Mets Merized Online » kevin plawecki Sat, 28 Feb 2015 14:08:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Baseball Prospectus Ranks Mets Farm System Fifth Best Fri, 20 Feb 2015 11:45:59 +0000 dilson-herrera-in-the-cage

More good news from Baseball Prospectus, who  ranked all 30 MLB farm systems and placed the Mets at number five. That’s a nice bump from last year’s No. 8 ranking.

“Not the best, but likely the most balanced farm system in all of baseball, the Mets have everything you could want from a group of minor-league players—a potential ace (Noah Syndergaard), a major-league ready, everyday player (Dilson Herrera), an up-the-middle regular (Kevin Plawecki), a next wave of prospects coming behind them (Brandon Nimmo and Steven Matz), potential bats with a few years to go (Dominic Smith and Michael Conforto), and young, unproven, high-ceiling talent (Amed Rosario and Jhoan Urena).”

“Not all of these players are going to work out, but the Mets, as an organizational whole, have enough safety nets to continue to refill their major-league roster for the next few years.”

Let the good times roll…

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Who Will Be This Year’s Spring Training Surprise? Wed, 18 Feb 2015 11:00:02 +0000 matt reynolds

There are a number of young prospects and fringe players who will be fighting for recognition this spring.  Every year, there’s usually one surprise performance that puts a previously unheralded name on the radar.  After all the action wraps up in the Grapefruit League, who will be the player to leave a lingering impression on the minds of Mets brass and fans?

Pitchers and catchers report February 19th and there are a lot of interesting names on that list.  Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz highlight the premier arms vying for a promotion, however, Rafael Montero could always reignite his stock value.  Other invites include Gabriel Ynoa and Dario Alvarez.  Ynoa has been discussed more recently by the front office as an emerging young star and Alvarez played well enough to earn himself a late season promotion from Double-A Binghamton last year.

The most interesting position players without major league experience are mostly non-roster invites.  Guys like Brandon Nimmo I’ve barely seen any live footage off, so seeing his name in a few lineup cards will be fun.  Kevin Plawecki will almost certainly get a healthy share of reps behind the plate and while I’m a fan of Travis d’Arnaud, it’s time the competition between these two heated up.  I think Plawecki has a great spring training and that’s a great problem for the Mets to have.

Gavin Cecchini and Matt Reynolds are two top infield prospects who will have their chances to showcase their middle infield talents .  Cecchini is an intriguing athlete with a ton of upside who, at times, has flashed the potential that made him a coveted draft pick.  Reynolds showed great offensive potential in Triple-A Las Vegas, regardless of the hitter friendly condition he was playing in.  He could very well grab himself a bench spot if he shows enough of an improvement from last year defensively.

If you had to choose one player to be this year’s Spring Training Cinderella, who’re you going with?

Lets! Go! Mets!


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Featured Post: DePodesta Explains Mets Strategy To Improve Farm System Mon, 02 Feb 2015 01:02:28 +0000 ny_a_depodesta_sy_576

Mike Vorkunov ( recently discussed the Mets’ minor league system and prospectswith VP of Player Development and Scouting, Paul DePodesta. Here are some exchanges that stood out. You can read the full article here.

The main theme being targeted here is the position player depth that is rapidly rising through the system.  The Mets were built heavily on pitching at the start of Sandy Alderson’s tenure, but now have a healthy balance of power arms and bats.

Vorkunov: Baseball America’s top 10 prospects came out and the lower half is filled with players mostly in A-ball.  How do you feel about the lesser experienced half of your farm system?

DePodesta: As we looked at it maybe 3-4 years ago, we felt we had some pitching.  We certainly wanted to add to that pitching, but we really wanted to focus on some position players. We had to create another wave of players, not only through the draft, but also through international signings.  I think those bottom five probably reflect that strategy.

Thoughts: DePo is referring to players like Brandon Nimmo, Gavin Cecchini, Dominic Smith, etc. who were drafted very highly overall, there’s a wave of high upside talent in the bottom five, most of whom are still extremely young (6. Amed Rosario, 7. Michael Conforto, 8. Rafael Montero, 9. Marcos Molina, 10. Gavin Cecchini).

Rosario continues to make a name for himself in the minor leagues and he’s done so without compromising his status at SS.  Many scouts still believe he’ll grow into his frame, but he’ll maintain the athleticism and instincts to stick there in the majors.  Cecchini struggled at times in High-A St. Lucie and although he made the top 10 for BA, others are high on Jhoan Urena, a third base prospect drafted in 2011 who has begun to rise in prospect rankings.

Vorkunov: Where do the position players stand in proximity to the major league level?

DePodesta: You look at guys who at least could certainly be ready for Triple-A at some point… Kevin Plawecki and Matt Reynolds will both certainly be there. Dilson Herrera made the leap from Double-A straight to the big leagues. He certainly could play in Triple-A. Brandon Nimmo spent the second half of the season last year in Double-A.  He could certainly be Triple-A ready.  So those are four of our better guys.  Three of them in the top 10 according to Baseball America.  And they could all be in Triple-A at the same time in 2015.They’re very close.

Thoughts: Michael Conforto is expected to have a rapid ascension through the minor leagues as well.  Brandon Nimmo is closer to MLB than him at the moment, but Conforto entered the Mets system a more refined major league ready player who merely needs to prove he can handle the pitching as he advances.  The mechanics and hitting tools are all there, for Conforto it is more about protocol and proving he can execute correctly at every level.

That being said, it’s unclear how many of these prospects could contribute in the midst of a playoff push.  Daniel Murphy may very well be a Met for all of 2015, while Curtis Granderson and Michael Cuddyer are expected to be a big part of the team’s success this year and next. It’s doubtful any everyday room will be made for prospects like Nimmo, but he is one of the many that is certainly close.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens with Kevin Plawecki and Matt Reynolds though, there are players blocking their paths, but it’s not written in stone.

Vorkunov: How do these rankings match with internal evaluations?  Are there guys who haven’t been talked about as frequently publicly, but should be higher rated?”

DePodesta: Sure, I think that always happens.  But we don’t have to publicly rank our players. We’ll group them into sort of different categories of what we think they could potentially be… We put them in position where they can get at-bats.

Jacob deGrom was never rated very highly. Juan Lagares was never rated very highly on our prospect lists. I think there are always players that we think highly of or are close to taking their game to another level, which could fundamentally change the perception of them, especially externally.

Thoughts: The lack of performance at the major league level or injuries, has given quite a few prospects the opportunity to showcase their talents when they would otherwise be shelved in the minors.  It’s the natural progression of baseball, or really an opportunity in life, where timing meets talent and a star is born as in the cases of deGrom and Lagares.

* * * * * * * *

As far as the current rankings though, I think it’s difficult to find a pair of pitchers more talented than Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz in any farm system in baseball.  I think the Met internal rankings are in line with that of the public, at least as far as 1 and 2 go.

All and all, anytime we get to admire the wealth of talent in this team’s farm system, it’s a rare positive moment for Mets fans.  The Alderson regime still has much to prove at the major league level, but as far rebuilding a depleted farm system with high upside talent, the drafting and development this front office has employed should be considered top notch.

Much, if not all of that, can be attributed to the coaching staffs assigned to developing players at each level, but still, there’s an uncanny rate of success that the Mets are having with prospects these days and it should be recognized.  Out of names like Zack Wheeler, Travis d’Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard, Kevin Plawecki, Brandon Nimmo, Dilson Herrera, Vic Black, etc., the team is experiencing a high rate of players translating at the higher levels, if not the majors already.

To me, it’s clear that this team will have an entirely different public image in 2 to 3 years.  It’ll be exciting to see if this organization can win a championship with all of this mostly homegrown talent.  With no promise for a brighter financial status on the horizon, this organization’s only hope for sustained success relies mostly on our minor league pipeline and it looks to be moving in the right direction.


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Law: Mets Have 6 Prospects in Top 100 Thu, 29 Jan 2015 16:56:25 +0000 michael-conforto-2

Here they are, what you’ve all been waiting for… ESPN’s Keith Law released his Top 100 Prospects for 2015 and the Mets had an impressive showing with six players making the cut.

