just let it happen," he said.

While he irons out his offense, Holden is able to fall back on the strongest part of his game—his speed and defense. With his speed, he is a constant threat on the basepaths and a reliable defender at his centerfield position. Whenever he is in the midst of a slump, he knows what he offers in the field can fill a drop in production.

"The way I played defense is still the strongest positive I take away from the year. It's definitely what kept me in the lineup even when I wasn't going well. I can use that as a fallback to try to get me going at the plate. It was the best part of my whole season," he said.

Holden continues to take the steps to improve all facets of his game. While his game is not flashy, his tenacity is what keeps him moving up the ladder a piece at a time.

"I think this year gave me a better idea of who I am as a player. I'm learning more and more, and becoming a better overall player. I hope to showcase the talent that I have so I can keep moving up the ladder," he closed.

Year

Team

AVG.

AB

Hits

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

K

OBP

SLG

2007

Savannah

.260

304

79

6

29

54

19

28

66

.326

.385

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 still has the ability to hit for a higher average than his .260 average this season. He hit .310 this season off southpaws and has a keen sense of hitting the ball to all fields when his swing is right, but he needs to improve on the .248 average against right-handers. He made himself more dangerous at the top of the order by vastly improving his bunting and can drop one down any time. As for his swing, it is a matter of mechanics and orientation, and when he puts that together his contact skills and average should increase. His home run total dipped this season, but added power should come more naturally once he finally stops trying to do too much. He still lacks the desired patience for a leadoff hitter, evident by his rather high strikeout total and low walk total, but those numbers should adjust with better plate recognition.

Base Running and Speed: This season, Holden developed a stronger first step and burst which helped him strengthen his base-stealing ability. He swiped 19 bases in 22 attempts and has the speed to raise that number the more he gets on base. He is quick around the bases and as a better sense of reading pitchers and reacting to balls in play.

Defense: His defense is his best trait. He has good instincts and a nose for the ball, combined with very good range. He possesses an above-average arm and played all three positions in the outfield, yet he projects best as a centerfielder or leftfielder. His quality of defense can keep him in batting orders even when his bat has cooled, and could be his ticket to a future big league appearance.

Projection: Holden can easily fly under the radar of most observers, but he continually boasts sound skills and a hunger to excel which will keep earning opportunities in the future. If his contact and production can increase, and he can develop further chracteristics desired in a leadoff man, he could become a reliable fourth outfielder.

ETA: 2010. Coming into the 2007 season, it was thought Holden would spend most of the season with St. Lucie. However, because he spent all of this year in Savannah, it set back his arrival in the big leagues by another year. If he can start 2008 in St. Lucie, and perhaps see some time in Binghamton, that should put him on target for 2010.


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