Mets Merized Online » Prospect Pulse Mon, 16 Jan 2017 15:11:39 +0000 en-US hourly 1 MMO Prospect Spotlight: Beck Wheeler, RHP Sun, 19 Jan 2014 19:15:56 +0000 beck wheeler

Beck Wheeler
DOB: 12/13/1988
Bats/Throws: Right/Right
2013 Total Stats: 50.1 IP, 2.32 ERA, 2.68 FIP, 13.23 K/9, 2.86 BB/9

2013 Review

Beck Wheeler pitched the entire season in Low-A Savannah and was dominant in his relief role. He got off to a tremendous start, not allowing an earned run in six April appearances that saw him strike out 14 batters while walking just one over 9.2 innings. He would continue to post gaudy numbers, especially in the strikeout department, while holding down the closer role for the Sand Gnats. The 6’3 righty, who went undrafted in 2011, would finish the season with 19 saves and leave a lasting impression on his coaches while opening the eyes of the organization.

Prospect Pulse

While most will overlook Wheeler’s performance in the Sally League because of his advanced aged (he pitched the entire season at 24) it’s important to fully understand his background. Beck was a shortstop until his senior season in college. So pitching is still very new to him, and I think he’s taken to it quite well. He’s got great makeup, work ethic, and the desire to get better– which was most evident in the improvement of his command in 2013. The stuff is also there, with a fastball that sits in the mid-90′s, a good splitter and a developing curve. He’s got all the ingredients you’re looking for in a relief prospect.

MMO Prospect Chat

Senior Editor David Conde talks baseball with Beck…

David: This past season with Savannah, you pitched in 43 games and recorded 19 saves, what can you say attributed to your turnaround?

Beck: This year I just felt way more comfortable out on the mound.  I had two years of professional baseball under my belt.  I gained so much knowledge talking with our pitching coach Frank Viola and the guys in our bullpen.  Frank helped me understand how to pitch more effectively and scenarios that I should be throwing certain pitches.

David: In Game 4 of the Championship series with Savannah, you were on the mound when the last out was recorded to win the championship, what did it feel like to be the man to close it out and earn the save?

Beck: It was definitely an exciting moment, the crowd was standing and it felt like the game was moving in slow-motion, almost how it’s portrayed in the movies.  After the third out was recorded I was tackled by Jeff Glenn and the next thing I knew, I was on the bottom of the dog pile.

David: Can you describe the feeling of winning the South Atlantic League Championship, this past season with Savannah?

Beck: It was definitely the best moment of my baseball career thus far.  Playing night after night for 140 games can be such a grind, so winning the Championship just put the icing on the cake.

David: What teammate has impressed you the most this season, and who should Mets fans be most excited about seeing in the future?

Beck: Catcher Kevin Plawecki. He is a good hitter who doesn’t strikeout often and has some power.  He was very dependable behind the plate and understands his pitchers and calls a great game.  It gave me a lot of confidence when he asked for me to throw a certain off speed pitch in the dirt and he would block it, even with runners in scoring position.

2014 Outlook

I’m usually in favor of the organization being aggressive with college experienced players, but in Wheeler’s case I would make an exception. He made great strides in 2013 and I wouldn’t want to wipe that away by placing him amongst competition he may not be ready for. I think an assignment in High-A St. Lucie to start the season would be a good measuring stick for just how far he’s come. It’s important to be patient and let him get the reps he needs, because he’s still in the infancy stages of learning to pitch. However that’s also what makes him so intriguing. He may take some time, but there’s a lot to like about this kid both on the field and off.

Presented By Diehards

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Prospect Pulse: Jayce Boyd Will Be In The Mix In 2015 Fri, 03 Jan 2014 21:10:02 +0000 Jayce Boyd Photo by Petey Pete

Jayce Boyd, First Base

Bats: R Throws: R
Height: 6’3″ Weight: 185 lb.
Position: First Base
Age: 23 (Happy Birthday, Jayce!)
ETA: 2015
2013 MMO Top Prospect Rank: NR

Boyd was selected in the sixth round of the 2012 draft out of Florida State University. He played both third and first base while attending FSU, and put up very impressive college numbers. He ended his career at FSU with a .349 average, 20 home runs, and 160 RBI. He was a second team All-American in 2012, and after deciding to forego his senior season at FSU, he signed with a Mets and received a $150,000 signing bonus.

“I don’t see any problem with Jayce handling the minor leagues,” said the Mets area scout. “… I honestly see him in the big leagues in three, three and a half years.”

That quote should really be resonating with fans right now, as Boyd hammered the ball all season in 2013, and is showing no signs of struggling in the minor leagues up to this point. Not at Single-A, anyway. Boyd put up video game numbers in 2013 across Savannah and St. Lucie, but the true test comes in 2014 with Binghamton.

2013 22 2 Teams 2 Lgs A-A+ 123 458 68 151 29 2 9 83 61 61 .330 .410 .461
2013 22 Savannah SALL A 65 249 40 90 16 1 5 46 35 32 .361 .441 .494
2013 22 St. Lucie FLOR A+ 58 209 28 61 13 1 4 37 26 29 .292 .372 .421
2 Seasons 177 659 86 199 38 3 14 102 86 91 .302 .383 .432
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 1/3/2014.

Boyd is a plus-defender at first base—he has soft hands, a strong arm, excellent footwork, and good range. Offensively, he makes good contact, and will profile as a guy that will hit a ton of doubles and always have a solid batting average. He is armed with a smooth, effortless swing and the barrel of the bat always seems to find the ball.

The biggest knock on Boyd seems to be his inability to produce the deep fly, and when you stand 6-feet 3-inches tall, the scouts have a certain expectation when it comes to homerun numbers. It doesn’t mean that the power isn’t there. Boyd has excellent power, but it is reserved for the gaps as of this point.

It will be interesting to see how the Mets handle Boyd going forward. Ike Davis was another guy that came out of college and had a similar offensive profile to Boyd. Davis was known for a high batting average, and not really for the long ball in college. The power was there, but he wasn’t a big homerun hitter. The homerun power didn’t start to manifest for Davis until Double-A.

While Davis is known more for his power, through their age 22 season in the minor leagues, Boyd and Davis were very close in OPS as shown in the chart below. It’s also interesting to see how the past two regimes handled their prospects differently—while the previous regime recognized Davis had an advanced college bat, he skipped over Savannah and was already completed with Double-A by the end of his second professional season—the current regime had Boyd stop off in Savannah, and end the season in St. Lucie (his domination of Savannah shows he should have been on a similar path as Davis, as it was an unneccessary stop).


Boyd has the potential to be a twenty plus home run guy at the big league level. Hopefully the Mets will not look at his size and see that as a disappointment, and let Boyd continue making noise with his bat at the plate. Power is the last thing to develop, and with Boyd’s frame, there is potential.

Boyd is definitely a player that Mets fans will want to keep an eye on as he develops over the next couple of years. He could be at Citi Field by 2015, and should be climbing up everyone’s top prospect charts in the meantime.

prospect pulse mitch petanick

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Flashback: Prospect Pulse On Outfielder Juan Lagares Thu, 02 Jan 2014 19:30:55 +0000 juan lagares

I thought it would be cool to look back at one of my very first Prospect Pulse pieces that I did here on MMO from about a year ago. It was on the Mets’ current centerfielder Juan Lagares.

I remember when I first wrote this, I didn’t think Lagares had a shot at getting to the big leagues until 2014 at the earliest. Matt den Dekker seemed to be all the talk headed into spring training for 2013, and I was definitely down with MDD at the time. Juan Lagares surprised many, and has become the perfect example of how you don’t always find guys that contribute to major league ball clubs ranked in the top five or ten prospects in an organization.


♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Player Name: Juan Lagares
Bats: R  Throws: R
Height: 6’1”  Weight: 175 lb.
Position: Outfield
Age: 23 (turns 24 in March)
MMO Top Prospect Ranking: 21
ETA: 2014

Over the next couple of weeks, we will be taking an in-depth look at the prospects that will be joining the Mets in spring training as members of the 40-man roster. We are starting it off with Juan Lagares.


Lagares is what most would consider an under-the-radar type of prospect. You won’t find him on any top prospect lists, but after a very solid 2011 season, Lagares put himself on the map in the Mets organization. He split time in 2011 between Binghamton and St. Lucie and put up some pretty impressive numbers. In 470 at bats, he compiled a .338 batting average, hit 9 home runs, added 71 RBI, swiped 15 bases and finished with a .383 OBP. Yeah, that will turn some heads. His 2012 season took a bit of a dip, but he still put up some solid numbers.

Most analysts project Lagares as a left fielder, although he could probably play any of the three outfield positions. He has a nice athletic build, but seeing as he is turning 24, he probably won’t fill out much more (current weight is 175 lb.). That will limit his power numbers, but he still probably has the potential to be a 10-15 home run type of guy. Most believe his power numbers will limit him to a fourth outfielder role some day.


I’ve come across some scouting reports on Lagares’ hitting mechanics that have said he is ultra-aggressive at the plate. This is a cause of concern considering he isn’t much of a power guy. Lagares is a guy that has the potential to steal 20-25 bases in a season, so his goal should be to get on base as much as possible and to be ultra-patient at the plate.

After viewing the video on Lagares batting practice session above, a couple of things jumped out at me. Lagares opens his hips up slightly early, which is a tell-tale sign of over-aggressiveness at the plate. When I slowed down the video, it was very evident (not so easy to pick up during live speed). He should work on keeping his hips closed and allow the pitch to get closer to him which will make him a better overall hitter. If I were I pitcher I would pepper him with off-speed stuff on the outside half of the plate because that is probably his “cold zone.” You can actually see on the fourth or fifth pitch in his BP session how off-balance he was on an outside pitch. That is a pitch he should be driving to right-centerfield. By keeping his hips closed longer, it will allow him to drive the outside pitch, instead of taking defensive swings and fighting them off.

It also seemed like the bat head dragged through the zone. Lagares should be throwing his hands through the zone straight to the ball. Imagine a lumberjack chopping at a tree, which we don’t see with Lagares’ swing. This may not necessarily be an issue, and could just be the fact that he was trying to generate more power to put on a little show during batting practice. But his swing didn’t look very crisp in this particular BP session.

SNY took a look at Lagares last September on their Mets Minor League Report. Here is what Lagares’ coaches said about him:

It was nice to hear Binghamton manager Pedro Lopez say that Lagares can go as far as he wants to go. He also added that he believed Lagares was the best defensive centerfielder in the league last season. Lopez also stated that 2011 was a “Cinderella Season” for Lagares, and he had to live up to very lofty expectations in 2012. He may have fallen a tad short of expectation in 2012, but Lagares has a bright future. If he continues to work hard, maybe he can surpass the expectations that he will just be a fourth outfielder someday. Pedro Lopez seems to think he can. Depending on how he performs this spring, expect Lagares to begin 2013 with Triple-A Las Vegas.


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Mets Minors Report 5/21: Montero On Tap, Puello Mashing, Verrett Solid Tue, 21 May 2013 11:56:03 +0000 Last Night’s Quick Scores

Prospect Pipeline

  • Thanks to everyone who visited yesterday and made our launch a successful one. If you are interested in the Mets’ prospects, then MMN is for you. Check us out today!
  • Rafael Montero‘s Triple-A debut was rained out yesterday. He takes the hill in Iowa today at 1:05 PM.
  • Cesar Puello is one of the hottest hitters in the Mets organization right now. He added another three hits last night, two of them were doubles.Over the past ten games, Puello is hitting .395, and got his season average up to .320, good for the team lead. Check out for a Prospect Pulse on Puello.
  • Logan Verrett continues to pitch solid. He filled in Rafael Montero’s spot in the rotation yesterday, and the stat line was pretty similar to that what we would get from Montero — 3 ER, 0 BB, and 10 K. Verrett gave up nine hits, one of them a home run, but he is the type of pitcher that is going to allow some hits. You can read my analysis on Verrett in yesterday’s Prospect Pulse feature on
  • After a couple of shaky starts, Gabriel Ynoa bounced back with a solid performance last night. The righty held the opposing hitters in check, scattering two hits and two walks while striking out seven.
  • Matthew Bowman had another solid outing last night. He scattered six hits, but struck out eleven batters, while only walking one, over six innings of work.
  • Two Mets prospects were honored by their respective leagues, as Cory Vaughn took home player of the week honors in the Eastern League, and Rainy Lara took home the pitcher of the week award in the South Atlantic League.

Stat Lines of the Day

Cesar Puello: 3-for-4, 2 2B, 1 RBI, 2 R


Ryan Fraser assigned to St. Lucie Mets from Binghamton Mets.

Carlos Vazquez assigned to Brooklyn Cyclones from St. Lucie Mets.

Tweet of the Day 

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Prospect Pulse: Righthander Tyler Pill Is Seeing His Stock Rising Fast Fri, 29 Mar 2013 12:30:37 +0000 Tyler Pill


Bats: R Throws: R
Height: 6’1″ Weight: 185 lb.
Position: RHP
Age: 22
ETA: 2014
MMO Top Prospect Rank: #28


Here is a brief profile on Tyler Pill from the recent 2013 MMO Top 25 Prospect series:

Pill’s fastball basically sits in the high-80s. Pill also tosses a curveball out there, which I feel is pretty underrated, and a slider and change-up. The slider is extremely inconsistent and hittable, but could potentially be worked on. Logically, it would seem more useful for a guy like Pill to keep a fourth pitch, but it does more harm than good at times. The change-up is a good pitch, and I like the movement on it.