Noah Syndergaard RHP (No. 17)

Syndergaard just keeps chugging along fairly quietly compared to most pitchers who throw 95-plus, getting results while refining his off-speed stuff gradually but consistently. He’s now to the point where he seems like the safest bet of any of the premium pitching prospects on this list. Syndergaard will hold mid-90s into the seventh inning, working with what seems like negative effort, and his changeup is plus at 78-79. His curveball, about a grade-35 pitch when he was first drafted by Toronto in 2010, has advanced to be at least solid-average, showing as a 55 in most outings, playing up in particular because he can throw the pitch for strikes.

His Triple-A stat line was hurt by his home park, a very good environment for hitters, and some generally bad luck, but to the extent that it forced him to continue to refine his command — which is already a strength — the experience won’t hurt him. The Norse God of Velocity is ready for the call to Queens, with the floor of an above-average starter who can carry 200-plus-inning workloads.

Michael Conforto OF (No. 41)

Conforto was the best pure college hitter in the 2014 draft class, with a tremendous combination of feel to hit, an advanced approach and above-average power, but he slipped to the 10th overall pick probably because he’s limited to playing left field, in which he had a rough reputation dating back to his freshman year. He has improved significantly on defense between his reads on balls and his throwing accuracy and now projects as an average or better defender there.

What he truly brings to the table, however, is his bat. He loads a little high and deep, but his hands are quick, so he can get the bat head into the zone quickly, and he rotates his hips well for power from right field out to center. He’s a patient hitter — he led Division I in OBP and walks in the spring and finished fifth in the New York-Penn League in OBP this summer — but he’s not passive. I see him as a fantastic two-hole hitter, posting high averages and OBPs with 20-homer power while adding value with his defense and smart baserunning.

Kevin Plawecki C (No. 45)

Ask anyone in a major league front office about the state of catching in MLB, and you’ll probably get a scatological term in response: There isn’t enough of it to go around, and if you aren’t lucky enough to have one of the dozen or so good ones, you’re constantly looking to upgrade. That means prospects such as Plawecki, a good receiver who can hit and is about ready for the majors, have very high value not just in terms of future production, but also in the trade market. Plawecki, the Mets’ second-round pick in 2012 out of Purdue, has great hands behind the plate and should be a strong framer pitchers want to throw to, with a good feel for the softer aspects of catching, such as game-calling. His arm is just average, and I think even with his work ethic, he’ll top out as a 30 percent caught-stealing guy.

At the plate, he might have the shortest swing of anyone in the top 100, very consistent and simple, with strong hands to let him run into a dozen or so homers a year with a slew of doubles. His ability to hit for average should separate him from other catchers — only five regular or semi-regular catchers hit .280 in 2014, and only 14 hit even .260 — with added value from his glove, all boosted by the fact that he could play every day for someone by the middle of 2015.

Dominic Smith 1B (No. 65)

Smith’s superficial stats don’t give Mets fans a lot of confidence in his future, but he actually had a very solid year considering his age, experience and home ballpark. Smith was just 19 years old in Class A Savannah, going to a full-season league less than a year out of high school, whereas other recent Mets first-rounders, such as Brandon Nimmo and Gavin Cecchini, spent a second summer in short-season ball first. Savannah is a terrible park for left-handed hitters, especially for pull power, so Smith worked on going the other way much of the season, with far more of his extra-base hits going to left than to right. He has grade-70 raw power, but we may not see much of it until he reaches Binghamton late in 2015, or more likely 2016. He’s an excellent defensive first baseman with a 70-grade arm, although defense at that position is secondary to offense. Don’t be alarmed if his home run total is still low in the Florida State League this year, but once he reaches Double-A, I expect Smith to hit double-digit homers and peak at 20-plus per year in the majors, with high batting averages and OBPs north of .350, making him an above-average or better regular at first.

Amed Rosario SS (No. 69)

Rosario was my sleeper prospect for the Mets last year, and the $1.75 million the Mets paid him in 2012 looks like it’s going to more than pay off. Rosario is a toolshed, with athleticism, strength, plus raw power and a laser arm. He’s a true shortstop with very good actions at the position, including soft hands and excellent reads on balls in front him on which he has to come in or in front of the bag. His bat is a blur through the zone, and he keeps his hands inside the ball exceptionally well. His approach is very mature for his age, atypical of an 18-year-old playing with much older competition; he’ll hit the other way and show power there as well, with more than half of his career home runs going out to right-center.

He has broad shoulders and might fill out some but doesn’t project to outgrow the position. He’ll need to be challenged by better pitching, especially pitchers who can locate their off-speed stuff, which he might not see until high Class A or Double-A. Savannah has a brutal park for power, so his superficial stats might not show much progress this year, but if he keeps his contact rate up and works on adjusting to changing speeds, he won’t be there for long.

Brandon Nimmo OF (No. 91)

He profiles as an everyday right fielder between his defense and potential for .380-.400 OBPs, but I’d like to see better results when he puts the ball in play against lefties.

* * * * * * *

Not bad, not bad… I was hoping Matz would sneak in but I’m pretty thrilled.

I’ve got some great news for you, Keith Law was kind enough to agree to an interview with our own Tommy Rothman this morning. It’s very in depth and the two of them covered a lot of Mets topics. We’ll be posting it in the morning for you.

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MMO Mailbag: Where Are All Of Sandy’s Draft Picks? Tue, 27 Jan 2015 12:59:34 +0000 Sandy Alderson and Paul DePodesta visited MCU Park Wednesday night, likely to check out first-round pick Michael Conforto. (Photo by Jim Mancari)

Devin asks…

Isn’t anyone the least bit concerned that as Sandy Alderson enters his fifth season as GM not one of his draft selections has made it to the majors yet and none are expected to be on the 2015 Opening Day roster? In the MLB Preview they pick Noah Syndergaard, Dilson Herrera and Steven Matz as three Mets prospects to watch in 2015, and neither of them are Sandy’s draft picks either. We’re all hoping to see Wilmer Flores, Zack Wheeler and Travis d’Arnaud have breakthrough seasons in 2015, but again, none are Sandy’s draft picks. Take a look at the AL and NL and there are dozens of players from the 2011, 2012 and even the 2013 draft. 38 major leaguers have already come out of the 2011 draft from 28 different teams, none of course from the Mets. This obsession with drafting high risk, high school players in the top rounds hasn’t really worked out for us, has it?

Andre replies…

The upside with high school prospects usually is that they can still be taught and trained in a way that the organization feels confident about. And in general, the majority of drafted impact players in the majors have come from high school and not the college ranks in the past 15+ years or so.

While, the risk may be higher, the upside often is also higher than with college picks. Of course, the aspect of player DEVELOPMENT is far more important with HS or young IFA talent than it is with advanced college players.

Now, the downside is that it generally takes longer to develop HS talent than college players for obvious reasons. So, if you have to be willing and able to give HS picks 4-5 years to develop in general before they reach the majors and probably another year before they have an impact.

A team that´s not able to sport a “large market” high payroll may be more inclined to go after college talent early in a draft during a window of contention than a team with a large market payroll OR during a rebuilding. That of course, is besides taking the best player available early in a draft.

The Mets have – rightfully – focused on HS talent and getting IFA signed that they´re now trying to develop – hopefully with better success than in the two previous decades. The problems of finding a legit young middle infielder ever since Jose Reyes was signed as an IFA in 2000 can directly be traced to both having a sub par development system in place AND not really drafting many – if any – players with a middle infield upside defensively in over a decade (from 2001 through 2011). We have since brought in some high upside talent led by top shortstop prospect Amed Rosario.

And while it remains to be seen if and how successful the “Alderson” drafts have been – and pretty sure Alderson hasn’t really been actively involved in these but at best listened with interest – the fact that none of “his” picks has appeared in the majors isn’t a problem at all. Besides the focus on HS talent, several college players such as Kevin Plawecki, Matt Reynolds, Cory Mazzoni or Daniel Muno could easily have appeared in the majors already. But mainly due to 40-man roster management and perhaps financial issues, they have been held back so far.


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Numbers Point To A Big Season For Travis d’Arnaud Mon, 26 Jan 2015 14:27:12 +0000 travis d'arnaud

Very few backstops have the ability to manipulate the strike zone and manufacture K’s like Travis d’Arnaud. That talent immediately caught the eye of the Mets front office following his 2013 debut.  His quick hands translates at the plate into raw power and bat speed.

