Mets Merized Online » Brian Devine http://metsmerizedonline.com Thu, 27 Nov 2014 12:00:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.5 Alderson Is Optimistic About Conforto’s Defense http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/alderson-is-optimistic-about-confortos-defense.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/alderson-is-optimistic-about-confortos-defense.html/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 14:31:27 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=170441 michael conforto Patrick E. McCarthy

When the Mets selected Michael Conforto 10th overall in this year’s draft, the main criticism about Conforto was his defense. As an outfielder in Oregon State, Conforto earned a reputation as a liability in the outfield. Since many analysts felt his defense was an issue, he was viewed as a one dimensional player.

However, it appears that Conforto’s defense is better than initially anticipated. Mets GM Sandy Alderson spoke positively about his defense as well as his offense in a recent interview with MMO’s John Bernhardt. Here’s what Alderson had to say:

“Since I arrived in New York, he’s the first first-round pick out of college that we’ve drafted. Our other three had been high school players. So I do expect that he’ll move a little more quickly. We did get him to Savannah for the playoffs late in the season this year. So I would expect that he’ll move more quickly than some of our other top draft picks have certainly.

“Michael comes from a very athletic and competitive family. His father, I think, was a linebacker at Penn State. He played football there. His mother is a former Olympic athlete — a medalist in synchronized swimming. So he comes from a very athletic family. He’s a great kid, very humble and committed to the game and has interacted with fans — I think a terrific individual, and an outstanding hitter.

“A left-handed hitter, power is probably not his foremost quality. He’s got some, but he’s more of a gap-to-gap guy — high average, high on-base percentage — and a pretty good defender, which was not his reputation coming into the draft. But based on the time he spent in Brooklyn and then Savannah, our guys were very pleased with him defensively. He’s kind of an all-around player, and we do expect that he’ll move very quickly.”

If Confoto can provide solid defense from left field, it will be a great boost to his value. He was regarded as one of the best college hitters in the draft and batted .345 with an impressive 1.050 OPS during his final season in Oregon State. In his first season at the professional level, Conforto hit .330 with three home runs and a .403 OBP for the Low-A Brooklyn Cyclones.

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Top Minor League Performers: Matt den Dekker, AAA http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/top-minor-league-performers-matt-den-dekker-aaa.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/top-minor-league-performers-matt-den-dekker-aaa.html/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 16:09:21 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=170390 matt den dekker

For the second year in a row, the Las Vegas 51’s clinched a division title under manager Wally Backman. They posted a strong 81-63 record this season, and they finished 9.5 games ahead of second place. The 51’s lineup crushed the competition with a league leading average of over six runs a game. However, the 51’s season came to a disappointing end with a 3-1 series loss in the semifinal round.

The 51’s received a lot of impressive individual performances this year, but I think Matt den Dekker’s season stands out the most. He was one of the main contributors to the 51’s lethal offense and led the team in hits, doubles and triples. His .334 averaged ranked second on the team behind only Eric Campbell. His .947 OPS was also third on the team among players with at least 100 at bats. Additionally, he provided plus defense in center field with his excellent range and glove.

I strongly considered top prospect Noah Syndergaard, but his performance was too uneven and inconsistent. Syndergaard is obviously the superior prospect, but based purely on statistical production in 2014, den Dekker had the clear edge.

2015 Role

With the acquisition of Michael Cuddyer, den Dekker will likely compete for the Mets fourth outfielder role this Spring. He should be a valuable piece off the bench as a late inning defensive replacement and a solid option as a left-handed pinch hitter. He also provides some insurance for Cuddyer, who has missed considerable time to the disabled list the past several seasons.

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Prospect Pulse: Matt Reynolds, SS http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/prospect-pulse-matt-reynolds.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/prospect-pulse-matt-reynolds.html/#comments Sat, 15 Nov 2014 12:00:15 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=170083 MiLB: April 28 - St. Lucie Mets at Tampa Yankees

Adam Rubin of ESPN NY published an interesting article yesterday about Mets infield prospect, Matt Reynolds. In the article, Reynolds discussed his strong bounce back performance this year, and how he has improved since 2013. Here is what he had to say.

“I feel like I’m pretty close to being ready to play in the big leagues,” Reynolds said. “Obviously there’s still a lot of things that I want to work on and I want to get better at. This year has been really good for me. I’ve gained a lot of confidence from it. And I’ve also seen what aspects I need to improve on a lot. It’ been a fun year and the Fall League has helped out a lot more.”

“My approach at the plate, my swing improved a lot this past offseason,” Reynolds said. “It carried over into the season. I made a lot of adjustments of staying through the middle of the field and not trying to pull the ball too much. When you have that approach, you’re able to hit a lot more pitches. I was able to keep a consistent approach for most of the year and it worked for me.”

This season was a remarkable turnaround for Reynolds. After hitting just .226 for the High-A St. Lucie in 2013, Reynolds batted .343 this season with six home runs and 61 RBI for AA-Binghamton and AAA-Las Vegas. He also stole 20 bases and posted a solid .859 OPS.

The Mets are very high on the 23-year old shortstop. MMO’s John Bernhardt interviewed Sandy earlier this month, and he praised Reynolds for his defensive skills and sound approach at the plate.

“He’s been solid at shortstop. And we’ve left him there and expect that he’ll be able to remain there. He’s also an excellent athlete. He’s got a strong arm, pretty good range defensively. Offensively, he had just a great season last year — really a breakout season for him both at Binghamton and at Las Vegas. The numbers get a little inflated at Las Vegas, but his were right in line with what he had done in Binghamton.”

“I think what he’s done — by his own word, he’s indicated — he’s started to use all the field. He’s not really trying to pull everything. And although he had some home runs, and I think he’s got three home runs already in the Arizona Fall League, he tries to use the whole field. He’s sort of a gap-to-gap guy. So we’re very high on Reynolds and hope that he can at least at the outset of 2015 duplicate what he was able to do last year.”

So what’s the plan for Reynolds? Alderson told reporters on Thursday that he will likely start the season in Las Vegas and won’t break camp with the Mets. However, I expect him to get called up at some point during the year. Reynolds is a polished hitter drafted out of college, so he should not need a lot more time in the minors before he is ready to play in New York.

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Nimmo Will Open Next Season With Triple-A Las Vegas http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/nimmo-will-open-next-season-with-triple-a-las-vegas.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/nimmo-will-open-next-season-with-triple-a-las-vegas.html/#comments Thu, 13 Nov 2014 22:45:52 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=169914 brandon-nimmo-2

Sandy Alderson predicted Nimmo would open 2015 manning center field at Triple-A Las Vegas, according to a report by Adam Rubin of ESPN New York. He is also going to get continued playing time left field.

Alderson wasn’t concerned by Nimmo’s pedestrian numbers in the AFL which he says were the result of exhaustion after a long season. Nimmo will get some much needed rest now and will report to big-league camp next spring training.

