Prospect Pulse: Captain Kirk Eyes Return To Action

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: