Mets Merized Online » kevin plawecki http://metsmerizedonline.com Wed, 23 Apr 2014 16:23:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.3 Featured Post: Plawecki Gives Mets Depth at a Premium Position http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/featured-post-plawecki-gives-mets-depth-at-a-premium-position.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/featured-post-plawecki-gives-mets-depth-at-a-premium-position.html/#comments Fri, 28 Feb 2014 00:16:52 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=148985 plawecki

After Kevin Plawecki‘s breakout 2013 season, along with his rising prospect status, the Mets have a rare commodity in today’s game– depth at catcher. Marc Carig of Newsday spoke to people within the Mets organization about Plawecki as well as their riches at one of baseballs thinnest positions.

“When you watch catching, it’s like everything kind of right now gets knocked up a peg,” one talent evaluator told Newsday. “Because there are no catchers, really.”

Sandy Alderson was quick to praise Plawecki, who was taken under the GM’s watch in the 2012 MLB Draft.

“He’s somebody we feel very highly about,”  Alderson said. “He does have our approach and we like what he does behind the plate.”

Alderson also commented on whether having a surplus talent at the position would open the door for a potential trade.

“We’ll keep developing,” he said. “We’re happy it’s a strength. We’re not looking to trade from that strength necessarily.”

Manager Terry Collins also liked what he saw in Plawecki.

“Just watching him in BP, he has a clue,” manager Terry Collins said. “He squares it up pretty good and it’s loud. I’m really impressed with what I’ve seen at the plate.”

As for Plawecki, who turns just 23 this Wednesday, he’s just trying to soak it all in during his first big league camp.

“I’m trying to learn as much as I can from these older veteran guys,” he said last week at camp. “Hopefully, I can use it to get better and hopefully use it to succeed this season.”

With incumbent Travis d’Arnaud, also amongst baseball’s best catcher prospects, looking to rebound from a poor start to his MLB career, it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. I don’t think anyone believes Travis won’t bounce back, while Plawecki looks to continue to rise through the system. For now, it’s a great problem to have.

Check out the entire article at Newsday and be sure to follow Marc on twitter @MarcCarig

Photo Credit: David Conde, MetsmerizedOnline.com

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D’Backs Have SS To Deal, Looking For Top Catching Prospect http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/dbacks-have-ss-to-deal-looking-for-top-catching-prospect.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/dbacks-have-ss-to-deal-looking-for-top-catching-prospect.html/#comments Thu, 27 Feb 2014 13:46:24 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=149167 0321130917cwp PNI0905-spt Diamondbacks

The D-Backs are still looking to move one of their three shortstops and are in the market for a top-flight catching prospect or a top-end starter, says D-Backs GM Kevin Towers.

“For us, it would have to be the right deal,” Towers said. “Our biggest needs in our system are catching. If it’s the right, top-notch catching prospect.”

“It’s been pretty quiet of late,” Towers said. “With Stephen Drew still out there right now, I haven’t had much trade discussions. … For us, it would have to be the right deal,”

Nick Piecoro writes that the D’Backs have Chris Owings, who seems to be the most desirable here on MMO, but they could also move Didi Gregorius or even Cliff Pennington.

Owings, 22, debuted last season and batted .291/.361/.382 in 61 plate appearances. He is a toolsy shortstop with a solid glove, good speed and big-time gap power. At Triple-A before he was promoted, the 2009 first-rounder batted .330/.359/.482 with 31 doubles, 12 home runs and 81 RBIs in 546 at-bats.

We discussed Owings on our comment threads last night, but even if they were to accept Kevin Plawecki for one of them, would you do the trade?

I find it difficult to move Plawecki mostly because Travis d’Arnaud‘s debut last season gives me pause. I wouldn’t feel comfortable trading Plawecki unless I knew for sure what TDA can do at this level. At 25, d’Arnaud has to make the leap from prospect to productive major league catcher.

I’m not so sure we match up with the D’Backs anyway, and that’s probably why the two teams haven’t discussed a shortstop trade in months despite our dire need. Or maybe it’s because there’s still some bad blood between Towers and Alderson from their time together in San Diego as I heard last night.

The Yankees are also looking for a shortstop and yesterday they said they were “out of money” and looking to make a trade. They have catchers they can move including the very desirable prospect Gary Sanchez.

The other thing is that I doubt that Towers moves Owings for Plawecki alone. It’s going to take a young arm to sweeten the deal, perhaps even Rafael Montero, but at minimum I’d say Jacob deGrom or a Jack Leathersich.

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2014 Mets Top Prospects: No. 2 Travis d’Arnaud, C http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/2014-mets-top-prospects-no-2-travis-darnaud-c.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/2014-mets-top-prospects-no-2-travis-darnaud-c.html/#comments Tue, 11 Feb 2014 13:00:49 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=147656 Top 25 Prospects d'arnaud 2

2. Travis d’Arnaud, C

Height: 6’2”
Weight: 195 lbs.
Age: 24
Bats/Throws: Right/Right

Travis d’Arnaud was the centerpiece in the deal that moved R.A. Dickey to Toronto last offseason and he became the best position prospect the Mets had right way. To give you an idea of his ceiling, let me first mention that he was twice traded for Cy Young Award Winners. He was originally drafted by the Phillies as the 37th overall pick in the 2007 draft. In 2009, the Blue Jays acquired him when they sent Roy Halladay to the Phillies and of course, the Mets acquired him in 2012. Now 25, Travis is definitely one of the older top prospects in baseball. That’s not necessarily because it took him a while to figure it out but has more to do with the multitude of injuries he’s experienced. He probably would have made his major league debut two seasons ago if it weren’t for foot, back and knee injuries. Although more of a freak injury, last season he took a foul ball off the foot, causing a fracture, which delayed his major league debut until August. In his short stint in the majors, d’Arnaud slashed a dull .202/.286/.263 with 21 K’s in 99 AB’s. He should be cut some slack for those numbers, however, as he worked hard rehabilitating his foot and then not only had to deal with the New York media, but also prove he could be a viable defender behind the plate and properly handle a young Mets pitching staff. The Mets see d’Arnaud as their catcher of the future with good reason. His sweet swing gives him the chance to hit for both a good average and considerable power; a very rare combination from behind the plate. It doesn’t stop there though as his natural athleticism and above average arm should allow him to be a pretty nice defender at the position. He’s a quiet kid but a natural leader who should have no trouble handling a pitching staff.

Outlook: There will continue to be questions in regards to d’Arnaud’s health and ability to stay on the field and it is up to him to prove the naysayers wrong. I believe his health will be just fine as he is one of the more athletic catchers I’ve seen and last years injury had more to do with bad luck than anything else. Kevin Plawecki is making a name for himself in the minors right now and if d’Arnaud cannot make improvements this season, his leash will continue to shorten until Plawecki is ready. D’Arnaud still has a much higher offensive and defensive ceiling than him, however, so I think the Mets are really hoping he works out. During the latter half of his debut last season, d’Arnaud looked like he was finally putting it together, making more contact and hitting hard line drives. At his peak, I could certainly see d’Arnaud hitting between .280 and .300 with 15-20 home runs per season and solid defense; accolades that could probably earn him multiple All Star game selections. He needs to start putting it together soon though because at 25 he is only 2 years away from his supposed “prime”; one that could certainly be shortened due to the physical demands of catching everyday. Due to the current state of the Mets offense, a breakout season from him would give the Mets a huge boost in their run scoring abilities.

