WEEK IN REVIEW
The Las Vegas 51s (8-7, second in the Pacific Coast League Pacific Southern division) put together a strong week, salvaging a series with Fresno on Friday, then sweeping Sacramento before taking the opener from Fresno on Tuesday. During the five-game winning streak, the 51s averaged 5.4 runs per game.
The Binghamton Rumble Ponies (5-6, fourth in the Eastern League Eastern division) went 1-3 against Erie and Portland from Friday to Tuesday, before Wednesday and Thursday’s contests were postponed due to rain. The Rumble Ponies rode a home run from Kevin Kaczmarski and a solid performance from knuckleballer Mickey Jannis on Monday to an 8-3 victory, tying their highest scoring output of the season.
The St. Lucie Mets (7-8, tied for third in the Florida State League South division) endured a bumpy week, putting up a few high scoring totals, as well as falling victim to their opponents’ offensive outbursts. The Mets reached double digit runs in consecutive games to open their series with Dunedin on Monday and Tuesday, but were shut down 9-1 the next night.
The Columbia Fireflies (9-6, tied for second in the South Atlantic League Southern division) went 3-3 last week, but continue to receive outstanding outings from their starting pitchers. Jordan Humphreys held Rome to one run over six innings on Wednesday, which lowered his season ERA to 0.96 through three starts.
METS MINORS NEWS & BUZZ
Mets OF Juan Lagares completed a three-game rehab stint with the St. Lucie Mets as he recovered from an oblique strain. He went 4-11 (.364) with a double, triple, and one batted in. Lagares returned to the big league Mets on April 13.
SS Luis Guillorme continued his uncharacteristically hot start at the plate this season with a five-hit game for the Binghamton Rumble Ponies on April 12. The quintuple of hits tied a Binghamton record, last done by Gavin Cecchini in 2015. Read more on Guillorme here.
The Mets’ extended spring training schedule got underway this week. Infielder Hansel Moreno led the offensive attack in the first game by going 2-3 at the plate.
RHP Matt Blackham was selected by the Mets in the 29th round of the 2014 draft, from Middle Tennessee State University. The former Blue Raider made his professional debut with the Kingsport Mets that season, before highlighting the Brooklyn Cyclones’ rotation in 2015.
Blackham’s 2016 season was over before it began, as he suffered a fracture of the olecranon in his pitching elbow at the end of spring training, costing him a full year of action. Now, Blackham has returned with a vengeance at Low-A Columbia, where he has struck out ten batters in four appearances out of the Fireflies’ bullpen.
Matt joined MMO for a Q&A, where he discussed his rehab, Tebowmania, and more.
On his goals entering the season…
“My goals coming into this season were to stay healthy! That being said, I have worked really hard to find myself a routine for the season that will help keep my body strong.”
On the experience of sitting out a full season with an injury…
“Not being able to play an entire season makes you realize how much you truly love the game. It was an emotional roller coaster for sure, but if it weren’t for my fiancé, family, and my baseball family around me, I don’t think I would be where I am today.”
On how he has grown as a pitcher since being drafted…
“I had to learn how to actually be a pitcher. When I was drafted I went out and did my own thing, but over the past few years I’ve learned how much it truly takes to get to the next level. I also learned how mentally strong you need to be, and after coming off an injury you have to be able to stay positive and believe that you’ll be able to come back better than ever.”
On the coaches that have helped him throughout his career…
“I am lucky to have had such a great support group and coaches helping me understand the game over the years, including Tom Gamboa, Jonathan Hurst, Ron Romanick, Bob Zimmerman, Casey Shaw, and many others. Before I got hurt last season, I actually was taking classes with (Air Force pitching coach) Tim Dixon, learning how to strengthen my mental game. That’s another thing that helped me get through my injury, and get me to this point.”
On his typical game plan…
“The biggest thing for me would have to be my mentality. Instead of always being worried about things you can’t control, I’m just trying to enjoy the moment. I am 24 years old playing baseball; a kids game. I am blessed that I still have the opportunity to still be playing, especially after having my fourth elbow surgery. Luckily, I had a great surgeon, Dr. David Altchek, who did an amazing job. I want to go out there and play every single game as if it were my last, and love every second of playing, making life long friends, as well as memories that will last a life time.
Pitching wise, I want to attack the opposing hitters with my fastball, and keep throwing it until they prove that they can hit it.”
On playing with Tim Tebow…
“Playing with Tebow has been great! It’s a good experience being around someone who has been so successful and trying to learn as much as you possibly can from him on and off the field.”
Kevin Canelon, Chase Ingram activated from St. Lucie’s inactive list….Joel Huertas, Darwin Ramos assigned to extended spring training from St. Lucie….Jeurys Familia sent on rehab assignment at St. Lucie.
Cameron Griffin assigned to St. Lucie from Columbia….Darwin Ramos assigned to St. Lucie from extended spring training….Adam Atkins and Tyler Bashlor placed on St. Lucie’s disabled list….Joel Huertas assigned to Columbia from extended spring training.
Sean Gilmartin and Rafael Montero optioned to Las Vegas from New York….Kevin Plawecki recalled to New York from Las Vegas….L.J. Mazzilli assigned to Las Vegas from Binghamton….Donovan Hand assigned to Binghamton from Las Vegas….Jeff Glenn activated from Las Vegas’ disabled list.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
This week’s award goes to a pair that has been doing some serious damage down in St. Lucie this past week. Third baseman Jhoan Urena and outfielder Jeff Diehl are the newest recipients of the award.
Urena has been as hot as they come over the last seven days, hitting .364/.500/.773, and driving in four runs. Back for his third season in St. Lucie, he has begun to rekindle the success that he found with the Brooklyn Cyclones in 2014. For the season, Urena is hitting .321/.424/.518, with seven RBI and seven extra-base hits.
Diehl, on the other hand, has not only found success at the plate, but on the mound. Pressed for fresh bullpen arms on Monday, manager Chad Kretuer turned to Diehl, who trotted in from his position in left field and recorded the final out of the eighth inning to preserve a one-run lead. Diehl retired his man via the strikeout, no less, and was reported to have hit 96 mph on the radar gun.
Diehl’s spontaneous pitching performance should not, however, overshadow his recent showing at the dish. Over the last week, he hit a remarkable .429/.520/.810 and drove in eight runs. Diehl’s slugging percentage is tops among Mets minor-leaguers in that span.
Las Vegas: @ Fresno (4/21), @ Sacramento (4/22-25), OFF (4/26), Albuquerque (4/27-30)
Binghamton: @ Erie (4/21-23), @ Akron (4/24-26), OFF (4/27)
St. Lucie: @ Daytona (4/21-23), OFF (4/24), Lakeland (4/25-27)