Upper Minors Tuesday: Lucas Duda Settling Into AAA. Not enough Pitching.

AAA: @ Syracuse Chiefs (WAS) 4, Buffalo Bisons 3 

Collin McHugh: 6 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 1 HR, 1 HBP. He’s basically been an International League league-average pitcher. In 10 starts in AAA, he’s run a 3.99 ERA with a 2.5 K/BB ratio (57 K/23 BB) in 56.1 IP. The International League averages a 3.94 ERA and a 2.2 K/BB ratio. Remember when some people were calling for him to start for the Mets over Matt Harvey? Yeah, that was funny.

LF Lucas Duda (pictured) was 2-for-4. He’s now hit safely in five straight games for the Bisons.

LHP Robert Carson danced around two hits and a walk thanks to three strikeouts in his two innings.

AA: @ Binghamton Mets 9, New Britain Rock Cats (MIN) 8 (7 innings)
New Britain Rock Cats 8, @ Binghamton Mets 1 (7 innings)

In game one, the B-Mets scored seven runs in the final three frames for a sweet comeback to make up for a five-run second inning off RHP Cory Mazzoni. Mazzoni’s line: 6 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 1 HR

CF Juan Lagares (.281/.336/.386 – 112 games) was 3-for-4 in game one, but was held hitless in an 0-for-3 in game two.

2B Reese Havens (.223/.356/.367 – 82 games) was 1-for-1 with a homer and three walks in game one, but sat in game two.

Wilmer Flores played third in game one when Jefry Marte sat, and second in game two when Havens had the nightcap off. A 1-for-7 dropped Flores to .269/.314/.417 in 42 games in double-A.

The Mets could not make up for Gonzalez Germen’s rough start in game two: 5 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 8 K, 1 HR, 1 WP.

Zack Wheeler’s AAA Debut. Jenrry Mejia, Starting Pitcher and Other Bisons Notes

Game 1: @ Syracuse Chiefs 5, Buffalo Bisons 4
Game 2: @ Buffalo Bisons 4, Syracuse Chiefs 3

Zack Wheeler, the Mets’ top minor league pitching prospect made his triple-A debut: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 7 K, 1 HBP. He threw 60% of his pitches for strikes, and gave up five free passes, so obviously, he has work to do on his control. This should not be news after a walk rate of 3.3 BB/9 and 10.5% in double-A. I caught a few innings on the Syracuse feed on my computer, but it paused regularly, so I do not feel confident breaking down the start in very much detail. His fastball on the Syracuse gun was 93-95 mph but was completely explosive up in the zone with big-time hop.

After the game, Wheeler told MiLB.com: “I felt good with my curveball.” Wheeler blamed his control on his mechanics, “It’s just going out of the stretch, thinking I have to be faster. I’m fast to the plate, but it’s just out of the stretch, I rush and have a problem staying back. Whenever I rush to the plate, the arm slot is high and that’s what happens. It’s easy to fix, but it’s something you have to work and work on.”


Jenrry Mejia, Starting Pitcher
In his second start since returning to the Buffalo rotation, Jenrry Mejia did this on Monday: 4.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K with 62.5% of his pitches (45-of-72)  for strikes. The Mets let him throw 57 pitches in his first start on July 30 after 16 relief appearances, so he’s still increasing his pitch count. Small sample size and all, but in 21.1 innings and 16 games out of the Bisons’ bullpen, Mejia had a 5.48 ERA and opponents hit .303 against him. In 23.1 innings as a starter, he has a 1.16 ERA and opponents have hit .181 against him. Total fluke, or something real and important or something completely in-between?


Duda Back to 1B
Monday, behind Wheeler, Lucas Duda played his second game at at first base this year for the Bisons. The big guy homered and walked in the first game Monday as well. He hitting for power again too, as he has two homers and a double in his last four games. In his last six games, he’s played four games in left-field and two at first.