Baseball Prospectus recently listed Brandon Nimmo as a one of their potential breakout candidates for next season. Players eligible for this classification are already solid prospects, but they are not viewed as one of the best prospects in the game just yet. Here is what they had to say:

His eligibility for this category is debatable. Having been a first round pick in 2011 and having played in the 2013 Futures Game puts him into consideration for the Blue Chip group.

The approach was much more advanced than expected from a 21-year-old who grew up in Wyoming. The approach is enhanced by impressive spin and location recognition, which allow him to execute his plan effectively. The swing is smooth and easy with above-average bat speed and loose strength. He shows above-average batting practice power and has a frame that can handle additional strength before cutting into his above-average athleticism.

I didn’t get to see him play center field but the reports have been optimistic about his long-term future there, and his play in left field did nothing to indicate otherwise. The separation between Nimmo and the Blue Chip prospects group is the lack of an elite carrying tool. As an overall prospect Nimmo is very solid across the board, with a realistic projection of five average or better tools. His performance in the upper levels of the minors should begin to catch up to his physical ability in 2015.

In a recent interview with MMO’s John Bernhardt, Sandy Alderson also had a lot of positive things to say about Nimmo.

There are several qualities that I think distinguish Brandon. One is his commitment to excellence, if you will. He’s a tremendously competitive individual. He takes his preparation very seriously. He has grown physically very impressively over the last couple of years through offseason workouts.

He has an approach that’s very consistent with what we try to promote, which is selectivity at the plate. Being aggressive with good judgment, I guess, is how we look at it — getting a good pitch to hit. If anything, at Binghamton, I think he began to demonstrate a little more power, which we think he has. There may be a little trade-off between his discipline at the plate and his ability to turn on the ball, but I think that’s something that’s coming. He’s a very committed guy.

This season Nimmo batted .278 with 10 home runs and 50 RBI in 127 games split between Double-A Binghamton and High-A St.Lucie. Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com both ranked Nimmo as the third best prospect in the Mets system.

Could 2015 be the year Nimmo leaps from top prospect to elite prospect status? Furthermore, is there a chance he can make his major league debut late next season, perhaps a September call-up? There are many of us on MMO believe that Nimmo is going to have that huge breakthrough next season.

(Updated 11/13)

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Latest From AFL: Reynolds and Mazzilli Are Impressing http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/latest-from-afl-reynolds-and-mazzilli-are-impressing.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/latest-from-afl-reynolds-and-mazzilli-are-impressing.html/#comments Fri, 07 Nov 2014 16:18:40 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=169544 matt reynolds

With the Arizona fall league ending next week, let’s take a look at how the Mets prospects are faring for the Scottsdale Scorpions.

Brandon Nimmo: 69 At-Bats, 0 HR, .217/. 325/.261, 7 RBI

Despite being named to the AFL All Star Team, Nimmo is struggling to produce. He is batting .143 without any extra base hits during the last 10 games.

Matt Reynolds:  63 At-Bats, 3 HR, .254/.360/.492, 14 RBI

The most encouraging aspect about Reynolds performance this fall is that he is starting to hit for more power. Reynolds only hit six home runs all year in the Mets minors while playing for AA-Binghamton and AAA-Las Vegas.

L.J. Mazzilli: 40 At-Bats, 1 HR, .325/.449/.500, 5 RBI

Mazzilli has been on fire of late with a .353 batting average during his last ten games.

As I was writing this post, I came across this scouting report on Mazzilli from Baseball Prospectus in the Eyes on the Field Series. Here’s what they had to say.

While the ultimate value of a second baseman with average to slightly above-average raw power isn’t stratospheric, Mazzilli has all the makings of a productive everyday big leaguer. His approach contains controlled aggression with a pull tendency and a line drive plane. He has solid raw power that he shows in batting practice, though his game swings are more geared to doubles in the gaps. He is a fringe-average defender at second base with playable range and just enough arm strength to get by. He’s a bat-first second baseman, but the hit tool was a major standout in the loaded AFL and if he offered a significant power ceiling or plus speed he would qualify for the Potential Breakouts category.

Robert Whalen: 0-1, 5.17 ERA, 15.2 IP, 15 K’s

Whalen has pitched much better since starting out the season poorly. He has allowed only two runs and four hits over his last 11 innings pitched.

Paul Sewald: 0-2, 9.36 ERA, 7.2 IP, 13 K’s

While Sewald has struggled this fall, he is an interesting name to watch going forward. Sewald was the Mets 10th round pick in 2012, and he owns a career minor league ERA of 1.85 out of relief.

Julian Hilario 1-1, 4.50 ERA, 14 IP, 14 K’s

Hilario has been solid in most of his outings, but he made one rough appearance which inflated his numbers. On October 29th, he yielded five earned runs in one inning against the Mesa Solar Sox.

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Mets Sign Catcher Johnny Monell, Final Thoughts On Juan Centeno http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mets-sign-catcher-johnny-monell-final-thoughts-on-juan-centeno.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mets-sign-catcher-johnny-monell-final-thoughts-on-juan-centeno.html/#comments Thu, 06 Nov 2014 12:00:38 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=169333 juan-centeno

The Mets made several moves last week to clear space on their 40 man roster. One of these decisions was to place catching prospect, Juan Centeno, on waivers. Centeno was quickly picked up by the Milwaukee Brewers, and he will likely compete for a spot on their opening day roster. While Centeno is certainly not a devastating loss for the Mets, he might have been the best internal option to backup starter Travis d’Arnaud

As a 32nd round draft pick, Centeno was always under the radar. He was never ranked highly on any prospect lists, and he was often overlooked due to his lack of power. Centeno only hit three home runs in his minor league career, and he has an extremely low .336 slugging percentage during eight minor league seasons.

Despite his low power numbers, Centeno made some improvements at the plate during the last few years. He batted over .300 in three out of the past five seasons, and the contact-hitting backstop never hit below .285 during this span. This progress does not completely make up for his disappointing power output, but it does show that he has more promise on offense than most give him credit for.

However, Centeno’s greatest strength is his exceptional ability on defense. Centeno is regarded as an excellent defensive catcher, and he also has an outstanding throwing arm. Baseball America rated him as the best catcher defensively in the entire Pacific Coast League this season. Mets fans also caught a glimpse of Centeno’s elite skills when he threw out Billy Hamilton stealing in September of last year. This type of defense from the catching position is valuable, and it would also give the Mets a nice complement to  d’Arnaud’s production on offense.

Additionally, letting Cetneno go likely means that Anthony Recker returns as the Mets backup. While Recker launched a few impressive home runs this year, he struggled mightily overall. Recker batted just .201 with a dreadful.246 OBP during 174 at bats. This poor performance is also not the result of a small sample size or the consequence of a young player struggling to adjust in the majors. Recker is a career .197 hitter, and he is already 31 years old.

Even though this decision will not drastically effect the season, it is a mistake by the Mets. Centeno can easily exceed Recker’s average and on base percentage while also playing superior defense. Centeno is also several years younger, and he still has room to improve.

This just in…

As I finished writing this last night, the Mets signed catcher Johnny Monell to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training. He’s a local kid and was a 30th round pick of the San Francisco Giants in 2007.

