Mets Merized Online » Minor League Stuff http://metsmerizedonline.com Tue, 25 Nov 2014 19:11:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.5 MMO Exclusive: Mets Prospect Akeel Morris Reflects On Breakthrough Season http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mmo-exclusive-mets-prospect-akeel-morris-reflects-on-breakthrough-season.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mmo-exclusive-mets-prospect-akeel-morris-reflects-on-breakthrough-season.html/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 17:22:42 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=169606 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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Hansel Robles Shined In Relief, Mets Took Notice http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/hansel-robles-shined-in-relief-mets-took-notice.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/hansel-robles-shined-in-relief-mets-took-notice.html/#comments Sun, 23 Nov 2014 13:43:06 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=166198 hansel robles

On Thursday, the New York Mets added RHP Hansel Robles to the 40-Man Roster so that he would be protected from the Rule 5 Draft in December. Since then, we’ve had quite a few readers ask us about him in the comment threads and via email. Here’s something our Binghamton beat writer, John Bernhardt, wrote about Robles a few weeks ago. It will give you a glimpse into this exciting talent and why the Mets felt it was important to protect him this week. Joe D. 

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Over the last eight weeks of the minor league season, a new name surfaced as part of the stable of New York Mets pitching prospects. Actually, to be accurate, it’s a name many Met fans already know. It’s this young pitcher’s role that changed and as a result, so too, may have his fortunes.

Hansel Robles is no stranger to Met fans who pay attention to prospects in the minor leagues. In terms of service time with the Mets, Robles reminds you of Wilmer Flores. He’s only 24, but it seems like Robles, who signed as a free agent out of the Dominican Republic, has been in the Mets minor league pipeline forever.

And, this talented young man is no stranger to some degree of notoriety over his minor league journey. In 2012 pitching in the NY-Penn League, he was nearly unhittable. In 72.2 innings on the hill, the strong righthander racked up a sterling 1.11 ERA while only allowing 47 hits and striking out 66 against only 10 walks. That was good for a ridiculous 0.78 WHIP. Robles struck out 24 percent of opposing batters and walked 3.7 percent. And, Robles counted off 22 scoreless innings and over 30 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run to close out his season.

Robles’s pitching magic seemed to ebb when he reached full season minor league play in 2013. It’s not as if it was bad, but gone was the consistent dominating performances we saw in the NY-Penn League. Compared to that, it was a rather pedestrian performance in Port St. Lucie the following season.

Entering 2014, Robles had always been a starting pitcher his minor league career and for much of last season it was no different in Binghamton. Robles had a spot in Pedro Lopez’s B-Met rotation, but was an enigma of sorts in eighteen starts, often either very effective or otherwise looking like a train wreck.

But sometime in mid July the composition of the Binghamton roster changed. Greg Peavey, Tyler Pill and Matt Bowman were elevated to Triple-A. Cory Mazzoni, Gabriel Ynoa, and Steven Matz joined the B-Met rotation. In a July 19th contest against Trenton, manager Pedro Lopez called for Robles’ services out of the bullpen. It was his first relief appearance of the season and one of only a handful during his minor league career.

Nothing in his first appearance out of the pen served as an omen of what was to come. Robles threw two innings allowing an earned run while walking one and striking out one.

His impact as a relief pitcher began to emerge on August 3rd when in his 4th appearance out of the pen, Robles struck out the side in his inning of work that day and then fanned four more in two perfect innings of relief four days later against Richmond.

Down the homestretch, Robles’ confidence soared. In fact, by the end of the post season Robles was almost emboldened when Lopez would make the call and signal him into a game. Out of the pen, Robles’s fastball jumped up several ticks on the radar gun coming in regularly between 93 and 96 miles per hour and occasionally inching even higher. A sweeping slider in the 84-87 mph range complimented the heater.

Now a lat inning reliever, Robles pounded the strike zone like he had in his NY-Penn days. His issues with yielding extra base hits almost completely evaporated. Most impressive, was the bigger the importance and the higher the stakes, the more dominating Robles became.

robles

What started out as an experiment evolved into a critical component of Binghamton’s Eastern League title run. As impressive outing followed impressive outing, by the post season, it was Lopez’s blueprint to stretch his starters to the point where he could use Robles as a bridge to his B-Met closer Cody Satterwhite. The relief duo rewarded their skipper with 11 innings of scoreless relief, a huge factor in Binghamton’s championship season.

