@ Binghamton Mets 9, Akron Aeros (CLE) 2
The B-Mets won despite committing five, count ‘em five, errors. Sure, that stuff happens in a-ball. It should happen less in double-A.
There are three performances worth discussing.
1. RHP Jacob deGrom (1-4, 4.86): 7 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K. This was his second-longest outing of 2013, and his best since his AA debut on April 17. In 37 innings, he’s fanned 25 and walked 10, but given up 42 hits. I suspect that, while he was able to overpower a-ball hitters on his strength of his sinker, AA hitters are eliminating his breaking ball and timing his fastball better.
2. DH Cory Vaughn hit a grand slam in the B-Mets’ six-run fifth inning. It was the fifth homer, and fourth against a righty, for Vaughn who is now up to .294/.379/.500 in 28 games.
3. Cesar Puello was 3-for-5 with a double and three RBI. He’s up to .288/.357/.510 in 30 games, and is two years younger than Vaughn. Puello struck out 17 times in 15 games in April (too much) but has cut that back to eight whiffs in 15 games in May. On the other hand, fewer strikeouts have come with fewer walks – five in April and two in May. He remains very much a work in progress, but it is working now.
AA: @ Binghamton Mets 7, Akron Aeros (CLE) 3
Double-A is the first level where the baseball really starts to look like the big leagues sometimes. And often it does not. Such was the case in the eighth inning on Tuesday when the B-Mets scored four times on four walks, two infield singles, a passed ball and a wild pitch.
On the offensive side, LF Cory Vaughn (.299/.387/.485 – 27 gms) was 2-for-4 with two runs, an RBI and a strikeout. One of the hits was a grounder to short in the B-Mets big eighth inning. Vaughn’s making a run at .300 and is hitting .313/.436/.469 in his last 10 games. The 24-year-old still an extreme platoon split guy 1.321 OPS versus LHP in 24 AB and .723 vs. RHP in 73 AB. His overall line is supported by a .365 BABIP after back-to-back years in advanced-A of .247 and .274 BABIPs. My opinion on Vaughn has not changed: he could have big league value as a platoon outfielder/pinch-hitter, but he’s not an everyday guy.
Logan Verrett was solid: 7 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 K.
LHP Jack Leathersich fanned four in his two innings for the win. Leathersich has struck out 33 of 69 (48%) of the batters he has faced while walking 15%. I certainly did not expect he would strike out this many hitters in AA.
Manager Pedro Lopez moved struggling CF Alonzo Harris (.230/.284/.345 – 37 G) down to the #8 spot while 2B Danny Muno (.228/.371/.342) moved up to the leadoff spot. The 24-year-old Muno is tied for second in the EL in walks (25) but has done relatively little when he has made contact (9 extra-base hits).
AA: @ New Hampshire Fisher Cats 5, Binghamton Mets 2
Erik Goeddel was hittable on a night when the wind was blowing 20 mph out to left field if the box score is accurate. Goeddel’s line: 4.1 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 2 HR. He was in the strike zone plenty, throwing 65% of his pitches (57 of 88) for strikes, but he was hurt in the zone. Versus his 2012 performance in advanced-A St. Lucie, his strikeout rate is up a little, his walk rate is down a little, but he’s been hurt on contact. His BABIP has risen from .334 a year ago to .375 this year and his opponents’ isolated slugging is up from .079 to .160. In part, this is a reflection of allowing two homers in a game Friday – half the number he allowed in 22 games in 2012 at a point in the season where everything is still subject to small sample size warnings. But you know, that happened.
The B-Mets had six hits, no one had more than one, and five of the six were singles. RF Cory Vaughn (pictured) did hit his second homer of the year. The soon-to-be 24-year-old is hitting .277/.358/.489 in his first 13 games in AA.
