Scouting Mets Prospect #22: Cesar Puello

There is a lot of promise Puello's tools

Cesar Puello has yet to play one game above the rookie league level, but he is already gaining momentum as one of the most promising outfielders in the organization. A unique blend of tools has created excitement throughout the farm which will gain Puello more attention and possibly aggressive promotions in the future. What makes him a special talent? Check out his scouting report.

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Vital Statistics
Name: Cesar Puello
DOB: April 1, 1991
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 195
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Status: Free Agent Signing (7/2/2007)

The New York Mets did not hide their intentions when they signed outfielder Cesar Puello as part of their large and talented Latin American free agent signing pool from 2007. Puello was thrust right into the Gulf Coast League as a 17-year-old in 2008 and responded very positively to his first taste of professional ball. It seemed that Puello would follow others from his free agency class (Wilmer Flores, Jefry Marte) and get the move to the long-season leagues in 2009.

That was not the case as the organization's desire to give Puello consistent playing time landed him in Kingsport. There, Puello did not face the rigors of dramatically improved levels of pitching and could operate without the daily pressures of trying to match competition.

Puello responded by hitting .296 with five home runs, 23 RBI, 15 steals and a .373 on-base percentage in 49 games with the K-Mets. Throughout the season, he displayed a promising blend of tools featuring power, speed and defense that caught the eye of his manager, Mike DiFelice.

"Looking at him physically, you can tell he's above everyone else at such a young age," said the Kingsport manager. "He has all the tools and the thing I've been impressed with him is that he comes to the field and plays a solid nine innings. I think he's another guy that he can really do some things long term."

"Over the course of the summer he did a much better job of driving the ball. He's going to make a lot of solid contact. He doesn't hit a lot of pop ups. He hits more line drives, hard ground balls. That's a real good sign."

Puello reinforced those feelings by putting together a very consistent season. He hit for nearly identical averages in July and August, .298 and .302 respectively, while driving in ten runs in each month posting mirror extra-base numbers. He saved his best ball for the home stretch, hitting .432 with two home runs and six RBI over the final week and half. To close in such fashion put an exclamation point on his sophomore season.

"We started to see signs of patience at the plate and not as many wild swings as you would expect out of a young guy," said DiFelice. "A lot of young hitters, they want to go up there and swing at the first pitches no matter where they are. Puello is right on schedule though. He (did) a better job and he's getting more patience at the plate. He's got an arm, he can run and he's another high ceiling guy for me."

"He shows very physical attributes for such a young player," DiFelice added. "He has the ability to get there. I think the ceiling is very high for him, but it comes down to how he matures over the next two or three years. He has the potential to be a very dangerous big league hitter."

It is a sentiment the organization is banking on. With two seasons under his belt, the upcoming season has the potential to be a true breakout season for Puello, a player the Mets see as a prospect with potential game-breaking ability.

Year

Team

AVG.

AB

Hits

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

K

OBP

SLG

2009

Kingsport

.296

196

58

5

23

37

15

10

51

.373

.423

2008

GCL

.305

151

46

1

17

24

13

5

32

.350

.364



Batting and Power: Projection is the most significant part of Puello's offensive abilities. Numbers are only complimentary at this stage his career, but they are indicative of the promising skill set he shows at the plate. Like any very young hitter, he can be too aggressive at times which lowers his strike zone discipline, but he makes up for it with the ability to drive secondary pitches. He did a better job of keeping his hips closed as he finishes through the ball which improved his timing. That allowed Puello to hit the ball to all fields more consistently which is important because he can do it with power. His ability to identify and connect with breaking pitches should make for a smoother transition to long-season ball. Good upper body strength, especially in his hands, and bat speed will help him grow into a legitimate power source.

Base Running and Speed: Puello ranks up right up with the best in the organization in foot speed. He has greater strength and size than most peers his age, but it does not prevent him from being a legitimate stolen base threat that has the potential to swipe 20-25 bags over the course of a full season. He has been successful roughly 75 percent of the time in his career so far, and that number should remain constant or possibly improve as he continues to work on his technique.

Defense: The combination of Puello's power projection and a plus outfield arm make him a true right fielder. He has good range and a quick release which make him a threat to base runners. He makes throws across the field with plenty of strength, but route running and taking proper angles to the ball is still a work in progress.

Projection: Puello is raw, but his physique could lend to rapid maturity and the potential to develop into a dynamic five-tool player. The biggest variable in his development is his plate discipline. If he continues to harness his stroke and maintain a consistent approach his offense and his overall game will flourish. He is a priority prospect for the organization, and has the tools to become an everyday right fielder, but there is no need to push him too hard.

ETA: 2013. After a second season of rookie ball, Puello should be off to Savannah next season. He has enough talent to appear at two levels during one season in the future which would put him right on track for a debut sometime in 2013.

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