Short-Season Monday: Brooklyn and Kingsport Toss Shutouts

SSA: @ Brooklyn Cyclones 4, Hudson Valley Renegades 0 

The Cyclones won their fifth straight behind strong pitching from 22-year-old Carlos Valdez and 20-year-old Akeel Morris. Morris finished off the last three innings with a walk, two hits and two strikeouts. Despite a pair of unearned runs, he has not allowed an earned run in his 25 innings pitched while fanning 31 and walking 12. At 20-20, the Cyclones are two games out in both the Division and the Wild Card races. Otherwise you know, it looks like Morris is ready for a few SAL innings.

SS Gavin Cecchini (.227/.268/.273): 0-for-4. He’s 1-for-12 since returning from the disabled list with an ankle sprain.

 

R (APP): Kingsport Mets 4, @ Elizabethton Twins 0 

22-year-old Marires Arias: 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 HR, 2 BB, 7 K. Arias is spending his second year in Kingsport after working out of the bullpen in 2012 and pitching in the GCL in 2011.

The guy I’m more interested in is reliever Ricky Jacquez. The little guy (5’9″) can run it up to 94 and has been untouchable in Kingsport: 13.1 iP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 23 K. He’s fanned 49% of the opposing hitters. He’s too good for the league and would likely be an asset to Savannah, and would certainly help Brooklyn.

 

R (GCL): @ GCL Cardinals 5, GCL Mets 2  

1B Dominic Smith went 0-for-3 with two walks to snap his 10-game hitting streak.

Rehabbing Travis d’Arnaud was 0-for-3.

Short-Season Sunday: Everybody Wins

SSA: @ Brooklyn Cyclones 4, Hudson Valley Renegades (TB) 2 

The Cyclones won their fourth straight behind John Gant. Gant, who will be 21 next month, has been the Cyclones’ ace, working to a 2.56 ERA in 38.2 innings with 49 strikeouts against 14 walks. At the end of last year, he was 89-91 in his one start for Savannah. Gant’s had a really nice season, but until he does it in full-season ball, or shows a plus pitch or two, I won’t start to believe.

A pair of guys I know relatively little about, 22-year old 1B Alex Sanchez (.206/.225/.270 – 33 games) and 20-year-old Anthony Chavez (.205/.262/.308 – 33 games) each homered.

2013 5th round pick Jared King was 2-for-4 with a double, his second two-hit game in a row to lift his season line to .287/.382/.377 in 34 contests.

SS Gavin Cecchini (.242/.284/.290 – 17 gms): 0-for-4, K.

 

R (App): Kingsport Mets 9, @ Bristol White Sox 2 

Tuschak KMets HeadLF Joe Tuschak continued his recent run of solid swings with a 3-for-5 performance that included a double and a triple. Drafted in in the sixth round in 2011, Tuschak is taking his second hack at Appalachian League pitching and performing well (.309/.350/.482 – 10 XBH, 7 BB, 27 K – 30 games) as a 20-year old. A scout told me he like Tuschak’s swing. There’s a little something here, but I’m still a little concerned about his profile (power) and approach (27/7 K/BB).

Victor Cruzado, who plays left and right was 3-for-4 with a double and two RBI. He’s 21, and making the jump from the DSL to the Appy League and handling it well: .352/.440/.473. He has a good approach (13 BB/14 K) but again, like Tuschak before him, does he profile in an outfield corner at 5’11″?

Rob Whalen (2-1, 1.36) did fine work again: 6 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K.

Exciting CF Champ Stuart has not played since July 24.

 

 

Around the System Saturday: Gavin Cecchini Returns

AA – Rained Out

A+: @ Lakeland Flying Tigers (DET) 13, St. Lucie Mets 1 

Alex Panteliodis (5-4, 4.46), who had not allowed a run in his previous two starts, covering 14.1 innings threw up a stinker: 2 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 2 HR, 0 BB, 1 k

Kevin Plawecki: 2-for-2, 2B, 2 HBP. Now up to .317/.410/.416 with seven HBP combining with nine walks and just 12 strikeouts to support his on-base percentage in 30 games in the Florida State League.

