Mets Minors: Who’s Hot, Who’s Not?
Travis Taijeron (SAV) – The 23-year-old right-handed hitting slugger has been playing mostly CF for Savannah and has been doing it all at the plate. Drafted in the 18th round of the 2011 MLB Draft Taijeron has shown an excellent ability to make contact and hit for power in his professional career so far. This season in 40 AB’s his slash line is .350/.469/.625, with 10 runs, 14 hits, 2 2B’s, 3 HR’s, 7 RBI’s, 2 SB’s, 7 walks, and 13 K’s. If Taijeron continues to improve in pitch recognition and plate coverage to cut down on his strikeouts, he should continue to move smoothly through the system.
Bobby Scales (BUF) – The 34 year-old second-baseman doesn’t qualify as a prospect any longer. He wouldn’t even qualify as a rookie in the majors anymore, since accumulating 137 big league at-bats with the Cubbies in 2009 and 2010. Once a 14th round pick of the Padres in the 1999 MLB draft, he is now a seasoned veteran of the minor leagues and Japan, and has been absolutely unconscious at the plate after joining the Mets organization at the end of spring training. His line so far this year in his first 11 games: 36 AB’s, 6 runs, 16 hits, 4 2B’s, 2 HR, 4 RBI’s, 1 SB, 9 BB’s, and 1 K. His slash line reads: .444/.556/.722, for a ludicrous OPS of 1.278, and he has been an on-field leader for the Herd this season.
Zach Lutz (BUF) – Drafted in the 5th round of the 2007 MLB draft, Lutz is enjoying this season as no other because for the first time he is healthy and productive from the start. His bat is starting to heat up too, and these days he is simply raking. The right-handed slugging corner infielder is the most dangerous hitter in the Bison line-up, having hit safely in all but two games this season, and eleven of his last twelve games. His slash line this year so far: .364/.462/.591 in 44 AB’s. He has collected 7 runs, 16 hits, 4 2B’s, 2 HR’s, 7 RBI’s, and 8 BB’s, with 14 K’s. As long as he stays healthy, he should continue to produce and will most likely get a call-up to the Mets at some point this season.
T.J. Rivera (SAV) – The 23-year-old non-drafted free-agent from the Bronx has gotten a chance to start this season, and has really made the most of his opportunity. Playing mostly 2B and a little SS, Rivera has been the team’s most consistent hitter thus far putting up a line of: .419/.500/.558 in 43 AB’s. He has garnered 5 runs, 18 hits, 4 2B’s, 1 3B, 4 RBI’s, 8 BB”s, with 6 K’s. Not considered a prospect heading into this year, a ballplayer like Rivera who can do a little bit of everything on a baseball field, has a wonderful chance to play his way into the prospect discussion if he keeps doing what he’s been doing so far.
Domingo Tapia (SAV) – What can you say about a 20-year-old righty who was pounding the strike-zone with 99 MPH fastballs in his latest start? How about: Wow! On Saturday Tapia started a game against the Augusta Green Jackets and pitched the best game on any level by a Met pitcher this year. He was throwing high 90′s heat and keeping the ball down, and even had success mixing in his secondary offerings. For the day he went 7 IP, with 3 hits, no runs, no walks, and 8 K’s, and picked up his first win this year. His season stats so far: 2 GS, 1-0, 2.25 ERA, 12 IP, 7 hits, 3 ER’s, 1 BB, 11 K’s, 0.67 WHIP, and an opponents BA of .167. I cannot wait to see this guy pitch live.
Greg Peavey (BIN) – It’s no surprise that Peavey made this list, especially after being named last weeks Eastern League Player of the Week. In two starts so far this year the former 6th-round draft pick of the Mets in the 2010 MLB draft has gone: 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA, in 10.2 IP, he has given up 6 hits and 1 BB, while striking out 9. He has a WHIP of 0.66 and opponents are hitting .158 against him. Peavey has made the difficult jump from A+ to AA and hit the ground running. Although I don’t expect him to go the whole year without surrendering a run, if he keeps pitching lights out he could be shuffling off to Buffalo at some point this season.
Tyler Pill (SAV) – Pill has been superb in his first two starts as a professional. The 21-year-old righty who was taken in the 4th round of the 2011 draft, has started two games so far throwing a total of 12 innings. He has no runs given up, on 8 hits, 1 BB, and 9 K’s, and a WHIP of 0.75. League opponents’ have hit him at a .205 clip, and his record stands at 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA.
Chase Huchingson (STL) – This 6’5″ lefty with the funky-ass delivery must be giving lefty hitters in the FSL fits this year, and he has the numbers to prove it. From the batter’s box it must look as if Hutch is firing the ball from out of his left ear, and I would imagine it’s tough as nails to pick up the pitch when it leaves his hand. Despite being a non-drafted free-agent coming out of college last year the Mets took a chance on the big, lanky south-paw and are they glad they did. He pitched fantastic last year as a swing-man for Savannah, going 7-2 with a 1.82 in 84 IP. That earned him a look as a starter in ST, and he was so impressive that he beat out a slew of highly regarded prospects to win a spot in the Lucie rotation. His line so far this year, in two GS covering 12.2 IP: 2-0 0.00 ERA, no runs, 6 hits, 3 BB’s, 10 K’s, a WHIP of 0.71, and an opponents BA of .143.
