Mets Minors: Who’s Hot, Who’s Hotter
One thing you will surely notice when reading this is that a few of these guys do not fit the standard definition of “prospect.” There are a handful of veteran players here who are having too good of a season to ignore. So I have stretched the classic definition of prospect to include minor league veterans who are candidates to get a big league call-up. Therefore some of the guys at the AAA level making an appearance here are doing so because their excellent performances could get them that promotion.
Travis Taijeron (A) – Perhaps the hottest hitter in the system right now, Taijeron is hitting a sizzling .421/.532/.895 over his last ten games at Savannah, for a staggering OPS of 1.427. In 38 AB’s during that span he has scored 13 runs with 16 hits, 4 2B’s, 1 3B, 4 HR’s, 15 RBI’s, and 6 BB’s with 9 K’s. Overall in 96 AB’s this year, Taijeron is hitting .323 with 24 runs scored, 31 hits, 6 2B’s, 1 3B, 7 HR’s (2nd in the league), 23 RBI’s, 16 BB’s, 26 K’s, 2 SB’s, a .441 OBP, .625 SLG (3rd in the league), and a 1.066 OPS (also good for 3rd in the league).
Dustin Lawley (A) – Taijeron’s teammate in the Savannah outfield is also having a very solid season. Overall Lawley has 103 AB’s, with 18 runs scored, 30 hits, 5 2B’s, 1 3B, 4 HR’s, 14 RBI’s, 3 SB’s, 17 BB’s, and 18 K’s. His slash line for the year is: .291/.385/.476. Lawley has been heating up of late. In 40 AB’s covering his last ten games, he is hitting .350 with 8 runs scored, 14 hits, 3 2B’s 2 HR’s, 7 RBI’s, 7 BB’s, and only 3 K’s. During that time he has an OBP of .438, and a .575 SLG, for an OPS of 1.013.
Wilmer Flores (A+) – Believe it or not this guy’s performance so far this season is starting to coincide with his potential as a hitter. Although having cooled off slightly the last three games, Flores is enjoying his most productive offensive output of his career. This year in 98 AB’s Flores is hitting .306 with 11 runs scored, 30 hits, 5 2B’s, 4 HR’s, 19 RBI’s, 5 BB’s, and 7 K’s, 2 SB’s, and a .480 SLG which is the best of his career, and a full .100 points higher than his SLG for 2011 (.380).
Cory Vaughn (A+) – Although he struggled mightily at St. Lucie in the second half of 2011, Vaughn is showing why a repeat at that level for 2012 was a very good idea. He is back on the horse and running at the head of the Florida State League pack these days. Vaughn is 1st in the league in HR’s with 8, and SLG with a .604. Overall his slash line looks like: .292/.376/.604, and in his last ten games has walloped 6 HR’s, with 11 RBI’s. At this rate the Mets will soon be forced to promote Vaughn to AA, and from there he has the potential to move fast.
Omar Quintanilla (AAA) – This guy was a tremendous off-season pick-up by the Mets. He has solidified the shortstop position at Buffalo, and provides a solid veteran presence as insurance behind Ruben Tejada should the need ever arise. Overall this year, Omar is hitting .291 with 4 HR’s and 16 RBI’s. But lately he has been el fuego! In his last ten games Quintanilla is 11 for 30, and hitting .367 with 7 runs, 2 2B’s, 1 3B, 4 HR’s, 7 RBI’s, an OBP of .424, and a .900 SLG.
Rob Johnson (AAA) – Johnson has done an excellent job this year holding down his half of the Buffalo catching tandem with Lucas May. Despite a week on the D.L. Johnson has hit .288 in 52 AB’s this year with 15 hits, 13 runs, 3 2B’s, 1 3B, 2 HR’s and 5 RBI’s. Since coming off the D.L. on May 2 he is 6 for his last 10, and in his last ten games his slash line reads: .324/.333/.595 with 2 HR’s and 4 RBI’s.
Bobby Scales (AAA) – Another very good minor league pick-up by the Mets, Scales has cooled slightly after hitting over .400 for much of the season. In his last ten games covering 32 AB’s his slash line is: .313/.450/.406, but overall he is hitting .355 (tied for 3rd in the league), with a .469 OBP (good for 2nd in the league), and a .505 SLG.
