AA: Binghamton Mets 3, @ Portland Sea Dogs (BOS) 0
Something common: Cesar Puello (.338/.407/.616 – 58 games) hit. The 22-year-old was 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI. Something uncommon: he played centerfield for the second straight night and the third time this year. In part, Puello has played center because the B-Mets’ other two options Alonzo Harris (concussion) and Darrell Ceciliani (unclear) missed the last two games. Puello has mostly played right in his minor league career, but played center about a third of the time in 2012 in advanced-A St. Lucie. Obviously, his value goes up if he can handle centerfield, even in a fill-in role.
What is Puello doing in AA? My theory is that 1. the Mets are allowing him to consolidate his skill gains and 2. allowing him to participate in the Double-A All Star Game. The All-Star Game is July 10. Puello deserves to start in the game. In the last few years, the Mets have rewarded their players who earn All-Star Game recognition, and then, when circumstances allow, promoted them after the game. I suspect that this will be the case with Puello.
RHP Erik Goeddel (7-2, 3.72) was really good: 7 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K. His four starts in June have been excellent: 1.08 ERA in 28.2 IP, 20 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 5 BB, 25 K. A few more starts, and it’s probably time for a trip to Sin City.
Rehabbing Pedro Feliciano: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, o ER, 0 BB, 0 K. He’s allowed just one hit in 4.1 innings in AA in four appearances in the last 10 days.
AA: Binghamton Mets 4, @ Richmond Flying Squirrels (SF) 3
Why messy? The B-Mets scored the go-ahead run on a bases-loaded walk. The Squirrels balked home another run. Binghamton allowed two unearned runs.
Cory Mazzoni: 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K. After beginning his professional tenure as an extreme low-strikeout rate guy, Mazzoni is missing bats all of a sudden. In his last four starts, over 24.2 innings, he’s fanned 34 and walked six while yielding 15 runs, nine earned on 22 hits. That’s a 3.28 ERA, a 33% strikeout rate and a 5.8% walk rate. That’s all good stuff. In his first five starts sandwiched around a DL trip, he had a 4.68 ERA and a 18% strikeout rate.
SS Danny Muno, who usually plays second, but was spelling Wilfredo Tovar, committed the error behind Mazzoni. Muno is in the midst of a dissapointing .224/.362/.345 campaign.
Also, good for LHP Jimmy Fuller, who made his AA debut with a scoreless inning and a third with a walk and two strikeouts. The little lefty was a big piece of the Gnats’ 2010 first half championship team and earned a late season promotion to St. Lucie that year. Then he had shoulder surgery that kept him out all of the 2011 season. He came back to Savannah in 2012 to help build up his arm strength as he was throwing in the mid-upper 80s with spotty control. Now, I was told he is back to 90-91 from the left side which helped him to a 0.84 ERA in 32 innings in the FSL. He still walks too many batters (13%), but he misses bats (25%) and gave up just 15 hits in 32 innings this year. More than anything, this is a story about an impressive and lengthy rehab effort.
No Cesar Puello in the lineup.
AA: @ Richmond Flying Squirrels 3, Binghamton Mets 2 (8 innings)
Binghamton Mets 8, Richmond Flying Squirrels 1 (7 innings)
There were games. And the B-Mets split ‘em, losing in walkoff fashion in game one before rallying in game two. However, the most important thing: RF Cesar Puello’s return to the B-Mets’ lineup. Puello missed seven days after hurting his finger on a stolen base attempt in Trenton on June 11. In the two games on the day of his return he combined to go 4-for-7 with two doubles, four runs scored, two RBI, a strikeout and of course, a HBP (his 11th this year). In 55 games in AA at age 22, Puello is raking at .338/.410/.613. He’s third in the Eastern League in batting average, second in slugging percentage, tied for second in homers and third in stolen bases. According to Baseball Reference, Puello has had only four plate appearances against pitchers who are younger than he is.
RHP Erik Goeddel (6-2, 4.09) had a nice start in game one: 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 BB, 6 K. Goeddel’s last three starts has been his best trio of the season: 18 IP, 14 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 HR, 4 BB, 18 K – 1.50 ERA. His walk rate by month: April – 9.3%; May – 10.8%; June – 5.6%. If his improvement in command is real, he becomes more likely to stick at the big league level.
