Mets Minors Beat: Wheeler Wins, Schwinden’s Journey, Holy Robles!
Welcome back for the Monday-morning-quarterback edition of the ultra-cool MMO feature: Mets Minors Beat. What the heck is that? You might very well say. It is a labor of love, and in it you will see stuff about the Mets minor leagues that you absolutely won’t find anywhere else. Over the last several months the Beat has come to you twice every week, and if you’ve been reading it all along you have been kept up-to-speed on all the significant happenings in the Mets system. If you think back, there have been countless features on individual players, some you have heard of and some you haven’t, with critiques, scouting reports, updates, predictions, stats, transactions, and interesting tidbits. If read here on MMO in conjunction with our daily game recaps, there is nothing left uncovered about the daily nuts-and-bolts of the New York Mets minor league system. Keep reading for some very interesting stuff…….
Zack Wheeler – The Mets top prospect picked up his first AAA win on Sunday with a seven inning, complete game, three-hit shutout defeating the Rochester Red Wings of the Minnesota Twins organization by a final score of 1-0. Wheeler was masterful, throwing 98 pitches, 65 for strikes, in 7.0 innings with no runs, three hits, two walks and seven strikeouts. The outing improved the 22-year-old right-hander’s record to 1-2 at AAA, with a 3.54 ERA in five starts so far.
Chris Schwinden – It’s been one heck of a crazy season for our hero, Schwinnie, who just happens to be one of the nicest guys you could ever hope to meet. Like the prodigal son returning, he is enjoying the end to a fine season, at home where he belongs, as a member of the Mets organization. The Mets had called him up to pitch in the bigs earlier this season, as a reward for another terrific start with the Bisons. But when he was sent down after appearing in just three games for the Mets, he was lost to the Toronto Blue Jays organization on waivers. The Jays sent him to their Las Vegas affiliate in the Pacific Coast League to play for the 51′s on the rock hard, desert-baked ground that they call a field there. He appeared in one game and tossed 3.0 innings for them giving up seven earned runs on eight hits and absorbing a loss. He gladly said good-bye to Las Vegas as he was lost again on waivers four days later, this time to the Cleveland Indians. For about three weeks, Schwinnie was an Indian, and they squirreled him away on the Columbus Clippers roster in the International League. While there he appeared in three games, all starts, and went 1-2 with a 5.87 ERA in 15.1 innings. Then the unthinkable happened. He was lost on waivers again. This time to those miserable Yankees. They placed him on the roster at Scranton-Wilkes Barre, that traveling circus without a home that the Yankees call a farm club. Whilst wearing the pin-stripes of the Evil Empire, Schwinnie pitched in one game, a start that lasted just 4.0 innings before he was removed having allowed four runs, three earned, on eight hits and taking a loss. Then it gets a little strange. He was lost on waivers again. And this time, it was the Mets who snatched him up, back on July 5th. The prodigal son had returned! Since then Schwinnie has appeared in 11 games for the Herd, nine starts, and gone 4-2, with a 2.60 ERA, and a 46/10 K/BB ratio. Welcome back my son.
Darin Gorski – The lefty has been throwing as well as any pitcher in the system this month as he races towards the season’s finish line. Gorski obviously still has plenty left in the tank as he has now strung together four very good outings in a row. On Saturday against Portland he went 7.2 innings while allowing one run, earned, on five hits, with a walk and nine strikeouts to earn the win. In his last four starts he is 3-1 with a 1.95 ERA, and for the year he is now 9-7 with a 3.66 ERA in 23 game starts, with one remaining before season’s end.
Wilmer Flores – The hits just keep on coming for Flores who has been lighting up the Eastern League for the month of August. He is 30-for-84 since the 1st of the month with 16 runs, nine doubles, three home runs, ten RBI, and nine walks for a slash of .357/.419/.571.
