Upper Minors Sunday: Juan Lagares is Hot

AAA: Charlotte Knights 10, @ Buffalo Bisons 8

Garrett Olson’s return to the Bisons’ rotation for his first start since July 7 was something far less than triumphant: 2.2 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 2 K.

In slightly better pitching news, Jenrry Mejia tossed two scoreless innings out of the bullpen with two strikeouts and zero hits. Perhaps most encouraging, he threw 70% of his pitches for strikes (21 of 30).

3B Zach Lutz was 3-for-5 with a triple and an RBI. The 26-year old is hitting .296/.407/.464 in 37 games for the Bisons this year.


AA: @ Bowie Bay Sox 6, Binghamton Mets 2 

Oof. Darin Gorski: 4 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 6 BB, 5 K, 2 HR, 1 WP. So, in 98 innings of work this year, while working to a 4.13 ERA (slightly above the Eastern League average of 3.94) he’s walked 40 and fanned 76 (1.9 K/BB and 7 K/9).

CF Juan Lagares (pictured) was 2-for-4 with a triple, his fifth of the year. It was his third straight two-hit game and his sixth in his last eight contests. Thanks to a .340/.361/.479 July, the 23-year old is up to .284/.335/.385 for the year. The Eastern League as a whole hits .261/.332/.391.

In his third rehab game with the Binghamton Mets, Mike Baxter played the outfield for the first time. He was 1-for-3 and lined up in leftfield.

Wilmer Flores (0-for-4) played second, Jefry Marte (1-for-4) played third and Reese Havens (1-for-4, 2 K) DHed.

Upper Minors Saturday: Matt Harvey Struggles with Command

AAA: Charlotte Knights 11, Buffalo Bisons 0 

With a yawning chasm of a hole in the Mets rotation that Miguel Batista cannot fill, Matt Harvey is not making this an easy decision for the Mets. While Batista struggled with his command in the big leagues, Harvey did likewise in triple-A. Batista in the big leagues in an 8-5 loss to the Dodgers: 3 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 K. Harvey in AAA: did not make this easy on the Mets: 5 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 2 HR, 1 HBP. Harvey’s last two starts since Dillon Gee’s blood clot: 11.2 IP, 10 H, 8 R, 6 BB, and 10 strikeouts.

If the Mets decided last week that Harvey was not ready, it’s hard to argue that after Saturday’s results he is now. And yet, calling Harvey up could still be the right play.

Harvey would struggle in the big leagues now. Even so at the moment, the team is choosing to roll with Batista, who is struggling in the big leagues. Do the Mets prioritize winning games in 2012 less now than a week ago? How does the team’s 3-9 slide in their last 12 games change the calculus? How about the team’s roughly 1-in-5 chances of making the playoffs? Does Harvey even offer an upgrade on Batista at this point? Would Harvey benefit more developmentally from facing big league hitters or more AAA hitters?

The Mets know Batista cannot help now. Even if Harvey performs at roughly Batista’s level and takes his lumps, that could be an investment in 2013 and 2014 so he gets his big league baptism out of the way now and is more prepared to help next year.


AA: @ Bowie Bay Sox 7, Binghamton Mets 5

Hey, look help for the big league team: Mike Baxter was 2-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout.

CF Juan Lagares was 2-for-5 to lift his July line to .333/.355/.456 ans his season total to .282/.333/.378 in 96 games.

Gonzalez Germen: 1 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. Yuck.

Armando Rodriguez: 3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K. Yuck.

CJ Nitkowski made his 2012 B-Mets debut with a scoreless inning with two walks. Do with that information what you will.

Upper Levels on an Ugly Friday

If you missed it while you were out with friends, you missed an ugly Friday night in the Mets’ world. It started at the top, where Johan Santana allowed six runs on seven hits, including a pair of homeruns, and walked three in the Mets’ 7-6 loss to the Dodgers. Then, he was placed on the disabled list with a right ankle problem. I thought today should have been Matt Harvey time in the big leagues. Instead, Harvey is starting in AAA, and Miguel Batista is throwing in Queens. The Mets have added Jeremy Hefner to the roster as Batista insurance and potentially to make Santana’s next start next Wednesday. Will the Mets turn to Harvey now?   Don’t ask me, I thought he should be starting for the Mets today.


AAA: Charlotte Knights 4, @ Buffalo Bisons 0

The Bisons had two hits.

RHP Collin McHugh: 6 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 6 K. Meh.
RHP Jenrry Mejia: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 73% strikes (16 of 22)


AA: @ Bowie Bay Sox 10, Binghamton Mets 0 

Ouch, Zack Wheeler: 3.2 IP, 6 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 2 HBP, 1 WP. The eight runs Wheeler allowed were a career-high and at 3.2 innings, this was his shortest outing since his very first start of the season on April 6. He’s now given up five runs or more in three of his last five starts and six hits or more in each of those five outings.

