The 2008 draft saw the Mets with two first round picks. Omar Minaya went after seasoned college bats who could make an impact in the immediate future. He took a first baseman with doubles power in Ike Davis. The Mets believed those doubles would soon develop into home runs. They also took a gritty shortstop with a left-handed stroke that made him a target for Theo Epstein in Boston. Reese Havens was drafted and, upon his move to second, it was said he would become the top second baseman in the system.
The 2011 Mets field a team that is set at every position with only one exception: second base. The farm system does not have a second baseman ready to seize the position. Ruben Tejada can field the position but his bat needs tuning at Triple-A. Daniel Murphy has been experimenting for a second time at second base. Murphy has proven he can handle big league pitching, but his fielding leaves much to be desired. Up the middle defense is crucial to a baseball team and especially a sinker baller like Mike Pelfrey. Eventually, Murphy’s experience at different positions could make him a nice utility player but as a regular he would be exposed. The Mets also have Justin Turner who came to the team last year but didn’t set himself apart.
The one player who has found himself out of the conversation is Reese Havens. Injuries have forced him to lose valuable game experience and have slowed his progress. Nevertheless, the key difference between Havens and the slew of other options is pure talent. Havens is far and away the most talented second base option in the system. When healthy Havens can thump. His offensive potential is exciting. In his time at double A last season Reese handled the pitching. He gave scouts and the Mets front office a brief glimpse of what could be.
2011 will be a pivotal year for Reese. If Havens, similar to Fernando Martinez, can keep himself on the field he will rise to the top of the second base options. The hole at second base gives him a window which Martinez would not have should he be ready. Pure ability gives him an edge over the less complete Murphy and hitting troubled Tejada. Luis Castillo’s big contract has given him a gimpy leg up in getting the job in years past. This year, Castillo could and should find himself out of the lineup or better yet out of Queens.
Cream rises to the top and Havens is the premiere second baseman talent in the farm. The window is open for a prospect to claim the position. Health has limited Havens but a good showing in 2011 could get him to Flushing by mid-year. His most important number this upcoming year will not be home runs or batting average. It will be his games played.