Mets Merized Online » Petey Pete Thu, 27 Nov 2014 12:00:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 MMO Exclusive: Mets Prospect Akeel Morris Reflects On Breakthrough Season Mon, 24 Nov 2014 17:22:42 +0000 Morris - Akeel

The beginning of last week I had just finished reading an email from Mets pitching prospect Akeel Morris. He had kindly consented to doing an interview with me for MMO. I then went into the MMO Interview Archives, and way back on page 16 or 17, I found the first interview I did with Akeel when he was toiling as an 18-year-old in the rookie league and I was surprised to see it was over three years ago… Wow, time sure flies when you’re young, and a Met, and are living the baseball life.

In those three years Morris has come a long way. He utterly dominated the South Atlantic League this past season, was selected to the  All-Star team, pitched in the play-offs, and led the SAL in Saves, strikeout rate, WHIP, ERA, total and strikeouts for a reliever. In recognition of his achievements, Morris received the prestigious Sterling Award, given by the Mets Organization to the best player at each minor league level.

Last week, the Mets even made the decision to add Morris to their 40-man Major League roster. That speaks volumes about what the Mets think of this talented right-hander.

When drafted by the Mets in the 10th round in 2010 out of Amalie High School in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, Akeel was just a raw, untested young pitcher with a very live arm. In our previous interview he explained that he was working on repeating his delivery and his overall command.

It seems to have worked out pretty well so far because in 2014 , while closing games for Single-A Savannah, Akeel led the league in Saves (16), ERA (0.63), WHIP (0.72), and K/9 (14.1). Yes that last stat is a real eye-opener, 14.1 strikeouts per nine innings. His 89 K’s in 57 innings was so far out of the ordinary that the closer with the next highest strikeout total in the league had 66 K’s in 58.2 innings.

So here we go… Let’s check in with this exciting young man and see what he has to say about his truly incredible season  Enjoy…

Petey: Hi Akeel, thanks for taking the time to do this interview for all of us at MMO, all the readers will really enjoy hearing from you.

After your amazing season this year in Savannah, there is a great deal of buzz about you in and around the organization not to mention the rest of baseball. How do you feel about the year you just had now that you have had a little time to decompress?

Akeel: The year I had personally was for me a great accomplishment. To see what I could do in a full season, the competition level and just moving up and being successful at every level for me is an accomplishment. I’m happy about that and excited to keep moving up and challenges, and challenging better hitters. So that really was an accomplishment for me personally. About the baseball world, it was a really great year, for me to make the All-Star team and post-season All-Star team, and the Sterling Award. On top of a great season that was even more than I could have asked for.

Petey: Well all those awards and accolades were well deserved my man. It is great to see your hard work and dedication paying off like that. Are you going to play any winter ball?

Akeel: No I’m not going to play any winter ball.

Petey: I went back in the MMO archives to find the interview you and I did before and I was shocked to see that it was just over three years ago, October 2011! A lot has gone down since then. It seems things really started to roll when you were switched to relief, that was the beginning of 2012 I think?

Akeel: Yeah I was put in a piggy-back role in 2012 so I was coming out of the bullpen. Yeah so you could say I started relief in 2012. And 2013 I was with the Brooklyn Cyclones. I wasn’t on a full relief schedule there, the appearances were just as much but I was out of the bullpen. I was on a starter’s schedule but I was piggy-backing as well. But yeah this year in Savannah was the first full year in the bullpen. Doing back-to-back outings, that was a big difference. You’re on a throwing program everyday, and you got to pitch that night. You have to learn how to pace yourself and how your arm is feeling going into the game and stuff. It was also a learning experience for me coming out of the bullpen.

Petey: Yeah and if you’re facing the same team two nights in a row you have to be able to show them something different right?

Akeel: Exactly. So it was definitely a learning experience.

Petey: Was there a moment when things really started to ‘click’ for you, and did that help your confidence?

Akeel: Confidence-wise, when I’ve got my good stuff, on most nights consistently like that I kinda got a feel for. I know what I gotta do to have this and this, and you’re not going to have it every night. But when you can have it on most nights that’s all you can really ask for, and you have to battle it the other nights. I got a feel for how I need to be, what I need to be, and what I need to do, to have my stuff be effective most nights, you know? I guess that’s what really ‘clicked’, learning about myself.

Petey: That’s really cool man. So how would you describe your mindset when you are entering a game as a closer? How is it different from starting a ball game?

Akeel: Yeah, it’s definitely different, I mean as a closer or even late in a ball game, you’re going to come in when the game is tied or most likely when your team is up and your like okay, they play nine innings, you’ve got to shut it down. No free passes, no anything. You don’t want to give them any momentum, you know? It’s really just like shut it down, shut it down, that’s all you’re really thinking.

Petey: Being aggressive.

Akeel: Yeah. Basically that’s a simple message in my head, I got to shut it down, go right after these guys. Don’t give them any free passes.

Petey: Is there any ritual or mental prep you do in the bullpen before coming in with the game on the line?

Akeel: Mental preparation, I mean that’s gradual throughout the game. As the later innings come buy I start to get a little more locked in. I start to move around in the bullpen, even as the the game is close in the eighth inning sometimes I just sit around and it’s about mentally locking in. When the whole process really starts for me is before I get on the mound to warm up. Sometimes you don’t have as much time but it doesn’t feel like that once you mentally prepared yourself. So that’s what works for me.

Petey: When we did our last interview for MMO we discussed your pitches at the time. I would imagine they have come a long way since then. Back in 2011 this what you said on the subject:

“As of now I’m throwing a fastball, curveball and a change up. My fastball is usually low to mid 90′s, it peaked at 96 this season. My curve is mid to upper 70′s, and change up is upper 70′s to low 80′s.”

What kind of speeds and movement is your fastball exhibiting these days?

Akeel: My fastball has been sitting at 93-95 mph this season, topped out at 97. Most people tell me it has like a downhill plane, most times it has life to it. Sometimes my catcher will tell me it looks like it’s coming down and looks like it’s going to hit the ground, but it just rides out and it reaches the catcher. So it kinda looks like it’s downhill, downhill, downhill, but it somehow rides out to the plate. So I don’t know how to explain it, that’s what he told me.

Petey: Wow, it sounds like the pitch has natural rise or carry but you’re keeping the ball down in the zone as well.

Akeel: I guess so yeah something like that.

Petey: That’s a four-seam fastball?

Akeel: Yeah I throw a four-seam fastball.

Petey: How bout your change-up? The last time I talked to you it was something you wanted to focus on.

Akeel: The change-up has been really great. Sometimes I keep it down and there’s not as much movement, but it’s so much slower than my fastball and it looks so much like my fastball too, it’s hard for hitters to pick it up. And sometimes it’s even better when it has that drop-off to it. Sometimes it just drops off the table and they swing over it. And sometimes it doesn’t even have that much movement but it’s so slow they don’t see it and can’t put a good swing on it.

Petey: And your arm-speed? It’s the same as with the fastball?

Akeel: Yeah my arm speed is the same.

Petey: That’s awesome. Now what about your breaking pitches?

Akeel: I throw a slider. The slider has really come along a lot more this year. I started throwing it last off-season and at the beginning of this season I didn’t throw it as much. But when the second half came I started to bring it out and throw it, and it really started to develop a lot more. I even got a feel for it where I was throwing the slider even more than my change-up at times. And I love that feeling because I didn’t even have to depend on the fastball/change-up combination. I could go fastball/slider combination and when I mixed it in with the change-up too, it was even a lot better.

Petey: Yeah and the results from this last season certainly attest to that. Say Akeel, what are some of the things you hope to accomplish in your development this upcoming season? Do you set any goals for yourself?

Akeel: This upcoming season I would really like to get better control of my slider. Like be able to throw it for a strike more often. I would throw it for a strike at times but most times I’d throw them a slider it would break outside the zone and they would swing over it or they would take it. But it was more for them to see the pitch. So if I can throw it for strikes more often that’s what I really want to do.  So basically just develop the slider some more.

Petey: Are you able to throw the slider when you are behind in the count?

Akeel: Yes I’ve thrown it in various different counts and I feel that’s a big thing about pitching too. I feel whatever pitches you have you need to be able to throw it in any count. So yeah I have been working on that and I have thrown it in different counts.

Petey: Is there any one coach, or coaches that have helped you significantly since joining the Mets organization, in regards to your development?

Akeel: Coaching-wise, I’ve been with Jonathan Hurst for two years in Kingsport, he helped me a lot, and different coaches in extended spring training. But one of the coaches who really took a lot of time out with me and worked on mechanics while I was in extended spring training day-to-day was Miguel Valdez. He was the pitching coach for short season and I mean he’d really break down my mechanics  for me to understand it and I worked on it. It took a little time but it definitely paid off to where I understand my mechanics and I can see what I’m doing wrong. And as soon as I figured that stuff out it’s been going a lot better, a lot better. So Miguel Valdez has really helped me out a lot.

Petey: You were on a very talented Savannah ball club this past season, lot’s of excellent position players and pitchers. And of course you guys made the SAL playoffs. But let’s focus on the pitching staff for a moment. As someone who watched your starting pitcher’s performances in every game, are there any that stand out for what they bring to the table?

Akeel: That’s really hard, I mean we got so much talent. Actually the starting pitching, I mean for the full year I would say, John Gant for sure. He impressed me. I mean anytime he’s going into the game your guaranteed he’s gonna go at least six innings. He usually goes deep into the ball games and he’s  keeping the score close, giving your team a chance to win. So John Gant really impressed me with his consistency and being able to do that. Other pitchers, I like Robert Gsellman a lot too but he got hurt a little bit into the season. But I mean he really pitched good, he had a good year as well.

Petey: Yeah a lot of Mets fans that follow the Mets Minor League teams are very high on those two guys.

Akeel: And also Kevin McGowan too because he had a game, he went deep into the ninth and I like when your starting pitcher is out there. His pitch count was up and he couldn’t pitch anymore in the ninth inning if he wanted to. And I had to come in and close the game, and he didn’t even want to get off the mound, he wanted to finish the game. So when you have your starters out there with that sort of fire, it pumps you up more to come in and save their game.

Petey: One more question. Now that you are a professional ‘closer’ Akeel, do you ever imagine yourself on the mound in the 9th inning of the World Series trying to preserve a one-run lead? How does it work out? Ha ha!

Akeel: Definitely, as a kid people have those fantasies, whatever scenario it is. Fortunately for me I was always pitching, since I became a pitcher that’s always been the fantasy. The World Series, last inning, game on the line and they call on you. I mean how that turns out is I’m just ready to pitch. Like I said, always in the minors to shut it down, and it goes well for me in my mind.

Petey: That’s is awesome man. Seriously Akeel, I want to thank you again for being so accommodating and taking the time to do this interview. You have always taken time out to talk to me and my colleagues at MetsMerized Online and we all really appreciate it.

Akeel: Alright man sounds good, anytime. I’m already psyched.

* * * * * * * * * * *

I hope you enjoyed our interview. Although Morris is still a year or two away from the big leagues, the fact that the Mets found it necessary to protect him from the draft this winter by adding him to the 40 man roster shows how highly regarded a prospect he truly is. I look for him to be fast-tracked all the way to AA this year. He’ll surely have a chance to get his feet wet in the Florida State League coming out of spring training, but I would be very surprised if he doesn’t wind up at Binghamton by mid-season at the latest.


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What Kind Of Free Agent Should Mets Sign? Sun, 19 Oct 2014 02:24:29 +0000 large_asdrubal-cabrera

Could The Mets Pursue Asdrubal Cabrera To Play Shortstop?

What was the best free agent deal the Mets ever pulled off? Unquestionably, it was Carlos Beltran. The uber-talented thoroughbred outfielder that the Mets used to have patrolling center field during much of the last decade….when he was healthy enough to play. Those Mets clubs of the 2000′s will go down in history as a monumentally under-achieving baseball franchise.

After all, they had the talent: Beltran, Wright, Reyes, Delgado, Alou, Pedro, Wagner. They spent money and lured many big names to come and play alongside Jose and David. But they always fell short, there were never enough complimentary players to help the stars carry the team. Corner outfield has been an absolute joke for a long time now. The Shawn Greens and Chris Youngs seem to keep on coming in a never ending conga-line of futility. Until this past season, the bullpen never had anyone beyond the closer and sometimes not even a viable one of those.

In the recent past, if any of their key players ever went down with an injury there was rarely anyone to replace them. Mets fans would agonize over those seemingly constant and lengthy DL stays by Beltran, Reyes, Pedro, Alou and Delgado. Having the big names is not always the answer.


Winning a World Series is more often done by the little guys, the complimentary players. They may not be big name stars that make the fan base salivate, but if you have enough productive players on a given roster, you can win a championship anyway. Just ask Al Weis. Don’t remember the “Mighty Might”? How about “Sugar” Ray Knight? Too long ago? Todd Pratt…surely you remember “Tank”? (I know, they didn’t win a W.S. while he was coming off the bench for the Amazins, but it wasn’t his fault that they fell short.)

Let me bring up an example of the most recent Mets excursion into the world of free agency. Let’s step into the Wayback Machine, and join me as we travel all the way back to a year ago. Remember when they signed a power-hitting outfielder with upside, who is in the prime of his career? Yes I’m referring to Curtis Granderson….who sure doesn’t seem so grand to me.

