Bio: Mesa, 24, signed with the Yankees as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican Republic. He spent two years in the Gulf Coast League where, in nearly 300 at-bats, he posted a .221 average, a .280 on-base percentage, and a .366 slugging percentage -- hardly tearing the cover off the ball.
In six seasons in the minors, he's never hit better than .258 and never on-based better than .340. Both of those high points came in 2010, when he tore up the Florida State League and earned its Player of the Year honors.
As such, he had extremely high expectations coming into 2011, as a 24-year-old entering his first season at the upper levels.
Last year: Before last season a scout summed up Mesa's potential thusly: He will either be a superstar, or he'll wash out entirely -- there's no middle ground. After watching him play a full season (minus a month on the shelf with a back injury), it's easy to see why one would evaluate him that way.
In the first place, he's an absolute toolshed. He's got great speed and range in center field, and he couples it with a cannon for a throwing arm. Watching him peg a runner on the bases is truly something to behold. He's got excellent raw power, too, which comes with a whole lot of swing-and-miss.
When all was said and done, he put together a .249/.322/.399 line with nine longballs and 46 RBIs. Those numbers were weighted down by a spectacularly poor April. After the season's opening month, he hit a very impressive .282/.358/.442.
And while those last few months showed the Yankees enough progress to put Mesa on the 40-man roster this offseason, there certainly are a few rough edges he needs to fix. First and foremost, he needs to cut down on the strikeouts. As he faces more experienced pitching, the holes in his swing will become more exposed. His 18 stolen bases in 31 attempts tells me he could stand to adopt a more mature approach on the bases.
What's Next: I wouldn't be surprised if Mesa opened the year back at Double-A, but I also wouldn't be surprised if, on the strength of that finish, he moved up to Triple-A. If that's the case, I'd imagine Abraham Almonte would take his place in center field.