Pill’s success as a pitcher is directly related to how good he can control his pitches, because he just does not profile as a power or dominating pitcher. The issue built in here is that his stuff does not exactly look like a prime fit for the bullpen either, so its going to be a long road for Tyler Pill. A 2.30 ERA in 113 innings is a start, and the numbers that are more important are the 22 BB/105 Ks. Tyler Pill is trying and I am rooting for him. We have seen stranger things.


Everyone is boasting about all the right-handed power arms in the Mets system right now, and Pill is often not mentioned because he is not what you would consider a power pitcher. As stated earlier, his fastball sits in the high-80s and touches the low-90s. However, the impressive thing about Pill was that even though he does not have overpowering stuff, he is practically striking out one batter per inning. His career strikeout rate is 8.5 per nine innings, which is a solid ratio. His career 2.34 ERA is also very promising. The key for Pill’s success will be keeping guys off balance and keeping them off the basepaths, which he has done a good job of doing thus far in his career. He will throw strikes, and as long as he continues to do so, will have a chance to continue progressing through the system.

Best case scenario is that Pill is a back-end of the rotation starter at the big league level in a couple of years. Worst case scenario is that he is a Triple-A pitcher that will be called up now and then for spot duty. We have yet to see him pitch against advanced hitters, so the big test will be in 2013, where he is projected to make that jump to Double-A Binghamton. If he continues to dominate hitters by keeping them off-balance and throwing strikes, then he could be pushing for a call-up sometime in 2014.

Pill tends to get lost in the shuffle when discussing right-handed pitchers in the Mets organization because everyone is drooling over the power arms in the system right now. However, guys with power arms have a tendency to suffer arm injuries (not wishing for it, just stating a fact). A guy like Pill will continue to fly under the radar, but out of all those promising right-handed pitchers in the Mets organization, Pill may be the first one to crack the Mets starting rotation in the next couple of years due to his consistency and ability to throw strikes. Pill is definitely a pitcher that fans will want to monitor over the course of this summer, as he often gets overshadowed by other pitchers in the system.

prospect pulse mitch petanick

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

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

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Prospect Pulse: Exclusive First Look At Outfield Prospect Vicente Lupo Tue, 26 Mar 2013 12:00:50 +0000 VICENTE LUPO

Vicente Lupo, OF

Bats: R Throws: R
Height: 6’ Weight: 180 lb.
Position: Outfield
Age: 19
ETA: 2016
MMO Top Prospect Rank: #15


Here is a brief profile on Vicente Lupo from the recent 2013 MMO Top 25 Prospect series:

Signed as an international free agent in July of 2010, Lupo quickly showed a penchant for extra-base power at a young age. While his 2011 season was marred after a dangerous bout with malignant hypothermia that ruined his DSL season, the strongly built slugger came back with a vengeance the following season.

2012 saw Lupo explode in the Domincan Summer League, where he posted a .343/.508/.600 batting line while drawing as many walks as strikeouts –  something seldom seen in power hitters.

Of his 70 overall hits, 31 were for extra-bases. While not possessing top-flight athleticism, he has the bat you look for in a corner outfielder. According to what Mets executives said in response to some questions from Joe D., Vicente will be playing stateside in 2013, so look for him at Kingsport or possibly even Brooklyn this summer.

Everyone is super excited about Lupo. His .500 OBP in 2012 was completely ridiculous, and he had 1.108 OPS to go with that. If he continues to put up numbers like that, maybe he will live up to some early comparisons to Miguel Cabrera. Not much has been reported on Lupo thus far, but what little info is out there has many Mets fans excited. I am proud to say that thanks to fellow minor league analyst Teddy Klein, MMO is the first to have some video footage of Lupo, which you can see below.


We’ve all read the reports – great bat with plus-plus power, raw strength, solid frame and a good eye at the plate. At this point, it’s almost like Lupo is somewhat mythological, since not many fans have gotten a chance to see him play. This video was the first chance many of us got to see of Lupo, since he has spent the majority of his playing time in the DSL.

Vicente Lupo is a player who will need his bat to carry him through the system. He’s not considered speedy and doesn’t have a very strong arm which limits him defensively. He will most likely be relegated to a corner outfield position, probably left field.

Baseball Reference has Lupo listed as six feet, but after seeing him stand in the batter’s box he is probably closer to 5’10″ or 5’11″ tall. He does have a solid build, and seeing as he’s only 19 years of age, he’ll probably put on even more muscle as he matures.

Regarding his swing, he starts with his hands high and then quickly gets them into a good hitting position. Hitters have to be careful with starting their hands up high, because it could take them longer to get them into the hitting zone, leaving them susceptible to better fastballs. But Lupo does a great job of getting his hands down into the zone, and keeping his hands high is a good way to make sure he stays on top of the ball.

Unfortunately, the swing in the video attached is not his greatest effort. He looks like he was confused by an off-speed pitch, and is very off-balance. You can even see in the first pitch that he takes, he is out on the front foot a little. Keep in mind that it is only one swing, and he is 19 years old, so as he matures, he will learn to adjust to the off-speed stuff. He has probably made a living at this point of his career by eating a steady diet of fastballs for breakfast, so as he progresses through the system he will have to work on his pitch recognition and driving the off-speed pitch the other way.

In 2013, we will see how Lupo progresses during his first season playing stateside. Look for him to start with one of the short-season leagues (Kingsport or Brooklyn) and stay in extended spring training until then. He’s definitely a player you’ll want to keep an eye on in the coming seasons and could easily become a top ten prospect for the Mets if he continues on this torrid pace.

prospect pulse mitch petanick

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

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

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

Kevin Plawecki, C

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

prospect pulse mitch petanick

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

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

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Den Dekker Stands To Gain If Nieuwenhuis Lands On DL Mon, 04 Mar 2013 13:10:08 +0000

Opportunity could be knocking for Matt den Dekker if Kirk Nieuwenhuis’ knee injury turns out to be more serious than just a bruise. We’ll know more on that later today.

The Mets will consider all their options if Nieuwenhuis were to miss any significant time, but one could make a strong argument that den Dekker could have a leg up on his competition because of his stellar defense which can impact a game as much as a solid bat. His glove-work is that good. Here is what I wrote about that this weekend…

Original Post 3/2

If you have been watching the Mets at all this spring, one thing has become evident – Matt den Dekker deserves a shot to be the Opening Day centerfielder.

Throw the offensive stats out the window for just a second and ask yourself who you would want out there chasing down fly balls. After seeing a few highlight reel catches already this spring, it becomes more and more evident who should get the nod.

Now let’s take the spring stats into consideration. Here is a breakdown of how the Mets outfield competition is playing out so far this Spring:

OF STATS(Games played through March 1 – Note: Nieuwenhuis should read six strikeouts.)

The common argument when looking into spring training stats is that they should be taken with a grain of salt. In other words, don’t put too much weight into whether a player gets off to an extremely hot start, or an extremely cold start.

While that argument holds some validity, because spring stats are not factored into any regular season awards and does not factor into the race for the pennant, when you have a situation like the Mets have, where it’s an open audition for an outfield job, spring stats will definitely impact the decision of who is standing in the Mets outfield on opening day.

With that being said, looking at the stats shown above, only a couple of guys have gotten off to hot starts in the outfield–and one of them (Valdespin), has yet to get any reps in the outfield.

Den Dekker’s spring stats are comparable to the other players vying for an outfield job with the exception of Collin Cowgill and Marlon Byrd. However, defensively, den Dekker sticks out like a sore thumb amongst his colleagues, and I mean that in a good way.

Terry Collins should be looking at ways to strengthen the team’s defense up the middle, and the best way to do that right now is by having den Dekker out there. Having a defensive player like den Dekker in center will make the pitching staff that more effective. Having a gold glove caliber outfielder in center will also take the pressure off the other outfielders, and help cover some of the defensive gaps that may exist when Lucas Duda or Byrd are out there with him.

Photo Credit: USA Today

Den Dekker has made a living making highlight reel catches.

Having solid defense up the middle will also let the pitchers pitch the way they want to pitch. If a pitcher has too little confidence in the defense behind them, they will try to strike every hitter out. This inevitably leads to more walks as they try to nibble corners (unless they are a power pitcher) because they are afraid to let the hitters put the ball in play. So by having a defender of den Dekker’s quality in centerfield, pressure is not only taken off of the other outfielders, but the pitcher as well.

If den Dekker can perform offensively as well as the other outfielders on the roster, then why not just have him join the team right out of spring training? Right now, is there any reason to believe that he can’t perform as well offensively, or maybe even better than the other outfielders on the Mets roster?

I did my weekly MMO Prospect Pulse on Matt den Dekker, and while I noted I wasn’t sure he would ever be a .300 hitter at the major league level, I do think he has the potential to be a 20/20 player; a 20/20 player that can win a gold glove. Maybe we are starting to see why the Mets may have not pulled the trigger on Michael Bourn after all.

The only argument I can see being made about den Dekker being given the keys to the centerfield job with the Mets this year was his performance when promoted to Buffalo last year.

However, as I noted in last week’s feature, it has been a trend across his career thus far to go through an adjustment period when promoted. During that adjustment period, his offensive stats tend to take a dip. However, after the adjustment period, his offensive numbers are at an all-star level. Mix that in with that solid defense, and there is only one man for the job this year in centerfield.

There is no reason to start den Dekker at Las Vegas this year. Throw him in centerfield, bat him in the eight hole of the lineup where he will experience minimal pressure, and let him do his thing. He will figure it out. The best thing for his development would be to let him adjust to the major league pitchers and the major league level while taking advantage of that ridiculous defensive skill set.

The Mets need den Dekker’s glove in centerfield, and when his bat comes around, they will be able to use that too. But the Mets have to stick with him. They can’t send him down to Las Vegas if he starts to go through an adjustment period at the big league level. Let the kid figure it out and entertain us with some jaw dropping catches while he’s in the process.

Enjoy this recent den Dekker highlight-reel catch from last week’s Grapefruit League action!

In case you missed it, check out my exclusive MMO Prospect Pulse on Matt den Dekker.

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

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Now Batting No. 5 and Playing Left Field, Wilmer Flores Wed, 27 Feb 2013 21:42:38 +0000 Wilmer_Flores_New_York_Mets

Updated by Joe D. on 2/27

We may hear those words blare over the Citi Field PA system one day in the near future during a Mets game… Maybe…

Whether or not Wilmer Flores should be handed an outfield glove has been debated quite passionately on MMO many times over the last several months. We’ve all debated the pros and cons of such a move, and obviously so have the Mets.

As Andrew Keh of the New York Times pointed out, Flores has continued to distinguish himself as one of the more promising hitters in the Mets’ organization, but he is a player who, at the moment, seems to lack an obvious position. That said,, everything keeps pointing to the outfield.

“It’s an obvious question,” General Manager Sandy Alderson said Tuesday morning, “and we’ve considered it. Our focus is developing him as a hitter, and that’s not something we want to interfere with.”

As for Flores, he keeps saying the same thing each time he’s asked, “Sure, why not? I’ll play anywhere they ask me to play.”

Look for Flores to get some playing time in the outfield this month and next as well. It may only be an experiment for now, but it’s becoming quite clear the team is not looking to trade him and view him as a keeper. That means a position change will have to be coming…

Stay tuned…

Original Post 2/26

Last night was the first time most Mets fans got the chance to see Wilmer Flores play second base, including myself. Seeing Flores at second base was one of the main things I was focused on during last night’s game against the Washington Nationals. I’m sure other fans were focused on Flores as well, as talks about running Daniel Murphy out of town began as soon as the Mets announced that Flores would be taking reps at second base this spring.

Making the jump from third base to a middle infield position is generally a very difficult one. The switch from the middle infield to third base is much, much easier. Flores, has now made the switch from the middle infield to third base, and now back to the middle infield.

The reason why the switch from third base to the middle infield is difficult is because the positions are fundamentally different. Sure, you mechanically field the grounder the same way at third base as you would any place on the diamond, but aside from that, just about everything else is different—different reaction times, different angles off the bat, turning the double play is different, different footwork, and different positions to be on cut-offs.

Two of the main things I watched for last night was to see how Flores approached grounders hit in his direction, and how he turned the double play.

Third base is a position where the balls are generally hit sharply, so the player usually waits for the ball to get to him, rather than charge and play the ball. They may have to move laterally, but generally don’t move in on the ball unless it is a weakly hit grounder or bunt—hence being called the “hot corner.” At second base it’s the complete opposite. If the player waits for the ball to get to him, in other words, let the ball play him instead of “playing the ball,” the most routine grounders will turn into infield hits. I wanted to see if Flores took that with him to second base, because playing third base for the past couple of years could have re-programmed him mentally. Flores did a good job of “playing the ball,” and it looked as if his instincts from when he was a former shortstop are still there.

When turning the double play, Flores looked smooth. I was watching for Flores’ pivot, and how he received the throws from the shortstop. There are a couple of different ways for a second baseman to receive the toss on a double play from the left side of the infield. They can use a timing play where they try to time the toss from the left side, and come across the front of the bag to get more momentum on the throw. The other way is to wait at the bag, which generally leads to the second baseman making a flat footed throw off the back foot. Flores arm is definitely strong enough for the latter, and he demonstrated it in last night’s game.

It’s only one game, but Flores had a successful night at second base. It seems the instincts are still there from when he used to play shortstop, the arm strength is there, and now we have to see how his range is on some more challenging ground balls. Everyone will be keeping a very close eye on Flores at second base this spring, the bat is definitely there, and it seems like he may have found a home defensively.