What does it mean? Where does it lead? No one is really certain. Many unanswered questions remain. Can Robles work his relief magic for an entire season and at elevated levels of play? Are two pitches adequate to find success in a major league bullpen? (Robles is also working on a change-up) Can Robles handle back-to-back relief appearances, something he was never asked to do with the B-Mets?

For me the only no-brainer seems to be that with all the young starting pitchers in the Mets youth brigade, it is prudent to continue to develop Hansel Robles as another live arm out of the Met bullpen. Something clicked after this kid was converted to a reliever, he opened a lot of eyes in Binghamton.

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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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Mets’ 40 Man Roster After Additions and Subtractions http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mets-40-man-roster-after-additions-and-subtractions.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mets-40-man-roster-after-additions-and-subtractions.html/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 03:47:33 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=170342 noah syndergaard

The Mets announced that right-handers Noah Syndergaard, Cory Mazzoni, Hansel Robles, Gabriel Ynoa and Akeel Morris plus lefty reliever Jack Leathersich have been added to the 40 man roster. Additionally, Jeff Walters, who underwent Tommy John surgery last June, was removed from the roster.

Here is what the Mets 40 Man Roster looks like after all is sad and done:

Pitchers (23)

Dario Alvarez
Vic Black
Bartolo Colon
Jacob deGrom
Josh Edgin
Jeurys Familia
Dillon Gee
Gonzalez Germen
Erik Goeddel
Matt Harvey
Jack Leathersich
Steven Matz
Cory Mazzoni
Jenrry Mejia
Rafael Montero
Akeel Morris
Jon Niese
Bobby Parnell
Hansel Robles
Noah Syndergaard
Carlos Torres
Zack Wheeler
Gabriel Ynoa

Catchers (2)

Travis d’Arnaud
Anthony Recker

Infielders (8)

Eric Campbell
Lucas Duda
Wilmer Flores
Dilson Herrera
Daniel Murphy
Ruben Tejada
Wilfredo Tovar
David Wright

Outfielders (7)

Michael Cuddyer
Matt den Dekker
Curtis Granderson
Juan Lagares
Kirk Nieuwenhuis
Cesar Puello
Eric Young Jr.

The Rule 5 Draft will be held on December 11 during the Winter Meetings. If the Mets acquire any player with a major league contract between now and the draft, they’ll have to make room for him and remove a player the roster.

November 20

All MLB teams must decide by today which minor league players they will add to their 40-man rosters to protect them from this upcoming Rule 5 Draft to be conducted in December.

On Tuesday, Sandy Alderson told reporters that he expects to add 5-6 prospects to the 40-man roster and that it will be heavily dominated by right-handed pitchers.

Noah Syndergaard will head the list of players and right-handers Cory Mazzoni, Logan Verrett and Akeel Morris could all be protected as well. That leaves one or two more spots and I’m betting it will be two from a group that includes Gabe Ynoa, Jack Leathersich, T.J. RiveraDaniel Muno, and Dustin Lawley.

Remember that anyone selected in the Rule 5 Draft must remain on the new team’s 25 man roster all year or be returned to the original team. So the strategy is to try and protect those players who could help an MLB team right now.

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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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Can Matz Be That Second Lefty In The Bullpen? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/can-matz-be-that-second-lefty-in-the-bullpen.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/can-matz-be-that-second-lefty-in-the-bullpen.html/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 16:17:51 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=170382 steve matz

Echoing what I wrote last Thursday and again this Monday, general manager Sandy Alderson said there’s a possibility that pitching prospect Steve Matz can make his debut in 2015 as a left-handed reliever in the Mets bullpen.

Alderson is very high on Matz, recently telling MMO, “”I would say Steven is probably one of the top handful of left-handed pitching prospects in the game right now.”

“He’s got an excellent fastball for a lefty, at 93, 94 mph. It can get a little bit higher than that. His breaking ball has gotten much better. And he threw some excellent changeups that night in Binghamton in that championship game.”

As for making his way to the majors as a reliever, Alderson said yesterday, “It might be a way for him to break in.”

