Rob Brender, a contributor to MetsMinorLeagueBlog.com, spoke with Las Vegas 51s 1b Josh Satin about his early-season success and what he needs to work on to get back to the major leagues.
Rob Brender: You’re having a great season so far, batting .346, which is second on the team to Andrew Brown (.357 BA). You must feel pretty good about the way you’re swinging the bat?
Josh Satin: Yeah, I changed a few thing up last year to make myself feel more consistent. I was a little too hot and cold last year and even previous years. I like where I’m at right now. I’m still working on a few things but I like where my swing is right now.
Rob Brender: You’ve hit four homeruns and seven double (this season). Have you noticed that the homeruns have come as a result of your approach at the plate or is some of it because of the altitude?
Josh Satin: I really think it’s learning how to hit better. Homeruns come in certain counts and when you give yourself certain opportunities to take a chance. In previous years, especially the begining of my career, I didn’t really know how to take a chance and never really did, so every homerun I hit was kind of a mistake. It just happened. This is my fifth year in professional baseball so I’ve learned when and how to take a chance better.
Rob Brender: Does playing in the high altitude of Las Vegas give you any added confidence as a hitter?
Josh Satin: I personally don’t think that Vegas has been that much of a hitters park at this point. It hasn’t been that warm. I know it’s going to get better. I think the only advantage so far is the ground is so hard that balls get through. I don’t know if the pitchers have a fear of letting the ball getting in the air. As a hitter, it’s definitely a better feeling knowing that if you square a ball to the opposite field you’re going to get better results. Sometimes last year in Buffalo the wind would blow in from right field off the water and I would get scared to hit the ball the other way because I thought it was an out. It’s definitely a welcomed change that that’s not the case.
Rob Brender: You’ve been playing primarily first base this year. Do you feel like that’s your best position?
Josh Satin: It’s probably my best position but ideally I do not want to be pigeon-holed as a first baseman. That doesn’t give you much room for opportunity in this organization or in most but I would say my best positions are probably first or third. I think I can play second and I want to start to play the outfield more. I’ve been getting reps there in practice for the last two years but haven’t gotten into a game (as an outfielder) yet. In Triple-A this year we don’t really have anyone else who plays first, so that’s where I’m at right now.
Rob Brender: You’ve gotten shots at the big league level in 2011 and 2012 and you’re doing so well offensively this season. Does it make you anxious to get back to the Mets?
Josh Satin: Absolutely, but there’s a fine line. You can’t feel sorry for yourself because there are lots of other people in professional baseball who feel the same way. Then again, sometimes I look around and I’m like ’damn, this guys in the big leagues with what ever team. I know I’m better then him.’ So it’s hard sometimes but, then again, it’s just the way it is. You can’t feel sorry for yourself. You just have to keep performing.
AAA: @ Fresno Grizzlies (SF) 6, Las Vegas 51s 3
Bad: Chris Schwinden did not give his 51s a chance in this one: 4 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 3 HR.
Good: Josh Satin (pictured) homered again, his third already in a 2-for-4 night while lifting his batting average to .483/.516/.862 (!) after a week’s worth of play.
Interesting: Where the 51s played.
Wilmer Flores played second as he has in each of the five games in which he has played in the field. Reese Havens has shifted to third when Flores plays second, a pattern that has happened twice. Zach Lutz played left field for the second time and the outfield for the third time overall. Flores had a slow week, going 4-for-21 with a double, but the good news is that he walked five times and struck out just once for an odd-looking .190/.321/.238 line. Lutz too; he was 3-for-22 with two doubles for a .136/.227/.231 line. Again, seven games. Havens has hit five singles in 14 AB for a .357/.412/.357 beginning.
So Flores will never play third for the Mets, so they’re trying to figure out if he can play second. Havens and Lutz need to learn to play multiple positions if they will ever help a big league roster. And Josh Satin only plays first.
AA: Binghamton Mets 1, @ Erie SeaWolves (DET) 0 (suspended mid-4)
They’ll pick this one up on August 9. I wonder how many of the starting 18 for both teams will still be available by August 9.
Cory Mazzoni got three scoreless innings of work in with three strikeouts and a walk.
