Mets Merized Online » joe panik Mon, 02 Mar 2015 11:44:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Where Is The Love For New York Mets Prospect T.J. Rivera? Tue, 29 Oct 2013 14:15:49 +0000 t.j. rivera

T.J. Rivera just finished his third season in professional baseball for the New York Mets. Over those three years, Rivera has compiled a .304/.359/.396 offensive stat line. He has also hit 12 homeruns and has 136 RBI—not too shabby for a top-of-the-order guy who plays the middle infield.

Most people will look at this year’s numbers at St. Lucie as a regression, but it’s not the case. Rivera was called upon to hit leadoff in 2013, and it came with a fundamental offensive philosophy change. He found himself taking the first-pitch fastballs that he would normally jump all over. He found himself trying to take more pitches in order for the other hitters in the lineup to see what the pitcher had.

In his first full season of high A-ball, he was named a Florida State League mid-season All-Star.  For his efforts, you won’t find him on any top prospect lists, and most Mets fans probably never heard of him. As if oblivious to those things, he just shows up to the ballpark and plays hard every day. This is what Jack Leathersich, who played with Rivera in Savannah in 2012, had to say about him in a recent exchange with MMO’s very own Joe D:

Joe D. – You spent some time in Savannah to start last season before finishing up in St. Lucie. Tell our readers what teammate you were you most impressed with last season and why? Who really stood out to you last year and who should Met fans be really excited about?

Jack – Oh yeah, definitely T.J. Rivera – he’s the one. He’s the real deal. I’ve never been around a kid who prepares as well as he does. He just really loves the game and it seems like every time I see him he’s out on the field working on something. Rivera plays hard and is completely balls to the wall—he’ll do anything to make sure we win. He’s a great teammate and obviously a great player and everybody should be real excited about him. If he continues the great things he did last season, and I’m pretty sure that he will, he’ll be a lot of fun to watch.

More rave reviews regarding Rivera’s work ethic and style of play could be found in the 2011 Troy University Media Guide:

T.J. is a fantastic player and a guy we really like in our program. He is a guy who is committed to doing his work on a daily basis. You don’t see T.J. going through a lot of highs and lows because he is very consistent with his approach…He stays focused on getting better every day.

You won’t find Rivera on any top prospect lists because he’s not a five tool player, and he wasn’t drafted. He was signed as a free-agent out of college after spending his high school days playing at Lehman High School in the Bronx. The top prospect lists are generally reserved for the five tool players and guys drafted in the top 10 or so rounds.

However, there are things that are generally over looked when trying to determine where prospects land on these top prospect lists.

One thing is work ethic—Rivera is a hard working, blue-collar type of player. This may be a result of not being drafted and feeling that he has to outwork everyone else, and he’s probably right.

Another thing is baseball IQ—listening to Rivera speak in the video at the end of this post, and you can see that he gets it.

Finally, the eye test—can the kid play ball? There are guys who have tools that are off the charts, but they can’t put it together on the field. On the other hand, you have guys whose tools don’t jump off the page, but they squeeze every ounce of goodness out of those tools—this is the category that Rivera falls under.

Rivera is a maximizer. I think I just made up a word, but it’s true. Give me a player who can play baseball, and squeezes everything out of their talent any day of the week. Rivera would be welcome on my team with open arms.

Rivera, in my eyes, is a top 20 prospect for the New York Mets. If not for draft status, I argue he may even be top 15.

Rivera’s game is very similar to another baseball prospect that I have followed since his high school days in Joe Panik. Panik went to John Jay High School in upstate New York, and then played his college days at St. John’s University. He was touted as one of the top college shortstop prospects in the country just before the 2011 MLB Draft. The San Francisco Giants selected him in the first round that year, and many experts had him being taken much later.

Panik has a smooth left-handed swing that produces a little more pop than Rivera, and is a little more of a polished hitter, but that’s where the differences stop between the two. Panik went on to win MVP honors in the Northwest League (short season) after being drafted, but aside from that, his numbers are very similar to Rivera’s over three seasons. Panik spent 2013 in the Eastern League, where he was touted for his defense at second base, but after a dismal offensive year, many are questioning whether he is the second baseman of the future for San Francisco.

