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  1. #1
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    Cesar Puello’s Power Surge Gives Mets Hope

    Cesar Puello’s Power Surge Gives Mets Hope
    July 3, 2013 by Ian Frazer

    http://www.baseballamerica.com/minor...-the-outfield/

    The unfortunate fact for the Mets, an organization with below-average offensive production at the major league level, is that most of their young talent makes a living off the mound and not in the batter’s box.

    Seven of the organization’s top 10 prospects entering the season are pitchers, and top position prospect, Triple-A catcher Travis d’Arnaud, has lost significant time this season with a broken bone in his foot. That’s what makes a breakthrough performance by a fallen prospect such a breath of fresh air.

    Just a few years ago, right fielder Cesar Puello stood as one of the organization’s brightest prospects at any position. His intriguing combination of physicality, speed and arm strength contributed to a No. 3 ranking among Mets farmhands entering the 2011 season.

    So while trouble turning his tools into production, managing the strike zone and staying healthy caused him to slide to the fringes of the prospect radar, the 22-year-old Puello has enjoyed a stunning resurgence at Double-A Binghamton this season, finally making good on the power potential that led to him being so highly touted.

    Home-Run Binge

    The Mets signed Puello for $400,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2007, and his advancement through the low minors featured hardly any hitches. As an 18-year-old in the Rookie-level Appalachian League in 2009, he hit .296 with 15 extra-base hits and 15 stolen bases in 49 games. He tallied similar numbers in 2010 at low Class A Savannah, stealing 45 bases in 109 games and surging in the second half, batting .346/.424/.430.
    Cesar Puello

    For all his positive attributes, however, Puello showed a conspicuous lack of power in those years, especially for someone who stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 195 pounds. One contemporary Mets organization report described him as “more like a linebacker than a baseball player.”

    In 2011, Puello slugged 10 home runs at high Class A St. Lucie, more than his previous three years combined. As a trade-off, though, he finished with a meager 18-to-103 walk-to-strikeout ratio. An injury-shortened 2012 in St. Lucie featured many of the same difficulties for Puello. By 2013, he had been passed by other players on the Mets’ Top 10 Prospects list.

    Puello advanced to Double-A to begin the 2013 season, and with his April performance he showed signs of improvement when compared with his previous two years. He hit .280/.357/.420 in 15 games—though he didn’t hit a home run—but then something seemed to click for Puello the following month.

    On May 3, he hit a home run off Harrisburg lefthander Ian Krol. He went three days before hitting another one off Trenton righthander Jose Ramirez. The day after that, Puello blasted two home runs off Trenton lefty Nik Turley. So began Puello’s prodigious hot streak.

    Since that first homer, he has hit .341/.404/.659 with 15 homers and 46 RBIs in 47 games. Puello had another two-homer game on June 6, again against the Thunder. As of July 2—six years to the day since he signed as an amateur—Puello leads the Eastern League with 15 home runs and a .602 slugging percentage.

    The homers haven’t been chip shots, either. One, hit off Altoona lefty Nate Baker, was drilled to dead center so hard that it was over the batter’s eye before the center fielder made it to the warning track.

    New Approach, New Mechanics

    While Puello finally is tapping into the power that his sturdy frame affords him, those numbers don’t quite tell the whole story. His walk rate hasn’t dramatically increased this season, but according to his Binghamton coaches, Puello’s plate discipline, working in concert with mechanical adjustments and improvements, have keyed his resurgence.

    Binghamton manager Pedro Lopez said Puello has been more selective in terms of what he swings at and has refined his perception of the strike zone, picking pitches he can consistently drive rather than falling behind in the count and having to settle for less-desirable offerings.

    ‘The plate discipline, for me, it’s the No. 1 thing,” Lopez said. “In the past, he would get himself out . . . He would swing at way too many pitches over his head, down and away and stuff, and that didn’t allow him to get good pitches to hit. I mean, no pitcher would throw him a strike if he would keep swinging at those pitches.”

    But now that Puello has refined his idea of the strike zone and has cut down on helping pitchers out, his coaches have seen him drive both fastballs and offspeed pitches out of the park and into the gaps.

    Binghamton hitting coach Luis Natera said Puello has raised the pre-swing position of his hands this year to above his head, and the action of driving his hands down through the strike zone has helped Puello get more backspin on the ball and drive it farther. Natera also said Puello has made adjustments to draw more power from his lower half.

    “Power is the last thing to come,” Natera said. “You have to be a hitter first, and then you let it go. And right now, I think he’s a better hitter.”