Now they have an elephant in the corner (of the outfield). A pig-in-a-poke, a $15 million dollar a year non-contributor to the everyday lineup through the 2017 season. We were so happy to be rid of Jason Bay‘s contract, but then go right out and replace it with a similar 4-year deal for the Grandy-Man as soon as we have some money to spend.

I know many of the glass-half-full fans out there are burning at those last few remarks. You are thinking to yourself that Granderson may very well have a renaissance season in 2015, and he may. You are hoping he is poised to have a huge year just like in his Bronx heyday. So let me put it a different way because in respects to this guy I am a glass-half-empty type, even if they are moving in the fences mostly for his sake.

I think back to the free agents that were signed by past Met teams to be the ‘savior’, guys like: George Foster, Pedro Martinez and the aforementioned Beltran. It didn’t work, it rarely does.

But it’s too late for that. With the Mets now stuck in a Granderson gamble, the question is: do they have a reliable starting outfielder who will produce at  level commensurate with his huge annual outlay? It’s anyone’s guess but as a Mets fan I hate to be in that situation.

How many more times are the Mets going to go down the same path that got them to where they were the last few seasons?

I know it’s not the most popular sentiment among Mets fans who have suffered mightily, and who long to have a team they can take pride in. But patience right now will pay dividends. Within two years the Mets will have a wealth of young and talented players competing for major league opportunities.

kevin plaweckiPlayers like Brandon Nimmo, Kevin Plawecki, Michael Conforto, and Steven Matz, just to name a few. High-round draft picks, players with immense upside and talent, players who will make a difference.

Sure the Mets can afford to trade young talent to acquire some more advanced young talent, but there is no need to make a huge splash, or overpay. This is where “smarts” will prevail, and a conservative approach will serve Met interests better.

Shortstop and corner outfield remain the key right now. But with their obvious desire to explore trades for Daniel Murphy and their ability to move an established starting pitcher this winter, the Mets can upgrade one or both spots without necessarily trading any prospects, or signing a big time free agent.

When can you remember the Mets having a solid big league starting pitcher and an All-Star second-baseman that they head into the hot-stove season looking to trade for help elsewhere? I believe this is a first in that regard. So we need to sit back, relax, and see how this thing plays out.

As far as free agents are concerned, I like the complementary types right now. The lunch-box guys, the grinders, the over-achievers. Experienced players, but the type that are aiming to prove that they have something left in the tank. Low risk, high reward players. This may not be sexy, but it is smart. And where building a World Series winner is concerned, smart couldn’t hurt.


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Petey’s Mets Nightmare Thu, 21 Aug 2014 01:00:40 +0000 Can Anyone Here Play This Game?

Can Anyone Here Play This Game?

I get up like any other day to get ready for work. As I am making some fresh coffee I flip on ESPN. Hey what the hell is this? There is ‘breaking baseball news’ they say, coming up after the break. So as the commercials play, and the coffee drips, I start to feed the dogs. Then the sports news comes back on.

“Someone has a new manager,” Stewart Scott starts to chirp, “can you guess who?”

Me: ”No, I can’t guess who, moron,” I mutter irritably, “why don’t you cut the crap and just tell me,” I implore the screen. “Geez I haven’t even had my coffee yet and I’m supposed to guess who has a new manager. It won’t be the Mets that’s for sure!”

Stewart: No, It’s not the Mets, care to try another guess?

Me: Oh c’mon!

Stewart: The Cincinnati Reds have decided to go in a different direction as the team this morning has announced they have cut ties with manager Bryan Price after just one year at the helm.

Me: Big deal.

Stewart: But what’s even more interesting is that they have already conducted their search for a successor, and this morning they have announced Price’s replacement as well. The new Reds manager for the 2015 MLB season will be Wally Backman, who finally gets a chance to manage in the majors after being hired and then fired by the Diamondbacks in less than a week, way back in……..

But that was all I remember. The next thing I was aware of was that I was throwing things. Both out the window and at the wall. I remember things smashing and bits of broken glass flying about the room. I was hurling both everyday household items and cherished family possessions without prejudice. I was even throwing left-handed and right-handed at the same time. I didn’t even know I could throw lefty.

And all the while I was cursing in a most vile manner. It didn’t even sound like the voice was coming from me. I screamed insults at the Mets owners, the front office, the field manager, even Mr. Met. But did it make me feel any better? Hell no, this just ain’t right! Wally a Cincinnati Red, are you kidding me!?! He should be manager of the Mets! And I heave an empty wine bottle out the window.

And then….the press conference starts. And there is Wally, one of the few true Mets icons and heroes, and he’s being introduced as manager of the Reds. He’s wearing a red hat and jersey. As a Mets fan, I can’t tell you how bad this makes me feel. And how pissed off. It’s just another slap in the face for being a fan of the Mets.

My eyes comb the room for something else to throw and I spy a 1986 Mets World Champions table lamp over by the open window. Perfect. I pick it up and give it a yank, but the plug doesn’t come out. I pull harder, then really hard. The plug suddenly comes loose and I tumble backwards out the window. As I’m falling my life starts to pass before me. I am still mad at the Mets, but I start to worry about dying too and wondering if it will hurt? And right then, I wake up.

Wow, that was a horrible nightmare! And so real too! I’m glad it was just a bad dream. I flip on the TV.

Stewart: “Someone has a new manager, can you guess who?”

terry collins Mets Spring Training

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Meet The Mets…. In A Couple Of Years Fri, 18 Jul 2014 13:00:14 +0000 Jeff Roberson Associated Press  steven matz

I’m sure you have heard the old baseball adage “Let the game come to you.” These pearls of wisdom have often been uttered by the wise old baseball sage to the young up-and-coming player. Uttered so often in fact that it has become a cliche’.

It was meant to convey the application of self discipline. Especially to the young and less experienced, not to be too eager or too jumpy. See the ball. Hit the ball.

Now if you are a Mets fan like me, you love that simple advice and probably are hoping that all your Metsies were using that approach when in the batter’s box. Patience, calm, focus, then spring like a cobra. Use your skills wisely grasshopper. Play it close to the vest.

Well what if your front office played their part of the game the same way, like a poker game for instance, where any information is misinformation? Where for every truth, there are seven bluffs. Where things take time to develop and unfold. As a Mets fan, as a New Yorker, we don’t really like that part of it too much. The waiting. And it seems the longer we wait, the tougher it gets.

So I asked myself. “What am I waiting for?” What exactly? I live and die by my team. Every loss is like a tiny death. Every lost season is like a big one.

But lately I have begun to notice a change in the direction of the winds. Like a freshening breeze the Mets have started to shrug off the negativity. They have begun to relax, to have fun, to do well, to let the game come to them.

I feel as if I may now have a glimpse of the plan, a peek into the future. However, I am going to make several predictions and summations that may not be favored by everyone who will read this so, I ask your indulgence.

2016 New York Mets

matt reynolds

Position Players

Travis d’Arnaud (Catcher) Talk about drama. Whoever said it was easy to be a highly regarded rookie in NYC? No one. And Travis received his baptism by fire this season, there is no doubt about that. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, and I’d say Mets Nation has beefed up d’Arnaud pretty good. Any controversy he has to deal with for the rest of his career will seem like a walk-in-the-park compared to his sojourn through the treacherous waters of the 2014 season. Met fans went from ridiculously high expectations for him to incredible disappointment in him. They banished him from their hearts, their minds and their stadium. They all but forgot him. And then he returned. How many other catchers would you trade him straight up for right now? Not too many I’d wager. Not the Yankees catcher. Not the Nationals catcher, or the Dodgers catcher, or the Reds, or the White Sox, or the Blue Jays, or the Tigers, do you see where I’m going with this?

Kevin Plawecki (Catcher) Just because you have two talented young catchers, doesn’t necessarily mean you have to trade one of them. One back-stop rarely makes it through a whole major league season without being hurt, or dropping from exhaustion, or both. And there is truly something to be said for friendly competition to fuel one’s desire. I’m all for keeping both catchers. Ideally they will continue to increase in value while being subjected to less wear and tear. Even more important is that we could be maximizing production from the catcher position in this manner.

Lucas Duda (First Base) Another player who still has upside for the Mets. He finally has the confidence of his manager and he’s still gaining confidence in himself. The results of which are perhaps his finest big league season this year. Considering his massive power potential it’s a safe bet to assume he isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Wilmer Flores (First Base/Utility) I have placed Wilmer here because a platoon at first-base with Duda could be a distinct possibility. I can see Flores getting his at-bats as a utility player on this 2016 Mets team. Besides playing at first-base, he could back up the other three infield positions and pinch hit.

Dilson Herrera (Second Base) They say good things come in small packages and that sums up Herrera. A natural spark-plug and superb as a table-setter, Herrera is more of your prototypical second sacker. He has already begun to win over Mets fans with his polished style of play and complete array of skills. He should man the keystone for the Mets in a way that will bring back memories of better times.

Matt Reynolds (Shortstop) Reynolds is enjoying his finest season as a pro this year. He has blown through AA by having a tremendous first half and is presently opening eyes around the league in the PCL. He has an advanced hitting approach and uses all fields well. He has put himself squarely in the middle infield prospect conversation and is poised to be making his big league debut anytime now.

David Wright (Third Base) As with any player there will always exist at least a remote possibility that they get traded. As far as David is concerned, I don’t think EL Capitano is going anywhere.

T.J. Rivera (Utility) T.J. has never been on many people’s radar I don’t think, except mine. I have truly enjoyed watching his career ever since he signed with the Mets as an undrafted free-agent in 2011. He has simply hit and excelled at every level he has played at and he continues to trend upwards in his development. A lifetime .311 hitter in 1619 professional plate appearances, Rivera plays second-base and shortstop, and profiles as an infield utility type.

Curtis Granderson (Right Field) Now that we are seeing the real Granderson you have to like what he brings to the table. Especially as a lead-off hitter. It’s sorta like a left-handed Tommie Agee.

Juan Lagares (Center Field) What can you say about Lagares? He’s a delightful player who continues to show upside, we fans love him and rightly so.

Nelson Cruz / Melky Cabrera (Left Field) This is where the Mets need to spend some money next winter on the free-agent market. They need a corner outfield bat that hits with authority and professionalism. Someone to hold down the fort while young players like Michael Conforto, and Brandon Nimmo finish honing their skills. For your consideration I submit these two players as possibilities. Both are right-handed hitters (which balances well with Duda) and both have been outstanding in 2014. They will be free-agents at the end of the season along with the possibility of Alex Rios joining them on the open market. Cruz has been smoking home runs for Baltimore (28) and hitting in the high .280′s so far, while Melky has been hitting for a higher average (.299), less RBI’s and good gap power, but not as many homers (11). I think this is where the Mets desperately need to spend some money.

Matt den Dekker (Outfield) This guy can go get em in the outfield and you can play him anywhere. His bat is still developing but he shows some extra base power, and he’s still improving. I would consider him a very good fit as a fourth outfielder heading into 2016.

??? (Outfield) This is the Bobby Abreu role with the club. A veteran free-agent hitter and part time outfielder who can pinch-hit and mentor the young players. This roster spot will probably be filled by a veteran free-agent over the 2015-2016 off-season.


Starting Rotation

Matt Harvey (SP1) What can you say about the prospects of Harvey entering the 2015 and 2016 seasons as the Mets ace? Just this. Welcome back my son!

Zack Wheeler (SP1A) By 2016 Wheeler will have established himself as the 1A to Harvey’s numero uno status.

Dillon Gee (SP3) Dependable, reliable, underrated, and under the radar, Gee just gets the job done. You have to love pitchers like this and on a 2016 Mets staff that features mostly power arms, Gee will offset that rather nicely.

Jacob deGrom (SP4) One of the most pleasant surprises for the Mets and their fans so far this season is this young right-hander who is presently establishing himself as a solid middle rotation type guy. With the fragile nature of Jon Niese‘s health and the present absence of Harvey and Jeremy Hefner from the rotation, deGrom’s emergence could not have come at a better time. Look for him to be that much more established by the 2016 season.

Jon Niese (SP5) We all know what a fine pitcher Jon Niese is, and by today’s standards his contract is very team friendly. But the poor guy seems to be snake-bit, and he is always on the D.L. with one malady or another. To expect him to give you a full season and 32 starts is pretty much out of the question. That’s why you need that sixth starter who when he isn’t needed to start, can also pitch out of the pen.

rafael montero

The Bullpen

Noah Syndergaard (RHP/SP6) Thor coming out of the pen in the sixth inning, can you imagine? How many pitching staffs have a luxury like that? Not many. By being the sixth starter you can control his workload so as not to overuse him, as he will still be only 23 years old at the start of the 2016 season.

Jenrry Mejia (RHP) A tremendous bright spot in the 2014 season. The way Mejia has replaced Bobby Parnell as the team’s closer has been quite remarkable. Especially considering the Mets dismal record at developing their own closers for the last 25 years or so. Mejia is like a breath of fresh air for a bullpen that has gelled as the season progresses.

Vic Black (RHP) Another reason for the bullpen renaissance is the hard-throwing set-up man acquired along with Herrera in the Marlon Byrd trade. Props to S.A. as that trade is looking better all the time for your Metsies.

Jeurys Familia (RHP) Ditto for ‘Family’ who again shows us Met fans why you need to be patient with these young players. He spent quite a while developing as a pitcher in the minors and like these other young Mets he was mentored by the great Wally Backman. He worked with some of the best minor league pitching coaches in the game. He struggled upon first reaching the “show.” But now he has let the game come to him and as his confidence grows, so does his success.

