Monday: @ Brooklyn Cyclones 3, Hudson Valley Renegades (TB) 0
Brandon Nimmo was 0-for-4 Monday, but reached on a hit-by-pitch, his first of the year. In his eight games as a Cyclone, he’s hitting .185/.421/.259 (5-for-27) with 10 walks and seven strikeouts. Nimmo is the only NYP League player with double-digit walks. Early in the year, manager Rich Donnelly raised the wanted Nimmo to attack more. Be that as it may, 10 walks against seven strikeouts is a fine week’s worth of work.
Monday, SS Philip Evans (pictured) was 2-for-4 with a triple, his first. The 19-year old has had about as good a first week in Brooklyn as anyone could reasonably expect. He’s 9-for-22 with a double, two homers, and seven walks against four strikeouts for a .310/.459/.586 line. The NYP League as a whole is hitting .248/.327/.344. The Mets went overslot to sign Evans, last year’s 15th round pick, for $650,000, the third-highest bonus of the team’s draft class.
RHP Luis Mato was dominant again Monday. In six innings, he allowed just two singles and a walk, while striking out seven. There’s something in his arm for sure. I saw him in the low-to-mid 90s in his first start of the year with a slider that he used a lot. In two starts in the NYP, he’s given up four hits and one run, walked two and fanned 16 in 11.2 innings. He’s 22 and has showed stuff that would play in the South Atlantic League surely. Mateo pitched in the DSL last year, and most guys make a stop in the GCL before moving from the Dominican to the SAL. There’s no rush on Mateo, but if he keeps dominating, there’s also no reason not to give him a look against slightly more advanced SAL hitters.
RHP Tyler Vanderheiden worked a scoreless inning with a couple of strikeouts Monday. The Mets’ 19th round pick this year out of Samford, Vanderheiden works out of a sidearm slot that righties just do not see. He’s going to put up bonkers numbers in the low minors. So far, he’s fanned five and allowed just one hit in his four innings of work.
2012 supplemental first round pick Kevin Plawecki is off to a slow start, going 3-for-18 with a homer in his five games.
SSA: Staten Island Yankees 8, @ Brooklyn Cyclones 1
The Yankees scored six times in the seventh inning to turn a close game into a laugher.
Don’t blame starter Hansel Robles, who was effective through five innings: 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K. According to Dave Gershman at the Penn League Report, the 21-year old was sitting 90-91 and touched 94 with a usable slider and curveball. Robles, who is listed at just 5’11″, 185, put up good numbers in the Kingsport bullpen a year ago. Sounds like a reliever to me.
SS Philip Evans was 2-for-3 with a homerun, his first as a professional. He’s off to a .385 (5-for-13) start with five walks and two strikeouts in four games.
CF Brandon Nimmo picked up a hit, a walk and a strikeout and now has walked six times in four games.
@ Princeton Rays 15, Kingsport Mets 2
SS Gavin Cecchini was 0-for-3 and eventually removed for a pinch-runner. Hmm.
Zach Dotson, who the Mets went overslot to sign in 2009, appeared in his seventh professional game and was less than effective: 0.1 IP, 1 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 0 K.
I’ll try to have short-season box score notes up around 10 on weekdays in the future, so we’re a little behind today.
SSA: Brooklyn Cyclones 7, @ Staten Island Yankees 2
LF Stefan Sabol led the way offensively, going 2-for-5 with a double and two strikeouts. He’s an interesting mid-round pick from this year. Look for an interview with him around here in the next week.
CF Brandon Nimmo was 1-for-3 with a double, his first extra-base hit of the year, two walks, and an RBI. In three games, he’s walked five times and struck out once, which is nice.
First start of the year for Luis Cessa: 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K.
R: @ Princeton Rays 10, Kingsport Mets 7
If the teams combine on 21 hits and nine errors, odds are, you’re looking at an Appalachian League box score.
The news here is Steven Matz, who pitched in an official game for the first time. The Mets’ top pick, in the second round in 2009 did this: 3.1 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 2 K, 1 HR. He induced five ground balls and allowed four flyouts. The important thing is that his career is now taking place on the mound rather than under the surgeon’s knife or in the training room.
SSA: Brooklyn Cyclones 4, @ Staten Island 1
Tuesday in Staten Island, RHP Luis Mateo shut down the Yankees. He’s an interesting arm. In his 5.2 innings, he allowed just two hits, one a solo homerun, a walk and struck out nine. In the first inning, he was sitting 94-95 mph with his two-seamer with movement. In the second, he was down to 93-94. By the fifth, he was living 90-91, although he reached back to sit 92 mph in the sixth.
