@ Binghamton Mets 9, Akron Aeros (CLE) 2
The B-Mets won despite committing five, count ‘em five, errors. Sure, that stuff happens in a-ball. It should happen less in double-A.
There are three performances worth discussing.
1. RHP Jacob deGrom (1-4, 4.86): 7 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K. This was his second-longest outing of 2013, and his best since his AA debut on April 17. In 37 innings, he’s fanned 25 and walked 10, but given up 42 hits. I suspect that, while he was able to overpower a-ball hitters on his strength of his sinker, AA hitters are eliminating his breaking ball and timing his fastball better.
2. DH Cory Vaughn hit a grand slam in the B-Mets’ six-run fifth inning. It was the fifth homer, and fourth against a righty, for Vaughn who is now up to .294/.379/.500 in 28 games.
3. Cesar Puello was 3-for-5 with a double and three RBI. He’s up to .288/.357/.510 in 30 games, and is two years younger than Vaughn. Puello struck out 17 times in 15 games in April (too much) but has cut that back to eight whiffs in 15 games in May. On the other hand, fewer strikeouts have come with fewer walks – five in April and two in May. He remains very much a work in progress, but it is working now.
AA: @ Binghamton Mets 7, Akron Aeros (CLE) 3
Double-A is the first level where the baseball really starts to look like the big leagues sometimes. And often it does not. Such was the case in the eighth inning on Tuesday when the B-Mets scored four times on four walks, two infield singles, a passed ball and a wild pitch.
On the offensive side, LF Cory Vaughn (.299/.387/.485 – 27 gms) was 2-for-4 with two runs, an RBI and a strikeout. One of the hits was a grounder to short in the B-Mets big eighth inning. Vaughn’s making a run at .300 and is hitting .313/.436/.469 in his last 10 games. The 24-year-old still an extreme platoon split guy 1.321 OPS versus LHP in 24 AB and .723 vs. RHP in 73 AB. His overall line is supported by a .365 BABIP after back-to-back years in advanced-A of .247 and .274 BABIPs. My opinion on Vaughn has not changed: he could have big league value as a platoon outfielder/pinch-hitter, but he’s not an everyday guy.
Logan Verrett was solid: 7 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 K.
LHP Jack Leathersich fanned four in his two innings for the win. Leathersich has struck out 33 of 69 (48%) of the batters he has faced while walking 15%. I certainly did not expect he would strike out this many hitters in AA.
Manager Pedro Lopez moved struggling CF Alonzo Harris (.230/.284/.345 – 37 G) down to the #8 spot while 2B Danny Muno (.228/.371/.342) moved up to the leadoff spot. The 24-year-old Muno is tied for second in the EL in walks (25) but has done relatively little when he has made contact (9 extra-base hits).
AA: @ Binghamton Mets 5, Akron Aeros (CLE) 2
Tuesday’s games are already in progress, but I wanted to point out a few things from Monday night’s AA game.
- Rafael Montero (4-3, 3.47): 6 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K… 67% strikes (66 strikes/98 total pitches). This is sort of what I expected a standard Montero start to look like in AA. Lots of strikes, but contact and hits allowed. After a .277 BABIP in April led to a .188/.212/.257 opponents’ line, a .345 BABIP in three May starts has led to a .269/.296/.385 performance. We’re into SSS territory here, but the numbers suggest more solid contact against him. Also, his strikeout rate has dropped from 33% in April to 23% in May.
- RF Cesar Puello (.281/.349/.510 – 28 games) homered again, his fifth. I’m basically a believer in Puello. He has a big league body with speed and strength. He’ll be a big leaguer. The question is whether he’ll be a good one; to become that, he’ll need to improve on his 5.7% walk rate. We discussed this on the forthcoming Mostly Mets Podcast, but he’s one of only two outfielders currently playing in full-season ball for the Mets that I could reasonably believe could become an everyday regular.
- Jeffrey Walters: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K. Now up to 14.2 IP, 4 BB and 13 K. His ERA of 0.61 is out-performing his peripherals some as he’s fanned 22% of opposing batters, which is good but not dominant while walking 8.4%. He has a good arm, and might be a middle reliever in the end.
AA: Harrisburg Senators (WAS) 3, @ Binghamton Mets 1 (7 innings)
@ Binghamton Mets 9, Harrisburg Senators 3 (7 innings)
Little good or interesting happened in game one for the Mets. For the Senators, the Nationals affiliate, 3B Anthony Rendon was 2-for-2 with a homer. Rendon, who will turn 23 in June, is hitting .354/.500/.633 in 23 games in AA. That’s what a top hitting prospect is supposed to do in AA.
The B-Mets got off to a quick start in game two, scoring nine runs in their first two turns at bat. The strange thing – the BMets had just two extrabase hits, both doubles, but seven of the nine starters had hits. Even pitcher Cory Mazzoni (pictured) was 2-for-3 with two RBI. More importantly, he was effective on the hill in his second start since returning from the disabled list with elbow neuritis: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K. After fanning just 16% of batters in AA last year, in 13.2 IP over three starts this year Mazzoni has fanned 14, a rate of 24.6%. It’s early yet for Mazzoni, but that’s much more like it.