Rafael Montero (RHP) As the fifth righty in the pen, this talented young hurler can be brought along slowly and be put in situations to succeed. Like the other guys breaking in between now and 2016, he still may have a future as a starter, but by starting out in the pen he will be groomed for the role rather than being thrust into it.

Where’s Murph? I’m sure you noticed a while back that Daniel Murphy is no longer a Met in 2016. My sincerest apologies for dropping a bombshell on you this way. Don’t get me wrong, I like Murphy, I really do and I think he’s a fine ballplayer. He has worked his butt off and done everything the team has asked him to do. He is our only all-star this year for cripes sake. But let’s be real. Murphy was force-fed the position he currently plays on the Mets and doesn’t have a spot anywhere else. What was once an organizational black hole at the middle infield is now arguably an organizational strength. The Mets are extremely deep at second-base in particular as has been pointed out many times by various writers here on MMO. And one last thing. Let’s not forget it’s put up or shut up time for the Mets as far as offering Murph an extension. They were already shopping him at last winter’s Winter Meetings, and the fact that they didn’t trade him has only increased his trade value for them. And not that it should matter to a team in NYC, but by moving him now think of the $ they’d save!

So your probably wondering by now, whither goes Murph? And for what-ith? This is what I propose.

Trade him for an established and reliable, healthy and durable, left-handed reliever. A good one, a pro’s pro. Someone with a future ahead of him. The type of guy you need coming out of your pen if you are ever going to win a World Series. All you have to do is use a portion of the money you are saving on Murphy to pay such a player.

Steven Matz (LHP) The 25th man to make the 2016 Opening Day Roster is the fire-balling young southpaw. He works in tandem with the experienced lefty described above that was brought in to stabilize the pen. I’m not saying I think Matz is destined for the pen, I don’t, but as a rookie just breaking in to the majors it would be a good thing for him to experience for a season.

Alright now how do you want it, the quick way? Or the slow way? Roughly 80% of this roster was developed by the Mets organization. Three outfielders and a couple of relievers were acquired through trades or free agency. This is obviously the slow way. It’s akin to watching paint dry.

But here’s the thing, as this system is designed it should be self-perpetuating. The talent is heavy at the bottom of the organizational ladder, and is now scattered throughout the rest of the system. It’s a pipeline, and as long as the front office remains aggressive and ahead of the curve at bringing in lot’s of young talent, the machine should continue to run.

It may take a little longer to get there Mets fans, but this seems to be where we are heading. What do you think?

Are you willing to let the game come to you?

MMO footer

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The Mazzilli’s and the Mets Time Machine Sat, 05 Jul 2014 12:56:17 +0000 lee-mazzilli

Flashback: Mazzilli Stars For Amazins!

Climb aboard Petey’s Mets Time Machine. As we travel back in time to the year 1976. The day was the 7th of September, when a 21-year-old center fielder made his MLB debut for the New York Mets.

When the Mets drafted a high school player by the name of Lee Mazzilli with the 14th overall pick in the 1973 amateur draft, he was an instant sensation.

For one thing he was one of the top prep players in the country that year. An excellent athlete and the son of a welterweight boxer, young Mazzilli had already made a name for himself as a high school speed skating champion. He was a local kid who came from Brooklyn, and the girls thought he was hot.

He was also truly ambidextrous from birth and was a natural switch-hitter from a very early age. As a matter of fact he not only hit from both sides, but he threw from both sides as well. He used to alternate between throwing left-handed and throwing right-handed in games from his post in center field, sometimes switching from inning to inning.

The Mets brought in a mentor to work with Mazzilli while he was in the minors with the idea of polishing his outfield skills. The temporary outfield coach was a guy by the name of Willie Mays who immediately told Mazzilli to ditch one of the gloves and concentrate on throwing right-handed only.

A young Mazzilli with HOFers Joe Torre and Willie Mays

A young Mazzilli with Hall of Famers Joe Torre and Willie Mays

On June 8th, 1975, Mazz set a California League record (believed to be a professional record) when he stole seven bases in a single game against San Jose while playing for the Mets’ Visalia farm club.

He broke into the bigs for a cup-of-coffee in September 1976 for the Mets getting 93 plate appearances in 24 games, and hitting .195 with two homers, seven RBI’s and five stolen bases.

Assuming the starting job in center for the 1977 season, Mazzilli began to garnish over 600 plate appearances for each of the next four seasons for the Mets. He showed steady development in his on-the-job training hitting .250 in 1977, and then .273 in 1978.

His breakout season came in 1979 when he put up a slash-line of .303/.395/.449 in 693 plate appearances with 15 home runs, 79 RBI’s and 34 stolen bases.

He was naturally the Mets representative at the All-Star Game that year, actually he was the only decent major league player the Mets had on their roster that season, unless of course you want to count the unforgettable Craig Swan. Hmmmm, does this sound vaguely familiar?

The 1979 MLB All-Star Game was a come-from-behind thriller for the National League squad and fans of the Amazins would experience the kind of pride rarely felt after a mid-season classic. It began when the Mets’ lone player on the NL roster, Lee Mazzilli, stepped into the batter’s box as a pinch hitter in the 8th inning with the National Leaguers trailing 6-5. He proceeded to belt a game-tying opposite field home run knotting the score at six apiece, but he wasn’t finished yet.

Batting for the second time, in the ninth inning with the bases loaded, he drew a bases-loaded walk to drive in the winning run in a 7-6 victory. Inexplicably he was denied the MVP honor for the game which went to right-fielder Dave Parker of the Pirates who nailed two would-be runs at the plate with the score tied, in what was quite an impressive display of his rocket launcher throwing-arm. But Mazzilli being snubbed for the award despite his contribution was definitely a sucker punch to Mets Nation. Hmmm, does that sound vaguely familiar?

The following season, 1980 was perhaps Mazzilli’s best year as a Met. In 668 plate appearances he slashed .280/.370/.431, with 82 runs, 16 homers, 76 RBI’s and 41 stolen bases. The 1981 season however was ruined by a labor conflict that wiped out around a third of the season and really screwed up everything baseball-related big time.

Mazzilli had a poor season in ’81 as well hitting only .228 in 376 plate appearances that year and Mets GM Frank Cashen decided to take a chance by trading Mazzilli while his value was still up to the Texas Rangers on the eve of the 1982 season. It was probably a deal Cashen couldn’t refuse as the Rangers were dangling two young pitchers from the upper levels of their minor league system as trade bait, two youngsters named Ron Darling and Walt Terrell (who was later traded for Howard Johnson). Cashen realized that he had to trade his best commodity in order to fill multiple needs for the rebuilding process. Does this sound vaguely familiar?

Mazzilli struggled in Texas and was moved at the trade deadline to the Yankees in exchange for Bucky Dent. At the end of the season he was traded again, this time to the Pittsburgh Pirates where he played for three plus seasons as a part-time outfielder before being released in July of 1986.

Who Says You Can't Go Home Again?

Who Says You Can’t Go Home Again?

Less than two weeks later he was brought back to Flushing by Cashen to give the team a veteran pinch-hitter down the stretch and in the post-season. Mazzilli would fill an important reserve role for the Mets, and fill it so well, that he remained with the club until the trade deadline during the 1989 season when he was claimed by Toronto off waivers. That would signal the end of his Mets career after two very productive stints.

And now it’s time to hop back into the time machine Mets fans as we leave our place in the distant past behind and launch ourselves forward to the following year! That’s right, we now shoot ahead to another day in early September, the 6th to be precise, but now the year is 1990.

On that day the Mazzilli’s welcomed a new baby boy into the world and named him Lee Jr. He would come to be known as LJ, and like his dad he became a fine ball player. Does this sound familiar?

Okay everybody back into the time machine! Now we jump ahead about 19 years. LJ took his skills to the University of Connecticut where the right-handed hitter played second base for three years. There he matured physically and now stands 6’1″ and weighs in at 190 lbs.

Now here we are once again traveling through time to June of 2013 when the Mets, like they did with LJ’s father, tabbed him in the MLB Amateur Player Draft, this time in the 4th round. A few seconds in the time machine bring us to Coney Island.

That’s where L.J. Mazzilli started his professional career as a 2013 Brooklyn Cyclone and got his feet wet with 273 plate appearances in 70 games. He slashed a modest .278/.329/.381 with four homers, 34 RBI’s and three stolen bases. We skip to the spring of 2014 when Mazzilli impressed the Mets during spring training with his level of development and polish, so he was challenged with the assignment of manning the keystone for the Savannah Sand Gnats at the start of this season.

A Chip Off The Old Block

A Chip Off The Old Block

Although the expectation was more than likely for him to remain at that level for an entire season, Mazzilli had other ideas. In the first half of the 2014 season Mazzilli had 250 plate appearances in the South Atlantic League and slashed his way to a .292/.363/.428 line with seven homers, 45 RBI’s, and 11 stolen bases.

This outstanding performance forced the Mets to promote Mazzilli to high-A St. Lucie of the Florida State League last month. Although much more advanced than the South Atlantic League, Mazzilli met the challenge of the FSL and hit the ground running.

In his first 50 something at-bats over 13 games, young Mazz is slashing a respectable .288/.339/.500. He’s got eight runs scored, five doubles, two dingers, nine RBI’s and a stolen base. Does this sound vaguely familiar?

The younger Mazzilli is a good contact hitter with gap power. He has a rather complete skill-set, but the only tool that plays above average is his very good speed, which will enable him to remain at second base as he advances.

So far we have only used my Time Machine to go back in time, now it’s time to go forward into the future. Strap in folks as our first stop will be another day in September, the 10th, in the year 2015. A Mets prospect will make his Major League debut on that day. He will be batting seventh in the order and playing second base for the home team at Citi Field. In the stands his proud father, a former big leaguer in his own right beams with pride.

Now back into the time machine one last time everyone, before we head home. This time it’s not September. This time it’s a Tuesday night in the middle of July. July in the year 2023.

It’s the MLB All-Star game being played in the brand new state-of-the-art ballpark in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The fans around the world have been treated to a tense back-and-forth struggle between the Senior and Junior circuits. With the score tied at four apiece, the National League comes to bat in the bottom of the 14th inning. First up is a pinch hitter from the New York Mets by the name of LJ Mazzilli.

Back To The Future

Back To The Future

Like his father who played for the very same team, his father who was drafted by the Mets five decades earlier, his father who launched a game-tying home run in an All-Star Game some 44 years before and then won it an inning later with a walk-off walk. Like his father who is watching tensely from the stands, LJ Mazzilli sends an All-Star winning, game ending drive deep into the tropical summer night. National League 5, American League 4. And miracle of miracles, he even wins the game’s MVP Award! Is this sounding even vaguely familiar?

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B-Mets Flex Muscle In Tool City Tue, 01 Jul 2014 16:25:48 +0000 brandon nimmo

The Binghamton Mets looked like a juggernaut while smothering the New Britain Rock Cats by a score of 8-3 on Monday night in Eastern League action. Now that their hitting has caught up with their formidable pitching, the B-Mets are beginning to steamroll the rest of the league.

Fresh off a three game sweep in Altoona over the weekend the Mets continued to surge in New Britain despite the fact that their bus didn’t arrive in town until 4 am, effectively canceling infield and batting practice before the game. You wouldn’t have known it by their performance, a true team effort in which they banged out 11 hits with seven different starters scoring at least one run.

Monday’s game extended the Mets winning streak to four and gave them 17 victories in their last 20 games. The B-Mets presently find themselves in second place in their division trailing the Portland Sea Dogs by five games.

In Monday’s game right-hander Rainy Lara (5-2) made the start for Binghamton and pitched well for six innings, giving up one run while scattering five hits, with a walk and five strikeouts to earn the win. The one blemish was a mammoth home run to left field by DH Reynaldo Rodriguez in the second inning. Rodriguez had a huge smile as he rounded third-base and jawed with the B-Mets dugout on his way to home. And he wasn’t done talking. He would later add a ninth inning solo shot off of righty reliever Randy Fontanez for his 14th HR of the year.

That was the lone bright spot for the home team as the B-Mets, who drew first blood in the second inning, never trailed in this one. It looked like New Britain starter Taylor Rogers (7-5) would wriggle off the hook in the second inning. Binghamton had the bases loaded with one out but Rogers was able to retire catcher Xorge Carrillo bringing shortstop Rylan Sandoval to the plate with two outs. Sandoval worked the count before stroking a ground ball single up the middle to plate the first two runs of the night.

The game was tight at 2-1 until the seventh inning when the B-Mets made some two-out noise. With two out and nobody on Rogers started to unravel. He hit right fielder Kyle Johnson with a pitch and then walked Dilson Herrera on four pitches before leaving the game for righty Adrian Salcedo.

First-baseman Jayce Boyd lined a pitch hard to left-center field to score Johnson making it 3-1. Slugger Dustin Lawley, batting out of the clean-up spot then drove a ball deep into the gap in left-center for a two-run double and a 5-1 lead.

Another RBI single for Sandoval in the eighth inning would make the score 6-2. The Binghamton onslaught would continue in the ninth as Lawley drove a pitch from former Met farmhand Jim Fuller deep into the New Britain night for a two-run smash, bringing the score to 8-2.

