With the mid-season mark for the minor league long-season leagues fast approaching, I wanted to release a Who’s Hot update to cap off the season’s first half. These statistics do not include Wednesday’s games, but are accurate through Tuesday June 19th. Two out of three players here are pitchers, which makes sense considering pitching is presently the biggest strength in the farm system. About half of these players have been listed on the hot-list before but many of these guys are first-timers, let’s see who we got:
- Cam Maron (C) – No one is squaring up the ball better these days than 21-year-old Camden Maron. He started off the year slowly as one of the two primary catchers at Savannah. His slash-line in the month of April was .221/.316/.294, in May it was .263/.373/.368, and in June so far it has been .486/.513/.595, which makes his OPS for the month: 1.107. Maron is presently cruising behind a 13-game hitting streak during which span of time he has ten multi-hit games. When the streak started on May 25th, he had been hitting .206 going into that game. In his last 13 games since then, he has three 3-hit games, seven 2-hit games, and three games in which he has gotten one hit. During that time he is: 26-for-55, with five runs, five 2B’s, one 3B, and six RBI. His slash-line for those 13 games is: .473/.500/.600. Overall this season, the lefty-hitting Maron is now hitting .296 with one home run, and 18 RBI.
- Corey Wimberly (CF) – Wimberly has been a revelation at the top of Wally Backman’s batting order for Buffalo. The 28-year-old switch-hitter has been remarkably consistent at the plate ever since since joining the Mets organization when Bobby Scales bolted to Japan in mid-May. Wimberly has batted 121 times for the Herd, with 27 runs scored, on 37 hits, 3 2B’s, 2 3B’s one HR, and 13 RBI. Chip in 14 walks to go with his seven SB’s, and he sports a slash-line of .306/.388/.388 for the year. He has been hitting even better lately. In his last ten games he has a slash-line of .405/.439/.514, in 37 AB’s.
- Travis Taijeron (OF) – The number one run producer in the middle of the Savannah line-up this year is the 23-year-old right-handed slugger who the Mets drafted in the 18th round of the 2011 player draft. For the season Taijeron has been somewhat streaky, sometimes unbelievably hot, while other times the bat has cooled off. Recently it seems Taijeron has settled in as he has been a very consistent performer of late. Overall this year he has 230 AB’s, with 46 runs, 67 hits, 17 2B’s, three 3B’s, 12 HR’s, and 44 RBI. His slash-line for the season reads: .291/.401/.548. Over his last ten games he has a slash-line of .364/.476/.576, with eight runs scored, 12 hits, two 2B’s, one 3B, one HR, six RBI, eight walks, and two SB’s, in 33 AB’s. A second-half promotion to St. Lucie is definitely in the cards for Taijeron.
- Josh Rodriguez (SS) – Rodriguez has been having a nice, solid season at second-base and shortstop for Binghamton this year. In 207 AB’s he has 30 runs scored, 62 hits, 14 2B’s, three 3B’s, five HR’s, 29 RBI, and a slash-line of .300/.384/.469. Lately however Rodriguez has been on fire. Over his last ten games he has gone 16-for-40 with eight runs scored, five 2B’s two 3B’s, one HR, and four RBI, which gave him a slash-line of .400/.415/.700 over that span.
- Eric Campbell (1B) – This is the second time this year Campbell has made this list, as he enjoys perhaps his finest season as a pro so far. He is hitting .313 in 163 at-bats for Binghamton, with four HR’s and 23 RBI, and he leads the Eastern League in OBP with a .421. In his last ten games the 25-year-old Campbell has hit .351 by going 13-for-37 with five runs scored, three 2B’s, 2 HR’s, and 10 RBI.
- Rafael Montero (RHP) – The ace of the Savannah pitching staff this season has been this 21-year-old from the Dominican Republic. He currently leads the team in wins with six, innings pitched with 71.1, and is tied for the team lead in strikeouts with 54. Overall Montero is 6-3 with a 2.52 ERA in 12 game starts, but in his last ten games he is 6-2 with a 2.23 ERA, a 46/7 K/BB ratio, and the league opponents are hitting just .213 against him. His WHIP stands at .097 for the year.
- Zack Wheeler (RHP) – Who’s hot? Well, Zack Wheeler is, but who doesn’t know that? In his last ten games, the 22-year-old Wheeler is 6-1 with a 1.82 ERA. In 59.1 innings over that time he has allowed just 30 hits, 12 earned runs, one HR, and an opponents batting average of .147, and a K/BB ratio of 58/25. For the season he is 6-2 with a 1.92 ERA over 11 game starts and 65.2 innings. His K/BB ratio is 70/27, and opponents are hitting .174 against him.