AAA: @ Fresno Grizzlies 4, Las Vegas 51s 1
The Zack Wheeler show made its second stop of the 2013 season in Fresno on Tuesday. The results: 5.1 IP, 8 H 4 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K. Wheeler threw 68% of his pitches (62 of 93) for strikes. The 22 year old has now walked six batters in 8.2 innings this year a rate of 14%.
For some reason, despite installing the new Flash player, my computer was not cooperating last night, and I could not pull up the video feed of Wheeler’s start and the 51s. Oh well. Marc Carig in Newsday points out that five of the eight hits Wheeler allowed came on two strike counts. Carig reports that this was “an indication of the pitcher’s difficulties in putting away opposing hitters. He could also blame his lack of fastball command, which was enough to get him in trouble despite secondary offerings that were mostly sharp.”
The Fresno Bee had Wheeler regularly touching 97 mph. Carig’s observations about Wheeler’s command issues mesh with the tweets of friends of the site and twitter-aholics like Jeff Paternostro and Daniel Wexler. Wheeler’s fastball command issues are not new.
CF Juan Lagares had a pair of singles and a pair of strikeouts. With three-straight two-hit games, he’s up to .296/.321/.333 (8-for-27) this year in his six games.
Meanwhile, Josh Satin remains totally locked in. The 28-year old 1B was 2-for-4 with a homer, his second of the year. He’s had multiple hits in every single one of his six games while bopping at a .480/.519/.800 rate to start the year. So that’s nice.
My old friend, and Fresno Grizzlies broadcaster Doug Greenwald passed along his call of Satin’s homer which is below.
Satin HR 409
The Mets have invited five non-roster minor leaguers to spring training: RHP’s Rafael Montero and Cory Mazzoni, C Juan Centeno, INF Josh Satin and OF Matt den Dekker to Major League Spring Training.
None are likely to make the team’s 25-man roster out of camp. None.
Josh Satin, who turned 28 in December, has found a role in the last two years as a AAA utility guy hitting a combined .294/.389/.430 for the Buffalo Bisons in 169 games. He’s played first, second and third for the Bisons. In very limited big league time, he’s hit .192/.250/.231 in 28 plate appearances, all but one of which came in 2011. He was removed from the Mets’ 40-man roster, and no other team claimed him.
Matt den Dekker, who turned 25 last August, had two different minor league seasons in 2012: a really good first half in AA Binghamton and a dreadful second half in AAA Buffalo. In 58 games with the B-Mets, he hit .340/.397/.563. His offensive production cratered to .220/.256/.373 with 90 strikeouts in 77 games in AAA. Over the two levels, he totalled 31 doubles and 17 homers. However, he struck out in 28.4% of his plate appearances in AAA. Looking over past seasons in the International League, I did not see a single productive big leaguer, who struck out as much as den Dekker >28%, over as plate appearances >300, for as long as Fangraphs has the data. John Mayberry comes closest, with a 26.3% in AAA in 2009. After a productive (2.5 fWAR) 2011, Mayberry was close to a replacement level player in 2012. That’s den Dekker’s future. His ability to play centerfield will get him to the big leagues, but his inability to make contact will hold him to just a shade above replacement level at best.
Centeno, who turned 23 in November 2012, has worked his way up the system as a backup catcher originally drafted in the 32nd round in 2007 out of Puerto Rico. He had never started more than half of his team’s games until playing in a career-high 79 games in 2012. He’s short (listed at 5’9″), and used to be pudgy (currently listed at 172 lbs). His approach at the plate is contact oriented – he will look to flare the ball the other way on anything away. He has no power, but he controls the strike zone well enough – 43 K against 23 walks in 79 games in AA in 2012. The invite is a nice reward for a .285/.337/.342 performance in AA in 2012 when he threw out 41% of opposing basestealers. Major League pitchers will eat him up, but his ability to squat behind the plate will get him a little service time as a third catcher. The other point here is that early in spring training, teams need extra catchers around camp to catch all of those pitchers’ bullpens.