One positive: CF Juan Lagares was 2-for-4 with a double. Thanks to a .329/.352/.459 July with nine extra-base hits, he’s up to .280/.333/.378 in 95 games. His nine extra-base hits in July are already his most in any month of 2012.

Upper Minors Thursday: Late Inning Drama All-Round

AAA: @ Buffalo Bisons 9, Toledo Mud Hens (DET) 8 

The Chris Schwinden show returned to Buffalo: 5 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 6 K after a minor tour of AAA baseball.
Pinch-hitter Raul Reyes delivered the game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth.
DH Josh Satin: 2-for-3, 2B, 2 BB, 1 K. He’s been unconscious in 15 games in July: .320/.507/.620 on his was to a .298/.403/.457 line as a 27 year old.  It’s not clear to me where he would fit in the big leagues as the market for right-handed hitting backup infielders who can’t play short is well, short.


AA: Binghamton Mets 4, Bowie Bay Sox (BAL) 3 

2B Reese Havens singled and scored the winning run in the 10th on an 1B Alan Dykstra double. Havens was 3-for-4 with a double and a walk. Since June 1, he’s hit .275/.383/.470 with 26 walks against 50 strikeouts in 42 games. If he keeps this up, he should get a month in AAA at the end of the year.

DH Wilmer Flores and 3B Jefry Marte each singled twice.

LHP Mark Cohoon kept the B-Mets in the game (7.1 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K). It’s funny, he can survive in AA without great peripherals, but can’t make it work in AAA.

Upper Minors Tuesday: Bisons Blast Hens. B-Mets Emulate Parents

AAA: @ Buffalo Bisons 17, Toledo Mud Hens (DET) 1 

The Bisons launched four home runs in the 8th inning to turn a 10-1 game into a 17-1 game. So, that’ll be good for everyone’s batting line.

Among the men who went deep:
CF Matt den Dekker: 3-for-5, HR, 4 RBI, 0 K. The soon to-be-25 year old is hitting .219/.248/.445 in 31 games with the Bisons where half (15 of 30) of his hits have gone for extra-bases.
LF Fred Lewis: 2-for-5, HR, RBI, BB. The 31-year old Lewis (pictured) is up to .298/.380/.493 in 70 games with the Bisons. There are two major things limiting Lewis’ MLB value: he doesn’t hit lefties, and he doesn’t play centerfield. Despite leading the Bisons in stolen bases (he’s 18-for-22 stealing bases), he’s played just one game in center, 68 games in left and one games as DH. Since 2010, he’s played 10 games in center in the minor leagues, and 95 in a corner. By total zone rating, he was four runs below average in center in the big leagues in 27 games by Baseball References’ Total Zone Rating and above average in +8 in 354 games in in left. SSS warnings and all, but Lewis just has not played much centerfield. Finally, he hit .233/.311/.312 in 325 PA vs. MLB lefties and .275/.352/.428 vs. MLB righties. The story is the same in Buffalo this year, where he’s clubbed righties at a .959 OPS rate in 230 PA and managed only a .627 OPS in 78 PA.

Triple-A star Jeremy Hefner pitched very well: 7 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K to lower his Bisons ERA to 2.77.

AA: Trenton Thunder (NYY) 5, @ Binghamton Mets 4

LHP Robert Carson is almost ready for the big league bullpen after balking home the winning run in the top of the ninth after the B-Mets ‘pen could not hold a 4-3 lead after a three-run rally in the seventh.

Jefry Marte did not play for the second straight day while Wilmer Flores (0-for-4) played third and Reese Havens (2-for-3, 2B, BB) played second.

Also, little Wilfredo Tovar was 2-for-4 with a double. In 21 games in AA, he’s hit .280/.325/.360 with just seven strikeouts (good) and two walks (bad) but four HBP (ouch).

Greg Peavey: 6.1 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HR.

Upper Minors Monday: Harvey Makes his Pitch, Jenrry Mejia Doesn’t, Juan Lagares and Wilmer Flores Keep Hitting.

AAA: Toledo Mud Hens 4, @ Buffalo Bisons 2 

I said most of what I needed to say about Matt Harvey in the previous post. He was hardly perfect Monday, walking four and hitting a batter in his 6.2 innings, but he also allowed just three singles and induced 11 ground ball outs against a light-hitting Mud Hens’ lineup. I’ll say it again, he’s not ready to dominate, but he’s ready to be better than Miguel Batista.

The ‘Hens scored the winning runs in the top of the ninth against Jenrry Mejia who gave up four hits and a walk in his two innings. As a reliever in 13 games Mejia’s cumulative line: 16 IP, 23 H, 15 R, 13 ER, 2 HR, 1 HBP, 9 BB, 8 K. He’s throwing hard, 96 regularly, but his command of the offering did not look good.