The B-Mets are doing it with a superb starting rotation featuring six starters, and a deep bullpen of seasoned pitchers. Their rotation presently consists of Hansel Robles (5-5), Tyler Pill (6-5), Greg Peavey (6-1), Steve Matz (1-0), Matt Bowman (6-5) and Lara. Mix in a now potent line-up and it translates to a lot of victories. UPDATE: Peavey was recalled to Las Vegas yesterday. Go get ‘em Greg!

dilson herrera

One reason for the sudden rise in offense is the influx of players from the Florida State League. Middle infielder Dilson Herrera is tearing it up so far in his first go-round through the league. After hitting .307 at St. Lucie, Herrera is slashing .356/.408/.489 through his first 45 AA at-bats. And the emergence of Dustin Lawley as an advanced power threat has been a very pleasant side note to the B-Mets season.

Lawley who had come off the D.L. at the beginning of June has been absolutely on fire this month. In 100 June at-bats, Lawley has a slash line of .280/.330/.570 with 19 runs scored, eight doubles, seven homers, and 18 RBI. If he can improve his K/BB ratio he will be given a chance to show what he can do for Wally Backman‘s squad out in Las Vegas.

Also the recent addition of Brandon Nimmo to play LF basically gives the Mets three center-fielders, Nimmo in left, Johnson in right, and Ceciliani in the middle. That’s an outstanding defensive alignment. Combine that with Herrera now manning second base and you have the makings of a very good defense.

The pitching staff also received a recent transfusion with the addition of southpaw starter Steve Matz and relievers LHP Chase Huchingson and RHP Randy Fontanez from high-A. After talking to some of the players yesterday you can tell that the confidence level of this B-Met team is very high right now, with a good mix of Eastern League veterans and recent St. Lucie additions. Manager Pedro Lopez has them playing hard, intelligent baseball, and has them believing in themselves and their teammates.

The fun and excitement continues tonight at 7:05 in New Britain, aka Tool City, with right-hander Hansel Robles (5-5 4.62) hurling for the Mets against Rock Cats left-hander Jason Wheeler (1-1 2.92). I’ll be back there again tonight because I have no life and even my dogs refuse to talk to me.

If you have any questions you’d like me to ask the B-Mets players or coaches this week, just send them to the website or hit me up on Twitter.


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Being ‘Young And A Met’ Doesn’t Mean What It Once Did Fri, 06 Jun 2014 13:39:42 +0000 In a world where dominance on the pitching mound is King, one man is the last one standing. The closer. Or maybe not the closer, but a relief “ace.” The guy who inherits a game-turning moment. The bases jammed with bad guys just itching to score and he calmly saves the day by freezing them where they stand, retiring the side to end the threat.

Those are the kind of pitchers who stay cool and calm under fire. The ones who when on the mound show a bulldog mentality and toughness that enables them to get a tough job done. These are the types of pitchers that you want to stock your bullpen with.

jenrry mejia anthony reckerThe recent success of young pitchers Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia, and Vic Black, have given the big league club a push in the right direction as far as building a dominant bullpen. What about the players who have been toiling in the Mets system for the past several years but are now in a position to take a quantum leap in their development?

Is there some factor that is presently holding them back? Stalling their progress? Do the Mets have such a glut of players in their minor league system, that they are virtually paralyzed now in regards to affording adequate playing time and player promotions? Absolutely.

Brandon Nimmo is stuck at St. Lucie. There is no room in the Binghamton outfield for him to play if he were promoted. Savannah shortstop Ahmed Rosario was stonewalled in extended spring training until just a few days ago due to overcrowding ahead of him at the shortstop position.

One of the most crowded places in the Mets minors right now is the bullpen at Binghamton. Wally Backman‘s AAA squad has as many as eight right-handers in the bullpen, with no lefties, but there are four lefties jammed into the AA bullpen. And none of them are getting much work.

What is up with that? Is that any way to run an airline? In the last week Bingo lefties Adam Kolarek has pitched 1.0 innings. Jack Leathersich: 1.0 innings. Hamilton Bennett: 1.2 innings. T.J. Chism was put on the 7-day D.L. with an “undisclosed” ailment but that was over two-weeks ago. These guys are not going to be able to take the next step if they do not receive an opportunity to pitch. Why develop them for 4-5 years and then deny them the chance for success?

When a player like Collin McHugh is drafted by the team and developed for six years you might think they would have an idea about what they got. I can’t kill the front office for trading him away because they did get a major league commodity back in Eric Young.

But when the Rockies dropped McHugh from their roster it would have been nice for the Mets to get him back. Instead the Astros picked him up and now he’s one of their best starters going 4-3 with a 2.52 ERA and 54 strikeouts with only 14 walks. In eight starts this season covering 50.0 innings McHugh has a 6.1 H/9, a 2.5 BB/9 and a 9.7 K/9, to go with a 0.960 WHIP.

The reason I bring up McHugh is not to make the front office look bad, after all hindsight is 20/20. But I would hate to see more guys leaving the organization after years of honing their craft only to find big league success for other franchises. We need to do a better job of interpreting what we’ve got, before we jettison these guys. If we can’t adequately scout our own players, how can we successfully scout other players?

What about you? If you are still reading this far down in the piece I would imagine you have some interest/knowledge in the Mets farm system. Well how do you determine the worth of a player? Are you a stats “guru?” Do you go to one of the minor league venues to do your own scouting? Do you watch games on MiLB TV? All of the above?

I can tell you this – if you try and make a determination based on stats alone, you are going to be wrong more often than you will be right. The only way to tell for sure is through the “eye test.” If you haven’t actually seen a player perform in a game, especially contrasted against other players on the same field, then you know less than half the story.

But I digress. Let’s get back to the waste happening right now in our own farm system, Mets fans. Are you confident that the young players in our system are getting a fair shake, an ample opportunity, a chance to play and show their stuff before getting released? Do you think our Mets execs are letting these guys develop unimpeded and that they are able to make accurate judgments as to their players’ abilities?

If you said yes, I can guarantee that there are many Mets minor league players that would disagree with you. There is an abundance of frustration throughout the player ranks, just ask the army of Mets soldiers who are stationed at extended spring training. There are so many Mets farmhands down there that you can’t swing a cat without hitting a couple of them.

These are guys who may have significant talent, but no team to play on. They toil with the promise of a spot on a short-season roster, but there are no guarantees after the Amateur Draft takes place Thursday and Friday. In a week or so there will be around 30 new players entering the Mets minor league system, and competing with the guys already there.

The Mets need to alleviate the logjams that they have peppered throughout their farm system. They must find a way to get more of their players involved in the game, or these guys will rot like fruit on the vine. What mystifies me the most, is why they don’t trade some of their wealth of minor league players, or even release some of the fringe guys. If they were to trade some of the surplus they might be able to get some value back, and it’s not like the big league club is without any holes to fill. Oh, and by-the-way the Mets are only 2.0 games back in the Wild Card standings.

One Mets source told me that Sandy Alderson has been approached by numerous teams ever since spring training and asked about the availability of young players and prospects in the organization only to be rebuffed.

This Mets insider told me Sandy was like a “kid in the sandbox who has all the toys and won’t let anybody else play.” That’s a wonderful image.

Is Alderson gun-shy about making trades? He’s been good at trading major league assets for prospects, but has yet to show that he can reel in a major league quality player to fill a need. Is he afraid to be taken to the cleaners by a superior GM? Meantime the Mets are in a position where they must cut young players who never got an adequate chance to perform while getting nothing of any value in return. Why do I get the sense of Nero fiddling while Rome burns?


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Fear And Loathing In The Eastern League Wed, 04 Jun 2014 11:00:48 +0000 Darrell Ceciliani. CF

Darrell Ceciliani. CF

No, I didn’t fall into a hole on my way back from the B-Mets series in New Britain last weekend. Although driving all those miles just to see them drop a three game series to a second division club, was a tad deflating.

Friday night – a 4-0 loss with not much happening for the Mets. Saturday night – a heart-breaking 3-2 loss where the winning run scored for New Britain on a wild pitch. And then there was Sunday – a 6-1 drubbing that looked a lot worse than the score indicates.

When the most exciting thing all weekend to report is the fact that I was there, you can understand why I have been dragging my heels with this recap. So let’s get to the highlights for Binghamton! Or rather, I should say highlight. As I can only think of one. Well, maybe two.

There was Kyle Wilson the B-Mets left-fielder, throwing a strike home to nail a Rock Cats runner at the plate to end the sixth inning on Saturday. His throw kept the game close at 3-2. That’s one. The other is a bit more significant as right-hander Matthew Bowman pitched a very impressive game that day.

Matt Bowman On Saturday Night

Matt Bowman On Saturday Night

He started the game and went seven strong innings, giving up three earned runs on 10 hits, and striking out 12 with no walks. The most impressive thing other than the number of strikeouts combined with zero walks, was that Bowman seemed to grow stronger as the game went on. Despite being tagged with the loss, he struck out six of the final nine batters he faced, and he made the New Britain hitters look utterly hapless.

Bowman (3-3, 4.18), a six-foot 175-pounder, was the Mets 13th round pick in the 2012 draft out of Princeton University. His fastball hovers around the 90-mph mark, but tends to lack movement. He seemed to be getting swings and misses on his developing slider last Saturday night, and also throws a curveball and a change.

The B-Mets, who started this season pretty well have cooled significantly. Since the beginning of May they have endured a four-game losing streak and a five-game losing streak, and are currently riding a three-game tail-spin. They are presently residing in second place in the Eastern Division of the Eastern League, with a record of 30-25, and are seven games behind the first place Portland Sea Dogs of the Red Sox organization.

Future Mets Slugger Dustin Lawley

Future Mets Slugger Dustin Lawley

A big reason for their recent struggles are injuries to some of their best players. Starting pitcher Rainy Lara twisted his ankle while covering home in his last start and has been hobbling around ever since. Shortstop Matt Reynolds has not played in a week due to a bad back. Slick fielding middle-infielder Wilfredo Tovar, who was having a career year at the plate, tore a thumb ligament on a head-first slide and will likely require surgery. And 2013 Florida State League MVP, third-baseman Dustin Lawley is on the 7-day D.L. with a strained oblique.

With no other third-baseman on the roster, Binghamton was forced to use back-up catchers Nelfi Zapata and Xorge Carrillo at third-base in the New Britain series. I spoke to Lawley on Sunday and he told me his oblique “feels great.” He said the week off did what he had hoped in giving the problem a chance go away. He said he is looking forward to getting back into the line-up Wednesday night against Altoona.

I will be hitting the road again in two weeks for two Brooklyn Cyclones games. At which time I hope to meet many of the newly minted NY Mets prospects acquired in this weeks’ 2014 MLB Amateur Player Draft. In the meantime, keep checking in with MMO for the latest news on the Mets, the Mets minors, and the draft!


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Mets Need More Left-Handed Pitching In The Pipeline Fri, 30 May 2014 12:43:59 +0000 USATSI  jon niese

The Mets farm system is looking a little better these days. Where as a few years ago there were hardly any, the system now boasts a number of real prospects. Although he continues to come under intense fire for the present state of the major league roster, GM Sandy Alderson has managed to improve the quality and depth of the Mets minor-league system. He has added legitimate position-player prospects at catcher, first-base, middle infield, outfield, and even increased the organizational depth in right-handed power arms.

With the recent promotion of Josh Edgin to the Mets, where he now joins Jon Niese and Scott Rice as the only left-handers on the team, it suddenly occurred to me that our organizational depth at left-handed pitching (or lack thereof) will soon be affecting things on the big league club. With only one lefty starter and two in the bullpen, what would happen I wonder if a sudden need for another lefty were to suddenly emerge? Is there a southpaw down on the farm that could come up to pitch at Citi? And be effective? Let’s see.

At AAA Las Vegas right now the only left-hander on the roster after the Edgin promotion was 30-year-old minor league journeyman Dana Eveland. He has made seven starts for Wally in the dessert and in 41 innings this year, is 3-1 with a 3.95 ERA. That necessitated a call-up of Darin Gorski to AAA Las Vegas on Wednesday. There are also two relievers at AA Binghamton who could help the Mets as soon as this season. Although it would be a longshot for any of them as they are not quite ready yet, lets look at all three to see how far away they might actually be, and who would be ready first.

Adam Kolarek

Arguably the closest one of these players to getting a call-up. He may not be the hardest thrower here but has exhibited all the tools of a competent reliever at each step of his minor league career. Now 25 and having spent his last two plus seasons at Binghamton, Kolarek might be called up to Vegas at any time.

If a reliever is needed and he continues to pitch the way he always has and has success for Wally’s team, he could be brought to Flushing. In five seasons as a Met he has logged 250 innings all in relief. He has a lifetime ERA of 2.60 with 27 saves, a 7.3 H/9 and a 258/97 K/BB ratio. This year in 20 innings at Bingo, Adam is 1-0 with a 1.80 ERA, one save, and a 12/6 K/BB, while the Eastern league has hit him at a .241 clip.

Darin Gorski

The oldest one of these players Gorski was in his third season at Binghamton as a 26-year-old this year, before heading to Vegas yesterday. But for a left-hander to start to really put things together at that age is not that unusual, and no one should give up on a south-paw that soon. It seems as if the patience the Mets have shown in bringing him along slowly is beginning to reward the franchise.

Gorski is the softest tosser of this group, barely touching 90 with his best fastball, but his devastating change-up, and smarts in the way he uses his array of off-speed pitches make him the ideal candidate for the call up to Vegas. He really had nothing left to prove at AA as was obvious after his last outing on Monday. Pitching at home before a holiday crowd, Gorski limited New Britain’s hitting attack to a measly two hits, no runs, one walk and six strikeouts, while spinning a nine-inning complete game victory.