There were obstacles and defensive flaws that d’Arnaud had to hurdle last year, but by the end of season, he had not only realized his offensive potential – but sustained it over the remaining 53% of his career at-bats.  With his high grade power, is it too soon to ordain him the catcher of the future, especially on the heels of a promotion by Kevin Plawecki?

Since June 24thof last year, after d’Arnaud was called back up from the minors, he batted .272 with an .805 OPS for the remainder of the year.  Translated into advanced metrics, that production was equal to a .350 wOBA and 128 wRC+.  Experience-wise, that accounted for 257 of his 484 total at bats (53%), representing the majority of his major league career.  The Mets are placing a high bet on his output so it’s important to determine what ailed him initially.

The first outlier that became immediately noticeable through his first 227 at-bats was a .219 BABIP.  That’s the time between his 2013 debut and 2014 demotion, where he was a .189 hitter with a .269 slugging percentage.  Most major league hitters eventually trend towards the league norm for BABIP which is around .300 and varying slightly from year to year.  While the sample size is small, there’s such a drastic difference in that same figure once he returned from Triple A Las Vegas.  What effect could the coaches out in the dessert really have had in that short period of time?

Credit Triple-A manager Wally Backman and hitting coach George Greer for implementing a simple, yet repeatable approach.  The idea was to swing at good pitches in the strike zone, regardless of the count.  The mechanical fix was even more simple, just a little back foot shuffle, but it arguably had the biggest impact on the rest of his season and possibly his career.

The major league staff had instructed TDA to move his back foot away from the plate in order to promote plate discipline.  The result was an inability to cover the strike zone with the barrel of the bat and pitchers took full advantage of it (ESPN Heat Map).  Once the AAA coaching staff recognized the issue, they moved his back foot closer to the plate, allowing him to square his hips up, be a power threat and cover that outside corner of the plate.

Also upon his return, d’Arnaud quickly joined teammate Lucas Duda on the hard-hit ball leader board, otherwise known as Exit Velocity.  He broke in at #33 in the major leagues following the All-Star break and kept climbing on the list up to #17 by mid-August.

A major statistical improvement that emerged as a result of his mechanical fix and improved exit velocity was a spike in BABIP.  His balls in play rate jumped to .287 over his final 257 at-bats, a far more believable career stat than his earlier .219 figure.  Common sense tells us that the mechanical improvement to his stance was simple, but it allowed him to square up the ball and drive it with power again.  Plus, you don’t need an advanced degree in sabermetrics to accept that a harder hit ball is more difficult to defend against and take out of play.  As a result, the fixes created a higher percentage of line drive hits.   There’s more to drill into on those 257 AB’s though, Citi Field might be a mental hurdle, but it has had adverse affects on hitter regardless.

At Citi Field last year, following his demotion, d’Arnaud hit .237 with a .729 OPS and a .243 BABIP at home, despite being a league leader in exit velocity.  He struggled to get a high frequency of balls to land for hits, but when he made contact, it was strong.  Notice the difference between his OPS and OBP?  That’s a .450 slugging percentage, it’s yet again odd that he’s driving with that much power but still landing so few balls for hits.  Strength and power will only improve with his offseason regimen and it’s reasonable to assume that home batting average will improve.  Let’s, take it to the road.

His statistics away from Citi Field were astonishing during that stretch, almost as if he felt a clear comfort at the plate.  By comparison to his output in Queens, he was a .314/.367/.901 player with a .330 BABIP on the road following June 24th.  The issue for the wide difference?  The Mets BABIP has dropped annually since the fences were first brought in to start the 2012 season.  A partial explanation is the high frequency of defensive shifts that were applied to Lucas Duda and Curtis Granderson last year.  However, unless the ball leaves the park, the Mets have the worst chance in all of baseball to land a hit at home if their .266 home BABIP last year means anything.  It’s only been three seasons with the previous dimensions, but this would be something good to pay attention to in 2015.

One quick anecdote that stood out during this evaluation was his ability to manufacture offense against divisional opponents, in any ballpark.  The Mets had a healthy number of divisional matchups following his demotion and those were great moments for d’Arnaud.  His .277/.326/.844 slash line was produced over 23 games at home against the NL East during that stretch.  He managed to topple those numbers on the road, mashing the ball at a .298/.377/.931 rate in 12 remaining divisional games away from Citi Field.

There is a consistent correlation between d’Arnaud’s BABIP and his offensive production, so it’s reasonable to assume he’ll range anywhere from .250 hitter at home and a .290 hitter on the road.  I allowed for some regression to settle in on the road because I believe his home average will come up, within reason.  The power should remain consistent too, as he maintained that production throughout his resurgence.

His offense wasn’t perfect during those 257 at-bats though, there were issues that needed to be addressed this offseason.  As I mentioned, his power was simply incredible and ultimately, it hid the fact that he only registered a .319 on base percentage during that stretch.  That can partially be attributed to his aggressive new approach that focused solely on attacking pitches in the strike zone, but still, it needs to come up a tick.  As a result his BB% dropped by an astounding 5.2% compared to his first 227 at bats, although, his K% did also reduce by 3.1% to help offset the lower number of walks.  Let’s be honest though, does anyone really have an issue with that OBP if he’s slugging at a high rate in the middle of the lineup?

While it’s reasonable to assume top end prospect Kevin Plawecki will get his shot at some point this year, it’s hard to imagine GM Sandy Alderson awarding the job to the younger, less experienced player if d’Arnaud is mashing at the plate and providing the young aces with a high percentage of called-strikes.  While power may not be a word that’s synonymous with the Mets, it’s a known commodity to Alderson and basically any GM who wants to win ball games.

This season looks to be something special for d’Arnaud, although this is just one man’s perspective. When the book is closed on his career, what do you believe TDA will accomplish in Queens?


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FanGraphs: Former MLB Scout Sums Up Mets Prospects Tue, 23 Dec 2014 20:48:03 +0000 noah syndergaard

In a comprehensive organizational report for FanGraphs, former big-league scout, Kiley McDaniel analyzes and sums up over two dozen Mets prospects in a must-read article for you minor league aficionados.

1. Noah Syndergaard  – Projects as a potential frontline arm and will get tossed into the MLB rotation group in spring training, but the Mets expect him to be the 5th-6th starter given the current roster.  This means he’ll go back to Triple-A at least until the 5th starter is needed and maybe longer if there’s a full house in the rotation with veterans.

2. Kevin Plawecki  – Pitchers like throwing to him and fellow Mets farmhands already see him as a leader that controls the field.  He hasn’t really hit that speed bump yet that most catchers hit in their minor league careers, due to all the rigors of catching and learning to handle a staff. He should spend most of 2015 in Triple-A and doesn’t have a clear path to the big leagues with d’Arnaud ahead of him, but Plawecki should be contributing in the big leagues by 2016. Upside: .280/.345/.420, 10-15 HR

3. Amed Rosario – Fully expect Rosario to be #1 on this list next year after his full-season debut and Syndergaard’s graduation, ranking Rosario alongside his age peers that were top prep prospects in the 2014 draft. Scouts have mentioned Addison Russell, Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Beltre with him and each has some things in common with Rosario, but his full-season debut will tell us more about the kind of player he’s becoming. Upside: .280/.330/.460, 19-22 HR

4. Michael Conforto – The tools are good enough to even play him in right field, but he’s just getting settled in left field, which is where he’ll stay for the time being. Conforto has a middle of the order bat and could move quickly through the system, likely starting 2015 in A-Ball, but he may not last long. Upside: .275/.350/.460, 22-25 HR

5. Dilson Herrera – Being this advanced at the plate at 20 often leads to All-Star upside, but as I mentioned, Herrera isn’t that kind of guy physically. He may reach that ceiling by 2016 but there isn’t a clear path for playing time in 2015, so he may spend a good amount of the season in Triple-A. Not bad for one of the two players (along with Vic Black) the Mets received from Pittsburgh last season in exchange for two rentals (Marlon Byrd and John Buck). Upside: .280/.345/.440, 15-18 HR

6. Brandon Nimmo – There’s likely something to the passive comment that Nimmo can address, but his low homer totals and low energy approach to the game contribute to the underachiever label that will magically disappear if he rakes in Double-A in 2015. He’s younger than Conforto with a wider tool set and above league average performance in a half-season at Double-A, so there’s plenty to get on board with before a potential leap forward. Upside: .280/.375/.460, 15-20 HR

7. Steven Matz – Works 91-95 and hits 96 mph with an above average to plus changeup and a curveball that’s improved dramatically to now flash average to slightly above. He’s an excellent athlete that commands his fastball well and his maturity and ability to improve has impressed the Mets. Matz will pitch at Double-A and Triple-A in 2015 and could be in line for some big league time depending on his development and how the pitching depth chart shakes out. If all goes to plan, he should be a factor in the 2016 rotation.