Monell, who turns 29 in March, spent this season at Triple-A, splitting time between the Dodgers and Orioles organizations and hit a combined .238 with four home runs and 24 RBI in 226 plate appearances. He had a cup of coffee in 2013, batting 1-for-8 for the Giants.

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The 2014 Mets All-Prospect Team http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/the-2014-mets-all-prospect-team.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/the-2014-mets-all-prospect-team.html/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 13:10:50 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168365 noah syndergaard

2014 has been another encouraging season for the Mets minor league system. The Mets minor league affiliates have posted the highest winning percentage among all the MLB farm systems, and many players have emerged as exciting prospects.

In this post, I will rank the best prospects at each position for MMO’s 2014 All-Prospect Team. The players chosen will be based on a combination of their upside and MLB readiness.

C – Kevin Plawecki

In 376 at bats for Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Las Vegas this season, Plawecki excelled with a .309 average, 11 home runs and 64 RBI. According to MLB.com, he is rated as the number two prospect in the Mets system and the 59th best prospect overall in the majors.

1B – Dominic Smith

Despite an unimpressive season, Smith still remains as the Mets top first base prospect. Smith has more power potential than his stats indicate, and he also has a very good eye at the plate. At only 19 years old, Smith has plenty of time to turn his promising skills into results.

2B – Dilson Herrera

After getting called up to AA, Herrera  was outstanding. The 20 year old second baseman batted .340 with ten home runs and 48 RBI in 241 at bats. This excellent performance earned him a call up to the majors in September where he exhibited a lot of potential. Herrera crushed three home runs and 11 RBI during his 18 games in New York.

3B – Jhoan Urena

Third base might be one of the Mets weakest positions in the minors, but the Mets have several talented third basemen emerge in the lower levels in 2014. One of these players is Urena, who was signed by the Mets as an international free agent in 2011. This season for the Brooklyn Cyclones, Urena batted .300 with five home runs and 47 RBI in 75 games. Urena is a powerful hitter who can develop into a dangerous home run threat as he gets older and stronger.

SS – Amed Rosario

Rosario is one of the most talented players in the Mets system. He has the ability to provide above average offense and defense from the short stop position. While Rosario’s production this year was not excellent, he was able to produce respectable numbers despite being one of the youngest players in his league. Rosario hit .289 with a home run and seven steals during 68 games played.

LF – Michael Conforto

Conforto has quickly established himself as a very good prospect. The Mets selected Conforto with their 10th overall pick in this year’s draft, and he batted .331 during his first professional stint with the Brooklyn Cyclones. MLB.com rates Conforto as the number four prospect in the Mets system, and he is expected to advance quickly through the minor leagues.

CF – Brandon Nimmo:

Nimmo started off the year on fire, hitting .322 with a strong .448 on base percentage while playing for Advanced-A St. Lucie. While Nimmo slowed down significantly after being promoted to AA, it was a positive season for him overall. He manged to cut down his strikeouts, and he was also able to hit for more power, tallying ten home runs and 21 doubles during his 127 games played.

RF – Cesar Puello

It seems like a long time ago since Puello annihilated AA pitching last season. Puello batted .326 with 16 home runs and 24 steals in 91 games back in 2013. However,Puello’s disappointing performance this year and suspension for performance enhancing drugs have caused him to plummet in prospect rankings. Despite these concerns, Puello still has the raw skills to develop into productive major league player with his solid combination of power, speed and defense in right field.

SP 1 – Noah Syndergaard

Syndergaard is the consensus number one prospect in the Mets organization. His fastball is explosive, and he should reach the majors as soon as this upcoming season. While Syndergaard battled with inconsistencies in AAA this year, he clearly has the talent to potentially become a top of the rotation starter.

SP 2 – Steven Matz

With a exceptional 2.24 ERA, Matz was utterly dominant this season for Double-A Binghamton and Advanced-A St. Lucie. He struck out 131 batters in 140 innings pitched, and he yielded only three home runs all season long. While Matz once looked like a bust due to several elbow related injuries and setbacks, he is now past all of that of the best prospects in the Mets system.

SP 3 – Rafael Montero

Even though Montero does not have the same electric stuff as Syndergaard, he can achieve success with excellent command and poise on the mound. Baseball America rated Montero as the 68th overall prospect in the MLB heading into the season, and he has succeeded throughout his minor league career with a 2.69 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in four season. 

SP 4 – Marcos Molina

Molina was perhaps the most dominating pitcher in the Mets minors this year. He posted a fantastic 1.77 ERA and struck out 91 batters during 76 innings pitched. Following this tremendous performance, Molina was named the number one prospect in the New York Penn League by Baseball America.

SP 5 – Matthew Bowman

While Bowman does not receive as much attention as other Mets top pitchers, he has the ability to make an impact in the majors. Bowman has pitched well in every level of the minors, and he owns a  22-14 record with a 3.06 ERA in 291 career innings pitched. He also posted a solid .3.47 ERA while pitching for Las Vegas, which is an extremely difficult environment for pitchers to have success.

RP – Akeel Morris

It is hard to have a more impressive season than the one Morris had out of the bullpen for Single-A Savannah this season. Morris overpowered the competition with a 0.63 ERA and 0.71 WHIP. He also struck 14.1 batters per nine innings and allowed just 19 hits in 57 innings pitched.

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Our Top 5 Underrated Mets Hitting Prospects http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/featured-post-top-5-underrated-mets-hitting-prospects.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/featured-post-top-5-underrated-mets-hitting-prospects.html/#comments Sun, 19 Oct 2014 16:23:59 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167779 VICENTE LUPO

The top prospects of every minor league system always seem to receive endless amounts of hype. Most of the time this attention is deserved as elite prospects are often potential game changers for their franchises. However, sometimes the prospects that are rarely discussed can make the strongest impact. Mets fans have witnessed this recently with the development of Jacob deGrom and Juan Lagares. Both players were not highly regarded prospects, yet they have emerged into key players at the major league level.

While it is always difficult to predict who the next surprise player like deGrom and Lagares will be, there are numerous underrated prospects in the Mets minor league system that might be able to make a similar impact. Here are the Mets top five underrated position players.

5. Luis Guillorme, SS

Luis Guillorme is the type of prospect that always seems to be overlooked since he does not have any exceptional hitting skills. However, he compensates for this by playing tremendous defense at a key position. The 19 year old short stop is an elite defender due to his excellent range, good hands, and a very strong throwing arm.

Even though some believe Guillorme will not hit enough to start in the majors, his offense is not as weak as many think. While he will not hit for any power, he has showed some promising signs at the plate this season. Guillorme batted .283 with a solid .340 OBP in 274 at bats with the Kingsport Mets. If Guillorme can continue to hit for contact consistently, his defense is good enough to carry him all the way to the majors.

4. Ivan Wilson, CF

On the surface, it seems like Ivan Wilson is not a very impressive prospect. Wilson batted .176 this season for Kingsport, and struck out in 46 percent of his at bats. While these are certainly alarming signs, it is not enough to write him off as a prospect just yet.

