Mid-Season Review: Savannah Sand Gnats

An article by posted on June 19, 2014 0 Comments

Dominic - Smith Savannahnow.com)

Record: 44-22

Top Performers / Top Prospects:

  • Dominic Smith, 1B: After a very good season with the Gulf Coast League Mets last year, Smith has not been the same hitter. The 2013 first-round pick is hitting .271/.337/.314 on the season with ten doubles, but no home runs. Smith should be given the benefit of the doubt with the power numbers, however, as he is a left-handed hitter playing half of his games in Savannah. Grayson Stadium is a tough place to hit overall, but it is notoriously difficult for lefties to hit. He also just turned 19 this week, so he is about two and a half years younger than the rest of his competition.
  • L.J. Mazzilli, 2B/SS: The Mets fourth-rounder last year, Mazzilli has been Savannah’s second-best hitter. Although Mazzilli is about a year older than league average, his batting line is still quite impressive for a middle infielder. In 284 trips to the plate, Mazzilli is hitting .292/.363/.428 with a team-high seven home runs and 11 stolen bases. Mazzilli could be promoted within the next few weeks if he keeps this up.
  • Gavin Cecchini SS: Although his performance has been overshadowed by Mazzilli’s, Cecchini is having a very solid season. Walking more and hitting for more power, Cecchini is turning into the all-around solid shortstop scouts projected him to be. On the season, he is hitting .259/.333/.408 with 17 doubles, four triples, three home runs, and seven stolen bases. Even with the move to the tough hitting environment of Savannah, Cecchini has raised his OPS by over 100 points from last year. The Mets will still take it very slow with the 20 year-old Cecchini, but this season is certainly a great sign for the shortstop.
  • Akeel Morris, RHP: Morris has certainly put himself back on the map with a wonderful first half out of the bullpen for Savannah. In 31.2 innings, Morris has been a strikeout machine, punching out 50 batters (14.2 per nine innings) while walking 12. Even more impressively, however, he has allowed only one run the entire year. The former Virgin Islands phenom is looking more like a solid back-end relief pitcher by the day.
  • Jeff McNeil, INF: McNeil was the 12th-round pick by the Mets out of CSU-Long Beach. After having a stellar season in Kingsport and flying under the radar, McNeil is at it again. The 22 year-old is hitting an incredible .332/.401/.461 with 20 doubles, two triples, two home runs, and 15 stolen bases to lead the team. He should be heading to St. Lucie rather soon as well.
  • John Gant, RHP: Another player who has flown under the radar, Gant has been Savannah’s best starter this season, posting a 2.12 ERA in 68 innings pitched.

Notes:

  • The Sand Gnats are around the middle of the pack with 300 runs scored so far this season, but it has been their pitching that has kept them atop the league. They have allowed just 3.03 runs per game, which amounts to a 2.68 ERA. Their pitchers have also struck out a league-high 9.2 batters per nine innings.
  • Three of the top 10 Mets prospects have seen time with the Gnats this season: Cecchini, Smith, and Amed Rosario.

Outlook / Promotions: 

  • Savannah will likely lose Smith, McNeil, and Mazzilli to promotions at some point this season, with a Cecchini promotion possible as well. There won’t be too much coming in, with the big exception possibly being Michael Conforto, who could go to Brooklyn, Savannah, or even St. Lucie once he signs.

Check back this week for mid-season reviews of St. Lucie, Binghamton, and Las Vegas.

(Photo: Savannahnow.com)

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About the Author ()

Connor O'Brien is a 17 year-old high school student and lifelong Mets fan. He embraces a sabermetric point of view in his articles, but also recognizes the importance of scouting, player development, and the immeasurable aspects of baseball. Follow him on Twitter @UpAlongFirst