Reese Havens – It’s been a rough year for the former 1st-round draft pick of the Mets, the guy taken just four slots back of Ike Davis in 2008. Havens has managed to stay on the field for the most part this season, which is a step in the right direction, except he was often times invisible when he was playing. In 315 at-bats this season he has struck out 110 times. His slash-line is a woeful .219/.347/.359. He had an 0-for-19 broken by his homer in the sixth inning on Saturday night, but by Sunday he had cooled and went 1-for-6 in the game. In 54 at-bats during the month of August, he is hitting .185 with two homers, and eight RBI.
Juan Centeno – It has been a very solid season for the 22-year-old receiver who has established career highs in at-bats and hits, in 2012. Lately his bat has been heating up. In his last ten games he has gone 13-for-37, with four runs scored, a double, a triple, and 12 RBI, for a slash-line of .351/.415/.432.
Greg Peavey – The right-hander put in a good day on Sunday, throwing a quality start against Portland. Seeking to even his record at 8-8 on the year, Peavey was forced to take a no-decision instead when he had to leave with the game tied 3-3 after seven. Binghamton would eventually win it in ten innings by a score of 5-3. For the day Peavey hurled 7.0 innings, giving up three runs, all earned, on six hits, with a walk and four strikeouts. All three runs against him came on two homers struck by Portland left-fielder Jeremy Hazelbaker, a solo-shot in the first, and a two-run job in the third, his 18th and 19th round-trippers on the year. Peavey remains 7-8 for Binghamton this year with a 5.06 ERA with one start left to go in his season.
Aderlin Rodriguez – The big third-baseman with the powerful swing has made significant strides this year as he finally left the South Atlantic League behind after spending parts of three seasons there. After moving up to High-A ball in the advanced Florida State League, the 6’3″ 20-year-old has struggled a bit to make consistent contact batting just .241 so far. But he hasn’t been slowed as a run-producer, which is what his game hinges on anyway. He started the year hitting .274 with 21 doubles, a triple, 16 home runs, and 59 RBI in 318 at-bats for Savannah. In his 133 FSL at-bats he has added five doubles, eight more home runs, and 23 RBI, to make his combined totals on the year: .264 with 60 runs scored, 26 doubles, one triple, 24 home runs, 82 RBI, and a .486 SLG% in 451 total at-bats.
Cesar Puello – Currently with a modest five-game hitting streak, the 21-year-old Puello has been hitting better of late after two stints on the D.L. this year with a broken hamate, and a strained hamstring. He is finally starting to shine over his last 11 games. During that time he is 12-for-34, with ten runs scored, four doubles, two homers, five RBI, and four stolen bases, posting a slash-line of .353/.371/.647. During those 11 games he has raised his average from .241 to .260 for the year with three home runs, 18 RBI, and 17 stolen bases in 204 at-bats.
Darrell Ceciliani – Everybody take a deep breath and hold it, as the Mets play Russian Roulette with this guy’s health. The speedy center-fielder returned to the line-up for Lucie on Wednesday after rehabbing his third pulled hamstring of the season. So far he seems to be okay having played in four games since his return, and going 8-for-16 with three runs scored, four walks, and two RBI. With just seven regular season games remaining for St. Lucie, before their playoff appearance this year, I certainly hope they can keep this guy from injuring himself yet again, before getting the entire off-season to fully rehab his injury. Ceciliani is the most advanced, and complete player, as far as pure center-fielders in the Mets system. It would be shame if they caused this hamstring situation to become chronic by rushing him back too soon.