Wilson is perhaps the best athlete in the entire system. Wilson has enormous power potential at 6’3” and 220 pounds, and he is also an above average runner. This dangerous combination of power and speed for a centerfielder gives him a high upside and a very promising future. Eventually he will have to translate these raw skills into results, but he still has plenty of time to develop as he is just 19 years old.

3. Jayce Boyd, 1B

Ever since the Mets drafted Jayce Boyd in the 6th round in 2012, he has impressed at every level. Boyd batted .330 with an outstanding .410 OBP last season, and he also had a solid .293 batting average this year in AA. Despite his great overall numbers, many underrated Boyd because of his low home run totals.

Boyd has yet to reach double digit home runs in a single season in the minors, but he has more raw power than his stats indicate. At 6’3” and 185 pounds, he is strong enough to start hitting more home runs.

Another factor to consider is that power is often the last skill that develops for prospects. A recent example of this in the Mets minors is Lucas Duda. Duda struggled to hit for a lot of power early in his minor league career, and he actually posted identical numbers to Boyd. Duda hit just 9 home runs and had.808 OPS in AA, while Boyd hit 8 home runs with a .796 OPS at the same age and level as Duda. It’s not fair to expect Boyd to replicate Duda’s success, but this example is a strong reminder that minor league numbers don’t always tell the whole story.

2. Champ Stuart, CF

While Champ Stuart has started to gain more recognition of late, he still appears to be an unknown for many fans. Stuart is arguably the fastest player in the Mets organization, and he effectively utilizes his elite speed. Stuart stole 29 bases in just 81 games for A-Savannah while only getting caught 4 times. His athleticism also allows him to play excellent defense in centerfield.

Stuart has also made a lot of progress at the plate since the Mets drafted him 2013. Stuart has a decent .251 average and a solid .359 OBP as a professional, which is encouraging considering that he was viewed as a very raw prospect coming out of college.

1. Vicente LupoLF

After an extremely disappointing season in 2013, most people had forgotten about Vicente Lupo. Lupo was one of the Mets top international signings in 2010, and he was often praised for his excellent power and patience at the plate.  Most of this hype disappeared following last season as Lupo batted .220 with just four home runs in 110 at bats for the Gulf Coast League Mets. However, Lupo put together a very strong bounce back campaign this year.

In 133 at bats this for Kingsport, Lupo batted .278 with 7 Home runs and.a 918 OPS. What is most encouraging about his performance is that he made tremendous strides as the season progressed. Lupo was almost unstoppable during the final month of the season where he hit .333 with 6 home runs and 21 RBI.

While there aren’t many people talking about Lupo right now, I expect that to change quickly. Lupo carries a lot of power potential, and he is continuing to make a lot of progress. As he advances to higher levels of the minors, Lupo could emerge into one of the Mets most exciting prospects.

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Which Mets Prospects Will Debut Next Season? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/which-mets-prospects-will-debut-next-season.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/which-mets-prospects-will-debut-next-season.html/#comments Fri, 03 Oct 2014 12:30:47 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=167178 brandon-nimmo-2

The Mets are finally starting to see the results of their improved minor league system. Former prospects – turned major leaguers – like Jacob deGrom, Travis d’Arnaud and Jeurys Familia are here to stay and have all made significant impacts in 2014. These performances are getting many fans excited for the future of the team rightfully so, and the Mets could possibly see even more exciting rookie performances next season.

Adam Rubin of ESPN New York recently profiled ten players who could potentially debut in 2015. Naturally, he lists top prospects such as Noah Syndergaard and Kevin Plawecki, but he also includes several lesser known players like Cory Mazzoni, Matthew Bowman and Logan Verrett. The biggest surprise for me is that he also believes Brandon Nimmo could debut next season.

Cory Mazzoni, RHP – Mazzoni’s season did not start up until late June because of a strained right lat suffered in the final spring-= training game in Port St. Lucie. Although he has been a starter throughout his minor league career, the Mets already were speaking last offseason about using the NC State product in the bullpen in the majors.

Matt Bowman, RHP – Vegas manager Wally Backman said Bowman is not a sleeper to him and definitely should be a major leaguer. Bowman, a Princeton product with a Tim Lincecum-style delivery, went 10-8 with a 3.21 ERA with Binghamton and Vegas this season. The primary thing that may hold Bowman back is the organization’s depth of young, upper-level starting pitching.

Logan Verrett, RHP – Expected to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason, the former third-round pick out of Baylor went 11-5 with a 4.33 ERA in 28 starts for Vegas.

Brandon Nimmo, OF – Nimmo would appear on track for at least a September call-up considering the Mets are light on upper-level outfield prospects, and he will need to be added to the 40-man roster during the 2015-16 offseason anyway. Looking considerably stronger after spending last winter at the IMG Academy bulking up, the 21-year-old Nimmo hit a combined .278 with 10 homers, 51 RBIs, 14 steals and a .394 on-base percentage in 558 plate appearances between St. Lucie and Binghamton.

Expecting Nimmo to play in the majors in 2015 is probably a little too aggressive. Nimmo struggled after being called up to AA-Binghamton, hitting just .238 with six home runs. This production doesn’t hurt Nimmo’s stock as a top prospect, but it does show he still needs more time in the minor leagues and he’s still very young.

While Mazzoni, Bowman and Verrett do not project to be stars, they could each become solid contributors very soon. Bowman is probably the best of the group as he has succeeded at every level of the minors. He has a career 22-14 record and 3.06 ERA over 45 starts.

Mazzoni and Verrett are similar pitchers and they project to be either back of the rotation starters or relievers. However they each have different styles. Mazzoni throws harder and has more overpowering stuff, while Verrett relies mostly on his command and deception.

It is unrealistic to think that any of these prospect could match what the Mets rookie class accomplished this year. However, there is a strong chance that at least one of them  makes a significant impact. The Mets farm is stocked with talent, and many of them are almost major league ready. There’s always those unpredictable, under-the radar prospects in addition to the top guys in the system. It’s an exciting time for the organization where the kids are concerned.

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DeGrom Named Rookie of the Month For September http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/degrom-odds-on-favorite-for-rookie-of-the-year.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/degrom-odds-on-favorite-for-rookie-of-the-year.html/#comments Tue, 30 Sep 2014 22:47:24 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=166899 jacob degrom ks 8

Jacob deGrom has been voted the National League Rookie of the Month for September. The 26-year-old righty was 2-0 in four September starts, leading MLB rookie pitchers with 38 strikeouts, which also ranked fourth overall in the NL.

DeGrom posted a 1.67 ERA i 27.0 IP which was the top mark among qualifying NL rookies and ranked 10th overall in the Senior Circuit.

He finished his rookie campaign by earning his ninth victory on September 21st at Atlanta, fanning 10 Braves batters in 6.0 innings of work en route to a 10-2 win. It was the fourth double-digit strikeout game in 22 Major League contests.