There are still three regulars hitting under .200 in the Binghamton lineup all with some degree of prospecty-ness:
LF Darrell Ceciliani – .192/.222/.269, 3 XBH, 1 BB, 15 K, 52 AB – 13 G
2B Danny Muno – .156/.321/.222, 3 XBH, 10 BB, 14 K, 45 AB – 14 G
SS Wilfredo Tovar – .146/.212/.167, 1 XBH, 1 BB, 6 K, 48 AB – 15 G
AA: Binghamton Mets 4, @ New Hampshire Fisher Cats (TOR) 3
The B-Mets scored three times in the top of the sixth to come up with the win. 2B Danny Muno doubled home two runs to tie the game, and then CF Alonzo Harris doubled home Muno. Muno was 2-for-3 with a walk, his 10th (!) in 13 games to push his season line to .167/.340/.238. Three of his seven hits have been doubles.
LF Cory Vaughn added a couple of hits to take him up to .279/.367/.442. Vaughn will turn 24 on May 1, and has struck out 16 times in 12 games. At the moment, he’s running a .423 BABIP, so either he will strike out less, or his average will come down.
RHP Tyler Pill was ok, nothing more: 6 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K.
After Pill, RHP Jeffrey Walters finished the game with a scoreless inning of relief for his fourth save. He allowed a hit and did not strike anyone out. He’s fanned eight of the 33 batters to face him (24%) which is nice, while walking just one (3%). He’s a fastball/slider guy who seems to have added a little life to his fastball. All of a sudden he’s a bullpen sleeper to pay attention to. He struggled with his command in college, but he seems to have that now well under control.
AA: @ Binghamton Mets 15, New Hampshire Fisher Cats (TOR) 7
Lets get right to it. The Binghamton Mets equaled a club record, originally set in 1994, with an 11-run fourth inning.
LF Cory Vaughn, dropped down to #7 in the lineup had a big night, going 3-for-4 with a double, a walk and 4 RBI to lift his season line to .231/.333/.346 in seven games.
C Juan Centeno added three hit in five at bats and a triple.
CF Alonzo Harris (.306/.324/.472 – 8 gms) was 2-for-6 with 3 RBI from the top of the order.
New Hampshire actually ended up outhitting Binghamton in this one 18-13, but the B-Mets drew nine (!) walks and the ‘Cats committed two errors. To be fair, game time temperature on this game was listed at a pleasant 46 degrees.
RHP Tyler Pill was hittable in his four innings: 4 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 3 K.
Jeffrey Walters struck out two and allowed two hits in a scoreless ninth inning. According to Jeffrey Paternostro, he hit 96 mph on the stadium gun. This continues a steady velocity climb from 89-91 in Brooklyn a two years ago to 92-94 when he was a Sand Gnat last year. This kind of velocity gain is extremely unusual.
AAA: Las Vegas 51s 6, @ Sacramento RiverCats (OAK) 1
Collin McHugh was sharp to help the 51s improve to 3-0. McHugh’s line: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K. He threw 60% of his pitches for strikes (56 of 93).
Offensively, the big names (Juan Lagares, Travis d’Arnaud and Wilmer Flores) were all o-for. Instead, the offense came from SS Brian Bixler (2B, 3B), DH Andrew Brown (3-for-4), Josh Satin (HR, 2 RBI) and Jamie Hoffman (3-for-3, BB). I got the feeling that Terry Collins really likes Hoffman during spring training. If the Mets’ outfield is unproductive, he’d be on Collins’ replacements list.
AA: Binghamton Mets 7, @ Akron Aeros (CLE) 5
Darrell Ceciliani played centerfield for the first time in three games, while Alonzo Harris shifted to left, Cory Vaughn played right, and Cesar Puello had the night off. All three starting outfielders were productive. Harris was 2-for-4 with a double, his second, and a walk. Ceciliani was 2-for-5 with a double and a triple, while Cory Vaughn was 2-for-4 with a triple, a walk and a stolen base.
Logan Verrett was ok in his AA debut: 6 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 HR
Back the Top 41 …
39 – RHP Tyler Pill
Height/Weight: 6’1”/185 lbs
Acquired: 4th rd, 2011 (Cal State Fullerton)
Born: May 29, 1990 (Covina, CA)
2012 Rank: NR | Stats
Why Ranked Here: Tyler Pill had a very nice 2012, dominating A-ball hitters by throwing lots and lots of strikes without a single plus or even average Major League pitch. His fastball lives 88-91. He commands a slider and some nights shows a curveball. His changeup can be a little firm, but he throws everything for strikes. If Pill makes the major leagues, he will do so at the back end of a big league staff, but his strike-throwing ability will always give him a chance.
