Mejia: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K. It was his second official rehab appearance. He should be headed back to the Las Vegas rotation soon.
Rodriguez (pictured) was 2-for-5 with a homer, his ninth of the year. The 21-year old is now hitting .329/.364/.634 with 13 extra-base hits, four walks and 12 strikeouts in 20 games in May. I give you permission to get excited about the bat.
Robert Gsellman,who will not turn 20 until July gave up a run in the first and then nothing else. The 13th round pick retired 17 of 18 batters, interupted only by a walk. At one point, he set down 11 batters in a row without the ball so much as leaving the infield and yet he did not strike out a single one of the hitters. It was an unusual looking dominant performance: 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K.
He did it by throwing his fastball for strikes and messing with batters’ timing with his changeup. He threw 42 of his 62 fastballs for strikes and much more remarkably 19 of his 25 (76% – !) changeups for strikes. He only threw four curveballs, two for strikes. He was basically a two-pitch guy – fastball and changeup. His fastball was 89-92 on Thursday. He has size (6’4″), poise, and feel for his fastball and changeup. All the same, his fastball is no better than average now, and his breaking ball is rudimentary.
It is certainly an uncommon profile when you mix his age and repertoire together. I want to see something else (more fastball velo, or more likely a more consistent breaking ball) before anointing him a big-time prospect, but he certainly has my full attention.
C Kevin Plawecki (.361/.441/.595 – 43 games) was 1-for-4 with a double to left-center, his 20th double of the year, to extend his consecutive games on-base streak to 33 straight games.
DH Jayce Boyd (.342/.431/.491 – 42 games) was 2-for-4 with a two-run double down the right field line and a clean single into right field. Boyd now has not played the field in 10 days, since May 13th while nursing a sore arm.
Hey, look, aJenrry Mejia sighting. Mejia started, but was held two two innings by rain in Florida. His line: 2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HBP, 3 groundouts, 0 fb outs. He also committed an error, on a pickoff. This outing was short enough that I suspect he will get another couple of cracks at advanced-A before heading west to Las Vegas. And by the time he gets to Vegas, will he be starting or relieving? My guess – by the time he’s back in the big leagues, it will be out of the bullpen.
The Mets’ 13th round pick in the 2011 draft, Robert Gsellman, made his Savannah Sand Gnats’ debut after a pair of spot starts earlier this spring with advanced-A St. Lucie. His line: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K. Gsellman appeared to use his changeup as his primary off-speed weapon. I did not see him throw many curves.
Bret Mitchell struck out a batter in the ninth for his sixth save in six chances. He’s another bullpen sleeper. He missed all of last year with hip labrum surgery, but he can throw 92-94. His curve at 81-83 is a potential MLB weapon and his changeup (which he rarely throws) has some sink on it as well. He’s allowed the fifth-fewest baserunners per inning among SAL relievers while fanning 23 batters and walking just three in 15.1 IP.
Where did the Gnats’ offense come from? Why extra-base hits from 22-year-olds 1B Jayce Boyd (.374/.469/.537) and DHKevin Plawecki (.392/.449/.675). Boyd homer in the sixth, his second of the year in a 2-for-4 night. Plawecki doubled up the left-center field gap in the fourth to set up a two-run Gnats’ inning. It was the league-leading 18th double of the year for Plawecki, who now has 23 extra-base hits, the only guy in the SAL with more than 17. I was moderately surprised that the Braves were shading Plawecki the other way, creating a large space in left-center. That’s fairly standard against most a-ballers, but I’d play him straight-up or with my centerfielder a few steps into left-center to guard that gap that Plawecki uses more than right-center.
This was encouraging: Jenrry Mejia last night: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 8 groundous/1 fly out.
This was even more encouraging: of his 95 pitches, 21 were curveballs according to Brooksbaseball’s classifications. In 2010, he threw the pitch 10% of the time. If he’s going to start, he needs to throw his breaking ball. And keep throwing it. He induced a few strikeouts with the pitch. It acts like a hard curveball from 78-82 mph, with an average of 80 mph, with an average of 8 inches of vertical break. On the SNY broadcast, Ron Darling referred Mejia throwing the offering with a “slider grip.” Whatever it’s called, Mejia needs to throw the pitch more to keep batters off his fastball.
I covered the less exciting of the September callups earlier, so lets take a look at the two big arms: RHP Jeurys Familia and RHP Jenrry Mejia.