Cory Mazzoni (STL) – The 2nd round draft pick from last years draft has done nothing but impress so far in his professional career. Assuming the role of staff “ace” for the St. Lucie Mets this year, Mazzoni has bolted from the starting gate to anchor the front of the rotation. In three starts so far he is: 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA, covering 16 innings. He has given up 2 ER’s on 13 hits, 1 HB, 4 BB’s, and 11 K’s. His WHIP is 1.06 and his opponents BA is .228. Mazzoni is an advanced former college pitcher from a major program (NC State), and he should move quickly up the ladder.
Juan Lagares (BIN) – There’s no doubt that Juan Lagares has too much natural ability to be on this list. I honestly believe that when the weather warms up in the northeast that Lagares’ bat will warm up too. He and some of his teammates are attempting to play baseball in temperatures that they have never had to play in before, and what we are seeing is likely a period of adjustment. In the meantime Lagares has been in a dreadful slump that has seen his slash line drop to .231/.348/.359. In 39 AB’s, he has only 7 runs scored, with 9 hits, 2 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI’s, 3 SB’s, and 7 BB’s while striking out 7 times.
Pedro Zapata (BIN) – Like Lagares, Zapata has appeared to be out of his element in the cold and windy climates of upstate NY in April. He has been even colder at the plate. So far this year in 43 AB’s, mostly as the lead-off hitter, Zapata has a very weak line of .163/.217/.279 with 1 run scored, 7 hits, 1 2B, 2 3B’s, 1 SB, 3 BB’s, and he has struck out a whopping 16 times. At 6’4″ Zapata has an outstanding combination of speed and power, but some of that ability must begin to translate into performance on the field, and soon.
Cesar Puello (STL) – In fairness to Puello, he did miss some games last week after fouling a ball off his foot. However a player with his abundance of skills and natural talent, who is spending his second year at St. Lucie, should be getting out of the gate faster this year than he has so far. Basically Puello has shown nothing this season and must begin to produce and remove himself from this list. His line for the year in 25 AB’s: .240/.321/.320 with 3 runs, 6 hits, 1 RBI, 2 2B, 1 SB, 2 BB’s, and he has been struck out 10 times.
Matt Harvey (BUF) – Harvey has been tough to figure out so far this year. I don’t think it’s a matter of him not being ready for AAA. I don’t think more time in AA would have necessarily been the best move for his development either. Harvey isn’t struggling at AAA because he’s not mature enough or talented enough to succeed there yet. He has merely found adversity, and that is good, because the only way to prepare him for major league baseball is not to let him beat up on younger and inferior players, but for him to be challenged. He must figure out what it takes to get hitters out at a higher level or he will never be any good to the Mets. So far what has gotten him into trouble this year has not been lack of quality stuff, it has simply been execution. In other words: command. You’ve heard the word before but what is it? It is consistency. The ability to throw strikes, not just for three innings but for seven, or more. Harvey was dominant in several of his starts so far, at first. Then at some point around the third or fourth inning he would lose his command, and his ability to throw strikes. This is not a serious problem. It is not a reason for Mets fans to be banging their heads on the wall or tearing out fistfuls of hair. It is part of the maturation process of a professional pitcher, not-to-worry. In the meantime Harvey’s line looks pretty awful: 3 GS, 13 IP, 0-1 7.62 ERA, 20 hits, 11 ER’s, 8 BB’s, 9 K’s, a WHIP of 2.15, and an opponents BA of .357. Stay tuned.
Jeurys Familia (BUF) – Much the same can be said for Family. Except his command comes and goes from batter to batter, not inning to inning. Like harvey I don’t worry about Familia. He’s incredibly talented and like Harvey has never been known for wildness. I think at any point Familia will turn the corner and start to pitch lights-out this year. So far here’s his line: 3 GS, 13.2 IP, 1-1 with a 6.59 ERA, 15 hits, 10 ER’s, 12 BB’s and 15 K’s with a WHIP of 1.98.
Erik Turgeon (BIN) – The righty reliever has been dreadful coming out of the pen this year for Bingo. In his last 2.1 IP of work over his last two games he has given up 5 ER’s. For the year, in 3.1 IP, he has a record of 0-1 with a 13.50 ERA. He has given up the 5 ER’s, on 9 hits, 2 HR’s, 1 BB, and has struck out 4. His WHIP stands at 3.00, and his opponents BA against is .474. Hopefully Turgeon gets things turned around soon.
Well that’s it for my first edition of this season’s Who’s Hot/Not series. I hope you liked it. There will be plenty more of these coming your way, so keep tuning in to MMO for all the Mets baseball news you can’t get anywhere else!
About the Author: Peter Shapiro
The first time I went to Shea was not for a Mets game, it was for the Beatles concert there in August of '66. My first Met game was '67, a guy named Salty Parker was the interim-manager then. My first pennant race was 1969. As a 12 year-old that summer and fall, I managed to get to the park for 3 games. The first was the beginning of the Miracle which actually started on Tuesday July 8, 1969 with a day game against the Cubs. I was there a lot in '73. I saw games 3 & 5 of the 1973 NL Playoffs against the "Big Red Machine", from the upper deck behind home plate. It was from there that I witnessed the fight between Bud Harrelson and Pete Rose, and the mayhem that ensued. And that sweet victory in game 5! I saw a couple of WS games at Shea that year against that legendary Oakland A's club. I was there in 1985 for every single game Dr. K pitched including his two 16 strikeout performances, and the day he one-hit the Cubs on an infield single and the Mets won 1-0. I loved being a Met fan in those days. Hopefully we are once again preparing to emerge from the darkness.
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