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

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

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Prospect Pulse: 2013 Mets Centerfield Candidate Matt den Dekker Sat, 23 Feb 2013 18:00:35 +0000 matt den dekker 2

Matt den Dekker, CF

Bats: L Throws: L
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 205 lb.
Position: Centerfield
Age: 25 (26 in August)
ETA: 2013
MMO Top Prospect Rank: #12


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

Matt den Dekker has only been in the Mets farm system for three years, but his name has been relevant since the Mets tabbed him as a legitimate centerfield prospect. Den Dekker torched Binghamton upon his arrival in 2012, but struggled after his promotion to Buffalo and saw his strikeout rate increase to nearly 30%. He has a great feel for centerfield and could get by on his spectacular defense alone as a major leaguer. But his ability to hit advanced pitching will ultimately determine how quickly he makes his way onto the Mets.

Den Dekker is likely the closest outfield prospect the Mets have to being MLB ready. The one downside is that he’s another left-handed hitter which means he would have to outperform the glut of other Mets left-handed hitters to earn a promotion.

He is considered a superior defender to incumbent Kirk Nieuwenhuis, but with his inability to consistently make contact and a poor split-performance, den Dekker is likely to begin the season in Las Vegas and won’t make a trip up to Flushing until he can improve some elements to his offensive game. If he can square up and make more consistent contact, while reducing his strikeouts, Den Dekker could make an appearance later this season and end up playing a significant role this year and next. It’s a big “if” but it’s certainly not out of the question.

When looking at den Dekker’s stats, it’s easy to see his numbers took a dive after he made the jump to a higher level. This happened in both 2011 and 2012. What’s promising is how he adjusted at those levels when he started with those teams the following season. He was absolutely destroying Double-A pitching in 2012 after struggling during his first stint there in 2011. In 58 games with Binghamton last year, he hit to the tune of a .340 AVG/.397 OBP/ 8 HR/ 29 RBI/ 10 SB. You can see why he got promoted to Triple-A Buffalo after a sizzling start like that.

Up at Buffalo, he struggled. But as I stated earlier, that seems to be the trend with den Dekker (when he initially makes a jump, he struggles). It will be interesting to see what he does in Las Vegas this year, because if he follows the trend, he should put up some really solid numbers at the Triple-A level now that he got a half season under his belt. If he succeeds in Vegas, he will surely be a candidate to join the Mets sometime in June or July.


Based on the video, den Dekker does have a slight mechanical issue with his swing. It is easily fixable using muscle memory drills. However, he does have a very smooth swing and the potential is there to be a 20/20 type of player at the major league level.

I’m not sure den Dekker will ever be a .300 hitter unless he works out the mechanical deficiency that was described in the video. His front foot opens up during his swing, which causes his hips to open early. This could make him susceptible to off-speed pitches and pitches on the outside part of the plate. Keeping his front foot and hips closed longer should also improve his strikeout rate (since it will help him with the off-speed/outside pitches). If he is going to be a .300 hitter, he is going to have to working on keeping those hips closed and use all parts of the field when hitting.

Here is what a scout had to say about den Dekker via ESPN New York:

He’s a good defender. He throws good enough. He’s got some power — not great power, but he’s got some power. He’s making adjustments. I’ve been there [to watch Binghamton] three times. Every time he’s gotten better with the bat. He’s not flailing. He’s not trying to pull the ball. He’s making adjustments. It looks natural. He will cut down on his strikeouts with this new approach. He’s more patient. He’s going to be OK. I was prepared to not like this kid. He’s really won me over. It’s going to be a very spirited competition for center field between him and Nieuwenhuis, who are both better than Torres.

Those are pretty powerful words from that scout who said that both Nieuwenhuis and den Dekker were better than Andres Torres already, and this quote is from last June. Matt den Dekker should start the season with Triple-A Las Vegas, and you should definitely keep an eye on him in 2013. Depending on how he performs in Las Vegas, he could be in the outfield mix at Citi Field very soon.

prospect pulse mitch petanick

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

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

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Prospect Pulse: Stock Is Rising For RHP Rafael Montero Thu, 21 Feb 2013 00:52:32 +0000 rafael montero


Bats: R  Throws: R
Height: 6′  
Weight: 170 lb.
Position: Pitcher
Age: 22
ETA: 2015
2013 MMO Top Prospect Ranking: #9


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

If you go by the numbers, Sterling Award winner Rafael Montero is a guy that you should be taking note of. He entered the Mets system in 2011, and has already seen work at six different levels, culminating in his work in St.Lucie last year. Montero was stopped short last year because he hit his innings limit, but impressed basically everybody with a 2.36 ERA in 122.0 innings over two levels, while posting a 0.943 WHIP.

He has continued to keep his walks down, as he’s done during every stop of his MiLB career so far, posting a 1.6 BB/9 rate compared to a 8.1 K/9. To put it plainly, he walked only 19 while striking out 110, and it’s mainly because of the strength of his secondary offerings. In addition, he only allowed six home runs all season, so there are more than just a few reasons to be excited about him.

Montero has an interesting skill set which is accompanied by a frame that most scouts agree needs to be bulked up a little before guaranteeing any success. His fastball is not dominant by any means, but it is possible to work with it at the MLB level. Although it sits in the 90-92 MPH range, it has great late movement and Montero commands it impressively. I have seen him work a curve and a change into his pitching arsenal at times, but I have to say he also throws a good hard slider that’s not far from being a plus-offering. Montero has three solid pitches to work with – the fastball, slider, and change up. He varies the speed on his change well and the bottom drops out more often than not.

Montero pitched well enough in 2012 to get an invite to spring training, and thus far in camp, he has been nothing short of spectacular. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports has reported in a recent tweet that Montero is ”thrilling Mets people” in camp, and “unreal’ is the word being used in camp when describing this exciting prospect.

Michael Baron of Metsblog was also recently blown away by Montero and noted that the young right-hander had “electrifying stuff.” Here is more of what he had to say about Montero, after watching a recent bullpen session down in Florida:

He worked counts and the pitch situations that come with that, such as coming back with fastballs down 2-0, and using his breaking pitch on the corners when ahead in the count. He didn’t seem to fall behind too much…Montero’s stuff looks electrifying, but he’s still quite raw, which is to be expected at this stage of his development. He throws very hard, and his breaking pitch has very heavy movement down through the strike zone. He is very lanky, kind of like Pedro Martinez when he was younger.

Baron’s report is just as promising as Heyman’s, however I found it to be a tad contradicting. Baron states that Montero worked counts, didn’t fall behind much, and used his breaking pitch on the corners when ahead in the count which hardly sounds like Montero is ”raw.”

I think what Baron was trying to convey was that Montero is inexperienced, since he has only pitched in the lower levels of the system. Someone who is raw generally oozes talent, but hasn’t figured out how to apply that talent in game situations — it seems that from Baron’s description that Montero is still figuring out how to pitch. Being a raw talent and an inexperienced player are two different things.


Based on the video, Montero does have a couple of minor mechanical issues he has to work on, but he does have electric stuff and tons of potential. His fastball tops out at 93mph, and he has a nice, biting slider to go along with his fastball.

He also throws a slower slurve, which is a bendy combination of slider and curveball, but he uses it very rarely. Montero has a lot of promise, but I would like to see him focusing on developing his changeup, and get rid of that slurve he throws. Most early scouting reports had Montero labeled as a bullpen arm, but with continued progress, he could be a very formidable middle of the rotation starter.

Montero still relies on his fastball, so the Mets will start working with Montero to incorporate his secondary pitches more and more as he progresses. In the lower levels of the system, it is easy for pitchers to get by with fastball, fastball, but as he rises through the system, he will need a variety of well developed pitches to get the more advanced hitters out.

Montero should start the season with Double-A Binghamton, and you should definitely keep an eye on him in 2013. Montero is a name that Met fans should get used to hearing.

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

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

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Prospect Pulse: Analyzing Up and Coming Prospect T.J. Rivera Thu, 14 Feb 2013 13:00:16 +0000 T.J. Rivera batted .320/.372/.444 for Savannah and St. Lucie in 2012.

Second baseman T.J. Rivera batted .320/.372/.444 last season for Savannah and St. Lucie.

Thomas Javier (T.J.) Rivera, 2B

Bats: R  Throws: R
Height: 6′ 1″  Weight: 190 lb.
Position: Second Base
Age: 24
ETA: 2015


T.J. Rivera is a fellow New Yorker, born and raised in the Throggs Neck section of the Bronx. He was signed as a free-agent out of Troy University back in 2011. Not much is generally expected out of guys that aren’t drafted, but Rivera seems like his is on a mission to change that. In his first two professional seasons, he has already gone through four levels in the organization (Rookie, Low-A, A, and High-A). He’s compiled a .316 AVG to go along with 10 HR and 85 RBI over those two years. His 2012 numbers, from the time he spent with the Savannah Sand Gnats, are the most impressive. During that time he played in 64 games, compiling a .333 AVG/.396 OBP/8 HR and 37 RBI. Those numbers are probably what led fellow Sand Gnat, Jack Leathersich, to point out that Rivera was the teammate that impressed him most in his recent exclusive interview with Metsmerized Online. Here is an excerpt from that interview where Leathersich says Rivera is a player Mets fans should be very excited to see:

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


Rivera is definitely an under-the-radar type of prospect. He’s not considered a top prospect, and doesn’t have any tools that will jump off the page at you. However, he is making it happen. He has been successful across four different levels, so this is starting to seem like a situation where Rivera could turn out to be the real deal and not just a flash in the pan. There isn’t much footage on Rivera out there, but here is a brief analysis of Rivera’s swing:

Rivera has a sweet swing and it’s going to be really interesting to see what he can do at the Double-A level this season. Making the jump to Binghamtom will probably be the biggest challenge that Rivera has come across in his professional career thus far, as they say the jump from Single-A ball to Double-A is really where you start to weed out the prospects. Double-A is where the cream starts rising to the top. Rivera has a big challenge ahead in 2013, but after reading what teammate Jack Leathersich said about him, we have to assume it’s a challenge he is ready for.

Mets fans have a reason to be excited, and should definitely keep an eye on T.J. Rivera up at Binghamton this season. If his approach is to continue taking it one level at a time, he stays focused and keeps performing the way he has the past two years, the Mets will have a solid player on their hands within the next couple of years.

prospect pulse mitch petanick

You can follow Mitch Petanick on Twitter for more Mets Minor League coverage.

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Prospect Pulse: Analyzing Mets Pitching Prospect Hansel Robles Mon, 11 Feb 2013 19:00:02 +0000 hansel robles

Hansel Robles, RHP

Bats: R  Throws: R
Height: 5’11″  Weight: 185 lb.
Position: Pitcher
Age: 22
MMO Top Prospect Ranking: 20 
ETA: 2014


Here is an excerpt from the recent MMO Top 25 Prospect list, where Robles was ranked No. 20:

Signed as an international free agent in August of 2008, Robles did everything in his power last season to dispel the idea that he projects to be a reliever. Arguably, Robles had the best season of any arm in the Mets system with an ERA of 1.11 over 72.2 innings, which led the New York Penn League. If you include his final start in the post season, he finished the year with 45 straight shutout innings, a WHIP of .784 (47 H/10 BB) and 0 home runs allowed. His 66 strikeouts were nothing to sneeze at, resulting in an 8.2 K/9 compared to an exceptional 1.2 BB/9 ratio. He can throw a fastball, slider, change-up, and an occasional curve ball.


Hansel Robles set the NY-Penn League on fire last year. He dominated hitters with a low-90s fastball, an average slider, and a below average change-up. Many project Robles to be a bullpen guy at the big league level, but he was used as a starter for the Brooklyn Cyclones last season. He was nothing short of spectacular, and blew everyone away with some impressive numbers. However, after breaking down his pitching mechanics, you will see that there is some cause for concern with regards to Robles ever being a pitcher that can withstand the rigors of being in a starting rotation. Check out the video below, where I break down his mechanics, and you will see what I mean.

As you see in the video, his mechanics lead me to believe that he will ultimately be utilized in the bullpen if, and when, he makes it to the big league level. The kid has a ton of potential, and if he can straighten out his mechanics, he will continue to dominate hitters as he moves up through the system. Right now, the velocity on his fastball varies from 90-95mph. The major reason for the huge discrepancy in speed is because of his mechanics. There also has to be concern that the strain he puts on his arm could potentially lead to future arm injuries, so it will be prudent to try and work out the kinks before that happens.

As I pointed out in the video, he uses his arm and upper body to generate his velocity. By using his lower half more, and driving towards the plate, he could generate more consistent velocity and save his arm a lot of stress. His incomplete follow through is also generating additional strain on his arm.

Aside from the mechanical deficiencies, Robles future seems bright. If you throw 94mph, you always have a bright future. He generates great velocity, and after improvements in his mechanics, he will not only improve the consistency of that velocity, but also have better command of his secondary pitches. With an arm as live as his, it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if he ended up in the bullpen, which is where I think he will eventually end up and flourish.

For more Mets minor league and prospect coverage, you can follow me on Twitter @FirstPitchMitch.

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Prospect Pulse: Analyzing Second Base Prospect Reese Havens Thu, 07 Feb 2013 12:27:55 +0000 Reese Havens 3

Player Name: Reese Havens 

Bats: L  Throws: R

Height: 6’1″  Weight: 195 lb.

