Dilson Herrera was Marlon Byrd’s parting gift to the Mets. Now, the package is about to be delivered.
Following a 3-for-4 performance with a home run at Double-A Binghamton on Thursday night, Herrera was called up to the majors to replace the injured Daniel Murphy, sidelined with a right calf issue.
Herrera arrived in the Mets organization, along with Vic Black, as the return in the deal that sent Byrd and John Buck to the Pirates on Aug. 27, 2013. An athletic hitting machine, the word used most to describe Herrera was "raw." In prospect terms, being "raw" generally means a player has talent, but hasn’t turned that promise into production. Herrera seemed like an interesting piece, but was ultimately a lottery ticket that could have gone either way.
In 2014, the Mets hit the jackpot with Herrera.
After posting a .765 on-base plus slugging percentage in 67 games at Single-A advanced St. Lucie to start the 2014 season, Herrera was promoted to Binghamton and set the league on fire. The 20-year-old was the youngest player in the Eastern League, yet he was at or near the top of multiple offensive categories. In 61 games he batted .340 with a .406 on-base percentage and a .560 slugging percentage. He hit 17 doubles, three triples and 10 home runs.
Now, Herrera will try to make the big jump to the majors without ever having spent a day at Triple-A.
Herrera was ranked as the Mets' No. 13 prospect by Baseball America in their 2014 preseason Prospect Handbook. The Minor League Baseball Analyst ranked him 10th among Mets farmhands, and Newsday ranked him No. 2.
Herrera's defense has not been his best attribute, however, he's shown improvement with his fielding since becoming a Met and possesses the tools and smarts to become a better than adequate defender with experience.
But the reason Herrera is now headed for Flushing is his bat. He's able to use the entire field and hits the ball with authority. He's projected to hit for a good average in the majors, and an excellent eye at the plate should keep his plate appearances productive even as he attempts to adjust to major-league pitching. He has some power, but it's displayed more as line drives and doubles. He'll hit a home run every so often, but he's not swinging for the fences when he steps into the box.
Herrera was born in Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia on March 3, 1994, and made his debut as a Pirates prospect in 2011 when he was only 17. In four minor-league seasons (368 games), Herrera has a .296 average, .364 OBP and .457 slugging percentage.
Herrera's stellar performance in the Mets' system had already led to speculation about Murphy's ultimate fate with the Mets long before Herrera was called to replace him in the lineup. It's been widely assumed that the Mets would trade the incumbent Murphy or let him walk when he's eligible for free agency following the 2015 season, content to turn the keystone over to Herrera.
That transition from Murphy to Herrera, however, will now begin in earnest a lot sooner than expected.