MMO TOP 25 PROSPECTS

25. Wilfredo Tovar, SS

24. Juan Centeno, C

23. Cory Mazzoni, RHP

22. Jeff Walters, RHP

21. Jack Leathersich, LHP

20. Luis Mateo, RHP

19. Jayce Boyd, 1B

18. Domingo Tapia, RHP

17. Gabriel Ynoa, RHP

16. Vic Black, RHP

15. Michael Fulmer, RHP

14. Jeurys Familia, RHP

13. Dilson Herrera, 2B

12. Jake deGrom, RHP

11. Gavin Cecchini, SS

10. Steven Matz, LHP

9. Brandon Nimmo, CF

8. Amed Rosario, SS

7. Cesar Puello, OF

6. Wilmer Flores, 2B

5. Kevin Plawecki, C

4. Dominic Smith, 1B

3. Rafael Montero, RHP

2. Travis d’Arnaud, C

1.

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2014 Mets Top Prospects: No. 5 Kevin Plawecki, C http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/2014-mets-top-prospects-no-5-kevin-plawecki-c.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/02/2014-mets-top-prospects-no-5-kevin-plawecki-c.html/#comments Sat, 08 Feb 2014 17:37:30 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=147566 Top 25 Prospects plawecki 5

No. 5 Kevin Plawecki, C

Height: 6’2”
Weight: 205 lbs.
Age: 22
Bats/Throws: Right/Right

Kevin Plawecki doesn’t quite have the ceiling as Travis d’Arnaud but he’s a nice prospect in his own right. He was drafted in the supplemental first round of the 2012 draft out of Purdue University; a draft in which catching was scarce. He’s probably a better natural hitter than d’Arnaud but does not have the same power potential. His swing is short and quick resulting in good contact and a ton of line drives so he does have the potential to hit .300. The organization is moving Plawecki up the ladder at somewhat of a snail’s pace and I don’t understand why because his hitting approach is quite advanced and he’s already 22.

Across Savannah and St. Lucie last season Plawecki slashed .305/.390/.448 in 449 AB’s with 8 HR’s and 80 RBI’s. Also impressive were his 42 BB’s, compared to 53 K’s, which tell you his patient approach will yield a very good OBP with low strikeout numbers. As he adds more strength, naturally his gap to gap power will result in more home runs but I don’t think he’ll ever hit more than 20 in any season of his career. He’ll probably end up a 10-15 homer player but that’s still more than acceptable power production from behind the plate, especially if he’s putting up those kind of numbers with a borderline .300 average. He doesn’t have the greatest arm behind the plate but he supposedly has a quick release that still allows him to nail his fair share of baserunners. On top of that, he’s a great receiver and knows how to handle a pitching staff so he should have no trouble sticking as a backstop.

Outlook: Right now the organization sees Travis d’Arnaud as the catcher of the future so unless he fails, you’d have to wonder if Plawecki ever sees Citi Field. There’s a few different paths that Plawecki could take to the majors. If d’Arnaud is a complete bust, than Plawecki is nice insurance and should get an opportunity with the Mets to prove his worth. If Travis d’Arnaud reaches his potential and the Mets truly do have a franchise catcher on their hands, Plawecki could be a nice trade piece to help bring an impact bat to Citi Field. If he can continue to put up good offensive numbers in the upper levels of the minors while proving he can stick behind the plate, he should have no problem finding himself in the top 100 MLB prospects by the time he is big league ready. The fact that he is a catcher would increase his value as well because catchers who can hit are becoming awfully hard to find these days. Lastly, and the least likely scenario, is that Plawecki could be moved to first base if his skills behind the plate are deemed unworthy. Plawecki simply won’t hit for enough power even be considered an average first baseman so hopefully that is not the case. He’ll most likely begin the year in Binghamton and if he hits there, the Mets would be smart to move him up to Las Vegas by the end of the season so he starts to turn some heads and draw some attention from other teams.

MMO TOP 25 PROSPECTS

25. Wilfredo Tovar, SS

24. Juan Centeno, C

23. Cory Mazzoni, RHP

22. Jeff Walters, RHP

21. Jack Leathersich, LHP

20. Luis Mateo, RHP

19. Jayce Boyd, 1B

18. Domingo Tapia, RHP

17. Gabriel Ynoa, RHP

16. Vic Black, RHP

15. Michael Fulmer, RHP

14. Jeurys Familia, RHP

13. Dilson Herrera, 2B

12. Jake deGrom, RHP

11. Gavin Cecchini, SS

10. Steven Matz, LHP

9. Brandon Nimmo, CF

8. Amed Rosario, SS

7. Cesar Puello, OF

6. Wilmer Flores, 2B

5. Kevin Plawecki, C

4.

3.

2.

1.

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A Yankee Lesson For Nimmo, Cecchini and Some Mets Fans http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/a-yankee-lesson-for-nimmo-cecchini-and-some-mets-fans.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/a-yankee-lesson-for-nimmo-cecchini-and-some-mets-fans.html/#comments Tue, 21 Jan 2014 17:58:29 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=140436 Jeter

A good friend of mine recently sent her only child, a son, off to college. I remember those times as heart wrenching moments when each of my three children left the nest. To occupy my mind, I would usually wrap myself around some kind of project. That may have been my friend’s strategy, too.

Knowing that I love reading about baseball, especially autobiographies, she appeared with a stack of sports books that she and her son had read over the years. Cleaning out the house is sometimes a good mind occupying project.

I got the chance to read “The Life You Imagine, Life Lessons For Achieving Your Dreams.” That’s a tome from the pen of Derek Jeter written in 2000 during the earlier years of his career.

As a Met fan and a contributor to Metsmerized and MetsMinors.net, I have read several threads over the last two years on many a Mets site, where people almost bayonet the Met front office for their first round draft selections of Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini. When both logged rather modest statistics during their first full season of baseball with identical .248 batting averages the howls were harsh and loud.

Imagine what the reaction may have been had either Met prospect brought home Derek Jeter’s stats during his first professional year. Moving directly from high school in Kalamazoo, Michigan, as a 17-year old kid, Jeter was overwhelmed by his start in professional baseball. Jeter laughs at his naivety when he remembers his request to the Yankees to delay his professional baseball start for a week so he could spend July 4th at home with his parents and girlfriend, a request the Yankees politely nixed.

Jeter was miserable that first summer. USA’s top high school baseball player in the country and the Yankees number one draft pick had batted .557 in his senior year at Kalamazoo High with 7 HR’s and had struck out only 1 time the entire season. Jeter’s professional baseball debut came during a doubleheader where he went 0-7 and struck out 5 times. It took Jeter 15- at bats before he would register his first professional hit. The future Yankee great hit .202 that first year in Class-A for Tampa in the Rookie League.

Jeter was overmatched and depressed. He talks about doubting his lifetime dream of becoming a Yankee for the first time, of crying himself to sleep at night, and running up telephone bills back home to his Mom, Dad and girlfriend, of between $300 and $400 dollars a month. That was tough to do in those days.

Luckily, Jeter had a strong support network. His Dad reminded him over and over again that Chipper Jones had only hit .229 during his first year in the minor leagues. The Yankees didn’t dwell on his statistics, identifying characteristics of his batting approach that they liked and emphasizing those instead.

Jeter’s batting stabilized some during his second minor league season when he batted .295 with 5 HR’s and 71 RBI’s, not quite the mark of Kevin Plawecki, but a huge upgrade indeed. But, during his second campaign, Jeter’s defense was a mess. The future Yankee Hall of Famer made 56 errors for Class-A Greensboro.

Could you imagine the ruckus if Cecchini (who has committed 13 errors in his first two seasons) had comparable shortstop fielding stats. My ears would still be ringing.