Rafael Montero, who turned 22 in November, put up great numbers in a-ball in Savannah (2.52 ERA and a 6.75 K/BB ratio in 12 starts) and in advanced-A St. Lucie (2.13 ERA, 5.09 K/BB ratio in 8 starts). At the beginning of the 2012 season, he mostly relied on spotting his fastball and his changeup. As the year went on, he threw his slider more and more. His fastball is average to a tick above, sitting 91-92 mph, with a little bit of 93 when he’s really reaching back. It’s plenty to pitch in the big leagues, but he’s not going to blow away big league hitters. He has solid arm speed on his changeup with a little bit of sink. At 6’0, 170 lbs, he is small for a major league starting pitcher. Lack of size and a dominant fastball limit his projection, but he could slot in as a mid-back end starter based on his command and feel. He should start 2013 in double-A with a realistic chance at cracking the MLB rotation in 2014.
Cory Mazzoni is an interesting name and pitcher, but my projection on him has changed in the last year, after giving him the #10 ranking in the system at this time last year. By stuff and numbers, he now looks like a bullpen piece. The Mets’ 2nd round pick in 2011, and third pick behind Brandon Nimmo and Michael Fulmer, Mazzoni pitched his way out of advanced-A and to double-A in 2012. Mazzoni put up a 3.25 ERA in advanced-A and a 4.46 ERA in double-A. I’m more interested in his strikeout rate however. He fanned under 7 batters per nine at both levels, including a 16.1% strikeout rate in double-A. By my count, there are exactly two Eastern League pitchers in the last five years who have gone on to become major league starters with a double-A strikeout rate below 17%: Vance Worley and Ricky Romero. By the time both guys reached the majors they had increased their strikeout rates above 18%. Mazzoni, pitching the way he did in 2012, does not miss enough bats to be a Major League starting pitcher. He’s not real big – listed at 6’1″ and 190lbs, and has not shown an ability to hold his stuff in a starting role. Generally speaking, in 2012, he would work 91-92 with his fastball most of his start. He might show better velocity earlier, or in a big spot, crank it up to 94 or 95. (I heard he reached 96 against a rehabbing big leaguer.) In short outings out of the bullpen, he should be able to find that plus velocity more consistently. His secondary pitches – a slider and a changeup that mimics a split-finger – are fine if unexceptional. Mazzoni could well be in the Mets’ bullpen as soon as mid-late 2013.
AAA: Buffalo Bisons 10, @ Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs 1 (7 innings)
The Bisons’ offense took care of business early, scoring seven runs in the second and third innings before rain washed out the last two frames.
2B Josh Satin (.302/.406/.474 – 107 games; pictured) had a perfect night, going 3-for-3 with two doubles, a walk and an RBI.
CF Matt den Dekker inched closer to a .200 batting average after going 2-for-4 with a double, 3 RBI and a strikeout. With 66 strikeouts in 53 games, he’s sitting at .198/.232/.396 while 21 of his 41 hits have gone for extra-bases.
RHP Chris Schwinden might never be a really good MLB pitcher, but he’s a fine AAA pitcher as he lowered his ERA to 2.87 in the International League this year: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K.
AA: @ Binghamton Mets 6, New Britain Rock Cats (MIN) 4
DH Reese Havens led off while 2B Wilmer Flores hit second in the absence of Juan Lagares, missed his second straight game with a “tweaked ankle” that is reportedly day-to-day at this point. Oh, and it worked. Havens (.234/.366/.374 – 84 games; 97 strikeouts) was 4-for-5 with a strikeout, while Flores (.274/.324/.421 – 44 games) was 3-for-4 with a double, a walk, an RBI and a strikeout. Over on the left side of the diamond, 3B Jefry Marte was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI.
The 25-year old Havens has been better after the All-Star Break, going .278/.406/.430 with 25 strikeouts in 22 games, because he’s striking out less, but he’s still a 25-year old in double-A. By contrast, the 21-year old Marte, after a slow June, has bounced back with a .280/.337/.419 line in 27 games after the break with four walks against 10 strikeouts. The age gap and strikeout gap are very, very important.
Our daily check on Flores’ games played by position: 1B – 6; 2B – 12; 3B – 19; DH/PH – 7. Use wisely.
Greg Peavey wasn’t great (6.1 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K – 5.40), but was good enough to get the win.
