The September Call Ups 1: 40-Man Roster Additions and 2012 Returnees

Now that the Bisons’ season is over, the Mets added eight players to the active big league roster two over the weekend (Collin McHugh and Mike Nickeas), and six more after Monday’s game who fall into three classes: those guys who have already seen big league time in 2012  (Jordany Valdespin, Elvin Ramirez), those who needed to be added to the 40-man roster (OF Fred Lewis and LHP Justin Hampson) and those who will either make their MLB or 2012 debut in the coming days (RHP Jenrry Mejia and RHP Jeurys Familia). Mejia and Familia will get their own post to follow.

Collin McHugh, who made his second big league start on Labor Day Monday, has already made his introduction to the Mets. C Mike Nickeas and his .168/.241/.228 line in 42 games in the big leagues is also back. For what it’s worth, Nickeas hit .364/.405/.500 in 22 games in AAA this year with six walks and nine strikeouts. There’s a song about that.

The 40-Man Roster Additions
The Mets added two players to the team’s 40-man roster: OF Fred Lewis and LHP Justin Hampson. The 29-year old Lewis was the Bisons’ team MVP after the Mets signed him in late April.  He hit .294/.379/.482 in 108 games with 46 extra-base hits, 57 walks and 113 strikeouts overall. Lewis is fast; he was 25 of 33 stealing bases in Buffalo this year, but is limited to a corner defensively. Also, he’s limited because he cannot hit lefthanders. He hit .217/.291/.302 versus lefties in 117 PA this year in AAA while bashing righties at a .319/.408/.543 rate in 360 PA. These numbers are consistent with Lewis’ MLB track record, where he is a .267/.345/.406 batter in 1738 PA with a .780 OPS against righties and a .622 oPS against lefties as part of a .233/.311/.312. What’s he doing in the big leagues now? Great question. I’d suggest that it’s most a reward for a strong 2012. He’s a limited enough outfielder that he is not likely to be any kind of solution for the Mets in 2013 or beyond for a team that already has the younger, and under control Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Mike Baxter and Lucas Duda.

The 32-year old Hampson had a nice year out of the Bisons’ bullpen: 2.33 ERA, 65.2 IP, 22 BB, 5 HR. Before the Mets called him up earlier this year, he had not thrown a big league pitch since 2008. He’d been through shoulder surgery and a year’s tenure with the independent Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League in 2010. For what it’s worth, Hampson had a reverse platoon split in AAA this year when lefties hit .289/.346/.433 in 109 PA compared to righties who hit .227/.287/.292 in 168 PA. This was not the case in his previous big league work when he had a “normal” platoon split when lefties hada  .629 OPS while righties had a .778 OPS against him. Perhaps some of his success against right-handers has to do with an increased reliance on his cutter which he threw 37% of the time in 2007, 50% of the time in 2008 and 64% of the timefa (21 of 33 MLB and SSS warning!) in 2012. Hampson does not throw hard – he lives in the upper eighties with his fastball. He’s an interesting addition to the 40-man roster now for a bullpen that has the second-worst ERA in baseball (4.77) in 2012.


The 2012 Returnees
RHP Elvin Ramirez just was not MLB ready his first two times around in June and August: 12.1 IP, 15 H, 10 ER, 11 BB, 10 K – 7.30 ERA. Here’s the bad news, his control is still not ready. In 14.1 IP over 12 appearances in Buffalo, he’s walked 11 batters while fanning 14. He throws hard. That’s good. He can’t control it. That’s not.

2B/CF/LF Jordany Valdespin played in four games for AAA Buffalo since his return from New York, all at second. At the dish, he was 4-for-16 with three walks and three strikeouts. He’s the same guy who has a .282 MLB on-base percentage, just with four more games at second base.

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