Jeremy Hefner (AAA) – Hef has quietly put together one of the best seasons by any Mets pitcher to date. His consistency has been remarkable and he has positioned himself for a shot at the big league starting rotation that could come any time now. The 6’4″ 26-year-old right-hander made his big league debut earlier this season in an emergency call-up by the Mets. He pitched in just one game, but pitched very well throwing 3 IP and allowing no runs on 3 hits. So far at Buffalo Hefner has made 5 starts for the Herd, going 3-1 with a 1.64 ERA (2nd in the International League), 17 K’s, 5 BB’s and 27 hits over 33 IP’s. His BAA is .218 and his WHIP stands at 0.97 for the year. His last start on Friday was his best of the season going 7 IP on just 78 pitches (52 for strikes) with only 2 hits, no runs, a walk, and 3 K’s. He could of, and would of gone nine, if not for explicit orders from the Mets to pitch D.J. Carrasco for two innings in the game.
Justin Hampson (AAA) – The soon-to-be 32-year-old lefty is another guy who is very quietly putting real good work in this season coming out of the Buffalo bullpen. Watching him pitch lately you can see how he is frustrating the opposing hitters. You can tell by how many ugly swings he gets and the pissed-off reactions from the hitters when they realize how stupid he just made them look. For the year Hampson is 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA, 12/4 – K/BB ratio in 16 IP, and lefties are hitting .190 against him. There’s no doubt he will find his way to Flushing before long.
Fernando Cabrera (AAA) – The Buffalo closer has been scintillating this year, and very economical on the mound. Pitching to contact, Cabrera has been consistently effective right out of the gate and continues to get the job done whenever called upon. In 11 games covering 12.1 innings, his record is 2-0 with a 0.73 and 6 saves. He also has a WHIP of 1.05, a BAA of .200, and righties are hitting just .179 against him. The 6’4″ 30-year-old right-hander has logged over 175 innings in the bigs, and the way he’s throwing right now, and the way the Met bullpen is performing, he should be in line for a return engagement sometime very soon.
Jack Egbert (AAA) – Yet another great off-season pick-up for the Mets, Egbert has been the model of consistency thus far this season. He’s one of Wally Backman’s favorite pitchers in his pen, and he continues to get outs in big spots for the Herd. This season his numbers are: 2-2 with a 1.50 ERA in 18 innings. He’s given up only 3 ER’s on 12 hits, 4 BB’s and 12 K’s, his BAA is .190, and his WHIP is a tidy 0.89. The 6’3″ right-hander who turns 29 this week could also be pitching his way closer to the majors with each passing day.
Elvin Ramirez (AAA) – The smokin’ hot start to the season for Ramirez already has gotten him a promotion from AA Binghamton to AAA Buffalo a few days ago. Continued success will land him on the same conveyor belt headed towards Citifield as his teammates listed above. What got him the AAA promotion? Here’s the numbers he put up with Bingo in April: 0-1 with a 1.38 ERA in 13 innings, 7 hits, 2 runs, 7 BB’s, 16 K’s, a BAA of .152, and a WHIP of 1.08. This 6’3″ 24-year-old right-hander has some nasty stuff, and unlike the three relievers above who are veteran players, Ramirez is actually a prospect.
Armando Rodriguez (AA) – Armando has been the most consistent performer out of the Binghamton bullpen this season. For the year covering 19.0 IP’s, he has a record of 1-0 with a 0.95 ERA. He has given up a total of only 7 hits so far in 9 games, and just 2 runs. He has also struck out 13, walked 4, has a BAA of .113, and an unbelievable WHIP of 0.58. At 6’3″ and 250 lbs. and 24-years-old, Rodriguez is finally age appropriate in his league. In seasons past he was considered an older guy in a younger guy’s league, which would temper his accomplishments. Now he is dominating in a league where he is just about the average age for that league. That’s not a small thing. It shows he is progressing, and showing the positive signs you want to see from a prospect at his stage of development. The bullpen log-jam above him will slow his progression, and that’s not a bad thing, he will simply have to pitch his way past the other guys.
