Under-the-Radar Prospects in the NL East

Posted: February 7, 2014 in by J.P. Schwartz

What we have here are prospects that fall outside of most prognosticators Top Ten lists.  There will be names on this list that many prospectors won’t know much about.  The goal here is to share a little bit of information on diamonds in the rough.  Over the next six weeks I will cover a division a week, beginning with the NL East.  You won’t find Noah Syndergaard, Lucas Sims or Brian Goodwin on this list of NL East prospects, instead we kick this list off with Dilson Herrera.

The Mets acquired Herrera, along with Vic Black, from the Pirates last August, in exchange for veterans Marlon Byrd and John Buck.  Herrera will turn 20 during Spring Training, and should see Double-A Binghamton before the year is out.  Like all prospects who are not considered elite, he does have some holes in his game, most notably his strikeout rate, which needs work.  But age 20, this young man’s positives outweigh the negatives.  A middle infielder, he has the potential to be an above average major league second baseman.  He has a very good glove, and his arm strength is the only thing that keeps him from projecting at shortstop.  He has the ability to hit for power, steal some bases, and get on base at a reasonable clip.  His strike out totals (which averaged one per game last year) need to be reduced, or at the very least, not increase as Herrera climbs the ladder.  If he can do that, expect him to join the big club in 2016.

Kyle Jensen of the Marlins has hit at every level, but at age 25, the idea of him being a prospect is closing.  The 2014 season is a make or break for Jensen.  Low batting average and high strike out totals are a concern as those numbers went in the wrong direction each step up the ladder he took.  He has legitimate power, and is in an outfielder by trade who can also play first base.  If he can cut down on his strikeouts just a little bit, and put some of those into balls in play, he could hit .250 at the big league level.  A .250/.330/.480 slash should be good enough to make him a big league regular in Miami.  With as depleted as the Marlins roster is and with as much power as he has, I’m surprised he didn’t get a look from the big club in 2013.  Look for him to compete for the starting first base job this spring.

There were cries of nepotism when the Braves drafted Kyle Wren, son of GM Frank Wren, with their Eighth round pick in 2013.  But it wasn’t the first time Wren had been drafted, having been selected by the Reds in the 30th round of the previous year’s draft.  Wren was quick to dispel that notion putting up a .335/.391/.472 slash line at in Rookie ball, Class A, and High A last year.  Blessed with great speed, Wren is also a smart base runner.  Couple that with the ability to get on base, and Wren is Atlanta’s lead-off hitter of the future.   The way he blazed through A ball last year, I expect him to begin 2014 with Double-A Mississippi, and if he excels as he did in 2013 could make Triple-A before the season’s end.  Wren is also a solid defensive outfielder with a good arm that could play either corner for the Braves.  I expect big things from Wren as there are not many holes in his game.  He could be ready for the big club as early as mid-2015.

The most dangerous hitter in the lineup during his time at Perdue, Cameron Perkins power seems to have disappeared in pro- ball.  He still slugs at a decent clip thanks to a lot of doubles and has been a near .300 hitter with a .346 OBP in his two pro seasons in the Phillies system.  He can play both corners on the infield and outfield, but projects best as a corner outfielder.  He has a good but not great arm and could end up in left field for the big club.  His ability to hit for average with a lot of doubles, coupled with his ability to play multiple positions adequately on the diamond, could mean a long career as a super utility guy.  At 23 years-old, Perkins should see Double- A ball for the first time this year, and it is why we should keep an eye on him.  If he continues to play the way he has without any regression, and I think he will, we could see him up with the big club in 2016.

The Washington Nationals have a young Dominican born twenty year-old catcher in their system that reminds me of a young Ivan Rodriguez behind the plate.  A stellar defender, Pedro Servino can catch and throw with the best of them.  He is a hard worker who after only two short minor league seasons, and season in the Sally League, is starting to develop a reputation in baseball circles as a hard worker, and is developing his command of the English language at a rapid pace.  The one thing he needs to continue to work on is his bat.  He showed flashes of promise in 2013 and his production with the stick has increased dramatically each of the last two seasons- all he has to do now, is start to show a little bit of pop.  I expect Servino to play Double-A ball in 2014 and should be ready to crack the big league line-up in 2016, which will be his age 22 season.  Servino has a chance to be a very good every day major league catcher for a long time.

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