Will someone please answer this question for me: who the heck is Jason Pridie? He is a left-handed outfielder who has spent the better part of the last nine years in the minor leagues, accumulating only six major league plate appearances in eleven games prior to 2011 (no hits, three runs scored, one walk, one strikeout), and now is getting the majority of the starts in center field while Angel Pagan continues to rehab. The career minor leaguer has already had a few big swings with the Mets.
Pridie has racked up some frequent flier miles during his career. Originally drafted by Tampa Bay in 2002, the Twins selected him in the Rule 5 draft in ’05. He was then returned to the then Devil Rays before the season began, but then traded back to Minnesota in ’07 in the deal that brought Matt Garza to Tampa. He finally wound up in New York in 2010 when the Mets claimed him on waivers.
As for why he’s just getting his first real shot to be part of a major league roster, it isn’t that Pridie hasn’t hit in the minors; he’s just been pretty average. Over the course of 4,075 minor league plate appearances, Pridie has hit .275/.319/.422, with 82 home runs. He actually did very well as an eighteen-year old way back in 2002, when be batted .366/.409/.546 with eight homers between rookie and low-A ball. In ’04, he smacked 17 long balls in the South Atlantic League. But his numbers never escalated to the point where he just had to be called up the majors before his 2008 September call-up. Last year he was plagued by hamstring issues and played in only 44 minor games for the Mets. This season, an injury, albeit to another player, has given him the opening he’s needed to prove his worth.
He’s only had 49 plate appearances, but Pridie has made the most of them. He’s collected 12 hits with three home runs and stolen one base, although he’s also fanned 12 times. What’s also been impressive is how he’s performed in high leverage situations. On the season, the Average Leverage Index (or aLI) when Pridie has come to the plate is 1.19, where anything above 1.0 is high pressure. In the past seven games, the aLI when Pridie has hit has been 1.60, and during that time, Pridie is six for twenty with three walks and a game-changing three run-homer against the Dodgers.
Pridie has also contributed defensively and thus far has shown he can handle spacious Citi Field. The Phoenix native has always put up good defensive stats. For example, while playing center field for triple A Rochester in 2008, Pridie had 20 total zone fielding runs above average. Thus far, he’s looked smooth in the outfield and has accumulated two defensive runs saved.
The sample size is very limited, but Pridie looks to be a better fit in center than either of his alternatives, Willie Harris and Scott Hairston (although Hairston will probably get the starts against lefties). In fact, it is very plausible that Pridie will stay with the team when Pagan returns, and Harris will get the boot. Pridie doesn’t project as more than a bench player in the long run, but every team needs bench players, and Pridie gives the Mets some depth, at least for now, and has some pop in his bat. If he continues to hit, there will be at least one feel-good story for the Amazins this season.
Tags: Angel Pagan Angel Pagan Disabled List Career Minor Leaguer Disabled List Game Changing Homer Hamstring Issues Jason Pridie Jason Pridie Beard Jason Pridie Called Up To Mets Jason Pridie Claimed Off Wavers Jason Pridie Mets Jason Pridie New York Mets Los Angeles Dodgers Matt Garza Matt Kaufman Mets Minnesota Twins Minor Leagues New York Mets Pride Of The Yankees Pridie Homerun RisingApple Rule 5 Draft Scott Hairston Tampa Bay Devil Rays Tampa Bay Rays Waivers Willie Harris