The Weekend in Rookie Ball

Appalachian League
Saturday: Johnson City Cardinals 8, @ Kingsport Mets 1 
Sunday: Kingsport Mets 9, @ Bristol White Sox 0 

The K-Mets picked up their first win Sunday, improving to 1-3, behind a 12-hit effort that also capitalized on three Bristol errors.

After pinch-hitting Saturday to make his professional debut, speedy CF Champ Stuart started on Sunday and went 3-for-4 with a walk and a triple from the top of the order. He’s just 20 and very raw and very fast.

The good news: LF Bradley Marquez homered Sunday, his first as a professional. The bad news: it’s his only hit in three games (he’s 1-for-10). The good news: it’s still early.

No look at the KMets’ box score will be complete without checking in on SS Amed Rosario. I could call this “Daily Rosario” just as I’ve done for our “Daily Nimmo” in Savannah. However, I’d like a little more ring to this. Maybe “Amed Updates” or the “Rosario Report.” For now, we’ll roll with the Rosario Report.
The 18-year-old Rosario has played in all four of the KMets’ games and after one single Sunday and a hitless Saturday, is hitting .176 (3-for-17) with a walk and three strikeouts.


GCL Nationals 3, GCL Mets 2 

Dominic Smith was 2-for-4 with a strikeout in his professional debut Saturday. I hope they kept the ball from his first hit.

Saturday, Marcos Molina fanned nine batters and did not walk one while giving up two runs on three hits in 4.2 innings. The 18-year-old is 6’3″, 190 lbs. Last year, Baseball America wrote this about Molina:

Molina, a 17-year-old who signed for $100,000 from Ivan Noboa’s program, threw well in the DSL, where he had a 3.58 ERA with 40 strikeouts and just 14 walks in 55 1/3 innings. Molina signed at 6-foot-2, 170 pounds, but he quickly grew and got up to 6-foot-3, 195 pounds. The ball comes out of Molina’s hand smoothly and he repeats his delivery, which enables him to throw plenty of strikes. He has a short stride, throws his fastball 88-92 mph and has an above-average changeup. His curveball is his third-best pitch, but he lowered his slot a bit to give it more of a slider look. Molina earns high praise for his work ethic, as he’s known for beating coaches to the field.

They’ll be into Monday’s matinee by the time this is published.

Kingsport Mets Roster Preview

kmetslogoThe Kingsport Mets began their 2013 season last night. Kingsport, in the Appalachian League, occupies the middle level of the Mets’ three short-season teams, playing at a level above the Gulf Coast League and below the New York Penn League and the Brooklyn Cyclones. Last year, the Mets did not operate a Gulf Coast League team, so the Kingsport team was young and inexperienced and it showed on the field.

This year, the Mets will control all of the team’s business operations in addition to the on-field agenda.

Top Prospect
Rosario K-Mets HeadSS German Rosario is just 17 years old and will not turn 18 until November. I had figured the Mets would start Rosario (pictured), who they paid a team-record $1.75 million for an international amateur, in the Gulf Coast League. Instead, at 6’2″, 170 lbs, he will headline the Kingsport roster which is a nice, if minor, endorsement of his skills.

In April, I had him ranked as the system’s #15 prospect and wrote:

This one is all about projection and patience. Rosario is unlikely to be in the big leagues for years. The Mets think he is true shortstop with an impact bat including some raw power now. Minor league instructors who saw him play at the team’s Domincan complex came away universally impressed, as they should considering his price tag.

However, other teams’ assessment of Rosario in the scouting period was less charitable. Baseball America called him potentially the “most divisive player in Latin America” because teams were concerned about his uppercut swing and the potential to fill out, move off of shortstop and be relegated to a corner outfield spot.


The Rotation
Martires Arias
Robert Whalen
Yoan Gonzalez/Andrew Massie
Corey Oswalt
Persio Reyes/Carlos Gomez

A slash and two names indicates that the two players are expected to piggyback.
I know almost nothing about Martires Arias other than that he is 6’7″ and 22 year old.
The Mets went overslot to sign Corey Oswalt, last year’s seventh-round pick, paying him $475,000 to sign. His results in the Appy League were poor (8.15 ERA, 35.1 IP, 49 H, 33 R, 7 BB, 20 K) so he will repeat the level. At the time he was drafted, Baseball America wrote: “He currently pitches in the 88-90 mph range as a starter but touches 91-92, and he has some feel to spin a breaking ball, though he doesn’t really know what he’s doing with it, in the words of one scout. His changeup is in its nascent stages. Oswalt is a long-term project…”
The 20-year-old Reyes is repeating the Appy League as well after giving up 66 hits and 39 runs in 51 innings last year on his way to a 6.18 ERA. I was told he had a good arm, but is really raw.
The Mets picked up Rob Whalen in the 12th round in 2012. Amazin Avenue reports that he was throwing 90-92.

Although he is not scheduled to start the season’s first five games, Chris Flexen will be in the rotation. When I saw him as a starter in 2012, he was throwing 92-94 with both a slider (he called it a cutter) and a curveball.
Ty Bashlor, who the Mets paid $550,000 to sign in the 11th round this year, can touch 97 or 98 although I was told that he works more regularly in the low 90s. I’m not sure what the plan is for Bashlor.