Adam Kolarek (A+) – Part of the Mets left-hand, power-armed, relief trifecta in the upper levels of the minor leagues of Josh Edgin, Rob Carson, and Kolarek, Adam has been nothing short of perfect on the mound this year for St. Lucie. The big 6’3″ 23-year old south-paw has appeared in 13 games going 1-0 with an ERA of 0.00 and 4 saves. In 16.1 IP’s he has allowed 10 hits, and 2 walks, while striking out 24. Yes that’s right, 24 punch outs in 16 innings. His BAA is .179 and his WHIP is 0.73. Adam is going to benefit quite a bit this year from working with St. Lucie Mets pitching guru Phil Regan.
Adrian Rosario (A+) – Kolarek’s teammate in the Lucie pen is right-handed, 22-year-old closer Adrian Rosario, who was acquired along with Daniel Herrera in the Frankie Rodriguez trade. Rosario who stands 6’4″, and throws his fastball at 92-93 mph, has been positively lights-out for the 1st-place Mets this season. In 12 games he is 0-0 with a 1.17 ERA, and 7 saves. He has surrendered 4 hits, 2 runs, 3 walks, and struck out 21, in 15.1 innings. Now your going to need a microscope to read these last two stats, his BAA, that’s Batting Average Against, is .082. Want more? His WHIP, that’s walks+hits per IP, is 0.46. Less than a base-runner per 2 IP. Methinks he needs to be Bingo bound.
Erik Goeddel (A+) – Goeddel got off to a late start this season due to some leg issues, but he certainly has hit the ground running in the FSL. Since making his first appearance on April 20th, Erik has compiled 12 innings, and allowed 7 hits and 1 run, 8 walks to go with 11 strikeouts, a BAA of .167, and a record of 1-0 with a 0.75 ERA. Now the plan is to stretch him out as a regular member of the St. Lucie starting rotation.
Tyler Pill (A) – The 6’1″ right-hander with the complete arsenal of pitches will turn 22 later this month, and has gotten off to a very fast start in his first full professional season. In 5 starts so far he has put up a record of 3-1 with a 1.65 ERA. In 27.1 innings he has allowed 29 hits, 5 ER’s, 1 HR, and 6 walks with 27 strikeouts. Pill will continue to develop this season at Savannah in the midst of a deep and talented rotation.
Alex Panteliodis (A) – The left-hander out of Florida that the Mets took in the 9th round in last year’s draft, made his professional debut this year and has been absolutely spectacular. Pill’s rotation-mate has made 5 starts, and is 3-1 on the year also but has an even better ERA at 0.68 (good for 2nd in the league). In 26.1 innings he has given up 15 hits, 2 ER’s, 11 walks, 16 strikeouts, a BAA of .160, and a WHIP of 0.99. Another strong contributor to the A-level stable of young, quality arms.
T.J. Chism (A) – One of three very talented left-handed relievers in the Savannah pen, along with Jack Leathersich and Carlos Vasquez, Chism has been outstanding so far this year. In 10 games he is 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA and 2 saves. In 13.1 IP’s he’s allowed 10 hits, 2 ER’s, 6 walks, and 15 strikeouts, with a BAA of .208. Chism doesn’t throw hard, but commands his pitches well and has found success at every level he has pitched at so far.
Jack Leathersich (A) – I couldn’t list the 20 Hottest Mets prospects without there being a Rocket sighting. The Rocket has been firing away on his afterburners since making his explosive professional debut with the Cyclones last year. This year at Savannah has been no different as Leathersich has picked right up where he left off. In 17 innings so far the Rocket is 0-1 with a 0.53 ERA, and 1 save. He has given up just 1 ER, 7 hits, and 8 walks with 26 strikeouts, a BAA of .132, and a WHIP of 0.88. I have him pegged as an early season call-up to St. Lucie, and believe he won’t be with Savannah long.
Well that’s it for this edition of Hot Prospects, if you like it maybe we’ll do this again in a week or two. In the meantime….
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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