AAA: Las Vegas 51s (20-23) @ Iowa Cubs (18-24) Listen
Wednesday 1:05 ET – RHP Zack Wheeler (2-1, 3.74) vs. RHP Guillermo Moscoso (2-0, 2.14)
Zack Wheeler last pitched May 11th and was on a string of 3 sharp starts (20 IP, 14 H, 3 BB, 19 K) before some discomfort in his shoulder caused him to miss a start. After checking things out and resting he’s set to resume today, although he is likely to be limited to 75 to 80 pitches.
Guillermo Moscoso is with his 5th organization after splitting last year between the Rockies and AAA Colorado Springs. He’s a veteran of the PCL having thrown 359 innings in the league since 2009 as well as spending time on big league rosters in each of those years.
Rafael Montero has been sent back to AA and Dylan Owen is going along with him. These moves open Las Vegas rosters spots for Wheeler to be activated from the DL and recently signed David Aardsma to be added to the bullpen.
AA: @ New Britain Rock Cats (MIN) 9, Binghamton Mets 3
RF Cesar Puello, from the #3 spot in the order was 1-for-5 with a homer (good) and three strikeouts (bad). The 22-year-old is now hitting .338/.393/.623 in 20 games in May and is up to .315/.379/.543 overall with six homers in 35 games – that’s 25 homers over 150 games. Yeah, that’ll play. Remember, Puello hit seven homeruns total in his first 198 professional games in America, before busting out with 10 in 117 games in the FSL in 2011. His current isolated slugging percentage of .228 would easily be a career-high.
RHP Jacob deGrom (1-5, 5.83): 4.2 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 4 BB, 3 K.
- On the pitching side, deGrom’s struggles in AA, are one of the early disappointments of the 2013 season. I really believed in the sinker, his velocity, and feel for a slider with the potential to improve the pitch.
A+: St. Lucie Mets 5, @ Dunedin Blue Jays 3
Not much exciting here in the box score.
22-year-old LHP Alex Panteliodis was ok, but not special: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, with 5 ground outs and six flyouts.
A pair of 24-year-olds – 2B TJ Rivera and RF Travis Taijeron -were both 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Taijeron is hitting .270/.385/.482 thanks to a big May (.323/.432/.613 with 9 2B and 3 HR) but he has major contact problems, for an offensively oriented position (LF), having struck out 44 times in 41 games. Rivera, a non-drafted free agent out of Troy is hitting .300/.362/.371. He’s stretched at shortstop, but makes a fine second baseman in a-ball.
A: Charleston RiverDogs 2, @ Savannah Sand Gnats 0
This one, played in perfect weather – 77 degrees at first pitch – featured a really fun pitching matchup: NYY’s Rafael De Paula and the Mets’ Steven Matz (pictured).
Both Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America rated De Paula as the Yankees’ #10 prospect coming into this year, and he has more than lived up to the billing, leading minor league baseball in strikeouts with 73. De Paula lied about his age and identity and MLB investigated him for 16 months before finally approving his contract last year (more background here). De Paula’s line actually might understate how good he was: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K. He did not allow a runner to third. I didn’t get gun readings on him during the game, but he was throwing damn hard (BP had him topping out at 99 entering the season and BA at 98). Gnats’ hitters could not square up his stuff. He showed both a breaking ball and a changeup with a chance to be plus. I believe I described one change on air as “unfair.” The one blemish on De Paula’s game: control: he’s walked 19 batters in 45.1 innings. For a guy making the jump from the DSL to the SAL, that’s understandable. I think he’s the top pitching prospect I’ve seen against the Gnats this year.
Steven Matz was almost as good: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, and 93 pitches and first pitch strikes to 15 of 22 batters. Matz gave up a run in the first that should never have happened and a run in the fourth that should have happened. In the first, leadoff man Taylor Dugas slapped hard one-hop single past 3B Jeff Reynolds who was drawn in against his speed to begin the inning. I thought it was a ball Reynolds should have fielded. After Dugas stole second, Matz gave up a single the other way to light-hitting SS (bust) Cito Culver to put runners at the corners with no outs. He induced a double-play grounder, but the run scored three batters into the game. In the fourth, Matz gave up a pair of triples blasted up the right-center field gap for the ‘Dogs’ second run. After that, he set down the final eight batters he saw in the game.