 

SSA: Brooklyn Cyclones 3, @ Staten Island Yankees 2 
Friday: Brooklyn Cyclones 2, @ Staten Island Yankees 0 

Cecchini Cyclones HeadThe news here is that Gavin Cecchini, who missed a little over three weeks with an ankle sprain, returned to the lineup on Saturday. The Mets’ first round pick in 2012 was 1-for-4. He’s played in just 16 games and has hit .259/.302/.310.

Saturday, Miller Diaz, was pretty good: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 8 K. He has a good arm, and the strikeout numbers are coming along: he’s fanned 32 batters in his last 22 innings.

Friday, Robert Gsellman (1-2, 1.74) dazzled the New York Penn League again: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K. Gsellman’s a funny prospect. He held his own in Savannah, working off an averagish fastball at 90-92 and a whole bunch of changeups. He used his raw breaking ball very infrequently. Developmentally, he could have stayed in the SAL, but the Mets moved him to the New York Penn League to be the ace of the Cyclones’ staff. Meanwhile Marcos Camarena is starting for Savannah. The other fun thing is that Gsellman provides a stark illustration about the differing level of play between the SAL and New York Penn League as his ERA dropped from 3.72 in 29 innings in the SAL to 1.74 in 41.1 innings in the NYP. Meanwhile, his strikeout rate has climbed from 11.5% to 19.8% while his hit rate has fallen from 10.9 H/9 to 7.4 H/9.

 

R (App): Kingsport Mets 7, @ Bristol White Sox 5
Friday: Kingsport Mets 7, @ Bristol White Sox 0 

Chris Flexen Saturday: 7 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HR. He’s thrown seven innings in each of his last three starts. His combined three start line: 21 IP, 14 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 HR, 3 BB, 24 K. See you in Savannah.
Friday, Yoan Gonzalez: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 5 K.
I saw the 22-year-old Gonzalez sitting at 89 mph and touching 92 when I saw him in Kingsport in early July.

Short Season Ball Wednesday: Travis d’Arnaud Rehab Begins in GCL

GCL
Travis d'Arnaud Easily the most important thing to happen in the Mets system on Wednesday, and that includes the big league team’s loss was catcher of the future (and we mean near-future, like September) Travis d’Arnaud’s return to game action in game one of a Gulf Coast League doubleheader. d’Arnaud, rehabbing a broken foot, was 1-for-3 and played five innings defensively.

Out in leftfield in the same game, Lucas Duda was 0-for-2 with a walk and a strikeout. Both guys will have a few more GCL games to get back to playing nine innings. Then their schedules will diverge as the Mets will go slower with d’Arnaud, who is headed back to Vegas for a little bit before a trip to New York. The fact that Duda played left certainly suggests that the Ike Satin/Josh Davis platoon has first has more time to prove itself – perhaps, if not likely through the end of the 2013 season.

1B Dom Smith was 1-for-2 in the first game to extend his hitting streak to a career-best eight games. He’s up to .357/.474/.571 in his last 10 games and .256/.365/.410 in 24 games in the GCL as an 18-year-old.

Third round pick Casey Meisner had his best outing as a professional in game two: 3 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K. At 6’7″, there is literally a lot to work with.

 

SSA (NYP): Brooklyn Cyclones 3, @ Lowell Spinners 2 

RHP Dario Alvarez punched out 12 in six shutout innings, the most whiffs for a Cyclones’ pitcher since Collin McHugh in 2009. His line: 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 12 K. Alvarez, at 24 years old is way old for the New York Penn League. His stuff sounds, well average, per a tweet from Al Skorupa who writes at Fangraphs and Bullpen Banter, “Brooklyn pitcher Dario Alvarez pretty tough at 91-92. Plus two plane slider at 80. Split change 84. Old for level but move fast stuff.” I’m skeptical that the slider was truly plus. Remember, anything that looks even averagish, will stand out and look plus in the NYP and 80 mph is average MLB velo for the offering.

2B L.J. Mazzili had a nice day at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a double and the game-winning RBI in the ninth. The 22-year-old, who will be 23 in September, is hitting .307/.357/.357 in 35 games for Brooklyn.

C Tomas Nido, who got off to a slow start is starting to get going for Brooklyn. After going 2-for-3 with a double, walk and an RBI in the eighth inning that tied the game, he’s 7-for-24 (.292) in his last seven games with two walks and three strikeouts. He’s a young 19 with an April ’94 birthday, and an interesting project behind the plate for the Mets.