Chase Huchingson – What a remarkable effort the 6’5″ side-arm slinging south-paw turned in for St. Lucie on Saturday night. If he had had just one more out left in his arm, he would have turned in a legendary performance. As it was, he got a no-decision, but it was clearly one of the most dominant outings of his professional career so far. He entered the ninth inning, having allowed no runs on just one hit with three strikeouts for the first eight innings. Then a single, a sac-bunt, and a walk put men on first and second with two outs, and the score 1-0 in favor of the good guys. Unfortunately Charlotte right-fielder Todd Glaesmann singled into right to drive in a run, chasing Huchingson, and sending the game into extra’s locked in a 1-1 tie. Glaesmann would later win the game for the Stone Crabs with his seventh home run in just 112 at-bats since being promoted to the FSL. His game-winning blast came off Met reliever Jeff Walters in the top of the 12th inning. After a dazzling start to Huchingson’s season which saw him jump out to a 4-1 record and a 1.32 ERA in April, he floundered for the next three months. In May-June-July, he made 13 starts and pitched to a record of 2-6 with a 6.22 ERA. But somehow in the dog days of summer Huch is turning his season back around having now thrown five very good outings in a row. Over his last five starts, he has gone 2-0, with an ERA of 3.03, but the biggest problem for Huch right now is command. His BB/9 this year is simply too high at 4.3.
Alex Panteliodis – The left-hander has been a workhorse in the Savannah rotation this year. He is tied with Michael Fulmer for the most game starts with 21. He is third on the staff in innings pitched with 101.2, and is slated to make one more start before the end of the regular season. Pants has pitched into some tough luck this season but he is very good at keeping his team in a game. His record is 4-8 with a 3.72 ERA, and an 83/33 K/BB ratio.
Michael Fulmer – The 19-year-old flame-thrower has not pitched in more that a week which leaves the minor league geeks like myself to speculate as to whether he has been shut down for the season. I would like to think that they are being careful with that prized commodity called Fulmer’s right arm, and allow him to take the rest of the year off. I mean let’s face it, he has nothing left to prove in the South Atlantic League. Pitching there this season in a league where the average player is 21 or 22-years-old, the teenager pitched like a seasoned veteran, leading his team in strikeouts, innings, and game starts, while ranking fourth in the league in WHIP, and fifth in the league in ERA. Assuming he has been shut down, his final SAL numbers look like 21 games, 21 game starts, a 7-6 record with a 2.74 ERA, one CG, 108.1 innings, a 101/38 K/BB ratio, .227 batting average against, and a 1.20 WHIP. No sense stressing his arm to give him one start in the Florida State League, he’s way ahead of the curve, shut him down, and let him start fresh next year at the advanced Florida State League as a 20-year-old. With a 108 innings in the can this year that would give him a range for next year of 125-to-150 innings.
Luis Mateo – The last time Mateo has actually been credited with winning a game was back on July 14th when he went 7.0 innings against the State College Spikes, giving up no runs on one hit, with eight strikeouts and one walk. Since then, in his next five starts, he had a record of 0-4 with a 4.40 ERA. But on Friday night it was vintage Mateo against the hated Staten Island Yankees. He tossed 7.0 dominant innings allowing no runs on five hits, with a walk and six strikeouts. Of course any notion of Mateo picking up a win for his troubles went right out the window when the Cyclone bullpen melted down in the eighth inning and surrendered five earned runs, to blow the game open in favor of the evil empire. In 66.1 innings, spread out over 11 starts this year, the 6’3″ right-hander is 4-5 with a 2.58 ERA, but his peripherals are off-the-charts. For one thing, his K/BB ratio is a very snappy 77/8. Secondly, his H/9 is 7.2 this year, his HR/9 is a microscopic 0.3, his BB/9 is 1.1, his K/9 is 10.4, and his K/BB ratio is 9.63. Definitely one of the top pitching prospects in the entire Mets system, 2012 has been a very good developmental year for the 22-year-old, and should provide a good springboard for him as he heads into his first taste of the long-season leagues in 2013. By the end of this season he will have logged about 75-80 innings, which would put him in line, barring injury, for around 125 innings next season.