Matz was sitting at 92 mph, was 90-93 and touched 95, according to those sitting behind home plate. He worked heavily off his fastball early, before working in more sliders and changeups as the night went on. He got back-to-back strikeouts off the slider in the fifth. Many of his other whiffs were on elevated heat. The good news is that he was 1. more comfortable throwing his slider in games and 2. getting swings and misses with it. The nine strikeouts were a new season-high, tying his career high from last year in Kingsport.
C Kevin Plawecki (.356/.441/.597 – 41 games) was 0-for-2 with two walks, and has now reached base safely in 31 straight games. I asked Mets’ Special Assistant to the GM JP Ricciardi before the game what else Plawecki had to prove in the South Atlantic League. Not much, he conceded, saying it was “only a matter of time” until he earned his promotion to advanced-A. I had a scout praise Plawecki’s “quick release” the other day to me and he was 1-for-2 throwing out runners Tuesday.
Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson was a guest of Gary Cohen and Ron Darling during the SNY broadcast of Mets vs Reds Tuesday night. During the one inning Q&A session, Alderson was asked about the status of Mets top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler and his eventual promotion to the big league team.
Alderson said Wheeler is scheduled to start tomorrow in Iowa and every fifth day thereafter. He would like to see him throw well for two or three more starts at which point he will be a strong candidate for promotion.
Prior to missing his last start with a sore right clavical and subsequent cortisone injection, Wheeler had been in the midst of his best stretch of the season. In his last three starts the Georgia native is 2-0, allowing just 14 hits in 20 innings, with 3 walks and 19 strikeouts. This season Wheeler is 2-1 with a 3.74 era in eight starts.
Las Vegas 51s 1, @ Iowa Cubs (CHI) 2 – Game 1
RHP Rafael Montero, who was promoted from double-A Binghamton this week, made his PCL and AAA debut Wednesday afternoon in game 1 of a doublheader against the Iowa Cubs in Des Moines. The native of the Dominican Republic didn’t disappoint, throwing 6.2 innings of a scheduled 7 inning game, surrendering four hits and two runs, while striking out five and walking one. That’s on par with the types of outings he’s had all season with the B-Mets, where he K’d 54 and walked six in 46.2 innings.
Unfortuantely, on this day, the Vegas bats didn’t give him any run support and he took the loss but it appears Montero has the stuff to quickly make the adjustment to the higher level.
Final line for Montero: 6.2IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 5K 86 pitches/ 52 strikes. After the outing his era stands at 2.70.
Las Vegas 51s 5, @ Iowa Cubs (CHI) 6 – Game 2
In game 2 of the doubleheader, the 51s fell behind 5-0 heading into the 6th inning but rallied for five runs to get even. In the process they got starter D.J. Mitchell off the hook after the right hander allowed five runs on seven hits in four innings. In his five starts with the 51s this season, Mitchell has failed to go deeper than 5.1 innings and has allowed three or more runs in his last four.
Reliever Gonzalez Germen gave up a single run in the top of the 6th breaking the tie and giving Iowa the eventual winning margin.
3B Zack Lutz continues to swing a hot bat, going 1 for 2 with two rbi. He was also 1 for 2 in the opener and has now hit safely in 11 straight games.
AA: Binghamton Mets (25-19) @ New Britain Rock Cats (20-24) Listen
Tuesday 6:35 ET – RHP Jacob deGrom (1-4, 4.86) vs. RHP Trevor May (2-2, 3.95)
Jacob deGrom picked up his first AA win in his last start, allowing 4 runs (3 ER) on 8 hits and 1 walk with 6 K over 7 IP. In his last two starts he has struck out 11 and walked 2, after beginning at the AA level with 8 BB and 14 K in his first four starts.
Trevor May was trade to the Twins from the Phillies in the Ben Revere trade. He allowed 5 runs in 4 IP in his last start at Bowie, and has struck out 40 and walked 21 for the year.
A: Charleston RiverDogs (24-17) @ Savannah Sand Gnats (25-17) Listen
Tuesday 7:05 ET – HP Rafael De Paula (4-2, 2.75) vs. LHP Steven Matz (2-1, 2.83)
Rafael De Paula allowed 2 runs on 3 hits and 1 BB while striking out 11 over 6 IP. He has struck out 10 or more four times and totaled 69 with 17 walks in 39.1 IP, while limiting batters to a .174 clip. I would expect to see the 22 year old Dominican in Tampa for the second half of the year.