Familia spent the entire year in the Bisons’ rotation where he struggled to throw good strikes with his fastball all year on his way to 73 walks and 128 strikeouts in 137 innings as a 22-year old. However, he finished the year on a relative high note as he matched a season-high with nine strikeouts in his final start. In his last four starts Familia ran an ERA of 3.60 and a K/BB of 4 in 25 IP, yielding 27 hits and 11 runs, 10 earned to go along with a homer, a hit by pitch and seven walks and 28 strikeouts for an opponents’ batting average of .270. In the first half, Familia walked 14% of the batters he saw in the first half, and cut that down to 8.1% in the second half. For reference, this year, the National League average is a shade under 8%. Familia really struggled to repeat his delivery early in the year, but settled down as the year went on.
Familia’s fastball was regularly mid-upper 90s and he has held his velocity deep into ball games. His second pitch is a hard curve in the mid-80s that can be vicious.
Age is funny for pitchers, who do not follow as well-defined a career path as hitters. However, to put Familia’s age in context, he was younger than 10 of the 15 pitchers on the St. Lucie Mets’ roster in advanced-A.
Nearly regardless of what Familia does in a few big league appearances this September, he belongs back in AAA in the rotation to begin the 2013 season.
Mejia, who is almost exactly a year older than Familia has did not finish strongly in his final two Bisons starts: 12 IP, 15 H, 11 R, 11 ER, 4 BB, 8 K. The Mets still have not made up their mind about what to do with Mejia. Jerry Manuel famously and foolishly pushed him to the big league bullpen in 2010. Following Tommy John Surgery in 2010, after a series of rehab starts at advanced-A, AA and then three in AAA this year, the Mets again looking for a short-term payoff, moved Mejia to the bullpen in the middle of June. Again, the move did not work. The results, over 16 outings, were ugly: 21.1 IP, 27 H, 15 R, 2 HR, 9 BB, 10 K. He seemed to overthrow out of the bullpen and his control disintegrated.
Compare Mejia’s work as a starter to that as a reliever. Basic
Mejia was simply a better pitcher as a starter. He still throws hard and his ball has great life. It looks like he’s throwing a two-seamer more too, with movement in to right-handed hitters. In fact, over the weekend, he told Adam Rubin at ESPNNY that improving the two-seamer was a point of emphasis during his rehab work. Having watched his starts online, I think the release point on his curveball looks much more consistent than it ever did pre-TJ. However, he is not missing enough bats to be a viable big league option.
Mejia has simply not thrown very many innings. He had very, very little amateur experience, and he has never surpassed 100 innings as a professional. He is sitting on 92.2 innings this year, two off a career-high from 2009 which was split between advanced-A and AA. He needs the innings as a starter in the Mets rotation at the end of this year.
It appears that because he burned his third option before his fifth full season as a professional, the Mets will have a fourth option on Mejia in 2013. Like Familia, barring complete dominance in the next few weeks, Mejia should return to the AAA rotation to begin the 2013 season. Even if his future is in the bullpen, he needs the innings and keeping both starting will give the Mets more choices next year.
This September is about introducing Familia to the big leagues, and re-introducing Mejia so the pair is more ready to contribute next year.
After rolling through the first two innings, Jenrry Mejia lost his command in the third inning when allowed three walks and four runs. The first scored on a bases-loaded walk, and the next three on a bases loaded triple.
His final line: 6 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 3 K. He threw 65% of his pitches (57 of 88) for strikes. He induced eight groundouts.
The results were not great, but altogether, I thought it was an impressive night for Mejia. His sinker, when it was down picked up grounder after grounder. The Bisons’ broadcast crew repeatedly mentioned his 95 mph velocity. His curveball had bite. I thought a few of the more hard-hit against him were on changeups, but it was hard to tell on my computer screen.
The Bisons have six games remaining, so the Mets could have Mejia make one more start in AAA. He’s up to 86.2 innings this year after 28.1 last year in a season lost to Tommy John surgery. In 2011, he threw 81.1 innings between the big leagues and the minors. I would like to see the Mets give Mejia another start in AAA and then a few turns through the big league rotation.
I was trying to get away from daily recaps and focus on more big-picture stuff, but every time I do that, I’m reminded when I look at the box scores everyday, that the games really do matter. Everyday. We’ll just have to do both.
For example, Wednesday’s development at the upper levels was Jenrry Mejia’s best start since his return to the Bisons rotation.
Again, the story here is Jenrry Mejia: 6 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 2 WP. He threw 63% of his pitches (54 of 86) for strikes.
Bisons manager Wally Backman after the game on Mejia:
“It was a very good start. He had a couple of balls that were hit real hard off of him. Pitched himself out of trouble a couple of times, but overall, he stayed down in the strikezone. I thought he threw his secondary pitches really well. Today, it was probably one of his better starts. I was happy to see that and he’s been better as a starter. What the future holds for Mejia is still uncertain probably. Even when I go back to when he was pitching in the bullpen, before we made him a starter, his last three outings in the bullpen were pretty good too. He’s made some big improvements coming back from Tommy John as quick as he had. He’s definitely going in the right direction.