After four hitless games, C Blake Forsythe (.278/.354/.500 – 22 games) was 2-for-3 with a double and a walk in game two.
AA: @ Binghamton Mets 8, Harrisburg Senators 4 (6.5 innings)
Rain cut this one short after the B-Mets used a pair of early homers – from 2B Danny Muno and 1B Alan Dykstra to take an 8-1 lead after two innings.
The homer was the first of the year for Muno who’s hitting .212/.364/.327 in 34 games. He’s walked a lot (24 times) but has done little else with the bat.
CF Darrell Ceciliani was 3-for-3 with a triple, a walk and two RBI. Ceciliani played center while Alonzo Harris slipped over to left. Ceciliani, who is a year and a half younger than Harris, now has a season line of .242/.292/.359, giving him an OPS five points better than Harris’ .646.
Erik Goeddel (3-2, 5.45) picked up the win, but his line was messy: 5 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, WP.
AAA: @ Las Vegas 51s 6, Round Rock Express (TEX) 5
The 51s scored twice in the bottom of the eighth to mount a comeback win, using doubles from CF Kirk Nieuwenhuis and LF Colin Cowgill and a DH Josh Satin single. The same issue that plagued Nieuwenhuis in the big leagues – strikeouts has followed him to AAA. He’s whiffed 17 times in his first 12 games as part of a .208/.321/.417 line. He is back to driving the ball, half (5 of 10) of his hits have gone for extra-bases.
2B Wilmer Flores (.270/.321/.421) homered, his second of the year.
The 51s staff, which included Chris Schwinden, Gonzalez Germen, Greg Peavey and Greg Burke struck out one batter. One. In nine innings.
AA: Harrisburg Senators (WAS) 6, @ Binghamton Mets 1
Paul Demny, who entered Thursday with a 5.90 ERA threw eight innings of no-hit ball, as two Senators combined to no-hit the B-Mets. Demny told Lynn Worthy that the key was his fastball command, “Sure enough, I threw a lot of fastballs tonight and it was all weak contact because I put it where I wanted to for the most part.”
The B-Mets are in the bottom three of the Eastern League in runs (145) and all three major rate categories (AVG/OBP/SLG) as part of a .233/.318/.356 line.
The B-Mets’ blanking snapped RF Cesar Puello’s hitting streak at 15-games.
Jacob deGrom (0-4, 5.10): 5.2 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 5 K (71 strikes/101 pitches). He’s given up five runs or more in three of his first five starts in AA. He’s giving up more walks and hits than he did in advanced-A and striking out fewer batters. I still like the arm, but I hoped for better from the 24-year old.
AA: Binghamton Mets 3, @ Trenton Thunder 1
Start here with the most important thing: RF Cesar Puello homered twice, doubling his season total from two to four. Puello now owns a 15-game hitting streak over which time he is hitting .327/.373/.655 with eight extra-base hits (and for what it’s worth a .378 BABIP). Puello’s streak is fairly remarkable too in that he has not drawn a walk in 12 games. Overall, the 22-year old is up to .296/.360/.531 in 24 games in AA. Here’s a crazy stat from Baseball Reference: he has ONE plate appearance this year against a pitcher younger than himself. He’s big, fast and strong and quite likely a Major League outfielder. The question is whether there’s enough plate discipline and in-game power to be an impact guy on the corner.
Also, for those impatient, and to answer a question I’ve received a few times on Twitter recently, yes there’s a chance that Puello sees some time in Queens this year. He will need 1. to perform and 2. a little bit of help. First, the thing he controls: he will needs to hit his way out of AA and improve his walk rate. Second, the Mets will need to have a hole in the outfield to justify giving Puello a shot. As far as #2 goes, Mets’ outfielders have hit an ugly combined .217/.301/.381 so far, 27th in MLB in wOBA and RC+. I like wRC+, which scales to 100 as average – the Mets’ OF has a collective 91 wRC+ compared to MLB average. He’s already on the 40-man roster, so that will not be a hurdle. To be clear, we are not talking about Puello as anything like an imminent outfield, but there’s a chance he will make his big league debut in August or September. No guarantee, just a chance.
RHP Logan Verrett had his best start of the year, one of his best as a professional: 8.2, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K. The key: he threw 71 of his 99 pitches for strikes. It’s the second time in three starts that Verrett has finished eight innings. In fact, those two 8+ inning starts have accounted for over 50% of his strikeouts this year, as he’s fanned 30 in 47.1 innings for a 16% strikeout rate.
Nothing matches that Spurs-Warriors game. I was looking forward to a nice early night with some box scores, a writing project or two and instead I watched one of the greatest basketball games I’ve ever seen. That was just awesome.
