Upper Minors Thursday: Bisons Walk to Walkoff

AAA: Buffalo Bisons 8, @ Pawtucket Red Sox 5 

The Bisons scored four runs in the top of the ninth inning thanks in large part to the largesse of PawSox reliever Garrett Mock, who walked all four batters he faced, and forced in three rus.

Zach Lutz, (pictured) who missed exactly two months,  made his return to AAA from a broken hammate bone and was 1-for-5 with an RBI and a strikeout.

Josh Satin was 2-for-2 with three walks and played second base for the seventh time this year. If the 27-year old Satin is every going to have big league value as a bench piece, he must play first, second and third. He’s up to .289/.388/.440 in 84 games this year, but is he really better than Justin Turner?

Matt den Dekker was 2-for-5 with a couple of stolen bases to lift his line to .219/.242/.456 in 26 games in Buffalo. He has not drawn a walk in his last 10 games and his still at 33/4 K/BB.

Jenrry Mejia entered in relief of Jeremy Hefner and allowed a couple inherited runners to score and one unearned run of his own while yielding two hits to the four batters he has faced. The move to the bullpen has been a flop: 11 G, 7.30 ERA, 12.1 IP, 18 H, 12 R, 10 ER, 7 BB, 7 K.

A rehabbing Carl Crawford was 2-for-3 for the Sox.


AA: Erie Seawolves (DET) 11, @ Binghamton Mets 7 

CF Juan Lagares is turning it on: he was 3-for-5 with a double and a homer, just his second of the year.  A .354/.392/.521 July with six extra-base hits, which equals his June total and surpasses his April mark, has carried the 23-year old to .278/.336/.378 overall. Yeah, that’s a .100 isolated slugging.

Wilmer Flores, back from the Futures Game was 0-for-5 at third, 2B Reese Havens was 2-for-6 and DH Jefry Marte (.266/.337/.397 – 82 games) was 3-for-5 with a homer, his seventh of 2012.

Oof, Greg Peavey: 5 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 1 K. His ERA rose to 6.23.

Upper Levels Wednesday: Matt Harvey, Valentino Pascucci and Eric Campbell Shine in All-Star Games

AAA: PCL All-Stars 3, @ International League 0 

In Buffalo, the Bisons’ players wore their throw-back jerseys for the 25th anniversary of Coca-Cola Field.

Matt Harvey pitched innings two and three and was sharp. He struck out two batters and allowed just one baserunner on a hit by pitch. He threw 17 of his 26 pitches for strikes. He topped out at 97 mph, which is harder than he usually throws as a starter when he paces himself when he sits 93-94 usually. His best pitch of the night? A nasty changeup for his second strikeout, seen here:

DH Valentino Pascucci was 1-for-1 with a double off the leftfield wall and three walks when PCL pitchers wanted no part of the big guy.

AA: Western Division All-Stars 4, Eastern Division All-Stars 5

Eric Campbell singled home the winning run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth on an night when he was 2-for-3 to earn the game MVP.

He got the full shaving cream treatment post-game seen at right and tweeted out by the B-Mets.

Armando Rodriguez worked a scoreless seventh inning.

Jefry Marte singled home a run in his only trip to the plate.



Upper Minors Sunday: Bats Carry the B-Mets and Bisons to Wins

AAA: Buffalo Bisons 10, @ SWB Yankees 3 

The Bisons won four straight to head into the AAA All-Star Break on the strength of an offense that has scored 31 runs in those four games.

Sunday, CF Matt den Dekker led the way in a 3-for-5 effort with a homerun, 3 RBI and a strikeout. In 25 games with the Bisons, he has six homers, and 13 extra-base hits overall as part of a .211/.235/.459 line with four walks and 33 strikeouts.

Adam Loewen is back with the Bisons and hitting. After a 2-for-4 with a double and a homer Sunday, he’s 7-for-15 in July with 4 extra-base knocks in four games. Another left-hitting corner guy is pretty low on the Mets’ needs right now.

Collin McHugh earned his first AAA win on Sunday: 5.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K. He threw 64% of his pitches (52 of 81) for strikes.

The Bisons got all the hard-throwers in their bullpen (Jenrry Mejia, Josh Edgin and Elvin Ramirez) some work on the final day before the break.

And yes, that’s former Met, and “habitual liar” John Maine who started for SWB.


AA: Binghamton Mets 10, @ Altoona Curve (PIT) 9 

The B-Mets built a 9-3 in this one, and just held on at the end when the Curve scored five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning.