Rosario is the big name here.
3B Pedro Perez is a little interesting. He’s 18 now, is a switch hitter, and at times in the past, Paul dePodesta has talked him up. He was overmatched in 12 games in the Appy League last year, hitting just .119/.178/.190.


Marquez K-Mets HeadThere are a pair of 20-year-old speedsters in this outfield: 2013 6th round pick Champ Stuart and Texas Tech WR Bradley Marquez.
Stuart, Baseball America wrote, “has a short, strong frame at 5-foot-11, 175 pounds and offers surprising power. Speed is obviously his biggest calling card. He needs to work on his routes in center field, though he can get away with outrunning his mistakes. The biggest question is with the bat. He has a simple swing but a poor approach and gets beat by below-average stuff.”

Marquez, the Mets 16th round pick in 2011 has split time between the Mets and Texas Tech the last two years. A hamstring injury held him to just nine games in the Appalachian League last summer when he hit .267/.313/.367 (8-for-30). There have been hints that he would leave football behind to give baseball his full-time attention. Marquez and his marvelous hair at right, will be 21 by 2014 at which point he needs to be playing full-season ball if he is ever going to mean something as a baseball player. So, it sounds very odd to say, but Marquez has an unusual amount to prove by the standards of the Appalachian League.

Short-Season Thursday: John Gants Pitches Cyclones to Win

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

John Gant was solid: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K.

The Cyclones had six hits and no one had more than one. Two outfielders from the 2013 draft class made their professional debuts: CF Patrick Biondi (who singled and stole a base) and LF Jared King (who doubled and walked).

SS Gavin Cecchini was 1-for-3 with a walk, his first hit of the year in his third game.


A: Johnson City Cardinals 9, Kingsport Mets 3

Amed Rosario was 0-for-5 with a strikeout in his professional debut.

CF Bradley Marquez was 0-for-4 at the bottom of the order too.

How to Read Short-Season Box Scores and Reordering the 2012 Draft

Start reading a short-season box score by focusing on the best prospects.

A short-season box is a funny thing: the players are years away from the big leagues and their underlying skills and ability are much more important than their production. That is even more true on the level of a season over a single game.  Nevertheless, good production beats the alternative.

To that end, I’ve re-ordered the top of the Mets’ 2012 draft class by signing bonus.


2012 Draft

Round Slot Bonus Player  +/- Slot Assignment
1 2,550,000 2,300,000 Gavin Ceccini -250,000 KIN
1s 1,467,400 1,400,000 Kevin Plawecki -67,400 BKN
2 723,600 525,000 Matt Reynolds -198,600 SAV
7 146,600 475,000 Corey Oswalt 328,400 KIN
3 445,400 425,000 Matt Koch -20,400 BKN
14 100,000 374,400 Chris Flexen 274,400 KIN
8 136,900 250,000 Tomas Nido 113,100 KIN
4 323,900 225,000 Branden Kaupe -98,900 KIN
5 242,600 200,000 Brandon Welch -42,600 BKN
6 181,700 150,000 Jayce Boyd -31,700 BKN
11 100,000 150,000 Logan Taylor 50,000 BKN
12 100,000 100,000 Rob Whalen 0
9 127,900 10,000 Richie Rodriguez -117,900 BKN
10 125,000 1,000 Paul Sewald -124,000 BKN


The big movers upward are high school arms Corey Oswalt (7th round, 4th largest bonus) and Chris Flexen (14th round, 6th largest bonus).

Also take a look at the assignments: five of the eight players with the largest bonuses in the 2012 draft class have been assigned to Kingsport.

Friday in Short-Season. What are the First-Rounders Up To?

SSA: @ Batavia Muckdogs 2, Brooklyn Cyclones 0 

An 0-for-4 dropped CF Brandon Nimmo to 6-for-38 (.158) in his last nine games with two doubles, five walks and 17 strikeouts. He’s down to .221/.360/.350 with 27 walks against 44 whiffs in 38 games.


R: Bristol White Sox 3, @ Kingsport Mets 1 

SS Gavin Cecchini was 2-for-4 with a triple. The 2012 first round pick is hitting .194/.278/.323 in his last 10 games, but has drawn four walks. He’s at .243/.316/.340 in 30 games in the Appy League.

There’s a lot about Cecchini here.

Steven Matz is … A Real Prospect. And a Good One

Perhaps you missed it last night waiting for the Matt Harvey show to begin, but Steven Matz threw his third straight game in which he finished six innings and did not allow a single run in leading the Kingsport Mets to a 1-0 win in game one of a double-header.

Matz’ last three starts in the rookie level Appy League: 18 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 8 BB, 23 K.

Yeah, sure, he’s walking too many batters. Also, the league can’t hit his stuff. He’s throwing in the mid 90s, around 95, and touching 98. It’s time to give the 21-year old a taste of the South Atlantic League for a month.

I was asked on Twitter whether he was a top-10 guy in the Mets system. I think so. Based on MLB promotions, and the usual seasonal rearrangements, it would be hard to keep a lefty with plus velocity and a chance to have an average curve and changeup out of the top 10.


