Mets vs. Braves: Second Base Prospects

Reese Havens has some real power at second

Continuing our comparisons between the Mets and Braves farm systems, we take a look at the crop of second base prospects in each system. Which system is deeper? Which prospects have the most power? The highest ceilings? Take a look at this comparison between the two rival NL East farm systems.

The Two Farm Systems: Neither organization is deep with quality long-term second base prospects but that is more so the case with the Atlanta Braves. The Mets at least have some former shortstop types who bring enough athleticism and batting to bring some intrigue to the position.

Now if New York's Wilmer Flores [who we're going to leave out of the comparison below for now] could ever make a full defensive transition to second base from third base then he immediately would become the top second base prospect in either organization, especially after hitting a combined .300 with 50 extra-base hits between high-A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton last year.

He played 27 games at second base last year and caught everything near him but not only is his range very limited, he still has a lot to learn about the nuances of the double-play pivot. It's not often that somebody gets moved to a middle infield position from a corner position at the highest minor league levels so there is still a lot to play out here before he's thrust into serious prospect discussions at the position.

It's too bad too because outside of Flores there's a significant offensive dropp-off. Atlanta's Tommy La Stella is easily their best second base prospect. The left-handed batter has one of the sweetest swings and he can flat-out hit. Forget the fact that the New Jersey native it hitting well over .300 in his short career thus far, two seasons into it and he has still walked more than he has struck out. In fact he has struck out just 53 times in 543 at-bats so far. He is more of a doubles hitter than a home run guy though and his speed is average at best, but he will certainly put the ball in play.

Like La Stella, New York's Daniel Muno is an eighth round pick from the 2011 draft and while he isn't quite as adept at putting the ball in play, the right-handed batter can draw walks at a prolific rate, hit for average, and has better long-term power. The former shortstop even plays an above average defensive second base. However, he did spend the first part of his 2012 season serving a PED suspension and the Mets are looking at him in more of a utility role. He has great makeup though so don't count him out as being a viable second base option.

New York has been waiting for Reese Havens to take the reins at second base for some time now but the former 2008 first round pick simply can't stay healthy. He has now played four years in the long-season leagues and he has yet to play in 100 games in any of those years. A back injury and a left oblique strain were just the two most recent injuries. When he's healthy he shows good hitting, an ability to draw walks, and he plays a solid defensive second base, but his injuries are getting to the point where he might not be counted on to fill a need in-house.

After La Stella, Muno, and Havens, should Flores not make the full transition to second base, there are major question marks at the second base position and most of them project better as potential utility players or even organizational types. Atlanta, for example, has the likes of Matt Weaver, Ross Heffley, and Levi Hyams, and Weaver has the best shot of that trio because of his defensive versatility, but the 23-year old's plate discipline needs a lot of work even if he has the requisite power to potentially reach the big leagues.

The Mets have their fair share of utility types or organizational players too, highlighted by T.J. Rivera. A shortstop by trade, he is better served defensively at second base and he shows at least an average combination of power and speed, and he can handle the bat too. However, the Bronx native is already 24 years old and he has yet to reach Double-A. He is a little bit of a 'sleeper' though if he can match his production at the higher levels.

Behind Rivera the Mets have a trio of potential second baseman in Robbie Shields, Brandon Brown, and Branden Kaupe. Shields and Brown are a pair of 25-year olds that have the look of being more of organizational type players. Kaupe on the other hand, last year's fourth round pick out of high school in Hawaii, has the look of a short-term project who could pay long-term dividends. At 5-foot-7, he's a diminutive speedster who has a very raw swing but plus plate discipline. It takes young switch-hitters like him a good bit of time to find that consistent swing path from both sides of the plate and he won't be much of a power guy, but he could be one to watch out for in a couple of years.

How Do They Compare In...

Power: Should Wilmer Flores ever make a full-time transition to second base this would be a no contest situation. However, until that time, here is where Atlanta can actually hold their own somewhat. Heffley and Weaver can hit some bombs, but it's not enough to offset the average power potential of Muno and Havens, and that's not including Rivera. Advantage: Mets

Hitting For Average: Tommy La Stella is really the only Braves' second base prospect who projects to hit for average and the Mets can roll out Havens and Muno, and Rivera is also a .300 hitter in his career. Advantage: Mets

Defense: Here is where the Braves get hammered. La Stella is more solid than anything defensively and both Havens and Muno are above average defensive second basemen, and Kaupe has the chance to be because of his great range. Advantage: Mets

Overall Potential: Even with Havens and his supremely checkered injury history, the Mets have a bit too much depth of potential impact second basemen here. Muno is a real big-time 'sleeper', Rivera should not be discounted either as a viable option, and Kaupe has some real upside. Advantage: Mets

Highest Ceilings: Reese Havens (Mets), Daniel Muno (Muno), Tommy La Stella (Braves), Branden Kaupe (Mets), T.J. Rivera (Mets)

Best Power: Reese Havens (Mets), Daniel Muno (Mets), T.J. Rivera (Mets), Tommy La Stella (Braves), Matt Weaver (Braves)

Best Average: Tommy La Stella (Braves), Daniel Muno (Mets), Reese Havens (Mets), T.J. Rivera (Mets), Robbie Shields (Mets)

Best Defense: Daniel Muno (Mets), Reese Havens (Mets), Branden Kaupe (Mets), Tommy La Stella (Braves), T.J. Rivera (Mets)

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