Puello double dips for B-Mets

Outfield prospect records first career multi-homer game

Cesar Puello has driven in nine runs in his last 10 contests. (Will Bentzel/MiLB.com)

By Ashley Marshall / Special to MLB.com | May 8, 2013 7:43 PM ET

Mets prospect Cesar Puello has spent most of the season in the bottom half of the lineup for Double-A Binghamton.

Considering the production he's giving the B-Mets, he's making a case for a spot closer to the heart of the order.

The Mets' No. 14 prospect homered twice and drove in three runs Wednesday night, powering Binghamton to a 3-1 victory at Trenton.

"No matter where I hit, I just have to have the same approach and good things will happen from that," Puello said. "I feel very comfortable.

"I ask a lot of questions of the other players and the manager and the hitting coach. They can see things from the outside and they can help out."

Batting seventh and playing right field, Puello is batting .340 during a 15-game hitting streak that's the longest active run at Double-A. He's also plated at least one run in six of his past seven contests.

Signed by the Mets as a non-drafted free agent in 2007, Puello hit a two-run homer to center field off starter Nik Turley with two outs in the second inning. In the fifth, he fouled off four pitches before launching Turley's 0-2 offering over the 25-foot advertising board in left field.

"That was just a great at-bat," Binghamton manager Pedro Lopez said of the second homer. "They threw him a fastball away that he fouled off, then a fastball in that he fouled off, then two or three straight curveballs he fouled off. He just battled and battled.

"Eventually, he got either a curveball or a changeup that was up in the zone and he took that ball for a ride. He really fought off some tough pitches."

It was the first time in 404 Minor League games over six seasons that Puello homered twice in one game. The two longballs represent more than he hit in 40 games as a rookie in the Gulf Coast League in 2009 and in 109 South Atlantic League games the following year.

Puello, who also smacked a solo shot on Tuesday, has homered in consecutive games for the first time.

"I was looking middle-away, sitting on fastballs and reacting to breaking pitches and looking to put good swings on every pitch," he said. "When you are sitting on the fastball, it's hard to react to the curveball, but I have been working hard on it. I have been working with my hitting coach and working on my swing right now, trying to get on top of the ball."

The 22-year-old has yet to tap into the power that scouts have been expecting, helping explain why he's hit in the top third of the lineup just once in 23 games this season.

Puello is batting .296 with four homers, 16 RBIs and seven stolen bases. He's struck out 21 times and drawn five walks, but only four players in the Eastern League have a better home run to at-bat ratio.

"He has 70 raw power [on the 20-80 scouting scale], but our focus right now is to help him learn the strike zone and make him learn how to control the barrel," Lopez said. "Once he does that, his power will come.

"We're trying to show them that they have to wait for the game to come to them. Eventually, if he keeps doing what he has been doing, [moving up in the lineup] will happen."

Puello helped Logan Verrett (5-1) grab a share of the league lead with his fifth win. The 22-year-old right-hander gave up one run on five hits over 8 2/3 innings, falling one out shy of his third career complete game. He fanned nine batters, hit one, walked another and threw 71 of 99 pitches for strikes.

"It was probably the best outing I have seen this year -- and [Rafael] Montero and [Cory] Mazzoni have done a good job," Lopez said. "The way Logan threw the ball today was impressive. He was at 82 or 83 pitches going into the ninth inning. I went out with runners on first and third to take him out and the first thing he said to me was that 'You're not taking me out, I can get this guy.'"

Turley (3-2) was charged with three runs on five hits and three walks while striking out seven over five innings.

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AshMarshallMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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