 

R (APP): @ Kingsport Mets 3, Elizabethton Twins 2 

Jeyckol De Leon, a day past his 23rd birthday drove home the game-winner with a single in the bottom of the ninth for the K-Mets.

CF Champ Stuart at the top of the lineup: 1-for-2, 2B, 3 BB. He’s drawn 22 walks and fanned 22 times in 20 games as part of a .277/.478/.431 line. For a guy who was supposed to be really raw, that’s impressive discipline.

Monday early games

R: Kingsport Mets (16-13) @ Princeton Rays (6-23)
Monday 11:05 AM – RHP Andres E. Perez (0-0, 3.27) vs. RHP Luis Cabrera (0-3, 4.50)

After two double headers with Danville last week the K-Mets are short on starters.  Andres Perez has worked 11 innings of relief, striking out 9, walking 2 and allowing 9 hits.
Corey Oswalt has not pitched since the 10th, while Carlos Gomez has not pitched since the 7th.  Both may be sidelined to have that long off, but with all the rain outs and rescheduling someone has to get bumped back.

 

R: GCL Cardinals (13-12) @ GCL Mets (6-19)
Monday 12:00 ET – TBA vs. RHP Yoryi Nuez (1-0, 3.78)

Yoryi Nuez has struck out 11 and walked 10 over his 16.2 IP, while holding batters to a .211 BAA.

Short-Season Sunday: Hits for Mazzilli and Strikeouts for Gant

SSA: @ Connecticut Tigers 6, Brooklyn Cyclones 4 

2B L.J. Mazzilli was 3-for-4 with a double and a strikeout. The 22-year-old is hitting .297/.368/.337 with a very Mets’ 12 walks against 19 strikeouts in 26 games.

An 0-for-4 dropped 19-year-old catcher Tomas Nido to .182/.217/.227 (1 walk, six strikeouts) in 12 games with Brooklyn. I expected he’d struggle, but thought he could get to a .240 or .250 batting average. Of course, the season is young, and he’s a hot streak away from the mark.

John Gant: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 9 K. He’s up to 41 K/11 BB in 27.2 IP over five starts this year for the Cyclones.

 

R (App): Kingsport Mets 6, @ Burlington Royals 4 

Tuschak KMets HeadFor some reason they played this one at Wake Forest, in Winston-Salem, NC. Game two was rained out of course.

LF Joe Tuschak (.300/.338/.417) hit his first home run of the year. The 20-year-old is heating up (.325/.341/.450 in his last 10 games).

21-year-old Victor Cruzado had three hits to lift his line to .396/.448/.585 in 15 games.  At 21, he’s making the jump from the DSL straight to the Appy League, which he’ really too old for.

Persio Reyes: 6.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HR.

No Champ Stuart, who was plunked by a pitch a few days ago.

Saturday in Kingsport

R (APP): @ Johnson City Cardinals 10, Kingsport Mets 5 

The Cardinals chased RHP Persio Reyes with a six-run fourth that probably should never have happened. A groundball to second became an infield single, and a grounder to short became a fielder’s choice instead of a double-play. A slender 20-year-old, Reyes has a good arm: he was sitting 90-92 and can touch higher. He’s repeating the Appalachian League. I missed most of Reyes’ start because I thought the game started at 7 pm. First pitch was 6 pm. D’oh!

SS Amed Rosario: 1-for-4. (I’ll write much more about him, both at the plate and defensively this week, and will post video too.)

On a night when the Kingsport Mets did not start Champ Stuart or Bradley Marquez, the lineup after Rosario was a whole lot less prospecty.

Appy League Friday: Oh, Appy League.

R (APP): Kingsport Mets 5, Johnson City Cardinals 3 

Oh, Appy League. This game turned in a four-run Kingsport Mets’ fourth that featured a three-run homer by C Jeyckol De Leon. The pitch sequence that led to the homer was inexplicable. Cardinals’ starter Luis Perdomo threw the 22-year-old De Leon a 1-1 slider. De Leon yanked it foul, 325 feet off the wall in left field. Rather than coming back with a fastball (ideally in), Perdomo tried another slider on the subsequent pitch, hung it, and De Leon banged it over the wall fair. De Leon will be 23 this summer and is in his fourth year between the GCL and the Appy League, so not really a name to remember.