Matz may also get the call when the Mets opt to skip a turn for Matt Harvey to conserve his innings. Along with Matz, Alderson said Noah Syndergaard and Cory Mazzoni were also options.

Given what Zach Duke (3 years, $15M) just signed for and the numbers being tossed around for Andrew Miller, it would behoove the Mets to explore Matz as that second lefty in the bullpen. If anyone can pull it off it’s him, and it’s only until we can open up a spot in the rotation for him..

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Syndergaard Early Favorite For 2015 Rookie of the Year http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/syndergaard-early-favorite-for-2015-rookie-of-the-year.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/syndergaard-early-favorite-for-2015-rookie-of-the-year.html/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 15:50:54 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168863 noah syndergaard - las vegas 51s

Jim Callis of MLB.com, predicts that Mets righthander Noah Syndergaard will win next year’s NL Rookie of the Year award, following the same path as RHP Jacob deGrom.

“He doesn’t have as clear a path to a regular big league role…at least not at the moment, but Syndergaard should claim a spot in the Mets’ rotation even with Matt Harvey returning from Tommy John surgery. New York could trade some pitching for some needed offensive help, and Syndergaard is too talented to send back to Triple-A for a second season.”

“Unlike most young pitchers his size, the 6-foot-6, 240-pound Syndergaard repeats his delivery easily. That gives him better command than most 22-year-olds, enhancing his premium stuff. Syndergaard regularly pitches at 95-97 mph with his fastball and can crank it up into triple digits, and the run and sink on his heater make it even more effective.”

Syndergaard will have plenty of competition in 2015 when one of the most talented rookie classes in years is set to debut.

Third baseman Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs is predicted by many to be a top contender, but Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson, Cubs outfielder Jorge Soler, Marlins starting pitcher Andrew Heaney, and Braves second baseman Jose Peraza should all be in the mix as well.

Last week, Baseball America ranked Syndergaard as the 5th best prospect in the Pacific Coast League and wrote:

Managers and scouts held mixed opinions on the physical Syndergaard, based on his performance at Las Vegas’ notoriously hitter-friendly Cashman Field. He led the PCL in strikeouts but took his lumps as well. One rival manager called Syndergaard a “good prospect, but not an accomplished pitcher right now,” while a scout from a rival organization called him “probably the best pitcher in the PCL, prospect-wise.”

Syndergaard touched 100 mph this season and pitched at 95-97 with heavy run and sinking action on his fastball, BA wrote. He adds to that a deceptive changeup for which he has feel and a curveball that flashes average. He was slowed in 2014 by injuries to his right forearm and left shoulder.

The only thing standing in Syndergaard’s way to the majors is a glut of seven starting pitchers to fill five spots in the Mets rotation. Sandy Alderson will try to chisel that number down this offseason, but Syndergaard is slated to begin the season in Triple-A regardless to work on his consistency.

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AFL Notes: Bird Named MVP, Mazzilli Top Mets Performer http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/afl-notes-bird-named-mvp-mazzilli-top-mets-performer.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/afl-notes-bird-named-mvp-mazzilli-top-mets-performer.html/#comments Sun, 16 Nov 2014 19:29:54 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=170194 mazzilli

New York Yankees prospect Greg Bird was named the winner of the Joe Black MVP Award in the Arizona Fall League. Bird led the AFL with six homers and 21 runs scored, while finishing second in hits (31), RBI (21) and total bases (55). He batted .313 and had a .556 slugging percentage, and opened the season with a 16-game hitting streak. Bird was also the MVP of the Fall Stars Game, where he blasted a 450-foot home run.

Jim Callis highlighted the Best Performer and Best Prospect for all 30 MLB contingents in Arizona and chose the following two players for the Mets:

Best Performance: The son of former All-Star Lee Mazzilli, L.J. Mazzilli hit .306/.433/.469. He’s an offensive-minded second baseman with gap power and a sound approach.

Best Prospect: Outfielder Brandon Nimmo has average or better tools across the board, but they didn’t shine through in Arizona. He hit .202/.306/.238 and didn’t resolve the questions about his power — tallying three extra-base hits (all doubles) in 84 at-bats.

Mazzilli put together a very similar .301/.361/.440 slash line in his first full professional season, splitting his time between Single-A Savannah and Advanced-A St. Lucie.

