Juan Lagares, who excelled this winter while playing for Aguilas in the Dominican Winter League, has been named the top Dominican rookie by a panel of sports writers from his native Dominican Republic.
Sep 28, 2013; New York, NY, USA; New York Mets center fielder Juan Lagares (12) throws out Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy (not pictured) at home plate during the sixth inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit- Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Lagares, 24, had a .342 average with a .379 OBP in 114 at bats spanning 28 games for Aguilas. He hit 1 homer, 5 doubles, drove in 16 runs, and swiped 5 bases.
He also continued to shine in center field, amassing 15 outfield assists (a franchise-rookie record for Aguilas).
Winter league stats always need to be taken with a grain of salt, but that doesn’t mean Lagares’ production for Aguilas should be discounted.
He struggled offensively last year in his debut season with the Mets, but it’s clear that he has room to grow as an offensive player.
It’s likely that Lagares’ value will come from his glove and arm. However, if he can become even an adequate offensive player in the major leagues, his overall value could be astronomical.
Nothing against Eric Young, Jr., but the starting job in center field should belong to Lagares. He’s miles better than Young (and pretty much every other major league outfielder) defensively, and still has room to grow as far as his offense is concerned.