- Matt Harvey (RHP) – Along with Wheeler the most talked about Mets prospect this season. Everyone believes that Harvey will be the first big league rotation mainstay, to be produced by the Mets system, since Jon Niese and Dillon Gee. This year was just Harvey’s second professional season and yet he opened the year in the AAA Buffalo rotation and has become the ace of the staff. He leads the team in starts, wins, innings, and strikeouts. For the year Harvey is: 6-3 with a 3.70 ERA. In 15 game starts he has hurled 80.1 innings, giving up 74 hits, 33 earned runs, and an 81/37 K/BB ratio. He has been very consistent in 2012, but has gotten better as the season wears on. In his last ten games, he has posted a 3.15 ERA over 54.1 innings.
- Jenrry Mejia (RHP) – Now that Mejia has returned to AAA all is well in the world. He’s healthy again, throwing hard, and at the level he is supposed to be at for the best in his development right now. He is also working for Wally Backman, who knows a little something about grooming players for the big leagues. Since arriving at Buffalo from his earlier rehab stints, he has pitched 19.1 innings allowing 12 hits, three earned runs, with five walks and ten strikeouts, good for an 0-1 record, and a 1.40 ERA. Oh, and the International League has “lit” him up to the tune of a .174 opponents batting average. It won’t be a long stop at Buffalo for Mejia, as I’m sure he’ll be hopping on the Citifield Shuttle in another couple of weeks.
- Pedro Beato (RHP) – Punch this guys’ ticket to Citifield too, only even sooner than Mejia. I’m not sure why they haven’t promoted the 25-year-old Beato to the big league club already, but they rarely ask me for my opinion these days anyway. With Buffalo this year Pedro has thrown 14.1 innings in ten games. He’s given up nine hits, two earned runs, five walks, 13 strikeouts, an opponents batting average of .180, and a record of 3-1 and a 1.26 ERA. He’d look pretty good in the Mets bullpen these days, don’t you think?
- Justin Hampson (LHP) – If you missed my piece on Hampson earlier in the week, you can check it out with this link. He has been one of the most effective relievers anywhere in the Mets system this season, and has been a model of consistency. This year at Buffalo, Hampson has thrown 39.2 innings in 26 games, and has given up 33 hits, eight earned runs, three HR’s and 14 walks to go with 41 strikeouts. His record for the year is 4-1 with a 1.82 ERA and two saves. He, Beato and Mejia will most likely all be in the Mets bullpen before too long, and it can’t happen soon enough.
- Marco Camarena (RHP) – The best pitcher in the system that no one is talking about is this 6’3″ 21-year-old right-hander from Mexico, Marco Camarena. I cannot believe that this guy hasn’t landed a regular rotation spot at Savannah yet. He’s good, very good. Not only can you tell just by watching him pitch that this guy has good stuff, but his numbers this year back it up. He has been absolutely dazzling despite the fact that they have only given him three game starts so far. All his other appearances have been as a long-man out of the bullpen, or piggy-back reliever. Despite limited opportunities this year Camarena is second on the team in wins with five. His record in his last ten games is 3-1 with a 1.01 ERA. His last outing was on June 17th when he started against Rome, and went six innings giving up one unearned run on two hits, and a strikeout to pick up the win. That should get him another start this week, so perhaps this will be the turning point for his season, and give us an idea what we’ve got in this lively-armed right-hander. Overall this season in 17 games, three of which were starts, Marco is 5-1 with a 1.30 ERA. In 48.1 innings he has surrendered just 31 hits, seven earned runs, one HR, seven walks with 33 strikeouts. His WHIP for the year is 0.79, and his opponents batting average is .186.
- Jeff Walters (RHP) – Walters makes his second appearance on the hot-list this season, as he has been virtually untouchable this year coming out of the Savannah bullpen. The 6’3″ 24-year-old, hard-throwing righty is having his way with the younger players in the South Atlantic League, so expect a call-up to St. Lucie and then eventually AA, which will get him playing with kids his own age. In the meantime the SAL can’t figure this guy out. In 28.1 innings spread out over 17 games, Walters is 3-2 with a 0.95 ERA. He has given up just 20 hits, and three earned runs, while sporting a gaudy 30/4 K/BB ratio. Opponents are hitting just .198 off him and his WHIP is a tiny 0.85.
- Taylor Whitenton (RHP) – This 6’3″ 24-year-old soft-tosser doesn’t light up the radar gun but he is a quality arm, and knows how to get people out. After an outstanding year in the 2011 rotation at Savannah, where he led the league in ERA, Whitenton has toiled in the St. Lucie bullpen this season after failing to crack the starting rotation. He started out slowly but has really come on of late, and now has an overall record of 4-2 with a 2.76 ERA. In his last ten games, over 14 innings, he is 2-1 with a 1.29 ERA, six hits, two earned runs, 20 strikeouts and 11 walks, with an opponents batting average of .133.
Well these are the players that are really, really hot right now. Upon completing this piece I just learned that Taijeron, Walters and Montero just got called up to St. Lucie, congratulations guys. Rather than change what I wrote about them here I thought I’d leave the capsules as they are, and just make a note of the promotions here. Check out MMO for further analysis of the slew of mid-season promotions that just happened in the last several days.