LHP Darin Gorski (1-0, 2.00 – 2 starts) made his second start since returning from the AA DL in game two. He was fine: 5 iP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 K.
LHP Pedro Feliciano made his second appearance in AA in game one, and gave the B-Mets 1.1 scoreless innings.
1B Allan Dykstra homered in both ends of the double-dip to lift his season line to .322/.471/.617 in 58 games. Now 26-years-old, he’s leading the Eastern League in both on-base and slugging percentage. Last year, Dykstra homered seven times in 62 games in AA on his way to a .157 isolated slugging percentage. He owns a .295 isolated slugging percentage and 12 homers in 2013. His improvement is impressive on its own merits even if I do not think it portends a big MLB future. Oddly, Dykstra is now blocked from AAA by, yes, Ike Davis.
AA: @ Binghamton Mets 5, Bowie Bay Sox (BAL) 4
Walk-offs weren’t just for the big leaguers on Father’s Day. In AA, LF Joe Bonfe connected on his first homer of the year to give the B-Mets’ their eight win in their last nine games. Bonfe, now 25, has hit .293/.333/.397 in 22 games in AA this year after splitting last year between St. Lucie and Binghamton.
RF Travis Taijeron was 3-for-4 with a double and a homer. In seven games in AA, the 24-year-old is hitting a silly .367/.406/.900 (!) with four doubles, four homers and 11 strikeouts. That’s a great week, but I need to see Taijeron keep it up for a whole lot longer to begin to change my opinion on him.
Darrell Ceciliani played centerfield for the first time since May 31, while Alonzo Harris slid over to left. I thought this was coming. If Ceciliani (.265/.315/.386 – 57 games), who turns 23 this week is going to provide big league value, centerfield defense is going to be part of his package. After a quick start to the year, the 24-year-old Harris has settled in at .230/.284/.329 in 56 games. While Harris is the faster of the pair, Ceciliani, who is a year and a half younger, looks like he will have a better chance to hit enough to pass as a fourth/fifth outfielder.
AA: @ Binghamton Mets 7, Bowie Bay Sox (BAL) 3
RF Travis Taijeron was 1-for-3 with a three-run homer in the fourth inning that put the Mets ahead 6-1. In six games in AA, Taijeron has eight hits including three doubles and three homers to go along with two walks and 11 (!) strikeouts. Something does not seem sustainable in there.
Logan Verrett (8-2, 3.80) was fine: 7 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 1 HR.
Scott Atchison threw on his second-straight day, which is usually one of the last hurdles a reliever needs to clear before returning to the big leagues.
AA: Bowie Bay Sox 6, @ Binghamton Mets 3
We’re a little late finishing up Friday’s games; I was out running through this mud on Saturday morning.
There are two things worth discussing in the AA box score: the starting pitching and the relievers.
The (MLB) Relievers
Scott Atchison threw a scoreless seventh inning with a hit and a strikeout and Pedro Feliciano fanned two in a scoreless eighth. More options for the big league bullpen can only be a good thing.
Cory Mazzoni (2-2, 4.33): 6 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR.
Mazzoni’s last three starts: 18.2 IP, 17 H, 12 R, 8 ER, 3 HR, 5 BB, 26 K – I’m a little intrigued by the strikeouts. Mazzoni fanned 20 batters in his first 25 innings to go along with a 4.68 ERA and has punched out 26 in his last 18.2 innings with a 3.85 ERA. I still think he’s a bullpen guy in the end, but all the same, well served by taking his turn in the AA rotation now to build professional innings.
AA: Binghamton Mets 6, @ Trenton Thunder (NYY) 1
RF Travis Taijeron continues to enjoy his first week in AA. Wednesday, he was 2-for-5 with a pair of doubles and two strikeouts. In four games, the 24-year-old is 7-for-19 with five extra-base hits, 0 walks and seven strikeouts.
At the bottom of the order, little SS Wilfredo Tovar is coming around. He picked up two hits to extend his hitting streak to five games. The smooth-fielding 21-year-old is hitting .353/.436/.412 in his last 10 and is up to .251/.297/.293 overall in 63 games. There’s no power here, but he’s already drawn as many walks in June (4) as he did in April and May combined. The hope is that he can provide a little big league value with his glove and contact ability.