Once again, Derek’s Dad was supportive reminding his son that Mickey Mantle totaled over 50 errors as a shortstop during his second minor league year. The Yankees rushed Gene Michael, the “Stick.” to Greensboro to counsel and work with Jeter and signed him up for the summer Instructional League to focus only on defense. Jeter was a designated shortstop who only played defense in games after 3 hours of morning skill drill work, 24/7. The young shortstop received one-to-one tutelage from Brian Butterfield the only student for Butterfield that summer.

Nimmo and Cecchini

Let’s make this perfectly clear. In no way am I suggesting or even hinting that I think Brandon Nimmo or Gavin Cecchini is going to become a Derek Jeter. I’m only pointing out that like it was for Jeter, two years in the minor leagues is not sufficient to determine the value of a baseball prospect.

Like Jeter, as a professional baseball team’s number one draft pick, both Nimmo and Cecchini have played the game at the highest plateaus at the amateur level. That’s still no guarantee of major league baseball success. Only with time and patience will the answer of whether or not the two Met prospects contribute as major leaguers will become more clear.

That said, it often leaves me shaking my head when I read some comments here and elsewhere that almost sound like some Met fans are hoping Nimmo and Cecchini fail just so they can hammer the front office some more. Whether you are happy with a front office draft selection or not, it makes sense that every Met fan should hope these entry level prospects do well. God knows we could use the help.

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Love Is In The Air… http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/love-is-in-the-air.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/love-is-in-the-air.html/#comments Thu, 16 Jan 2014 17:27:35 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=139769 wright-beers

I’m sure that you’ve all heard about David Wright getting married to his longtime girlfriend Molly Beers, last month. Sorry ladies, he’s officially off the market.

Wright, 31, tied the knot in California and most of his teammates both were all on hand.

“For me it’s the next step to growing up and the next step for me in life,” he said. “Everything went great. I’m in a good place. I’m happy.”

It seems the Mets’ captain has sparked a wave of Mets nuptials as Anthony ReckerJosh Satin and Kirk Nieuwenhuis all got married as well this offseason.

But this rush of Mets romance has not been limited to just the major league roster but down in the minors as well. 

Yesterday, both Kevin Plawecki and Matt den Dekker took huge first steps and proposed to their lovely girlfriends, and after accepting, both couples are now officially engaged.

plawecki-450x400

Kevin Plawecki gets down on one knee, but not to fire a throw to second base.

den-dekker

Matt says, “364 days together and I couldn’t wait another day to marry this girl!”

Who knew the Mets had so many romantics on the roster… Congratulations to all of you from Metsmerized!

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Keith Law: Plawecki Can Flat Out Catch, Nimmo Is Not A Bust http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/keith-law-plawecki-can-flat-out-hit-nimmo-is-not-a-bust.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/keith-law-plawecki-can-flat-out-hit-nimmo-is-not-a-bust.html/#comments Sat, 11 Jan 2014 15:04:10 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=139409 brandon-nimmo

Here are some Mets related questions from Keith Law’s ESPN Chat this week.

Is it too soon to call Brandon Nimmo a bust?

Klaw – Why in God’s name would you label Nimmo a bust? I think he’s at least an average regular with a chance for more. Bear in mind that Savannah is a terrible place to hit – he had a huge h/r split this year – and he came into pro ball with less baseball experience than the typical US HS kid.

What is Kevin Plawecki‘s true value? He seems to be outplaying the backup catcher projection.

Klaw – He’s not a backup. He can flat-out catch.

Can Dilson Herrera play shortstop or would that be a stretch?

Klaw – No, second base only for me, but good there.

Do you see Zack Wheeler taking a Matt Harvey-esque step forward this year?

Klaw – The step forward Harvey took was exceptional. Few guys suddenly show up with a 70 slider. But Wheeler could take a solid step forward this year – he has the stuff and looseness. He needs consistency with the delivery and better feel for the change.

While I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the Nimmo pick in 2011, I get a laugh out of some people who label him a bust at the ripe old age of 20….

Plawecki is finally getting his due and long awaited respect. We’ve been high on him since we drafted him and he’s our favorite drafty pick from that class.

Comparing Wheeler to Harvey is just plain wrong and unfair to Wheeler. Let him be whatever he’s going to be without any comparisons to someone who had a historic season and debut. I hope we’re not going to compare every pitching prospect that comes up to Harvey. Some of you need to understand that what Harvey was doing before the elbow injury had never been done in the 52 year history of the Mets.

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Mets Prospects Brandon Nimmo and Kevin Plawecki Invited To Big League Camp http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/mets-prospects-brandon-nimmo-and-kevin-plawecki-invited-to-big-league-camp.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2014/01/mets-prospects-brandon-nimmo-and-kevin-plawecki-invited-to-big-league-camp.html/#comments Fri, 10 Jan 2014 16:02:47 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=139283 plawecki

More and more young and exciting Mets’ prospects have been getting calls from the organization to let them know that they are being invited to big-league camp this spring.

Anthony DiComo just reported that the Mets will have 2011 first rounder Brandon Nimmo at major league camp with a non-roster invite, while catcher Kevin Plawecki gets rewarded for a nice season in 2013 with a spring invite as well.

On Thursday, the Mets announced that left-handed relief pitcher Jack Leathersich, righthander Logan Verrett, and outfielders Cory Vaughn and Dustin Lawley were invited to Spring Training.

Here is the complete list of non-roster invites including recent signees and top prospects:

RH Pitchers
Chasen Bradford
Joel Carreno
John Church
Jeremy Hefner
Rafael Montero
Miguel Socolovich
Noah Syndergaard
Cory Mazzoni
Logan Verrett

LH Pitchers 
Adam Kolarek
Jack Leathersich

Catchers 
Taylor Teagarden
Kevin Plawecki

Infielders 
Brandon Allen
Eric Campbell
Anthony Seratelli
Daniel Muno

Outfielders
Dustin Lawley
Cory Vaughn
Brandon Nimmo

This is definitely a great season to be heading down to St. Lucie to take in some spring training games with all these exciting prospects — is it February yet??? If they invite T.J. Rivera, my day will be complete :-)

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Prospect Spotlight: Kevin Plawecki Has Everyone’s Attention Now http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/prospect-spotlight-kevin-plawecki-has-everyones-attention-now.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/prospect-spotlight-kevin-plawecki-has-everyones-attention-now.html/#comments Mon, 30 Dec 2013 14:34:27 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=137624 plawecki

Last week, FanGraphs had a small blurb about Mets catching prospect Kevin Plawecki in a post about underrated minor leaguers.

“Mets’ 2012 supplemental first rounder Kevin Plawecki has shown that his tremendous hand-eye coordination carried from Purdue to the pro ranks. He only hit eight balls over the fence this year, but eventually some of his doubles—he ranked second among all minor league catchers this year with 38—will turn into home runs.”

I’m loving this… Finally, the 23-year old Kevin Plawecki has got everyone’s attention, but it sure took them a long time to come around on him.

Back in March of last year, before his coming-out season, one of our Minor League analysts, Mitch Petanick was already zeroing in on the former Boilermaker, writing:

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. 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 gap-to-gap power.

Last month, Mitch also highlighted Plawecki after he was selected as the Mets’ No. 5 ranked prospect by Baseball America.

There is no doubt that Plawecki is a top ten prospect, aside from that, it doesn’t really matter where these guys rank. If you’re in the top 10 it means you should be on your way to Citi Field, if you are top five, it means you should have a starting job someday.

In B.A.’s best tools section, they had Plawecki ranked as their best hitter for average. And while Brandon Nimmo was awarded with best strike-zone discipline, Plawecki definitely exercises the best strike-zone judgment.