20–year-old CF Champ Stuart is the guy who has stood out to me. Friday, he drilled a hanging slider up the right-centerfield gap for a double and muscled a single to left, walked twice and stole a base. He would have stolen another base, but for a foul at the plate that sent him back to first. His routes in center show his inexperience. The 2013 6th round pick arm is at least a 55, but he’s still learning how to use it. He’s hitting .297/.509/.486 with 15 walks and 14 strikeouts in 12 games. I did an interview with him that I will transcribe for next week.

Amed Rosario was 1-for-3 with a single up the middle and an error defensively. He showed off a good arm on a play, but on his error, charged a ball awkwardly, played it off to the side, and never got his glove down, so it skipped under his glove. It seemed like the type of mistake that can be coached through.

Pitching Notes
Oswalt K-Mets HeadCorey Oswalt, the Mets seventh round pick from the 2012 draft, a HS draftee from southern California started. The Mets paid him $475k, the fourth-largest bonus in the draft class and he is repeating the Appalachian League. I was unimpressed. He has a big (6’4″) sturdy-looking body with some bulk, and what looks like a clean delivery. The ball just does not come out of his hand with any pop however. He was sitting 87-88 most of the game, and by the third and fourth innings, the 19-year-old was mixing in some 84 and 85. He can turn some of his bulk into muscle, but he is no longer “projectable.” His curveball was 75 and the shape was poorly defined. He showed some changeups at 75-77 on which he really slowed down his arm losing deception. His slider, at 80 was slurvy. His line: 4 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K. I had Oswalt ranked as the system’s #34 prospect entering this year, there’s no way, based on what I saw Friday, that he can hold that spot.

Yoan Gonzalez piggy-backed Oswalt. The 22-year-old Cuban LHP, tucks his front shoulder behind his leg in his delivery to create deception. Early on in his outing he was 89-92 with a fastball that looked pretty straight. He showed a slow curve with a big break at 73-74. His line: 4 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K. His delivery will give him a chance out of the bullpen at higher levels.

The 4th in Kingsport: What do you Know about Pedro Perez?

R (App): Kingsport Mets 20, @ Johnson City Cardinals 4

I made the lovely drive from Savannah, GA to Johnson City, TN to see the Kingsport Mets. (This is not a joke. Driving through the Southern Appalachian mountains is gorgeous.) I saw the KMets score 16 runs in the final four innings on their way to a season-high 20 tallies and a 20-4 win  that finished in the rain with the Johnson City catcher on the mound mopping up in relief.

Perez, Pedro KMets3B Pedro Perez had the game of his (brief) professional life, going 3-for-5 with a double and two three-run homers and seven RBI. The second homer was funny – he got a fastball in and yanked it down the leftfield line. The 18-year-old started a few steps out of the box, wasn’t sure it would stay fair, stopped, and then waited for it to straighten out and stay fair. Perez kept it fair, because he said, “I stayed close, and [used] quick hands.” (We will have video of this on the blog as well.)

Lower back problems limited Perez to 12 games in the Appalachian League last year when he hit just .119/.178/.190 with three walks and 12 strikeouts. Perez is now up to 6’2″ and has filled out to north of 220 pounds.

This year, he explained in halting English (!) what he’s doing differently: “I changed my hitting approach and I’m better now. The hitting coach told me about how I feel with two strikes, and how I feel when [there's] a 0-0 count. With two-strike approach, shorten the bat, and spread my legs. He said, you can hit with your legs spread a little bit.” (I was very impressed that the 18-year-old Perez was willing to answer questions in English. He had Leger nearby to translate if my questions ran into the complex, or he needed help, but he spoke in English, which speaks extremely well of his learning ability.)

Kingsport manager Jose Leger on Perez, “This year, he’s different – more mature. He’s actually played a lot better defensively than we saw in extended last year. Hitting-wise, instead of having all the movement, he’s tried to cut all the movement and spread his legs and just use his hands. He’s got power, he’s a big kid with power, he’s got a good swing. He uses his legs well, and he’s got some batspeed and that body too- he uses what he has.”

