Welcome to the return of an MMN original feature, Boom or Bust! This is a feature where our writers contribute their two cents about whether or not a particular prospect will…you guessed it: boom in the big leagues, or be a bust. This week’s topic is Triple-A outfielder, Matt den Dekker.
I think the question of boom or bust really depends on what your expectations are for den Dekker. If you’re looking for an everyday center fielder who can provide value on both the offensive and defensive side you’re bound to be disappointed. There’s too much swing and miss in his bat– especially for a player whose power appears to be maxed out. If you can’t make consistent contact at the minor league level, that’s not likely to improve at the major league level. What I think he can be is a fourth outfielder-type who can provide a defensive boost, a little pop, and solid speed. That’s a valuable player to have on your roster, but not necessarily a “boom”. Verdict: Baby Boom.
Evaluating Matt den Dekker is tricky. He has great speed, good pop on the bat and incredible outfield instincts. The big question remains whether den Dekker hit for contact well enough to stick in the majors. My vote is “Yes.” den Dekker has been a slow starter at each rung of the minor league ladder, but each time he has figured it out and become a solid offensive contributor. My bet is he does it again, this time in the major leagues. Verdict: Boom.
I have never been as high on Den Dekker as others have. I think we as Mets fans tend to fall in love with every prospect. He turns 26 next month and other than 58 games in AA he hasn’t proven he can hit well enough to hack it in the big leagues. Great glove, but overall a bust. Verdict: Bust.
TBD. He hasn’t gotten very much time to prove himself one way or the other due to a poorly timed injury. He’s regarded as a plus defender and while his brief time in the bigs wasn’t impressive offensively, he’s shown over his career his adjustment has taken a little longer than others at each level in the minors. So there’s clear upside. I don’t expect Byrd and Young to continue their torrid pace all season, and when they come back down to earth, I hope Den Dekker is healthy and gets his shot. Verdict: Jury is still deliberating.
The case of den Dekker is a tough one, for all the reasons my fellow writers have listed above. His defense and speed are not in question; it’s just his bat. As John Bernhardt pointed out, Matt has been able to adjust to the next level of competition after struggling the year prior. He hit .340 in Binghamton last season after hitting .235 with 91 strikeouts in 272 at-bats in 2011. He put up similar numbers upon being promoted to Triple-A Buffalo (.220 BA, 90 strikeouts in 295 ABs), and we’ll soon find out whether or not he can adjust again in Vegas. We got a good chance to watch him hit in spring training, and I just think there are too many holes in his swing to be an everyday player. He’ll be a good fourth outfielder/defensive replacement type player, but since a lot of fans are counting on him to come up and start, I think he’ll be a bust. Verdict: Bust.
I’m not convinced that den Dekker’s bat will ever play well in the major leagues. He seems to be the textbook definition of a Quad-A player and I haven’t seen enough development that would inspire hope that things will improve enough to make me change my mind. His glove has never been a question, that much is clear. But for a Mets team that is starving for outfield offense, his defense alone won’t be enough to secure an everyday spot in the Mets lineup anytime soon. If he does ever make it to the majors, it won’t be for anything other than a fifth outfielder and defensive replacement. Verdict: Bust