In nine starts over 53 innings this year Darin has now gone 4-2 with a 2.22 ERA, he has given up just 41 hits with the league batting an anemic .212 against him and a 54/12 K/BB ratio. If Wally can help Gorski limit the long ball a little bit and keep him progressing, it would not be unheard of for him to be making his debut sometime later this summer.

Jack Leathersich

In three plus years as a Met, this hard-throwing lefty reliever has done one thing extremely well…he punches out opposing hitters. His strikeout rates are always very high, but his walks are too. For this 23-year-old, command is the main thing keeping him from the big leagues. But since lefty hurlers are usually late developers, “The Rocket” still shows a lot of upside. Whether he finds his groove at AA this year is up for conjecture, but if he does, he will come on very fast. In 20 innings he is 1-1 with a 2.66 ERA, one save, and a remarkable strikeout rate with a K/BB of 37/12.

steven matz

Besides those three AA and AAA players, there is one other left-hander in the system that, in a perfect storm, could find himself pitching this year in front of his friends and family at Citi Field.

Steven Matz

The 6′ 2″ 200-pounder from Long Island is the only one here who is already on the Mets 40-man roster which makes the young fire-baller a legitimate dark horse candidate. Not only that, despite being the farthest away from the majors, as he is still in high-A ball at St. Lucie, he has the highest upside of the four, and has been supposedly “fast-tracked” by the organization after two seasons wasted by injury.

Matz who will turn 23 on Thursday is equally effective against righties and lefties. He throws hard and although he has been a starter so far in his career, he could prove dominant coming out of the pen. It would also be a good way to lessen his innings since he will not be asked to throw any more than 150 innings, which would be the maximum this season. In his 51 innings so far this year, over nine starts, Matz is 2-3 with a 1.95 ERA, and a 47/16 K/BB ratio. The Florida State League is managing a .253 batting average against him so far.

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Now these guys show significant promise, and I’m pleased with their respective rates of progress. But are they all locks to be successful in the big leagues? Of course not. With young pitchers, especially those quirky southpaws, you can never be 100 percent certain. That’s why when they first coined the phrase “There’s safety in numbers,” they were referring to minor league baseball prospects…you can never have enough and they are not all going to make it.

Leading up to the major league draft every June, my little heart starts to go pitter-patter as I gear up for the big day, which this year begins in a week, Thursday June 5th. I do my pre-draft ritual consisting of lot’s of research, lot’s of coffee, lot’s of donuts, compiling lot’s of categories, orders of priority for picks, players I like, players I don’t like, revised lists that keep getting shorter, more research, until I finally whittle it down to that one player, the perfect pick for the Mets.

Ask Petey 6

Your probably wondering if I’ve ever been correct. Your asking yourself “Hey Petey, did you ever guess right and pick the guy the Mets ended up drafting?” And I would say I’ve been right every single year, it’s the Mets who seem to always pick the wrong guy. I’m only half serious of course. Their picks lately have not been that bad, some are rather intriguing, and show real potential. But I know what this organization needs right now and that is an in-flux of left-handed pitching into their minor league system.

Well guess what? 2014 is considered one of the deepest draft pools ever for an MLB draft. And what’s more there are not one, not two, but four left-handed power arms available in the draft this year that are projected to go in the top 15 to 20 picks. Unfortunately two of the four are certain to be long gone by the time the Mets pick at number 10. That would be high-school arm Brady Aiken and college pitcher Carlos Rodon.

But there are two more, one is a college pitcher that may still be available when the Mets pick, in University of Hartford starter Sean Newcomb, who was just detailed in a piece by Joe D last week here on MMO.

sean newcomb hartford

Newcomb who stands 6’5″ and 240 lbs. may be the first pitcher to make the bigs out of this draft class, due to his maturity and level of development. He was tabbed by Keith Law as the Mets first-rounder in his most recent mock draft, and he’s the one I am crossing my fingers on. The one spot that worries me in regards to Newcomb is the Mariners at number six. If anyone is going to draft him before the Mets pick it would happen there.

If Newcomb is gone there is one more excellent lefty that the Mets could still grab at number ten. He is a college hurler from Evansville that stands 6’4″ 185 lbs. with three above average pitches by the name of Kyle Freeland. He is considered the “work-horse” type, with a deceptive delivery and gets tremendous movement on his fastball as a result of his three-quarters arm angle. I suppose if Newcomb is taken already, I’d be okay with Freeland, what do you think?

Regardless of who they take with their first pick on June 5th, the Mets have a glaring shortage of left-handed pitching and that needs to be addressed. Do you have a preference as to which player or position the Mets draft in the first round? If so use the comments section to let us know who or what you are thinking about.

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Before I go I wanted to mention that I’ll be hitting the road for MMO this weekend to cover the three-game B-Mets series against the Twin’s AA team in New Britain, CT. I am planning to get there early enough on Friday afternoon where I can look up some old friends.

There are the two AA lefties I featured in this piece, Leathersich and Kolarek, who I plan to touch base with. And I will be interviewing several top Mets prospects including catcher Kevin Plawecki who is raking in the Eastern League this month, and much much more!

I’ll also be tweeting from the press-box during the games starting at 6:30 pm on Friday evening. You can find me on Twitter at: @PeteyPete_MMO If you have any questions for Larry the score-board operator I’ll be sure to pass them along.


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Who’s To Blame For The Mets, Who Do Ya Think? Tue, 27 May 2014 16:00:43 +0000 new-york-mets braintrust collins, katz, wilpon alderson

A recent MMO post by Mike Simon got me to thinking. It was an excellent piece from Sunday that broke down the failures of the organization on the big league level this season. It detailed the contributions by Mets front office personnel to the Mets becoming what I feel is one of the worst-run organizations in baseball. Combine that with a big league roster fraught with underperforming and wildly inconsistent players and field managment, and you have a wonderful recipe for a habitually losing franchise.

Mike points out in his piece that the owners are very much to blame for the state of the team, as well as of course, the GM, the manager, and the players. And he’s right they all do share some of the blame. I’m sure even they might agree with that, except perhaps Collins of course, as he’s in his own world. But who out of this ample collection of suspects is the primary one? The biggest offender? Public Enemy #1? The one factor crippling the NY Mets organization?

Unquestionably, the blame starts at the top. I know it’s a radical concept, but in this case it holds water. Let me put it like this: Who is responsible for acquiring the players and manager who are failing on the field? And who is responsible for the player acquisitions that are never made? You guessed it, the General Manager! Good job. Now who is responsible for acquiring the GM? Are you thinking? Got something yet? That’s right, the owners! Way to go!

To my way of thinking if the owners had hired a better GM, we wouldn’t be in such a mess right now. I’m not saying that they couldn’t have hired a worse GM, they certainly could have. I mean that’s the beauty of it! When it comes to the type of mismanagement employed by the Wilpons they can always do worse, and Sandy is by no means the worst, he’s just not real good. Which is what the Mets need in a GM right now, real good. Really, really good.

But I’m going to go one step further and say that history tells us that not only was Sandy Alderson the wrong guy to rebuild the Mets, but the Wilpons have never made a good decision when hiring their GM. That would be why they have had three main General Managers over the last 14 years while only making it to the playoffs once, and only contending in two of those seasons.

Frank CashenWhen the Wilpons and Nelson Doubleday bought the Mets in 1980, their first hire as GM was a front office guy out of the Baltimore organization who came highly recommended by several prominent baseball minds at the time. It was a great hire. In 1983 Frank Cashen gave the Mets fans Darryl Strawberry, Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez. By 1984 he had brought along Dwight Gooden, Rafael Santana and Ray Knight. In 1985 he presented to all of us Mets fans: Sid Fernandez, Roger McDowell, Lenny Dykstra, Howard Johnson, Rick Aguilera, Randy Myers and of course the late, great Gary Carter.

Then there was the year 1986. Cashen knew by the end of ’85 that the team was close, but not quite there yet. So for the ’86 season he added what he hoped would be the finishing touches to his masterpiece. Tim Teufel, Kevin Mitchell, Bob Ojeda, and always with a flair for the dramatic, he brought Lee Mazzilli home to finish his career where he had started it all, as a Met.

These guys along with some key players who were in the system when Cashen took over, guys like Mookie, Wally and Jesse, brought us to the pinnacle of the baseball world with one of the most breathtaking World Series victories in history. And that was nearly 30 years ago.

After Cashen, the Wilpons best hire of a GM could arguably have been Steve Phillips but that was three years before Doubleday sold his interests in the team making Fred and Saul principal owners. Phillips was okay but greatly flawed in his decision making and he could not maintain the brief success of two straight playoff appearances in 1999 and 2000, culminating in their World Series defeat to the hated Yankees.

Phillips spent the next three years making mostly bad baseball decisions and lying about the owners culpability in the downfall of the club. He did bring Jose Reyes and David Wright into the fold during those three years but that was it, and the team finished in last place in 2002 and 2003 leading up to his dismissal.

Mets Jim DuquetteThe Wilpons put Jim Duquette in charge of the club after dumping Phillips in June of 2003. That was probably one of the worst GM hires in baseball history. Duquette had never been a GM before, was only one for the Mets in 2003-4, and never was hired as a GM after leaving the Mets. But in the brief time the Mets had him running things he did manage to make one of the worst trades in team history. On July 30, 2004 Duquette inexplicably gave away the Mets top pitching prospect. One of the most coveted young left-handers in all of baseball, the fire-balling Scott Kazmir, was shipped to Tampa Bay for the scintillating talent of Victor Zambrano and the illustrious Bartolome Fortunato.

To stave off a riot by the fanbase, the Wilpons replaced the incompetent Duquette with a local favorite Omar Minaya. In hindsight, this was a poor signing too. He put a team together around Reyes and Wright as the core, but in six years he only managed to reach the playoffs once, and the team nose-dived after that. Now some four years after his departure, he is well represented by big league players he contributed to the present team. Omar’s guys that remain on the current roster are: Murphy, Gee, Niese, Duda, Tejada, Lagares, Flores, Campbell, Centeno, Montero, Familia, deGrom, and Parnell.

There are certainly a number of serviceable major leaguers there and a few good prospects, but this is still half of a last place team. As comprised these and the rest of the 2014 Mets are not going to compete this year. The only player who is presently worthy of any all-star consideration is Daniel Murphy.

And then after pulling Minaya’s plug following his sixth season at the helm, the Wilpons brought in our savior Richard Lynn Alderson, affectionately referred to by the fans as Sandy. After four years on the job Sandy has improved the farm system quite a bit. But Mets fans don’t want to go out to Brooklyn to see the Cyclones, they don’t want to travel to Binghamton to see the B-Mets play. They want to stay home in the greatest city in the world and go to Citi Field to see their Metsies play.

Now after four years lets take a closer look at what Sandy has contributed to getting the 2014 Mets to the next level. There are the three expensive free agents he brought in this year who have yet to distinguish themselves, Granderson, Colon, and Chris Young. And of course the complimentary pieces he brought in like Eric Young, Anthony Recker, Bobby Abreu, Vic Black, Scott Rice, Carlos Torres, Jose Valverde, and Dice K. Now he did bring in three terrific prospects in Wheeler, Syndergaard and d’Arnaud, but none of them have really contributed to the big league team in any significant way as of yet.

Mets Thank God It's OverThe fans have suffered for a long time but the front office gives no indication that there is any urgency to get better at all. Urgency is not in the Mets vocabulary. They feel they can string the fans along indefinitely. That the fans are gullible and not too bright. That they’ll throw their money away on bad baseball and overpriced concessions. Sure they might complain but as far as ownership is concerned, the fans will keep coming, and they will pay virtually any price for a ticket or a hot dog, they cannot help themselves.

But back to our savior. Sandy may not be terrible, but he’s certainly no Frank Cashen, and unfortunately that’s what it is going to take. A modern GM with the vision, aggressiveness and mentality of a Frank Cashen. I am not saying it will be easy to find someone like that, it won’t, it will be hard. But there are those kinds of individuals out there, some already serving as GM’s and others awaiting their chance.

We should be seeking the type of executives that understand the modern game, as well as the needs of the fans. The type that will act, and act decisively. A GM that wants to do the job the right way and build a perennial winner, not just one who talks about it. The kind not afraid to get his hands dirty. And most importantly, someone that speaks to the fans through their actions as opposed to their press conferences. That way there’s no lying, misinformation and deception.

But as long as the Wilpons are doing the firing, the searching, and the hiring, do you really believe they will get lucky all of a sudden and hire the right one for the job? Do you think that despite their terrible track record in hiring individuals to put together a winning franchise, that like a blind squirrel they can find a nut? Don’t bank on it. Remember these are the same one’s who decided to invest all their money with Bernie Madoff. How did that work out?


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The Three Types Of Mets Fans Mon, 19 May 2014 16:21:46 +0000 mets-fans

There are three distinct types of Met fan. Which fan type are you? Inquiring minds (and people with too much time on their hands) want to know. Kindly leave the category that best describes you in the comment section of this piece.

Through more than 50 something years, the hybrid Mets fans of today have evolved. What they have become is a class system, something that I feel is a microcosm of today’s world. This is because anyway you slice it, Mets fans are people too.

I know this may be hard for some of you to believe. If you’ve ever eaten a meal with a large group of Mets fans then obviously you have your doubts. But trust me they are.

Mets fans have dreams (or not), they have desires just like you and me. They are not perfect by any stretch, and are rife with neurosis, insecurities and paranoia. But they all have one thing in common, they love their Metsies. And they all fall into these three classifications that I will now detail.

