Natural Strength Hints At More Power For Mets' Puello





NEW YORK—The numbers may not lie, but they do belie the opinions of scouts.

Of all of the skills that right fielder Cesar Puello possesses—and most tab him as a five-tool player—the one that is easy to see is power. After all, the 19-year-old carries a 6-foot-2 frame packed with more than 200 pounds and looks more like a linebacker than a baseball player.

But the numbers show that Puello has hit only one home run this season in 404 at-bats for low Class A Savannah, so what is the truth? Give him time, they say. It will come.

"He is physically one of the stronger guys in the organization," farm director Adam Wogan said. "At times, whether it's in batting practice of in the game, you'll see the power on display. He's a solid hitter and the approach is a great thing for us to see. He drives the ball in the gaps."

So the home runs have not come yet, but just about everything else seems to be coming together. Puello started the season struggling at the plate but hit .303 in June, .356 in July and was hitting .347 in August before a back strain sidelined him midway through the month.

The Mets are hoping that he will be able to return for the playoffs and complete his season but are confident in his future either way. Signed out of the Dominican in 2007, Puello batted .292/.375/.359 with 22 doubles and 45 stolen bases in 55 attempts this season.

"It is unusual to see the growth we've seen so fast," Wogan said. "To see the tools translate to performance, for him to be able to make adjustments in a league where he is one of the younger players, to be able to adapt, make adjustments mechanically—it's impressive."

Wogan notes that Puello has always possessed natural strength. "But it's not just that," he said. "His first year in instructional league, at 17 years old, he saw he had to learn English, and he learned it at a quicker rate than anybody. He's an intelligent guy."

So that's just another tool for Puello.

METAMORPHOSES

• Righthander Jenrry Mejia earned a September callup after making five strong starts for Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Buffalo. He went 2-0, 1.11 with 30 strikeouts, 11 walks and a 3-to-1 his ground-to-fly out ratio in 32 innings.

• Short-season Brooklyn outfielder Cory Vaughn, who was batting .304/.394/.543 in 247 at-bats, tied the franchise record with 13 home runs, tying Frank Corr in 2001, and set a new Cyclones standard with 46 RBIs.