Panik is considered a top five prospect for the Giants, yet Rivera continually gets over looked on Mets lists. Even if you take out Panik’s poor offensive performance at double-A this past season, the numbers are pretty close—so why does a player like Panik get touted as a top prospect while Rivera goes virtually ignored?

Maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe Rivera enjoys being over looked and it keeps him hungry. Maybe it drives him to outwork the other prospects. Maybe it’s what eventually gets him to where he dreamed of going as a kid—the major leagues.

There is a bit of a log-jam at second base with Daniel Murphy supplanted at the major league level, Wilmer Flores behind him, and a crop of potential studs in Dilson Herrera and L.J. Mazzilli in the lower levels. But there seems to be a gaping hole at shortstop in the organization, so why not give Rivera a shot there? Can it hurt at this point?

He’s played 93 games there in three professional seasons, so it’s not like it would be learning a new position. Waiting for Gavin Cecchini to develop and be the savior is cool and all, but why put all the eggs in one basket when the basket is still at A-ball? Switch Rivera to shortstop now and let the kid continue to impress us.

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Mets Minors Report: Satin Aiming For Callup, Power Hitters’ Power Void, Eyes On Rivera Sun, 14 Apr 2013 12:55:25 +0000 Last Night’s Quick Scores

Prospect Pipeline

  • I just learned that we have some exciting phone interviews lined up with T.J. Rivera, Travis d’Arnaud, Cory Mazzoni, Brandon Nimmo and Cam Maron coming up. April will be fun around here as we continue to bring you as much information as we can on our incredibly improving system. Yesterday, Mets GM Sandy Alderson glowed when our Senior Writer Matt Balasis asked him about how far the Mets farm system and organizational depth has come in such a short time. (Joe D.)
  • In FanGraph’s weekly prospect chat, Mike Newman said that he expects Zack Wheeler to replicate what we saw from Matt Harvey last season – about ten starts with similar production. Wheeler’s curveball is also improved from the inconsistent breaking pitch he scouted in 2010 and that so far this season he has “frequently popped 96 MPH on the radar gun with ease.”  (Joe D.)
  • Mets power hitting prospects Wilmer Flores, Travis d’Arnaud, Aderlin Rodriguez and Brandon Nimmo have combined to hit zero homers, 11 games into the season. Meanwhile, underrated Josh Satin hit his fourth home run last night and is batting .474. Am I the only one who thinks he has nothing left to prove in the minors? If I’m Ike Davis, I’d be concerned. (Joe D.)
  • First baseman Jayce Boyd hit his first home run of the season after some near misses. It was a three-run jack and it was a no-doubter. Boyd, 22, is one of our top ten sleepers, and is batting .412/.512/.618 with a great eye at the plate (7 walks, 6 strikeouts) in 42 plate appearances. (Joe D.)
  • T.J. Rivera continues to hit. He already leads St. Lucie in hits, RBI, batting average, OBP, and slugging percentage, and added two more hits last night. On a team known for it’s pitching staff, Rivera has been the backbone of the offense. I’m very high on Rivera. He reminds me of another prospect in the Giants organization named Joe Panik. Their games are very similar, except Panik was a first rounder, and Rivera was signed as a free-agent out of college. That’s what you would consider “a steal.”
  • Jack Leathersich is also very high on Rivera. In a recent interview with MMO, this is what he had to say about his former teammate: “Oh yeah, definitely T.J. Rivera - he’s the one. He’s the real deal. I’ve never been around a kid who prepares as well as he does. He just really loves the game and it seems like every time I see him he’s out on the field working on something. Rivera plays hard and is completely balls to the wall – he’ll do anything to make sure we win. He’s a great teammate and obviously a great player and everybody should be real excited about him. If he continues the great things he did last season, and I’m pretty sure that he will, he’ll be a lot of fun to watch.” You can read the Leathersich interview in it’s entirety here.
  • I mentioned in yesterday’s notes that Binghamton manager, Pedro Lopez, stated that he was expecting some tough offensive nights as his team goes through a transition period adjusting to Double-A. It looks as if Saturday was one of those days he was speaking about. After hammering out thirteen hits and fifteen runs on Friday night, the bats were as cold as the Binghamton air temperature on Saturday, as they only managed one run on five hits.
  • Noah Syndergaard, whose fastball routinely sits in the mid-90s and can touch triple digits, reminds St. Lucie pitching coach of Kerry Wood. “He reminds me of Kerry Wood,” St. Lucie pitching coach Phil Regan said. “A lot like him, but a better body. He has that tall Texan style.” St. Lucie manager, Ryan Ellis, also likes what he sees: “He has a nice fastball and seems to get stronger. He only threw four innings but he seemed to get stronger in the third and fourth. His breaking ball is really sharp and he’s pitching it with a lot of depth.” Having a combination of Harvey, Wheeler, Syndergaard at the top of the New York Mets rotation, is starting to become a scary reality.
  • The St. Lucie Mets pitching staff has lived up to lofty expectations so far this spring. They currently lead the Florida State League with a 2.20 ERA, and second in the league 75 strikeouts. The scary thing is, these stats could have even been better, but Domingo Tapia’s hiccup on Thursday night drove the ERA a bit. Tapia didn’t make it out of the first inning that night, allowing three runs on one hit, also giving up four walks and throwing two wild pitches.