Position: Second Base 

Age: 26 

MMO Top Prospect Ranking: NR

ETA: 2013


There’s not much that I can tell you about Reese Havens that you probably don’t already know. He was drafted in the 1st round of the 2008 MLB Draft out of the University of South Carolina. Many experts thought he would go on to have the best career of any Mets player drafted in 2008. We are still waiting for him to live up to those expectations.

Everyone knows Havens’ story: tons of talent, can’t stay healthy. Even in a NY Times interview last March, Havens’ father was shocked that the injury bug has bitten Reese during his professional career, because he had never been affected by injuries in the previous years. Brent Havens, Reese’s father, said this about his son’s injuries:

It has been extremely uncanny, the injuries he’s had, because he was never hurt as a youngster. His high school and college careers were basically injury-free. And if he did have an injury, he always healed quickly.

Even Havens’ father can’t seem to figure out what is going on with the string of injuries Havens has suffered the past few years. Hopefully that is all put behind him now, and he can get his career back on track.


There are some Mets fans out there that seem about ready to give up on Reese Havens. I’ve seen some people go as far as saying that he isn’t a prospect anymore. My response is: thank goodness these people don’t work in the Mets organization. I would really hate to see the Mets give up on this kid and then have him turn out to be a superstar with some other team. When the Mets added him to the 40-man roster this winter to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, it showed the baseball world that the Mets still believed in his talent.

And what’s not to believe in? So what the guy had a couple of nagging injuries. That doesn’t mean he can’t play. Look at this quote from Terry Collins, regarding Havens, from that same NY Times article noted earlier:

“He’s one of those guys where you just know the ceiling. If we can get him in the lineup, he’s going to play in the big leagues.”

Terry Collins doesn’t seem worried that Havens won’t be a big leaguer, so why should the fan base?

Havens is a gamer. He oozes baseball talent. He has a solid glove, hits for average and has a ton of power for a second baseman. He also gets on base, and has great patience. He has all the attributes you want in a player. In 2012, Reese may have still been recovering from a back ailment. He may have only hit .215 last season, but his OBP was .340 because he had 58 walks. That’s promising.

What is also promising is his 2011 season where he displayed mastery at the Double-A level hitting for a .289 average, and a .372 OBP across 58 games. Don’t look into 2012 too much, because when it comes to back injuries, it tends to take a season to really feel comfortable again swinging the bat.

This is where I’m going to start making bold statements. But don’t worry, I stand by all of them and believe them to be true. If Terry Collins announced tomorrow that there would be an open competition for the Mets starting second base job this spring, there is no doubt in my mind that Havens would beat out Daniel Murphy on his sheer talent alone. The Mets are dying to get an excuse to get this guy to the big leagues. There’s been a lot of talk of Wilmer Flores converting to second base of late, but it’s surely a backup plan for if Havens never nips this injury bug. Havens is the real deal. He just has to get on the field and prove it.

Age is just a number. Don’t look at his age as being a negative. The guy can play ball, and it shouldn’t matter how old he is if he can help the Mets win. Havens is the future second baseman of the Mets. Murphy is just a stop-gap, and the minute Havens is ready (which won’t be long), he will be showing everyone why he was a first-round selection in 2008. You might want to pre-order to Reese Havens jerseys now, because it’s going to be a hot seller in the very near future.

Havens will get his career back on track in 2013, because guys with his kind of baseball ability just don’t go away. He is my sleeper prospect for 2013. He has top ten prospect ability, and will start the season with Triple-A, but don’t be surprised if he gets called up as early as May (if he performs up to his potential in spring training). He may not have many minor league at-bats under his belt, but mark my words, he’s ready…if he can stay on the field.

For more Mets minor league and prospect coverage, you can follow me on Twitter @FirstPitchMitch.


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Prospect Pulse: Analyzing Mets Shortstop Prospect Philip Evans Sat, 02 Feb 2013 15:00:33 +0000 Phillip Evans

Player Name: Philip Evans
Bats: R  Throws: R
Height: 5’10″  Weight: 185 lb.
Position: Shortstop
Age: 20 (turns 21 in September)
MMO Top Prospect Ranking: 14 
ETA: 2015


Here’s what MMO had to say about Evans in the recent top 25 prospect feature:

The 2011 15th round pick who received a significant over-slot $660K bonus has been good, but not what has been expected overall. Evans has exclusively played shortstop though he profiles more as a second baseman due to his stocky build. The 2012 season saw Evans get his first full-season of short-season at-bats. The biggest downside in his numbers were the lack of more power, hitting .252 but only slugging .337. While the bat didn’t regress, the progression that should have occurred hasn’t. Evans is still young so the jury isn’t out on him yet.

Evans projects as a 10-15 HR player with a solid batting average and a decent glove as well. Hopefully the 2013 season will see Evans get his first real taste of full-season ball in Savannah and that he will continue to progress with his bat, while hopefully getting some reps at second now that the system is well stocked at short. Evans still has the potential to grow as a hitter, but needs to stop pulling the ball so much and start spraying the ball to all fields. He must also become more consistent defensively where he has a knack to make some flashy plays, but sometimes flubs a routine grounder. The Mets have a lot invested in him so he’ll get every chance to succeed.


I really like Evans’ approach at the plate. No, wait. Let me rephrase that. I love Evans’ approach at the plate.

His swing is mechanically sound—he keeps his hands and weight back, and has a very pretty, short and compact swing. By looking at his swing I would say he has excellent gap to gap power, and agree that he would have the ability to hit 10-15 home runs once he gets to the higher levels in the system.

With that short, quick swing like Evans has, it will be very difficult for any pitcher to sneak a fastball by him. I was also impressed with his patience at the plate. I have read some scouting reports on Evans which say that he can get caught out on his front foot on some off speed pitches, and that he has to work on his pitch recognition. By looking at his swing, and the way he keeps his weight back, it’s hard for me to see this being a problem in the future. The pitch recognition will become easier as he works his way through the system. You have to remember that when players are drafted out of high school, the majority of them haven’t gone up against quality off-speed pitches until they get to this level. There will be an adjustment period. Evans getting caught on his front foot could also be a case where he got caught guessing wrong at the plate (yes, hitters sometimes guess). Either way, he should be able to work it out.

Another thing that impressed me from the video above was what he did with an outside pitch (about 40 seconds in). He takes an outside pitch and laces a line-drive into right field. This is very promising and shows that he uses the entire field when hitting.

Evans had what many would consider a down year with Brooklyn last year. He hit .252 and added five home runs and 28 RBI. When looking at his splits, he did considerably better against left-handed pitching. This shouldn’t be too alarming at this level of his development. As I stated earlier, he was drafted out of high school, so he probably didn’t go up against pitchers on a day in and day out basis that had quality off-speed stuff. His first real taste came in 2012 in the NY-Penn League, where he was facing guys that were primarily drafted out of college. These guys all have arsenals of developed off-speed pitches. It’s easier to recognize off-speed pitches for right-handed batters coming from left-handed pitchers. That could explain the discrepancy in his righty/leftie splits.

SNY recently took a look at Evans last June on their Mets Minor League Report. Here is what Mets coaches and Toby Hyde said about him:

From what I have seen defensively from Evans, he looks like he could stick at shortstop. I hate when analysts start putting labels on players regarding not having the range or arm to play a particular position. Let the kid develop and play ball, and let the Mets determine where he ends up on the field. If the Mets were that concerned with his ability to play shortstop, they would have started transitioning him already. Evans will be a shortstop until he shows them that he can no longer play that position at higher levels. Until that happens, he’s a shortstop—a pretty good one for that matter.

2013 should be a season where we see Evans take a leap forward offensively. The tools are there, and he has a season of seeing off-speed pitches under his belt now. There is no reason why we shouldn’t see this kid turn the corner this season. Not only will he turn the corner, but he will be listed as one of the Mets’ top ten prospects headed into the 2014 season.

Phil Evans strikes a pose for MMO last season.

Phil Evans strikes a pose for MMO last season.

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Prospect Pulse: Captain Kirk Eyes Return To Action Tue, 27 Mar 2012 13:15:02 +0000 In an interview yesterday with Ben Wagner, the “voice of the Bisons,” which was posted on the Buffalo Bisons’ website, injured outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis talks about how his surgically repaired shoulder “feels good,” and his sore oblique “feels a lot better now.”

He also gives us this progress report: that he began throwing Monday, and will resume hitting “pretty soon hopefully.” He sounded very optimistic that he would be back in the line-up before opening day, which is April 5th for the Bisons. When Wagner asked the Captain how far from the big leagues he is right now, Kirk replied “Really close, I feel like I’m really close.”

For the complete interview, click here

Bisons Notes

Reliever Justin Hampson, who pitched well out of the Buffalo pen last year, was signed to a minor league contract by the Mets the other day. The veteran lefty will provide bullpen depth at the AAA level, and could also be an option during the year for the big league club. Hampson has a lifetime major league record of: 5-4 with an ERA of 3.38 in parts of three seasons with the Rockies and Padres. Last year at Buffalo he went: 3-3 with a 3.41 ERA over 58 IP, and lefties hit only .216 against him.

RHP Matt Harvey in an interview with Wagner from Saturday, when asked if he has heard whether he would be headed to AAA to start the season, said that he had not been told. He did however express confidence that he felt vastly improved now, from the end of last season, when while pitching at AA Bingo he began to really turn it on. I have said all along I believe the Mets will start Harvey at AAA this year and with Wally Backman as the manager there, I would say it’s a pretty safe bet. Wally was asked if he wanted Harvey on the mound for him when the Bisons square off against Pawtucket in the season opener on April 5th, ”I think that he’s proven he’s ready for that level,” Backman said. “He improved so much over the winter and dominated the hitters for the six innings he pitched (Tuesday).”

Third-baseman Zach Lutz feels that if he hadn’t been hurt last season he would have made his major league debut. And he’s right, he surely would have been promoted when DWright went on the DL, if he hadn’t been on the DL himself. Now Lutz puts the disappointment behind him as he looks forward to a healthy and productive season. ”I had a lot of opportunities last year. They were a bunch of freak injuries. I’m ready to prove I can play in the big leagues. I came down here a month before everybody else to get out here and get ready. I’m ready to put all the bad luck behind me and move on for a healthy 2012 season.” Go get ‘em Zach!

RHP Josh Stinson who pitched with the Mets in September last year, is working hard this spring to refine his change-up. After watching Johan Santana up close in big league camp this spring, Stinson came away impressed: ”I’m fine tuning my change up, I’m really jealous of Johan’s. I’m going to execute, work to get back up and stay.”

Ben Wagner had this to say about a bullpen thrown by RHP Jenrry Mejia last week:

“Observed Jenrry Mejia’s bullpen last Tuesday. This was the first time watching him throw since the season ending injury last May in Rochester. The same demeanor and energy he brought as a starter was evident in a limited bullpen. He flashed a “thumbs-up” when I asked him how things were progressing. You had a sense the life on the pitches were there too. I watched the bullpen catcher box no-less than four pitches as they hummed across.”

Let’s hope Mejia continues to progress the way he has so far. And always remember:


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Prospect Pulse: The 2012 Binghamton Mets Sat, 28 Jan 2012 14:13:22 +0000

And now, the moment you’ve been anxiously awaiting! Welcome back for Part 3 of our four-part series the 2012 Mets Long Season Minor League Roster Preview. If you missed the first two chapters there is a link to them at the bottom of this page. With just over three weeks left to go before the start of spring training, where will the Mets Top Prospects be playing this year? Well several will be at AA. Let’s find out who they are. So without further adieu, it is with great pleasure that I present to you:

The 2012 Opening Day Roster of the Binghamton Mets of the Eastern League.


Kai Gronauer (C) – Kai was supposed to be the number one catcher at AA last year, and he was when the season started. Actually he was one of the top catching prospects in the organization heading into last year. Unfortunately most of his 2011 campaign was wiped out due to a severe hamstring injury suffered early in the season. He missed a couple of months with the injury and when he came back, he was unable to get on-track. If Gronauer is healthy next year, he will have to fend off an attack against his starting job by a couple of younger players coming up behind from A-ball. Gronauer’s defensive abilities are outstanding, but his good health and his bat will need to be evident this spring, if he is to fight off the challengers.

Juan Centeno (C) - One of the challengers for playing time will be Centeno, who had a good season as the back-up at St. Lucie last year. In 157 AB’s he batted .318 with 1 HR and 11 RBI’s. The Mets then sent him to the Arizona Fall League where he got in another 47 AB’s,  and hit .234. The lefty-hitting Centeno is a good defensive catcher, and for his minor league career has thrown out 38% of would-be base-stealers.

Francisco Pena (C) - The other challenger would be last season’s starter at St. Lucie, Francisco Pena. After missing the entire 2010 season with a foot injury, last year was supposed to be the year that cemented Pena’s status as a prospect. Instead, he cemented his status as a disappointment, by hitting .223 with 5 HR’s and 37 RBI’s in 319 AB’s. 2012 will be Pena’s 6th season in the Mets system and to call it a make-or-break year for him would be an understatement.


Jefry Marte (1B) - I am going out on a limb and predict the Mets will decide to move Marte across the diamond to first-base next year. As much as anything this will enable them to move Wilmer Flores to third-base, and he can still co-exist in the same line-up as Marte. If they don’t, and Marte remains at 3B once he gets to Binghamton, then the player I list here at 3B, would start at 1B instead.

Robbie Shields (2B) - Like Pena this year might very well be the last opportunity for Shields who has been injured nearly every season, and has failed to be able to stay on the field. Although he missed a major portion of 2011 with back problems, assuming he’s healthy he would have the inside track on the 2B job at AA, but if he is injured again, it could be the end-of-the-line.