    A dislocated finger knocked Puello out of action in mid-June, but he also had to deal with a different, possibly more severe, distraction. His name appears in an ESPN report that details players connected to the Biogenesis clinic in Miami, which is alleged to have provided performance-enhancing drugs to players ranging from major league MVPs Ryan Braun and Alex Rodriguez to minor league players such as Cesar Carrillo.

    As a member of the Mets’ 40-man roster, and thus the players’ union, Puello has escaped penalty thus far. Lopez said he hasn’t seen any signs of the report being a distraction for Puello.

    If Puello has a second half to match the first, then the Mets could have first-division-caliber corner outfielder on their hands. The man at the top, general manager Sandy Alderson, has taken notice.

    “He’s always been a five-tool guy, a five-tool projection, but not necessarily five-tool performer,” Alderson told Mike Francesca of New York’s WFAN on June 10. “This year he’s put it all together and has been phenomenal over the last couple of weeks.”
    Baseball Maverick: How Sandy Alderson Revolutionized Baseball and Revived the Mets
    I am that Daddy Cool

  2. #2
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    Seems like our only hope is that he doesn't get suspended. Or that he breaks all Binghamton Mets club records.
    "We're snakebitten, baby." --Fred Wilpon

  3. #3
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    Cesar Puello’s Power Surge Gives Mets Hope

    Everybody wants to jump on the bandwagon now.

  4. #4
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    Sick, why is it so unreasonable for people to "jump on the bandwagon" when he finally begins to excel beyond low-A ball? We aren't allowed to be excited about prospects unless we loved them from day 1?
    "We're snakebitten, baby." --Fred Wilpon

  5. #5
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    Hope he comes up in September.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by SJ5382 View Post


    Sick, why is it so unreasonable for people to "jump on the bandwagon" when he finally begins to excel beyond low-A ball? We aren't allowed to be excited about prospects unless we loved them from day 1?
    Nobody said it was unreasonable, actually people jumping onto the bandwagon when a guy is hot is very reasonable, is human nature.

  7. #7
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    Yeah September wouldnt be bad and if he rakes let him break camp next year otherwise bring him up in june or july. Im really excited about Flores and Puello I dont know why, but i think Flores will eventually have more power than Puello.

  8. #8
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    I don't see that, I think Puello has some 30 homer years in him, but Flores will hit for better average for sure.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sick Of It All View Post
    I don't see that, I think Puello has some 30 homer years in him, but Flores will hit for better average for sure.
    I think as Flores matures he will hit more HRs he seems like the type that will drive more balls as he matures hes already an excellent doubles hitter. I think at 23 or 24 his power will start showing

  10. #10
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    Since Flores has much better contact skills, but he might hit more homers for that reason alone. He might have more opportunities to tap into his power. But right now, there is no question Puello will hit more homers.

  11. #11
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    yeah..>I don't think its so much a bandwagon but that he's finally showing what we all thought he should have been showing.

    I remember at the start of the season and Puello was named to those people connected to the meds clinic...people were like, "damn, but oh well. He sucked even with while using the stuff anyway". He disappointed. And being 1 of only 2 legit power options in the minors, he was disappointing. Good to see him grow finally.

    Lets hope for no suspension and for continued growth in higher levels.

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  12. #12
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    The outfield situation is about to get very complicated. For all the weaknesses Duda has, probably an average bat on a good team, but he's still one of this particular team's best bats. Sounds like Puello, Lagares and EY all have a shot to be regulars, but none stand out as guarantees. So they're going to have to bring in 1 or more likely 2 outfielders via trade/FA. Meaning you've got FA, FA, Duda, Puello, Lagares and Young to fill 3 outfield spots.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by YoungStuna View Post
    Since Flores has much better contact skills, but he might hit more homers for that reason alone. He might have more opportunities to tap into his power. But right now, there is no question Puello will hit more homers.
    How is there no question? Flores has a fluid swing he wont strikeout as much as Puello in the majors. Flores HR swing looks exactly like his base hit swing. Once he gets confident at the major league level he will hit them a long way. To say Puello will definitely hit more is foolish just because he is hitting more now

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rique View Post
    How is there no question? Flores has a fluid swing he wont strikeout as much as Puello in the majors. Flores HR swing looks exactly like his base hit swing. Once he gets confident at the major league level he will hit them a long way
    Maybe because Puello always had more raw power and Puello has 15 HRs already. Flores is hitting in a very hitting friendly league. I wouldn't be surprised to see Puello completely destroy the PCL in Vegas.

  15. #15
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    And his basehit swing looks just like base-hit swing? I beg to differ:

    http://www.milb.com/multimedia/vpp.j...nt_id=27374205
    http://www.milb.com/multimedia/vpp.j...76373&sid=t400

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