Kevin Plawecki struck out a mere 77 times in his professional career while Nimmo struck out 131 times alone in in 2013. While Nimmo had 71 walks (ridiculous), Plawecki had about 30 more hits than Nimmo. Plate discipline is about patience, but it also comes with a higher propensity of striking out, as Nimmo displayed. Plawecki also only struck out 29 times in three seasons at Purdue. That’s serious strike-zone judgment.

Plawecki surprising some people as the No. 5 prospect is more a result of the fact that he received little love for his efforts last year from Baseball America. It was like people would swipe his accomplishments under the rug because he was considered “old” for A-Ball. I don’t think he was named to the B.A. Prospect Hot Sheet at all in 2013, and their excuse during the Q&A session always referred to his age.

The Mets, on the other hand, realize what an outstanding ball player they have on their hand, as Plawecki was named Co-Player of the Year in the Mets organization.

The Mets have had an awful record when it came to drafting and developing a solid major league catcher. There have been too few of them in 52 years, and our best ones; Mike Piazza, Gary Carter and Jerry Grote, came via trades. Now we seem to have an abundance of very skilled backstops speckled throughout the system.

I was pleased to see FanGraphs reference Plawecki’s doubles and how they could eventually translate into more home runs.

Staying with the subject of home runs, it reminded me of our interview with the young catcher after he hit a game tying ninth inning homer and then scored the winning run in the eleventh inning. When we asked him about that home run, here is what he said:

“I was just looking for something to drive. Obviously we needed to get a rally going cause we were running out of time. At the plate, I was fortunate enough to run into one good enough to leave the park for me, but by no means was I trying to hit a home run.”

I thought it was very telling how he wanted us to know that he was only trying to get good wood on the ball and looking for something in the strikezone, and that he was not swinging for the fences. Plawecki is mature beyond his years.

I have no doubt that the Mets will stop bringing him along so slowly and that we’ll see him at Triple-A Las Vegas this season, sooner rather than later.

Travis d’Arnaud will get his chance to shine in 2014, and I choose to ignore his poor offensive showing after he was called up and became the Mets everyday catcher. You have to figure that rust and trying to get his timing back played big roles in his sluggish performance. That won’t be the case anymore come Spring Training.

But if Plawecki continues to pulverize the ball at a higher level like I know he will, the Mets will suddenly have two very solid catching options and be in a position to use one to upgrade at another position. So I’m not worried about a potential quarterback controversy for our starting catcher down the road. You can never have too many options. It’s a nice feeling to know we have Plawecki coming fast and hard.

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What Can We Make Of Juan Centeno? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/what-can-we-make-of-juan-centeno.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/what-can-we-make-of-juan-centeno.html/#comments Thu, 26 Dec 2013 13:58:38 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=136658 matsuzaka centeno

This paragraph in a Fangraphs.com article about the bias of Top 100 lists, started me thinking:

“It’s interesting that Yadier Molina never made a top 100 list when you consider he was a semi-high pick with two brothers in the big leagues and never hit below .275 in a full-season minor league. The thing that worked against Molina is that he didn’t start hitting for power until much later. It is said that power is the last tool to develop and Molina should be the poster boy for that mantra. He could always hit, as you can see from his minor league averages, but didn’t top double-digit home runs in the big leagues until his eighth season in St. Louis.”

The same article mentions Kevin Plawecki in this manner:

“Mets’ 2012 supplemental first rounder Kevin Plawecki has shown that his tremendous hand-eye coordination carried from Purdue to the pro ranks. He only hit eight balls over the fence this year, but eventually some of his doubles—he ranked second among all minor league catchers this year with 38—will turn into home runs .”

But, what about the only big league catcher to throw out Billy Hamilton stealing?  Yes, it was by an eyelash, but he was out!

Juan+Centeno+Milwaukee+Brewers+v+New+York+w5WE4DUHfhEl

This from the MLB article linked with the video:

While Centeno will go down as the first catcher to nail Hamilton, credit Matsuzaka as well. Working from the stretch instead of his usual deliberate windup, he made one pickoff throw before throwing a fastball to the plate.  “I talked to the pitchers earlier about being quick to the plate, changing looks with him, doing pickoffs to first, all that stuff. [Hamilton] likes to run early,” Centeno said. “Today, I just went to the mound and said, ‘I think he’s going to go first pitch, let’s go quick pitch and fastball down and away.’ That’s how it happened, and we got him.”

Here is what Terry Collins had to say about Centeno on the verge of his first major league start, who had batted .305 (65-213) with 10 doubles in 67 games for Triple-A Las Vegas, “He’s as good a defender as we have,” Collins said. “He has gotten better offensively. He is going to get some hits. He absolutely controls the running game.”

Back in the late 70′s, we had John Stearns as our starter and Ron Hodges as his lefty complement.  Hodges was a good defensive catcher, but hit 19 homeruns in 1,426 at bats over 12 years on the Mets.  So, while Anthony Recker has shown some power potential, he is 30 years old and has never shown to be more than a low batting average and some power on any level in the minors or majors.  Recker is more organizational depth, while Centeno at 24 should be considered a solid part of the future.

The Mets originally drafted Juan Centeno in the 32nd round of the 2007 draft.  His defense-first skillset is a nice complement to d’Arnaud’s offensive potential.  Although d’Arnaud is considered above average defensively with a good bat, he is a right handed hitter.  Centeno is a lefty contact hitter with excellent defense but lesser offense.  The question is “what’s your preference?”

Centeno has only accumulated 1138 plate appearances over 7 minor league seasons and needs the 350+ at bats in Las Vegas over a full season to improve his offensive game, however, I would like to see him switch with Recker by late June and getting two starts a week in the majors.  That should put him on a pace of about 175-200 plate appearances for a full year.  He will learn the pro game at the MLB level and would be an absolutely perfect compliment to d’Arnaud in every way.

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Do The Mets Have A Top 10 Farm System? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/do-the-mets-have-a-top-10-farm-system.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/do-the-mets-have-a-top-10-farm-system.html/#comments Wed, 18 Dec 2013 17:48:27 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=135791 syndergaard montero

Matt Mosher writes…

During a Baseball Prospectus Chat today, I asked Jason Parks, their head prospect guy, if the Mets farm was Top 10. (I assumed they were) He replied that they definitely were not.

That’s noteworthy because I believe he ranked them at No. 10 last year. So, at least according to one outlet, the farm’s overall ranking has dropped. Be interesting to see if Baseball America drops them some too. They are usually more harsh on the Mets than BP is. The lack of bats is completely killing them.

Joe D. writes…

Thanks for the heads up. I’m not surprised at all. With Zack Wheeler now in the Majors, you’d have to think they’d take a hit. But what really hurts them most was that top picks Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini didn’t burst out of the gate the way everyone expected. Additionally, their top position player Cesar Puello was suspended for PEDs.

I would say the Mets are probably in the 14-16 range and mostly because of Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero, a solid and “healthy” season from Steven Matz, the emergence of Gabriel Ynoa and Jeff Walters, and Kevin Plawecki producing in A-Ball. By the way, how bad was that Fangraphs Top 10?

* * * * * * * *

Here are a couple of relevant Mets related questions from yesterday’s chat at BP:

Maybe an early holiday gift for readers: OFP grades/lines for Syndergaard, Stephenson, and Giolito? 

Syndergaard: 7 FB; 7 CB; 6+ CH
OFP: 7; No. 2 starter

Stephenson: 7+ FB; 7 CB; 5+ CH
OFP: 7; No. 2 starter

Giolito: 8 FB; 8 CB; 6+ CH
OFP: 8; No. 1 starter

The Mets are a top ten farm, right?

