Fresh Apples: Reese Havens

In order to build a champion, a team needs to develop talent from within.  Over the past few years, many have lamented the Mets farm system, and there has been a noticeable lack of talent coming through the system as of late.  However, the farm system has improved and there are talented players working their way to Flushing.  In this ongoing series, Fresh Kauffy will look at some of the Mets minor league talent.  This particular Fresh Apples will look at second baseman, Reese Havens.

It’s hard to find good help at second base these days, especially if you’re the New York Mets.  Think about some of the players who have played the position since 2002, the last year Edgardo Alfonzo was the team’s everyday second baseman: Roberto Alomar (a big name, but who was well past his prime), Kaz Matsui, Luis Castillo, Miguel Cairo, Daniel Garcia, Brad Emaus and Anderson Hernandez, among others.  Yes, Jose Valentin worked out for one season, and Daniel Murphy would be an offensive boost compared to just about everyone else, but somehow that doesn’t measure up when you’re constantly seeing the likes of Chase Utley and Dan Uggla in the division and Robinson Cano across town.  The Mets though may soon have their own high quality second baseman in Reese Havens.

I might be setting the bar a little high, but the University of South Carolina product has potential.  Havens was selected by the Mets with the 22nd overall pick in 2008 (the same year as Ike Davis) and since then has done two things: shown offensive ability and spent time on the shelf.  While it is difficult to fully evaluate Havens due to his lack of playing time (922 plate appearances over parts of four minor league seasons), there is enough evidence to suggest he can be at least an above average Major League second baseman.

After playing with the Brooklyn Cyclones in 2008, Havens spent all of 2009 at high-A St. Lucie, accumulating 430 PA while batting .247/.361/.422 with 14 homers.  While the batting average is nothing to write home about, Havens demonstrated his keen eye, turning in a 12.8% walk rate.  The following season Havens split between St. Lucie and Binghamton and got off to a hot start.  Over a combined 140 PA, Havens hit .312/.386/.592 with nine homers and a 10.0% walk rate.  Then Havens encountered what he thought was oblique trouble.  As it turned out, one of Havens’ rib was pressing against the other, and he underwent a procedure to remove an inch from one of his ribs.

The surgery delayed the start of Havens’ season, but once recovered, he returned to hitting.  Outside of three games at St. Lucie, Havens spent most of the season at Binghamton.  Between the two clubs, he hit .288/.373/.455 with six homers and an 11.4% walk rate in 255 PA.  Across his minor league career, Havens owns a .269/.366/.463 batting line with an 11.8% walk rate and averaging a homer every 28.8 plate appearances.  His 21.3% strikeout rate is a little high, but that is somewhat acceptable if he can draw walks and hit homers, like this one.

Defensively, Toby Hyde describes Havens as ” Not flashy but solid.  Will make the routine plays…Strong throwing arm; good footwork around the bag on the pivot.”  Having a solid defensive second baseman would be great and Havens would likely be an upgrade over Murphy seeing as Havens is a middle infielder by trade (he’s actually played more games at shortstop in the minors than at second).  Like his offensive numbers, it is hard to judge Havens’ defense given his lack of playing time, but the overall scouting report seems positive.

It’s clear though that Havens’ value will be his bat.  With his ability to draw walks and hit for power, Havens should be a valuable commodity for the Amazins, assuming he can stay on the field.  Now aged 25, he will likely begin the year at Binghamton and hopefully move up to Buffalo before too long-it’s even possible for him to make his debut as a September call-up.  Hopefully Havens’ injury problems are behind him and he can become a long term part of the Mets future.

Tags: Amazins Dan Murphy Daniel Murphy Fresh Apples Fresh Apples Reese Havens Havens Ike Davis Justin Turner Matt Kaufman Mets Mets Minor Leagues Mets Reese Havens New York New York Mets Reese Havens Reese Havens Binghamton Reese Havens Injury Rising Apple Rising Apple Fresh Apples Second Base Second Baseman St. Lucie

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