His slider was in the upper 80s, although I liked the bit on it at 87-ish best. He induced both swings and misses and called strikes with the offering. He got a away with a few up, but also hung a flat one that turned into the Yankees’ only run on a solo home run by DH Saxon Butler in the third. At times, he just did not finish the pitch.
Already 22, he has plenty of size at 6’3″ and 200 pounds. Why is he 22 and just starting out? In 2008, he signed with the Giants, who tore up the contract after finding bone chips in his elbow. Then after agreeing to terms with the Padres that fall, MLB began investigating. It turned out he had lied about his age, and was suspended for a year in March 2010. The Mets signed him immediately thereafter.
Pitching Coach Marc Valdes was a happy camper post-game, saying of Mateo, “He attacked. He threw a sharp slider today. He had good movement later when it looked like he got a little bit tired. … He went for the strikeouts today. When he was 0-2 and 1-2, those are his times when he can be selfish and go get those strikeouts.”
At times, Valdes wanted Mateo to pitch more to his strength, “There was one inning where I thought he was primarily too many sliders,” Valdes said. “He’d get ahead with the fastball and then want to go slider, slider. For me, not when he’s got that good fastball. He mixed well.”
Mateo’s changeup was pretty raw. Valdes pinned its velocity “at times it’s about 86-87. He fluctuates between 81 and 88. Sometimes he hits it and gets it pretty good and turns it over at times, but it falls out armside pretty good.” Some, however, he pulled across the plate.
Long Island product LHP John Mincone followed Mateo with 2.1 innings of nearly perfect baseball. Mincone, was 87 mph on his heater with a 78 mph curveball. He’s going to get a lot of outs in the New York Penn League this summer.
LHP Jeremy Gould struck out the side in the ninth working with a similar 87 mph heater and an 80 mph hook. After the game, manger Rich Donnelly announced that Gould was heading to Savannah alongside C Xorge Carillo and INF Yucarybert De La Cruz.
At the plate, SS Philip Evans barreled up a hanging curveball and ripped it for a single into left-center. he finished 1-for-4 with a walk.
1B Cole Frenzel, who was a Gnat for a week, was 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored.
(More about Brandon Nimmo and Kevin Plawecki’s nights coming in a separate post.)
After the game Jeremy Gould, Xorge Carillo, Yucy De La Cruz were promoted to Savannah.
R: @ Princeton Rays 8, Kingsport Mets 4
First rounder Gavin Cecchini was hitless in his professional debut, going 0-for-3 with a two walks and two strikeouts. 2012 fourth-rounder Branden Kaupe was 0-4 with one walk and three whiffs.
Akeel Morris: 3 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HR
On the plus side, LF Joe Tuschak was 1-for-3 with his first professional homerun. He was homerless in 32 games in the GCL in 2011 when he hit just .204/.318/.222 in 32 games.
Before the Cyclones first home game, I talked to SS Philip Evans. Evans, the Mets’ 15th round pick in 2011, who signed for the third-highest bonus in the team’s draft class behind only CF Brandon Nimmo
and RHP Michael Fulmer
Ready for the Season:
Feels good, man. Excited, ready to go. All the fans coming to watch us this season, hopefully put on a show for them. Have a solid season, finish a little better than we did last season.
First New York Experiences
Gone around Coney Island. Done all that. The food here is great. Just try to get out of the hotel as much as possible.
Whats he been eating?
For sure some pizza and some Nathan’s hot dogs.
What did you learn in extended spring training?
I just learned a lot of things that I didn’t know before. I tried to take things that I could polish up my game: footwork, my reads off the bat, my throws to first, my hitting. Just kinda shape it all up, be as consistent as possible. That’s pretty much all I took from extended; it was a grind man, but I got through it and now we’re here.
Just kinda protecting myself around the bag. Just trying to be more athletic around the bag, just try to keep myself away from injuries.
Just hitting the first baseman in the chest every time - be more consistent with that. I’m trying to make his job as easy as possible.
Feels great. I just want to get in the box and start hitting. In terms of facing our own guys, it’s tough man. They know how to pitch us, they’ve been watching us for two months down there. They kinda got to know us as we got to know them. I just try to hit the ball hard every time up, try to help the team win.
