The trade that keeps giving: outfield prospect Wuilmer Becerra
On December 17, 2012, Sandy Alderson negotiated his largest and potentially best trade to date as general manager of the New York Mets.
In exchange for Josh Thole, Mike Nickeas, and the reigning 2012 N.L. Cy Young award winner R.A. Dickey, the Mets received from the Toronto Blue Jays veteran catcher John Buck, the main hook of the trade – catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud, highly touted pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard, and a little known 18-year old right fielder named Wuilmer Becerra.
Feb 28, 2014; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets equipment is shown in the dugout before the spring training game against the Washington Nationals at Tradition Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports
In 2012, Wuilmer signed as a 17-year old international free agent out of Venezuela. At the time of the trade, he was the 25th ranked prospect in Toronto’s organization after playing just 11 games in the (R)-Gulf Coast League.
In 2013, Becerra registered a modest performance in his first full season as a pro with the (R)-Gulf Coast Mets. In 52 games and 206 plate appearances, he slashed .243/.351/.295, with 42 hits, 6 doubles, one home run, and 25 RBI.
He was then promoted in 2014 to the Kingport Mets of the (R)-Appalachian League as a 19-year old, where his offensive abilities achieved considerable improvement.
In 58 games played and 228 plate appearances, he improved to .300/.351/.469, with 62 hits, 10 doubles, 7 home runs, 29 RBI, and 7 stolen bases. From his first season to the next, he converted 22 more plate appearances into 20 more base hits, which made him 1 of only 6 Appalachian players with 200+ at-bats to hit .300 or better. He also tied for 2nd in home runs, 6th in runs scored, and was 8th in total bases.
Primarily a right fielder, he has thus far played well and demonstrated a solid arm. In 2013, he handled 101 chances, committed a lone error, and made 8 outfield assists. Last year with Kingsport, he handled 104 chances, committed a pair of errors, and made 7 outfield assists.
Listed at 6’4″, 190 lbs., Wuilmer is still generally off the radar. He does not appear on any of the annual top prospects lists, and has yet to even break the Mets top-20 Prospects Watch.
In 2015, that could all change.
Now 20-years old, and having established a standard for himself, perhaps a season in Brooklyn is next. The New York-Penn League (short season-A) is historically known as a pitcher’s league, which will test Becerra’s abilities at the plate.
Not only will another uptick in performance earn Wuilmer Becerra far more attention, but will also continue furthering the notion of what a coup trading R.A. Dickey was for the Mets – especially considering how John Buck was then parlayed (along with Marlon Byrd) for Dilson Herrera.
Although much about the trade remains to be proven at the major league level, the quantity of quality of the Mets return is still appreciating in value.