Mets' Lagares Finds Stroke As He Climbs To Double-A





NEW YORK—Jose Reyes admires the skills of 22-year-old corner outfielder Juan Lagares.

And why not? A sixth-year pro who entered the season as a career .254 hitter, Lagares found his stroke with high Class A St. Lucie, batting .338/.380/.494 with seven homers in 82 games. He led the Florida State League in hitting at the time of his July 21 promotion to Double-A Binghamton, where kept up the pace by batting .386/.408/.529 in 140 at-bats.

But it's not hitting skill that first drew Reyes to Lagares.

"I've known Lagares for a couple of years," Reyes said after returning from a rehabilitation assignment with Binghamton. "We're always together in spring training. He's a good friend of mine. He's the guy who used to cook in my apartment."

Reyes always has been a draw for young Latin players in spring training. They gather for long sessions of teaching and talk—baseball and otherwise—hosted by Reyes. The perk for him is the cooking.

"He's a good cook," Reyes said. "Rice, chicken, some plantain."

Lagares, who signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2006, converted from shortstop to the outfield in '09, though the Mets have been impressed with his skill set.

"He's got a good approach at home plate," Reyes said. "He hits the ball all over the place. He's got very good speed. He hits the ball to the opposite field like a veteran guy. That impresses me a lot.

"(Binghamton manager Wally Backman) told me, 'This guy can help your club in the big leagues.' (Lagares) plays very good defense, has a good arm and good speed. He's a very good looking young player."

A Mets official said the organization still is waiting for consistency to take hold.

Lagares is ticketed for return to Double-A in 2012, but he'll be back in spring camp, ready to cook for Reyes if the pending free agent shortstop re-signs with the club.

METAMORPHOSES

• The Mets promoted Josh Satin, who plays every infield post but shortstop, as a September callup, rewarding the 26-year-old for batting .323/.411/.495 with 12 homers and 43 doubles at Double-A and Triple-A.

• New York also called up 23-year-old righthander Josh Stinson, who notched eight saves and a 30-to-14 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 36 innings after shifting to the Binghamton bullpen in late June.