What’s he improved since he was drafted
My strike zone has shrunk a little bit. My pitch selection is way better. My swing feels good for the most part.
What he did all winter
Played a little volleyball. Did a little surfing. Did a little powerlifting.
Surfing – After I’m done, my whole body is just toasted. I just want to sit on the beach and hang out a bit.
He was a sales rep for the 3M company, but he’s done doing that. He opened up a panini and smoothie shop so that’s been going alright. I mean, get some free smoothies.
Favorite Order at Dad’s Shop
I try to mix it up. I make my own smoothies. You just throw all of the fruits, all of the protein powders, all of the yogurts in there, all different stuff.
SSA: @ Brooklyn Cyclones 2, Staten Island Yankees 0
On his first night in a Cyclones’ uniform, 2011 first round pick Brandon Nimmo was upstaged by fellow teenagers Philip Evans and Gabriel Ynoa.
Ynoa needed just 63 pitches to shut out the Yankees through six innings on three hits, all singles. He did not allow a runner to third base nor did he walk a batter and struck out four.
Ynoa was working off a moving two-seam fastball at 90-91 mph all night. He touched 93 once, on one gun while another had him topping out at 92. He used a slider and changeup for strikes both right around 82-83 mph. His slider is a little slurvy. Towards the end of his outing, in the sixth, he threw lots of sliders, at one point, tripling up on the pitch to help produce a strikeout, a sequence most pitcher in the South Atlantic League do not have the confidence to try.
Cyclones’ pitching coach Marc Valdes like the way Ynoa used his offerings. “For me, he mixed outstanding,” Valdes said. “[Ynoa] and [C Nelfi] Zapata were on the same page. The slider, he threw about 15 and at least 10-12 changeups. Not to mention his fastball was located on both sides. He showed great movement on it. He got his ground balls and … attacked the strike zone. He didn’t have many two-ball counts.”
Ynoa has put together outstanding control numbers in his brief minor league career. In two years between the Dominican Summer, the Gulf Coast and the Appalachian Leagues, he had walked just 0.84 batters per nine IP (12 BB/128.1 IP). This ability to throw strikes was a big reason the Cyclones handed him the ball on Opening Night in front of a big crowd of 6,718 at MCU Park.
“Our guy tomorrow (Luis Mateo) may have better stuff with velocity and movement and a sharper slider, but we felt we needed a guy who could come in the first game and throw strikes and command all of his pitches,” Valdes explained, “He was the guy.”
Mateo generally operated out of a high 3/4 arm slot, but dropped his arm on a few of his curveballs. Valdes is aware of the issue, “At times on his breaking ball… On his curveball, he’ll slow down his arm slot a little bit and just flip it in there, just to get ahead.”
The Cyclones scored the game’s only runs in the bottom of the eighth. Nimmo and Evans drew one-out walks, and after Alex Sanchez reached on an error to load the bases, LF Stefan Sabol drew a walk to force home Nimmo with the game’s first run. Sabol, who the Mets picked in the 17th round of this year’s draft, was was a top prospect heading into his senior year of high school, wound up at Oregon and then after a broken hammate bone transferred to Orange Coast College. Sabol was 0-for-3 at the plate in addition to his RBI walk, but made a very nice running grab in leftfield in the fifth inning.
Evans finished 2-for-3 with a walk, and a run scored. In the fourth, he singled cleanly on an elevated offering into center for the first Cyclones’ hit. In the sixth, he was credited with a hit on a grounder to third, that I had scored as a throwing error in my book. At short, he made a pair of nice reaction plays on tricky hops in the fourth and fifth innings.
Nimmo was 0-for-3 with a walk. He put the ball in play three times, grounding out to second base twice, and once to third.
RHP Tyler Vanderheiden, the Mets’ 19th round pick this year out of Samford, worked a 1-2-3 ninth for the same. Vanderheiden, a true submariner was throwing his two-seamer 88-90. I don’t think he threw a slider for a strike. That’s something he’s working on. Again, his pitching coach, Valdes, “He threw a nice little touch and feel yesterday because right now he’s yanking some sliders and again, he didn’t have his slider going, but he was so dominant with his fastball.”‘
Ynoa photograph courtesy Brooklyn Cyclones.