Meanwhile, in the Outfield
CF Matt den Dekker (.196/.228/.402 – 50 games) launched a grand slam Monday, his 16th homer of the year, and his eighth in AAA. Just a few days shy of his 25th birthday, den Dekker hit .211/.235/.459 in his first 109 AB in AAA, but has sunk to .176/.220/.329 in his subsequent 85 AB. Batting average can fluctuate, but note that his isolated slugging percentage has dropped from .248 in his first 25 games to .153 in his second 25 contests.

In better news, the Mets confirmed that Kirk Nieuwenhuis has a “partial tear of the plantar facia in his right foot” and will head to St. Lucie for rehab, but will not need surgery.


The Weekend: Backman Ejected and Suspended.

The International League suspended Bisons’ manager Wally Backman three games for an argument with Syracuse manager Tony Beasley Friday.

Backman was angry because Syracuse was stealing signs. “Don’t insult my intelligence,” Backman said. “Tonight, I had to say something. … Here we have some integrity and play fair.”

This is Backman. He knows the game. He’s passionate, and his players love playing for him. All the same, this fire and temper makes it fair to wonder how he would handle the daily, New York City microscope.

Backman talked about his ejection here.

As much as this is baseball code, aren’t there ways of handling his on-field? Or creating signs that can’t be stolen?


Upper Minors Friday: Kirk Nieuwenhuis Injured, Bisons Bats Explode; A Homer Story for Wilmer Flores and Darin Gorski in AA

AAA: @ Buffalo Bisons 13, Syracuse Chiefs (WAS) 7

We’ll get to some big offensive performances, but instead, lets start on the two important down notes.

- After grounding out in his first at-bat, RF Kirk Nieuwenhuis (pictured) left the game and was diagnosed with a torn plantar fascia in his foot. Gary Cohen, on the SNY broadcast described it as plantar fasciitis. It’s really a matter of degree – plantar fasciitis is an inflamed condition, which includes minor tearing. Without knowing more about the severity of the tearing, it’s impossible to say how much time Niuewenhuis will miss.

- Jeurys Familia: 2.2 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 0 K, 2 HR – 5.15 ERA. So, yeah, that’s a 1.45 K/BB ratio (93 K/64 BB)  in 106 innings in AAA. Homeruns had not been his problem, the two he allowed Friday were his sixth and seventh of the year. Anyone who thinks the 22-year old is close to contributing in the majors needs their head checked. All the same, I think he should stay in the Bisons’ rotation for the next month to pick up all the game repetitions he can.

The Hitting
- LF Lucas Duda was 3-for-4 with a homer, and a walk. It was his seventh game back in AAA, and his fourth straight in leftfield.
- 1B Zach Lutz was 3-for-4 with two doubles, a walk and three RBI. It was the seventh game at first for the 26-year old Lutz who is up to .325/.431/.561 in 46 games in AAA this year.
- 2B Josh Satin was 4-for-5 with two doubles, a three-run homer and four RBI. Satin played 70 games at firstbase, but is now up to 21 games at second while hitting .294/.401/.464 in 102 games as a 27-year old.


AA: @ Reading Phillies 4, Binghamton Mets 1

2B Wilmer Flores was 2-for-4 with a homer and a strikeout. He’ll be 21 on Monday, and is hitting .280/.323/.434 in 38 games in double-A. This was his ninth game at second.

And then Darin Gorski gave up three homeruns. His line: 6 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, 3 HR. His 17 homers are tied for fifth in the Eastern League this year and he’s given up 1.4 HR/9 IP this season on the way to a 4.09 ERA. That’s rough.

Upper Minors Thursday: B-Mets Walkoff

AAA: Syracuse Chiefs (WAS) 2, @ Buffalo Bisons 0 

Remember Yunesky Maya who had a 5.23 ERA and 15/10 K/BB ratio in the big leagues in 32.2 innings last year for the Nationals? Yeah, he’s a pretty good triple-A pitcher who two-hit the Bisons through 7.2 innings Thursday.

