New Kid on the Block
When Daniel Murphy was placed on the DL with a right calf injury, not many predicted that 20 year old Dilson Herrera, playing in AA just a few days ago, would be the starting 2nd baseman of the New York Mets this past weekend. Even his own manager admitted that he knew very little about Murphy’s replacement. When Terry Collins was asked what he knew about his newest player, he replied with a smirk, “not much.”
In fact, none of the current Mets knew much about Dilson Herrera, nor did Herrera know much about his new teammates after he was called up for this past weekend’s series with the Phillies. Herrera has never been on a team with any of the current Mets, nor was he invited to this past spring training. But Terry Collins did know one thing about Herrera. “He can hit.”
Herrera’s ability to hit is what makes him now the youngest player in the major leagues. He is just a year into the Mets organization, having been involved in the Marlon Byrd/John Buck trade with the Pirates that also brought Vic Black to the Mets. Herrera was in A ball at that time, and finished out the year with the Mets single A affiliate the Savannah Sand Gnats. This year, he was again assigned to single A, the advanced-A St. Lucie Mets. He hit well enough there to earn a mid-season promotion to the AA Binghamton Mets. He may have been in a new city, but the hits kept on coming. After hitting .307 in St. Lucie, Herrera raised his numbers to a flashy .340 avg with 10 homers and 48 RBi in 61 games.
Even though a gaping hole had just emerged at Herrera’s position, the immediate reaction was still shock when it was the 20 year old prospect that would be getting the call, completely skipping AAA and jumping straight to the majors.
Herrera’s first game as a big leaguer, as expected, came with some struggles. He went hit into a double play on the first pitch he saw, struck out the following at bat, ended up 0-3, and had an error on a somewhat routine ground ball. Speaking through a translator, Herrera admitted to some nerves heading into the game, but after the first inning “I felt good going into the rest of the game.” The 0-3 at the plate didn’t faze him either, and he said “I’m just happy I went up there and made good contact.”
After getting past the first game jitters, Herrera began to make strides. Just as Friday night brought him milestone number one, in the form of his first game, Saturday night brought him milestone number two, with his first hit. He figured he’d keep the trend going on Sunday, picking up MLB RBI number 1, a crucial insurance run in a 6-5 win for the Mets. Speaking through a translator again on Sunday, this time Mets bullpen coach Ricky Bones, Herrera said he was very happy and his first RBI was something really important for him. But the most important thing for Herrera was that it came in an important part of the game and helped the team win.
Of course, rookie moments don’t completely disappear after the first game. Early in the game Sunday, a high pop up got caught in the wind in the infield and drifted closer to Herrera’s side. David Wright had been chasing the ball so Herrera backed off, although it was clearly his play.
“He’s a little nervous,” said Wright. “He’s kind of learning the ropes.” But the captain also sees the potential in the youngster. “You can tell he’s got great tools and I think he’s going to be a really good player.”
When asked how this first weekend held up to his expectations, Herrera said that he feels really happy to be in the majors and that it was something that he had dreamed about. He also said he feels important and a big piece of the group. With the future of Daniel Murphy in question for the next few years, Herrera may indeed be a big piece of the future of the New York Mets. He’s gotten past his first hurdle, the first big league series in New York. As the Mets moved on to Miami today, Dilson picked up milestone number four is game number four. His first big league home run. He also added a 2 run triple in the game, but accompanied his nice day at the plate with a couple of errors in the field and hit into another double play. The ups and downs will continue through Herrera's first month in the majors, as he gets a chance to prove he was worth the call-up straight from AA.
Good or bad, Terry Collins will have plenty more to say about Dilson Herrera a month from now. For the Mets and their fans, they'll certainly be hoping the new insights will be mostly of the positive variety.