8. Rafael Montero – Works 90-94, hitting 95 mph with a slider and changeup that both flash solid average and play up due to his above average command. His slider is a little more advanced than his changeup, which he doesn’t always throw as often as he should. Montero is a flyball guy that needs to have good command to limit damage done via the home run and will rely on high pop-up rates to do this and keep his rotation spot. Montero isn’t an upside play, but rather a close to ready-made #4 starter that likely doesn’t break camp in the big league rotation. He’ll probably start in the bullpen but be first to take an open rotation spot.

9. Dominic Smith – He has above average raw power, but is noted more for his advanced lefty bat, feel to hit and his plus glove, drawing comparisons to Adrian Gonzalez. Smith’s full-season debut came this year as an 18/19 year old and many saw it as a disappointment because he only hit one homer, but his home park in Savannah has hilariously huge grounds. Smith had some troubles beyond power, putting on what one scout called a “freshman 15″ during the season, he’s already lost it during the off-season. He seems to have responded well to a tough season, but some scouts are slower to get on board as Smith is a slower tempo guy on the field and his all fields approach means his consistent game power will show up years down the road.

10. Marcos Molina – As a 19-year-old this year, Molina tore through the New York-Penn League, facing hitters that were mostly 2-3 years older than him. The 6’3/185 righty works 91-94 and has hit 97 mph, but has surprising feel to pitch and a developed slider and changeup because he threw 85-86 mph when he signed at age 16. There’s a potential mid-rotation starter here, but the normal young pitcher concerns apply. Some scouts have tabbed Molina as the sleeper to watch shoot up this list next year and heading to pitcher-friendly Savannah won’t hurt.

This is just a sampling of what was an extensive summation of the entire system. Read the full article here.


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Alderson: Very High Probability Wilmer Flores Is Opening Day Shortstop Tue, 16 Dec 2014 17:11:32 +0000 Foto de Wilmer - Flores

A quick update live from Citi Field:

Sandy Alderson confirmed once again that there is a “very high” probability Wilmer Flores is the Opening Day shortstop.

“I don’t think the Jed Lowrie signing increases the probability, because we weren’t really in on Lowrie,” Alderson said.

“To that extent the probability of Wilmer Flores as the Opening Day shortstop remains about the same, but I think it’s very high.”

Surveying The Mets SS Landscape

The starting shortstop role for the NY Mets will be resolved once and for all, although not until mid 2015 when it makes more sense to execute a move. There are too many moving variables this winter and not enough willingness from trade suitors to entertain the Mets’ offers, or vice versa.  The team has internal options at shortstop, with high offensive ceilings, but the jury is still out on whether any of them have the range to stick at the position defensively. So what can change between now and the end of the July trade deadline that gives the Mets another opportunity to seek an upgrade?

First, free agency is an option for the Mets, but I’m not buying this as the route Sandy Alderson is going to take.  Players like Jed Lowrie and Stephen Drew were once incredible defenders at their position, with moderate to above average pop in their bats, but they’re at an age where even their defense starts to become unreliable.  Making anything other than a one year offer seems to go against what the organization is aiming for, a younger core of players under team friendly contracts, but anything is possible so I won’t eliminate this entirely.

In reality, another three and half months of baseball should be enough time to make a final decision on Wilmer Flores at shortstop.  Regardless if he plays well there or not, I think Flores will be moved to second base permanently the moment Daniel Murphy is traded, which I also believe is imminent.  Teams like the Giants, who have checked in on Murphy, may feel inclined to test their internal options at second and third base to start the season.  However, their last ditch efforts may prove fruitless in the middle of a playoff race, which sends Murphy’s value upward.  This creates potential for a return of high end prospects, or it could also be the catalyst in a three way trade that lands the Mets a bona fide shortstop.

The trade market will be much more defined by July as well.  Troy Tulowitzki will always be a long shot, but the Yankees acquiring Didi Gregorius means the most aggressive suitor is out of the equation.  There are other teams that are hungry for Tulo, but everyone will want to see how the superstar returns from hip surgery before entertaining any calls from the Rockies’ front office.  If he returns to the player he was in the first half of 2014 though, it’d be hard not to pick up the phone, especially if it’s ringing. A battery combo of Noah Syndergaard and Kevin Plawecki is likely where the conversation starts, but adding his first half performance of 2014 to a Mets team on pace for 85-86 wins, immediately vaults them to the top of the NL East.


The two Settle Mariners shortstops, Brad Miller and Chris Taylor, have consistently been mentioned in talks with the Mets, but so far nothing serious has manifested.  One of those two players will own the M’s starting shortstop position out of spring training, but I imagine even the slightest lag in performance will make way for the one that’s on the bench.  Miller’s offensive upside is said to be high, but the jury is still out on whether his defense can stick at short and he struggled at the plate last season, eventually making way for Taylor.

The latter was not ranked as highly as Miller within the organization, but he took advantage of an early call up and hit .287, played outstanding defense and flashed above average speed on the base paths with five steals in 47 games.  Both players had abnormally skewed BABIP’s, which is never concrete in small sample sizes, but undoubtedly factored into the Steamer projections that show both Miller and Taylor having similar seasons in 2015.

Taylor’s BABIP was outrageously above the league average of around .300 in 2014, but his career BABIP in the minors is consistently high, so it could be indicative of how well he hits the ball.  Then again, Miller simply needs to reach the potential he’s been tabbed with in order to be back in competition with Taylor and his BABIP suggests he’ll improve on last year’s campaign significantly.  If that’s the case for these two offensively, it seems more logical to seek out the player with better defense.

There’s always the possibility that the Cubs and Mets come to a mutual agreement on the value of each others prospects and in that case, Starlin Castro would re-enter the discussions.  No matter how well the current All-Star is performing, prospects always carry hope for a higher ceiling and that’s exactly what Chicago sees in Javier Baez and Addison Russell.

Perhaps the middle to back end of their rotation falls apart at the same time that Baez, Russell and top prospect Kris Bryant are all looking for full time jobs as infielders.  In that scenario, a package of Jon Niese, representing a solid #3 starter and top catching prospect Kevin Plawecki may get a deal done.  I’m not advocating this, but if the Mets plan to retain all their elite pitching, regardless of almost any deal, this is one of a few scenarios where the Amazins’ could take advantage of a buyer’s market.  There’s a lot that needs to happen in order for this scenario to manifest, so it’s fair to dismiss these two clubs as future trade partners.  That being said, circumstances always have a way of changing down the road.

Lastly, Korean shortstop Jung-Ho Kang has been a name catching fire with the Mets over the last few days as MLB clubs get prepared to make a bid on the international free agent.  I question how serious the Mets are about getting involved because it’ll require some frivolous spending. The idea of ‘bidding’ does not fit into the Mets business model because it requires shoveling $2-$10 million just to have the right to sign the player. In all fairness, the Mets often get chastised for a lack of spending when the situation genuinely doesn’t warrant it, regardless of the dollar amount.  Yes, Kang is putting up big power numbers, but you have to question whether he’ll connect like that against American pitching.  As hot as this topic is right now, I just don’t see it happening, whether I’m right about his abilities or not.

It’s too early to confirm it, but common sense pegs Wilmer Flores as the opening day shortstop.  If that’s the case, the front office should monitor external options now and up to the July trade deadline and be prepared to vault the club past the 85-86 win club they’re currently set as.  Flores may run away with the job after the hard work he’s put into his fitness and conditioning this offseason.  If that’s the case, the conversation turns to retaining Daniel Murphy, or trading him to clear a path for top prospect Dilson Herrera.  If the shortstop position needs to be revisited, the team will have more clarity in July and in a better position to strike a deal that gets the club back to October baseball in 2015.

