The buzz all week in New Britain was all about one player, and it wasn’t top Twins prospect Oswaldo Arcia that everyone was talking about. When I initially arrived at the Stadium on Monday, I went first to the press-box to drop off my lap-top, and other assorted in-game items I require. I was about to drop my gear and race down to the dugout to see if there was any life down there yet, when I was accosted by the locals who demanded to know what in heck Zack Wheeler was still doing in Double-A?
Wilmer Flores played first and third in the series and told me that he is now equally comfortable playing any of the infield positions. This year between Lucie and Bingo, he has played a total of four games at 1B, nine at 2B, and 74 at 3B. His hitting has been remarkably consistent at both stops and posted surprisingly similar slash-lines of .289/.336/.463 at High-A, (272 PA) and .295/.336/.464 at AA 123 PA.
I asked Francisco Pena if he had time to talk. He said sure, but was hoping to do some hitting before the game. I asked him if he’d rather talk the next day and he smiled and said it would be better. I said, no problem man I’ll catch up with you then. He started to walk towards the batting cages, suddenly stopped and turned back to me. With his eyes very wide and a really serious look on his face he pointed at me and said, Tomorrow.
Francisco was a man of his word. When he finished working out the next day, we grabbed a seat at one end of the empty dugout for a Q&A. Pena is a very bright and interesting guy, I hardly had to ask him any questions. Just throw out a brief suggestion and he would furnish me with well thought out, full, and complete answers. The thing he takes the most pride in is his catching abilities and working with his pitching staff.
One coach who is working with the Binghamton back-stops these days is roving catching instructor, former big-leaguer Bob Natal, shown here tossing B.P. on Tuesday. Natal has done a superb job of working with the catchers in the system on their defense. And he gets around too, last week I saw him at the Hudson Valley Renegades ball park, working with the three catchers on the Brooklyn Cyclones.
Monday night Greg Peavey pitched one of his finest games of the year going 7.0 innings and giving up just one unearned run on three singles, three walks, and three strikeouts. What helped Peavey in the game was keeping the ball down and aggressively pounding the lower zone. The outing improves his record to 4-6 on the year, and gives him some positive momentum as he attempts to finish the season strong.
Then on Tuesday night Mark Cohoon kept it going, hurling 7.1 innings while surrendering three runs all earned, on five hits, with two walks and two strikeouts. to bring his record to 5-7 with a 3.60 ERA this year. I asked Cohoon what he’s been doing lately to attribute to his improved pitching, and he told me he’s trying to take it one pitch at a time, and try not to get ahead of himself.
At mid-season, Wilfredo Tovar was tabbed from St. Lucie, and was brought up to Bingo along with Flores, Mazzoni, and Rosario. Playing shortstop on Tuesday night, Tovar came to bat in the fifth inning with the bases loaded and two-outs in a scoreless game. The 5’10” 160 lb. Tovar mashed one that narrowly missed going out of the park, but instead banged high off the left-field wall for a three-run double.
Outfielder Dustin Martin who was released by the Twins at the end of S.T. was grabbed up by the Mets and assigned initially to Buffalo. With the Herd Martin batted .257 with one home run and eight RBI, in 74 at-bats. Despite starting to heat up in May, he was sent to Bingo where he could get more playing time. Since joining the B-Mets, Martin is hitting .236 with one home run and 22 RBI, in 127 at-bats.
Frank Francisco was assigned to the B-Mets as part of his rehab on Wednesday afternoon. He gave up a Texas League bloop double to shallow center-field to his first batter and then looked positively dreadful for the rest of his outing. He threw two-thirds of an inning, allowing two earned runs on three hits, with a walk and a strikeout, and left with the bases loaded, to be bailed out by Brad Holt.
Holt was the only B-Mets pitcher who went unscored upon Wednesday afternoon. But he did have quite an adventure with his first batter when he gave up an infield single that scored a run. While covering first, Holt took a mighty flop with the ball in his glove, I thought he might be hurt, but he leaped to his feet and threw a bullet home to Pena to nail the second runner trying to score.
Wheeler was bad yesterday: 4.0 IP, 6 R, 5 ER, !0 H, 5 K’s, 6th loss. I’ve seen him pitch three times this year, on a frigid April 6th in Binghamton, he took a loss then also. I saw him the next day and he said he had “never pitched in conditions like that before.” I also saw him throw a gem. May 23rd at N.B. 8.0 IP, 1 R, 2 H, 2 BB’s, 7K’s. Am I worried about his last two performances?….Naaah!
Slugging first-baseman Allan Dykstra has been on fire since coming off the D.L. Here he is rounding third base on Monday after bashing the first of his two home runs that night. In his last ten games Dykstra has gone: 13-for-31 with nine runs scored, three doubles, two homers, three RBI, and ten walks. His slash-line over that time is .419/.581/.710. His slash for the season in 90 at-bats at Binghamton is .311/.471/.500.
Hope you enjoyed these photos, there are plenty more to come too. I have built a digital photo library this season of thousands of pictures of our Mets minor leaguers. If you have a favorite player or two you want to see an action photo of just write us here on the site and ask….you never know.
Please check back with MMO everyday for big league Mets coverage unlike anywhere else on earth, and Mets minor league coverage and analysis that can’t be beat. Also, I will be writing up, just as fast as my little fingers can type, interviews I have done over the last two weeks with Rich Donnelly, Steve Matz, Rob Carson, Wilmer Flores, Francisco Pena, Kevin Plawecki, and Zack Wheeler, plus tons of observations and insights that were told to me in the last few days by a bunch of players like Greg Peavey, Mark Cohoon, and C.J. Nitkowski, and coaches like Glenn Abbott and Luis Natera.