Well, so much for all of that. David Wright will play for the Mets Saturday in Philadelphia. While the Mets were deciding what to do with Wright, INF Josh Satin was placed on the team’s Taxi Squad. The Bisons’ press release explains, “Beginning in 2012, Major League teams can place minor league players on a 24-hour taxi squad for potential promotion. This allows other moves to be made so that minor league teams can remain at full strength for their games.” So the Bisons added Jean Luc Blacquiere to the team’s active roster.
In related news, 3B Zach Lutz doubled to extend his hitting streak to nine straight games for the Buffalo Bisons.
The B-Mets lost 5-3 when the bullpen gave up three runs on five walks in four innings. Juan Lagares picked up three hits.
The Bisons are losing 9-6.
St. Lucie visits Palm Beach on a night when RHP Yohan Almonte is scheduled to start. Scoreboard
Domingo Tapia is on the bump for the Gnats in Augusta. Scoreboard.
David Wright has a “small fracture in the middle joint of his right pinky.” It sounds neither serious nor fun. Wright is heading to see a hand specialist today, Wednesday, and Terry Collins seems to hope that he will be back by Friday.
And if that doesn’t happen? The people want to know about contingencies.
If you had to call someone up to play 3B for the Mets tomorrow who would it be, Zach Lutz from Buffalo or Jefry Marte from Binghamton? Marte is higher on your list and off to a good start, but a level below with shaky defense.
Jonathan C writes:
Personally, I would really like a look at Lutz in the bigs, the man can hit. He would have (or should have) been here, had it not been for the freakish injuries he has suffered.
The first issue is determining the length of Wright’s absence. If he’ll be back in a few days, the Mets can just play Justin Turner or Ronny Cedeno at third until Wright returns. If it’s looking more like 10 days or so, the team would do well to place Wright on the DL, let him heal fully and make a move.
There are lots of options. Terry Collins has repeatedly said that he does not want to move Murphy from second temporarily. Lets assume, for the purposes of this discussion that even if Wright is placed on the disabled list, he will be back around the minimum (15 days). Even if he’s out a full three weeks, that falls into the temporary category. Under this scenario, Murphy stays at second, and the Mets need to fill third. Here too they have choices: they could call someone up and install him at third, or two call someone up and have him help the combo of Cedeno and Turner as third basemen and depth pawns.
It’s not going to be Jefry Marte. He’s 20 years old, with 19 plate appearances above advanced-a and he’s not on the Mets 40-man roster. He’s always had some pop, and he made some nice strides in cutting down on his strikeouts and increasing his walks at the end of 2011 which seem to have carried over into 2012. However, he needs the development time in the minors.
Here are the choices: Josh Satin, Zach Lutz and Vinny Rottino.
The arguments for Lutz:
- He’s on the Mets 40-man roster
- Dude can hit. He’s hit a combined .296/.378/.500 in 72 games in parts of three seasons in AAA.
- He’s a better third baseman than Josh Satin. Satin, a natural second baseman, began playing a lot of third base in 2011. Lutz has a better range factor at third (2.13) than Satin (1.97)
The arguments against Lutz:
- He gets hurt a lot (but he’s healthy now).
- He’s not a really good 3B. His career .942 fielding percentage in the minors at third is a touch better than Satin.
The arguments for Satin:
- He’s on the Mets 40-man roster
- He hit a combined .323/.411/.495 between AA and AAA in 2011 as a 26-year old
- He’s versatile. He can play 1B, 2B, or 3B
- He’s got strong eyebrows
The arguments against Satin:
- He’s not a third baseman. Drafted as a 2B out of Cal, he’s played 68 games at third as a professional almost all in 2011. I don’t think he has the arm for third base. He committed about one error every 10 games at third, a rate that would put him right near the top (err bottom) among MLB 3B. He has a .931 career minor league fielding percentage at third.
- He has a complicated swing with lots of moving parts that might fall out of whack coming off the bench without regular game exposure.
The arguments for Rottino:
- He’s hit .293/.360/.433 in almost 2,000 plate appearances over seven seasons in AAA since 2005.
- He can play first, the outfield corners and is a former catcher if the Mets want a little help or the flexibility to pinch-hit for a catcher more regularly.
The argument (s) against Rottino:
- The Mets would have to make space for him on the 40-man roster and potentially expose one of the other two guys to waivers.
- He’s not really a 3B. He has not played third in a minor league game since 2009 and looked a little shaky there in spring training.