“He’s a really good hitter,” batting coach Val Pascucci told columnist Ken Davidoff. “He’s got great hands when he doesn’t try to do too much. When he stays within himself, he’s got a good approach to the plate. He doesn’t give away at-bats. He goes up and he battles, especially with two strikes. He lays off some close pitches. So he knows the strike zone pretty well.

“He’s got a little more pop I think than people really think he does. When he turns those hard line drives, they get some backspin and end up as home runs.”

Marc Carig of Newsday writes that during his stint in the Arizona Fall League, Matt Reynolds surprised some scouts with his ability to handle the defensive rigors of shortstop. One talent evaluator came away impressed with Reynolds’ instincts at the position.

“I wasn’t buying in during the year,” the scout said. “But the more I stacked him up with some other guys in the AFL, the more I’m convinced he can be a steady all-around player.”

Reynolds said his experience on the lightning-quick infield at Triple-A Las Vegas accelerated his growth at shortstop.

“I’ve gotten a lot better with my hands and being able to read the hops and everything,” Reynolds said. “That all comes from repetition and just playing in games, taking ground balls.”

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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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Mets Sign Outfielder Alex Castellanos to Minor League Deal http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mets-sign-outfielder-alex-castellanos-to-minor-league-deal.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/mets-sign-outfielder-alex-castellanos-to-minor-league-deal.html/#comments Tue, 11 Nov 2014 16:30:59 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=169874 alex castellanos

The Mets announced they have signed outfielder Alex Castellanos to a Minor League contract with an invitation to big league Spring Training.

Castellanos, 28, played for PCL Triple-A affiliate of the San Diego Padres last season, batting .275 with eight home runs and 42 RBI in 113 games.

A 10th-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2008, Castellanos has a career Minor League batting average of .286.

He’s played in parts of two seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and batted .171 (7-for-41) with two home runs and four RBI.

Hey… The Triple-A rosters needs outfielders too….

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Baseball Prospectus Unveils Mets Top 10 Prospects http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/baseball-prospectus-unveils-mets-top-10-prospects.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/baseball-prospectus-unveils-mets-top-10-prospects.html/#comments Mon, 10 Nov 2014 15:46:52 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=169729 noah syndergaard

While former chief analyst Jason Parks now scouts future Cubs prospects for Theo Epstein & Co., Baseball Prospectus with their new minor league staff recently kicked off their off-season prospect coverage and is deep into the NL East. Today it was time for the Mets system with in-depth reports on what BP views as the “Top 10” in the system. As an add-on,  3 more prospects considered as “on the rise” but further away are mentioned just like 3 more “factors on the farm” that will likely have some sort of major league impact in 2015 but are ranked outside the Top 10. While BP does note that the Mets are seemingly being managed as a “small market” team in the large Metropolitan market of New York, they see a lot of promise & depth in the system plus among young major leaguers which are documented by a “Top 10 ages 25 and under” list near the end of the article.

“It’s a strong collection of both minor-league talent and young major leaguers that gives the Mets strong depth. The Mets may not have the best collection of prospects and young players in baseball, but you can make an argument for them having the most balanced farm system in the game.”

The Top Ten

  1. Noah Syndergaard, RHP
  2. Steven Matz, LHP
  3. Brandon Nimmo, OF
  4. Amed Rosario, SS
  5. Kevin Plawecki, C
  6. Dilson Herrera, 2B
  7. Marcos Molina, RHP
  8. Dominic Smith, 1B
  9. Michael Conforto, OF
  10. Jhoan Urena, 3B

In their extensive reports – only available to BP premium subscribers – on these 10, the BP staff notes strengths & weaknesses of the prospects, the current “upside” and a more conservative “realistic” outcome plus assesses the “risk factor” of reaching the ceilings while also grading out tools.   Syndergaard headlines the group as arguably the Top SP prospect in the upper minors heading into 2015 with raw stuff that matches that of Matt Harvey & Zack Wheeler and only some fine-tuning needed to reach his ceiling as a true frontline SP. Even in the more conservative “real case” scenario, he should become a quality # 2/3 SP in time which is quite a bullish outlook. As a positive,  the following 9 prospects all project as  1st division regulars in terms of “upside” – with only Kevin Plawecki receiving a “high 5 solid average regular” upside but with a low risk profile. That already sets the Mets´ system apart from other systems that have been written on thus far.