Sean Kazmar (SS) - A minor league veteran picked up by the Mets as a free-agent this winter, the 27-year-old Kazmar offers experience and depth around the infield. He should fill in adequately until Danny Muno arrives sometime towards the end of the season.

Eric Campbell (3B) – The aforementioned player who will go to first-base if Marte gets stationed at third. He should hold down the position until Flores arrives from single A. Campbell is coming off a very poor year at Binghamton in which he batted .247 with 4 HR’s and 46 RBI’s in 405 AB’s. He needs to turn things around this season, to remain with the organization.

Michael Fisher (INF) - The switch-hitting infielder will turn 27 before the season starts, but he has been doing an excellent job filling in wherever the Mets have needed him the last two seasons since joining the organization. At AA next year he will provide insurance for the infield corners, and can also play 2B or DH if he is needed there. Last year while at Binghamton Fisher hit .290 in 200 AB’s, with 3 HR’s and 24 RBI’s. The rest of last season he spent with the AAA Bisons where he batted .259 in 251 AB’s with 4 HR’s and 21 RBI’s.

Rylan Sandoval (2B) - Sandoval also had a very disappointing 2011 as the second-baseman at St. Lucie, he hit .224 with 8 HR’s and 35 RBI’s in 313 AB’s. If and when the inevitable injury knocks out Robbie Shields, Sandoval slots in at second-base.


Sean Ratliff (LF) - Ratliff returns after a lost season in 2011 in which he underwent multiple surgeries on his right eye to reattach his retina after being struck by a foul ball during spring training. In a recent interview with MMO, Ratliff explained that he is optimistic he will be ready to play by the start of the season, and he expects to pick right up where he left off at the end of 2010. A 6’3″ lefty hitter with good speed and plus home run power, Ratliff needs to reinstate himself as one of the top outfielders in the system.

Matt den Dekker (CF) - Den Dekker returns to Binghamton where he played the last half of 2011. He had a pretty rough first go-round in the Eastern League, and needs to slaughter a few demons there before he proves he is ready to battle AAA pitching. In 272 AB’s he hit .235, but did somehow manage to hit 11 HR’s, which definitely made people take notice. But with an unfathomable 91 strikeouts in those 272 AB’s, it is quite obvious which demon needs to get slaughtered first.

Cesar Puello (RF) - OK, I can finally have a little fun with one of these write-ups! Even though 2011 was a slightly off-year for Puello just like almost everyone else on this roster, he did show a great deal of growth, is still very young, and solidified himself as a top Mets prospect. He will be looking to have that break-out year in 2012 that the entire Mets nation has been waiting for. Last season Puello was playing in the Florida State League as a 20-year-old, and he started out struggling, and continued to struggle until July. On July 1st he was hitting .235, but then got hot and hit .297 with 5 HR’s and 17 RBI’s for the month. In August he continued to hit well batting .333 and cutting way down on his strikeouts for the month. There would be no point in sending him back to single-A, and this is the year the Mets hope to see Puello spring-board to the next level.

Pedro Zapata (LF) - If Ratliff is not ready to go at the start of the season, Zapata would fill in for him until he is ready. It is exactly the kind of test that Zapata needs so the Mets can assess what they have in him. He is 6’4″ and 24-years-old, and has never played above A-ball. He is very fast, but only plays LF. Last year in 452 AB’s at St. Lucie, he batted .292 with 36 SB’s and was only caught stealing 6 times. That’s it for the good stuff. Now the not-so-good-stuff. More of a slap-hitter, in those 452 AB’s he only hit 3 HR’s, which gives him 5 for his entire career (he hit two in 2010 as a 22-year-old), before 2010 he had zero. His K/BB ratio was 86/23, not good enough for a table-setter. Unfortunately for Zapata, he is running out of time, and there’s still such a long way to go.

Rafael Fernandez (OF) - An extremely versatile defender who can play any of the OF positions makes Fernandez a perfect choice for the 4th outfielder. The lefty hitting 23-year-old played mostly at Savannah last year with just 32 AB’s at St. Lucie, but he also played at St. Lucie in 2010, when he hit .300 in 200 AB’s. His overall numbers in 2011 were: .265, with 65 runs, 122 hits, 24 2B’s, 12 3B’s, 6 HR’s, 67 RBI’s, 70 walks, and a whopping 130 strikeouts, in 460 AB’s. He also stole 21 bases and only got caught 4 times. If not for those strikeouts, he would be  a prospect. Until he cuts the K’s way down, we’ll just be talking about him as a 4th outfielder in AA-ball.


Zack Wheeler (SP1) - So much has been written about this 22-year-old righty already. All I’m going to say is that it is a foregone conclusion that Zack will be anchoring the B-Mets rotation next season. With his talent and advanced skills, he will be making Eastern League hitters look quite ridiculous I would imagine.

Darin Gorski (SP2) - Gorski arrives in AA to prove to all the skeptics that 2011 was no fluke. In an interview with MMO just before Christmas, when asked about making the jump to AA, the 24-year-old south-paw had this to say: “That is what I have been told, everyone talks about that jump and I am excited to see what all the fuss is about. As far as I am concerned regardless of what level you are at the game never changes. Pitches that get guys out are still going to get guys out you just need to limit your mistakes as you go. You continue to work every day to be the best you can when you get out there and that means limiting mistake pitches, if you can do that you can get guys out and that is the name of the game.”

Scott Moviel (SP3) - After an uneven performance in 2011, Moviel needs to have a strong start to keep the Mets faith in him. Should he struggle at AA and have to be sent back to St. Lucie again, it will represent a serious setback for the big right-hander. In a recent interview with MMO, Moviel talked about his confidence heading into 2012: “I know that wherever I end up all my job will be, is to do my best, compete, have fun, and finish the season with improvements that will get me into a big league Mets uniform! My focus next season is as always repeating my delivery and throwing strikes with all of my pitches. As to the jump from High-A to AA, all I know is you have to throw strikes and challenge hitters with all of your pitches and success will surface.”

Greg Peavey (SP4) – Peavey, a right-hander, split the 2011 season between Savannah and St. Lucie going a combined 11-6 with a 3.48 ERA over 24 GS and 137 IP’s. His K/BB ratio was a very good 108/26. The 23-year-old Peavey just needs to continue to miss bats as he climbs to the next level of the minors.

Kyle Allen (SP5) - Although still only 22, the right-handed Allen will probably only get one more chance to start, after the two miserable seasons he has had in a row. 2011 was supposed to be a comeback season for him, his second at St. Lucie, after a rotten 2010 there in which he went 6-8 with a 5.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 53/54. But in 2011, still at Lucy, he regressed even more going 6-11 with a 6.28 ERA, and a K/BB of 74/59. If he starts out in 2012 the same way he has the last two seasons he will be sent to the bullpen (probably in St. Lucie), to try and straighten himself out.

Brandon Moore (SP6) - A 50-game suspension from the start of the season will keep Moore on the shelf until June at the earliest. Last year he led the Binghamton staff in GS (25), IP (133), Wins (10), and strikeouts (105).


Josh Edgin (CL) - After closing for Savannah for the first half of 2011, Edgin didn’t miss a beat upon his second half promotion to St. Lucie. His combined numbers for the year were: 3-1 with a 1.50 ERA and 27 Saves. In 66 IP’s he gave up only 44 hits, 2 HR’s, walked 23 and struck out 76. The one problem with Edgin is he has yet to be challenged. He is now 25-years-old, and until he can beat up on hitters his own age, expectations have to remain somewhat tempered. If he repeats his success at AA then he’s for real, and hopefully his remaining minor league stops will be brief ones, so he can soon reach his potential.

Roy Merritt (LHP) - Merritt enters his sixth season in the Mets system, and the third that he will pitch at Binghamton. He struggled there last season going 1-1 with a 5.26 ERA, and this year will be battling for a job with two other left-handers, for what are probably only two open bullpen spots.

Eric Niesen (LHP) - One of the other pitchers battling for a lefty bullpen spot, this season will represent Niesen’s last chance as a Met. This will be Niesen’s sixth season in the farm system, and his performance thus far has been absolutely dreadful. But the Mets love his “live” arm, and since he’s left-handed they will give him one more shot to prove he can harness his command. He did find some success for a brief period of time last year while working with pitching coach Phil Regan at St. Lucie. In 24 games covering 36 IP’s at the end of 2011 Niesen went 3-3 with an ERA of 3.00, 32 K’s and only 6 walks. The first half at AA his K/BB ratio was 22/31, so you can see how he was able to turn things around. The question is which Eric Niesen is going to arrive in Florida for ST in three weeks? If it’s the new version, from the end of last year, he will be quickly on his way to Buffalo.

Brandon Sage (LHP) - This is the player that is going to have to beat out either Niesen or Merritt for one of the two lefty spots in the bullpen. And Sage will have his work cut out for him considering how ineffective he was while at Binghamton last year. Sage has pitched pretty well for his career, while at A-ball. But now 25 years-old, he must prove he can do it at the upper levels of the system. His first go-round in AA was last year and he went 1-1 with a 7.84 ERA, in 20 IP’s. He struck out 18 and walked 13, but he gave up 4 HR’s, and the opposition hit .306 off him. He’ll need to be better next year, there aren’t too many 25-year-old pitchers in A-ball.

Brad Holt (RHP) - The perfect “8th inning guy”, at least so the Mets hope. The experimentation with Holt as a starting pitcher is over, as the Mets try and retool him into a fire-balling relief ace. If Holt is ready to embrace the role, and more importantly, if he can keep his mechanics sound, he should excel quite nicely. Best scenario: a quick start that gets him a late May call-up to AAA, and he never looks back.

Eric Beaulac (RHP) - Last season Beaulac was due to make his transition from starter to reliever. The 6’5″ righty with a propensity for throwing ground balls was barely able to make any progress though as he went down to injury at the beginning of May, and didn’t return until mid-August. For the year he only got in 30 IP’s between St. Lucie, and Binghamton, but was pitching very well at the end of the year.

Nick Carr (RHP) - Another hard-throwing right-hander who has been battling injuries. Like Beaulac, Carr missed nearly the entire 2011 season before returning in August and pitching well. When healthy Carr is one of the hardest throwers in the system. Hopefully when the bell rings on 2012 he’ll be 100% and ready to go.

Erik Turgeon (RHP) - A workhorse out of the Binghamton bullpen in 2011, Turgeon pitched a lot, but the quality wasn’t really there. He appeared in 51 games, throwing 73 IP’s, with a record of 5-4 and an ERA of 5.33, and his 91 hits surrendered caused him to have an opponents batting average of .307. This season he’ll be 25, and can’t afford to pitch again like he did in 2011.

John Church (RHP) - A versatile pitcher who was effective in 4 games as a starter, and as a reliever the rest of 2011 at St. Lucie. Church went into a slump and pitched very poorly in May and June, but he righted the ship and was effective the rest of the year, recovering to finish with a record of 5-2 and a 4.03 ERA. Church will be a big part of the Bingo bullpen next year.

Michael Powers (RHP) - The 6’3″ right-hander pitched in 6 games for Binghamton at the beginning of 2011, going 2-0 with a 3.28 ERA, but an overload of relievers caused him to be sent to St. Lucie where he pitched for the majority of the season going 6-5 with a 2.90 ERA. Like Church, Powers should be a very useful reliever for Bingo next season.

Although appearing fairly weak in the infield, the rest of the roster looks pretty solid if unspectacular. Good starting pitching, a very deep, quality bullpen, depth at the catching position, and a very talented outfield, should make the B-Mets a fun team to watch this year. The infield will of course improve, when Flores is promoted from single-A sometime in the first half. Whether or not they make the playoffs will depend on how far their starting pitching can carry them. For this to happen they will need big bounce-back years from Kyle Allen and Scott Moviel, who both struggled in the St. Lucie rotation in 2011, and for Darin Gorski to show the skeptics that he is for real.

Part 1:   Savannah Sand Gnats

Part 2:   St. Lucie Mets

Check back next week for the series’ 4th and final installment:

The 2012 Buffalo Bisons


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Prospect Pulse: The 2012 St. Lucie Mets Fri, 20 Jan 2012 15:05:54 +0000

Welcome to Part 2 of our four-part series, the 2012 Mets Long Season League Roster Preview. Today we bring you the 2012 roster of the St. Lucie Mets, of the advanced-A, Florida State League. The response to Part 1 was absolutely outstanding! Lot’s of nice comments, good questions, and valid suggestions. And not one person told me what I could do with my preview! Thank you readers!

I would like to say something though. I wanted to bring a mathematical equation to your attention. It is this: 4 teams x 25 spots = 100 jobs. The Mets seem to have ordered a little too much minor-league merchandise, and they now find themselves in the rather bizarre position of having too many players to fill a finite amount of places. It’s kind of like having a coupla dozen cool pairs of sneakers, and only two feet. Or playing a big game of “musical chairs.” Because of this, I have obviously had to overstock these rosters a bit too. Keep in mind though that with the coming of spring you can be sure of several things, and one of them is: players get hurt, players get sore arms, players under-perform, and jobs open up. So having two 5-man rotations at St. Lucie, that you have to combine into a single 5-man rotation at St. Lucie, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’d like to apologize in advance, however, if I left out one of your personal faves, these things can happen.