I’m curious for whom the future is certain. I kid, gently.
I know Backman was again referring to the fact that despite his progress starting in AAA, Mejia might be destined for a relief role. Whatever Mejia’s future role turns out to be, it’s good to see him not just pitching well, but missing more bats. And as long as he’s pitching well as as starter, there really should be absolutely no rush to move him to the bullpen.
Mejia’s line as a starter in Buffalo this season: 1.12 ERA, 40.1 IP, 33 H, 12 R, 5 ER, 2 HR, 11 BB, 21 K.
Lucas Duda(.273/.337/.409 – 23 games) was 2-for-4 with a walk, and again played leftfield. That’s 21 games in the outfield and two at first for Duda in AAA.
2B Reese Havenswas 0-for-4 with three strikeouts to slip back to .227/.358/.363 with 106 strikeouts in 88 games. Considering the fact that he’s 1. not hitting, and 2. 25 years old, his 40-man roster spot has to be in some jeopardy this winter.
Meanwhile, 2B Wilmer Flores was 1-for-4 with a double. The 21-year old is up to .294/.345/.431 in 54 games in AA.
We’ve been spending a lot of time writing about off-field affiliation issues with the AAA Buffalo Bisons, so I wanted to return to what’s happening on the field, and focus on the starting pitching. This was the plan even before Monday’s late night news that Johan Santana was going to have a Tuesday MRI to check on his “tight” back.
And now a check on your AAA options to replace Santana, just in case.
On the strength of back-to-back good starts in which he allowed one run over 12.2 innings against the Pawtucket Red Sox, RHP Collin McHugh was named the International League’s Pitcher of the Week. McHugh was particularly sharp in Fenway on Saturday: 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K. It was his first walkless outing in 12 tries in the International League. McHugh’s adjustment to AAA is reflected in his strikeout to walk rate which has improved in the International League by month: June 1.9 (15 K/8 BB), July 2.3 (34 K/13 BB) and August 3 (18 BB, 6 K). It so happens that if Santana cannot take his start on Thursday, McHugh would be lined up. He’s generally 88-91 with his fastball, although he can touch 92 with a full arsenal that includes a curveball, a slider, a cutter and a changeup. I get the Dillon Gee comparison, they’re both right-handed pitchers from small schools without big fastballs, picked in 18-21st rounds, who could fit at the back end of a rotation. However, I think McHugh actually has more weapons than Gee did when he arrived in the big leagues.
The Mets would have to add Collin McHugh to the 40-man roster this off-season to protect him from the rule five draft, so there’s a real chance the 2008 18th round pick will be added in-season and make an appearance or three for the big club.
I watched almost all of Jeurys Familia’sstart on Sunday. He’s doing better, but still having big-time trouble locating his fastball. It’s that simple. His line on Sunday: 5 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 4 K. His name keeps popping up as someone the Mets might bring up in September since he’s on the 40-man roster, and he has that big arm (94-96 regularly) but he’s just not ready to help an MLB team. The 72 walks in 124 innings (5.2 BB/9) should make that plain.
Monday, was the Chris Schwindenexperience: 5 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 2 HR. He’s only coming back to the big leagues in an emergency.
RHP Zack Wheeler is scheduled to throw in the Bisons’ day game on Tuesday, while RHP Jenrry Mejia is scheduled for Wednesday. Wheeler, the Mets top prospect is not ready either. He’s walked 7 batters in 15.2 innings in his three AAA starts and struggled to locate his fastball consistently. It’s a special fastball, and he has a hardbreaking slider and curve, but the Mets are not going to promote him to make a spot start after just three AAA appearances.
As for Mejia, his 1.05 ERA as a starter is a little deceptive as his line includes seven unearned runs so his total runs/9 is 2.89. More to the point he as a K/BB of 15/10 in 34.1 innings as a starter. He still needs the AAA innings to refine his location and his secondary offerings as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery and Jerry Manuel abuse.
Taken together, it’s pretty clear that if Santana cannot make his start on Thursday, Collin McHugh should make his big league debut.
Wheeler’s line in his second AAA start: 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K. He issued two of the walks in his sixth inning. Perhaps he was fatigued, or had trouble gripping the baseball in a sideways rainstorm. On the whole, he again showed off his explosive fastball. It was 96 mph early, and then 93-96 throughout the game according to the velocity calls of the Bisons’ broadcast. Both his curve and slider were sharp and produced swings and misses. I don’t recall many changeups, I remember he threw one that missed down.
In 10.2 innings in AAA with the Bisons, Wheeler has given up five hits but walked 7 while striking out 11. Triple-A hitters, like double-A hitters are having trouble squaring up his stuff. It’s that good. The issue simply is that he still has trouble controlling his weapons.