A nice athlete, his brother plays in the big leagues too.
2012: Nine strong starts in the South Atlantic League earned Pill a quick trip to Advanced-A where he lowered his ERA a few ticks. He strikeout rate dipped to 21% in the Florida State League while his walk rate rose towards normal.
Dr. Pangloss Says: Jeremy Hefner
Debbie Downer Says: AAA Cannon Fodder
Projected 2013 Start: AA Binghamton
MLB Arrival: 2014
40 – OF Cory Vaughn
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 225 lbs
Acquired: 4th round 2010 (San Diego State)
Born: 5/1/89 (Carmichael, CA)
2012 Rank: 32 | Stats
Why Ranked Here: Vaughn is a frustrating player to rank. He posses valuable secondary offensive skills – power and patience – but I simply do not see enough hit tool to play everyday in the big leagues as a corner outfielder. He will be playing most of 2013 at age 24 in his first exposure to AA. It appeared early in spring training 2013 that he was working with a cleaner, simpler setup than he had in previous seasons. His complicated swing at the time meant he had trouble with good fastballs. He has average speed, but he can pick his spots and steal a base (he was 21 of 25 in 2012).
After playing him a little centerfield early in his minor league career, the Mets moved Vaughn to a corner in 2012.
One thing that keeps Vaughn near the bottom of the list is his extreme platoon split. In the last two years, he’s hit .291/.400/.525 in 310 PA versus lefties, but just .232/.340/.395 against righties. These are a-ball and advanced-A righthanders.
If I was being charitable, I could rank Vaughn anywhere from here up to about 23 in the system. That’s how fluid the back half of this Top 41 is.
2012: Vaughn finished second in the Florida State League in homeruns and fourth in walks. His extra-base, homerun and walk rates all improved in his second tour of duty in the FSL. At the same time, his strikeout rate was similar to the year before and his BABIP of .276 held down his batting average.
Dr. Pangloss Says: Vaughn’s power and ability to hit lefties plays off an MLB bench.
Debbie Downer Says: Vaughn’s low batting average and struggles against righties keep him from providing big league value.
Projected 2013 Start: AA Binghamton
MLB Arrival: 2014
A+: @ Jupiter Hammerheads (MIA) 5, St. Lucie Mets 4 (7 innings)
@ Jupiter Hammerheads 4, St. Lucie Mets 2 (7 innings)
RF Cesar Puello (.257/.325/.424) was 1-for-3 with a homer in game one. He played rightfield in both games, while Darrell Ceciliani roamed in center in game one and Alonzo Harris did the same in game two.
LF Cory Vaughn (pictured) was 2-for-3 with a double (his 22nd), a homer (his 23rd) and a stolen base, (his 21st) in game one and doubled and walked in game two. Vaughn is tied for the FSL homerun lead with Marlins OF Marzel Ozuna, who won game one with a walkoff off Adam Kolarek in the bottom of the seventh. Ozuna might be a better prospect simply because as a 21-year old who won’t turn 22 until November, he’s a year and a half younger than Vaughn, who turned 23 this year. After a .222/.330/.430 line in 61 games in the first half, Vaughn is up to .269/.382/.510 in 60 games in the second half as he’s cut his strikeouts from 60 to 50. He has a significant platoon split as he’s run a .922 OPS versus lefties and a .773 OPS versus right-handed pitching. Before you get excited about the next Scott Hairston, remember that he plays center and Vaughn doesn’t.
With a couple walks in game one, and two hits and a walk in game two, “SS” Danny Muno is up to .289/.390/.429 in 76 games. I got some questions on Twitter about him. I see him as a MLB utility guy. First of all, he’s 23 in advanced-A and was suspended 50 games this year for testing positive for an anabolic steroid metabolite. Second, he does not have the range for short everyday.
RHP Erik Goeddel was ok in game one: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K.