And the Winner Is
Lutz. Lutz will be 26 in June while Satin’s already 27. For what it’s worth, I had Satin ranked #24 among Mets prospects coming into this year and Lutz #28. Lutz is closer to a third baseman than Satin, who’s played first exclusively for the Bisons this year.
If the Mets need to place David Wright on the disabled list, I’d sure like to see if Zach Lutz can hit in the big leagues.
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 200lbs
Acquired: 6th rd 2008 (
2011 Rank: NR
Why Ranked Here: Satin picks up this rank because he’s going to play in the big leagues. Actually, of course, he already has, scooping up 27 plate appearances at the end of 2011 following his September 4 debut. He’ll get more soon enough. That puts him ahead of most of his compatriots on this list. He stays this low because his age and tools suggest that he’s not going to ever be a good big leaguer.
Lets start with the age. He was born in December 1984, so he turned 27 in 2011. Thus, 2012 is his peak season. That’s it. He’s done developing. And he’s done developing with just 27 MLB plate appearances in September 2011 to his credit in which he hit .200/.258/.240.
Satin began his professional career as a second baseman, but in the last few years, he’s added first and third base gloves to his baseball bag. He’s a below average defender everywhere except first, but his versatility could help him hold onto a roster spot.
2011: Satin earned the Mets Sterling Organization Minor League Player of the Year award for hitting a combined .323/.411/.495 between double-A and triple-A. Really, he did most of his damage at double-A where as a 26-year old, he clubbed .325/.423/.538 with a 14% walk rate, 12% extra-base hit rate. That’s the good stuff. The indicators that suggest that performance was unsustainable in the big leagues: a .411 BABIP in double-A and a 22.5% strikeout rate.
Dr. Pangloss Says: A fan-favorite super-sub as the team’s 24th man.
Debbie Downer Says: DFA’d by June.
Projected 2012 Start: Buffalo
MLB Arrival: 2011. Back at the first injury of 2012
We’ve gone through catcher, first base, second base and shortstop, so lets slide over to third base to finish up the infielders in the Mets minor league system.
At the big league level, even coming off the worst season of his professional career, the Mets are set with David Wright. I am willing to bet a full paycheck (of mine, not Wright’s) that Wright, who from 2006-2008, was one of the very best players in baseball, will be the Mets third baseman to begin 2012. I believe that he will Met for Opening Day 2013, too, but after that, it’s unclear whether he and the Mets will be right for each other. Moving Citi Field’s walls in will help him, although by how much is difficult to say. For the Mets to be contenders in 2012, Wright would need to turn back the clock four years, shucking aside the concussion related problems, and yes, more recently, his broken back.
Secure in the knowledge that thirdbase is occupied, at least for the next year, and likely two, lets take a look at guys who played third base in the minors.
If you had Michael Fisher as the Bisons’ leader in games played at the hot corner in 2011 with 51, entering the season in your office pool, raise your hand and take a bow. The 26-year old Fisher also played 13 games at second for the Bisons while hitting .259/.327/.351 in 66 games. The switch-hitter began the season with Binghamton, where he saw action at first, second and third while hitting .290/.329/.425. The Mets signed the 26-year old switch-hitter in May of 2010 to provide organizational depth, and in part, help the Gnats with a first-half pennant race.
Oh, you want to hear about Zach Lutz in this space? Sure, he hit .295/.380/.500 while turning 25 last June. He was limited to 35 games at third, 14 at first and 61 overall for Buffalo thanks to a hamstring issue, a broken finger, and then a concussion. He’s a high-walk, high strikeout guy with walks in 11% of his plate appearances and strikeouts in 28%. What happens when he sees big league stuff? Lutz can hit, but he’s played more than 72 games in a season just once in his five-year professional career. Injury prone just doesn’t even seem like the right term. Anyway, finding employment as a bat-first right-handed corner guy off the bench is tough, just ask Nick Evans.
Eric Campbell, led the Binghamton Mets with 56 games played at third in 2011. After a very disappointing first half (.210/.334/.272), Campbell rebounded with a .311/.363/.466 line after the All-Star Break. Bottom line – he’ll be 25 in 2011, coming off a down year in which he hit .247/.345/.343 in 126 games.