AA: Trenton Thunder (NYY) 6, @ Binghamton Mets 5

Darin Gorski: 6 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 3 HR. He threw 75% of his pitches for strikes (60 of 80) but also you know, was awfully hittable and three went over the wall.

Now, lets talk about some hot hitters.

CF Juan Lagares was 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI and two runs scored. The 23-year old Lagares is hitting .353/.380/.500 in 15 games in July to push his average to .282/.337/.382 this year.

3B Wilmer Flores was 2-for-4 with a double (his seventh in AA, and his 19th overall) and an RBI. Shy of his 21st birthday, he’s hitting .349/.391/.566 in 22 games in AA where he still has seven strikeouts against just seven walks.

2B Reese Havens (.216/.344/.366 – 67 games) isn’t as hot, but he homered, his eighth in AA and his second in three games. Since June 1, the 25-year old is hitting .254/.361/.444 with 13 extra-base hits, 24 walks and 49 strikeouts in 40 games.

The Mets’ Western New York Affiliations in Binghamton and Buffalo

Despite rumors a year ago that the double-A Binghamton Mets would be sold, and moved to Ottowa, B-Mets team president Mike Urda told Lynn Worthy in the Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin that a new deal with the Mets, is “going to happen.”

Meanwhile in Buffalo, Mike Harrington in the Buffalo News blames the Buffalo Bisons attendance drop in part on the Mets, and calls for the Bisons to dispatch the Mets and seek an affiliation agreement with the Toronto Blue Jays who would be thrilled to move their AAA affiliate from Las Vegas.

Upper Minors Sunday: Jason Bay Rehabs. B-Mets Blow Out Erie

AAA: @ Pawtucket Red Sox 5, Buffalo Bisons 4  (14 innings)

Jason Bay played nine innings in LF and was 2-for-4 with a walk at the plate. What happens when he’s ready to return later this week? No sense in worrying about that yet, because things change so rapidly, but the Mets could either demote Jordany Valdespin (.260/.296/.506 – 77 AB) or DL Lucas Duda (.246/.341/.399 – 293 AB), who is headed back to NYC to have his balky hamstring examined.

Collin McHugh was hittable, but survived six innings: 6 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 K. He threw 65% of his pitches for strikes (65 of 100).

Manny Acosta (pictured) threw two scoreless innings with two hits and a strikeout in relief of McHugh.  In 22.2 innings in AAA this year since his well-deserved demotion, Acosta has 23 strikeouts against one (!) walk. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: he’s going to pitch for the Mets in the second half this year.

A 1-for-7 with a double and three strikeouts dropped CF Matt den Dekker to .209/.235/.426 with 40 strikeouts against just five walks in 29 games. Fourteen of his 27 hits have been extra-base knocks, but it’s been all or nothing for him at AAA. So, if you are a fan, or beat writer counting on den Dekker as part of the Mets plans in 2012 or 2013, it might be time to recalibrate.

AA: @ Binghamton Mets 13, Erie SeaWolves (DET) 3 

The B-Mets’ bats had a big day, with 17 hits including seven for extra-bases on their way to a season-high 13 runs.

2B Wilmer Flores was 2-for-4 with a double and a homer in the sixth inning that made the score 10-2. He’ll be 21 in four weeks, but is hitting .342/.386/.557 with seven walks, seven strikeouts and 10 extra-base hits in 21 games in AA. I don’t know where he’ll play, but he’ll hit. In 21 games at AA, he’s played nine games at third, four at second and three at first.

CF Juan Lagares was 2-for-5 with a double. On the strength of a batting average heavy .344/.373/.484 line in 14 games in July, he’s up to .280/.335/.378 as a 23-year old. I still think there’s a big leaguer in there, but it’s probably a fourth-outfielder type.

RHP Gonzalez Germen matched a career-high with eight innings, but allowed three runs on five hits, including a homer, while walking one and fanning three. He’s gone seven innings or more in each of his three July starts, but has been much less than dominant: 4.43 ERA, 22.1 IP, 18 H, 13 R, 11 ER, 2 HR, 8 BB, 10 K. Germen has his merits (including a live arm and a nice changeup), but I just don’t see a successful MLB pitcher here.

Org guys LF Eric Campbell (2-for-5, RBI), 1B Allan Dykstra (4-for-4 with a double and a walk) and RF Dustin Martin (2 3B, 4 RBI) all had big days.

Upper Minors Saturday: Zack Wheeler Fires a Complete Game Shutout

AA: @ Binghamton Mets 1, Erie SeaWolves (DET) 0

Zack Wheeler fired the first complete game shutout of his career: 9 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K, 1 HBP. He threw 71% of his pitches (75 of 106) for strikes. Wheeler suffered through a rough stretch at the end of June, but has been completely untouchable over his two starts in July, separated of course by a Futures Game appearance: 0.55 ERa, 16.1 IP 12 H, 1 R, 1 HB, 1 BB, 13 K.