No. They aren’t a top ten farm. They have some very nice pieces, but it fades quickly after the first few names on the list.

Is Dominic Smith already the #1 ranked 1B prospect in the game? Potential 25/100?

I don’t see that kind of over-the-fence power from him. I like the bat, but I wouldn’t take him over Singleton, even with Singleton’s recent run of slack.

Thanks to Matt Mosher for the email and link to BP…

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MMO Mailbag: Does D’Arnaud Have Enough Power To Justify A Move To First Base? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/mmo-mailbag-does-darnaud-have-enough-power-to-justify-a-move-to-first-base.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/12/mmo-mailbag-does-darnaud-have-enough-power-to-justify-a-move-to-first-base.html/#comments Wed, 18 Dec 2013 12:00:19 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=135764 travis-d'arnaud

NickCant12 asks…

Let’s be honest, there is major concern with Travis d’Arnaud‘s ability to stay healthy, and although his defense isn’t necessarily a concern, it’s not a strength either. With high praise from the Mets brain trust for catching prospect Kevin Plawecki, does TDA have enough pop in his bat to justify a switch to 1B in the future?

Kirk Cahill replies…

This is an excellent question. I think it’s also a question that we don’t necessarily have an answer to just yet. D’Arnaud has just 112 major-league plate appearances under his belt, so it’s difficult to know just what type of offensive player he’s going to be. That said, I’m always a little uncomfortable moving catchers off of the position.

Having a catcher who can hit and hit for power is so rare that you’d hate to negate his value by moving him — especially to first base. In some rare cases like those of Buster Posey and Joe Mauer, players who are so offensively gifted that their offense will play above-average no matter where you put them I’m okay with it. Especially later in their careers. I’m just not so sure that Travis is that type of offensive force.

Scouts project TDA to be somewhere in the .270-.280 range with 20+ homers and an above-average walk total. That’s a top catcher, but probably a league average first basemen. I would keep him behind the plate until absolutely necessary and enjoy the spoils of getting that type of production out of my catcher, and enjoy the luxury of filling my first base spot with a prototypical middle of the order masher.

As for d’Arnaud’s injury history, it’s certainly a concern. However not all of his injuries have been directly connected to catching. He suffered a knee injury breaking up a doubleplay in 2012. His most recent injury was due to a foul ball hitting him in the foot, and while that’s obviously directly related to being a catcher it’s a fluky type of injury.

The most worrisome injury would have to be the back problems that popped up in 2010, but with said injury almost four years in the past, perhaps it isn’t something that we can expect to be chronic. The recent ruling to end home plate collisions will certainly help. So when taking all of that into consideration I still maintain that keeping him at catcher until something or someone forces your hand is the best plan of action.

mmo mailbag

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Alderson Expressed Concern With D’Arnaud’s Hitting Approach http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/alderson-expressed-concern-with-darnauds-hitting-approach.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/alderson-expressed-concern-with-darnauds-hitting-approach.html/#comments Sat, 16 Nov 2013 15:12:47 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=133050 travis d'arnaud

It seems to me that the team is not as high or as confident in Travis d’Arnaud as they once were when they first acquired the catcher as the signature piece in the deal that sent R.A. Dickey to Toronto.

On at least two occasions, Sandy Alderson expressed concern with D’Arnaud’s bat and his brief 99 at-bat debut. The Mets GM expanded on that a little during his interview with Mike Francesa on Friday, and had this to say about his catcher when asked if he was disappointed with what he saw offensively:

“A little bit, we saw flashes. I thought the approach was inconsistent, Alderson said. “I think anytime you get below the Mendoza Line, especially in a young guy, you panic a little bit. But, I think given what we saw in spring training, what we saw in Vegas, and what we saw in his minor league career, we have to assume that’s going to improve.”

Alderson was pleased with TDA’s work behind the plate, citing that on defense D’Arnaud was better than he expected and MLB caliber.

I agree with Sandy on both counts. I did expect D’Arnaud to hit the ground running like we saw Josh Satin do. One of my concerns is that D’Arnaud displayed a very long swing during his brief trial. I haven’t seen enough of him in the minors to say this was normal for him or something he adopted after he was promoted.

He also didn’t pull or drive the ball the way I expected him too. When he did hit the ball he seemed to just hit them where they were pitched and mostly up the middle or to the opposite field. He rarely turned on anything.

However, on the plus side, D’Arnaud exhibited excellent patience and a willingness not to chase balls out of the strike zone. His 10.7 walk percentage will likely score lots of points with the front office.

Regardless, D’Arnaud will be the Mets starting catcher in 2014 and everyone will be eager to see him improve on last season’s numbers and most importantly – avoid any injuries.

While Sandy initially said that acquiring a solid veteran backup catcher was a top priority this offseason, he backed off on that during the GM Meetings in Orlando, and spoke highly of Anthony Recker who I think has some surprising power in his bat.

D’Arnaud and Recker will likely do the majority of the catching next season. But Kevin Plawecki could make things interesting if he continues to produce in the minors as he has in his last two seasons. Plawecki has quickly climbed up the ranks to become one of the Mets’ top prospects.

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The New York Mets And Their Mysterious Arizona Fall League Strategy http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/the-new-york-mets-and-their-mysterious-arizona-fall-league-strategy.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/the-new-york-mets-and-their-mysterious-arizona-fall-league-strategy.html/#comments Fri, 08 Nov 2013 15:48:13 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=132495 AFL13

I always thought that the Arizona Fall League was a place where teams sent their top prospects to play against the top prospects of other teams. The reasoning behind this is to get them playing against the best competition available, which would be beneficial to their development. In fact, on the AFL official website, it states “given the top prospects who play here, every game in the AFL is like a future All-Star Game. It’s a definite destination for baseball fans and families who want to see great action on the diamond.”

Most teams send a wide range of prospects, but the majority of them rank in the top 20 of their organizations. The stands are packed with scouts who are all their to see and evaluate. This season, the AFL features Byron Buxton, who many consider the top prospect in all of baseball. In previous years, we have seen Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Albert Pujols, David Wright, and many other top players in the game grace the AFL fields in October.

The question is why do the Mets continue to use this league as an extension of the regular season for players that missed time, rather than send their top prospects?

Hansel Robles is the highest ranked prospect that was sent to the AFL this season. Robles is currently ranked as the Mets’ No. 20 prospect on MLB.com, but depending on who you ask, that ranking could be lower. Don’t get me wrong, the five players they sent are nice players, but they aren’t considered the cream of the crop.

I had a brief discussion with Metsblog’s Michael Baron on Twitter yesterday, and we both have differing views on what the AFL is about. He argued that it was a way for the Mets to get the players they sent extra at-bats since they missed time due to injuries, and to further evaluate players. I argued that while it is about evaluating players, the AFL is supposed to be reserved for the top talent in the minor leagues.

The Mets obviously side with Baron’s idea of what the AFL is all about, while the majority of other teams in baseball seem to side with my view.

cory vaughn

If it were up to me, I would be sending guys like Kevin Plawecki, Jayce Boyd, and T.J. Rivera to see what they can do against upper-echelon prospects of other teams. I would also had sent Cesar Puello.

Having these guys play against other top players would be incredibly beneficial to their development, and a way for the Mets to showcase some of their top talent.

Unfortunately, a lot of the Mets top talent is still in the lower levels of the minors, and you can only send one player that is below Double-A to participate in the AFL.