It´s also apparent that BP is very much on board with the “upside” of lower level minor leaguers Amed Rosario, Marcos Molina, Dominic Smith, Michael Conforto and Jhoan Urena who are quite a bit away but do have several tools & factors working for them.

As for prospects on “the rise”, BP notes:

RHP Casey Meisner

OF Champ Stuart

RHP Gabriel Ynoa

These three are all candidates for the Top 10 list next year and received positive reports from the various BP staff members / scouts – Meisner mainly as a body projecting and growing in a positive direction, Stuart for his present-day tools and Ynoa for his pitchability profile.

As factors on the farm, BP expects 2015 contributions from:

RHP Rafael Montero

LHP Jack Leathersich

OF Cesar Puello

Montero just missed the top 10 but lacks true above average offerings to project as more than a back-end type SP for BP though he should be ready for that role right away. Leathersich could help in a setup role shortly while Puello´s loud tools are hampered by his poor approach and lingering Biogenesis doubts.

All in all, BP completes their outlook with their

Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (born 4/1/89 or later)

  1. Zack Wheeler
  2. Noah Syndergaard
  3. Jenrry Mejia
  4. Steven Matz
  5. Jeurys Familia
  6. Brandon Nimmo
  7. Wilmer Flores
  8. Amed Rosario
  9. Kevin Plawecki
  10. Dilson Herrera

Note that Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Juan Lagares and Travis d’Arnaud all weren´t eligible and BP in general went with the major leaguer over the prospect when players were viewed on an equal level.

Overall, it appears the Mets may have one of the deepest if not the deepest collection of young talent in the majors and minors overall right now. Beyond the young pitchers, there may be no future stars in there. But even a lineup loaded of first division, average to above average regulars would be quite a feat after essentially being barren in that spot for over a decade beyond stars Wright and Reyes.  Now, if only ownership could provide the funds to help not only take this to a top level but also sustain it…

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Dykstra, Satin, Seratelli Among 17 Mets Minor League Free Agents http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/dykstra-satin-seratelli-among-17-mets-minor-league-free-agents.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/11/dykstra-satin-seratelli-among-17-mets-minor-league-free-agents.html/#comments Sat, 08 Nov 2014 17:31:39 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=169615 Allan-Dykstra

Here is the full list of Mets minor league free agents as comprised by Baseball America:

RHP: Giancarlo Alvarado (AAA), Buddy Carlyle (AAA), Joel Carreno (AAA), Jeremy Hefner (A+), Ryan Reid (AAA), Miguel Socolovich (AAA), Ismael Tijerina (A)

LHP: Angel Cuan (A+), Dana Eveland (AAA), Scott Rice (AAA)

C: Kai Gronauer (AAA)

1B: Brandon Allen (AAA), Allan Dykstra (AAA)

2B: Anthony Seratelli (AAA)

3B: Brian Burgamy (AA), Josh Satin (AAA)

SS: Dimas Ponce (A)

Notes:

Andrew Brown (Oakland A’s) and Juan Centeno (Milwaukee Brewers) were also claimed last week after the Mets placed them on waivers to clear room on the 40 man roster which now stands at 36 players.

The Mets have not reached out to the representative for minor leaguers Anthony Seratelli and Ryan Reid. Their agent, Joe Rosen, says he expects both to play for other organizations next year. (NJ.com)

It’s surprising that Dykstra, a 2008 first round selection by the San Diego Padres, didn’t get a September call-up. The 27-year old posted a .280/.426/.504 line in 439 plate appearances for Las Vegas and owns a .406 OBP and .858 OPS in seven minor league seasons.

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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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Sandy Alderson On Mets Prospects: Matz, Conforto, Plawecki, Nimmo http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/sandy-alderson-weighs-in-on-matz-conforto-plawecki-nimmo.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/sandy-alderson-weighs-in-on-matz-conforto-plawecki-nimmo.html/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 16:36:00 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=169037 steve matz

MMO’s John Bernhardt had Sandy Alderson on as his guest during today’s Tip-Off show on WIOX Radio. Here is what he had to say about several of the Mets prospects.

