Welcome to this week’s edition of Boom or Bust, featuring St. Lucie Mets outfielder, Dustin Lawley. Through 97 games and 375 at-bats with the St. Lucie Mets in High-A, the outfielder is hitting .269/.319/.533, including a .353 average in 35 games since the All-Star break. His 20 home runs and 76 RBIs are both on top of the leader board in the Florida State League. Today, the writers of MMN debate whether or not Lawley will end up a boom, or a bust during his journey through the Mets’ pipeline.
Even though Dustin Lawley is having a fantastic season for St. Lucie, I don’t believe he will develop into a major league starter. At 24 years old, Lawley is relatively old for the FSL. So it’s possible that his numbers this season are the result of him taking advantage of younger and lesser experienced pitchers. Lawley also hasn’t shown the ability to hit for a high average or the ability to get on base at a good rate. His value is mostly dependent on his power, and I’m skeptical of his power numbers this season since he’s old for his level. Verdict: Bust
Although Lawley seems to be having a breakout year, I’m highly skeptical. He has 20 home runs, which is an incredible power spike. However he’s 24 years old and playing in High-A against much younger and less experienced competition. He’s yet to hit .300 in any stop in the minors despite being old for any league he’s been in. I think Lawley can be a fourth outfielder at best, providing some defense, decent speed and gap power off the bench. But if I had to bet, I’d say org player. Verdict: Bust
A promising long ball threat, Dustin Lawley has hit double digit home runs in each of his first three professional seasons. The Port St. Lucie left fielder has been blistering hot since the Florida State All-Star game, a recent FSL Player of the Week and the league leader in home runs and RBIs. Like most young power hitters, Lawley’s batting average is a bit lower than we might like and his strikeout percentage perhaps a bit higher than is customary. Even so, Lawley’s outfield play has been surprisingly good and his power numbers excellent. Verdict: Boom.
The case of Dustin Lawley truly makes me scratch my head. Since entering the organization as a 22-year-old in 2011, he’s shown the ability to hit for a lot of power. Doubles and home runs seem to come naturally to him; he’s tallied double-digit totals in each of his three years of professional ball. However, like what some of the writers have said before and after me, he’s old for the level he’s playing at, and could be capitalizing on less developed pitchers. The big test to find out whether or not he has a future with the Mets will be whenever he gets to Double-A and how he performs. He’ll be 25 next year, so time is of the essence. While I do think he could have some potential, I feel as though he may have more of a future as a fourth outfielder-type that uses his power as a sub late in games. Verdict: Bust.
Here’s a sample of the highest home run totals in a season for some of the current Mets players who came through St. Lucie in the minor-league system: David Wright, 15 in 2003; Daniel Murphy, 11 in 2007; Lucas Duda, 11 in 2008; Ike Davis, seven in 2009 (although he was promoted to Double-A after 59 games). Dustin Lawley, the latest slugger to pass through Tradition Field, has 20 in 96 games this season. The total leads the Florida State League and has resulted in a slugging percentage hovering near .550. This season also comes after his stellar 2012 campaign when he notched 35 doubles and 14 home runs for Low Class-A Savannah, so the power is clearly evident. However, the big question will be can Lawley sustain this production at the next level in Binghamton against tougher pitching. It doesn’t seem far-fetched. He doesn’t whiff at an astounding rate like some sluggers and has just 72 strikeouts this season (as of Saturday), which is still six fewer than the total Daytona’s Javier Baez, considered the No. 11 overall prospect by MLB.com, posted in 76 FSL games before his promotion earlier this month. Lawley is a little old to be regarded as a top prospect — he will be 25 next April — so his 2014 season will be key. He should be up for the challenge. Verdict: Boom.
What do you think about Lawley’s future in baseball? Do you think he’ll end up booming like Bill and John think, or do you agree with Kirk, Vinny, and myself by thinking he’ll end up being a bust?