I guess this is the moment to address Josh Satin. Here are his games played by position and level:
AA AAA MLB
2B 37 7 0
3B 37 22 1
1B 10 10 8
Tot 94 38 15
The 26-year old hit a combined .323/.411/.495 over 132 games between double-A Binghamton and triple-A Buffalo. That’s a great season from a production standpoint. He works counts, as evidenced by his 13% walk rate and his 22% strikeout rate combined over AA and AAA. He started playing third, although he doesn’t have the arm for the position. He doesn’t really have the power for first, where he played in the big leagues. Maybe, if he learns to play left field, that, plus his ability to play all three infield positions, will earn him more big league time as the 25th guy. Essentially, I think he’s a replacement-level guy.
Satin’s peak is now. He’ll be 27 in 2012.
Our season review shifts to second base, the most interesting of the three positions we’ve covered so far.
At the big league level, Mets’ keystoners put together a .663 OPS, 20th-best in all of Major League baseball. However, that number is dragged down by 39 plate appearances from Brad Emaus (.147/.256/.147 – .403 OPS) and 35 PA from Willie Harris (.619 OPS). The Mets of course began the season with Emaus playing nearly every day, but after that brief experiment turned sour, went with the sweeter flavors of Daniel Murphy, Ruben Tejada and Justin Turner. If one includes only the contributions of Murphy, Tejada and Turner, the Mets’ secondbase OPS rises to .688, which would have been good enough for 15th in baseball.
Second base does not appear to be an area of immediate need with some depth, and offensive and defensive minded options already lined up for 2012. If the Mets re-sign Jose Reyes, and if Daniel Murphy is healthy, those three players will again compete for reps with Murphy offering the most offense and Tejada the best defense.
On to the minors, where second basemen are usually made, not born…
The most frequent Bisons’ second baseman in 2011 was Luis Hernandez, who turned 27 back in June in a season in which he hit .240/.280/.332 while playing 90 games at second. He is not, and has never, been a viable MLB option.
Note: Jordany Valdespin played seven games at second in triple-A and 25 in double-A in 2011, but spent more time at short stop (78 games in double-A and 20 in triple-A). Nonetheless, because I believe that his future lies at second base, he deserves mention here. Scouts I’ve talked to have been skeptical that he has either the arm or the hands to play shortstop everyday in the big leagues. At the plate, he was one of the most pleasant surprises of 2011 in the Mets system, bar none. He bopped 17 home runs as part of a .297/.341/.483 line as a 23-year old and hit his way out of double-A. He struggled in his first 27 games in AAA, where his aggressive approach was exposed: .280/.304/.411 with four walks and 25 strikeouts.
Valdespin is physically gifted, but has clashed with teammates and coaches over the years. Even while displaying exceptional progress, similar issues followed him in 2011, although the volume on such concerns was more muted given his offensive excellence. In a late season radio interview on the Bisons’ radio network, Hitting Coach Mike Easler summed up Valdespin’s strengths and weaknesses:
“Biggest key for Jordany is to stay within himself…Terrific batspeed… He’s a gamer. He’s a baseball player. … He’s just a real good ballplayer… He has to learn to play the game hard, not just when he feels like it…We got a jewel right there.”
Hey, guess who led double-A Binghamton in games played at second base? If you had Reese Havens at 51, you win. Havens, who will turn 25 on Thursday, hit .289/.372/.455 in 58 games in double-A. In a B-Mets uniform, Havens drew more walks than Valdespin by a score of 27 to 21, in just over half the number of games, 58 for Havens, 107 for Valdespin. This advantage in plate discipline is very important. So to is the fact that Havens is a year older.
When Havens has played, he’s hit. However, he’ll be 25 on Opening Day 2012, so his time is now. I suspect he will break camp as Buffalo’s second baseman, with Valdespin across the bag at shortstop.
The guy who played the second-most games at second for the 2011 B-Mets? Josh Satin of course. He mixed 10 games at first, with 37 at second and 37 at third while hitting .325/.423/.538 at AA and .323/.411/.495 in 132 games between AA and triple-A at age 26. He will go to spring training with a shot of making the team as a 25th man, but it’s hard to see how a team could carry Justin Turner and Satin on the same 25-man roster if Turner is not starting everyday.