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Russell Martin Signs 5-Year Deal with Blue Jays Mon, 17 Nov 2014 13:16:04 +0000 russell-martin-throwing

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports is reporting that catcher Russell Martin has signed a 5 year deal with the Toronto Blue Jays.  He also confirmed via Twitter that the deal will be worth $82 million over that time span.

In 111 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates last season, Martin posted career highs in OBP (.402) and WAR (5.3).  He hit .290, posted an .832 OPS, cranked 11 home runs and knocked in 67 RBIs, which is very respectable given his position.

His defensive skills are certainly a valuable asset as well.  Martin is a former gold glove award winner (2007) and a three time All-Star who commands the respect of his pitching staffs and is respected for calling a good game.

The Pirates will receive an extra draft pick as compensation, while the Blue Jays surrender their first-rounder (17th overall).


Martin was originally believed to be headed to the Chicago Cubs. As the offseason continues to unfold, the Cubs are a team to watch. Perhaps one of the Mets catchers, either Travis d’Arnaud or Kevin Plawecki, becomes a player that Sandy Alderson might dangle in pursuit of a shortstop instead of ja young pitcher?

The Cubs infield also just became more crowded with the acquisition of Atlanta Braves second baseman Tommy La Stella, so the need to make room is becoming more imminent for Chicago.

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Matz Places 4th On The Eastern League Top 20 Tue, 14 Oct 2014 16:25:52 +0000 steve matz

Today Baseball America released the Eastern League top 20. Michael Taylor of the Nationals topped the list with a fantastic campaign and three Mets made the cut. Steven Matz, coming off a stellar year was rewarded with a #4 in the top 20. Dilson Herrera was behind him in the 12th spot, performing exceptionally well after being bumped up to Double-A and torching the league. After that was Kevin Plawecki, who was an excellent offensive catcher this season for the B-Mets and was promoted to Triple-A halfway through the season.

Here is what Baseball America had to say about each of them:

4. Steve Matz, LHP, Binghamton (Mets)

Age: 23. B-T: R-L. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 200. Drafted: HS—East Setauket, N.Y., 2009 (2).

After missing two seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2010-11 and getting his feet wet in 2012, Matz looked sharp last year at low Class A Savannah, and then built on that strong year in high Class A St. Lucie in the first half of 2014 and with Binghamton in the second.

Tall and strong with a loose arm and a clean delivery, Matz’s fastball sits comfortably between 93-95 mph and can touch as high as 97 when he needs it. The pitch also features sinking action. He complements it first and foremost with a circle changeup thrown in the mid-80s with excellent fade and separation from his fastball.

The separator this year, however, has been the development of the curveball, a 12-6 breaker that has gotten much more consistent under the tutelage of pitching coach Glenn Abbott. It’s still his third pitch, but it’s got the makings of at least an average major league offering in the future. If that happens, Matz has a ceiling as lofty as a No. 2 starter.

12. Dilson Herrera, 2B/SS, Binghamton (Mets)

Age: 20. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 5-10. Wt.: 150. Signed: Colombia, 2010 (Pirates).

The prize in the trade that sent Marlon Byrd to the Pirates last season, Herrera has so far looked to be a coup for the Mets after performing well in both high Class A St. Lucie and Binghamton this season.

Much like Mets starter Daniel Murphy, Herrera receives most of his positive marks for his bat. He’s an aggressive hitter with a short, compact swing and the potential for double-digit home run power in the future. He went deep 13 times in the minors this season, and then swatted two more in his first few games in the big leagues.

Herrera plays serviceable defense at second base with fringy range and actions that are sometimes stiff.

He’s not a liability out there and has the work ethic to make himself into at least an average defender as he matures. His arm is a little short at this point but got better as the year progressed and should continue to do so as he gets stronger.

14. Kevin Plawecki, C, Binghamton (Mets)

Age: 23. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 225. Drafted: Purdue, 2012 (1s).

An offensive catcher who makes a ton of contact, Plawecki divides as to whether he’s the Mets’ backstop of the future or whether that job still belongs to the incumbent Travis d’Arnaud.

Plawecki is blessed with strong hands and has a solid approach at the plate, which he used to strike out just 48 times in 376 at-bats between Binghamton and Triple-A Las Vegas this season. He keeps the barrel in the zone a long time and shows solid power in batting practice, despite hitting just 11 home runs in the regular season.

As a receiver, Plawecki has work to do. Scouts find him to be average as a receiver and a blocker and believe he tends to stab rather than sway when catching.

His footwork needs to be streamlined and his arm stroke shortened. His arm rates as solid-average at best, and he threw out just 23 percent of basestealers in two stops this season.

Just a few thoughts:

The Baseball America staff got a couple things wrong on Dilson Herrera which were that he hit three home runs this year, not two. He also has some pretty good range, but his hands are a little stiff. These are things he can work on this year in the Dominican Winter League.

Keep in mind that with these writers, they are just that, writers. They get fed information from scouts inside and outside the organizations and write these evaluations when they come in. They are not the scouts, but they are fed by them.

As Always, I will post the chat in the comment section.

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MMO Trade Target: Starlin Castro, SS Sun, 05 Oct 2014 03:00:21 +0000 Chicago Cubs v San Diego Padres

The Mets have a solid foundation of pitching to go with a young core of position players, many of whom emerged as stars in 2014.  The team is no longer looking to rebuild, their disenchanted fan base has high expectations and a New York based franchise stocked with farm talent should have no trouble making a high impact acquisition in the offseason. In all reality, the winter spending is questionable, although team COO Jeff Wilpon did state that payroll flexibility is available going into 2015.  Regardless, the Mets minor league system is so rich in power pitching that almost any team should be open to making the right deal.  It makes more sense to seek out the best talent in the league first before signing someone out of a weak free agent class.

If the Mets are going to part ways with blue chip prospects, it should net a return that will hurdle the team into contention.  The player should be young, approaching the peak of their power range and under a team friendly contract for multiple years. The “Red Sox Model” of investing in mid-premium talent works when your home ballpark turns routine fly-outs into doubles and doubles into home runs, but Citi Field’s dimensions don’t offer that luxury. Enter Starlin Castro.

The Cubs’ 24 year old shortstop is a flat out stud at his position and his 2014 performance was certainly worthy of his third All-Star selection. Among all qualified major league shortstops, Starlin was 1st in batting average (.292), 2nd in OBP (.339), 3rd in SLG (.438), OPS (.777) and wOBA (.341). If you look at the list of qualified shortstops under the age of 30, Castro is number one in all those categories.  

In 134 games (season shortened by a sprained ankle), he posted 14 home runs (5th) and 65 RBI’s (7th). He played 161 games in 2013 and 162 in 2012, so it’s reasonable to expect an uptick in those figures if he’d played a full season.

MLB: Spring Training-Chicago Cubs at Los Angeles Dodgers

The Mets struggled to hit the ball with men on base this season and it was undoubtedly the difference in a long list of close games that resulted in missing the playoffs for an 8th straight season. Castro’s bat has the stats to qualify him as a difference maker in this category. For his career (2010-2014), he has a (.297) batting average and a (.342) OBP when men are on base.

Equally important is the fact that his production doesn’t dip at Citi Field. It’s rare for any player not wearing a Nationals uniform to maintain their home field production in Flushing, so how does Castro stack up?  Starlin played his first game at Citi Field in 2011 and has posted encouraging numbers there since. His career (.304) batting average and (.429) slugging percentage at Citi deviates in an upward direction from his overall career numbers, but only slightly, and certainly not enough to be considered skewed.  His ability to hit for average with plus power in Queens should be the most relevant stat line of them all.

The cost is where the debate lies. The asking price in assets is going to be steep and it should be, Castro is a top young talent at a premium position for a relatively cheap price. The five years and $43 million left on his very team friendly contract comes with a one-year option for 2020, when he’ll only be 30.