So it is without further adieu, that I proudly present:

The 2012 St. Lucie Mets


Albert Cordero (C) – As the catching tandem of Cam Maron and Jeff Glenn move up to Savannah in 2012, last years Savannah back-stops likewise move up to St. Lucie. Cordero had a very good season last year, coming on stronger as the season progressed, and showing very rapid development at the plate. Basically Cordero learned to stop swinging at garbage and to hold off on pitches out of the zone. He began to wait for that one good pitch to hit, and it worked. At the end of May, he was hitting barely above the “Mendoza line,” when he decided to make the change. He worked at being more selective at the plate, and the improvement was immediate. In June his slash-line climbed to: .274/.333/.355, then in July: .311/.344/.433, and in August: .359/.412/.495. For the year his totals were: .286 BA, in 385 AB’s, with 6 HR’s and 44 RBI’s. At the same time, Cordero is a very promising catcher defensively. Last year he was 24/36 in the CS/SB dept., good for a 40% CS rate.

Blake Forsythe (C) – The other half of the catching duo will be Forsythe, who had a disappointing year at the plate at Savannah in 2011. In 370 AB’s, the former 3rd round pick in the 2010 draft, hit a pedestrian .235, but with 24 2B’s, 4 3B’s, 9 HR’s, 43 RBI’s, and a .395 SLG%, which shows he does have good natural power. The main problem for Forsythe is his strikeouts, there are way too many of them. Last year he whiffed an appalling 123 times, and simply must close the holes in his swing before he will be able to thrive at the upper levels. Defensively, Forsythe has made great strides in his game and is good defensively at blocking and receiving the ball, but can still use some improvement on his throwing game. Forsythe is a tireless worker, usually the first to arrive at the ballpark each day, and shows good leadership qualities, the kind you like to see in a catcher.


Joe Bonfe (1B) - Although a natural third-baseman, Bonfe is adept at playing first-base, and has even taught himself to play outfield, to increase his value. A good clutch hitter, Bonfe will give St. Lucie manager Pedro Lopez a lot of flexibility with his corner infield positions. That will be very important with the impending promotion, to AA, of third-baseman Wilmer Flores at some point during the first half of the season. At such a time Bonfe can either stay at 1B while someone like Richard Lucas will take over at 3B, or Bonfe can slide over to 3B and a player like Sam Honeck, or Travis Ozga can play 1B.

Wilfredo Tovar (2B) - Tovar had a real solid season last year for Savannah, playing mostly shortstop, but also playing a good number of games at 2B. He is actually a much better second-baseman defensively, so I have him penciled in to start there. Last year for the Sand Gnats, he hit .251, in 491 AB’s.

Danny Muno (SS) - I have been asked if Muno is ready for Advanced-A ball, and I think yes, definitely. He is a very well equipped player who comes from a 4-year, major college program that won the National championship when he was a freshman starting shortstop. He has played off-the-hook so far in his professional career, including smacking NYPL pitching around like a playground bully. I don’t think the difference between the NYPL and the SAL is all that huge, and he will not be challenged by playing in Savannah. St. Lucie will be his landing spot and he should team very nicely with Tovar. In a recent interview with MMO, Muno discussed his drive and motivation: “I plan on being in the big leagues someday in the near future and I need to work on all the little things in baseball everyday, and I particularly need to work on the mental game.”

Wilmer Flores (3B) - This should only be temporary. I fully expect Flores to be promoted to Bingo, sometime during the first half of the season. Starting 2012 at St. Lucie represents the second year in a row for Flores to be in sunny Florida. Before that starts to resemble a stagnating prospect, the Mets will want to get him the heck out of there, as soon as possible. Flores just needs to show that he has mastered the Florida State League, and he will be moved up to Binghamton to replace the “seat-warmer” that will be occupying the 3B position there until Flores arrives.

Richard Lucas (3B/DH) - Lucas’ development has been agonizingly slow, but he seems to have turned the corner last year at age 22, and had a career year at Brooklyn. In 250 AB’s he hit .300 with 6 HR’s, 41 RBI’s, and an OPS of .857. Next season he will work on his tan, and maybe DH a little, while he waits for the call-up to AA. Not his call-up, Flores’ call-up. Then Lucas can move right into the line-up at 3B in St. Lucie, for the remainder of the season.

Travis Ozga (1B) - Ozga is a switch-hitter, who has been up and down between St. Lucie and Binghamton and should slot in well to this roster which is mostly right-handed. A bat like Ozga’s will be necessary to DH, spell Bonfe at 1B, and pinch hit.

Luis Nieves (2B) A reliable performer from last season at Savannah, Nieves should find himself on the St. Lucie roster, to fill in much the same way again.


Cory Vaughn (LF) - Vaughn starts his first full season in the Florida State League after joining St. Lucie last year at mid-season. His first go-round in the FSL wasn’t a good one, and Vaughn would be best served if he used this winter to forget all about last season. Fighting a nagging injury, he batted 210 times for St. Lucie, hitting just .219, with 9 HR’s and 29 RBI’s. With luck, 2011 was just an aberration, and we’ll get to see Mr. Vaughn bust out in 2012. If he does he should be a pretty quick call-up to AA, if he continues to languish as he did last year, it will be a long season for him.

Darrell Ceciliani (CF) – When your game is predicated on speed, and you pull a hammy real bad, you got a big problem. That is pretty much what happened to the start of Darrell’s season last year. And even after he returned in May, he wasn’t the same player for much of the first half. But as the year wore on, the real Ceciliani began to re-emerge, and by the stretch-run to the play-offs, he was, at times, carrying the team. At years’ end the best hitters on the Savannah squad were Joe Bonfe, Ceciliani, and Alonzo Harris. Ceciliani is a top-of-the-order lefty-hitter with good gap power, who flies around the bases. In CF he covers a lot of ground and is a gritty, hard-nosed performer. He could be moved up to AA during the year, particularly if Captain Kirk gets called up to the bigs at some point. That would probably mean a promotion to AAA for Matt den Dekker, followed by a move of Ceciliani up to Bingo. Funny how that works.

Gilbert Gomez (RF) - This guy needs to play. At the end of last season he showed that the Florida State League would be a very satisfactory playground for him in 2012. He plays very well with the other kids. If you haven’t heard of Gilbert Gomez, remember the name, he is going to explode onto the scene this year. RF will be his at St. Lucie as we get to see what he is capable of doing over a full season.

Javier Rodriguez (OF) - I really don’t see the 4th outfield spot as being a very sexy position at St. Lucie in 2012. The three starting outfielders, barring injury, should be securing a ton of at-bats, and they won’t be getting removed for defense either. Since the DH will more-than-likely be an infielder, the 4th outfielder will not get much playing time. But you need to have somebody, and since Javier is being seriously pushed from behind by a whole gaggle of outfielders that were brought into the system during last years draft, he finds himself between a rock and a hard place.

Alonzo Harris (LF) - Harris had a very solid year at Savannah hitting .270 with 4 HR’s and 28 RBI’s. He should be a useful role player on this season’s St. Lucie squad.


Cory Mazzoni (SP1) - After throwing 115 innings at North Carolina State in 2011, the Mets did not want to give Mazzoni a heavy workload once they signed their 2nd round pick. Instead they had him pitch a few innings out of the bullpen, just so he could get a taste of professional ball, before shutting him down until spring. Mazzoni throws hard, mid-90′s, and it will be nice to see where he is at with his secondary stuff this season. I look for Mazzoni to log 130-140 innings this year as one of the anchors of the rotation.

Logan Verrett (SP2) - The 3rd round pick last year out of Baylor, Verrett is another advanced college pitcher who should have no problem getting up to speed in the Florida State League next year. The 6’2″ right-hander threw over 100 innings in college last season, and then signed too late to pitch at all for the Mets in 2011. That shouldn’t hold him back this year, with a fastball in the low-90′s, and several serviceable breaking pitches, he should have no problem turning the FSL on it’s ear in 2012.

Tyler Pill (SP3) - Ditto for Tyler Pill. Advanced college righty, this time from Cal State-Fullerton last year in the 4th round. Pill pitched just a few innings out of the bullpen for Brooklyn at the end of last season, but will be “shooting from the hip,” from out of the St. Lucie rotation next year. In a recent interview with MMO, Pill described his pitches: “I throw a fastball which is about 89-93, a changeup, curveball, and a cutter. I’m not completely sure about the velocity on the off-speed pitches. I’m very comfortable throwing my fastball, curveball and changeup at any time but as far as my cutter, It still needs a little bit more work but it’s still a solid pitch.”

Ryan Fraser (SP4) - The workhorse of the Savannah rotation last year, Fraser was very consistent and reliable all season long. In 138 innings, he went 7-9, with a 3.58 ERA, striking out 90 and walking in 63. He needs to cut down on his walks, and the opportunity of working with St. Lucie pitching guru Phil Regan, will go a long way towards fixing that. In a recent MMO interview Ryan detailed his repertoire: “To break it down, I throw fastball, curveball, and change-up. Some people question my curveball and think its a slider. I would like to call it a “power slurve” if there’s such a pitch. I don’t like to know the speed of them cause it doesn’t matter as long as you get the hitters out and give your team an opportunity to win.”

Erik Goeddel (SP5) - There will be a dog-fight for the 5th rotation spot between at least two pitchers. One is the 6’3″ righty, Goeddel, who pitched a very good half-season in the Savannah rotation last year, sandwiched around ten weeks on the DL with a strained rotator cuff. Now healthy again, Goeddel should have the inside track on the job, but if he gets beat out, he could pitch out of the St. Lucie pen, or even be sent back to the Savannah rotation. In a recent interview with MMO, Goeddel detailed his arsenal: “I throw a fastball, change-up, curveball, and slider. Fastball sits around 92-93, sometimes touches up to 96, but usually between 90-94 or 95. Change is low 80′s, slider mid to high 80′s, and curve is usually 78-80. I have been working on a sinker lately, hopefully it will be ready to go for this upcoming season. I pitch to hitters based off of whatever pitches are working best that day, and I will stay with the same approach on a hitter until he proves he can hit what I’m attacking him with.”

Jack Leathersich (SP5) - Another candidate for the fifth starter spot is Leathersich who, like Goeddel, could wind up in the Savannah rotation, or even the bullpen. The left-handed Leathersich throws hard, mid-90′s out of the pen, but he has to dial it down a bit to maintain his stuff late into games as a starter. Like with the other 2011 draftee’s in this rotation, it will be very interesting to see what Leathersich can do if he starts for a full season.


Ham Bennett (LHP) - An experienced closer who excelled at the job last year in Savannah, Ham will hold down the same duties in St. Lucie. In 2011, the 6’1″ south-paw went: 2-0 with a 1.83 ERA and 14 saves. In 54 innings, he struck out 56, while walking 15, his batting average against was .166, and his WHIP was 0.83.

Adam Kolarek (LHP) - An ideal lefty set-up man, Kolarek probably won’t stay at this level long. If he gets off to a good start, I expect him to be one of the first players called up when a need for a reliever occurs at Binghamton. His pitches are pretty advanced, he throws hard, and best of all, he has a very good change-up. But why don’t I let him describe it? In a recent interview on MMO, Adam detailed his stuff for us: “I mainly throw a 4-seam fastball but I am really working on my 2-seam this offseason because I really believe that it will help me moving forward. I would say my change-up is my second best pitch because I feel comfortable throwing it in just about any count or any situation. When I throw a real good one it will have some tailing movement into a lefty or away from a righty. Finally, I feel like I made a lot of progress with my slider last year and I want to continue to build off of that. I would mainly use it when I was ahead in the count and was trying to get a strike out or ground ball, but I really want to get to the point this year where I can use my slider when I’m behind in the count in a typical fastball situation.”

Chase Huchingson (LHP) – A personal favorite of mine, this free-agent signing from 2010 should continue to pay dividends for the Mets this year. Undrafted out of college the 6’5″ lefty pitched at Savannah last year, and was incredibly effective and versatile, appearing in 19 games as a reliever, and also making 8 starts. How consistent was he? His ERA as a reliever was 1.86, and in his 8 starts his ERA was 1.77. In home games his ERA was 1.76, but on the road it went up, to 1.88. Overall he was 7-2 with a 1.82 ERA, in 84 IP’s he gave up 61 hits, while striking out 91 and walking 25. Opponents hit 2.03 off him and his WHIP was 1.02. He can pitch multiple innings in relief, be a lefty specialist, or even start, so he should be a valuable piece to the bullpen puzzle.

Angel Cuan (LHP) - Another swing-man candidate, Cuan is only 5’11″ and about 160 lbs. so there is some doubt about whether the diminutive lefty can pitch in a starting rotation for an entire season. So last year at Savannah, they limited his innings by starting him out in the pen, before moving him into the rotation for the second half. He then made 14 starts, and was one of Savannah’s horses going down the stretch, though he seemed to tire in the play-offs. Regardless Cuan opened eyes by going 10-3 with a 3.56 ERA. I expect him to be a fall-back starter either at St. Lucie, or even at Savannah, if one of the kids falter, or else he’ll be in the Lucy pen.

Ronny Morla (RHP) – A dependable righty set-up man last season at Savannah, Morla brings his act to the Florida State League in 2012. He put up some good numbers with the Sand Gnats last year: 3-3, 2.53 ERA, and 10 saves, and should fit in with all those lefties in the Lucy pen just fine.

Michael Hebert (RHP) – Another starter squeezed to the bullpen while he waits for a spot to open up in one of the crowded rotations at A level. Hebert came back from injury last season and could not find a regular starting gig. He will continue to bide his time in the Lucy pen, while he waits for that chance.

