Breaking Down the Outfielders

How does the future of Raul Reyes look?

Inside Pitch Magazine continues the analysis of leading position players within the organization—this time focusing on the outfielders. The two largest names are certainly well known, but there is a pool of outfielders behind them who jockey for position and in some cases roam the same outfield.

Highest Ceiling:

Fernando Martinez: Martinez, to this point, has made a name for himself through his immense potential to be a significant power hitter at the big league level. Not only could he be a leader in the heart of the Mets batting order for years to come, but he will supplement that power with a good batting average, proving he will be more than just a masher. He still has years of physical maturing to undergo which will help him meet all that potential and the expectations that follow him.

Although Fernando appears on the fast track to Shea, he may end up having to reach his full talent with on the job training. Nonetheless, at 19 years old Fernando has such a tantalizing upside in every facet of his game that the Mets will continue to test his abilities at levels beyond his years.

Closest to the Majors:

Carlos Gomez: Our number one prospect for two years running debuted with the Mets in 2007, making an extended stay in replacement of the injured Moises Alou. While he endured his share of offensive struggles with the Mets last summer and his dip in power the last two seasons has led to grumblings, Gomez remains the Mets number one option when they go to the farm. The 22-year-old has the tools and makeup to be a five-tool stud at the next level, but appears to be one more full season of at-bats away from making the true impact with the Mets that many hope he can make.

Sleepers:

Ezequiel Carrera: The 20-year-old followed up a strong second year in the organization in 2006 with a year that certainly caught the attention of many within the organization. Carrera's small stature leaves little room for much power production from the outfield, but what he lacks in true power he makes with terrific bat control and knowledge of the strike zone. He hit over .300 the last two seasons with far less strikeouts than games played and used his tremendous speed as a weapon on the bases. He certainly does not have the name recognition of the likes of Fernando or Gomez, but if his steady growth at the plate can continues, many more should know his name soon enough.

Brahiam Maldonado: After two slow years to start his career with the Mets, the former 10th round pick of the 2004 draft has really come on strong the last two seasons with Kingsport and Savannah respectively. Though Maldonado is smaller than most outfielders, he demonstrated very good power last season. He slugged .500 thanks to 10 home runs, 20 doubles and four triples as he was a leading offensive force in the run-starved Sand Gnats lineup. This upcoming season could prove pivotal as scouts will want to see if he can do it three years in a row, especially in a potential role with St. Lucie. There are some questions about Maldonado's future, but if he can continue to produce he will answer all of them.

Needs to Make a Move:

Daniel Stegall: Stegall's natural athleticism has never been in question, but after entering the system as a two-sport star, his adjustment and success in professional baseball has been disappointing so far. He possesses very good speed, smarts on the base paths and plays strong defense yet his shortcomings at the plate in his first two seasons have caused his stock to drop. He is homerless for his career and has struggled to stay above .200 in 628 career at-bats, but he still has his age working in his favor as he will be just 20 years old when on Opening Day this spring. Scouts want to see measurable growth from Stegall if they are to stick it out with him for the long haul.

The Jury is Still Out:

Raul Reyes: Reyes had a very productive year playing virtually everyday in Brooklyn. He showed off terrific natural power [which at the moment is nearly big league caliber], his big arm, an ability to cover large amounts of real estate in the outfield, and his tremendous speed. However, it is his swing that will determine his future. Despite his big power, he lacks the discipline to maintain a consistent strike zone which causes his batting average to drop and his strikeout totals to rise. Until he becomes more patient at the plate and can work his way on base more often, he may find it difficult to have a true breakthrough season.

Gabriel Zavala: Zavala made quite an impact in his first season stateside as he provided very good production with the GCL Mets. He has demonstrated respectable home run power early in his career but also possesses the ability to spray the ball to the alleys and use his very good speed to stretch singles into doubles and get his share of triples. His numbers improved from his stay in the Venezuelan Summer League in 2006 to last season and hopes are that will continue in 2008. However, given that he is in the early in his career, many want to see if he can continue the offensive growth as the opposing pitching stiffens.

Darren Clark: The 23-year-old outfielder entered the system in 2007 after going undrafted last June. He demonstrated good power in 36 games with Kingsport, but upon arriving in Savannah his power dipped some yet his contact hitting strengthened. As a lefty, he has shown he can handle southpaw pitching and drive pitches to both power alleys. He made a very good impression with scouts during his first season but with just one year under his belt, he will need to repeat previous success.

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