Perez pointed out that facing erratic Appalachian League pitchers creates a problem upper level hitters do not experience. The hardest part of the league he said is that “Too many pitchers don’t throw a lot of strikes. You have to have a lot of concentration when the pitcher throws in the strike zone and I have to stay aggressive with the pitch in the strike zone.”

 

Pitching Notes
Rob Whalen: 3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 3 K. The Mets’ 12th round pick in the 2012 draft out of Haines City (FL) High School was sitting 88-89 mph with his fastball and touched 90 once or twice. He’s already listed at 6’2″ and 200 pounds, which is probably light. Even as a 19-year-old I don’t see a lot of projection left in the body. He threw a few curveballs at 75-76 mph and tried a pair of changeups at 82.

In the seventh, the KMets turned to 20-year-old LHP Alberto Baldonado. Already 6’2″ and north of his listed 160 pounds (in a good way) he was throwing 92-93 mph and touching 94. He showed two curveballs at 67 mph, one a good one for a strikeout, and one that forgot to bend and missed the zone by a foot and a half. There’s a little bit of funk in his delivery. He fanned four while walking one and allowing three runs on five hits in his two innings. He did not show a changeup. I suspect he will stay in the bullpen for the forseeable future, because his breaking stuff is so rudimentary.

In the ninth, the Mets turned to little fire-baller Ricardo Jacquez. At 5’9″ and slender, Jacquez struck out the side throwing 92-94 and sitting at 94. He showed a slider at 87 that was flat, but an effective complement to his heat. The Mets drafted Jacquez in the 25th round this year out of Central Arizona JC. He began his college career at Texas, but was kicked off the team for a second rules violation when he warmed up, but was too “dehydrated” to pitch (read: hungover). Jacquez has struck out 11 of the 20 batters he has faced in the Appy League, walked one and given up two hits. The way he threw Thursday, he has no business in the league and could certainly handle an assignment to the South Atlantic League.

 

Hitter Notes
SS Amed Rosario: 1-for-4, RBI, 2 BB, K. He didn’t get much to swing at in his two plate apperances that turned into walks. In the seventh, he managed to get to a fastball at his shoulders and drive it to left for a fly-ball out. It was not a pitch he should have swung at, but the pure athletic ability to drive the pitch was redeeming. Facing a catcher on the mound in the ninth in the rain, he slashed a single to right to drive home a run. The 18-year-old is rail thin at 6’2″, 170 pounds.

CF Champ Stuart: 2-for-4, 2 2B, 4 RBI, 3 BB, 2 K. You can see what the Mets saw when they plucked him in the sixth round this year. He’s fast, he throws well and he has batspeed. He doesn’t really know what to do with sliders yet, but there is just a lot of quick in this 20-year-old’s game.

LF Brad Marquez: 3-for-6 with a double. He hit a couple of hard line drives up the middle and yanked one into left. He still looks a little like a football player playing baseball with strength in his movements.

Short-Season Wednesday: Ty Bashlor’s Professional Debut Did No Go Well

Man, there are a lot of minor league games in the system these days.

SSS: @ Aberdeen Ironbirds (BAL) 3, Brooklyn Cyclones 0 

Rain curtailed this game to seven and a half innings on a night when the Cyclones’ offense drew five walks, but collected just one hit.

John Gant: 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 10 K, 1 HBP. Interesting line. He was in the strike zone which is nice.

 

R (APP): @ Greeneville Astros 5, Kingsport Mets 3 

Welcome to professional baseball, Ty Bashlor: 0 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 HR, infinite ERA. The Mets paid Bashlor, their 11th round pick out of South Georgia College $550,000 to sign, a record bonus after the 10th round under the new CBA.

On the other hand, Rob Whalen was effective: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 1 HR. Whalen, the Mets’ 12th round pick a year ago out of high school in Florida, is a big-bodied 6’2″, 200 lbs. He threw one inning in the Appy League last year and is off to a very good start this year: 14 K/1 BB and 8 H allowed in 11.1 innings.

Rosario Report
18-year-old Amed Rosario was 1-for-4 and is hitting .160 (4-for-25) in his first six professional games.

 

R (GCL): Ppd by rain. 

They got through four innings yesterday, and will try to finish the thing off today.

(edit: both games they were planning to play today were postponed by rain)