I scratched my head when I saw the players that the Mets sent this year. I understand that with strict innings limitations, they are limited with the pitchers they can send. I understand sending Cory Vaughn, but if they are trying to get players that were injured during the season more time, then why not send guys like Travis d’Arnaud, Brandon Nimmo, and Michael Fulmer? Those guys could all use the extra work and they fit the bill of being top prospects in the organization.

While fans of other teams in baseball get to watch their teams’ top prospects playing AFL games on MLB Network, Mets fans get to watch players that the Mets send to get more at-bats. The Mets must’ve missed the memo that “every game in the AFL is like a future All-Star Game.” The AFL is a showcase league, and the Mets can’t even get that right.

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Mets Could Deal D’Arnaud For A Big Bat http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/mets-could-deal-darnaud-for-a-big-bat.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/mets-could-deal-darnaud-for-a-big-bat.html/#comments Fri, 08 Nov 2013 05:39:20 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=132398 travis d'arnaud single

The Mets could trade catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud to try and acquire a big bat according to Andy Martino of the Daily News.

Some Mets people are really high on catching prospect Kevin Plawecki, writes Martino, and this pretty much sums up what I’ve been saying for a while now.

The question now is if teams will look down on d’Arnaud who didn’t exactly hit the ground running in his debut. Throw in the fact, whether it’s deserved or not, that he’s missed far too much time due to injuries over the last three years.

The injury concern isn’t an overstatement as even Sandy Alderson alluded to it last month and said because of his inability to stay on the field he intends to sign a solid backup this offseason.

Plawecki, of course, is someone I’ve always been very high on. As far back as April I had no problems considering trading D’Arnaud if the right bat presented itself.

The 22-year old backstop, hit .305 with a .390 OBP last season with 38 doubles, 8 home runs and 80 RBI in 125 games between Single-A Savannah and Advanced-A St. Lucie.

Our minor league analyst Mitch Petanick wrote extensively on this two days ago. Plawecki, now ranks higher than Wilmer Flores according to Baseball America who had him ranked as the Mets’ fifth best prospect.

Kevin Plawecki struck out a mere 77 times in his professional career while Nimmo struck out 131 times alone in in 2013. While Nimmo had 71 walks (ridiculous), Plawecki had about 30 more hits than Nimmo. Plate discipline is about patience, but it also comes with a higher propensity of striking out, as Nimmo displayed. Plawecki also only struck out 29 times in three seasons at Purdue. That’s serious strike-zone judgment.

Plawecki is currently two years younger than d’Arnaud and their numbers play out similarly in the lower levels of minor league ball – it wasn’t until the jump to Double-A where d’Arnaud started to show the power. In fact, Plawecki hit for higher average, had fewer strikeouts, and just as good of power numbers through A-ball as d’Arnaud had.

The Mets have to take a chance at some point. They can’t wave a wand and wish for things to get better. They can’t pawn off players like Lucas Duda and Ike Davis and think some team is going to throw Carlos Gonzalez or Jurickson Profar at them.

Sooner or later they will have to make a commitment to winning and bringing in better quality position players. That’s either going to cost money or prospects.

The bottom line is that the front office needs to get this team winning again. Whether it’s d’Arnaud, Flores or any other prospect that’s traded, if it makes us better in the short and long term, I’m on board with it.

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Is Kevin Plawecki A Top Five Prospect For The New York Mets? http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/is-kevin-plawecki-a-top-five-prospect-for-the-new-york-mets.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/is-kevin-plawecki-a-top-five-prospect-for-the-new-york-mets.html/#comments Sun, 03 Nov 2013 12:07:54 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=132111 Baseball America (B.A.) released their latest issue which not only featured Noah Syndergaard on the cover, but also listed their new top ten prospect rankings for all the teams in the NL East. The Mets had a bunch of names we have all seen on these top prospect lists before–Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud , Wilmer Flores, Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini.

The one choice that took many off guard may have been Kevin Plawecki being listed as the No. 5 prospect in the Mets’ organization. Plawecki has made one of the bigger jumps I have seen a prospect make in a while. Some experts didn’t even have him in the top 20 before the 2013 season; the rest had him somewhere between 15 and 20.

B.A. now ranks Kevin Plawecki higher than Wilmer Flores, who was once considered the best hitter in the Mets’ minor league system.

So where does Plawecki fit? I guess it depends on who you ask.

There is no doubt that Plawecki is a top ten prospect, aside from that, it doesn’t really matter where these guys rank. If you’re in the top 10 it means you should be on your way to Citi Field, if you are top five, it means you should have a starting job someday.

In B.A.’s best tools section, they had Plawecki ranked as their best hitter for average. And while Brandon Nimmo was awarded with best strike-zone discipline, Plawecki definitely exercises the best strike-zone judgment.

Kevin Plawecki struck out a mere 77 times in his professional career while Nimmo struck out 131 times alone in in 2013. While Nimmo had 71 walks (ridiculous), Plawecki had about 30 more hits than Nimmo. Plate discipline is about patience, but it also comes with a higher propensity of striking out, as Nimmo displayed. Plawecki also only struck out 29 times in three seasons at Purdue. That’s serious strike-zone judgment.

Plawecki surprising some people as the No. 5 prospect is more a result of the fact that he received little love for his efforts last year from Baseball America. It was like people would swipe his accomplishments under the rug because he was considered “old” for A-Ball. I don’t think he was named to the B.A. Prospect Hot Sheet at all in 2013, and their excuse during the Q&A session always referred to his age.

The Mets, on the other hand, realize what an outstanding ball player they have on their hand, as Plawecki was named Co-Player of the Year in the Mets organization.

The 2014 season is moving fast upon us. Pitchers & catchers will be reporting before we know it, and most have Plawecki penciled in with Binghamton. Plawecki will probably be a non-roster invitee to Spring Training, and this is the season where Plawecki can afford to skip a level. He’s proven enough with his bat and his advanced strike-zone judgement to warrant the jump to Triple-A. Last season, I lobbied for a promotion to Binghamton after he lit up Savannah–A-Ball simply was not a challenge for him. The hitter’s environment in the PCL would be one that Plawecki could easily adjust to.

The Future Catcher of The New York Mets

If Travis d’Arnaud does turn out to be the catcher of the future for the Mets, there is always the opportunity that the Mets transition Plawecki to first base, or try to move him in a trade. Plawecki is just too good of a hitter to be a backup catcher. For the Mets, having two catchers listed in the top five prospects is not exactly something to be worried about–it’s pretty rare.

Plawecki_Darnaud

Plawecki is currently two years younger than d’Arnaud and their numbers play out similarly in the lower levels of minor league ball–it wasn’t until the jump to Double-A where d’Arnaud started to show the power. In fact, Plawecki hit for higher average, had fewer strikeouts, and just as good of power numbers through A-ball as d’Arnaud had.

I wonder if Travis d’Arnaud is starting to hear footsteps…the footsteps of a Boilermaker.

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Baseball America: Syndergaard Named Top Mets Prospect, Puello and Matz Snubbed http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/baseball-america-top-10-syndergaard-named-mets-top-prospect-puello-and-matz-snubbed.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/11/baseball-america-top-10-syndergaard-named-mets-top-prospect-puello-and-matz-snubbed.html/#comments Fri, 01 Nov 2013 17:58:49 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=132031 Right-hander Noah Syndergaard has been named the Mets’ top prospect by Baseball America in their 2014 Top 10.

1. Noah Syndergaard, RHP
2. Travis d’Arnaud, C
3. Rafael Montero, RHP
4. Dominic Smith, 1B
5. Kevin Plawecki, C
6. Wilmer Flores, IF
7. Amed Rosario, SS
8. Brandon Nimmo, CF
9. Gavin Cecchini, SS
10. Jacob deGrom, RHP

Syndergaard, they write, ranked as the top pitching prospect in both the high Class A Florida State and Double-A Eastern leagues, and he appears poised to follow Wheeler’s path to the big leagues in 2014.