Stat Line of the Night

LHP Steven Matz: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 7 K, 1 BB

Tweet Of The Day

Binghamton’s left-handed fireballer, Jack Leathersich, is going to give away a glove to one of his followers when he hits 3,250 followers. He is currently at 2,952 followers. I wonder what he would be willing to give away for 10,000 followers?

Probable Starters

Las Vegas sends Zack Wheeler (0-1, 3.15 ERA) to the mound for tonight against Colorado Springs at 10:05 PM.

Rafael Montero (1-0, 1.54 ERA) of the Binghamton Mets takes on the New Hampshire Fisher Cats Sunday afternoon at 1:05 PM.

St. Lucie sends Angel Cuan (1-0, 0.00 ERA) the mound this afternoon against the Bradenton Marauder’s at 1:05 PM. .

Savannah sends Rainy Lara (1-0, 0.00 ERA) to the mound in series finale against Rome at 2:00 PM.

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Prospect Pulse: Analyzing Mets Catching Prospect Kevin Plawecki Mon, 11 Mar 2013 15:48:51 +0000 kevin_plawecki

Kevin Plawecki, C

Bats: R Throws: R
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 205 lb.
Position: Catcher
Age: 22
ETA: 2015
MMO Top Prospect Rank: #19


Here is a brief player profile from the recent 2013 MMO Top 25 Prospect series:

The 35th pick in the 2012 draft, Kevin Plawecki, was selected with one of the comp picks we received for losing Jose Reyes. The main criticism about the pick was not so much a knock on Plawecki, but rather that the Mets made a big reach taking him with the 35th pick when he could have been around in the third. One of the things that scouts keyed in on was that he had a long swing and it cut some of his power away, but he made strides to fix that in his first pro season since coming out of Purdue. Down in Brooklyn, Plawecki put up a .250 average with a 1:1 BB/K rate (25:24). The NYPL is a pitching dominant league, so try not to get too down on the .250 average, especially when he accompanied it with seven homers and eight doubles in just 216 at-bats.

Plawecki is not a defensive wizard, as he gets by with a below average arm, but he is an intelligent baseball player. Intelligence at the catcher position is key, and he was known for calling his own games when he played at Purdue. Also, considering the fact that he was drafted as a junior in college, it puts him on somewhat of a fast track to the major leagues. His 2013 season will be key in determining what kind of player he will really turn out to be, as he makes the same jump as Hansel Robles to Savannah and potentially St. Lucie.

The biggest issue I have come across in scouting reports was the fact that almost everyone is in consensus that Plawecki should have been a third or fourth round pick. However, that is simply semantics. If you think a guy can help your organization, then why run the risk of someone else taking him?