Steven Matz, LHP

“He had a very good season in 2013, and exceeded that in 2014, both at St. Lucie and at Binghamton. His numbers were very similar at both places, which is very positive given the fact that he had moved up a level. I would say Steven is probably one of the top handful of left-handed pitching prospects in the game right now. The guy who was supposed to be the best left-handed prospect, Andrew Heaney, came up to the Marlins last year and didn’t do particularly well in his transition, but I think Steven is very comparable. He’s got an excellent fastball for a lefty, at 93, 94 mph. It can get a little bit higher than that. His breaking ball has gotten much better. And he threw some excellent changeups that night in Binghamton in that championship game.

“He’s been on the roster. He was on the roster last year. He’ll, of course, be on the roster again this year. I think the difference is that last year we put him on the roster to protect the talent. This year I think he’s got a chance potentially sometime during the season to help us at the major league level.”

Brandon Nimmo, OF

“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.”

Dilson Herrera, 2B

“We’re very happy with his progress. I mean, it was phenomenal last year really coming from Port St. Lucie through Binghamton and up to the major league club. It was tough for me to make the decision to bring Dilson up to the major leagues knowing how important he had been to Binghamton. I think I called [B-Mets owner] Mike Urda and said, ‘Look, I really apologize, but this is really what we need to do.’ And he was the right guy at the time. We had some playing time because [Daniel] Murphy was down.

“Herrera has surprising power for his size. He runs well. He’s very athletic. Turns the double play. I think he’s going to get more consistent defensively. He’s got pretty good hands and moves laterally well. We were impressed with him during his time with us. He had very good at-bats. I think he hit three home runs. So he’s got some real potential. And we were very happy with him during the course of his time with us, and he’ll come to spring training.

“You know, our middle-infield situation over the next couple of years is probably going to be in a little bit of flux. So he’s got an excellent opportunity.”

Matt Reynolds, SS

“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.”

Kevin Plawecki, C

“Plawecki is very solid — one of the handful of best catching prospects in baseball. I think we’re fortunate to have two young guys like [Travis] d’Arnaud and Plawecki. Plawecki is a little different hitter — more of a contact hitter, more patient at the plate. But I think he has some power potential. He’s a big guy.

“Defensively, he catches the ball well, blocks reasonably well. He probably has an average arm, but is very solid behind the plate and I think develops a pretty good rapport with his pitching staff. So we’re very high on both of those players. …

“Right now we’re fortunate that we have two who are essentially major league ready — I think Plawecki is close — of such high quality. At the same time, as they sort of both converge on the major leagues, it’s a question of whether both can be accommodated. I think there are circumstances under which that’s possible. For example, sharing the catching duties and then one of them playing first base a little bit or playing in the outfield. Or, during interleague games one of them DHing against left-handed pitching. I think there are ways to do it. The question is really whether that’s the best use of those two resources. And it may be, because beyond those two there’s a little bit of a drop-off at least in the catching we have in the system. We’ve got a couple of very young guys that we really like, but there may be a little bit of a drop-off after Plawecki. And so we have to be careful about trying to keep both of those guys in the system.”

Michael Conforto, OF

“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.”

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AFL Update: Mazzilli Is Red Hot, Nimmo and Reynolds Get All Star Nods http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/afl-update-mazzilli-is-red-hot-nimmo-and-reynolds-get-all-star-nods.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/afl-update-mazzilli-is-red-hot-nimmo-and-reynolds-get-all-star-nods.html/#comments Thu, 30 Oct 2014 14:58:37 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168801 mazzilli

Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo and shortstop Matt Reynolds have been named Arizona Fall League All Stars and will represent the Mets in Saturday’s Fall-Stars Game, which will be televised at 8:00 PM on the MLB Network.

Nimmo, 21, was the 13th overall pick of the 2011 Draft and he made great strides this year in the Mets system. The Wyoming native started the season at Advanced-A St. Lucie where he batted .322 with a .448 on-base in 227 at-bats before earning a promotion to Binghamton. Nimmo struggled for the most part in Double-A batting .238/.339/.396 in 240 at-bats with six homers and 26 RBI.

brandon nimmoIn the AFL, Nimmo is batting .231 with just three extra-base hits in 52 at-bats with 20 strikeouts. He told MiLB.com that he is enjoying the opportunity to play in the elite developmental league and is eager to build on the progress he made this year.