CF Juan Lagares (pictured) was 3-for-6 with two doubles to help construct the B-Mets’ advantage. Lagares (.274/.332/.364 – 84 games) already has four doubles in July, equalling his total from the entire month of June. The 23-year old had a more patient season versus a year ago – his walk rate is up to 7.8%, but oddly at the expense of his power. He has just one homerun, and his extrabase hit rate has dropped from about 9% in 2011 to 6% in 2012. Usually, when batters become more patient, their power production goes up.

1B Alan Dykstra was 3-for-5 with a homer. Having him back and active will certainly help the B-Mets’ offense.

While Wilmer Flores was off playing third for the World Futures Team, 3B Jefry Marte was 0-for-3 with two walks and a strikeout for Binghamton while 2B Reese Havens was 1-for-3 with a double, two walks and a strikeout. Marte, who turned 21 in June, is hitting .230/.304/.351 since May 1. Like Lagares, his increased walk rate (up to 9.7%) since May 1, has come without a corresponding power surge as his extra-base hit rate is down to 5.7% since May 1 as his overall line sits at .260/.331/.381 in 80 games.

The 25-year old Havens is hitting .218/.352/.354 in 61 games in Binghamton.

Gonzalez Germen’s ERA rose to 4.27 when he walked five and gave up five runs on five hits in 7.1 innings.

Upper Levels Saturday: Cory Mazzoni Drops a Gem on Altoona

AAA: Buffalo Bisons 7, @ Scranton/WB Yankees 6

All he does is hit homeruns and strikeout. Well that and play a mean centerfield. CF Matt den Dekker: 1-for-4, HR, 3 RBI, 3 K. When you combine his strikeout rate (28.8%) and his HR rate (4.5%) in AAA, it runs to 33.3% of his plate appearances. He’s hitting .192/.218/.423 with a .217 BABIP and 32 strikeouts in 24 games.

In case you were concerned, Justin Hampson cleared waivers and is savely back with the Bisons. (Note: savely was originally a typo, but I left it in because Hampson earned a save with a scoreless inning of work Saturday. We’ll call Freudian-typo.)

Manny Acosta continued his dominance of the International League: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K. Yes, he was terrible as a big leaguer early this year, but in 19.2 innings in AAA, he has 22 strikeouts against one walk.


AA: Binghamton Mets 8, @ Altoona Curve (PIT) 2

Cory Mazzoni: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K.

Numerically, this wasn’t just Mazzoni’s best start in four tries in AA, it beat any of his 12 starts in advanced-A St. Lucie. The 22-year old, who the Mets picked in the second round a year ago, did not have a single seven-inning shutout outing at any level before Saturday.

Unimpressive scouting reports mixed with pedestrian advanced-A numbers had made me resigned to the idea that he was destined for the bullpen and I had him over-ranked at #10 pre-season. And then he does this. So, now, I’m intrigued again.

C Francisco Pena was 1-for-3 with a homer, a walk and a strikeout. The homer was the 22-year old’s second in 11 games in AA and five of his 9 hits have gone for extra-bases as part of a .250/.325/.500 line in 11 games.

Upper Minors Friday: Jeurys Familia’s Best of 2012? And Wilmer Flores Owns AA.

AAA: Buffalo Bisons 5, @ Syracuse Chiefs (WAS) 1 

Just like the Mets drew it up: Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia combined for 8.1 1-run innings in this one.

Familia: 6.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 8/3 groundouts/flyouts. He threw 64% of his pitches (61 of 96) for strikes. It was Familia’s longest start of the year, and his most strikeouts in an outing with one or fewer walks. After the game, according to Bisons’ broadcaster Ben Wagner, manager Wally Backman called it Familia’s best start of the season.

Mejia relieved Familia and faced seven batters. He walked one, struck out one and induced five groundball outs, while throwing 52% of his pitches (14 of 27) for strikes.

Lest you forget, Familia and Mejia are both 22, but Familia is one whole day older.

CF Matt den Dekker (.190/.217/.400): 1-for-5 with 3 K. Much more concerning than the low batting average is den Dekker’s 29/4 K/BB in 23 games. Of course, all the strikeouts keep his batting average down.


AA: Binghamton Mets 8, Richmond Flying Squirrels 4 

Oh, double-A baseball is hard? Not for 20-year old Wilmer Flores, so far. While playing third on Friday night, he was 3-for-4 with a homer and a walk and is up to .390/.433/.576 with six walks against six strikeouts in 16 games. In 80 games between advanced-A and AA, he’s struck out in only 10.6% of his plate appearances and walked in 7.1 while putting up a .175 isolated slugging percentage. He can hit. The only question is where he’s going to play. In double-A, he’s played seven games at third, three at second and two at first.

There’s no question where fellow 20-year old Wilfredo Tovar will play. The slick-fielding SS collected two hits to improve to .306/.358/.408 in 13 games in AA.