The Bisons’ outfield was hitless. RF Kirk Nieuwenhuis was 0-for-3 with a strikeout, LF Lucas Duda was 0-for-4 and CF Matt den Dekker was 0-for-3 with a strikeout. In 46 games, den Dekker is hitting .193/.224/.398 with 56 strikeouts against eight walks.

Yay, Garrett Olson: 7 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 1 HR.

AA: @ Binghamton Mets 4, Harrisburg Senators 3 (12 innings)

LF Dustin Martin rolled a single into rightfield to bering home Raul Reyes with the winning run to end the B-Mets’ longest game of the 2012 season.

CF Juan Lagares (pictured) was 1-for-5 with a homer, his third, and a walk, to extend his hitting streak to seven straight games. The 23-year old is up to .282/.333/.389 in 106 games.

2B Reese Havens (.223/.354/.357 – 79 games) was 1-for-6 with two whiffs, and 3B Wilmer Flores (.273/.318/.410 – 37 games) was 1-for-6 with a strikeout. After a hot start in double-A, Flores has cooled considerably and has hit .238/.280/.366 in his last 27 games.

RHP Cory Mazzoni was hittable: 7 IP, 10 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 1 HBP. He threw 70% (72 of his 103 pitches) for strikes.

The Weekend in AAA; A Jeurys Familia Research Question

Saturday: @ Indianapolis Indians 6, Buffalo Bisons 0 
Sunday: Buffalo Bisons 3, @ Indianapolis Indians 2  


- Jeurys Familia on Saturday: 3 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 2 K. Familia now has allowed 108 hits and 61 walks in 103.1 innings. Both poor numbers stem from a similar place: inability to locate his pitches, particularly his fastball. He has walked 12.8% of the hitters he has faced and allowed hits to 22.7%. People of the internet, here is your challenge: find me a pitcher who became a good starter who walked over 11% of the hitters he faced and gave up hits to over 20% in either his age 22 season or AAA.

- 3B/DL denizen Zach Lutz was hit by a pitch on Saturday, left the game and did not play Sunday.

- Lucas Duda was 0-for-4 Saturday and played RF. He’s played right field in all three games in Buffalo and gone 1-for-12.

- LHP Robert Carson made his second AAA outing Sunday and allowed a hit in his 1.1 innings, but no runs. So far so good for Carson, as he’s fanned four and has not walked a batter in two outings with the Bisons.  He has the velocity. It’s all about location with him and every good outing pushes him ever so slightly to the big leagues.

- CF Matt den Dekker doubled, walked and struck out Sunday. He’s hitting .202/.234/.416 in 43 games in AAA with 57 (!) strikeouts.That 31% strikeout rate in the season in which he will turn 25 is scary.

Upper Minors Thursday: Lucas Duda Begins His Work in AAA

AAA: Buffalo Bisons 10, @ Louisville Bats (CIN) 7 

Lots of interesting things in this one.

1. Lucas Duda made his first start in AAA this year and was 0-for-4 with a walk and a strikeout while playing rightfield. If the plan was to send him to AAA to play leftfield and first base, putting him in right in his first game is a perplexing decision.

2. Gonzalez Germen was promoted from AA Binghamton to AAA. His line: 7 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K. He’s a right-hander who sits 90-91 and can touch 94. He throws strikes, but they’re often over the fat part of the plate. His changeup is his best pitch, as he has good armspeed and some sink. His slider remains below average. He’s been hittable, giving up basically a hit an inning at every stop across Savannah, St. Lucie and Binghamton. As we discussed on twitter last night, I see him as a reliever if he ever reaches the big leagues. He’s just too hittable to go through big league lineups multiple times.

3. Zach Lutz had himself a great night, reaching base in all five of his plate appearances: 3-3, HR, 2 BB, 3 RBI, R.

4. Mike Baxter was 2-for-5 with an RBI and two strikeouts. He should be back within a few days.

The B-Mets were rained out, so they’ll play two on Friday. Cory Mazzoni returned from the disabled list, and will start Friday.

