How did the “big-name prospects” perform?
- Gavin Cecchini- 2012 First-Round Pick – .246/.311/.330 (191 AB), 1 HR, 22 RBI, 5 SB, 8.5 BB%, 20.3 K%
- Branden Kaupe- 2012 Fourth-Round Pick- .173/.358/.195 133 AB), 3 RBI, 3 SB, 22.0 BB%, 25.4 K%
- Steve Matz- 2-1, 1.55 ERA, 29 IP, 34 K, 17 BB, .158 BAA
- Miller Diaz- 2-1, 3.56 ERA, 43 IP, 45 K, 18 BB, .220 BAA
- Akeel Morris- 0-6, 7.98 ERA, 38.1 IP, 50 K, 22 BB, .253 BAA
This year’s Kingsport team was, for anyone that didn’t follow them, one of the worst in the Appalachian League. This year’s club was one of the most top-heavy Kinsport teams we’ve seen recently, with very little in terms of depth. Kingsport pitching ranked last in the league in runs allowed per game (6.0), walks per nine (4.5), and by far the most wild pitches (86). The lineup wasn’t much better, finishing last in OPS and home runs.
The players on the Kingsport roster were outmactched this year. After the elimination of the Mets Gulf Coast League team, many players who normally would be there were sent to Kingsport. That’s why the team was the youngest team in the league, and may have been why they struggled. Normally, draft picks or very young international players would have the GCL to help them make an easier transition to stateside baseball, but with that eliminated, it was a tough adjustment for players to make.
2012 was highlighted by the professional debuts of two of the Mets’ draft picks, Gavin Cecchini and Branden Kaupe. Both would’ve really benefited from some time in the GCL, especially Kaupe, who, had there been a GCL team, may have spent the entire season there. Kaupe, a prospect from Hawaii, is even a little too raw for Kingsport. I wouldn’t put any stock into his performance this year. Cecchini, on the other hand, I would judge a little bit because he was supposed to be the refined one coming out of high school. He had only a so-so season with the bat, but we’ll get our first real glimpse at him next year, when he will play a full season.
The rest of the Kingsport roster had some intriguing prospects who weren’t necessarily thought of as top-tier talents, but were interesting to follow. Steve Matz, a former top pick by the Mets in 2009, was finally able to make his professional debut with Kingsport after missing two years with an elbow injury. Matz dominated in six starts, striking out 34 batters in 29 innings pitched. Sadly, Matz was shut down towards the end of July with shoulder soreness. Toby Hyde of Mets Minor League Blog reports that it isn’t a big deal, which will hopefully mean that we’ll get another chance to see Matz next season, completely healthy.
The last prospect that I really want to talk about is Akeel Morris. He was a sleeper prospect coming into this season. I thought that he really had a chance to raise some eyebrows. I was wrong. After an impressive performance last year in Kingsport, he struggled and eventually had to be taken out of the starting rotation. He fared well in the bullpen, pitching to a stellar 1.13 ERA in 16 innings compared to a 12.90 ERA as a starter. As a two-pitch pitcher, he fits the profile of a relief pitcher and could stay in that role going forward. He has a decent fastball and curveball, but nothing else. From the tape I’ve watched of him, he is a max-effort thrower, fitting the mold of a flame-thrower out of the ‘pen. It would be a smart move for his development if the Mets kept him there going forward.
Conclusion: Overall, Kingsport certainly had the least amount of depth of any team in the Mets system, but it definitely wasn’t completely bare. There are a few positives that can be taken from this season. Cecchini’s bat was decent, better than possibly some expected. Steve Matz was dominant, even though he only had six starts. Miller, Diaz, who I haven’t really talked about, also had a nice season. With an extra first-round draft pick next year and possibly some international free agents coming stateside, the Kingsport Mets will definitely be exciting to watch next season.