Short-Season Friday: Steven Matz Masterful

SSA: Staten Island Yankees 4, Brooklyn Cyclones 2 

RHP Luis Mateo who began his Cyclones’ season by yielding just one run in 17.2 innings gave up four runs for the second time in his last three starts. His line: 6 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 HR, 3 BB, 3 K. The Three walks were a new season-high.

C Kevin Plawecki was 3-for-3 with a double, his second three-hit game of the season and his second in his last three contests, lifting his season line to .234/.359/.338.


R: @ Kingsport Mets 2, Greeneville Astros 0 
@ Kingsport Mets 2, Greeneville Astros 1 

Steven Matz was very sharp in game one: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 9 K. His last two starts: 12 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 5 BB, 15 K. That’s good.

Persio Reyes was sharp in game two: 6.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K. I wrote about the rail-thin Reyes last week.

Short-Season Wednesday: Nimmo Doubles Again. Akeel Morris Takes It on the Chin

SSA: Brooklyn Cyclones 7, @ Hudson Valley Renegades 3 

We will start at the end, where, with a two run lead and two men aboard in the ninth, Brandon Nimmo doubled to left-center. Then, Little League style, he came home on a throwing error on the Renegades shortstop. After a rough first 10 games, he’s up to .296/.393/.493 in his last 19 contests.

DH Kevin Plawecki, this year’s supplemental first-rounder put together his first career three-hit game, going 3-for-3 with a double and a walk. Plawecki is hitting .221/.354/.324 in 19 games, but he’s the third-toughest player in the New York-Penn League to strikeout (7.3% K/PA).

R: Bristol White Sox 10, @ Kingsport Mets 7

Ouch, Akeel Morris: 2.1 IP, 5 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 HR, 2 HBP.

Short-Season Monday: First Rounders Hit

SSA: Brooklyn Cyclones 7, @ State College Spikes (PIT) 4 

CF Brandon Nimmo was 2-for-5 with a double (his sixth), a walk and a strikeout. It was his fourth-straight multi hit game. He’s up to .351/.442/.486 in his last 10 games with four extra-base hits and six walks against 12 strikeouts. He’s up to .250/.397/.396 in 27 games in Brooklyn.

Both LF Stefan Sabol (.292/.422/.416 – 25 games) and 1B Jayce Boyd (.275/.333/.451 – 13 games) picked up two hits each.


R: Kingsport Mets 1, @ Johnson City Cardinals 0 (7 innings)
@ Johnson City Cardinals 4, Kingsport Mets 1 (7 innings) 

Hey, not one, but two whole games for the K-Mets.
Game one was clean: John Gant pitched well and DH Julio Concepcion homered for the only run.

Gant (pictured): 5.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K.
Gant’s dad told me on Twitter the other day that he’s been 90-92 with his fastball, with a changeup at 81 and a curve at 78 mph. That’s actually consistent with his scouting report at Baseball America last year which had him at 87-91, touching 93 with an “athletic, projectable frame” and a “solid-average breaking ball.” The Mets went overslot ($185K) to sign Gant, a 21st round pick away from LIU.

SS Gavin Cecchini was 3-for-5 with a double and a walk across the two games. The Mets 2012 first round pick is hitting a very solid .280/.345/.373 in his first 21 games in the Appalachian League as an 18-year old.

Short-Season Sunday: A Brandon Nimmo Hot Streak. Rain in Kingsport. Dr. Enuf.

SSA: Brooklyn Cyclones 3, @ State College Spikes (PIT) 2

CF Brandon Nimmo was 2-for-4 with a double (his fifth), his third-straight multi-hit game. With a .333/.429/.472 line in his last 10 games, he’s up to .242/.391/.385 in his first 26 games in a Brooklyn uniform. He’s first in the league in walks and 18th in on-base percentage.

RHP Luis Cessa was solid again: 6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K

 R: Kingsport Mets @ Johnson City Cardinals – ppd by rain

It was a hot, clear afternoon in Johnson City. Driving to the ballpark around three, I noticed some tall, puffy clouds massing to the south. Hmm, I thought.

The K-Mets took batting practice and I did some interviews (manager Jose Leger, Gavin Cecchini, Brendan Kaupe and Tomas Nido). I took a little video of the hitters (see, folks, coming attractions). Then the skies darkened. And it rained, softly at first, around 5:30 or so. A quick check of the radar revealed a small cell with the ballpark on the edge of the bad stuff.

The grandstand’s metal roof amplified the rain. The rain paused. And then the cell started growing and it poured. The Cardinals left their dugout to head back to the clubhouse. Oh well.

It was the K-Mets fourth rainout in five days. The team has played one game since last Monday including last Tuesday’s scheduled off-day.

Surely the Appalachian League could solve this with some nice retractable domed roofs.

On the plus side, during the rain delay, I tried a Dr. Enuf soda which is bottled locally in Johnson City. It’s somewhere between a Sprite and a Mountain Dew in flavor, but closer to a Sprite with a splash of Dew: citrusy, sweet and tangy.