The Cubs aren’t going to settle for a straight up one-for-one trade because that would be a clear signal that GM Theo Epstein is unfit for his job. Realistically, they’ll want some combination of a highly touted front end starter (Zack Wheeler/Jacob deGrom/Noah Syndergaard) and a not quite elite, but still top prospect (Rafael Montero/Steven Matz). The Mets might be able to work a Kevin Plawecki into the conversation in order to take one of the top end starters off the table, but the Cubs aren’t totally devoid at catcher and they’re deep at every other position on the field, so it’ll likely come down to strictly pitching.

The Cubs’ bullpen ranked 15th in ERA and gave up the 8th most earned runs in the majors this season, so a top end reliever could be a piece, with a front of the rotation starter, to push a deal  over the top. But that depends on the value Chicago will get initially. For instance, any deal that includes Matz as the second piece instead of Montero is probably where the Mets will end their offer.

My Take

It’s not just the production Castro would bring, but the attention he would take off of David Wright, who desperately needs to revitalize his output after an injury riddled season that included a number of career lows. Having Starlin in the #2 hole with Lucas Duda cleaning up behind him would create a lot of opportunities for David, who has carried this offense plenty of times before. There’s lots of time left to evaluate all the options the Mets have, but if Sandy Alderson is going to acquire a proven top talent at shortstop, Castro is where the conversation should start.

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Prospect Pulse: Steven Matz Is Developing Into a Complete Pitcher Fri, 26 Sep 2014 15:00:59 +0000 Jeff Roberson Associated Press  steven matz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mets To Present Sterling Award Winners Mon, 15 Sep 2014 12:00:10 +0000 dilson herrera homers

The Mets will honor their Sterling Award winners pregame on Monday.

Lefthander Steven Matz was named the minor-league pitcher of the year and second baseman Dilson Herrera as the minor-league position player of the year.

In addition, they will honor an outstanding player at each level of their minor-league system.

Those selected were:

Matt Reynolds, SS — Las Vegas

Kevin Plawecki, C — Binghamton

Brandon Nimmo, OF — St. Lucie

Dario Alvarez, LHP and Akeel Morris, RHP — Savannah

Marcos Molina, RHP — Brooklyn

Vicente Lupo, OF — Kingsport

John Mora, OF — Gulf Coast League

Ali Sanchez, C — Dominican Summer League 1

Walter Rasquin, C — Dominican Summer League 2

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Mets Minors Recap: Herrera Belts Ninth Double-A Home Run Thu, 21 Aug 2014 13:00:31 +0000 dilson herrera

Last Night’s Quick Scores

Minor League Notes

  • Daniel Muno enjoyed his second straight game with three hits finishing 3 for 4.
  • Matt Reynolds singled to extend his hitting streak to five games, batting .444 (8 for 18) in that span.
  • Kevin Plawecki singled to extend his hitting streak to six games.
  • Gabriel Ynoa pitched seven innings allowing one run on five hits, while striking out four, picking up his third win and first in over a month for Binghamton.
  • Dilson Herrera belted his ninth home run and went 3-for-4 in Binghamton’s 8-5 win over Erie. Herrera has six hits in his last three games, and has 71 in his 53 games.
  • Another player having continued success at the Double-A level is T.J. Rivera. He also went 3-for-4 on Monday night raising his average to .344. Rivera has seven hits in his last three to one-up Herrera.
  • With his 3-for-4 night, Darrell Ceciliani extended his current hitting streak to nine games.  He has registered at least one hit in 21 of his last 23 games.
  • Matt Koch picked up his eighth win of the season in the 6-2 St. Lucie win. Koch went seven solid which was his longest outing since May 17th.  It was his third time this season notching six punch-outs during his body of work.
  • L.J. Mazzilli posted a 2-for-4 night extending his current hitting streak to seven games.  He has 12 hits during that stretch.
  • Michael Conforto went 2-for-4 on Monday night and has hit safely in five out of his last six games.  He is now batting .318 in his first professional season.
  • Brooklyn’s pitching staff allowed nine walks as a unit in the 14-4 drubbing against the Yankees.
  • Tomas Nido went 1-for-3 and extended his hitting streak to nine games.  He has 14 hits during that time frame. Photo Of The Week

Brooklyn Cyclones Tucker Tharp‘s diving catch was highlighted as a Photo of the Week for August 13, 2014 by MiLB. (Photo Credit: Rick Nelson)

Brooklyn's Tucker tarp


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Mets Minors Report: Molina Earns Pitcher Of The Week, Plawecki Heating Up In Vegas Tue, 19 Aug 2014 13:00:30 +0000 marcos molina

Last Night’s Quick Scores

Minor League Notes

  • Matt Reynolds was 2 for 5, with three RBI’s and is batting .326 in his last ten games with seven runs, two home runs and nine RBI’s.
  • Kevin Plawecki had two singles in four at bats and is now batting .265 for Vegas on the season. He also have a four game hitting streak with three of the four multi-hit games.
  • Cesar Puello hit his 17th double on the season and finished 1 for 3, with two runs scored.
  • Greg Peavey won his 10th game on the season, against three losses by tossing 5.1 innings and allowing three runs on eight hits, walking one and striking out five.
  • Jayce Boyd hit his seventh home run on the season and was 3 for 4, with three runs scored and an RBI.
  • Travis Taijeron capped off his night at the plate with a three run shot in the ninth inning, and finished 4 for 5, with two runs scored, a double and five RBI’s.
  • T.J. Rivera was 3 for 5 and is batting .333 on the season with the B-Mets.
  • Maikis De La Cruz hit his fifth home run on the season and finished 3 for 4, with a double and an RBI in St. Lucie’s loss.
  • L.J. Mazzilli hit his 18th double on the season in four at bats and now has a five game hitting streak and batting .368 in his last ten games.

Players of The Week on The Farm

MiLB named their players and pitchers of the week and two Mets farmhands were awarded with the honors.

New York-Penn League
Marcos Molina, Brooklyn Cyclones
On August 15th – 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 HBP, 1 BB, 12 K
On Aug. 2 Molina, the Mets #16 Prospect, struck out nine batters, on Aug. 9 he fanned 11 more before recording a career-high 12 strikeouts against the Vermont Lake Monsters on Friday night. In 10 starts in Brooklyn, the 19 year old is 6-2 with a 1.58 ERA. In 62.2 innings, he has , Molina has 73 strikeouts, has walked just 12 batters, hasn’t allowed a home run, and has held NYPL batters ti a .177 batting average.

Appalachian League
Vicente Lupo, Kingsport Mets
August 11 -17 – .444/.630/1.000, 6 G, 8-for-18, 4 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 8 R, 9 BB, 3 K, 2 SB
On Tuesday, Lupo homered in two at bats and the very next night he went 4-for-5 with a homer and four RBIs. The 20-year-old Venezuela native struggled early on in the season, but August has been a hot month for him as he is batting .333, with 3 home runs and 11 RBI’s and 13 walks and has a .497 OBP and a .667 Slug.

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Five Mets Featured On MLB’s Midseason Top 100 Prospects Mon, 28 Jul 2014 15:00:52 +0000 bryan green released its latest set of prospect rankings tonight, and the Mets have five prospects who made the cut.

Noah Syndergaard (13), Kevin Plawecki (67), Brandon Nimmo (68), Michael Conforto (86), and Dominic Smith (88) each made the overall top 100 list.

Here’s some of what the staff had to say about each of them:


Scouting grades: Fastball: 70 | Curveball: 60 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 60 | Overall: 65

Syndergaard is a classic power right-hander, and he uses his big frame to throw downhill and induce ground balls. His fastball regularly reaches 98 mph and runs inside on right-handed hitters. Syndergaard’s 12-to-6 curveball is his best secondary pitch, though his changeup has the potential to be a third plus pitch in his arsenal. He has excellent command and posted a 4.75 K-to-BB ratio in 2013.

Many expected Syndergaard to follow the path that Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler blazed and reach Queens early this summer. But some minor injuries and on-field struggles at Triple-A Las Vegas slowed down Syndergaard’s progress this season. He still profiles as a front-line starter and remains on track to make his Major League debut at a younger age than either Harvey or Wheeler.


Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 45 | Run: 35 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 5

Plawecki has impressive bat control and a knack for making contact. His swing is built more for hitting line drives than for power, but his natural strength gives him a chance for more pop in the future.