Unlike in the American League where Jose Abreu won the award in three of six months (and will likely win AL ROY), deGrom stands as the only player to win the award twice this season in the National League. Billy HamiltonChris OwingsKolten Wong and Kyle Hendricks also took home top rookie honors this year.

This sets the stage for deGrom to win Rookie of the Year. That award should be handed out at the beginning of November.

September 29

At the start of the year, expectations were low for Mets rookie Jacob deGrom. As a 26-year old pitcher at  Triple-A Las Vegas, many believed that he did not have the talent to develop into a top starting pitcher. As it turns out, most pre-season predictions could not have been more wrong, and deGrom dominated with a 9-6 record, 2.64 ERA and 144 strikeouts in 140 innings pitched.

DeGrom’s ERA ranked within the top ten in the National League among pitchers with at least 140 innings. He also ranked 6th in NL in strikeouts per nine innings and he tied the MLB record for most consecutive strikeouts to begin a game with eight whiffs.

Given deGrom’s obscurity in the minors, his excellent performance this season went unnoticed around the league for most of the year. However, deGrom was so good down the stretch that many analysts are now tabbing him for top rookie honors, and some (Ken Rosenthal) even changed their minds as recently as a few days ago.

Jayson Stark, ESPN

“DeGrom has been one of the best starters in the whole NL,” Stark explains, who points out that deGrom has the second-best ERA in the National League during his last 15 starts, topped only by Clayton Kershaw, who will likely win the Cy Young award. “So if a guy is in that kind of company, would YOU have any regrets about handing him a Rookie of the Year trophy? Not me.”

Jon Heyman, CBS Sports

“For whatever reason, the favorite for the NL award seems to be Reds center fielder Billy Hamilton, a very exciting player who has racked up 56 stolen bases and played a very nice center field while batting a solid .259. But while he has had a nice year, his OPS-plus is 87, which is below average.”

Ken Rosenthal, Fox Sports

“Mets fans can stop tweeting at me now. I take it back. I TAKE IT ALL BACK! DeGrom kept improving, pitching to a 1.33 ERA, holding opponents to a .457 OPS and producing a 38-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio in September. He’s fun to watch. And yes, he’s Rookie of the Year.”

Las Vegas odds-maker Bovada, now has deGrom as the heavy favorite to win the award with 1-to-3 odds, far ahead of Cincinnati’s Billy Hamilton who’s now dropped to 2-to-1.

 It is great to see deGrom finally get the recognition he deserves. His emergence this season has been the biggest bright spot of the year, and he should be a lock to win the award as he has clearly outperformed Billy Hamilton. If deGrom somehow loses the vote, it will be because of Hamilton’s greater popularity and not his performance.

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Prospect Pulse: Steven Matz Is Developing Into a Complete Pitcher http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/prospect-pulse-steven-matz-is-developing-into-a-complete-pitcher.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/prospect-pulse-steven-matz-is-developing-into-a-complete-pitcher.html/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 15:00:59 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=166591 Jeff Roberson Associated Press  steven matz

Several of the Mets prospects this season have made tremendous progress. Players like Dilson Herrera and Kevin Plawecki have made a lot of strides in 2014, but it could be argued that the most improved player this year has been left handed pitcher Steven Matz. Matz has experienced success in the minor leagues before, but this season has clearly been his most impressive.

In 24 starts this year, Matz was dominating. He started the season off with an excellent 2.21 ERA in 69 innings for the St. Lucie Mets, and was then called up to AA-Binghamton mid-season where he continued to thrive. Matz’s ERA stood at 2.27 over 71 innings for Binghamton, and he also owned a strong 1.12 WHIP and 8.7 K/9. The most encouraging aspect of his season has been his seamless transition to AA. Hitters at the AA level are far more challenging than in Single-A, so the fact he continued to pitch there at a high level is a fantastic sign.

Matz’s success this year is mainly the result of his improved secondary pitches. In previous seasons, Matz relied heavily on his fastball. Now he is effectively mixing in his changeup and curveball in order to put hitters away. Matz was taught how to throw his curve from pitching Coach Frank Viola when he was with the Savanah Sand Gnats, and it has now developed into a solid breaking pitch.

While Matz would often struggle with his command in the past, this does not seem to be an issue for him any longer. Matz exhibited outstanding control in the second half of the season for Binghamton as he walked just 17 batters in 71 innings pitched. It is also worth noting that Matz’s walk rate has dropped every single season during his career. He walked 5.3 batters per nine innings in 2012, 3.2 in 2013 and 2.2 in 2014.

One concern that still remains for Matz is his injury history. He missed all of 2010 with Tommy John surgery, and he missed the entire 2011 season due to set backs. Some analysts are also worried that his mechanics could lead to another injury, but the good news is that Matz has been healthy and injury free for the past two years.

Whenever a left handed pitcher has an explosive fastball that sits in the low to mid 90’s like Matz does, it’s hard not to get excited. What makes Matz even more intriguing is how he has grown and matured as a pitcher. Matz always had the ability to become extremely successful on the mound, but it has just been a matter of him staying healthy and refining his control and off speed pitches. If Matz can continue to build on his positive performance this season, it is likely that he will be a key piece in the Mets rotation for years to come.

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Prospect Pulse: Dominic Smith’s Power Will Come http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/prospect-pulse-dominic-smiths-power-will-come.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/09/prospect-pulse-dominic-smiths-power-will-come.html/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 13:00:27 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=166404 Dominic - Smith Savannahnow.com)

Heading into the 2014 season, Dominic Smith was considered one of the best position players in the Mets minor league system. Baseball America rated him as the Mets’ 4th best prospect, and the 92nd prospect overall in MLB. Smith was selected by New York in the first round of the 2013 draft, and quickly got off to a hot start early in his career. He batted .303 with an impressive .398 on base percentage in 173 at-bats at the rookie level during his first professional season. After this encouraging performance, the Mets aggressively promoted Smith to Single-A Savannah where he played for the entire 2014 season.

The most discussed topic about Smith this year has been his extremely low power numbers. Over 461 at-bats for Savannah, Smith has hit just one home run along with 26 doubles. While these stats appear problematic, they are not much of a concern when they are put into context. Smith played his home games at Historic Grayson Park, which is considered to be one of the toughest places to hit for power in the minors. Over the past several years, Grayson Park has yielded the least amount of home runs throughout the entire minor leagues.

In addition to playing half of his games in an extreme pitcher’s park, Smith is one of the youngest players in the South Atlantic League at just 19 years old. The average player in the league is close to 22 years old, making Smith is about three years younger than the competition.  Since Smith is far less experienced than the pitchers he has faced, he should not be judged harshly based off his numbers this season. Power is often the last skill that develops for prospects, so it is likely that he will hit for more power as he get gets older and stronger.

Despite his underwhelming power stats, there are a few positives worth noting this season. Smith posted a respectable .271 average and a .344 OBP. He also showed a good eye at the plate and an ability to hit for contact with 51 walks and just 77 strikeouts. While these numbers are not excellent, they are promising signs that he could develop into a solid hitter in the future.