The Mets believe they have as much pitching depth as anybody. For proof, they can point to the fact that their pitchers at the full-season levels finished with a collective 2.79 K-BB ratio, better than any of the other 29 organizations. They handed out the second-fewest unintentional walks (7.6 percent of batters) and struck out the third-most (21.3 percent).

As for their Best Tools, my personal favorite feature, here is what they have:

Best Hitter for Average: Kevin Plawecki
Best Power Hitter: Dustin Lawley
Best Strike-Zone Discipline: Brandon Nimmo
Fastest Baserunner: Champ Stuart
Best Athlete: Amed Rosario
Best Fastball: Noah Syndergaard
Best Curveball: Robert Whalen
Best Slider: Logan Verrett
Best Changeup: Gonzalez Germen
Best Control: Rafael Montero
Best Defensive Catcher: Juan Centeno
Best Defensive Infielder: Wilfredo Tovar
Best Infield Arm: Aderlin Rodriguez
Best Defensive Outfielder: Matt den Dekker
Best Outfield Arm: Cesar Puello

(Photo credit: Gordon Donovan)

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The 2013 New York Mets All-Prospect Team http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/the-2013-new-york-mets-all-prospect-team.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/the-2013-new-york-mets-all-prospect-team.html/#comments Fri, 25 Oct 2013 15:45:42 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=131689 nimmo reynolds sand gnats

The 2013 season was one where we saw some New York Mets prospects rise to the occasion, and in some cases, turn our heads—and in other cases there were prospects that completely fell off the map. Predicting which prospects pan out is not an easy task, and there are times where we fall in love with prospects, then fall out of love with them, only to fall in love with them all over again as was the case with a number of prospects in 2013.

This is all about the prospects we fell in love with in 2013. This is about the prospects that made us smile a little bit about the future of our New York Mets, even when the present may be making us frown a little bit. So here it is, the 2013 New York Mets All-Prospect Team.

Catcher: Kevin Plawecki

2013 – 449 AB, 60 R, 137 H, 38 2B, 8 HR, 80 RBI, 42 BB, 53, .305/.390/.448 (A, A+)

Plawecki earned the nickname Dr. Doubles in 2013, and it seemed that any time you tuned into a Savannah or St. Lucie game, he was smacking a double in the gap. Every night this past summer, you would read on Twitter something to the effect of “Plawecki with another double.” His numbers in 2013 were incredibly impressive, as he has shown how an advanced college bat can make an impact in the minor leagues—at the lower levels anyway. He made an easy transition moving from short season A-Ball to advanced A-Ball, but the true test should be in Binghamton in 2014.

First Base: Jayce Boyd

2013 – 458 AB, 68 R, 151 H, 29 2B, 9 HR, 83 RBI, 61 BB, 61 K, .330/.410/.461 (A, A+)

Allan Dykstra had a breakout year, but Jayce Boyd did more in 2013 to build his stock than just about any other player in the Mets organization. His batting average with Savannah was ridiculous and after making the jump to St. Lucie, he just kept on hitting. Like Plawecki, Boyd is another advanced college bat. He ripped through lower level pitching like a kid ripping through a pinata at a birthday party. Also like Plawecki, his true test will come this season when he should start the season with Binghamton. Due to his size, there have been some knocks on Boyd regarding his homerun numbers, but his swing is extremely pretty for a right-hander, and as he learns to add loft and backspin to his batted balls, the home runs will come. The kid plays solid defense too.

Second Base: Wilmer Flores

2013 – 424 AB, 69 R, 136 H, 36 2B, 15 HR, 86 RBI, 25 BB, 63 K, .321/.357/.531 (AAA)

The first thing that you generally hear when most people are talking about Wilmer Flores is in regards to his inability to play any defensive positions effectively. The other thing you tend to see is shock on people’s faces when they see he is still on 21 years old. We tend to forget how young he is because we have been talking about him for so long. The bottom line is that the guy can hit. Most coaches will tell you that if you give them a guy that can hit, they will find a position for him—the Mets will find a position for him.

Shortstop: Wilfredo Tovar

2013 – 441 AB, 70 R, 116 H, 14 2B, 4 HR, 35 RBI, 33 BB, 49 K, .263/.323/.340 (AA)

Shortstop is a position that will always be one where the glove is more important than the bat, and Wilfredo Tovar brings his glove with him to the ballpark everyday. He is the closest thing that the Mets have to an major league ready shortstop, as was evidenced when the team called Tovar up from Binghamton after Ruben Tejada suffered a fractured fibula. Tovar started the season very slow offensively, but the second half of the season he came on strong, posting a .299/.359/.421 line earning him a spot on the All-Prospect Team.

Third Base: Zach Lutz

2013 – 389 AB, 62 R, 117 H, 27 2B, 13 HR, 80 RBI, 54 BB, 102 K, .293/.377/.479 (AAA)

Zach Lutz performed about as well offensively as anyone in the Mets organization last year, posting a .293 average to go along with 13 homers and 80 RBI. Lutz is about as solid a hitter the Mets have in the organization—and unlike some other guys on this All-Prospect team, he has proven himself against upper level pitching. The problem is Lutz is getting older and David Wright isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. If the Mets can’t use Lutz, it would be nice to see him get a chance with another team because he has excellent upside with regards to his bat.

Left Field: Dustin Lawley

2013 – 489 AB, 72 R, 128 H, 35 2B, 26 HR, 96 RBI, 36 BB, 113 K, .262/.314/.513 (A+, AAA)

Dustin Lawley led all Mets minor leaguers in home runs and RBI in 2013 (26/96). He spent the majority of the season with St. Lucie, but made a brief appearance with Las Vegas at the end of the year. Here is a kid that was signed out of college in 2011, and has made it to Triple A within two seasons. He has solid power and can be a guy that definitely finds himself in the Mets’ outfield mix sometime in 2014.

Center Field: Brandon Nimmo

2013 – 395 AB, 62 R, 108 H, 16 2B, 2 HR, 40 RBI, 71 BB, 131 K, .273/.397/.369 (A)

Brandon Nimmo had his shares of ups and downs in 2013. There were times where he was the hottest hitter in the organization—he started off the 2013 season like gangbusters. A wrist injury side tracked him, but he still was the top performing centerfielder in the Mets organization in 2013. He didn’t hit for a ton of power (only two home runs), but he did manage to get on base almost 40% of the time (.397 OBP).

Right Field: Cesar Puello

2013 – 331 AB, 63 R, 108 H, 21 2B, 16 HR, 73 RBI, 28 BB, 82 K, .326/.403/.547 (AA)

Cesar Puello had an outstanding 2013 season. Unfortunately, more will remember this past season for his 50 game suspension due to the suspicion of using performance enhancing drugs. We don’t know which drug he took, or if he took any drugs at all, so rather look at this season’s performance as a direct result of cheating, let’s look at it as what it was—the arrival of what many people consider a 20/20, five tool player. Puello should start the 2014 season in Las Vegas, and it will definitely be a very important season for the young slugger. By the way, Mets fans shouldn’t be too hard on the kid, after all, Marlon Byrd was suspended for PED use recently and that didn’t stop anyone from cheering for him last season.

