Prospect Profile: OF Ricardo Cespedes

Did you all know there was another Cespedes on the Mets? No, they’re not related…this one is from the Dominican Republic, and trained under the same trainer as top prospect Amed Rosario: trainer Jhon Carmona. In 2013, Cespedes led the pack for Mets international signings, and was one of the youngest of the signing period.

OF Ricardo Cespedes

L/L, 6’1″, 200 LBS, 8/24/1997 (19), Signed out of the Dominican Republic for 725K on 8/24/13

2014 16 -2.3 2 Teams FRk 53 235 29 58 9 3 0 17 7 5 14 36 .266 .311 .335 .646
2014 16 -2.3 Mets 1 FRk 45 199 21 42 6 2 0 10 4 4 11 34 .227 .271 .281 .552
2014 16 -2.3 Mets 2 FRk 8 36 8 16 3 1 0 7 3 1 3 2 .485 .528 .636 1.164
2015 17 -2.5 Mets Rk 44 185 16 37 3 2 0 15 7 3 13 29 .224 .282 .267 .548
2016 18 -2.5 Kingsport Rk 56 241 30 73 4 3 1 16 7 7 9 36 .322 .356 .379 .735

Signed out of the Dominican Republic on his birthday in 2013, Cespedes is a young player who is oozing with some nice potential. Ricardo had a nice season with Rookie-League Kingsport after having two lackluster years in complex-level Rookie League. He was the highest paid Mets signee in 2013, edging out fellow prospect, Catcher Ali Sanchez by $35,000.

Cespedes joined the Dominican Summer league the next year at 16 years old, likely the youngest in the DSL and struggled in his first 30 games (.202/.266/.254) with the DSL Mets1 before moving to the DSL Mets2 (.485/.528/.636) and dominating for 8 games, and then going back to the DSL Mets1 and hitting considerably better for his last 15 games (.269/.271/.328). His tough performance didn’t hold him back from being pushed the next year to complex league Gulf Coast as a 17 year old.

He continued to have it tough, hitting .224/.282/.267 with five extra base hits in 44 games as a 17 year old in the Gulf Coast, adding to his tough luck early performance.

However this past season with Kingsport, Cespedes had a semi-breakout year, with a .322/.356/.379 in 56 games with 8 extra base hits including his first career home run on the day after his 19th birthday. Cespedes got progressively better as the season went on, with August being his best month with an .865 OPS and 6 of his 8 extra base hits.

Cespedes is an interesting guy who is definitely full of tools. While he doesn’t have the prodigious power of the other Cespedes that currently resides in left field in the Major Leagues, he does have his own play style that could possibly bode well for the Mets in the future.

The ceiling on his bat is yet to be determined. Armed with above-average bat speed from the left side, Cespedes has a nice little swing, but doesn’t have much strength behind it so far, and has trouble with recognizing spin as many young hitters do. Like many kids who have left Caribbean islands, he has issues with plate discipline and doesn’t walk much, but doesn’t strike out much either. With the Mets, that may change, since they stress plate discipline and getting on base.

Power currently is a question-mark. The issue with signing a kid at 16 is that there’s projection on what he will develop. The recurring factor of many young hitting prospects often is that power is a delayed manifestation. For Ricardo, that seems to be the case, as his career Isolated Slugging Percentage to this point is. .057, which is a pretty low split. However, as players grow physically and work out their swing and find strength and leverage, the power grows. One of the best indicators of future power is players hitting doubles, which he hasn’t done yet, but it’s something to watch out for as he plays. While his power isn’t anywhere near developed so far, he has a ceiling of average power (14-18 homers), maybe a little bit more with some unexpected development.

His speed is above-average right now, but he may slow down as he gains some bulk. Currently, he plays center and he’s a great defensive centerfielder with great routes and an above-average arm. Unfortunately, if he does slow down, he may have to revert to a corner.

If the power doesn’t develop and Cespedes has to play in a corner, he may be in trouble going forward in terms of actual ceiling, as he doesn’t run fast enough to justify a starting position. However, his youth is afforded a few years to give excuse to develop the necessary tools to move forward. After his performance in Kingsport, I expect Cespedes to play in Brooklyn and share center field duties with top outfield prospect Desmond Lindsay, without a platoon and possibly Lindsay playing the DH to save his hamstrings. I’m really interested in seeing what Ricardo turns into, and we’ll continue to see his progress.

To see more Project Columbia Player Profiles, go to Prospect Profiles —> Columbia Fireflies.

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  1. taskmaster4450

    There is a wonderful crop of players way down in the minors. Always hard to project kids signed via the IFA market since they are so young when signed but it is nice to see some progressing through the system. So far, it seems with Urena stalled, Rosario is the only one to advance.

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