It would have been nice to see Smith produce more in his first full season, but the Mets need to remain patient with him. He is obviously some time away from the majors, but his upside is still tremendous. He has the potential to hit for average and power while also playing a solid defense at first base. Smith clearly has the tools to eventually advance to the majors, and it is only a matter of time before his power begins to manifest itself.

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Who Are The Top Left-Handed Pitchers After Matz? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/08/who-are-the-top-left-handed-pitchers-after-matz.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/08/who-are-the-top-left-handed-pitchers-after-matz.html/#comments Fri, 22 Aug 2014 13:00:07 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=163977 Jeff Roberson Associated Press  steven matz

With a dominating season across two levels of the minors, Steven Matz has clearly established himself as the top left-handed prospect in the Mets organization. Matz owns a 9-8 record and an excellent 2.27 ERA in 22 starts for Double-A Binghamton and Advanced Single-A St.Lucie. He has been so successful this season that many believe that he now ranks inside among the top 100 prospects in the game.

Although the Mets do not have another southpaw who has the ability of Matz, they do have several who can become solid contributors. Here is a breakdown of the top 5 left-handed prospects after Matz.

Blake Taylor
Height/Weight: 6’3, 220
Age: 19

The Mets acquired Taylor as a player to be named later in the Ike Davis trade earlier this season, and he appears to be a nice find for New York. Taylor’s fastball sits in the low 90’s, and he has solid secondary offerings with a good curveball and a newly developed changeup. While Taylor has struggled with a 5.13 ERA in Kingsport, this is mainly due to the fact that he is one of the youngest players in the Appalachian League. As he gets older and gains more experience, he has the talent to emerge into a top prospect for New York.

Jack Leathersich
Height/Weight: 5’11, 200
Age: 24

Leathersich quickly became fan favorite due to his exceptional strikeout rates throughout the minor leagues. Leathersich has struck out 324 batters in 192 career innings, which translates into an incredible 15.2 K/9 However, his stock dropped dramatically after a disastrous stint in Triple-A Las Vegas last season where he posted a 7.76 ERA and 29 walks in 29 innings. Leatherisch still has the potential to become a solid reliever despite these struggles, but he needs to show better results in Triple-A soon in order to live up to his former hype.

Dario Alvarez
Height/Weight: 6’1, 170
Age: 25

Alvarez is one of the biggest surprises in the Mets minors this season with a 1.17 ERA and 14.0 K/9 in 69 innings. While he has pitched mostly against weaker hitters in Single-A ball for the Savannah Sand Gnats, his performance this year has been too good to ignore. Alvarez did not allow a single run in 23 of his 26 appearances while pitching for Savannah. The Mets aggressively promoted Alvarez to Double-A Binghamton recently, and his performance there will be pivotal. If he is able to dominate hitters in the Eastern League, he will be an intriguing option for the Mets bullpen in the near future.

Adrian Almeida
Height/Weight: 6”0’, 150
Age: 19

The Mets signed Almeida as an international free agent out of Venezuela in 2012. While most fans have not heard of Almeida yet , he has shown a lot of promise this season at the rookie level with the Gulf Coast League Mets. In six starts, he has a strong 1.80 ERA and 9.8 K/9. His control has been problematic though with 21 walks in 35 innings, but he is someone fans should monitor as he climbs up the Mets system.

Darin Gorski
Height/Weight 6”4’, 210
Age: 26

Gorski first grabbed the attention of minor league analysts after being named the Florida State League Pitcher of the Year in 2011. For the St. Lucie Mets that season, Gorski posted a 11-3 record with an outstanding 2.08 ERA. In the years that followed however, he has not been as successful. He had a mediocre 4.00 ERA in Double-A in 2012, and was demoted from Triple-A early in the season in 2013 after several sub-par outings. While some consider him a non-prospect because of his age and these setbacks, I think he could prove these skeptics wrong. He is a crafty and intelligent pitcher on the mound, and he has rebounded nicely this season back in Double-A with a 2.22 ERA.

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Jose Abreu Proving Doubters Wrong http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/04/jose-abreu-proving-doubters-wrong.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/04/jose-abreu-proving-doubters-wrong.html/#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 17:44:38 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=153054 jose abreu

During last night’s game against the Cleveland Indians, White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu continued his tremendous start to the season. He smashed two more home runs during Chicago’s 7-3 victory, and he currently leads the AL in Home Runs (4) and RBI (14). Many experts and fans alike considered Abreu an excellent option this offseason for the Mets, but the front office never showed any serious interest.  Abreu would have solved the team’s ongoing problems at first base, and passing on him may end up being a move they will regret for years to come.

Abreu would have provided the Mets with a feared power hitter that they have desperately needed. He was regarded as an elite hitter coming out of Cuba, and he has incredible and unquestioned raw power at 6’3” and 255 pounds. Those 30 home runs projections seem to be spot on, and his terrific performance so far shows he can handle major league pitching as many expected he would given his bat speed. Considering the Mets’ struggles offensively the last few seasons, adding Abreu would have dramatically strengthened the lineup.

For a team that is trying to build for the future, Abreu also made perfect sense. He is in the prime of this career at 27 years old, and he would not have cost the Mets any draft picks. Abreu was also not as expensive as other top free agents like Shin Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury, who both signed for well over 100 million dollars. All of these factors limited any risk surrounding Abreu.

With the Mets now employing some bizarre platoon at first base, it is clear they may have made a severe miscalculation regarding Abreu. After several seasons with Ike Davis and Lucas Duda, the Mets first base situation is still a mess that could have been avoided had they aggressively pursued Abreu. This whole situation was poorly managed by the Mets, and it is another example of the Mets ineptitude in the front office.

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Who Are The Top 5 Mets Relief Prospects? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/04/who-are-the-top-5-mets-relief-prospects.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/04/who-are-the-top-5-mets-relief-prospects.html/#comments Wed, 02 Apr 2014 15:54:41 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=147366 With the unfortunate news that Bobby Parnell has a torn MCL in his right elbow and could be out for a significant amount of time, I wanted to revisit a post I wrote this Winter where I profiled my Top 5 Mets Relief Prospects. These are some names that could help the Mets in the very near future.

For the past few seasons, the Mets bullpen has been a major weakness. They have consistently ranked among the league’s worst, and they did not perform much better this past season.

In 2013, the Mets bullpen finished in the bottom ten with a 3.98 ERA (21st), 1.324 WHIP (22nd), .256 BAA (27th), and their 6.96 K/ was the worst in the majors.

However, help is on the way. Despite these struggles, the relief corps can become a strength in the future for the organization. The Mets have many talented relief prospects who have the ability to become successful at the major league level and some are already knocking at the door and were invited to Big League camp.