Starting Pitcher: Rafael Montero

2013 – 12 W, 7 L, 2.78 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 155.1 IP, 136 H, 35 BB, 150 K (AA, AAA)

This was a pretty easy choice. There wasn’t a pitcher in the Mets system that you would rather have on the mound in 2013 than Rafael Montero. He used pinpoint control to dominate hitters at both Double and Triple A. He climbed through the Mets’ system in just three short seasons. When Montero walks a batter, it’s so rare that the pitching coach goes out to the mound to make sure he isn’t sick. He is a player we will definitely see at Citi Field in 2014, barring injury or trade.

Relief Pitcher: Jeff Walters

2013 – 38 SV, 2.09 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 56.9 IP, 46 H, 16 BB, 60 K (AA)

Jeff Walters was the man that Binghamton called on to shut the door on opposing teams at the end of close games, and he did not disappoint, closing the door 38 times last year. He has an excellent strikeout to walk ratio, and averaged over one strikeout per inning in 2013. For his efforts, he was selected as a 2013 Post-Season All-Star in the Eastern League, and the relief pitcher of choice for the 2013 All-Prospect Team.

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Syndergaard’s Injury Risk As Low As Any Major Pitching Prospect In Baseball http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/syndergaards-injury-risk-as-low-as-any-major-pitching-prospect-in-baseball.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/syndergaards-injury-risk-as-low-as-any-major-pitching-prospect-in-baseball.html/#comments Fri, 18 Oct 2013 00:00:24 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=131314 Here’s a couple of tidbits from Keith Law’s chat today…

Jeff (NY) – Still Aaron Sanchez over Noah Syndergaard? I know you go based on ceiling, but does probability start to factor in now?

Klaw – No, I can’t stay with that, seeing Sanchez’ delivery and potential injury risk. Syndergaard doesn’t have Sanchez’ offspeed stuff, but he has to be as low a risk for an arm injury as any major starter prospect in baseball. Fix Sanchez and we can talk again.

It’s great to see Law retreat from earlier statements that he’d prefer Sanchez over Thor. JD Sussman of FanGraphs profiled both Sanchez and Syndergaard in a prospect showdown before this season and wrote:

A lot will happen in the two or three years before their debuts, but if each develops as I expect, Sanchez has a higher ceiling as an ace. Syndergaard, on the other hand, is realistically a second or a third starter. With that said, I am more confident that Syndergaard can complement his fastball and change up with a third offering than I am in Sanchez’s command profile. If I had to pick one of them to start a playoff game for me today, it would be Syndergaard. But talent like Sanchez’s is rare.

I would love to hear her thoughts now and wonder if she too is now leaning toward Syndergaard as the better of the two?

Come on JD, make the switch… :-)

Chris (NYC) – Mets get Jose Bautista for Rafael MonteroSteven Matz, and Kevin Plawecki… Are we close? Bautista’s injuries have to be concerning.

Klaw – You’re not close. You’re playing the delusional Mets fan.

Yep, he said delusional Met fans…

My favorite part of the chat was when he said this….

A collection of crows is called a murder. A collection of ferrets is called a business. And a collection of idiots is called a Congress.

ESPN Insiders, read the full chat here.

(Photo Credit: Gordon Donovan)

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Brandon Nimmo, Gavin Cecchini, and a Yankee Lesson http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/brandon-nimmo-gavin-cecchini-and-a-yankee-lesson.html/ http://metsmerizedonline.com/2013/10/brandon-nimmo-gavin-cecchini-and-a-yankee-lesson.html/#comments Tue, 15 Oct 2013 07:57:26 +0000 http://metsmerizedonline.com/?p=131167 derek-jeterA good friend of mine recently sent her only child, a son, off to college. I remember those times as heart wrenching moments when each of my three children left the nest. To occupy my mind, I would usually wrap myself around some kind of project. That may have been my friend’s strategy, too.

Knowing I host a weekly radio show, she appeared with a stack of sports books that she and her son had read over the years. Hoeing out the house is sometimes a mind occupying project. Last weekend, I plowed through “Ya Gotta Believe,” the book penned by Tug McGraw as he was dying of cancer. It was a fascinating read and the primary focus of Friday’s radio show.

This weekend saw me busy at work reading “The Life You Imagine, Life Lessons For Achieving Your Dreams.” That’s a tome from the pen of Derek Jeter written in 2000 during the earlier years of his career, a topic the Dawg and I hope to cover on a future show.

As a Met fan and a contributor to Metsmerized and MetsMinors. Net, I have read several threads over the last two years where people almost bayonet the Met front office for their first round draft selections of Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini. When both logged rather modest statistics during their first full season of baseball with identical .248 batting averages the howls were harsh and loud.

Imagine what the reaction may have been had either Met prospect brought home Derek Jeter’s stats during his first professional year. Moving directly from high school in Kalamazoo, Michigan, as a 17-year old kid, Jeter was overwhelmed by his start in professional baseball. Jeter laughs at his naivety when he remembers his request to the Yankees to delay his professional baseball start for a week so he could spend July 4th at home with his parents and girlfriend, a request the Yankees politely nixed.

Jeter was miserable that first summer. USA’s top high school baseball player in the country and the Yankees number one draft pick had batted .557 in his senior year at Kalamazoo High with 7 HR’s and had struck out only 1 time the entire season. Jeter’s professional baseball debut came during a doubleheader where he went 0-7 and struck out 5 times. It took Jeter 15- at bats before he would register his first professional hit. The future Yankee great hit .202 that first year in Class-A for Tampa in the Rookie League.

Jeter was overmatched and depressed. He talks about doubting his lifetime dream of becoming a Yankee for the first time, of crying himself to sleep at night, and running up telephone bills back home to his Mom, Dad and girlfriend, of between $300 and $400 dollars a month. That was tough to do in those days.

Luckily, Jeter had a strong support network. His Dad reminded him over and over again that Chipper Jones had only hit .229 during his first year in the minor leagues. The Yankees didn’t dwell on his statistics, identifying characteristics of his batting approach that they liked and emphasizing those instead.

Jeter’s batting stabilized some during his second minor league season when he batted .295 with 5 HR’s and 71 RBI’s, not quite the mark of Kevin Plawecki, but a huge upgrade indeed. But, during his second campaign, Jeter’s defense was a mess. The future Yankee Hall of Famer made 56 errors for Class-A Greensboro.

Could you imagine the ruckus if Cecchini (who has committed 13 errors in his first two seasons) had comparable shortstop fielding stats. My ears would still be ringing.

Once again, Derek’s Dad was supportive reminding his son that Mickey Mantle totaled over 50 errors as a shortstop during his second minor league year. And, the Yankees rushed Gene Michael, the “Stick.” to Greensboro to counsel and work with Jeter and signed him up for the summer Instructional League to focus only on defense. Jeter was a designated shortstop who only played defense in games after 3 hours of morning skill drill work, 24/7. The young shortstop received one-to-one tutelage from Brian Butterfield the only student for Butterfield that summer.

Nimmo and Cecchini

Let’s make this perfectly clear. In no way am I suggesting or even hinting that I think Brandon Nimmo or Gavin Cecchini is going to become a Derek Jeter. I’m only pointing out that like it was for Jeter, two years in the minor leagues is not sufficient to determine the value of a baseball prospect. Like Jeter, as a professional baseball team’s number 1 draft pick, both Nimmo and Cecchini have played the game at the highest plateaus at the amateur level. That’s still no guarantee of major league baseball success. Only with time and patience will the answer of whether or not the two Met prospects contribute as major leaguers will become more clear.

It often leaves me shaking my head when I read threads that almost sound like some Met fans are hoping Nimmo and Cecchini fail. Whether you’re happy with a front office draft selection or not, it makes sense that every Met fan should hope these entry level prospects do well. God knows we could use the help.

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