Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
October 12, 2006
BASEBALL: Milledge Watching
Another reason I was baffled by the Mets putting Anderson Hernandez on the NLCS roster is that, with Cliff Floyd hobbling on a bum Achilles, you would think you would want some extra insurance in the outfield before another infielder. I expected to see either Milledge or (gasp) Ricky Ledee, even notwithstanding Milledge's immaturity and inconsistency and the fact that Ledee appears to have nothing left.
While I was thinking of that, I took a look at Milledge's 2005-06 numbers at AA, AAA and the majors; they add up to a full season's worth of at bats, and while you can't get a lot of information about quality by lumping together two seasons' work (at age 20-21) at three different levels, when combined they do offer a bit of insight into the type of player Milledge is and could be:
*Milledge isn't much of a home run hitter yet, though at his age and with his doubles power, he should still develop some home run pop as he ages and fills out.
*He's unlikely ever to be a successful base thief; almost all successful base stealers are already successful at it by the time they get to AA ball. Again, Milledge's youth is an asset, as he may be able to learn some, but a guy who is stealing at less than a 60% clip even in the minors is never going to be Carlos Beltran on the basepaths.
*I didn't realize how often Milledge gets hit by pitches. That will help his OBP long term as long as it doesn't lead to a lot of injuries.
*Milledge obviously doesn't have good strike zone judgment at the major league level, but he's not a no-walks guy in the minors, which suggests the potential to learn.
I still think he's an excellent prospect, although even in 2007 he may need more AAA seasoning before handing him an everyday job in Queens.