Last season, the New York Mets promoted twenty-year old prospect Dilson Herrera straight from Double-A to the major leagues. With Daniel Murphy headed to the DL, the Mets had a hole at second base that they needed to fill, but Herrera’s promotion was one of the most unexpected solutions. With Wilmer Flores already in the majors and having the capability to play second base, as well as Matthew Reynolds, a middle infielder succeeding in Triple-A, the reasoning for this move is not found off the cuff.
For a team like the Mets, who are usually very conservative in promoting prospects, the question must also be asked, what is so special about Herrera to justify pulling him out of Double-A and throwing him straight into the fire of the majors as the youngest players in the league?
To find out what all the hype is about, look no further than Herrera’s stats between Single-A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton this season. As one of the youngest players, even in those leagues, Herrera put up monster offensive numbers at a premium position, showcasing speed, power, and an exceptional ability to hit the ball. When he was brought over in the Marlon Byrd, John Buck trade late last season, not much was made over his status as a top prospect. 2014 was essentially Dilson Herrera’s coming out party, and September gave Mets fans the chance to see what he was all about.
To delve into his stats a bit, Herrera did very well during the first half of 2014, hitting .307/.355/.410, warranting a mid-season promotion, along with prospect Brandon Nimmo, to Double-A. That is where he began to tear through minor league pitching. In 61 games, Herrera hit .340/.406/.560 with 10 home runs, 20 other extra base hits, and 9 steals. Basically producing the best stats of any Double-A player, Herrera caught the attention of fans and scouts alike.
There lies the reason for the unexpected promotion. Entering 2014, the Mets viewed Herrera as a very talented prospect, but did not think he would move this quickly through the minors. Therefore, Herrera has not been a member of the 40-man roster this season, despite the fact that he would now likely be drafted in the Rule-5 draft. The way the Rule-5 draft works is that teams can draft players eligible who are not members of other teams’ 40-man rosters, as long the team who drafts these players keep them in the major leagues. With Herrera’s outstanding production in the high minors, other major league teams would have no concessions adding Herrera to their major league rosters in 2015.
Thus, the Mets chose to protect one of their most valuable pieces, and add him to their 40-man roster, as well as bring him up to replace the injured Murphy. In the coming season, all eyes will be on the young stud to see how he fares in AAA and possibly in another stint at the major league level.
If he performs as well as he has in the past, Daniel Murphy will become an expendable piece this off-season, and he will hit free agency as Herrera begins his path to stardom. Although Murphy has become a fan favorite and has turned himself into an all-star caliber second baseman, Herrera is the future at the position. Fans may have to come to terms with a Murphy departure, but if this is the case, we will get to enjoy a 21 year old fan favorite in the making at second, and a possible mid-season trade return for Murphy or a compensatory 2016 draft pick.