Since the Mets chose not to bring back Jose Reyes, the Mets (as well as most fans) have annointed Ruben Tejada as the starting shortstop for the next ten years. Outside of the obvious reasons that he will never be as good as Reyes, I feel Tejada has gotten a bit of a free ride. At the time Reyes left to sign with the Marlins, Tejada was no doubt the best SS they had on their team. It would have sent a great message had he shown up to spring training early in 2012, but he did not. I also never hear many talk about how hard of a worker he is. And there is no denying the fact that he has been bad defensively in 2013, including the throwing error that cost the Mets a game in Colorado. Yes, he made a great play against the Dodgers the other day, but 6 errors in 18 games for a guy known for his glove is unexceptable.
Though I have never been a Tejada supporter, I agree he is the man for the forseeable future. While I would like to say the heir apparent is only a year or two away, that is no guarantee. Havens quickly made the move to 2B, Flores made the transition to 3B and 2B last season and even Shields will never play SS again. When offensive players move off the position, it is usually to open the position for a player more defensive capable. And it usually results in a player who may never give the Mets what Tejada is giving them right now. So, here are the Mets four best SS prospects, with the top three all having a legitimate shot of surplanting Tejada in Queens. Unfortunately, none should be expected to be with the big club until next year or later.
Wilfredo Tovar, 21, Binghamton- ranked #16 among Mets top prospect: I have seen Tovar play since he was in A Savannah. He is a very good defensive SS, in fact his defense is probably MLB calibur. His issues remain at the plate as he will probably never be more than a Rafael Belliard type of hitter. I like Tovar and the fact that he is young, but it is hard to see him being an everyday SS. He is a great defender, but not Ozzie Smith.
Phillip Evans, 20: Savannah- ranked #19 among Mets top prospects: Evans has raw tools that could make him a decent hitter. However, he is not a standout defensive SS though he is improving. I am curious to see how he develops this season, both as a hitter and a fielder. I feel in another year or two he can become a MLB type SS. Just more of a contact hitter with a little more offensive upside than Tejada. However, he may become a candidate to change positions if a better option happens to be on his same minor league team.
Gavin Cecchini, 19, Brooklyn- ranked #6 among Mets top prospects: The Cyclones have not started their season and Cecchini got a little taste at the end of last year. The Mets number one draft pick has the tools to be a very good hitter as he posesses the ability to drive the ball to all fields. He is a grinder and if he has success moving up the chain, fans will quickly notice the Lenny Dykstra-Pete Rose like attitude. As far as pure upside, he probably has the most among shortstops in the organization. He just needs some time to play and develop his all around game. He has the range and arm to play shortstop, and in my opinion, there is no doubt he will continue to play SS.
Matt Reynolds, 22, St Lucie- ranked #18 among Mets top prospects: Reynolds got a little chance to play in the back end of some spring training games and got a couple hits. He is a natural 3B, but has handled the transition very well. He has good hands and decent range, but will never be considered a great glove. But, he has the chance to be above average. Reynolds has some sneaky power which can become more natural as he gets stronger.
In conclusion, I'd like to see Cecchini up here when he is ready. Most likely, he will need another two full seasons after 2013 before he will be considered for a big league spot. I think Reynolds has the ability to move up faster, though Cecchini is the better all around athlete and player. Tovar, like I said, could reach the major this season but will not be more than a defensive replacement. Evans is a wild card since he can grow into a player that can draw some attention down the line. All said, it is good to know the future of starting shortstop for the New York Mets will not just be Ruben Tejada through default. I'm glad to see him have to earn it.