The Doomsday Fan

Mets fans doomsdayThis is the Mets fan that is always in that morbid funk. The ones who suffer with quiet stoicism. Those that can never be satisfied. A World Series victory by the Amazins would leave them confused and suicidal. ‘Is that all there is’ they would wonder? And will it take another thirty years before this franchise can attain that achievement once again? Probably.

And they would end up right back where they started when the Mets were terrible. Calmly complaining about everything and anything team related.

We love these fans though despite their tendencies to be really obnoxious sometimes, because they are realists and we need that. We need fans like them to help keep it real for the rest of us. The kind of fan that understands the fragility and fleeting nature of success in baseball. They keep the rest of us from getting too high and giddy with any modicum of success that our team might experience.

The Chicken Little Fan

Mets sad fanFor those readers that I just lost entirely, let me explain who that is. Chicken Little was a guy in a book. You know those square things that smell funny? He ran around in hysterics yelling that the sky was falling, when of course it was not.

Well as you know there are a large percentage of Mets fans that behave just like that. On the outside they may seem perfectly normal. They may have real lives and could be doctors or nurses, bankers or lawyers, ticket takers or receptionists.

But just mention their Metsies to them and they go berserk. The first thing they do is throw their hands up in exasperation and let out some kind of inarticulate sound. Then they launch into a hysterical diatribe about the curse of being a die-hard Mets fan, and how they should forget about baseball altogether and take up knitting instead.

But it is their ability to focus all of their irrational thoughts on their beloved baseball team that enables them to remain calm and controlled in the other aspects of their lives. Thanks to the Mets these fans can still function in society as if they were normal people.

The Optimistic Mets Fan

Mets fans happyThis is the most hated and reviled type of Mets fan. The kind of Mets fan that is despised by the other two classes of fans. You know the type. They are the ones who when discussing their Mets gush and rave about their beloved team. They will tell you how the Mets are turning the corner, how the future is bright, how winning isn’t everything. Even bad baseball doesn’t upset these folks, nothing will.

They are the ones that go out to Citi Field year after year as if nothing is wrong. They don’t seem to realize or even care that they are paying big league money to see our minor leaguers play big leaguers from other cities.

These happy fans are satisfied just to be alive and have no expectations for their ballclub. They are perfectly okay with rooting for a second division team and are content with what they’ve got.

These three groups maintain a symbiotic relationship with one another in order to survive, just as the rest of society does. As I stated earlier, Mets fans are just people. With all the frailties, weaknesses, and problems that any human must deal with. We Mets fans are not perfect, but we love our Mets.

Just like it takes all kinds to make a world it takes these different types of fans to make up Mets Nation. And as a nation, we are only strong if we stand together and respect one another.

Whatever type of Mets fan you are, stand united with me and all the rest of us, and if nothing else, we will get our self respect back.

Let’s Go Mets!

Mets fans painted

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Welcome To The Future, Mets Fans Thu, 15 May 2014 16:31:35 +0000 Future Citi

Future Citi

Meet the Mets, the 2014 Mets. However it does beg the question….who are these guys?

If you haven’t submerged yourself in the player world of the Mets’ minor league system, gotten a subscription to Baseball America and MILB TV for the last several years at least, then you are scratching your head at some of the names and faces that are now your 2014 New York Mets.

Jacob deGrom, Eric Campbell, Juan Centeno? Even Rafael Montero? The parade is getting started and there’s plenty more where they came from.

Of course we have already seen the beginnings after Matt Harvey was brought up two years ago. There are young Mets who have been striving to establish themselves in the bigs the last two seasons as well like Zack Wheeler, Travis d’Arnaud, Gonzalez Germen and Juan Lagares.

The next wave was at the beginning of 2014 with the additions of Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia.

Now in mid-May the next phase has already been implemented: Wilmer Flores, Rafael Montero, and of course, today’s starter Jacob deGrom.

Who else will more than likely be following these neophytes in the next several months?

Noah SyndergaardWell of course all of Met Nation is holding it’s collective breath until Noah Syndergaard AKA Thor works out the last few kinks in his game under the star-filled sky of the Las Vegas desert.

The Vic Black and Jeff Walters rumors have swirled at times indicating they are about a ham sandwich away from Citi Field as well.

Who will follow them? There are still more talented players awaiting their turn. Guys who are at AA and AAA are just an injury away from a big league gig.

If the Mets need a middle infielder as the season wears on look for them to tab shortstop Wilfredo Tovar or second-baseman Daniel Muno.

If the services of a corner infielder is required there is Allan Dykstra and Zach Lutz.

Need an outfielder? How about Cesar Puello or Matt den Dekker?

It’s doubtful that they would promote anyone from AA straight to the Mets. But if there is one guy that might be able to handle it, it’s catching prospect Kevin Plawecki. Right now he’s crushing Eastern League pitching. One possible scenario for the young back-stop is: a mid-season promotion to AAA, a successful go-round in the PCL, followed by a September call-up to the big club. Although not extremely likely, it could happen that way.

Not many teams can bring up 15 to 16 rookies in one season who all have the chance at becoming a productive big-leaguer. But the Mets can, and they will. All the young players won’t make it, but some will and there is safety in numbers.

The worst thing a young player can do when he first gets to the big leagues is try and do too much. Like a wise baseball man once said, “You gotta dance with who brung ya!”

Fortunately for these young Mets they have a manager who understands this and knows how to send a simple message.

“I think it says a lot,” Collins said the other day. “We’ve been ridiculed at times about ‘Super 2s’ and other things going on. We’re worried about winning. And if that means we bring up a young player that people think we might bring up later in the summer to come up now to help? That should tell you that we’re trying to win. Those are the guys we think we can win with.

“I just told those two kids in the room: (Montero and de Grom) There’s a reason why you’re here — because you can play here. That’s why you’ve been chosen. So don’t think you’ve got to do anything more than what got you here.”

Couldn’t have put it any better myself. And in case you missed it…..the future is NOW.


Oh to be young and a Met.

Let’s Go Mets!

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Mets Hitting Prospects Are Getting Hot Wed, 14 May 2014 16:31:02 +0000 brandon nimmo

Brandon Nimmo has been tearing it up, but he’s not the only Met prospect who’s sizzling.

As the weather heats up so are some of the Mets top prospects down on the farm. A few got off to slow starts this year but have recently begun to turn it up a notch, while others started out the season like a house on fire only to have since cooled. So who’s hot now? Just some of the best hitting prospects the Mets have that’s who. All four levels of the system can boast at least one guy who is feasting on his league’s pitching these days. Let’s take a closer look:

Savannah Sand Gnats

dominic smithDominic Smith – The sweet swinging lefty first-baseman whom the Mets tabbed with their 1st round pick in last year’s draft, started the season slowly posting an anemic slash-line of .217/.267/.253 for the Sand Gnats in 83 April at-bats. May has been a completely different story as the soon-to-be 19-year-old begins to settle into life in the SAL. Playing in an advanced league for his age Smith finds himself going up against competition three to four years older than himself. Despite this he is starting to show why the Mets jumped at their chance to bring this player into the fold right out of high school. Since May 1st, Dominic has posted a much improved slash-line of .302/.400/.349. He exhibits all the tools and potential you look for but of course is still a long way off as far as helping the big league club. First up for Dom to work on is his defense and pitch recognition. He already has very good athleticism and a good fundamental grasp of the strike zone, but needs to hone this skill as he sees more advanced breaking pitches. Eventually as he matures physically, his sweet line drive stroke will begin to develop the lift and carry you find in good power hitters, but in the meantime we must content ourselves with baby steps.

gavin cecchiniGavin Cecchini – A 20-year-old shortstop who swings from the right side, Cecchini was the Mets 2012 1st round draft pick the year before his Savannah teammate Smith. Gavin also started this season a little slowly right out of the gate as he got himself acclimated to a new level of competition. His April slash-line reads: .228/.311/.337 while the same numbers so far in May are: .326/.362/.558. Cecchini shows the natural fielding ability that should allow him to remain at shortstop and he basically just needs at-bats, and to be challenged with tougher competition like any minor leaguer. Although they could arrive in NY quicker, the safe bet is to assume that both Smith and Cecchini will come to spring training in 2017 with a legitimate chance at winning their respective starting jobs with the big league club.

St. Lucie Mets

Phillip EvansPhillip Evans – This 21-year-old shortstop whom the Mets drafted in the 15th round in 2011, was then signed to an over-slot contract in order to keep him from spurning the Mets and going to San Diego State. After a tough 2013 season at Savannah where Evans slashed a meager .203/.268/.263, the 5’10″ 185 lb. right-handed hitter has bounced back admirably so far in the much tougher Florida State League in 2014. Evans had a great April in which he batted .295 for the month, but in May he has been even better. For the year his slash-line is presently: .299/.343/.370. He is also half way to setting a personal high for RBI in a season having driven in 15 runs so far. His high for ribbies right now is the 29 he knocked in for Brooklyn in 2012. As a shortstop Phil can make the highlight reel on any given evening, throwing his body around all over the left side of the infield, but he struggles with his consistency and needs to cut down a bit on his errors as he advances. As a hitter he shows an athletic approach and makes good contact, and although power is not a big part of his game he shows good ability on the bases and driving in runs. One thing you always sense when talking to Phil’s teammates is that he is very well liked and appreciated in the clubhouse and shows signs of being a natural leader. Hopefully Evans continues to rise through the levels ahead and could potentially break into the bigs sometime in 2016.

TJ RiveraT.J. Rivera – This native of the Bronx was not even drafted coming out of college and maybe he has a bit of a chip on his shoulder because he absolutely destroys opposing pitching on a regular basis. He was signed to a free-agent contract in 2011 out of Troy University, and has reached his fourth level in the system in this his fourth season with the organization. In his three plus seasons so far the right-handed hitting Rivera has a career slash-line of: .313/.365/.412, but he is also playing in the Florida State League where the average age is 23, as a 25-year-old. It remains to be seen if Rivera, who profiles as a utility player can move quickly enough up the organizational ladder to make any kind of impact. As an undrafted minor league free agent the odds are very long for TJ, but this season he has been raking to the tune of: .392/.424/.552 and when you can put up those kind of numbers, anything is possible.

Binghamton Mets

jayce-boyd-400x225Jayce Boyd – The 6th round pick of the Mets in 2012 out of Florida State University, Boyd is a 23-year-old right-handed hitting, 6’3″ 185 lb. first-baseman with good power potential. It has been a Jekyl and Hyde season for Jayce so far at Binghamton this season. In April he struggled mightily with Eastern League pitching putting up a slash of: .182/.270/.258, but has exploded this month with a line that reads: .333/.450/.606 with nine runs scored, three doubles, two home runs, and five RBI in 33 May at-bats. Although he hasn’t put up big power numbers yet, he does show the ability to hit the ball very hard, and very far, so the statistics should be there at some point. In the meantime he needs to improve his pitch recognition, refine his approach at the plate and get better on defense. If he accomplishes those tasks there is no reason why he won’t be fighting to break in to the bigs sometime by the end of next season.

kevin plaweckiKevin Plawecki – When the Mets took Plawecki in the sandwich round (35th overall) in 2012, they knew they were getting a powerful catcher out of Purdue University. At 6’3″ and 225 lbs. this righty swinger had the ability to hit for power and if he was talented enough defensively to stick behind the plate they might really have a great pick on their hands. Well guess what? He is, and they do. It turns out that the big backstop from Purdue is more than just another pretty face. He is an extremely hard worker and has made it his mission to catch in the major leagues, and I have no doubt that one day very soon, he will. Plawecki has improved his defense steadily since entering the professional ranks through tireless work and study. He handles the pitching staff extremely well, studies the hitters, receives the ball well, frames pitches and is becoming pretty adept at throwing out would-be base stealers. His career caught stealing percentage for his two plus minor league seasons is 33%, and he has a career fielding percentage of .991. But it is as a hitter that Plawecki has shown outstanding development and growth in his brief time with the organization. He started his career in Brooklyn in 2012 and was solid, if unspectacular. In 252 plate appearances he put up a slash-line of: .250/.345/.384, with eight doubles, seven homers and 27 RBI. He ratcheted up his performance in 2013 and really opened some eyes both inside and outside the organization. Splitting the year between Savannah and St. Lucie he put up a slash last year of: .305/.390/.448 in 521 plate appearances, with 38 doubles, eight homers, and 80 RBI. This season he made the significant jump from high-A to AA and hit the ground running. In April he left the gate modestly with a slash of: .250/.300/.304 in 56 at-bats. But here’s where it gets pretty interesting Mets fans. In 36 May at-bats so far Plawecki is lighting it up with a slash-line of: .389/.378/.583 with five runs scored, four doubles, one home run and five ribbies. So as you can see the Mets have something very special in Plawecki, he’s a complete package, the real deal. Here’s what I like most about Kevin as a hitter. In 866 professional plate appearances he has a .371 OBP. Better yet, in those 866 PA’s he has a K/BB ratio of 88/71 for a 1.24:1 K/BB%. A very good defensive catcher who seems to hit for average while making consistent contact, drawing walks, driving in runs and having the strength to hit the ball out of any ballpark are what makes this guy a very intriguing prospect.

wilfredo-tovar1Wilfredo Tovar – Speaking of intriguing, let’s look at the case of one of the Mets’ forgotten prospects. He was signed in 2008 by the last regime, as a 16 year-old international free-agent from Venezuela. All this guy does is keep getting better every year. But when you play shortstop in an organization that has prospects who play your position by the names of: Cecchini, Evans, and Rosario it’s easy to be overlooked. All Tovar is, is a true shortstop who plays excellent defense, and is the closest to the majors of any shortstop in the organization. Toiling at AA for his third consecutive season Tovar must feel like an afterthought to a team desperate for improved shortstop play throughout the organization, particularly at the top. But he hasn’t used being largely ignored as an excuse to go in the tank, if anything he has used the motivation to crank it up a couple of notches so far this season. Knowing his employers lacked confidence in his bat, Tovar has gone on the offensive, literally and has been on fire all season so far. After hitting .263 for the B-Mets in 2013 Tovar’s slash for 2014 is: .333/.381/.406 in 105 plate appearances. He has seven runs scored, two doubles, one triple, one homer, 17 RBI, three SB’s, six walks and only five strikeouts. He currently ranks 7th in the Eastern League in hitting. Right now the biggest obstacles between Tovar and the majors are the incumbents Tejada and Flores, and Quintanilla at AAA. If he keeps hitting the way he is now he could wind up at Citi sometime this summer, providing the Mets don’t acquire a shortstop via trade of course….yeah right.

