Mets Believe Tovar Can Handle Shortstop In Bigs Now





NEW YORK—The Mets dipped so far into their organizational depth at shortstop that, following an injury to fourth-stringer Omar Quintanilla in early June, they toyed with the idea of calling up Wilfredo Tovar from high Class A St. Lucie.

Mets manager Terry Collins cracked a wry grin when he mentioned Tovar's name that day at Nationals Park, but he reasoned that the 20-year-old Venezuelan could at least handle the position defensively.

In the end, Quinta-nilla played through the pain, and regular shortstop Ruben Tejada returned from his leg injury, so no emergency plan was needed.

But the mention of Tovar's name wasn't just about desperation, but also their appreciation of the shortstop's progress, and they promoted him to Double-A Binghamton in late June.

"He's a very good shortstop (with) great hands," minor league field coordinator Dick Scott said. "He not only makes the routine plays—he makes spectacular plays. He's got great body control and those natural middle-infielder instincts."

Vice president of scouting and player development Paul DePodesta credits Tovar with taking a dramatic step forward in his offensive development. A prototypical hacker through his first five seasons, Tovar entered 2012 with a career .307 on-base percentage. Still, the Mets believed in his potential.

Signed out of Venezuela in October 2007, Tovar adopted the club's emphasis on seeing more pitches per at-bat, and the Mets sent him to the Arizona Fall League following the 2011 season. "He actually did really well," Scott said. "I think that really built his confidence up."

The altered approach stayed with him this season, where in 65 games with St. Lucie, Tovar batted .284/.377/.385. He got off to a 17-for-67 (.254) start in Double-A.

If he can marry that production with his typical strong defensive play, then by this time next year the Mets might actually turn to Tovar.

"Everybody likes him," Scott said.

METAMORPHOSES

• The Mets called up Triple-A Buffalo reliever Josh Edgin following the all-star break to serve as the second lefty behind Tim Byrdak in the bullpen. Lefties hit just .220 (13-for-59) with three doubles against him in Triple-A.

• New York promoted righthander Collin McHugh to Buffalo in the middle of June after he went 5-5, 2.41 in 12 starts for Binghamton.