Here are my top five relief prospects for the Mets:

beck wheeler

#5: Beck Wheeler

Beck Wheeler was absolutely dominant for Low-A Savannah in 2013. His ERA settled in at 2.32, and his WHIP was a dazzling 0.93. He also struck out 74 batters in just 50 innings pitched.  While the 24-year-old is an older prospect for his level, his age is deceiving.  He’s still an inexperienced pitcher because he did not start his time on the rubber until his senior year of college.  He still has a lot to prove moving forward, but he has potential to be a fast riser in the Mets’ system.

Bret Mitchell 1

#4: Bret Mitchell

After missing the entire 2012 season due to hip surgery, Bret Mitchell was fabulous in 2013. He posted a 2.35 ERA with a 0.97 WHIP in 30 innings first half innings with Savannah, and he was selected to the South Atlantic League All-Star Game. Mitchell was rewarded for his strong showing and got promoted to St. Lucie, where he continued his success.  Mitchell’s ERA against Florida State League competition stands at 1.76, striking out 34 in 30 innings.  Although there are many reasons to like Mitchell, there are also some concerns. He walked 6.5 batters per 9 innings with St. Lucie, and he has yet to pitch above High-A.

adam-kolarek

#3: Adam Kolarek

Adam Kolarek, the Mets’ 11th round pick in the 2010 draft, was one of the key pieces in Binghamton’s fabulous bullpen this year. He owned a 1.71 ERA and 1.09 WHIP through 63 innings of work, striking out 63 batters. The 6’3”, 215-pound lefty has a low 90’s fastball, and has been solid throughout his professional career. For the past three seasons, he’s owned a sub-3.00 ERA. If Kolarek can continue his success in 2014 with AAA Las Vegas, he could be a factor in the big league  bullpen next season.

jack leathersich st. lucie

#2: Jack Leathersich

Jack Leathersich has shown tremendous promise ever since the Mets drafted him in the fifth round in 2011. His career minor league ERA is 3.46, and he has struck out 241 batters in only 143 innings.  In 2013, Leathersich could not have started his season any better. His ERA was a brilliant 1.53, while striking out 16.9 batters per 9 innings with AA Binghamton. Leathersich’s terrific first half with the B-Mets earned him a promotion to Las Vegas, but he encountered a rough patch. The hard-throwing lefty posted an awful 7.76 ERA and a 2.10 WHIP in 29 innings pitched for Las Vegas. He struggled the most with his control, walking 9 batters per 9 innings. While his second half for Las Vegas was discouraging, I expect him to rebound next season. Leathersich is a deceptive southpaw, and he has an explosive fastball with good movement.

jeff-walters

#1: Jeff Walters

Jeff Walters wasn’t on many people’s radar heading into 2013, but his terrific performance this year has earned him a lot of recognition. He posted a terrific.2.09 ERA with a 1.10 WHIP, and 60 strikeouts  in 56 innings pitched for Binghamton. Walters led the Eastern league in saves, and also shattered Binghamton’s all-time single season record in with 38 saves. The right-hander has a blazing fastball that can reach the mid 90’s and he isn’t afraid to pound the zone. Walters ranks as my number one relief pitcher because he has a high upside, and could potentially make his debut sometime in 2014.

In addition to these five pitchers, the Mets have more intriguing young relievers in the minors. Other notable minor league relief pitchers include Chasen BradfordChase Huchingson and Hamilton Bennett.

The New York Mets also have an excellent young reliever already at the major league level as well in Jeurys Familia. With this impressive arsenal, and two swing-and-a-miss pitches, it is very likely that he steps forward in a very big way this season and emerges as a shutdown reliever in the very near future.

(Photos: MiLB.com, Baltimore Sun)

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Arizona is Shopping Didi Gregorius in Search of a Starter http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/arizona-is-shopping-didi-gregorius-in-search-for-a-starter.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/03/arizona-is-shopping-didi-gregorius-in-search-for-a-starter.html/#comments Wed, 19 Mar 2014 12:44:18 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=150786 digi gregorius

March 19

The Arizona Diamondbacks are making Didi Gregorius, and not fellow shortstop Chris Owings, available in trade discussions with other teams, an industry source told ESPN New York.

The D-backs seek an MLB-ready starting pitcher in return, hoping to offset the loss of intended Opening Day starter Patrick Corbin with a UCL tear.

A trio of Arizona scouts, including special assistant Todd Greene, watched a Mets intrasquad game involving Double-A and Triple-A players Tuesday on a back field at the Port St. Lucie complex. Noah Syndergaard, Logan Verrett and Jacob deGrom, who all may be in Triple-A Las Vegas’ rotation to open the season, pitched in that game. Syndergaard almost certainly is off-limits in Mets discussions, writes Adam Rubin.

We speculated on this Monday, which you can read below.

March 17

With Didi Gregorius losing Arizona’s shortstop battle to star prospect Chris Owings, he suddenly becomes an intriguing trade target for the New York Mets. While some Mets fans aren’t high on Gregorius, he would solidify the Mets weakness at shortstop. Gregorius is an extremely talented player, and he has the ability to become a solid major league starter.

Coming up through the minor league leagues, Gregorius was a top rated prospect.  Baseball America ranked him the 80th best prospect in baseball last season, and he was rated #63 overall by MLB.com.  While he never had impressive minor league statistics, scouts have always raved about his athleticism and defensive skills.

With Gregorius’ standout defensive skills, his fielding was impressive for the Diamondbacks last season.  He showed above average range, and he showcased a very strong throwing arm. Solid defense up the middle is crucial for the Mets, so this factor alone makes him a valuable piece.

While some criticize him for his hitting, these concerns are overblown.  Even though he hit just .252 with seven home runs and a .332 on-base last year, these numbers should not be held against him so harshly. 2013 was Gregorius’ first full season in the majors, and he was just 23 years old.  As he gains more experience and strength, his numbers will likely improve. Also, production among shortstops around the league is extremely low, so he does not need to post incredible numbers in order to be a productive player at his position.

While his late season slump at the end of the season is worrisome, there is no denying his talent. He has better skills across the board than incumbent Ruben Tejada, so he would be a significant upgrade this season.  Since Gregorius is a young and inexpensive player, he is also a piece that the Mets can potentially build around as well, and he won’t cost nearly as much as Owings would have or Nick Franklin as well.

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Thoughts On Mets Signing Jose Valverde http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/thoughts-on-mets-signing-jose-valverde.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/thoughts-on-mets-signing-jose-valverde.html/#comments Thu, 13 Feb 2014 13:07:16 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=147858 Jose -Valverde

The Mets announced that they have signed free-agent reliever Jose Valverde to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training.

Jon Heyman reports that he can earn $1 million if he makes the team.

Valverde, who turns 36 next month, has recorded 286 saves during his 11-year career.

After a successful run with the Detroit Tigers from 2010 to 2012 in which he saved 110 games and posted a 3.00 ERA, he went downhill and was eventually released by Detroit last season after posting a 5.59 ERA in 20 appearances.

“We were looking for a veteran presence in the bullpen, he does have some experience closing, but this is not a move to displace Bobby Parnell,” Sandy Alderson said after the signing was announced. “We signed him to a minor league contract and we’ll see how he throws in spring training.”