Taylor Whitenton (RHP) – Another starter who may have problems finding a rotation spot next year, despite being last years South Atlantic League ERA leader. While at Savannah, Whitenton went: 5-5 with a 2.49 ERA in 22 game starts. He doesn’t throw hard at all, but keeps hitters off-balance by changing speeds and location. He will have to keep proving himself at each level, working from the pen before he will be considered to start again.

Johan Almonte (RHP) - Another talented starter caught in the pitching log-jam at the lower levels of the Mets system. I expect Almonte to find a starting gig somewhere, after all there will be sore arms, injuries, and poor performances, so a lot can change. But if a spot doesn’t open up in a rotation, the Mets will have to find a bullpen for this guy to pitch in, he’s got too much upside to ignore.

Gonzalez Germen (RHP) – Another starter from Savannah last year, who has something you can’t teach, velocity. Dude throws hard. In 119 innings in 2011, he struck out 111 hitters while walking 35. Fringy off-speed pitches have held him back. A move to the bullpen wouldn’t be crazy.

Brant Rustich (RHP) - I fully expect Brant to make this squad and when he does it will be the “feel-good” story of the entire spring. After the long ordeal Rustich went through with his throwing arm, the diagnosis and treatment of his condition, and his rehab is complete. In a recent interview with MMO Brant describes what he went through with his health, and about how he is looking forward to pitching again: “It’s pretty simple for me. If I’m pitching this year it’s because I feel I’m going to pitch in the big leagues. If I feel like my arm can’t withstand the rigors of a big league season, I’ll go home and get another day job. However, I have a ton of confidence that I am making progress and getting better. The fact is in 2007 I almost got a call up and I wasn’t even close to my potential in my opinion because I was already battling lack of feeling, and slight arm problems then. If I’m pitching on a full season team this year, I would bet that I pitch in the big leagues someday. That’s just how I feel. I’m coming out this year as a player, not as a rehab player. I’m done with rehab, so I’m going out to spring training with the mindset on pitching, and pitching well. There is nothing wrong with me anymore, the problem has been fixed. It’s my job to go pitch the best I can and turn some heads.” Amen brother, amen. If Brant starts the season in the Lucy pen, it will only be until the weather warms up in NY, then it’s off to Bing-falo.

I can describe my feelings about this team in three words: pitching, pitching, pitching. They are absolutely loaded-for-bear, and the rest of the FSL is on notice, that the Mets are gunning for another division title, and with luck, a Florida State League Championship. Pass the Kool-Aid please.

Check back next week when I release the Binghamton and Buffalo squads. LGM!

If you missed >Part 1< click here

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Prospect Pulse: The 2012 Savannah Sand Gnats Wed, 18 Jan 2012 13:51:21 +0000

With a little more than a month to go before the start of Spring Training, the time has finally arrived for Petey’s 2012 Mets’ Long Season Minor League Roster Preview! Woooo Hooooo! I know that all winter long, you’ve been anxiously awaiting this series in which Petey either impresses the pants off people, or makes a complete ass of himself! You choose! But choose wisely Grasshopper.

So, without further adieu, I proudly present you with Part 1: The 2012 Savannah Sand Gnats:


Camden Maron (C) – Of all the Mets catchers playing in the lower levels of the minor leagues, Maron is clearly the best prospect of the bunch. Very raw when drafted in the 34th round of the 2009 draft from Hicksville (NY) High School, he has excelled at learning the basics of catching mechanics and techniques, and is fast becoming a solid force behind the plate. He receives the ball well, exhibits proper mechanics with his transfer and throws, and has a strong accurate throwing arm. And get this Mets fans, he even blocks balls in the dirt! Can you imagine? As far as his hitting, think Macky Sasser, only with a real high OBP, because he takes walks. He is a left-handed hitting hacker with a good eye at the plate, if you can possibly imagine such a thing. In 201 AB’s for Kingsport last year, Maron scored 38 runs and had 64 hits for a .318 batting average. But at the same time, while striking out 34 times, he walked 38 times for an OBP of .434, good for second in the Appalachian League.

Jeff Glenn (C) – Another catcher drafted out of high school by the Mets in the 2009 draft. This time it was the 9th round and the Mets plucked Glenn out of high school in Winter Haven, FL. A righty hitter, Glenn caddied for Maron last season at Kingsport, with 157 AB’s, in which he batted .255 with 3 HR’s and 19 RBI’s. An athletic catcher, Glenn still has some things to work on defensively, like teaching his 6’3″ frame to make quicker throws to second, but he should be a good compliment to Maron in handling the back-stop duties once again.

Xorge Carrillo (C) I doubt they will have the luxury of carrying three catchers, but if they decide to, Carrillo will more than likely be the guy. In 92 AB’s last year as Brooklyn’s primary catcher, the right-handed hitter from Arizona State hit .217.


Aderlin Rodriguez (1B) - This guy needs to get back on track after a year in which his career was stuck in reverse. He will more than likely be staying behind in Savannah for a second season. One big problem for Rodriguez was his 44 errors at 3B last year. The remedy? Well they couldn’t fashion him a glove made out of a garbage can, so they are moving him across the diamond. No not into the opposing dugout! To first base! I guess they figure he’s not as likely to make errors over there. We’ll see. The other issue for the righty slugger has been contact. Or lack there-of. He hit a miserable .221 last year and struck out 106 times in 516 AB’s. He has to stop chasing crappy pitches in the dirt, and out of the strike zone, and get himself into more favorable hitting counts. But the good news is, he’s strong, 6’3″, he did manage to hit 17 HR’s and drive in 78 last season, and he is only 20 years-old. Stay tuned.

Phillip Evans (2B) - What is not to like about this kid? He barely got his feet wet in pro ball last year, after being drafted by the Mets right out of high school, but this player has such an abundance of natural talent, that I fully expect him to be able to hold down a starting middle infield spot for the Gnats next season. He has a short, well-balanced, compact swing, with good speed through the hitting zone due to his strong hands and wrists. In the infield he makes all the right moves with his soft hands, quickness, footwork, and solid throwing arm. He even exhibits signs of leadership qualities. Next year will go along way to showing that Evans was an absolute steal in the 15th round of last years draft.

J.C. Gamboa (SS) - I’d be listing Evans as the shortstop if it weren’t for this guy. The lefty-hitting Gamboa is poised to simply explode onto the scene next year at Savannah. The mighty-mite from Mexico is only 5’7″ and about a buck fifty-five, but he makes all the plays from short with a great deal of style and athleticism, has a very strong throwing arm, and hits with surprising pop. I can’t wait to see him display his wares on the stage at Historic Grayson Stadium, for an entire season!

Dustin Lawley (3B) – In 2011 Lawley got 232 AB’s for Kingsport before getting called up to Savannah to be bench help for the SAL play-offs. He hit .284 while scoring 37 runs, with 66 hits, 17 2B’s, 3 3B’s, 9 HR’s, 43 RBI’s, and an OPS of .825. After leading his team in nearly every offensive category last year, he is a no-brainer to be playing everyday in Savannah in 2012. The question is, where? He split his time between CF and 3B in 2011, but with the log-jam of outfielders caused by combining elements from Kingsport and Brooklyn, I would expect him to be the Savannah third baseman next year.

Cole Frenzel (1B/DH) - I expect Frenzel to make the team mainly on the strength of his left-handed power bat coming off the bench. He can be used to spell or platoon with Rodriguez at first, and could be used as the primary DH. Last year as Brooklyn’s regular first-baseman, Frenzel struggled a bit as he tried to get acclimated to pro ball, hitting .238 in 160 AB’s with 1 HR and 20 RBI’s.

T.J. Rivera (INF) - Signed as a free-agent by the Mets last year, this 23-year-old Bronx native is a good solid ball-player who can handle the glove at 2B, 3B, and short. He can swing the bat a little too, and is a good steady influence on his teammates. He would be ideal to back up in the Savannah infield next year.

Brandon Brown (INF) - Another very serviceable player who can handle any of the infield positions. Last season at Brooklyn, he mashed 6 HR’s in just 142 AB’s, while hitting .303. The problem is both he and Rivera bat right-handed, and play the same positions so they both might not make the team.


Travis Taijeron (LF) - Last year’s starting left-fielder for the Cyclones, Taijeron busted out of the gate in his professional debut. A NYPL All-Star, the 6’2″ righty slugger swatted .299 in 194 AB’s, leading the team in 3B’s (5), HR’s (9), RBI’s (44), and SLG% (.557). He was also 2nd in OBP with a .387, behind only Danny Muno. Although he spent some time in CF last year out of necessity, he is better suited for the corners, and the emergence of Tillman Pugh should take care of CF moving forward.

Tillman Pugh (CF) - This will be the year when the 23 year-old speedster from Oakland, CA, who grew up idolizing Rickey Henderson, breaks out with a real opportunity in a long-season league. It’s time to take the brakes off him, put him in CF and just let him play. Tillman Pugh interview

Charley Thurber (RF) - The Cyclones starting right-fielder from last year, the lefty-hitting Thurber has a good eye at the plate and is a good contact hitter right now. He should emerge as a power threat at some point, as he grows into his 6’4″ frame. He has a gun for a throwing arm, and he just needs to play everyday. Charley Thurber interview

Greg Pron (OF) - The 6’6″ Pron had a great year at Kingsport in 2011 as their starting right-fielder. In 211 AB’s he scored 42 runs, with 67 hits, 14 2B’s 1 3B, 7 HR’s, 34 RBI’s, 6 SB’s, an OBP of .389, and a SLG% of .493. As a righty hitting slugger, he could fill in for Thurber against tough lefties, and could be used in a rotation between the two corner outfield spots, and DH.

Julio Concepcion (OF) – Playing time may be hard to come by, but the 6’4″ left-fielder deserves a shot at long season ball, even if it’s coming off the bench. Last year at Kingsport he batted .299 in 241 AB’s with 32 runs, 72 hits, 15 2B’s, 3 3B’s, 2 HR’s, 33 RBI’s, and 4 SB’s.

Brandon Nimmo (OF) – If Nimmo gets a look see in the long-season South Atlantic League, I doubt the Mets would throw him to the wolves right away. I could see them easing him in gradually as a fourth outfielder, to give him time to soak everything in. Remember this is the kid that didn’t play actual high school ball growing up in Wyoming, and he is brand new to professional baseball. He may even be left behind in extended ST. But if he does make the Sand Gnats, it would only be until the short-season leagues begin in June.


Juan Urbina (SP1) - Entering his third professional season, the 18-year-old lefty seems poised for a big year, his first in a long-season league. Urbina got bumped around in the first half of his 2011 season, but finished strong to really help his confidence going into this year. In a recent interview with MMO, Urbina described his arsenal for us: “Fastball, curveball and change-up. This year I hit 95 mph, but I was from 90 to 93 mph most of the time.” Urbina will be fronting a very young, but very talented rotation at Savannah this year.

Dom Tapia (SP2) - Tapia brings his 100 mph heat to the South Atlantic League. The 6’4″ fire-balling right-hander, who actually just turned 20, will be lighting up radar guns all over the Sally League, and if he can add some off-speed stuff to his repertoire look out!

Bret Mitchell (SP3) - The “old man” of the staff, or the one that’s not still a teenager, is Mitchell. A very talented right-hander from Minnesota. In a recent interview with MMO Bret detailed his pitches: “I have a four pitch arsenal of: fastball, curveball, slider, change. My fastball is high 80′s – low 90′s. My curve is a 12-6, which I use for my out pitch. I started throwing my change-up last year, and I give it a lot of the credit for my success last year. My slider is my 4th pitch. It is hard, and I use it as another way to keep hitters unbalanced. My approach to pitching is attacking early, throw strikes, mix pitches and set a tempo.” I look for Mitchell to have a big year as one of the anchors of this rotation.

Akeel Morris (SP4) - Another teenager with an explosive fastball. I talked with Akeel for an exclusive MMO interview in October and this is what he told me about his arsenal: “As of now I’m throwing a fastball, curveball and a change up. My fastball is usually low to mid 90′s, it peaked at 96 this season. Curveball is mid to upper 70′s, and change up is upper 70′s to low 80′s.” Like with the other youngsters on this list, much depends on the development of his off-speed stuff, but this year will be a big opportunity for Morris to show what he can do.

Rafael Montero (SP5) - There has been a great deal of buzz around the organization about this Montero kid. A right-hander that throws in the mid-90′s. Somehow I get the feeling he will emerge from the competition to grab the last rotation spot. Having just turned 21 in October, he’s not another member of the Kiddie Korp., but he shows plenty of upside just the same. If he winds up in the pen, or in extended, some other candidates to fill the fifth rotation spot would be right-handers: Marco Camarena and Jacob Lugo, or lefty Carlos Vazquez.


T.J. Chism (LHP) - Chism will anchor a very talented bullpen at Savannah this year. He should be one of the team’s closers, if he pitches as well as he did last year for Brooklyn. In 2011 he went: 3-0 with a 1.14 ERA, and 6 saves. His WHIP was 0.88, and his opponents batting average was .179. In a recent interview with MMO, T.J. described his pitches: “I throw a 2-seam and 4-seam fastball which I usually work around 87-89 topping out around 91 from a 3/4 arm slot. A change-up and slider which range anywhere from 75-80 mph depending on how I feel that day. My change-up and slider really excelled when I moved to the 3/4 arm slot during the beginning of my second year. And I was able to locate my fastball alot better as well.”

Jeremy Gould (LHP) - The perfect second lefty for the Savannah pen will be Gould, who also had a superb year in Brooklyn in 2011. The 6’4″ south-paw pitched to a record of 1-3 with a 3.26 ERA, with 46 K’s and 10 walks in 30 IP’s.

