Scouting Mets Prospect #39: Richard Lucas

Lucas has promise with the bat

It has been a trying two seasons for Richard Lucas. Recurring injuries have cost the third baseman the better part of the last two years, forcing him to appear in just 75 games in that span. However, Lucas made his mark in limited time in 2009, blazing a trail through the Appalachian League before making his first appearance in Brooklyn. Can he keep the momentum going? Look inside to find out.

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Vital Statistics
Name: Richard Lucas
DOB: November 2, 1988
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 205
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Status: 4th Round (2007) – Wolfson High School (FL)

Watch Richard Lucas play, and one will see the promise within in the 21-year-old third baseman. He has size, has a well-constructed swing, a natural ability to drive the ball to all fields and provides reliable defense. However, those skills have not been consistently visible due to Lucas' battle with injuries.

First it was a foot injury in 2008 that limited him to just 38 games (31 in Savannah). Then a setback with the surgically repaired meniscus and nerve damage in his foot after being hit by a pitch during Extended Spring Training postponed his 2009 debut until his early July return to Kingsport, where he played seven games the previous season.

Lucas shredded through the Appalachian League in his second jaunt with Kingsport in 2009. In 26 games, he hit .357 with four home runs 21 RBI and .471 on-base percentage, instantly impressing K-Mets manager Mike DiFelice.

"I didn't know he had the plate discipline he's shown," said DiFelice during Lucas' stay with the club. "He's got a nice approach at the plate; he knows what he wants to do. He likes the ball up and when he gets it, he's done a nice job of driving the ball."

Lucas took that approach to Brooklyn following his mid-August promotion, but the success was not immediate in a Cyclones uniform. He hit .250 with six RBI and seven extra base hits in his first appearance in the New York-Penn League. Nonetheless, he acknowledged it was a worthwhile appearance to cap his season.

"It was a great experience playing in the atmosphere in Brooklyn," said Lucas. "The coaches just wanting me to keep doing what I was doing in Kingsport and that took away any pressure that might have been there because I joined the team later. But there wasn't any pressure and I just went out and did what I could."

"With (2009 Brooklyn hitting coach) Jack (Voigt), he just made sure that I kept doing what I did in Kingsport. He didn't try to add anything or change anything. I just kept it the same," Lucas continued. "He helped me out whenever I would get a little off track to get back to hitting the ball well and staying through the ball better."

The numbers did not equate, but Pedro Lopez, last season's manager in Brooklyn, echoed DiFelice's sentiment once he got a chance to work with Lucas.

"When he first came to us from Kingsport, his plate discipline was very good," said Lopez. "He was getting good pitches to hit and he did something with them. I think he's going to hit for power and be a corner guy with good power potential. This season was a big test for him."

He extended his season in the Dominican Instructional League where he continued to hone skills from the regular season and create a foundation to come out strong in 2010.

"The main thing I was working on was making sure I stayed through the ball with every swing. That's going to make me a lot more consistent next season and will allow me to drive the ball a lot more," Lucas explained.

" Instructs gave me an idea of what things I need to work on, but it put me in great shape physically and mentally to come back strong in the spring. I just want to improve on my play so that I'll have more quality in my play next season."

Year

Team

AVG.

AB

Hits

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

K

OBP

SLG

2009

Brooklyn

.250

60

15

0

6

4

1

7

14

.319

.400

2009

Kingsport

.357

98

35

4

21

28

1

20

20

.471

.622

2009

GCL

.333

18

6

0

3

1

1

2

5

.400

.500

2008

Kingsport

.185

27

5

1

3

2

0

3

11

.267

.333

2008

Savannah

.185

119

22

2

13

15

1

11

41

.252

.311

2007

GCL

.264

212

56

2

30

27

2

15

66

..320

.349



Batting and Power: Lucas demonstrated the hitter he can become, although it came in spurts during Kingsport. The most unique thing about Lucas' approach is the wide, open base he employs at the plate. With his feet stretched nearly the length of the batter's box, he relies on his strong upper half to generate his bat speed. He knows when to shorten up and drive pitches the other way, but with the raw power to drive for extra bases to the right-center field gap. His plate discipline allows him to work deep counts and wait for his pitch—most often a fastball—but he needs to improve his execution against breaking pitches especially in two-strike counts. The latter is when his discipline and strike zone awareness get exposed a little. Long term, Lucas projects out to an average power producer, in the teens in home runs, who should hit for a solid average.

Base Running and Speed: Lucas is athletic, but possesses average speed that is enhanced by good base running acumen by taking the extra base when available and not running himself into outs. He will not become a stolen base threat with any regularity, but he can take his small share when opportunistic.

Defense: Lucas possesses average tools across the board on the hot corner. He plays the ball well and sets into proper position with footwork that has improved over his first three seasons. He plays ball aggressively with a smooth transfer. That footwork has also helped him generate more velocity on his throws and hit his target with better accuracy. His arm strength is not much more than what is expected of a third baseman, but the work on mechanics has led to a decrease in throwing errors. He moves well to both sides, but needs more range and better effort to his backhand. He is athletic enough to charge and throw without much wasted energy. Overall, he is steady across the board without one standout tool.

Projection: At this point in Lucas' career, there are still more questions than answers as to his future. The power potential in his bat gives him a boost approach, but his unorthodox stance could affect him as he moves up the ranks. The 2009 season was a step in the right direction as for maturity, but at 21 years old next season he will have to make an impact in the long season leagues. If his bat steadily improves, a move to the outfield cannot be ruled out. His best projection is a utility corner infield/outfield option.

ETA: 2013. Had Lucas spent considerable time in A-ball this season, which may have been possible if not for injury, his ETA would move up a year. But seeing as 2010 will be his first full year in A-ball, the third baseman will need at least three more years of season before he gets a look in New York.

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