Upper Levels Wednesday: Collin McHugh Sharp. Zack Wheeler Not.

AAA: @ Louisville Bats 5, Buffalo Bisons 4 

Collin McHugh was excellent: 6.2 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K. He threw 71% of his pitches (65 of 91) for strikes.

The Bisons’ bullpen gave up five runs in the final two innings to give away the game as Pedro Beato gave up the walk-off in the bottom of the ninth.


AA: @ New Britain Rock Cats (MIN) 11, Binghamton Mets 2 

Zack Wheeler (pictured) was not good: 4 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 2 HBP. In his last six starts, he’s given up five runs or more four times and then fired off at least seven innings and allowed one run or less twice. His line in this inconsistent six-star run since June 25: 5.97 ERA (25 ER/37.2 IP), 27 R, 10 BB, 33 K and a .315 opponents’ average (45 H/143 AB).

Something’s going on here. Before these six starts, he had not allowed as many as four runs in a single start, now he’s allowed five runs four times in six outings.

Frank Francisco left the bases loaded for Brad Holt who allowed one of the runners to score. Francisco’s line: .2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K.

Upper Minors Tuesday: Mike Baxter Plays the Field in AAA

AAA: @ Louisville Bats (CIN) 4, Buffalo Bisons 1 

Some good notes:

- LF Mike Baxter was 2-for-3 with an RBI in his first start in the outfield for the Bisons in his second game on his AAA rehab stop.
- Jenrry Mejia did not give up a run, but did not strike anyone out in his 1.1 innings of relief.

More of the same:
CF Matt den Dekker was 0-for-3 with two more strikeouts. He’s whiffed 53 times in 38 games as part of a .211/.240/.435 line in 38 games for the Bisons.

No Lucas Duda, yet.


AA: Binghamton Mets 4, @ New Britain Rock Cats (MIN) 3 

Mark Cohoon: 7.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K. He allowed only one hit in the first six innings.

On the infield, Jefry Marte played third, Reese Havens took second and Wilmer Flores handled first. None of the three had a hit. That’s now 13 games at third, six at second and four at first for Flores (.295/.336/.464 – 29 games).

LF Eric Campbell (2-for-3, HR, RBI, BB) provided the eventual decisive run in the top of the eighth. SS Wilfredo Tovar (.261/.314/.348) doubled home three.

Upper Minors Monday: Jeurys Familia Regresses. Mike Baxter Rehabs

AAA: Charlotte Knights 9, @ Buffalo Bisons 6

Last Friday, Jeurys Familia (pictured) landed on Baseball America’s prospect Hot Sheet for a pair of strong starts in which he pitched with “increased tempo.” Monday, he had the same control issues that have plagued him all year: 4.2 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 4 K – 60% strikes.

Mike Baxter DHed in his first game with the Bisons and was 2-for-5 with a pair of strikeouts and an RBI.

Zach Lutz, who has five hits in his last two games pulled himself back to the .300 mark wit ha 2-for-5 with a double and a homer. At age 26, he’s hitting .300/.406/.492 in 38 games with the Bisons with 41 strikeouts.


AA: Binghamton Mets 8, @ New Britain Rock Cats (MIN) 1 

DH Allan Dykstra hit a pair of homers and walked twice. Injuries have held the 25-year old to just 27 games, but when he’s played, he’s bopped .329/.477/.529 with four homers, and 21 walks against 26 strikeouts in 27 games. His age and the strikeouts argue strongly against his ability to be a productive Major League hitter, but the fact that the Mets turned Eddie Kunz into a minor league masher is some kind of win.

Reese Havens (1-for-3, 2 BB; .231/.363/.377 – 73 games) played second while Wilmer Flores (1-for-4, BB; .306/.347/.481 – 28 games) manned third and Jefry Marte sat.

Greg Peavey lowered his ERA to 5.68: 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 3 K on a night when he gave up 12 fly-ball outs. He was sitting 89-90, which is normal enough for him.