2B Reese Havens was 1-for-2 with a double, a strikeout and three walks. He’s up to 38 walks in 59 games.

Mark Cohoon: 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HR. After a rough turn in AAA, he’s found his level again in AA.

Upper Minors Thursday: Zack Wheeler Returns to Form

AA: Binghamton Mets 5, Richond Flying Squirrels (SF) 1 

Here’s what you need to know: Zack Wheeler is back on track. After giving up a season-high seven runs on nine hits in his last start, he bounced back with 7.1 innings of one run ball. He struck out six and did not walk a batter while throwing 67 of his 101 pitches for strikes. It was third start in 15 tries without giving up a walk. Wheeler gave up two singles in the eighth inning and then Armando Rodriguez walked two batters to force in a Wheeler run.

And now for your evening in the B-Mets infield shuffle: 3B Jefry Marte (.263/.332/.388 – 77 games) was 0-for-4, 2B Reese Havens (.218/.340/.350 – 58 games) was 3-for-5 with an RBI and 1B Wilmer Flores (.364/.403/.509 – 15 games) was 2-for-4 with a double. Flores is the guy who is bouncing around the diamond. It was his second game at first, to go along with  six games at third, three at second and two at first. Marte has played first just once, while Havens has played nothing but second.

Juan Lagares was 2-for-5. The 23-year old is hitting singles and has his average up to .275/.333/.359 in 81 games.


AAA: Buffalo Bisons 9, Syracuse Chiefs (WAS) 8  (14 innings)

CF Matt den Dekker  was 0-for-6 as his average slipped to .189/.218/.411 in 22 games.

Josh Edgin threw a scoreless frame, as he’s now gone eight outings in a row without allowing a run.   

Upper Minors Wednesday: Matt Harvey Is Rolling

AAA: @ Syracuse Chiefs (WAS) 5, Buffalo Bisons 0 

Matt Harvey is rolling. Wednesday: 6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 1 HR. The homerun was a solo shot in the sixth by Jim Negrych. Harvey leads the International League in strikeouts (102) helped in part by his league-leading 18 starts. In terms of strikeout rate, he’s fourth on the circuit (9.34 K/9).

Harvey’s last five starts: 2.32 ERA, 31 IP, 22 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 2 HR, 9 BB, 38 K. That’s a .195 opponents’ average (22 H/113 AB) with a 4.2 K/BB. His early season walk issues have largely disappeared as he has not walked more than two batters in any start in a month.

CF Matt den Dekker (.202/.232/.438 – 21 games) was 0-for-4 with a strikeout, his 25th in 21 games.

Adam Loewen returned to the Bisons for the first time since April 20, and was 2-for-3 with a walk. The Mets aren’t exactly looking for another left-handed hitting outfielder, but more healthy bodies cannot be a bad thing.


AA: @ Richmond Flying Squirrels 9, Binghamton Mets 4

Your infield shuffle update: 2B Reese Havens (1-4, 2B, BB), 3B Jefry Marte (1-3, 2B, BB, K) while Wilmer Flores sat and pinch-hit.

CF Juan Lagares was 3-for-5 with a pair of runs scored. He’s started hitting for average (.375/.447/.450 in his last 10 games) but the power has disappeared. For the year, he’s sitting at .272/.332/.355 that’s an isolated slugging percentage of .083. Last year, he had an iso of .142 in double-A.

Greg Peavey is struggling in AA: 4.2 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR – 5.94 ERA.

Upper Minors Tuesday: Late Inning Heroics All-Around

AAA: @ Buffalo Bisons 5, Durham Bulls (TB) 4

Weird ending as a the Bisons had the winning runs on base in the ninth before a roughly hour-long rain delay halted the action with a huge July 3rd crowd (15,930) waiting for fireworks. When play resumed, 2B Jordany Valdespin won the game with a tapper to second that did not reach the infield dirt. Valdespin also homered in the third inning and now is likely headed for the big league roster as Kirk Nieuwenhuis hits the disabled list.

Why was the game tied at 4-4? The Bulls scored two in the eighth against Jenrry Mejia on a two-out double. In nine innings as a reliever, Mejia has given up  11 runs on 15 hits, walked five and fanned five.

Collin McHugh pitched more than well enough for the win: 6.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 10 K.


AA: @ Binghamton Mets 3, Altoona Curve (PIT) 2 

The B-Mets used a pair of RBI groundouts in the bottom of the eighth inning to score two to snap their seven-game losing streak.

SS Wilfredo Tovar was 2-for-4 with a double. The 20-year old is hitting .306/.375/.444 in 10 games in AA.