Steven Matz lost to Charleston in his last start, allowing 5 runs (4 ER) on 7 hits and 3 walks over 4.1 IP. His walk rate is up to 8.4% to go along with a 25.2% strikeout rate. Last year he walked over 14% while with Kingsport. Despite being mid-May Matz has equaled his time on the mound last year when he made 6 starts and threw 29 IP.
A+: St. Lucie Mets (24-18) @ Dunedin Blue Jays (25-16) Listen
Tuesday 11:00 AM – LHP Alex Panteliodis (0-1, 2.81) vs. RHP Casey Lawrence (3-3, 3.61)
Alex Panteliodis allowed 4 runs (2 ER) on 7 hits in his last start, while walking none and striking out 6. In three starts since coming off the DL he has struck out 13 and walked 2 while limiting FSL batters to .224 over 16 IP.
Casey Lawrence picked up a win at Fort Myers in his last start (7.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 4 K.)
AAA: Las Vegas 51s (20-21) @ Iowa Cubs (15-23) Listen
Tuesday 1:05 ET – RHP Rafael Montero (4-3, 3.47 in AA) vs. RHP Barret Loux (2-2, 8.22)
Tuesday Game 2 – RHP D J Mitchell (1-1, 6.75) vs. LHP Brooks Raley (3-3, 4.91)
Rafael Montero has a 1.88 ERA on the road this year. He’s struck out between 5 and 8 batters in each start, and not walked more than 2 in any start (54K/6BB total) in AA. With Matt Fox having been signed, and Zack Wheeler expected back Wednesday, this is expected to be a one and done for Montero before heading back to Binghamton.
Barret Loux did not enjoy Reno in his last start, allowing 7 runs on 9 hits and 3 BB/2 K over 3.1 IP. In two home starts he’s allowed 1 run over 10 IP. He was the 6th overall pick in the 2010 draft by Arizona, who then opted not to sign him over injury concerns.
D J Mitchell finally limited walks this year, issuing just one while striking out 3, however he was tagged for 10 hits over 5 IP costing him 4 runs and the loss. He hasn’t pitched in a day game yet this year, so maybe that will be more to his liking.
Brooks Raley threw 3 shutout innings out of the bullpen in his last appearance five days ago. He had allowed 8 runs in 4 IP in Colorado Springs in his last start. RH batters are hitting .322 against him.
Brandon Nimmo, the Mets’ 2011 first round pick, remains on the disabled list. He has not played in a game since April 29. He was originally placed on the disabled list with a bruised left hand. After the doctors determined that there was no break, and physio tape allowed him to feel good when swinging, he returned to batting practice about 10 days ago.
The Gnats had planned to activate him last week, but he came down with a minor glute strain that delayed his return to action. Savannah began a seven-game homestand Monday, and hopes to have Nimmo back during it.
AAA: Las Vegas @ Iowa – ppd by rain
Rafael Montero’s AAA debut will have to wait until Tuesday afternoon.
AA: Binghamton Mets 6, @ New Britain Rock Cats 3
RF Cesar Puello: 3-for-4, 2 2B, 2 R, RBI. One of the doubles went off the right-field wall. The 22-year old Puello is now hitting .320/.385/.533 in 34 games. He’s in the midst of a monstrous May in which he has hit .347/.405/.611 with nine extra-base hits, three walks and just 11 strikeouts in 19 games. This is the encouraging part. However, even in that binge, he’s walked in under 4% of his plate appearances while his on-base percentage has been supported by four hit-by-pitches in the month.
At Baseball America, Ben Badler wrote about Puello:
Early in his career, Puello struggled with his hitting approach and to generate loft in his swing to be able to tap into his raw power. This year he’s shown a more selective hitting approach and his swing plane has continued to evolve to help him drive the ball out of the park… This might just be the breakout the Mets have been waiting for.
Puello’s walk rate has climbed from 2.8% last year in St. Lucie to 6.2% overall so far this year. Celebrate that progress, but recognize that he still must become more patient.
Logan Verrett (6-1, 3.28): 6 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 10 K, 1 HR. That’s a funny-looking line. According to Amazin’ Avenue’s Jeff Paternostro, who was at the game, he was throwing his slider and his changeup a lot and the off-speed stuff looked good. At 90 mph, as Jeff pointed out, Verrett has almost zero margin for error for a miss: he’s now given up one homerun in eight of his last nine starts.