LHP Darin Gorski, who was placed on the AAA DL back in April, made his first rehab start by tossing four innings. His line: 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K.
AA: Binghamton Mets 6, Trenton Thunder (NYY) 5
We’ll start with the most important thing: Cesar Puello was 2-for-4 with a strikeout, but left this one early after getting caught stealing. According to tweets of those at the game, he hurt his hand/wrist on the play. The 22-year old Puello is up to .330/.403/.604, #1 in the Eastern League in slugging, and #2 in OPS and homers and #3 in batting average.
2B Danny Muno popped a three-run homer, his third longball of the season. The 24-year-old is hitting just .224/.353/.348 in 60 games with 40 walks and 47 strikeouts. His offensive profile is all approach and few hits.
Erik Goeddel survived 10 baserunners (8 H, 2 BB, 1 HR) in his six innings to lower his ERA to 4.27 and pick up his sixth win. Maybe there’s a middle reliever in here, but I don’t see a MLB starter based on his up-and-down season in AA.
AA: Binghamton Mets 5, @ Altoona Curve (PIT) 2
Travis Taijeron (pictured) is enjoying his introduction to double-A baseball. Sunday, he broke a 2-2 tie in the 9th inning with a game-winning three-run home run. He finished 2-for-4 with the bomb and four RBI. The 24-year-old Taijeron is 5-for-9 with a doubles and two homers in his first two games in AA. Taijeron, who was born in January, nearly exactly matches the median age for the Eastern League. Again, when it comes to prospects, younger is better.
For further reading, the simplest rule of thumb is that batters peak in their age 27 seasons. The odd of Taijeron making an impact at the MLB level are small. At Baseball Prospectus, the wonderful Russell Carlton added some nuance to this observation in a 2010 study which found that “Players who stay in the league longer have later peaks, roughly around the age of 29 or 30…” The finding that Taijeron fans should hang onto comes next, “Another surprising finding is that good-but-not-great players (those who made it to age 27, but not 31) and who debut later tend to peak later. There’s no such thing as one magical age where all forward motion stops. Some guys are later bloomers, and have the same sort of arc as others � they just do it later in life.” Phrased another way, there is a class of players who debut at 26 and 27, who are out of baseball by 31, but provide their peak seasons at age 27 and 29 respectively. All of this is premature with respect to Taijeron, who has played TWO games in double-A and is now 24 and a half years old.
On the hill, RHP Jacob deGrom finished seven innings for the second time this year. His line (7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 HR, 1 BB, 1 K) looks unremarkable until you add in the 14 (!) groundball outs he induced. The thing I really liked about deGrom was his ability to throw his sinker comfortably at 94 mph. Since a seven-run mess on May 21, deGrom has put together three solid outings for a combined line of 18.1 IP, 18 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 2 HR, 6 BB, 16 K; 2.45 ERA.
LHP Jack Leathersich lowered his ERA to 1.55 with a hit and a walk while striking out two in the eighth inning. Leathersich is striking out a remarkable 44.7% of the batters he’s faced and walked 13%.
AA: Binghamton Mets 9, @ Altoona Curve (PIT) 3
So, Rafael Montero seems to have AA figured out. His line Saturday: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K. He threw 67% of his pitches (65 of 96) for strikes. In his three starts since his AAA cameo, Montero has just dominated the AA Eastern League: 20 IP, 11 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 18 K.
RF Cesar Puello continues to just crush the baseball. After a Saturday in which he was 3-for-5 with a homer (his sixth) and four RBI he has four straight multi-hit games and is up to .333/.408/.619 in 51 games in AA with 11 doubles and 13 homers. His six games in the month of June: .600/.630/1.440 (15-for-25) with three doubles and six homers.
LF Travis Taijeron had a nice AA debut, falling a triple shy of a cycle in a 3-for-5 effort with a homer. Taijeron was on fire in his last month in advanced-A: .349/.429/.675 w/ 17 2B, 8 HR, 13 BB, and 36 K in his last 36 gms in dating back to April 26.