Las Vegas 51′s

daniel munoDaniel Muno - In Sandy’s first draft back in 2011 the Mets tabbed the switch-hitting Muno in the 8th round. He started out with a big season in Brooklyn his first year in the organization, batting .350. He skipped Savannah and started the next year at Lucie and was doing well, until he was hit with a drug suspension which pretty much wrecked his season. He finished batting .280 for the year. Then in 2013, playing the entire season in the Eastern League with the B-Mets, he seemed to regress with the bat, struggling to make consistent contact. He hit just .249, but thanks to 92 walks his OBP was a respectable .384. As a result he did manage to score 86 runs on the year and chipped in 27 doubles, nine jacks and 67 RBI. Muno made very good progress defensively in 2013 finishing the season with a .980 fielding percentage as a second baseman. He began this year with the Vegas 51′s and after hitting just .247 in April, is heating up with the bat and taking advantage of the fact that he plays in the desert and in a hitter’s park. Since the beginning of May he has hit .296 with a home run and five RBI in 27 at-bats. Playing mostly second base for Wally’s crew Muno has a .975 fielding percentage so far this year. If a need arises we just might see Danny at Citi Field before the season ends.

♦      ♦      ♦

I hope you found something of interest here. I know statistics can be a little dry sometimes. I can assure you things will get a little more exciting in the coming days. Before the month is over I will be doing something I haven’t done in a while. I’m going to pack up the old truck with cameras, video equipment, laptop, smartphone, voice recorders, notebooks, pencils, food, booze, donuts and coffee, and I’ll be once again hitting the road for MMO.

First stop? Three games between the B-Mets and the Twins AA affiliate in New Britain, CT. Somebody better tell Larry the scoreboard operator to slide the hell over ’cause Petey’s back in town! I’ll be talking to players and coaches, taking pictures, filming live game action and interviews, eating pork spiedies, writing pieces for MMO, taking more pictures, tweeting during the games live from the press box (my tweets will be like: “Hello? anybody out there? this thing on?….hello, Joe D? Anybody?”).

If you liked this piece I could do one on the pitchers and if there are any B-Mets in particular that you have a question for write the website and I’ll do my darnedest to get you an answer. So be sure to join me, Petey, when I hit the road in a coupla weeks. Remember, Today New Britain….Tomorrow the World!

"Hey that's not the pitching coach, that's Petey!"

“Hey that’s not the pitching coach, that’s Petey!”

Lets Go Mets!

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Mets Minors: Steven Matz Update, Instructional League Roster Set, Las Vegas 51′s Make It Official Mon, 24 Sep 2012 17:43:18 +0000

Toby Hyde of Mets Minor League Blog had this update on Mets pitching prospect Steven Matz who ended the season with shoulder soreness:

Matz is not on the official instructs roster. However, he is in St. Lucie and on a throwing program. The lefty was shut down at the end of July with discomfort in his shoulder area, but the Mets’ doctors did not believe his injury was “severe.” Matz lit up Appalachian League radar guns with mid-high 90s gas, touching 98 on his way to a 1.55 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 29 innings.

The Las Vegas 51′s have officially revamped their official site to reflect their new affiliation with the  New York Mets. There were some rumors that a name change might be in the offing, but that’s not happening.

It looks like most of the short-season minor leaguers are heading to Port St. Lucie. Here is the official Mets Instructional League Roster:

 I’m actually glad to see Wilmer Flores is getting some much needed rest. However, I wonder if he’ll be playing any Winter League Ball again this offseason.

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Kingsport Prospects Draw Not So Rave Reviews From Mike Newman Thu, 20 Sep 2012 21:28:18 +0000

Mike Newman of Fangraphs took a look at a few of the prospects that made their way through the Kingsport Mets this season. You may remember Mike from his former site “Scouting the Sally” which was always one of the preeminent minor bleague sites on the net. His opinion and insights on prospects from his own scouting and statistical point of views have always been highly regarded and his reputation is well known.

Here’s his take on 2012 first rounder Gavin Cecchini as well as teammates Branden Kaupe and Akeel Morris.

SS Gavin Cecchini: Not seeing him play shortstop certainly limits the look, but I’d be remiss to not mention his hit tool was better than I was expecting. From watching the video, it’s easy to see the swings weren’t pretty at times and pitch selection is still a work in progress. However, the couple of controlled swings he put on fastballs up in the zone both resulted in hard barrel contact. As his balance and weight shift improve, so should his pitch selection and consistency. Cecchini is unlikely to become an impact bat due to lack of power, but true shortstop prospects are difficult to come by so he does not have to be. In Savannah, I’ll receive a long look at him on defense and update the profile at that point.

2B Branden Kaupe: Jose Altuve was the first name to come to mind when seeing Kaupe take the field. The diminutive second baseman has similar quickness and thickness through the upper half. A switch hitter, the 18-year old has excellent bat speed from both sides of the plate and appeared to have an advanced understanding of how to work counts to his favor. He also showed 55 speed from the left side by running a 4.15 home-to-first time and could likely match that from the right side as well. Plus, he showed solid range at second base. With a .173/.358/.195 line in the Appalachian League, it would be easy to dismiss Kaupe. He’s a nice player though and a steal compared to the average fourth rounder I see in person.

Akeel Morris: Maybe the most perplexing arm in the lower levels of the system, Morris was considered a potential break through prospect entering the 2012 season. As a starter, he floundered finishing with a 12.90 ERA over six starts before being transitioned to the bullpen. As a reliever, his 1.13 ERA including a 27/10 K/BB ratio in 16 innings was a remarkable turnaround. In game action, Morris’ fastball was 90-93 MPH with improved command throughout the outing. The velocity was less than I was expecting and his max effort delivery, combined with a tendency to short arm the baseball definitely speaks to a bullpen profile. His breaking ball was a tight, 77 MPH curve which benefited from his short arm action. As a two-pitch reliever, he has some potential, but his days as a starter are likely over.

Closing Thoughts:  In all, the Kingsport roster was void of impact talent from the players I saw. Tomas Nido would have been a good “get”, but he was not in the starting lineup which was disappointing. With the Mets promoting at a much slower rate than under the previous regime, it might be 2014 before I have the opportunity to see this group again.

Obviously, Mike doesn’t seem too impressed with the kids at Kingsport who did have a terrible season in the Appalachian League season with 23-43 record. Still, I’d wait and see how these kids do next season where competition takes on more meaning than it does at Kingsport which is largely developmental.

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Buffalo and Blue Jays Nearing a PDC Agreement Sun, 16 Sep 2012 16:24:32 +0000

Updated Post 9/16

Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News writes this morning:

It’s been hush-hush until now because of the rules of the minor and major leagues, but the window for MLB clubs to talk to potential new minor-league affiliates officially opened today — and the Bisons and Toronto Blue Jays are now working on the game’s worst-kept secret.

Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos confirmed to Toronto reporters this morning that the team is speaking to the Bisons about moving their Triple-A club from Las Vegas to Buffalo.

Harrington adds that the only real discussion point is whether the deal will be for two or four years.

As for the Mets, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.

You can follow Mike Harrington on Twitter at @BNHarrington.

Original Post 9/11

The Oklahoma City RedHawks and Houston Astros announced today that they have extended their Player Development Contract through 2014, keeping the Astros’ Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City for two more seasons.

“We are very happy to continue our relationship with the Houston Astros,” RedHawks President & General Manager Michael Byrnes said. “The Astros are in the middle of a new and exciting chapter in their franchise’s storied history, and we’re proud to be a part of it.”

The RedHawks became an Astros affiliate prior to the 2011 season. After a 68-75 campaign in the inaugural season, the RedHawks improved to 78-65 in 2012. The RedHawks finished in second place in the PCL’s American Southern Division by just 1.5 games, and it was the best record for a non-playoff team in franchise history.

“We are excited to continue our relationship with Oklahoma City and the RedHawks for another two years,” said Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow. “The facility is first rate and the environment is excellent for the highest level of minor league baseball. Our prospects benefit from playing there.”

This pretty much narrows down the field for the Mets, as the list of AAA teams without a PDC for 2013 now stands at two cities, not counting Buffalo who want nothing to do with the Mets and Memphis who is close to a new deal with the Cardinals.

The remaining two possible affiliate cities are Las Vegas and Tucson.

All bets are on Las Vegas.

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Kingsport Mets Place Steve Matz on D.L. Sat, 18 Aug 2012 21:15:39 +0000

Matz On D.L. – Not Serious

When I saw the entry on yesterday’s transactions page for the Appalachian League, I got a a little concerned.

August 17: Kingsport Mets placed LHP Steven Matz on the 7-day disabled list.

Oh no, I hope it’s not the elbow again. TJS in 2010. Two lost seasons while rehabbing. A late start to 2012 training camp because of lingering elbow issues. After dealing with those, he started the second K-Mets game of the season and fired off five additional game starts. In six games he threw 29.0 innings and gave up 16 hits, one home run, walked 17, and struck out 34, to go 2-1 with a 1.55 ERA.

In 18 innings over his final three starts, he went 2-0, with a 0.00 ERA, with five hits, eight walks and 23 strikeouts. It was reported during those games that he was throwing his fastball as high as 98 mph, and utilizing a very effective change-up and curveball. A lefty that throws that hard, with good secondary offerings is something the Mets did not have in their system before the healthy reemergence of Matz.

As I stared at the entry on the transactions page, I began to think about Mets prospects of the past, who were side-tracked with injuries when they were young. Guys like Generation K, who each suffered devastating injuries that kept them from ever becoming anything with the Mets. And a string of high round draft-picks who never panned out. Guys like Phil Humber, Mike Pelfrey, Eddie Kunz, Nathan Vineyard, Brad Holt, Brant Rustich, Scott Moviel, Stephen Clyne, Eric Niesen, Kevin Mulvey, Matt Durkin, Shane Hawk, and Bob Keppel, just to name some of the more recent ones.

I shook it off. Things would be different with Matz. He’ll be a Met one day. He’ll get through this. I sat down and wrote him an email which said:

Hey Steve, how you doing? I saw you had to go on the D.L. That really sucks! It’s not your elbow is it? I heard you were having some shoulder issues, have you had it checked out yet? What did they say?

Then on Saturday, I heard back from Steve who didn’t sound overly concerned about this latest setback. Turns out, it is his shoulder that was giving him trouble, but after having it checked out, it was the best possible scenario.

Yeah I got an MRI, everything is clear just some rotator cuff tendenitis. Just down in Port St. Lucie now rehabbing it. Nothing too concerning.

So there you go, it’s not the elbow again. More than likely just some rust is all. Hopefully he’ll be back in time for Instructional League, and as for 2013? The sky is the limit for Mr. Matz.


Mets Team Doctor

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MMO Interview: Binghamton Mets Backstop Francisco Pena Fri, 10 Aug 2012 16:45:11 +0000

After Years In The System Pena Has Risen To The Upper Levels

Coming from a baseball family, the theory was always that Francisco Pena would shoot through the Mets system and be their starting catcher by 2012. Although his progress has been slower than what that timetable would have required, there is no question that Pena is moving closer to where he needs to be. Now in his sixth season with the organization, and 22-years-old, he is no longer a raw recruit but someone with enough training and experience to make his pitching staff and teammates better through his leadership.

Pena, as a catcher, has to be a student of the game. With his father Tony, who played 18 years in the majors as a starting catcher for Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Boston, and several other clubs and who is now a Yankee’s coach, Francisco has an excellent baseball background and pedigree. His brother Tony is also a pro-baseball player who has played shortstop in the bigs with K.C. and Atlanta.

Promoted to Binghamton from St. Lucie on June 21st, Pena got off to a hot start with the bat at Double-A but has since cooled off. Part of the reason is his position on the field. As a catcher he has the added responsibility of learning not only his pitchers, their stuff and what they like to throw in certain situations, but the league’s hitters as well, and their weaknesses. Pena told me as long as he stays healthy, he will continue to learn more about the game every day.

I got a chance to talk to Francisco at New Britain the week before last, and he was nice enough to answer some questions for us here on MMO. It was a real fun chat, and he’s very interesting to talk to. I found I didn’t have to ask him complete questions for the most part. I would just toss the gist of a query out there, and he would scoop up the question in mid-sentence and run with it. His answers were fantastic, full of good stuff. Tidbits and observations that are the product of living a baseball life from the time he was a tot. So without further fanfare, let’s get on with my interview with B-Mets catcher Francisco Pena.

