From top to bottom, the New York Mets really don't really have an abundance of jaw-dropping, can't miss young talent. A few decent prospects, some young minor league talent that's still more about projection than anything else and a few major leaguers with most likely league-average (or slightly better) potential.
What they do have, however, is a player they hope becomes a cornerstone first baseman in Ike Davis. In his first season in the Majors, the 23-year-old hit .264 with 19 HR and 71 RBI -- with a .351 OBP and .440 SLG. Even though he was a first-round pick, nobody really jumped on the bandwagon until his second taste (first full season) of professional action when he hit .298 with 20 HR with 71 RBI, a .381 OBP and .524 SLG between High-A and Double-A, because upon being drafted, he failed to muster a single homerun in 58 games in Low-A, batted .256 with a .652 OPS.
Part of what makes Davis so intriguing to me outside of pure baseball ability is his growth, his improvements from year to year and his general baseball smarts. Not even a full year in Double-A and he was already in the big leagues (albeit due to Daniel Murphy's injury).
Terry Collins was asked what type of player Davis could become, and he sure didn't muffle his feelings at all:
"I think he's going to become one of the premier first basemen in all of baseball," Collins said about Davis as reported by ESPN NY. "He's already as good defensively as there is in either league. He has absolutely enormous power. And I think he's going to learn as he continues to play to be a better hitter, and therefore a little bit more selective hitter. And I think he's going to get better pitches to hit. And I think he's going to do a lot of damage.
Now, let's remember, this is New York and the Mets we're talking about -- any ray of hope often becomes billboard material and any struggles immediately are a cause of ridding the player from the team (see: Gaborik, Marian). But, seriously, when was the last time the Mets groomed a legitimate homegrown positional player? David Wright, nearly seven years ago, in 2004.
Collins certainly has high expectations for the 23-year-old, seeing him as a fixture in the middle of the order:
"I can see Ike Davis in the future certainly being that legitimate No. 4-hole hitter. ... Ike Davis is a power hitter, and I'm not going to ever ask him to be a singles hitter."
The new Mets coach has been active and vocal this spring training with hopes of changing the culture -- and part of this seems to be very encouraging of his players. He knows Davis has the potential to be a stalwart in this lineup, so why not shoot for the stars right off the bat?
I, too, am very excited to see what Davis can bring to this lineup in his second season. While he has a lot of work to do to be discussed among the game's best first basemen, the potential is there to become an excellent big-league regular. In his second season, I could see him improving his batting average along with tacking on a few extra homeruns and a handful of RBI. The Mets' youngster did have difficulties against lefties in the minors, yet he batted .295 /.362/.443 against them last season. It remains to be seen if this is totally for real -- he'll definitely be a focus of left-handed specialists this season -- if it is, this is just another promising sign in his development.
The Mets have a potentially very good lineup, and with Davis batting in the sixth spot behind Jose Reyes, David Wright, Carlos Beltran and Jason Bay, he'll have plenty of run-producing chances and won't feel the pressures of batting cleanup in his second year.
|2010 - Ike Davis||.264||.351||.440|