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Ricardo Cespedes: Marlin on the Rise

Ricardo Cespedes was half of the A.J. Ramos bounty from the New York Mets.

For the 2016-17 offseason, we counted down the Top 100 all-time Marlins. This offseason, we will instead cast our eyes ahead. I’ll be outlining the Top 100 Marlins prospects, as chosen by you on the ranker.com listing.

In today’s feature, the second of the offseason long look into Miami’s minor league infrastructure, we’ll get a look at a current member of the Batavia Muckdogs, outfielder Ricardo Cespedes.

A Bronx, NY native, Cespedes signed with the New York Mets on August 24th, 2013, on his 16th birthday for $725,000. A 6’2”, 170 lb. outfielder at the time of his selection, he now weighs in at a robust 205 lbs. A left handed-hitter, baseballamerica.com notes that he has a good setup, a loose swing, and a gap-to-gap approach. He would slash .266/.311/.335 in 53 games with the 2014 DSL Mets, then .224/.282/.267 in 45 games with the 2015 GCL Mets.

As an 18-year-old with the slightly higher rookie-level Kingsport Mets in the Appalachian League in 2016, Cespedes improved tremendously in his approach at the plate, resulting in a .322/.356/.379 slashline, also dinking his first career homer.

The first part of Cespedes’ 2017 campaign would be spent with the Brooklyn Cyclones, the Mets New York-Penn League affiliate. He slashed .225/.262/.263 in 21 contests. On July 28th, the Mets sent him with Merandy Gonzalez to the Marlins for reliever A.J. Ramos. Miami assigned him to the Muckdogs one day later.

In 19 games for the Muckdogs, Cespedes collected multiple hits four times. He committed two errors in the outfield splitting time across all three positions on 49 total chances for a .959 fielding percentage, but could probably benefit from getting slotted permanently in one spot. That’s preferably in his natural position in center field. His best night at the plate for Batavia was on August 20th, when he went 2-for-3 with an RBI sacrifice hit in a 6-5 win against the Williamsport Crosscutters.

For Batavia, Cespedes hit just .190/.200/.215 over 80 plate appearances, with 21 strikeouts and four RBI. Still, he’s considered very raw. From Baseball America:

Cespedes, no relation to Yoenis, was one of the youngest players in the 2013 international class when he signed for $725,000. Cespedes, who had the same trainer as top Mets prospect Amed Rosario, has interesting-but-raw tools, with at least average speed and potential above-average defense in center field. His hit tool is a question mark for some scouts, although he has an easy swing that sprays the ball to all fields. He won’t hit for much power, but could be a top-of-the-order hitter if he improves his approach. Some scouts see him as a fourth-outfielder type and as a hitter who’s yet to get established in full season ball, he’s a long ways away.

Those “in-the-know” still regard Cespedes highly, ranking him number 23 out of Miami’s Top 30 prospects. You, Fish Stripes readers, have him at number 99. Tune in for tomorrow’s prospect, a pitcher from Little Rock, Arkansas.