Petey:  I’m talking to Binghamton Mets catcher Francisco Pena in the third-base dugout at New Britain Stadium. Francisco, you made the jump this season from High-A St. Lucie, to Double-A Binghamton. How do you feel about your time in the Eastern League so far?

Francisco:  Pretty good, pretty good, started the season here in Double-A swinging the bat pretty well. Struggling a little bit with my bat, but the defense is there. Doing a good job with the pitching staff. Getting to know the new group of guys on the pitching staff in Double-A. I know some of the guys from last year. But It’s been pretty good, it’s been pretty fine. It’s all the same baseball, you try to do nothing different, it’s just a little bit quicker but it’s been fun, it’s been real nice.

Petey:  Let’s talk about the pitching staff. Can you tell us your impressions of the starting rotation here?

Francisco:  I would say I’m trying to do the same thing, not trying to change nothing, it’s still the same baseball, like I said it’s probably a little bit quicker. I know most of the guys, I caught Peavey last year. I caught Gorski last year, I caught Armando Rodriguez, caught Wheeler. So I have a pretty good idea of some of the guys in the starting rotation, and some of the guys who are in the bullpen. It’s alright, it’s been pretty good and we’ve been having a pretty good communication.

Petey:  As far as your hitting goes, you mentioned you’ve been struggling a little bit. What sort of things are you working on to help you swing the bat better?

Francisco:  You know when your struggling, for me and for most of the guys, we have heard from the big league guys, and me being in a big league family, I’ve been talking with my dad, and talking with Luis Natera our hitting coach, and it’s getting a quality pitch to hit, you know? Getting a good pitch to hit, we as young players especially Latin players, we like to swing early. But you just gotta have a quality pitch and just be patient and just get a good pitch to swing, and you’ll be alright.

Petey:  So is it things like pitch recognition your working on now, or strike zone discipline?

Francisco:  No, it’s just let the ball travel a little bit more, and try to hit the ball the other way. Just let the ball travel you know? Let the ball travel. I’m just trying to rush a little bit, you know? When your feeling good at the plate, you feel strong and you try to do too much. Just let the ball travel and try not to do too much. That’s when you get in trouble, when you try to do too much.

Petey:  Sounds like my golf game. You’re a big, strong hitter, do you consider yourself a power hitter? And what sort of things do you work on to improve on your power-stroke?

Francisco:  Actually, I don’t consider myself a power hitter. I consider myself a gap-to-gap hitter. Hopefully, in the future I can be a power hitter but right now I just want to concentrate on hitting the ball gap-to-gap. You know just learn more for myself, you keep learning so much stuff from baseball. Every single day you keep learning. I just gotta keep learning myself and keep hitting the ball gap-to-gap, and although I don’t consider myself a power hitter, I’m hitting more power this year. I’m hitting more doubles, and extra-base-hits in ball-games. But I consider myself a gap-to-gap hitter.

Petey:  Did you set any goals for what you want to accomplish this season? Or where you’d like to be by the end of the year?

Francisco:  Actually, I’m very happy I’m here right now, you know? I was injured for almost the whole year when I broke my foot. And I’m just thankful, I thank God in just being healthy, you know? Cause being healthy is the big thing, and I just hope, hopefully I can finish strong here, keep working on my defense, my catching. Keep working on my defense, keep working on my hitting and see where it takes us next year. Hopefully start next year here or start next year at Triple-A, whatever, I just want to have a good year. Just see what happens. See what happens and stay healthy.

Petey:  Your a very good defensive catcher, what kinds of things are you trying to fine tune?

Francisco:  The most important thing is like when you know your pitching staff. So that’s what I’m working on just keep knowing your pitching staff. That’s the most important thing in baseball. What you see in the big leagues most of the time is catchers sometimes don’t hit. There so good defensively, defensive catchers, sometimes they learn how to hit more. Get to know themselves, get better approaches, but I’m concentrating on just knowing my pitchers, I have a good idea what I’m doing behind the plate. If I know the other hitters from the other team. I know their tendencies and their weakness. And I’ll be alright.

Petey:  Do you talk pitching with the staff between starts?

Francisco:  Absolutely, most of the times they say position players hang out with position players, and pitchers hang out with pitchers. Actually I talk to the position players as well about the hitters on the other teams. Sometimes pitchers, if they don’t know somebody else and some of the guys played with them in college, or some of the guys played with them in winter ball, they may have a better idea. But actually, you know I talk to most of the guys and most of our pitchers, and have a good plan to go to in the game, you know? So it’s just a matter of confidence of the guys. And having good confidence with the pitcher and be a leader behind the plate. Being like the quarterback, being the catcher, that’s the important thing.

Petey:  Thank you so much Francisco, we really appreciate your time. Good luck the rest of the way, stay healthy finish strong, and we’ll speak to you again.

Francisco:  Ok, thanks.

Pena Considers Himself A Gap-To-Gap Hitter

I hope you enjoyed this interview, check back next week for some more surprises right here on MMO.


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MMO Q&A With Cyclones Catcher Kevin Plawecki Thu, 09 Aug 2012 13:00:57 +0000

Plawecki Has Excellent Power-Hitting Potential As A Catcher

Note: This interview was conducted on July 3rd, so references to the game from the night before were actually the game on July 2nd.

Petey:  I am talking today with NY Mets 2012 1st-round sandwich pick, catcher Kevin Plawecki of the Brooklyn Cyclones. Kevin how does it feel to be in your first season in professional baseball with the Mets organization, and what do you think of the New York Penn League?

Kevin:  It’s great so far. It’s a little bit of a transition from college ball to here. Obviously the velocity of the pitching, the consistency of the pitching, just getting used to my pitchers and the guys on my team as well. But so far it’s been a great transition, and I’m looking forward to what the rest of the year has to offer.

Petey:  You had a big part in the win last night, an 11-inning victory. You hit a big home run in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game, and then got on base to lead off the 11th and got on when you were hit by a pitch, and that eventually led to the winning run scoring. What were you trying to do with the at-bat when you came up in the ninth inning and hit the game-tying home run?

Kevin:  I was just looking for something to drive. Obviously we needed to get a rally going cause we were running out of time. At the plate, I was fortunate enough to run into one good enough to leave the park for me, but by no means was I trying to hit a home run. I’ve been struggling a little bit at the plate so I ran into one like that, and that’s always nice. It boosts your confidence a little bit. I’ve been frustrated at the plate a little bit but I’m just sticking with it and the hits will come.

Petey:  What kind of stuff are you working on now in the cage to break out of it?

Kevin:  Just working on drills that have gotten me to this point. So there’s no reason to change anything, no reason to over-think anything. Like I said, it’s a transition. Coming out here I took about a week off, I don’t know if that had anything to do with it. I’ll figure it out and last night was hopefully a good block to build off of and moving forward here. We got a long season ahead.

Petey:  You guys have a very strong catching core with yourself, Jeff Glenn and Nelfi Perez.

Kevin:  Yeah, both guys are great baseball players, great guys to be around. They’re doing a great job and they’ve been doing it all year. We all work together as a unit, I don’t see any problems there at all.

Pete:  Let’s talk a little about the pitching staff, which you handle so well. First of all the starting pitching, They rank number one in just about every category in the league. That must make your job easier to have five or six guys like that.

Kevin: Yeah, it’s always nice when you’re working with guys who can hit their spots well, and who can throw all their pitches for strikes at any time in the count. And when you can do that with guys it makes it a lot easier on my end because I know they’re confident in the pitches they are throwing. It keeps the hitters off-balance and the other team off-balance when all those things are working, and it has up to this point this year. I don’t see anything changing and I look forward to their continued success as well.

Petey:  Are you calling your own games?

Kevin:  Yeah. Sure am.

Petey:  How is that coming along? It must be a challenge getting to know the hitters and figuring their weaknesses out.

Kevin:  Yeah, I mean it is a little bit of a new challenge, but it also has to do with me getting to know my pitchers. Like I said, just knowing what they can throw for strikes and what they feel comfortable throwing in certain situations. That’s the main thing really, having my pitchers throw the pitches they want to throw and not feeling uncomfortable throwing certain pitches. So far we’ve been on the same page most of the time. We’ll just continue to get to know one another and go from here.

Petey:  The other night you DH’d when Mateo pitched. But you have caught him before, what kind of stuff does he throw?

Kevin:  He’s good. He spots up with his fastball very well. He’s got a great slider. His change-up’s good as well, so when he’s got all three of his pitches working and he’s throwing mid-nineties, it’s kind of hard as an opposing hitter to really figure out what he’s going to throw you next. He keeps the hitters off-balance and keeps the other team guessing and I think that’s important to his success up to this point. He’s a great pitcher.

Petey:  What kind of movement does he get on his fastball?

Kevin:  He gets quite a bit. It moves different directions. I don’t know what he does I’m just out there catching it, I don’t know what to expect either back there. I don’t know if it’s his arm-angle that he comes in at, or the way he grips the ball. I have no idea, he definitely does find a way to get it done.

Petey:  How bout his change? How much of a speed differential does he get off his fastball?

Kevin:  I don’t know exact numbers, but it’s enough to keep hitters off-balance.

Petey:  Does it have good movement too, the change-up?

Kevin:  Yeah, it’s a great pitch, a good secondary pitch to go to. He’s been doing really well for us.

Petey:  How about the relief corp? Any of those guys really impressed so far?

Kevin:  Matthew Bowman and Paul Sewald have been good out of the pen. Last night John Mincone, I don’t want to forget any guys.

Petey:  And how about David Wynn, and Tyler Vanderheiden, Logan Taylor, Ernesto Yanez and Matt Koch? They’ve all been very effective this year.

Kevin:  Yeah they’ve done a great job, all of them are doing really well. I can’t really pinpoint one over the other.

Petey:  Yeah. and we are gonna leave someone out, but the pen’s been simply outstanding this year too. Well Kevin, I’m gonna let you go, but thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions for all of us at MMO. We really appreciate it and I’ll be looking forward to speaking with you again.

Kevin:  Sure. Sounds great.

Plawecki Is not your typical slugger with a K/BB ratio of 8/14 in 127 AB’s this year



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MMO Sits Down With Mets Prospect Wilmer Flores Mon, 06 Aug 2012 15:00:34 +0000

Flores: Not Swinging At Bad Pitches

I caught up with Mets top position prospect Wilmer Flores one afternoon two weeks ago in the visitors dugout at New Britain Stadium. Wilmer was nice enough to sit down with me and answer a few questions for the readers at MMO. I asked him for his thoughts on the Eastern League pitching he’s seen so far, and how he feels about being an infield gypsy, playing musical chairs everyday as he moves around the infield positions. His answers may surprise you, so without any unnecessary preamble, here’s what he had to say:

Petey:  Wilmer you’ve had a really exciting season so far this year, first you changed defensive positions when you were moved from shortstop to third-base, then started very strong with the bat in St. Lucie, and slugged your way to a promotion to the AA Eastern League, what do you think about this year your having so far?

Wilmer:  Well, it’s been going very well. I think the difference between last year and this year is that I have more concentration at the plate. I have an idea of what I’m doing.

Petey:  They say it’s a big jump between High-A and Double-A, would you agree with that?

Wilmer:  Yeah, it’s definitely the biggest step to make. The difference is the pitchers throw more strikes, they have better command of their pitches, and they know what they’re doing on the mound. It’s still the same game it’s just a little bit faster, but it’s still the same game.

Petey:  You were hitting very well at St. Lucie at the time of your promotion to Double-A. But once here, it seems you started to really heat up, and started out in Double-A very strong. How were you able to do that?

Wilmer:  Just having more concentration and just having a plan, and trying to get my pitch. Last year I would swing at a lot of pitches out of the strike zone. I’m just trying to get my pitch man, and drive it.

Petey:  You made a position change this year as they moved you from shortstop to third-base. You’ve also played a little second and a little first. How do you feel about working at these other positions?

Wilmer:  Yeah I played like three or four games at first, it’s a little different, it’s a little easier, but It doesn’t matter to me where I play. I just want to play the game, it doesn’t matter where.

Petey:  Now that you’ve had some time to settle in at third are you starting to feel some comfort level there?

Wilmer:  Yeah, I feel comfortable. There’s a big difference between High-A and Double-A. Hitters are stronger, they hit the ball harder. And that’s a big difference.

Petey:  Is there more in the way of in-game strategy now. Different defensive alignments getting called, wheel-plays, things like that, that weren’t in use in the lower minors?

Wilmer:  Yeah definitely.

Petey:  Who amongst your teammates have impressed you since you’ve been at Binghamton?

Wilmer:  I would say Lagares. He’s hot right now and hitting very well.

Petey:  Awesome, yeah his average has been getting up there after a bit of a slow start. Well listen, thank you very much Wilmer for sitting down to chat with me for the readers at MMO. I’ll look forward to talking with you again, good luck with the rest of the season, take care.

Wilmer: Alright, thank you.

That concludes my first chat with Wilmer Flores, hopefully we’ll get a chance to do many more Q&A’s with him as he progresses through the upper levels of the Mets system, on his way to Citifield in a couple of years. And today he turns 21, so we would like to take a moment to wish Wilmer a very Happy Birthday.

He’s obviously a very diligent student of the game, a hard worker and a very serious young man when it comes to the game he loves. With his skill-set and advanced approach to hitting, the question with Flores is no longer if he will make it to the majors, it’s just a matter of when.

Learning His Way Around the Infield

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