Craig Hansen – The returns are diminishing on this low-risk, high-reward, free-agent signing. The former big-league hurler looked positively dreadful in his attempts to record even a single out on Friday night, which he was unable to do. Coming on in the eighth to try and preserve a tenuous 1-0 lead for Luis Mateo, Hansen blew the game before you could say Jackie Robinson. He walked the lead-off man, of course. Then he hit the next batter with a pitch, which is always a nice touch, to put runners on first and second. Then he gave up a single (of course he did) to load the bases with no one out. Can you feel this one coming? Guess what he did next? Yup, you guessed it, he plunked the next batter with a pitch to force in the tying run. Beck Wheeler came on and promptly delivered a batting practice fastball that Yankee third-sacker Matthew Duran clobbered for a grand-slam home run, his first round-tripper of the year, which iced the game at 5-1 Staten Island.
Hansel Robles – If there were any doubters left still breathing, Robles has pretty much put an end to any negative talk this weekend. With yet another dominant outing on Saturday night against those rotten Yankees, Robles improved his record to 5-1 with a 1.20 ERA. In 11 game starts covering 67.2 innings he has a 0.75 WHIP, a H/9 of 5.7, a BB/9 of 1.1, and a K/9 of 8.2. On Saturday he tossed 7.0 innings giving up no runs on three hits, with eight strikeouts and a walk. He has not allowed an earned run in his last 31.0 innings over four plus starts.
Brandon Nimmo – The Mets top outfield prospect is having a very good season in the New York Penn League. As a 19-year-old in this league he has had to meet the challenges of competing against players two to three years older than himself. That is a big reason why some of the younger Cyclone everyday players, the teenagers have trouble finding consistency at the plate this year. For Nimmo, if you look at what he’s done month-to-month the growth is very apparent. In his first month this season he hit .200 for the month of June, with two doubles, one home run and seven RBI. In the month of July Nimmo started to find his stroke as he went 31-for-115 for a .270 batting average, with 11 doubles, one triple, two homers, and 17 RBI. Now in August Nimmo has found himself at the plate going 23-for-74 for a .311 batting average with six doubles, two home runs, a .433 OBP, and a .473 SLG%. For the season, in 229 at-bats, he has a slash-line of .271/.394/.428, with 39 runs, 19 doubles, one triple, five home runs, 36 RBI, and 41 walks, with one stolen base.
Phillip Evans – After struggling with the bat in July the 19-year-old shortstop is coming on strong lately hitting .342 with a .444 OBP in his last ten games.
Jeff Diehl – The 6’4″ 18-year-old slugger is heating up these days for Kingsport. In his last four games he is 7-for-10 with two runs scored, a double, a triple, and two RBI.
Juan Urbina – Urbi picked up his first win of the year on Friday, in what has been a very tough season for him. Although completing his third season in the Mets system, the still only 19-year-old left-hander had a tough start in 2011, before finishing strong down the stretch in the K-Mets rotation. But when 2012 began he had slipped on the depth charts and was unable to land one of the coveted 12 starting rotation spots in either the Brooklyn or Kingsport rotations. Finding his opportunities to pitch this year few and very far between, Urbina has been a forgotten man, and as a result, it has been hard for him to pitch with any kind of consistency. On Friday night he came on in relief of Andrew Massie to start the fifth inning with the score 5-4 in favor of the K-Mets. He went 3.0 scoreless innings with no hits, two walks and five strikeouts, to pick up the win. His record now stands at 1-0 with a 4.35 ERA in 10.1 innings this year. Urbina is throwing very hard these days, and the strikeout rate shows that. Although a very small sample size (10.1 innings) his H/9 is 4.4, his K/9 is a whopping 13.9 (16 K’s) and his BB/9 is also 13.9 (16 BB’s).