“There’s always just little things that you’re working on,” Nimmo said. “For me, I’m always going to try to include every aspect of the game — the fielding, the first steps when I’m trying to steal bags, obviously the hitting, being a little more consistent.”

Nimmo said he knows ups and downs are an inevitable part of baseball. But he hopes he can learn to even out his performance and avoid prolonged slumps.

“You’re going to have the peaks and the valleys, it’s just minimizing that and keeping it a little more constant and consistent,” he said. “I think I did better at that this year. I think there is still a lot of room to improve, especially from that jump from high A to Double-A.”

Matt Reynolds had a breakthrough season for the Mets in 2014. The 2012 second-rounder batted a combined .343 between Binghamton and Las Vegas with a .406 on-base and a robust .859 OPS in 478 at-bats. He could win a job on the Opening Day roster with a good Spring. In Arizona he’s showing some power, posting a .542 Slugging Percentage with three doubles and three homers in 48 at-bats.

One Met prospect who certainly deserved an All Star nod is second baseman L.J. Mazzilli, who is in the top ten in many offensive categories. Mazz, who is sporting a 7-game hitting streak, has a .316/.422/.506 slash line for Scottsdale in 11 games. He was the Mets fourth-round pick in the 2013 Draft and batted .301/.361/.440 with 11 home runs in 131 games in his first full professional season. His approach at the plate and his defense has been drawing raves from scouts.

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Michael Conforto Made A Strong First Impression http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/michael-conforto-made-a-strong-first-impression.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/michael-conforto-made-a-strong-first-impression.html/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 16:00:18 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168462 michael conforto Patrick E. McCarthy

When players are drafted, it’s often difficult to see what the future holds for them. For every Mike Trout there’s a Lastings Milledge and for every Matt Harvey there’s a Mark Prior. Predicting baseballs future has become a huge industry and no one ever knows for sure. One post on Bleacher Report listed Michael Conforto as the fourth-best left fielder currently in the minor leagues.

Conforto’s experience playing at Oregon State puts him further along than some other Mets prospects drafted before him, including Brandon Nimmo.

“He’s a very advanced offensive player,” Paul DePodesta told John DeMarzo of the New York Post back in August.

“He has a tremendously mature approach at the plate, where it really fits with our organizational philosophy. He looks to do damage and has the discipline to wait for those pitches. It’s rare to find in an amateur player, somebody who not only does it, but has a real understanding of it.”

“It’s just rare to see that kind of selectivity in somebody that is so young,” Brooklyn Cyclones manager Tom Gamboa told Mike Vorkunov of the Star-Ledger. “Everything we had heard — he was one of the top college hitters in the country — has proved to be true in pro ball.”

“I don’t think that future is all that far away,” Gamboa adds.

What is most encouraging about Conforto is that his minor league numbers were not all that different from his career numbers at Oregon. In three years, Conforto hit .340/.463/.557/.1020 at Oregon, adding 31 career home runs in 668 at-bats.This past year with the Cyclones, Conforto hit .331/.403/.448/.851 with three home runs in 163 at-bats.

It’s clear that Conforto has a ton of potential and he’s quickly becoming the prospect that I’m most interested in heading into 2015.

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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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Nimmo and Mazzilli Off To Solid Starts In AFL http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/nimmo-and-mazzilli-off-to-solid-starts-in-afl.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/nimmo-and-mazzilli-off-to-solid-starts-in-afl.html/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:17:06 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168318 Jessica Quiroli of Minor League Ball is reviewing many of the prospects currently competing in this year’s Arizona Fall League. She had some interesting things to say about a pair of Mets prospects who have impressed her.

Brandon Nimmo

brandon nimmoBrandon Nimmo is that rare breed of focused aggression and intensity, mixed with patience and teachability. His story is legend at this point: with no high school baseball program in Wyoming, he played the showcase circuit. Scouts noticed and he was drafted in 1st round in 2011 He came to the Brooklyn Cyclones of the New York Penn League as poised as a ten-year veteran. By the end of the season, however, the inexperience showed. Fatigue affected what was otherwise a highly successful debut.