Wilmer Flores (0-for-3, BB) played second, Jefry Marte (0-for-3, BB) played third, and Reese Havens sat, but appeared as a pinch-hitter.

Darin Gorski threw a solid six innings (3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 K) and the bullpen followed with three scoreless to facilitate the comeback.

Upper Minors Monday: Jordany Valdespin Ties a Bisons Record

AAA: Durham Bulls (TB) 3, @ Buffalo Bisons 2 

The Bisons were held to three hits as they lost their seventh in a row to Durham. 2B Jordany Valdespin picked up one of the hits in a 1-for-3 night, but the more remarkable part of his evening were his four stolen bases, tying a modern Bisons’ record. The 24-year old is hitting .285/.326/.408 in 33 games in AAA this year.
CF Matt den Dekker was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts to slip to .210/.241/.469 in 19 games with the Bisons. He’s only had a few weeks in AAA, but his 24/4 K/BB ratio is ugly.

LHP Josh Edgin and RHP Manny Acosta each threw two scoreless innings in relief of Garrett Olson. Edgin allowed a hit, while Acosta did not, but issued a walk and struck out one batter. In 10 games with the Bisons, Acosta has been completely untouchable: 16.2 IP, 13 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 18 K. He’ll be back.

Edgin has not allowed a run in his last seven appearances, a span of 7.1 innings in which he’s fanned nine, walked three and given up just four hits.


AA: Altoona Curve (PIT) 6, @ Binghamton Mets 2 

The B-Mets lost their seventh straight game, this time falling to Pirates’ prospect Gerrit Cole.

Your infield alignment update: Wilmer Flores played 3B, Reese Havens was at second and Jefry Marte played first for the first time since injuring himself at the position in the Arizona Fall League in 2011. Flores committed two errors, both on throws, and Havens added a fielding error. Flores came the closest to making up for his defense: the 20-year old was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI and is sitting at .383/.415/.532 with four doubles, a homer, four walks and five strikeouts in 12 games in AA. Havens (.209/.335/.342 – 55 games) was 0-for-4 with a walk and three strikeouts while Marte (.269/.337/.395 – 74 games) was 0-for-5.

Putting Marte at firstbase forced Eric Campbell (.330/.439/.498 – 62 games) to leftfield where the big guy was 2-for-4 with a double.

Gonzalez Germen: 7 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 1 HR. Meh.

The Weekend in AAA: Two Blowout Losses, But a Step Forward for Jenrry Mejia

Saturday: Durham Bulls (TB) 12, @ Buffalo Bisons 6
Sunday: Durham Bulls 12, Buffalo Bisons 6

That’s 24 runs on 28 hits on Saturday and Sunday for the Bulls since Matt Harvey’s Friday night gem for the Bisons.

The starting pitching culprits:
Saturday: LHP Mark Cohoon: 4.1 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K
Sunday: RHP Jeurys Familia: 3.1 IP, 5 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 1 HBP, 49% strikes (34 strikes/70 pitches).

After three encouraging starts in early June, Familia has gone backwards in his last four starts: 9.00 ERA (15 ER/15 IP), 22 H, 2 HBP, 14 BB, 7 K.  I still think he needs the reps that starting provides, but his struggles to throw strikes with his fastball is awfully concerning. For the year, he’s walked 6.2 batters per nine innings (52 BB/75 IP).


Bullpen Questions or Answers?
The hard-throwers in the bullpen, all of whom share big league aspirations, produced a mixed series of results.
- Saturday, Jenrry Mejia threw a scoreless two innings with a strikeout, a single and just one ground ball out.  He threw 19 of his 27 pitches for strikes – 70%, his highest strike percentage in his seven relief outings with the Bisons. According to Mike Harrington in the Buffalo News, Mejia hit 96 mph with his fastball and Wally Backman thought he “looked to me like he was more in control.”
- Manny Acosta and Josh Edgin each worked scoreless innings.
- Sunday, Elvin Ramirez was not good: 1.2 IP, 5 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K.
- Pedro Beato took care of three innings yielding just a hit and a walk without a run or a strikeout.

I don’t know which of the five pitchers I just mentioned in the previous bulletpoint list will show up in Queens in the second half of 2012, but it’s a pretty safe bet that some of them (perhaps at least three?) will.

Position Players
Jordany Valdespin, who was 0-for Saturday while playing CF, was 3-for-5 with a pair of strikeouts Sunday while playing second. He’s hitting .283/.321/.409 in 32 games with the Bisons with seven walks against 18 strikeouts.
CF Matt den Dekker was 2-for-4 with a double on Sunday. He’s sitting at .221/.253/.494 in 18 games with the Bisons where 11 of his 17 hits have been extra-base knocks. He’s fanned 21 times and drawn four walks in 18 games.