It was around this time a year ago when the Pirates put in a waiver claim for outfielder Marlon Byrd. Prompted by that interest, general manager Sandy Alderson sent word through the organization, in search of standouts in the Pirates’ system.
The name that quickly landed on the Mets’ radar? Dilson Herrera.
From one scout, Shaun McNamara, came a positive report. From Low-A Savannah manager Luis Rojas came another. In the promising second baseman -- just 19 and playing in Low-A West Virginia -- the Mets saw a good athlete with some pop a quick bat.
A year later, Herrera is about to cap what has been a rapid ascent to the big leagues. He started the season at High-A Port St. Lucie and forced a promotion to Double-A Binghamton. Now, he is about to make his big league debut without a single plate appearance at Triple-A Las Vegas.
Rival scouts are bullish on Herrera, who arrived along with Vic Black in last August’s waiver trade that sent Byrd and catcher John Buck to the Pirates.
Herrera’s offensive skillset is regarded to be ahead of his defensive ability, several rival talent evaluators told Newsday. He was the youngest player in the Eastern League, though in 61 games at Double-A Binghamton, he slashed .340/.406/.560 with 17 doubles, three triples, and 10 home runs.
“He’s going to be a nice everyday player,” one scout said. “He does it on both sides of the ball, with above average power for a second baseman.”
Herrera’s bat is what has evaluators most encouraged.
“He has enough pop and flexibility to he a two-hole guy,” one scout said.
Said another evaluator: “Impressive looking hitter. Plays the game with fearless energy. Needs to dial back his aggression before he’s read to be a top of the order type but his bat speed is impressive. He has plenty of power left to come.”
Defensively, scouts paint a picture of a player with the tools to succeed once he acquires some experience.
“Very athletic, quick feet,” said one of the talent evaluators. “Needs more consistent rhythm in the field and he’ll adjust.”
Another said to “expect a lot of growing pains defensively at second base.”
Still, the scout said Herrera benefit from getting his feet wet as a September call-up, even though it would likely be another year until the prospect could stand up to “everyday Major League exposure.”
Of course, if Herrera delivers a spectacular September, it would create some options for the Mets when it comes to Daniel Murphy.
Coming off his first all-star season, Murphy is due a raise via arbitration. The Mets were open to trading Murphy, both last winter and once more at the non-waiver trading deadline this summer, and they’ll almost certainly listen to offers in the winter.
So far, the Mets have shown no indication of signing Murphy to a contract extension. An emergence by Herrera would make it easier for the Mets to make up for Murphy’s production at second base if he is indeed traded away.