He entered Spring Training in 2013 ten pounds heavier and talked about the noticeable difference in getting to balls in the outfield. He made the jump to Double-A Binghamton in 2014. He showcased more power, with a smooth swing path (it looked wobbly at times in 2012), and good hip rotation. He simply looked like a more solid version of the guy that played 69 games in Short-A ball in 2012. The selection to the fall league wasn’t a surprise.

Nimmo is the top outfield prospect in the organization, and one of the top outfield prospects in all the minor leagues. In tough fall league competition, he can work on developing more power and improve already very good plate approach. After the struggles with consistency that he exhibited down the stretch in his first professional season , he showed more ability to perform at the level he’s capable of in 2014. He ended the season hitting .278/.394/.426 in 127 games. He’s had a good fall league debut, hitting .393/.476/.571 in his first seven games.

L.J. Mazzilli

L.J._MazzilliSimilarly, Mets second base prospect L.J. Mazzilli is developing more power at the plate. His ability for gap-power was on display in 2013 with the Brooklyn Cyclones.And while Mazzilli has the same kind of professionalism and maturity as Nimmo, Mazzilli’s is all pedigree, as the son of former major leaguer Lee.

The younger Mazzilli also remained unfazed by the super-hype of his introduction to the New York media at Citi-Bank Field. That kind of laser-focus helped him adjust quickly to pro- ball. He exhibited rock-solid maturity off the field, and a consistent approach at the plate, also proving to be a strong defender with good speed. He hit .301/.361/.440 in 131 games between the Florida State and South Atlantic Leagues this year.

He spoke about his goals this off-season, working on strengthening and agility, with a focus on further improving his speed. Putting those elements together in fall league, and continuing that program through the winter, could lead to him seeing Double-A time in 2015. While not highly ranked in the system by some sources, he can play himself into a more valuable role with the Mets.

* * * * * * * *

I took a quick look at their stats this morning and both seem to be off to a solid start in Arizona where Nimmo is slashing at .323/.447/.419 in 31 at-bats, and Mazzilli is posting a .250/.400/.400 line in 20 at-bats.

Last night was only the sixth game for Mazzilli, who lined a triple into the gap and scored two runs during Scottsdale’s 7-3 victory over Glendale on Monday night. Nimmo added an RBI single in the game.

“I’m still trying to get in that groove offensively,” said Mazzilli after the game. “I feel I did well this year. I learned a lot in the first month-and-a-half of the season when I was struggling a little bit. I figured out what it takes for me to be the best I possibly can be, and I stuck with that plan and approach.”

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Mets Have Drafted Highest Percentage Of High School Players http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mets-have-drafted-highest-percentage-of-high-school-players.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/10/mets-have-drafted-highest-percentage-of-high-school-players.html/#comments Sun, 19 Oct 2014 18:07:02 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=168218 brandon-nimmo-2

According to a new report by Baseball America, the current Collective Bargaining Agreement and its bonus pools have created incentives for teams to select high school players early in the draft before spending less in the back half of the top 10 rounds.

They write that 2014 was the most aggressive use of that strategy in the three years under the current CBA.

Nearly half of the high school players drafted in the top 10 rounds (47.1 percent) went in the top two rounds. Leading this trend are the New York Mets.

“No team had high school players comprise a higher percentage of their draft signings than the Mets (35.7 percent), who signed the second-most high school players of any team (10).”

“While more than half of the (57.7 percent) of all high school players that signed were drafted in the top 10 rounds, the Mets drafted all but two of their prep players after the 10th round (third-round shortstop Milton Ramos and eighth-round first baseman Dash Winningham), signing many of them to bonuses exceeding $100,000 such as righthanders Erik Manoah and Gabe Llanes, outfielder Raphael Ramirez and shortstop Dale Burdick. There were 60 prep players who signed after the 10th round, and the Mets drafted eight of them (13.3 percent).”

Actually, the Mets have concentrated most of their top selections on high school players over their last four drafts under Sandy Alderson. And unlike other teams, they have yet to see any of their draft selections debut yet in the majors. However, many of them are highly regarded as prospects.

That should change in 2015 with the expected debut of college catching prospect Kevin Plawecki, and Adam Rubin believes that if everything breaks right, we could see the first high school prospect selected by the Mets, Brandon Nimmo, in September.

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