Generally, there are few surprises at a team’s media day. Sunday in Coney Island was not one of them. I was briefly at the Cyclones’ media day Sunday before racing back to Manhattan and the unveiling of the All-Team Mets 50th Anniversary team at the 92nd street Y. It was a wonderful event, and we’ll have more on it in a little bit.
The major surprise in Coney Island Sunday was that LHP Juan Urbina will begin in the team’s bullpen. He is scheduled to throw Saturday behind RHP Rainy Lara unless, as manager Rich Donnelly put it, “we need him sooner.” Urbina had a rough extended spring training and the skipper said the plan for Urbina is to use him “an inning or two at a time and get him ready.”
The 19-year old Urbina ran a 5.95 ERA in the Appalachian League last year, with a 2.1 K/BB ratio (29/14) in 56 innings in which he gave up 68 hits. The Mets signed Urbina for $1 million out of Venezuela in 2009.
Instead, the Cyclones will use RHP Gabriel Ynoa on Opening Night followed by Luis Montero, and then Luis Cessa. The Cyclones, like the other Mets’ lower-level affiliates will be using a six-man rotation.
Ynoa, Donnelly dubbed a “control guy,” and with good reason. In 48 innings in the GCL last year, he walked just four batters while striking out 21. The calculator reports that that’s a BB/9 of 0.75.
Luis Mateo features a slider that might be the best on the staff Donnelly thought. Mateo is a long 6’4″ who is already 22. In 13 starts in the DSL last year, he struck out 80 batters and walked just 5 (!) in 63 innings.
I saw Cessa briefly in the GCL in 2011 and liked him. Then 19, now 20, with room to fill out, he was around the low 90s last year with the beginnings of a useful breaking ball and changeup.
Julian Hilario is one of the better arms on the staff with a fastball at 93, 94 mph, and according to Donnelly has “a real good changeup.” I gave him some brief consideration for one of the final spots on my Top 41 last year.
The Brooklyn Cyclones, who begin the 2012 season on Monday, have released their first 2012 roster. The headliners include 2011 first round pick CF Brandon Nimmo, 2012 supplemental first round pick C Kevin Plawecki and 2011 15th rounder Philip Evans (a top five round talent who slid due to signability).
Other notable 2012 draftees:
RHP Matt Koch (3rd rd – Louisville)
RHP Brandon Welch (5th rd – Palm Beach CC)
INF Richie Rodriguez (9th rd – E. Kentucky)
RHP Paul Sewald (10th – U San Diego)
RHP Matt Bowman (13th – Princeton)
RHP Tyler Vanderheiden (19th – Samford)
3B Jeff Reynolds (38th – Harvard)
Notable International Arms:
Cessa, I saw briefly in the GCL in 2011, and he was sitting around 90-91 with the nice beginning of a changeup.
Here’s the full roster:
2012 Brooklyn Cyclones Roster
@ Staten Island Yankees 1, Brooklyn Cyclones 0
The Yankees eliminated the Cyclones two games to one in the NYP Playoffs.
Carlos Vazquez had a very, very nice start 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K, but the Cyclones were held to four hits in the loss.
Brooklyn Cyclones 12, @ Staten Island Yankees 5
The Brooklyn Cyclones offense pounded out 12 runs and 16 hits to push their NYPL semifinals series against cross-borough rival Staten Island to a decisive Game 3.
The Cyclones scored at least one run in innings 2 through 8. Charley Thurber (3-6, 3 runs, HR, 2 RBI) and Richard Lucas (2-4, 4 runs, HR, 2RBI) each launched 2-run home runs for the Cyclones.
Thurber’s home run was his first as a professional. He did not hit a home run in 221 regular season at-bats.
Thurber (pictured) on his HR (via MiLB.com):
It definitely felt good. I was trying to have a normal approach, just drive it. He left one over the plate. It was a pretty cool feeling to hit my first.
Brian Harrison (4-5, 2 2B, 3RBI) also helped the Cyclones cause with four hits and 3 rbi.
Jeffrey Walters struggled: 4 1/3 IP, 8 hits, 5 runs, 4 er, bb, 2k.
Rafael Montero, Tyler Pill, and Jeremy Gould pitched a combined 4 2/3 innings of scoreless relief for the Cyclones.
The Cyclones and Yankees will square off in a decisive Game 3 Saturday night at 7:05 PM @Staten Island. LHP Carlos Vazquez (4-2, 3.61) will make the start for Brooklyn and will be opposed by RHP William Oliver (5-2, 3.42) for Staten Island.