Defensively, Plawecki is a good receiver and earns praise for his leadership skills. He has an average arm and his game calling is making strides. Plawecki’s play has alleviated pre-Draft concerns about his ability to stay behind the plate, and he now looks like he’ll be more than capable of being an everyday player in the big leagues.


Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 50 | Run: 50 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55

Despite his atypical background, Nimmo has a mature approach at the plate. He lines balls from gap to gap and he knows how to work a walk. Nimmo’s swing has a little length to it, and he has been prone to high strikeout totals early in his career.

Nimmo is a center fielder now, but his average speed may eventually force him to into an outfield corner. His game still needs refining, but Nimmo’s on-base skills and quick hands give him the potential to be a solid Major Leaguer in time.


Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 60 | Run: 40 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 55

Conforto has athletic bloodlines, as his father Mike was a Penn State linebacker and his mother Tracie (Ruiz) won two gold medals in synchronized swimming at the 1984 Olympics. Conforto picked baseball, which proved to be a wise choice as he was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year in 2013 and was drafted 10th overall a year later.

Conforto’s signature tool is his left-handed power, which could produce 25-plus homers on an annual basis once he gets to the Major Leagues. He doesn’t get cheated at the plate, taking a big uppercut hack that produces nice loft on his drives.


Scouting grades: Hit: 60 | Power: 55 | Run: 40 | Arm: 50 | Field: 60 | Overall: 55

Smith has the potential to hit for both average and power. His hand-eye coordination and advanced pitch-recognition skills allow him to get on base often, while still driving balls.

Smith is a below-average runner, limiting him to first base. He has all the skills necessary to develop above-average defense at the position. Even if Smith’s defense does develop as expected, there will always be pressure on his bat. Scouts are confident he will provide enough offense to make him a solid Major Leaguer in time.

There were a few notable snubs on the Mets’ side, including Dilson Herrera, Steve Matz, and Rafael Montero. Remember, Montero pitched 20 innings for the Mets earlier this season, but did not lose his rookie eligibility, so he was still eligible for this list. Montero was ranked 85th going into the season. It’s interesting that Syndergaard’s struggles only cos him three spots on the list, but Montero’s knocked him off it completely.

Overall, however, this list includes four first-round picks by the Mets (all but one of Sandy Alderson’s first-round selections) and one trade acquisition.

If that doesn’t fire you up, perhaps this will. Along with’s new top 100 list, they also released an updated top 20 list for each team, and it includes three new draftees or acquisitions. Glancing over the top ten, you could make a case for almost all of them to be in the overall top 100 list. Here is the list:

  1. Noah Syndergaard
  2. Kevin Plawecki
  3. Brandon Nimmo
  4. Michael Conforto
  5. Dominic Smith
  6. Rafael Montero
  7. Amed Rosario
  8. Dilson Herrera
  9. Steve Matz
  10. Gavin Cecchini
  11. Milton Ramos
  12. Gabriel Ynoa
  13. Cesar Puello
  14. Cory Mazzoni
  15. Jack Leathersich
  16. Marcos Molina
  17. Blake Taylor
  18. Michael Fulmer
  19. Matt den Dekker
  20. Logan Verrett

And there you have it.

MetsMerizedOnline will be releasing its own official top 25 Mets prospects tomorrow morning. Stay tuned for that, and tons of other minor league analysis here and at

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Who would you protect if there was another expansion draft? Fri, 25 Jul 2014 18:30:44 +0000 noah Syndergaard

Thanks to this post on reddit, the writers over at Beyond the Box Score came up with the idea of conducting a mock expansion draft. That means, as a first step, for all 30 teams, each writer needs to select the list of 15 players they would protect as acting general manager. Any player left off the protected list of 15 is available to be drafted by the expansion teams (as the draft progresses, more players can be protected).

Of course, I took the Mets. And I thought it would be fun to get your feedback.

Before I reveal my list, skim over the guidelines.

  • You can protect 15 players in your organization — including minor leaguers and guys on the 60-day DL.
  • Guys drafted in the last two years (2013 and 2014) are automatically protected, as are any players signed in 2012 who were 18 and under. To make this easy and to account for non-US players, we assumed any amateur player drafted/signed/whatever since 2012 is automatically protected, regardless of age.

Without further ado, here is the list of 15 Mets that I would protect if an expansion draft was held at the conclusion of this season.

Mets protected

There are several obvious picks, like David Wright and Matt Harvey. But then there are some tricky ones.

I decided to leave off Lucas Duda. Although he is proving to be an effective power hitter and has several years of arbitration-eligible seasons remaining, he is already 28, and for me, holding onto the top young prospects (in their lower-20s), as well as a current piece like Murphy is more important. Murphy is due to be a free agent in 2016, so the Mets can decide if he is part of a competitive team by then, or a valuable trade piece.

Another tricky one is Juan Lagares. I really wanted to include him, but ran out of room. Curtis Granderson is 33 and on the way down, but it’s hard to pick Lagares over one of the few veteran bats the Mets have in their lineup. Of course, it doesn’t have to be a decision of Lagares versus Granderson. How about Dillon Gee? There are a few other places you can argue Lagares to take a spot.

I also decided against Bobby Parnell. Coming off a major injury, he turns 30 this year, and there are plenty of young arms, like Mejia’s, ready to take the closing role for the long-term.

Now the fun begins. Let’s hear from you! Which players do you agree or disagree with from my list?

Keep in mind that some potential choices from the 2012-2014 draft/signing years like Dominic Smith, Kevin Plawecki, Gavin Cecchini, Amed Rosario, Marcos Molina, Michael Conforto, Milton Ramos, and Andrew Church are all automatically protected.


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Baseball America’s Midseason Top 50 Prospect List Include Syndergaard, Plawecki And Nimmo Tue, 08 Jul 2014 18:46:23 +0000  kevin-plawecki

On Sunday, Baseball America released their Midseason Top 50 prospect list and even though Noah Syndergaard and Brandon Nimmo have been mainstays on any top prospect list, they are now joined by catcher Kevin Plawecki.

Syndergaard, ranked #19 overall, slipped down to the fifth best right-handed starter among the prospects and mostly because of his elbow problems and a banged up shoulder which have slowed his progress.

Plawecki, ranked #40 overall, was not listed among Baseball America’s Top 100 prospect list to start the season, but now he joins his battery mate as the third best catching prospect in the game.

Nimmo, ranked #48 overall, was also not in the initial top 100 list, but he joins the list now due in part to how he has added size and strength, and his excellent idea of the strike zone which remains his foundation skill.

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In the Scout’s Eye: Syndergaard, Plawecki, Reynolds (Updated) Sun, 29 Jun 2014 19:03:13 +0000 For some who misunderstood some of the comments about Thor, including him, it seems as he read the column.

The greater concern about his breaking his hands, was, as I mentioned, that I had not seen it before.  When combined with the action on his pitches, it had me, shall we say, interested, as to whether the recent few injuries had caused a change in his delivery.  As many of you know, that is always problematic for a pitcher because you never know what tiny change to try and reduce pain, or soreness, can lead to other injuries.  Or, whether that was something that the coaching staff had taught him.  If the latter, I’d love to hear why, but I’m sure Frankie V, as good as it gets, has great reasons for it that I don’t know right now.

Next, as I ALSO wrote in the article, Syndergaard is still a relative kid. He certainly looks like a man as he has a dominating presence on the mound, but it takes immensely talented guys like him, who have always dominated, a while to learn that they need to slow bats down sometimes, or just alter their arsenal one time through the lineup to keep good hitters off balance.

The hallmark of good major league hitters is that they can cover anyone’s fastball given a chance to get their timing.  It’s the reason you use the 2 seamer, and off speed stuff, in addition to trying to induce weak contact, obviously.

An MMO Fan Shot by Steve L.

A bit about me, and what I hope to do here. Over the years, before I retired from baseball, I worked in almost every part of the business in both the minor and major leagues for almost 20 years. From stadium operations, PR, legal, and what I hope to cover a bit of in these columns, scouting and coaching.

So, if you have any questions that you’d like me to write about, feel free to let me know.

I am certainly a fan of modern statistical analysis (I’m a full member of SABR), but in my view, many of the new stats are a) improperly understood; b) frequently misused; and, c) they reflect past performance, which is not the job of a scout whose goal is to try and predict future performance.