At the time of the pick, the Mets had little catcher depth in their system, and Plawecki is the type of guy that will be able to move through the system very quickly, and hopefully help the Mets in the near future. While we can label a player a reach because we think that he should have been selected later, there is really no telling what the other teams will do, so when you have a chance to take your guy, you take him. The San Francisco Giants did something very similar in 2011 when they drafted shortstop Joe Panik. When evaluating draft picks it’s not always a matter of who has the better ability, but who has the ability to help the big league club as fast as possible. Plawecki is that type of a guy.


Plawecki is a guy that makes excellent contact. Through his college career, he had a very low strike out rate, and as stated earlier, had a 1:1 K/BB ratio at Brooklyn last season. I have read a couple of scouting reports that have noted his swing was a little long, but his swing is actually very compact, and he gets his hands through the hitting zone very quickly when he keeps them close to his body. If his hands get away from him, he could have trouble with pitchers with better fastballs. He starts with his hands high, has a nice load, and then gets his hands in a nice hitting position. I noticed that on a couple of the pitches he took, he didn’t keep his weight back, and transferred his weight early to the front leg. This can make him susceptible to off-speed pitches as he progresses to the higher levels of the organization.

He has a very level swing, which will lead to a ton of line drives, but it does not generate a ton of backspin on the ball when contact is made, which is why he won’t be a big home run threat. However, he does have solid to gap-to-gap power. Think of Daniel Murphy, but with a little more pop. I would project him to hit 10-15 home runs at the big league level at this point.

Everyone has been completely enthralled with the addition to Travis d’Arnaud, but Plawecki is a guy that fans should keep an eye on over the next couple of years. With questions of d’Arnaud’s durability arising, Plawecki is definitely a guy that could find himself behind the plate at Citi Field within the next couple of years.

prospect pulse mitch petanick

To read previous editions of this feature, go to our MMO Prospect Pulse Archives.

Follow MMO Minor League Analyst Mitch Petanick on Twitter at @FirstPitchMitch for even more Mets Minor League and prospect coverage.

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The San Francisco Giants Should Trade For David Wright Tue, 18 Sep 2012 12:00:50 +0000

What the Mets should do with David Wright after the 2012 season has been the talk of the town as the season winds down. There has been a healthy mix of opinions on what the Mets should actually do with regards to David – some argue to hang on to the aging third baseman, while others want to trade him while the Mets can still lure top tier prospects for him. One team that may be in the need of a third baseman, and always has prospects in the reserves, is the San Francisco Giants.

The Giants currently have Pablo Sandoval under contract until the year 2014. The problem is he can’t stay on the field. He’s always injured, most likely due to his inability to stay in shape. His nickname is panda, which isn’t exactly the fittest animal in the animal kingdom. I have my suspicions that the Giants may be growing tired of the Panda’s antics. The Giants fans aren’t far behind, growing more and more frustrated with their loveable panda every day. That’s because Sandoval would be better suited for an American League team. In the AL, he could play the field when needed, but be used primarily in a DH role. He still has a very solid bat when he is healthy. For that reason, the Giants would be wise to try and move Sandoval to an AL team while they can get some value for him.

Once the Giants move Sandoval there will be a glaring hole at third base. The question is, would the Mets be able to lure away some top prospects from the Giants in exchange for Wright? Two prospects that I would love to see in the Mets organization are Gary Brown and Joe Panik. Joe Panik is a native New Yorker (actually graduated from the same high school as I did), played his college ball at St. John’s, and has all the makings to be a solid middle infielder. Gary Brown is a solid defensive outfielder and a speedster, who could be a legit leadoff hitter at the top of the Mets lineup for the foreseeable future. Both of these players seem to be a lock to be productive major leaguers, which takes some of the mystery out of the equation for the Mets if the decide to trade Wright.

Joe Panik dominated in his time at St. John’s

If the Mets do decide to trade Wright, they will be looking to get some prospects that can help the team right away. Gary Brown projects to be ready in 2013, and Joe Panik in 2013-14. Would that be enough for the Mets trade David Wright? Has Pablo Sandoval’s inability to stay in shape and injury risk finally pushed the Giants to the brink? Only time will tell. It’s starting to get chilly outside, so it’s time to start heating up the stove.

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