Last year, the Mets were aggressive and sent not one but two 17-year-old prospects to make their pro debuts at low Class A Hagerstown. Outfielder Fernando Martinez and righthander Deolis Guerra didn’t just survive–they thrived.
Now the Mets may send two more youngsters to the South Atlantic League in 2007, this time to their new Savannah affiliate.
Like Martinez and Guerra, catcher Francisco Pena was a big-ticket signing, receiving $750,000 to turn pro last summer. The son of former all-star Tony Pena and the brother of Braves farmhand Tony Pena Jr., Francisco has grown up around baseball and is more advanced than most 17-year-old Dominican players. His defense is ahead of his offense at this point, but the Mets think he’ll be able to hold his own with the bat.
The Mets also may send Dominican shortstop Juan Lagares to Savannah. One talent evaluator says he has a ceiling similar to that of Jose Reyes. Lagares, who turned 18 on St. Patrick’s Day, signed for $60,000 last summer. He made his pro debut in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League, batting .255/.339/.412 with 18 extra-base hits (including eight triples) and 12 steals in 57 games.