Todd Weldon (RHP) - Weldon shared the closer duties with Chism last year at Brooklyn, and that tandem worked really well. For Weldon’s part he went: 2-1 with a 2.56 ERA, and 6 saves. Opposing hitters batted only .193 off him and he turned in a WHIP of 1.01.

Steve Winnick (RHP) - Winnick put up some good numbers at Brooklyn last year as well. A record of 4-0 with an ERA of 2.97, a WHIP of 1.05 and opponent’s batting average of .203 should get the 6’1″ right-hander an opportunity at Savannah.

Tyson Seng (RHP) - The same thing I said about Winnick could be said about Seng, who went: 3-1 with a 0.90 ERA, and chipped in 2 saves. In 30 IP’s he struck out 32 while walking only 5, and his WHIP was 1.07.

Jeffrey Walters (RHP) - A starter for Brooklyn in 2011, Walters pitched with uneven results. He had trouble getting past the fifth inning in most starts, and wound up with 14 starts, going 4-6 with a 3.32 ERA. He does have a very “live” arm though and the Mets are rather intrigued by the guy, so this year would be a good time to try him out of the pen either as a set-up man, or a long-man.

Carlos Vazquez (LHP) - The other candidate for the long-man position in the Savannah pen will be Vazquez who, like Walters, was also in the Brooklyn rotation in 2011. He went 4-2 with a 3.61 ERA in 14 starts. As with Walters, Vazquez was never able to pitch deep into games, and would be better served in the pen. At 5’11″ 180 lbs., there are also questions as to whether the left-hander’s body would hold up through the rigors of being a starter. I got to see him pitch last season and he showed a good fastball/curveball combination. If he can add a third pitch it will go along way towards helping him this year.

Well there you have it. Interesting prospects all around the diamond, a very strong outfield, talented young starters and an experienced quality bullpen. This team looks very strong for next year. Other than a predominately right-handed rotation, there is very good lefty-righty balance in the line-up and the bullpen. Perhaps I’m sipping the Kool-Aid, but I like this roster and think the Gnats will have a very good chance at a third consecutive Division Championship in 2012. Go Gnats!

Check back in a few days when I will unveil the 2012 St. Lucie Mets of the Florida State League.

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Prospect Pulse: The Catchers Thu, 18 Aug 2011 13:45:30 +0000 Ever since Mike Piazza, played his last game as a Met, the team has been searching for a permanent replacement at catcher. We have had a few quick fixes, but the patch just doesn’t seem to hold. Where oh where is the next Jerry Grote? The next John Stearns? The next Todd Hundley? Will the Mets ever be able to develop their own big league quality, starting catcher? Let’s turn over all the rocks in the minor league system, and see if help is on the way.

On the Rise:  

Albert Cordero – If you want to talk about one potential big league starter, with increasing value all the time, you have to start with Albert Cordero. The 21 year old RH hitter from Venezuela, was signed by the Mets as an IFA in 2008. At 5’11″ and 175lbs. he was at first recognized as a good defensive catcher, with advanced receiving skills, quick footwork and an impressive throwing arm. But quickly it became clear that there is more to the player than just defense, much more. Starting out in 2008 and 2009 in the VSL, and then the DSL, Cordero made his stateside debut with Kingsport in 2010. It was there that he first began opening eyes, by hitting .277 with 8 HR’s, 32 RBI’s, and a .466 SLG, in just over 200 AB’s, while at the same time throwing out 43% of would be base stealers (23 of 53). When 2011 started, Cordero got off to a very slow start as the regular catcher at Savannah. At the end of May he was hitting only .208 with 1 HR, and his K/BB was 27/1. It was around that time that Cordero decided he had to shorten his swing, stay more in control, and be more selective at the plate. In June, the first month where he employed his new approach, his OPS was .688. He then gained some solid momentum in July getting hotter as the month wore on and finished with an OPS of .777. By August he was literally on fire, with an OPS for this month of 1.343! Video: Albert Cordero, C, New York Mets So far in 48 August AB’s, Cordero has 22 Hits, 4 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR’s, 10 RBI’s, and is hitting .458 for the month. Keep in mind that he is still very far away from Flushing, the South Atlantic League being a far cry from the majors. But with the development and skills he has shown so far, he has already moved all the way to the head of the class.

Kai Gronauer - The 23 year old catcher from Germany, was signed by the Mets in 2008 out of the German Bundesliga amateur baseball league. As a teenager he was the starting catcher for Germany in the World Baseball Classic. As with most European baseball players, Kai is a little old for a prospect since he started playing later in childhood, when he was ten. Being a late developer, he was coming on strong as the 2010 season came to a close, hitting .291 at A level, for the season, after hitting only .243 the year before. Gronauer was always considered a very good defensive catcher, and has thrown out 38% of base stealers for his career, but once his bat started to catch up, his stock started soaring heading into 2011. The 2011 season started very slowly for the starting catcher at AA Binghamton. At the time he went down with a serious hamstring injury on May 12th, he was only hitting a little over .200. The injury caused him to miss two months of the season, and since his return at the end of July, he has hit .314. The injury couldn’t have come at a worse time for Gronauer, as it has effectively wiped out a season that was supposed to put him within reach of the 40 man roster. A strong 2012, could put him right into the conversation about “catching on” for the Mets.

Keep An Eye On:

Juan Centeno - The Mets drafted Juan Centeno in the 32nd round of the 2007 draft out of H.S. in Puerto Rico. The 5’9″ 172lb. backstop toiled in the rookie leagues and the short-season levels until 2010, when he emerged as a force at catcher for the Brooklyn Cyclones. In 89 AB’s he hit .371, while sharing time with Blake Forsythe. For some reason he has not been able to find consistent playing time this year at St Lucie, as Francisco Pena has garnered the lion’s share of catching duty. Despite being relegated to the role of back-up this year, Centeno has hit .309 in 139 AB’s, with 1 HR and 9 RBI’s. He has also thrown out 43% of base stealers this year, and is at 39% for his career. With his path seemingly blocked, Centeno must continue to make the most of his limited opportunities, while waiting for a chance to get some regular playing time.

Star is Fading:

Francisco PenaWhen the Mets signed Francisco Pena as a 16 year old IFA in July of 2006, they thought the son of a former big league catcher, Tony Pena, would be their starting big league catcher in four or five years. Six seasons later and Pena ranks as one of the biggest busts in the Mets organization. The sun is setting on his Mets career, as he slogs through another nondescript season, in 2011. After three uninspiring performances at Savannah in 2007 and 2008, and 2009 at St Lucie, Pena had his entire 2010 season wiped out by a serious foot injury. Coming back healthy in 2011, this was supposed to be a breakout season for him, a season when he would finally put it together and play solid defense behind the plate, combined with a power contribution to the line-up. Alas it has not happened, even though he has been playing regularly as the everyday catcher during his fourth consecutive season in A ball. To date, in 281 AB’s this year, Pena is batting an anemic .231, with 5 HR’s, 37 RBI’s and a slash line of .287/.327/.614. Defensively he has 6 errors, 6 Passed Balls, and has thrown out 24% of would-be base stealers, in 83 games. As long as the catching depth in the system is as spare as it is at the higher levels, Pena just might hang onto a spot next year since there is not much coming up directly behind him. Video: Francisico Pena

Blake Forsythe – The problem with Forsythe is that the Mets wasted a 3rd round pick on him in 2010, when they drafted him out of a major college program at the University of Tennessee. When drafted, it was said he would be a fast mover and that he had all the skills needed to one day be a major league catcher, but there hasn’t even been a glimmer of hope from this guy. There is nothing positive to say about him in two seasons so far. He started at Brooklyn in 2010 and in 101 AB’s hit .238 with 3 HR’s and 8 RBI’s. Beginning 2011 in a platoon at starting catcher for Savannah he never got off the ground offensively, and hasn’t show much in the field. Albert Cordero the other catcher sharing playing time with Forsythe, outplayed him in every facet of the game this year. For the year in 311 AB’s Forsythe is wallowing at the end of the batting order, with a .225 BA, 5 HR’s and 32 RBI’s while striking out 103 times. He has managed to throw out 30% of would-be base stealers this year (18 for 61). He had better start showing something soon, or he will not be around next year.

Jury Is Still Out:

Nelfi Zapata  – was drafted in the 19th round of the 2009 draft out of H.S. in Massachesetts.  He played in 35 games in 2009 for the GCL Mets, hitting .261. In 2010 he played for Kingsport, hitting .247 in 53 games. This year he is again being used sparingly, playing for Brooklyn, and appearing in only 19 games so far while hitting .258 with 1 HR and 12 RBI’s. Defensively, for his career, he has thrown out 30% of base stealers. Video: Nelfi Zapata Nelfi is known as an offensive catcher, and he has yet to see regular playing time at any level, which makes him a rather intriguing mystery, and one that should be given an opportunity next year to see what he can do. He will be battling in spring training for one of the three spots at Savannah against Carrillo, Maron and Glenn, amongst others.

Xorge Carrillo – The first catcher drafted by the new Mets regime, was 2011 14th round pick out of Arizona State named Xorge Carrillo, a 21 year old RH hitting catcher from Mexico. His first name is pronounced Jorge. Like Zapata he has only appeared in 19 games for Brooklyn so far this year, and over 64 AB’s he is hitting .203. Early reports are that he won’t hit for a lot of power, but his K/BB ratio should be very solid as he has a good eye at the plate and doesn’t strikeout a lot. ASU C Xorge Carrillo He has strong catching and throwing skills, but needs to improve on his CS’s, which is at 24% this year since starting his pro career. But it is his hitting, that could carry him a ways through this farm system. He will be competing for a long season league next year but a trip back to Brooklyn is more likely. It will be sometime next year before we start to know what we have in Carrillo.

Long Term Projects:

Jeffrey Glenn – One guy I identified in an earlier post as a lower level talent that, given some time, may someday emerge as a legit catching prospect, his name is Jeffrey Glenn. At 6’3 and 185, the 19 year old, 2009 9th rounder from Winter Haven Florida, is very athletic behind the dish, and shows some promise, however one defensive area he is weak at, is throwing out runners, having caught only 18% this season. His bat also needs to develop, and these things should improve as he physically matures, and puts on some muscle, to add to his endurance. He seems to be wearing down as this season goes on, as over his last ten games he is batting only .182, with 1 RBI. For the season he is hitting .238 in 130 AB’s with 3 HR’s and 15 RBI’s. His 37/13 K/BB ratio indicates a need to cut down on the strikeouts. Hopefully Glenn will wind up in Savannah next year but he is going to have to start hitting if he wants to separate himself from the pack.

Camden Maron – The 6’1″ 175 lbs. LH hitting catcher who was the 2009 34th round draft pick out of Hicksville (NY) H.S., has been sharing the catching duties at Kingsport with Jeff Glenn. Maron is another player I recently discussed in the Kingsport Mets Team Report this past week, and one that has a fairly high ceiling as a hitter. Where Glenn is a stronger defensive catcher at this time, Maron is an offensive catcher. Honing his receiving skills, footwork and game calling, behind the plate, will determine how quickly Maron rises through the system, and where he will top out. So far this season he has thrown out 25% of attempted base stealers, but has shown a rather drastic reduction in passed balls from the two previous years. His hitting has not been suspect, with a lifetime minor league BA, in 248 total AB’s, of .302 covering three seasons (2009 – 2011), two at GCL Mets, and this year at Kingsport. Maron can flat out rake, and his lifetime K/BB ratio is a very solid 44/42. This shows an excellent eye at the plate, combined with the ability to make contact, and avoid the strikeout. If Maron can take the necessary steps to shore up his defensive game, the sky is the limit and he could move up this list quickly.

Baby Brigade:

Don’t tell Alex, but if these kids ever do make it to the bigs, we will be lucky if it happens before 2017. I found them toiling in the DSL, for the DSL Mets II, and they have some freakish early stat profiles.

The first one has only been up to bat 61 times, in 28 games, and is hitting only .148. His name is Natanael Ramos, 18 years old from Venezuela. The only reason I mention him is because of his arm. 42 times players have tried to steal off him , and he has thrown out 21 of them (50%). Should we be trying this kid on the mound?

Manuel Hilario is a 19 year old RH hitting catcher out of the Dominican Republic. In 163 DSL AB’s this year, he is hitting .227, but his OBP is .407! How on earth can he be doing that you may very well ask? I will tell you, in 216 plate appearances, Hilario has 37 Hits (9 2B’s, 4 3B’s, 2 HR’s, 26 RBI’s) 36 walks, and has been hit by a pitch 15 times! What is this, the second coming of Ron Hunt? And 36 walks? Are you kidding me? He has struck out only 34 times and, oh I almost forgot, he has swiped 22 SB’s already, as a catcher. This guy’s eye at the plate is like Ted Williams or something, too bad he doesn’t hit like the Splendid Splinter, and it seems he runs like Mookie Wilson. With peripherals like that he may be worth keeping an eye on. Just to see his HBP totals will be fun. I mean how do you get hit with 15 pitches in 200 PA’s anyway?

Final Thoughts:

I don’t know about you, but our catching position seems very weak to me. The only guy remotely close to the bigs is Gronauer,and he may still be two years away, if he ever does make it. The only one with a high ceiling is Cordero, and he’s in low A ball, and far from a sure thing. And the rest of these guys are more suspect than prospect. SA and company certainly needs to make this position an organizational priority a.s.a.p. Unless he plans on trading for another Gary Carter, the Mets need to find help at catcher, beyond what’s on the farm.

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