While I watched almost all of Wheeler’s start on Sunday, I never could get the stream to work on Sunday for Jenrry Mejia’s start. His line: 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K. Consider that in six starts with the Bisons this year, three in his initial rehab from Tommy John surgery and three since a failed move to the bullpen, he has a 0.95 ERA (3 ER/28.1 IP) with a .206 opponents’ batting average while in 16 outing out of the bullpen he’s run a 5.48 ERA (13 ER/21.1 IP) on a .303 opponents’ batting average. That makes it look like he’s been clearly better as a starter. And he has. But those numbers overstate the case. Add his unearned runs back into the calculation and his ERA as a starter rises to 3.18 R/9 (10 R/28.1 IP) compared to a R/9 as a reliever of 6.34 R/9 (15 R/21.1 IP). His K/BB ratio was 10/9 out of the bullpen and is 14/9 as a starter – put simply not great in either role.
The WFAN broadcast on Sunday evening discussed the idea that the Mets would bring Mejia and Familia up as relievers when rosters expand in September. Given the control problems each as experience in AAA, they might not offer much more than new bodies.
Lucas Dudamissed three games with root canal surgery and subsequent complications, but returned with a vengeance on Sunday, going 3-for-5 with two doubles. He’s hit .367/.441/.667 with three doubles and two homers and four walks against six strikeouts in his eight games in August. Sure looks like he’s getting comfortable again.
1. Jenrry Mejia is headed back to the Buffalo Bisons rotation.
He’s now scheduled to start Monday. In 16 relief outings with the Bisons, he have up 27 his over 21.1 innings for an opponents’ batting average of .303 and a K/BB ratio of 1.1 (10 K/9 BB). He simply was not pitching well in the role.
There’s an interesting degree of double-talk from the Mets about the shift back and forth. In June, with three AAA starts to his credit, when he was moved from the Bisons rotation to the bullpen, the idea was that he would be ready to help the big league team in 2012. Now, he’s going to start for a month as the team’s slide has lessened the demand for immediate bullpen help.
2. LOOGY Shift LHP Robert Carson, who is on the Mets’ 40-man roster, was promoted to AAA Buffalo. LHP Adam Kolarek, who is nine days older than Carson, was promoted from from advanced-A St. Lucie.
Carson’s a big guy with a plus fastball, who’s never really conquered AA. He leaves the B-Mets with a 4.79 ERA this year in 35.3 innings with 45 hits allowed fora .300 batting average against. He owns a 37/15 (2.5 K/BB) ratio. His splits are dramatic: lefties have hit .188/.212/.219 against him with one extra-base hit in 32 at-bats while righties have clubbed him at a .331/.396/.458 with 11 extra-base hits in 118 AB. His fastball sits around 94 mph, and his slider lives around 87 and his changeup is roughly 86. I just don’t know that he has an answer for right-handed batters.
The 23-year old Kolarek was a Mets’ 11th round pick in 2010 out of the University of Maryland. The 23-year old, who is a solidly built at 6’3″ 215, has put up video game numbers in St. Lucie: 1.65 ERA, 49 IP, 38 H, 11 R, 9 ER, 15 BB, 63 K. He’s generally 89-92 with a four-seam fastball, although he can touch 93. His second pitch when he was in Savannah was a big curveball. He has decent command. There’s a little bit of deception in his delivery, although scouts describe his arm stroke as “long.” He’s held lefties to a nuts .138/.211/.154 line and a .365 OPS in 65 AB in advanced-A while righties have hit .257/.317/.336 against him in 113 AB.
3. Logan Verrett Promoted to St. Lucie
RHP LoganVerrett, the Mets third round pick out of Baylor in 2011, was promoted from Savannah to advanced-A St. Lucie. The 22-year old alternated two excellent starts with two rough ones in Savannah in July. His final line in 11 starts: 3.06 ERA, 64.2 IP, 57 H, 32 R, 22 ER, 7 HR, 9 BB, 67 K. The best thing in that line is the 7.4 K/BB ratio. He missed a month and a half, from late April through early June with right shoulder impingement.
Verrett is basically a three-pitch guy: fastball, slider and changeup. He’ll show a curve, max twice per start, but it’s not an effective piece of his arsenal. His fastball velocity has vacillated, most recently, he hit 93 in the first inning, before settling down at 90-91 mph. There’s not a lot of movement on the pitch, and when he leaves it up, he gets hit, even in the SAL. In starts in late June, he was more 88-91. He has some feel for the slider, which will be his best pitch. There’s not enough fastball here to project an impact starter, but he has chance at the back end of a rotation. I think his destination is the bullpen where he can come in and let it fly, and hope to keep a velocity bump in shorter outings.
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 Ramirezwas not good: 1.2 IP, 5 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K.
- Pedro Beatotook 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 Dekkerwas 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.