I am more than aware that opinions even among the best scouts differ, so I have no problems with disagreements, even extreme ones, but I do blanch at those whose first replies are personal insults.

I’ve already had some wonderful exchanges with members here, most recently posting pictures of Matt Harvey‘s delivery to try and explain what I felt led, in part, to his injury and why some of us were able to predict it. I will reprint that here after the first few columns.


To start today, I wanted to give a few quick impressions based on being able to watch the 51′s game on Thursday night on the CBS Sports Network.

First, to Noah Syndergaard. Obviously, most of us, myself included, have not seen much of him, and what we did, came from spring training. During the spring, I noted what scouts term a “free and easy” delivery. What that means is fairly straightforward. No obvious hitches, proper trunk alignment and rotation, full extension during the delivery, etc.

It’s a critical point because, as I’m sure you’ve heard during Mets broadcasts, Ron Darling and Bobby Ojeda have frequently referred to Jenrry Mejia as a “max effort” guy. It’s those types of guys that scouts feel are more likely to get hurt, or even lose their stuff. Having a free and easy motion means that these things are less likely, and that you can probably dial it up, when necessary. Think Bartolo Colon, who looks as if he’s pitching in a weekend league, and I don’t mean because of his stomach!

However, I was quite disturbed by what I saw from “Thor” that night.

The first thing that was immediately apparent was that he was breaking his hands very early in his delivery, particularly from the windup. Why is this important? Simple, any third base coach worth his salt can easily see his grip on the ball and call the pitches. The only advantage to Thor here is that he is so fastball dominant, it might not be as bad as for others. However, it may be part of the reason for his struggles.

I did not notice this during my very limited viewing of him during the spring so I can’t say if his motion has changed, or if it was changed due to his recent injuries or even due to coaching suggestions.

The next thing I saw was that his fastball was extremely flat. Frankly, I did not see him throw a 2 seamer, the pitch you use typically ahead in the count that from a righthander should break down and in to right-handed hitters and away from lefties.

That in itself was worrisome. Again, I don’t know if he didn’t throw it because of the previous elbow strain, but more worrisome, as I said, was the total lack of movement, and relative lack of command of his 4 seamer, the bread and butter of any power pitcher’s arsenal.

When he got into his inevitable trouble, he repeatedly waived off his new catcher Kevin Plawecki (more on him below) and just pumped more and more 4 seamers, which the Sacramento team had no trouble hitting once they got his timing.

This was less worrisome to me as he should be able to change this just from age and experience. We’ve all forgotten just how young Thor is, and typically, a kid like this, who has dominated everyone he’s played against, and always been able to rely on velocity to get out of trouble, takes a while to figure out that he needs location, change of speeds and different pitches to get big league hitters out consistently.

Finally, on his breaking stuff, he seemed to not be able to get on top, with a few exceptions (a nice K to end an inning for example). Again, with limited exposure to him, I don’t know if this is a regular problem or just last night. The flat fastball and the rather dull breaking balls may have been the result of the same problem, and again, may be a result of the forearm strain that he felt and so he is a bit cautious with his wrist action right now.

Let’s hope he’s not covering up some residual soreness from the team.

I have to say that I agree with the organization in quelling talk of a promotion as he clearly needs additional work.


Next, are the new Vegas promotees, Matt Reynolds, and Kevin Plawecki.

I had not seen Reynolds before, so quickly, what I saw was a nice compact swing, with a good approach at the plate. It didn’t appear that he tries to do too much up there. He hits from a firm front leg and follows through nicely. I was impressed.

A little less so in the field. He looked to be a competent shortstop, with a decent first step, but limited range. I think he probably projects as a big league second baseman, but I did not see nearly enough plays to make anything else but a snap judgment.

As for Plawecki, I had seen him a bit in the spring as well, and he impressed me then. I have heard what some others have heard, i.e. that he was a bat with deficient defense.

I did not see that during the spring, and last night, catching a guy pumping 95-98, he looked fully in control.

His footwork and lateral movement behind the plate, was, for me, far superior to d’Arnaud’s. His weakness and where he is not as good as Travis, was in his setting a target, where d’Arnaud is excellent, and in ‘framing’, which many of TDA’s supporters overemphasize because it is a strength of his.

At the plate, I like what I had seen. Much like Reynolds he showed a nice, compact swing, with a firm front leg and excellent plate coverage. I happened to tune in just in time to see his homerun, and what was so key there was that it was a line drive, reflective of that even, flat swing.

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Mid-Season Review: Binghamton Mets Mon, 23 Jun 2014 10:32:49 +0000 plawecki-milb

Record: 43-32

Top Performers / Top Prospects

  • Kevin Plawecki, C: The biggest name on the B-Mets roster in the first half was definitely Kevin Plawecki, and deservedly so. The 23 year-old is having a monster season, batting .329/.376/.491 with six home runs and 18 doubles. He is second on the team in total bases and hits, continuing to prove his legitimacy at the plate. Plawecki is charging up the ranks very quickly, going from Low-A Brooklyn to knocking on the door to Triple-A in just two years. The one constant that has remained is his power. Although he isn’t putting up gaudy home run totals, the sheer number of extra base-hits is promising.
  • Matt Reynolds, SS: Reynolds had a very tough time at the plate last year, when he spent most of the year (all but one game) with St. Lucie. He finished the year with a .225/.300/.355 batting line. Without any particularly flashy tools, that had many prospect pundits down on the shortstop, but he has proven his doubters wrong thus far. The former second round pick out of the University of Arkansas hit .355/.430/.422 in 58 Double-A games this year. He didn’t have outstanding power numbers, but that doesn’t matter when you’re hitting over .350. Reynolds was never seen as someone whose power would take him to the next level, but his hit tool and ability to make contact have stood out. His approach this season has paid off, walking in 12 percent of his trips to the plate and striking out 16.9 percent.
  • Kyle Johnson, OF: The Mets acquired Johnson in the Collin Cowgill trade last season, and he has proven himself in his short time with the Mets. The former Washington State player is batting .291/.365/.422 in 55 games with Binghamton. To go along with that, he has a pair of home runs, 12 doubles, two triples, and eight stolen bases. It’s unlikely Johnson blossoms into a star, but he is looking more and more like he could be a valuable fourth or fifth outfielder with speed in the future.
  • Dustin Lawley, LF/3B: Lawley opened some eyes last season, hitting 26 home runs between St. Lucie and LAs Vegas, but has seen mixed results this season. He has 25 extra base-hits (including eight home runs) but owns a less-than-stellar batting line of .249/.294/.428 in 63 games. The problem may lie in his strikeout numbers. Lawley has always teetered on the edge with his strikeouts and this year has been fanned in 26.4 percent of his plate appearances.
  • Matt Bowman, RHP: Bowman had a very good season with St. Lucie last year and is having success again this year. The 23 year-old from Princeton University has a 3.72 ERA in 72.2 innings. As a more refined college pitcher, Bowman has moved up through the ranks rather quickly, and will likely continue to do so.
  • Hansel Robles, RHP: Robles had a fantastic season a few years ago with Brooklyn, but has been largely unable to recreate that success with Binghamton this year. After posting a 3.72 ERA with St. Lucie last year, it has ballooned to 4.54 in 69.1 Double-A innings. His strikeouts are up and his hit and home run rates are about the same as last year, so he may just be seeing bad luck, but his higher FIP may tell a different story. Hopefully he can turn it around and fulfill his middle reliever projection.


  • Four of the Mets top ten prospects are currently on the Binghamton roster, a testament to how the system has changed in recent years It was once thought to be a bottom-heavy organization with only a few notable prospects up top, but the 2011 and 2012 draft classes are really beginning to move up.
  • The B-Mets rank second in the Eastern League in both walks and On-Base Percentage, and are currently third in total bases.

Outlook / Promotions

  • Binghamton just received a big boost from five St. Lucie callups. Randy Fontanez, Dilson Herrera, Brandon Nimmo, Steven Matz, and T.J. Rivera will all make the B-Mets a fun team to watch in the second half.
  • The fate of Plawecki may coincide with that of Travis d’Arnaud. It seems logical to wait until d’Arnaud is recalled to the Mets to promote Plawecki to Las Vegas, both of which could happen in the coming days.


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