Wheeler struggled with his control early, throwing seven of his first 12 pitches for balls before figuring it out, as he explained to MiLB.com:

“I had a rough first inning, so I sat down and thought about what I was doing wrong. I made a physical adjustment and it helped me get through the game.

“When I was bringing my leg up, my front shoulder was flying open, so I was leaving pitches up. It’s been a problem, but I’ve been able to fix it.”

Wheeler is now 9-4 with a 2.39 ERA in 16 starts with 95 strikeouts against 36 walks and 72 for an opponents’ batting average of just .206. He is second in the Eastern League in ERA, third in strikeouts, and first in WHIP (1.06).

Terry Collins suggested to reporters on Saturday, that the Mets would think about calling up Wheeler to help the big league club this year, “I’m going to tell you something: Right now, in our organization, if you’ve got talent, and you show that you can get people out, your name is going to be on that list.” Isn’t the same true for any organization in baseball?

Look, Wheeler is extremely physically gifted. He can run his fastball up to 97 mph. He has a nasty slider. But the reality is that AAA is harder than AA and the big leagues are much, much harder than both. Before giving him a big league look, lets see him succeed against AAA hitters.

2B Reese Havens’  (.219/.350/.349 – 64 games) solo homerun in the sixth inning provided the game’s only run.


AAA: Buffalo Bisons 8, @ Pawtucket Red Sox 2 

The Bisons won their seventh straight, are within two in the International League wild card hunt, if you’re into that kind of thing.

DH Jason Bay, in his first game as a member of the Bisons, was 1-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts. Travel delays forced him to DH, but he expects to play in the outfield the next few days.

3B Zach Lutz is back and of course hitting: 2-for-3 with a homer and two walks.

Chris Schwinden, back with the Mets is working on getting stretched out again: 4 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 k.

Jenrry Mejia stranded both of the runners he inherited from Justin Hampson in the seventh, but gave up a solo homer in the eighth. He walked one and struck out one.

CF Matt den Dekker was 1-for-5 with two more strikeouts. That’s now 37 whiffs (against just five walks) in 28 games as part of a .213/.240/.434 line in AAA. He’ll be 25 in August so the longer he struggles in AAA the less it looks like he’ll be not just an impact big leaguer, but a big league regular of any kind.

Upper Minors Friday: Is Jeurys Familia Figuring it Out?

AAA: Buffalo Bisons 8, @ Pawtucket Red Sox 2 

Oh, look Jeurys Familia is an effective pitcher: 6.1 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 70% strikes (62 strikes/88 pitches). I watched most of Familia’s outing. His fastball was consistently in the mid-90s with movement, sinking and running armside. He still got into trouble when he could not command the offering, but on the whole, he was able to throw strikes better  than in any of his other starts I’ve seen online. The hardest hit ball I saw came off the bat of Lars Anderson who ripped a 3-2 fastball down the gut for a double. Familia’s breaking ball at 83-84 made Paw Sox hitters look silly repeatedly. It was an encouraging outing certainly, but he’s not close to big league ready. The 6.1 innings matched a season-high set in his previous start.

His last two starts: 12.2 IP, 10 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 11 K

However, watching online, with the Mets’ game on TV, I didn’t see much changeup from Familia. There was one two-seamer I think, that the Paw Sox radio team said was 91 that looked and acted like a changeup, diving away from a left-handed batter.

The Bisons hit four home runs in this one: two from LF Fred Lewis,  and one each from 2B Josh Satin and RF Matt Tuiasosopo. Satin was 2-for-3 with a walk and two RBI to lift his Bisons’ line to .293/.392/.453 in 85 games. He’s walked 46 times in those 85 games, which is awfully impressive.


AA: @ Binghamton Mets 2, Erie Seawolves 0 
@ Binghamton Mets 5, Erie Seawolves 4  (8 innings)

Game one featured Cory Mazzoni’s complete game shutout. His line: 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K. I’d like to be more excited about this outing, but the one strikeout and the 10 flyouts against six groundouts hold me back.

3B Wilmer Flores drove home the game’s only runs on a two-run triple in the bottom of the first inning. It was his first triple of the year in his 83rd game.

CF Juan Lagares was 3-for-7 on Friday and up to .281/.338/.379 over in 88 games with only 56 strikeouts  as part of a batting average-heavy .364/.397/.509 in 12 games.

In game two, 3B Jefry Marte singled home Flores, who was playing first base, with the winning run in the the bottom of the eighth inning. Marte was 2-for-4 in the nightcap with his 8th homerun of the year.  Marte (.267/.337/.406 – 84 games) has two homeruns in his last three games. In July, he’s walkd five time and fanned just three.