A: @ Asheville Tourists (COL) 6, Savannah Sand Gnats 5
Domingo Tapia shutout a good Asheville lineup through five innings, but was touched for five runs in the sixth and seventh innings combined. His line: 6.1 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, 1 HR. Want something positive? Think nine strikeouts and no walks.
A+: @ St. Lucie Mets 6, Charlotte Stone Crabs (TB) 5
Jacob deGrom was ok, but not great: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K
RF Cory Vaughn was 1-for-3 with a homer, his 22nd of the year, and a walk. I’m a broken record on Vaughn: the power (21 2B, 22 HR) and the speed (19 of 22 stealing bases are great), but the .243 batting average at age 23 in the FSL is scary. The physical tools are there, but scouts as one scout gently put it, the swing is “complicated.”
In his third game back from the disabled list, DH Darrell Ceciliani was 2-for-4. It’s been a pretty wasted year for Ceciliani, who has played in just 17 games. At 22 now, I’d think he would be a good candidate for the one of the Mets’ Arizona Fall League a-ball exemptions.
A: @ Savannah Sand Gnats 6, Rome Braves 2
C Cam Maron was 2-for-3 with a homer, his fifth and two walks. The 21-year old, whose game is Josh Thole-ish, is hitting a healthy .302/.401/.415 in 87 games in the SAL.
Lets take a look at what’s going on in the St. Lucie, in the advanced-A outfield.
Three of the four guys getting regular playing time, CF/RF Cesar Puello (#6), RF Cory Vaughn (#32) and LF Travis Taijeron (#40) appeared on my pre-season Top 41 prospects list, while the most productive perhaps is CF/LF Alonzo Harris, who was unranked this year. Harris topped out on my list at #26 in 2010, but that was a postion ago, back when he was playing second base.
Coming into this year, I was highest on the youngest member of the outfield: the very strong Puello. He’s responded with a lost year as a hammate bone fracture kept him off the field for much of the summer, and when he’s played his strike zone control has deteriorated. His 2.4% walk rate just will not play regardless of how often he gets hit, as it reflects a more fundamental problem at the plate in identifying good pitches. Often hammate bone breaks result in power declines (or pauses in development), so it is hardly a surprise to see him hit relatively few homeruns. Still, he leads this list with a 9.6% extra-base hit rate. Puello was the FSL Mets’ primary centerfielder in April and May when Darrell Ceciliani was out with his own hamstring problems. However, since his return to action on August 4th, he’s played more rightfield (6 games) to center (3 games) out of deference to Alonzo Harris. I still like the tools, but the age clock is starting to tick a whole lot louder.
That subtle positional shift reflects how far Harris has come as a player this year on both sides of the ball. Harris has raked at a .319/.389/.469 rate with 23 walks and 25 strikeouts in 50 games in the second half. He’s walking plenty, not striking out, hitting for a little pop and stealing bases. Oh, and he’s playing centerfield. He was recruited as a Division I defensive back in football out of high school, so I think he has the speed and explosiveness for the postion. Harris’ playing time went up when Ceciliani and Puello went down with injuries, and he’s taken good advantage of the opportunity. It’s hard to see an everyday player in a 23-year old in advanced-A, but his speed and defensive versatility (CF/LF/2B) could make him a fit on a big league bench.
Vaughn has cut his strikeouts down a little bit and shown the ability to hit the ball over the wall. Still, as a 23-year old corner guy, the .240 batting average indicates a serious problem making good consistent contact with a complicated swing. Vaughn has a persistent platoon split – .924 OPS vs. LHP in 139 AB this year and .747 in 281 AB vs. RHP. Scott Hairston has stuck around the big leagues because he crushes lefties and plays centerfield. Vaughn offers one of the two. For reference, Hairston blew through the hitters’ paradise of Lancaster with a .405/.442/.797 mark in 18 games at age 22, and then hit .276/.345/.469 with 10 homers in his first crack at AA in 2003 as a 23-year old.
How does all of this affect prospect status? I’ll still take the youth and massive shoulders of Puello among this group. However, Harris’ very nice season at the plate, combined with the positional value in centerfield, should vault him over Vaughn.