AAA: Las Vegas 51s @ Sacramento RiverCats – ppd by rain
AA: @ Trenton Thunder (NYY) 5, Binghamton Mets 0
The B-Mets were two-hit in Cory Mazzoni’s return to action.
Mazzoni was making just his second start of the year, and his first since April 5th after elbow neuritis sidelined him for the last month. The Thunder jumped on him for three runs in the first and he lasted only three innings: 7 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HP. Jessica Quiroli, who was watching the start, tweeted, “Mazzoni with HBP (Pirela) just above the elbow. But he got out of the inning. Still wild and inconsistent, leaving pitches up. T3 #Mets“
RF Cesar Puello was 1-for-2 with two HBP, his second and third of the season, which helps support a .288/.358/.425 line. The hit extended his hitting streak to 13 straight games. He’s hit .319/.373/.511 in his streak, but has not drawn a walk in the last 10 games. Someone asked me on Twitter on Monday which AA outfielder I thought was likeliest to play in the big leagues this year. The 22-year-old Puello, who is on the 40-man is the easy answer. It’s not going to be anytime soon though; he really still needs to improve his pitch selection, not just to draw walks, but to help his power and strength play in game situations.
Cory Vaughn has not played since April 29, when he left a game early after feeling a twinge in his arm. A week ago, he was “day-to-day.”
AA: @ Binghamton Mets 6, Erie Seawolves (DET) 5
The B-Mets scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth inning when C Blake Forsythe doubled to the wall in right and took a chance on a read and scored on 2B Danny Muno’s single into right.
The 23-year-old Forsythe, was 2-for-4 with a double and a homer to lift his line to .333/.404/.644 with five walks against 15 strikeouts in 13 games. Nine of his 15 hits have gone for extra-bases. The Mets’ 3rd round pick in 2010 out of Tennessee, he’s a big strong catcher with some power from his strength, especially to right-center. However, the strikeouts will catch up to him. He’s not a .300 hitter (.235 in Savannah in 2011 and .244 in St. Lucie in 2012). I need a whole lot more than 13 games at the start of a season to say that a guy has completely changed his prospect status. Still, the ability to catch and hit mistakes will keep him employed for a while.
The 24-year-old Muno was 3-for-3 with a double, a walk and two stolen bases. He’s gotten hot, going .323/.462/.484 with eight walks against seven strikeouts in his last 10 games, but a frigid first week has weighed down his overall line to .224/.379/.329. I do not see an average regular, but if Muno might well play in the big leagues.
LHP Mark Cohoon gave the B-Mets’ four scoreless innings starting in place of Tyler Pill who was skipped with a sore right shoulder.
LHP Jack Leathersich ran into trouble in the sixth and seventh innings: 2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HR as his ERA rose to 2.77. That’s now 10 walks against 21 strikeouts in 13 innings for Leathersich.
The name to watch in the B-Mets bullpen is becoming RHP Jeffrey Walters. He worked a 1-2-3 ninth with a strikeout. The 25-year-old is a fastball/slider righty who used to be 92 ish, but apparently is throwing a little harder earlier this year.
Cory Vaughn who left Monday’s game as a precaution after feeling something in his arm sat on Tuesday.
A+: St. Lucie Mets at Tampa Yankees
This one was suspended by lightning in the top of the second and will be resumed on Wednesday. The bummer is that Domingo Tapia was on the hill and only threw one inning. I wonder if the Mets will rearrange the St. Lucie rotation to get Tapia back on the mound before his normal turn.
A: Gnats – Off.
AA: Akron Aeros (CLE) 7, @ Binghamton Mets 5
These two teams combined on five home runs, which is kinda fun if you’re a broadcaster who likes to call homers.
RF Cesar Puello, (pictured) who missed 10 days with a “sore” left wrist was back in the lineup, going 2-for-4 with a stolen base, his sixth in 13 games. He’s hit .286/.375/.429 and is 6-for-6 stealing bases. At 22, he’s on the young side for AA and he’s already drawn five walks in 13 games after earning seven in 66 (!) games in advanced-A last year. Also, I’m using that photo of Puello for obvious hair-related reasons.
RHP Jacob deGrom was not good: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 2 HR. He threw 65% of his pitches for strikes (55 of 85) but obviously was hurt in the zone. He’s been roughed up a bit in his last two starts, yielding 15 hits and 5 walks in 10.1 innings. I still like his arm, but this kind of adjustment period just serves to illustrate how remarkable Rafael Montero’s success at each level has been.
2B Danny Muno was 2-for-3 with a double, a triple, and a walk to push his season line to .200/.356/.300 in 22 games. The 24-year old is at a solid .290/.421/.452 with seven walks and nine whiffs in his last 10 games. He played a little over half a season last year in St. Lucie with a .132 isolated slugging percentage before he was suspended for a steroid. I’m curious to see what his production looks like over a full season.