Thoughts…

One day after Mets GM Sandy Alderson said the Mets were looking to add experienced relievers, the Mets inked the veteran closer to a minor league contract. Valverde is a three time all-star and along with his 286 career saves owns an excellent career ERA of 3.19 and a 1.18 WHIP during 11 major league seasons. His most recent success came with Detroit in 2011, where he was perfect in all 49 of his save opportunities.

While Valverde has been a a top flight closer at times in his career, I do not believe he will make much of an impact on the Mets other than to add some competition to the other bullpen candidates in camp. He is now past his prime and has seen the velocity in his fastball slide from a high of 95-96 in his prime to a career low of 92-93 mph.

During his short stint with Detroit last season, Valverde posted a dreadful 5.59 ERA and was hammered for six home runs in just 19.0 innings. Valverde had also showed significant signs of decline in 2012 when he posted his worst ERA, WHIP and K/9 totals since 2006. He also proved to be very ineffective in post season play that season, and yielded 9 earned runs in 2.2 innings for the Tigers in 2012.

Given his recent history, it is clear Valverde has severely declined. While he used to be a solid closer, he is simply not the same pitcher anymore and can no longer overpower the opposition as he once did.  It’s only a minor league contract, but there’s not much upside with this move.  

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Why The Mets Need To Sign Drew http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/why-the-mets-need-to-sign-drew.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/why-the-mets-need-to-sign-drew.html/#comments Wed, 15 Jan 2014 03:05:58 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=139620 2013 was a lost year for Mets starting shortstop Ruben Tejada. He missed significant time due to injuries, and he struggled to produce when he was on the field. In 208 at bats last season, he hit just .202 with no home runs and a .259 on base percentage. While I believe Tejada is a better player than he showed last year, the Mets should move on from him and sign free agent short stop Stephen Drew.

drewDrew provides power and production from the shortstop position. Drew from 2008-2010 was in the top 10 among qualified major league shortstops in Home runs, RBI, and Batting average, in addition to having the third highest slugging percentage.

After suffering from a horrific ankle injury in 2011, he looks like he is now back to form. Drew rebounded last season with Boston, and he hit .253 with 13 home runs and 67 RBI in 124 games. While these numbers may seem pedestrian on the surface, he still ranked among the league leaders at shortstop in many significant categories.

Among shortstops with at least 400 AB’s, Drew again finished inside the top ten in home runs, RBI and Slugging Percentage.

With the way our lineup is constructed, we need all the offense we can get. Granderson, Wright and Murphy are the only safe bets to produce offensively, and we are likely to start the season with a defensive minded player in centerfield in Juan Lagares. To keep pace with teams that have stronger lineups, we need more than a singles hitter at shortstop. Even in his best seasons, Tejada did not hit more than one home run in a season. He simply is not going to provide the production we need in order to be competitive.

Stephen Drew by himself does not turn the Mets lineup into a juggernaut. However, he gives the lineup an extra boost that it severely needs. Drew is clearly better than Tejada, both offensively and defensively, and his price doesn’t appear to be unreasonable. If the Mets can land Drew on a two or three year deal, then I think the Mets have to sign him.

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Prospect Spotlight: Cesar Puello, RF http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/prospect-spotlight-cesar-puello-rf.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/prospect-spotlight-cesar-puello-rf.html/#comments Wed, 08 Jan 2014 14:00:04 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=139147 Cesar Puello, RF

Bats/Throws: R/R
DOB: April 1, 1991
Acquired: Dominican Republic, 2007
2013: Binghamton (AA) 377 PA, .326/.403/.547, 21 2B, 16 HR, 73 RBI, 24 SB

Recently, there has been some speculation about whether Cesar Puello is a top ten prospect for the Mets. Major sites like Baseball America and Fangraphs have excluded him from their annual team top ten lists. This is likely the result of Puello’s connection to the Biogenesis scandal, and his suspension at the end of last season.  Even though he used performance enhancing drugs, I believe he is still a top ten prospect in our system.

With his excellent combination of speed and power, Puello is one of the most talented prospects on the Mets. At 6’2” 195 pounds, he is a strong right-handed slugger with plus power potential. Last season Puello smashed 16 home runs with a .547 slugging percentage for AA Binghamton. He is also an excellent base runner, and has averaged 26 steals a season over the past four years.

Furthermore, the 22-year old is a strong defender in right field with good range and a strong arm.  He is a five tool player, and has a tremendous upside. Considering the lack of Mets position players in the minors, it’s hard to believe that there are so many position players better than him that would preclude him from a top ten ranking.

While Puello’s association with Biogenesis is concerning, it should not affect his value drastically. I keep hearing fans say to wait and see how he performs off of the PEDs, but there is no evidence of him taking them in 2013 when he was tested monthly. Puello was named in the scandal prior to the season, and the Biogenesis clinic closed in 2012.  If skeptics want to see how he plays off performance enhancers, then all they have to do is look at his 2013 season. It should also be noted that Puello has never failed a drug test once in his entire career.

Mets fans in general have been forgiving of other players with past steroid/PED suspensions, so it is only fair to do the same for Puello. Marlon Byrd was suspended for PED’s, yet most fans did not seem to care last year. The same seems true with the Mets latest significant acquisition, Bartolo Colon. Not only was Colon  suspended for steroids in 2012, but he was also connected in the same scandal that Puello was.  If fans are counting on Colon to be a solid starter this season, then it is hypocritical to use Puello’s suspension against him.

Puello is an excellent prospect, who made one big mistake. It’s understandable to be outraged by this mistake, but it should not unfairly deflate his value. He is an extremely talented outfielder, and he could be an impact player for this team in the very near future.

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MMO Mailbag: Can Puello Challenge For A Spot In The Outfield? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/mmo-mailbag-can-puello-challenge-for-a-spot-in-the-outfield.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/mmo-mailbag-can-puello-challenge-for-a-spot-in-the-outfield.html/#comments Fri, 20 Dec 2013 15:38:10 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=135866 cesar_puello_480x270_w6a5hjni_exa1mnnr

Hitman asks…

Should the Mets fail to acquire another power bat in the OF, what are the chances of Cesar Puello challenging (and winning) a spot come Spring Training? For now, lets say that the Mets retain Ike Davis. Should Davis get his head on straight, I believe another slugger around Davis like Puello in the lineup might benefit Davis just like the presence of Puello benefited another struggling hitter this past season, Cory Vaughn.

Brian replies…

While Puello is an excellent prospect, there are two reasons why he won’t win a job out of spring training. The first reason is the Mets do not have enough space for him in the outfield. The amount of money spent on Curtis Granderson and Chris Young guarantees them significant playing time, and Juan Lagares is the favorite in centerfield due to his performance last year. The front office also appears to be high on Eric Young Jr. as well.

The other reason is that under Sandy Alderson, the Mets generally promote prospects at a very slow pace. So, it would be uncharacteristic for the Mets to have Puello skip Triple-A, and advance straight to the majors. The Mets are going to want him to get more at-bats and experience with Las Vegas before they promote him to the big leagues.

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