WEEK IN REVIEW
The Las Vegas 51s (16-25, fourth in the Pacific Coast League Pacific Southern division) have struggled mightily as of late, losing six of seven this week, and 13 of 17 games in the month of May. Amed Rosario has no plans to slow down, however, as he has raised his average 13 points since last Friday.
The Binghamton Rumble Ponies (20-14, third in the Eastern League Eastern division) had a short week, playing only four games due to three rainouts, including a May 13 doubleheader that will be made up on July 17.
The St. Lucie Mets (18-23, fifth in the Florida State League South division) endured a .500 week, but they were the beneficiaries of Justin Dunn‘s best outing of the season, albeit in relief, on Wednesday. The former first-round pick allowed only one run and three hits while striking out five, following Chris Flexen‘s 2017 debut.
The Columbia Fireflies (21-17, second in the South Atlantic League Southern division) are rolling, having won seven of their last eight dating back to May 8. Harol Gonzalez pitched a seven-inning complete game on Monday, while Jay Jabs, playing 90 minutes from home in Lakewood, NJ, hit his first professional home run in the same contest.
METS MINORS NEWS & BUZZ
A pair of top pitching prospects who began the season on the disabled list made their 2017 debuts this past week. Marocs Molina, who was slowed by a lat injury, and Chris Flexen, who had bone chips in his knee, both made successful starts for St. Lucie, going four innings and allowing one earned run each.
Travis d’Arnaud, Seth Lugo, and Steven Matz all joined St. Lucie on rehab assignments on Thursday. Matz and Lugo combined to allow one run over 6.2 innings, while d’Arnaud went 2-4 at the dish and allowed a stolen base.
The Mets moved Josh Smoker into the starting rotation in Las Vegas, in an effort to have him work on developing his pitches in as many innings as possible. Through two starts, Smoker has allowed one earned run in 8.2 innings while striking out eight.
C Jose Garcia made his season debut with St. Lucie this week, going 1-4 on Wednesday. It was his first appearance since June 4, 2016, after which he underwent Tommy John surgery.
HR – Travis Taijeron 7 (LVG), Desmond Jennings 6 (LVG), Patrick Mazeika 5 (STL), Michael Paez 5 (COL), Dominic Smith (LVG)
RBI –Amed Rosario 29 (LVG), Patrick Mazeika 27 (STL), Dominic Smith 25 (LVG), Michael Paez 24 (COL), Dash Winningham 24 (COL)
WHIP – Jordan Humphreys 0.694 (COL), Merandy Gonzalez 0.772 (COL), Gabriel Llanes 1.133 (COL), P.J. Conlon 1.136 (BNG), Tyler Pill 1.140 (LVG/BNG)
The Mets made Michael Paez their fourth-round selection in the 2016 draft, less than a month before he would capture the NCAA championship at Coastal Carolina. Paez would go on to make his professional debut with the Brooklyn Cyclones, where he hit an underwhelming .190 with 47 strikeouts in 46 games.
Now in his second season, Paez has shown why he warranted an early round selection a year ago. With the Columbia Fireflies, the 22-year-old .287/.372/.525 with five home runs, tied for third most in the organization.
Michael caught up with MMN for a Q&A, where he discussed winning a National Championship, playing with Tim Tebow, and more.
On being drafted and winning an NCAA title in less than three weeks…
“Last year, those couple of weeks were some of the most stressful yet exciting moments of my baseball career. The fact that the draft was during the Super Regional and the day of our first game made things a little more tense, but it was an amazing experience being able to know my career was still going to continue after college. Then just to keep going and eventually winning the National Championship was something really special.”
On what he learned in his first professional season…
“The biggest takeaway for me out of my first professional season was learning how to fail. Most guys coming from college don’t fail often in short-season, but going to Brooklyn and not producing the way I had hoped definitely humbled me and gave me a good wake up call.”
On his first Spring Training as a pro…
“I approached Spring Training knowing that the organization hadn’t seen me be at my best. I also wanted to just be more consistent with my swing, and work on getting a flatter plane, as opposed to the huge uppercut I was taught in college. Then defensively, I had to be ready to play whatever position they needed me at, and to perform there at a high level.”
On what he attributes his early season success to…
“I think it has been a few things that have really helped me. The people I worked with in the off-season like I said earlier just wanted me to be more consistent with my at-bats, and then the staff here in Columbia has really been working with me everyday when I come to the ballpark. Lastly, my teammates and I are always talking about how the pitcher is throwing that day or if you do have a bad day that we will pick each other up, so it makes it easier knowing your teammates have your back.”
On what the organization would like to see in terms of his development…
“The coaches stress mostly to have fun and just be loose when I play. When I’m pressing that’s when I start becoming a player that I’m not. So for me they basically just say how important it is to stay within my self and not try to do too much.”
On playing with Tim Tebow…
“The experience with Tim has been awesome. He’s been through the professional ropes before, so getting advice from someone that’s “been-there-done-that” in your locker room, you start gravitating to them to just pick their brain on different things about sports or even life.”
On his long term goals in the game…
“My long term goals in baseball would just have to be playing my game the way I know for as long as I can, so whenever my time is over I have no regrets on how I played.”
Brandon Nimmo returned from rehab assignment and optioned to Las Vegas….Jayce Boyd placed on Las Vegas’ temporarily inactive list….Marcos Molina activated from St. Lucie’s disabled list….Justin Brantley and Jeff Diehl placed on St. Lucie’s disabled list….Kevin Canelon activated from St. Lucie’s temporarily inactive list….Nick Sergakis transferred to Extended Spring Training from St. Lucie….Jose Garcia activated from Columbia’s disabled list and transferred to St. Lucie.
Wilfredo Boscan activated from Las Vegas’ disabled list….L.J. Mazzilli transferred to Binghamton from Las Veags….Gustavo Nunez transferred to Extended Spring Training from Binghamton….Adam Atkins transferred to Columbia from St. Lucie….Chris Flexen activated from St. Lucie’s disabled list.
Travis d’Arnaud, Seth Lugo, and Steven Matz assigned to St. Lucie on a rehab assignment….Ricardo Cespedes placed on Columbia’s disabled list.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
He signed right as the 2017 season was getting underway, so the casual fan may not be as familiar with him, but veteran outfielder Desmond Jennings has been hard to contain for the 51s recently. Over the past seven days, the 30-year-old hit .261 with four home runs, including long balls in three consecutive games from May 11-13. He also put together an 11-game hitting streak, although it was snapped on Monday. Over the course of the season, Jennings is hitting .267/.333/.473 with six home runs and 17 RBI in 131 at-bats.
Because of the constantly increasing number of injuries and poor performances hitting the major league team, Jennings has to be on the shortlist of players that could potentially be promoted to the majors. He certainly has the most experience of any candidate, having collected over 2,000 at-bats in seven seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays. Jennings no longer carries the blazing speed he once did, but he still possesses a strong arm and as much power as he ever did. If the Mets can’t promise him a major league opportunity, the former top prospect will likely seek an organization that will.
Las Vegas: @ New Orleans (5/19-22), @ Round Rock (5/23-26)
Binghamton: @ Bowie (5/19-21), @ Richmond (5/22-25), Hartford (5/26-29)
St. Lucie: Dunedin (5/19-21), @ Bradenton (5/22-25), Clearwater (5/26-28)
Columbia: West Virginia (5/19-21), Charleston (5/22-24), @ Lexington (5/25-28)