Collin McHugh – Don’t even get me started on this. Although my patience is wearing thin these days with the front office, and Mr. Alderson in particular, like a good Mets fan I am trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, and allow them one more off-season before I consider relinquishing all of my support, and start calling for Sandy’s head. But when he does something like this head-scratcher, and sends McHugh back to the minors after the historical game he pitched for the Mets last Thursday afternoon, it makes me wonder if Sandy hasn’t completely lost his mind. Are you kidding me? I just don’t see the reason for it. For one thing we Mets fans have not had much to cheer about lately, how about giving us something compelling to watch Mr. Alderson? When you consider that the only ones left from our original starting rotation this year are Dickey and Niese. I can’t see where there isn’t a place for McHugh in the Mets rotation for the rest of this year. Isn’t it rather important to see what we have in McHugh heading into the off-season? I think it is crucial, and by not doing so we are wasting a golden opportunity to see what he can do against big-league hitters.
Armando Rodriguez – After making an emergency start on Thursday to replace McHugh in the Herd rotation, the 24-year-old right-hander was immediately returned to Bingo on Friday. In Thursday’s start he made his AAA debut and went 4.1 innings against the SWB Yankees giving up one earned run on three hits, with two walks and two strikeouts.
Andrew Carpenter – The big righty reliever traded places with Rodriguez shuffling up to Buffalo to work out of the Herd’s pen for the rest of the AAA season. The 6’3″ 27-year-old started the year in the Pacific Coast League with Las Vegas, where he went 6-3 with a 3.38 ERA in 21 games (12 starts) as a swing-man. He then opted for minor league free agency, and signed with the Mets at the end of July. While with Binghamton he got into five games, pitching 5.0 innings, giving up no runs on four hits, two walks, striking out ten, and earning three saves. He got into the game on Friday night for the Bisons, tossing a scoreless frame and giving up just one hit while striking out two. He then came on in Saturday’s game striking out the only hitter he faced, to help Schwinden get through the seventh inning without being scored upon.
Lucas Duda – The big one returns to Flushing, after a brief tour of the International League. In 96 at-bats while playing outfield for the Herd, he hit .260, with three home runs and eight RBI.
Jordanny Valdespin – To make room for the big Dude, Valdespin heads back down to Buffalo where he can work on his game. He needs to improve on his pitch selection, situational hitting, base-running, fielding, and throwing from the outfield. So don’t expect to see him as the centerfielder slash lead-off hitter at Citi anytime soon. While with the Mets this season he hit .242, with eight home runs, 26 RBI and seven stolen bases, in 161 at-bats.
Jack Leathersich – The Mets placed the hard throwing lefty reliever on the temporarily inactive list on Friday. His numbers at Lucie this year are 2-5 with a 4.40 ERA, one save, and a 72/23 K/BB ratio in 24 games covering 45.0 innings. His K/9 is an eye-popping 14.4 for the year. C’mon! Are you kidding me?
Rylan Sandoval – The middle-infielder went on the D.L. on July 13th, and was activated by St. Lucie when Leathersich was placed on the temporarily inactive list. In 165 at-bats this season split between St. Lucie and Binghamton, the 25-year-old Sandoval is hitting .236 with four homers and 22 RBI.
Brandon Welch – This 21-year-old, 6’1″ right-hander was drafted by the Mets in the 5th round of this past year’s draft, out of Palm Beach State College, which is a junior college. Welch traveled and worked out with the Brooklyn Cyclones, although he did not appear in a game with them and was then sent to Kingsport on Saturday, and made his professional debut that night against Bluefield. He entered the game in the seventh with the K-Mets trailing 6-0 and gave up one earned run in his inning of work, on two hits.
Robert Whalen - Like Welch, Whalen was taken in this year’s draft, in the 12th round out of Haines City, Florida High School, and was also working out with Brooklyn until Saturday, when he was assigned to Kingsport. He also made his pro-debut in Saturday night’s loss, pitching the sixth inning in relief of starter John Gant, and giving up an unearned run on a hit, with one strikeout.
Thanks for checking out this Monday-morning-quarterback edition of the MMO feature Mets Minors Beat. We will be back on Friday, and twice again next week, until the end of the minor league season the following week. Be sure to check back on Friday to see who’s finishing the season strong, and what milestones are being passed as our farmhands come down the homestretch in their respective minor league seasons.
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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