Short-Season Saturday: Chris Flexen’s Professional Debut. Luis Mateo Makes a Bid for Savannah

SSA: Brooklyn Cyclones 6, @ State College Spikes (PIT) 3 

CF Brandon Nimmo was 2-for-3 with a triple, his first as a Cyclone, and a walk and a strikeout. He’s hitting .230/.387/.368 in 25 games with 21 walks against 26 strikeouts.

Then there’s Luis Mateo: 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, 1 HBP. In 30.2 IP in the New York-Penn League, he’s allowed a whopping 21 base runners and struck out 38. He’s shut out the opposition in three of his five starts. He’s 22 and has stuff in a fastball/slider combo that is simply too good for NYP hitters.


R: @ Johnson City Cardinals 11, Kingsport Mets 3

RHP Chris Flexen, the Mets’ 14th round pick this year, made his professional debut. The stuff was impressive, but the results were not. The Mets went overslot to sign him away from Arizona State, and his $374,400 bonus was the sixth-largest of the draft class.

His line: 1.2 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 6 K. Yeah, thanks to a wild pitch, he fanned six, but only went 1.2 innings. The impressive parts: he showed a 92-94 mph fastball and then four other pitches. He used his cutter a lot, at 85-86 mph, it looks like a slider, but he calls it a cutter. He also showed a curveball at 74-75 that has a chance to be average, a slider at 81 mph and changeup at 83 with some good armspeed.

He was hurt by fastball command. “I went out there, left a few pitches up, guys swung the bat,” he said. “Just gotta go back, analyze everything and fix the mistakes. I was leaving a lot of fastballs up and middle. So, location, location, location. Gotta hit the spots better.”

The Mets will keep Flexen in a piggy-back role for the duration of his time in Kingsport.

The K-Mets started slender 19-year old RHP Persio Reyes. Reyes showed a fastball at 89-94 mph, settling in around 92 in the third inning and then 90 in the fourth as he lost steam. His changeup around 81 was his second-most frequent pitch – it was ok, but not a put-away offering. He threw maybe five curveballs from 71-74 mph that on the whole were poor. He’s extremely skinny (as you can see in the picture at right.  D’oh. I misplaced my USB cord. Pictures coming tomorrow.) and there’s arm strength out of a delivery with some effort, but his fastball command within the strike zone and he must learn to spin a breaking ball. In fact, there was even more velocity than he took to the game. In the third inning, he took a hard line drive off his right shoulder-blade. After he was examined by the trainer, he threw a warmup pitch, reaching back for 96 mph, harder than any pitch he threw in game action, to prove that he was healthy enough to continue.

Matt Budgell, the Mets’ 2011 10th rounder threw an inning of relief. The rail-thin RHP was 84-90, sitting 87-88 and showed slider at 76 and one at 82. It was not an inspiring set of weapons.

The K-Mets bats had a rough night, although C Tomas Nido clubbed a double off the left-centerfield wall and walked once in his four trips to the plate.

Little 2B Brendan Kaupe was 1-for-2 with an infield single, two walks and a pair of nice diving plays defensively.

Monday Games: Steven Matz Throws Six Shutout Innings

A+: St. Lucie Mets 4, @ Bradenton Maruaders (PIT) 1

Cory Vaughn: 2-for-3, 2 2B. He’s hitting .382/.447/.765 with eight extra-base hits in nine games in July and is sitting at .242/.344/.470 overall in 80 games.

 


SSA: Jamestown Jammers 5, @ Brooklyn Cyclones 2 

CF Brandon Nimmo (.205/.379/.342 – 21 games) expanded his NYP-leading walk total by going 1-for-2 with two walks.  Philip Evans’ two-run single in the sixth put the Cyclones out in front 2-1 briefly.

Starter Hansel Robles was sharp: 5.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K to lower his ERA to 2.57.

This game was on SNY. What did y’all see?


 

R: @ Pulaski Mariners 7, Kingsport Mets 6

The story in the system last night: LHP Steven Matz: 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K.

He told MiLB.com:

“My changeup was working good. I only threw one breaking pitch though the first five innings, just using my fastball and changeup. One of the things I was working on with the pitching coordinator is shortening my stride. I shortened my stride up and everything fell into place.

He also told MiLB his fastball “touched 95.” He issued both of his walks in the first inning and did not allow his one hit until the fourth.

The K-Mets lost because RHP Cory Oswalt gave up seven runs on five hits and retired just one batter.

21-year old RF Maikis De La Cruz, was 4-4 with a homer. He’s on the old side for the Appy League (really) but is crushing at .348/.357/.500 in 19 games.

Short-Season Friday: Cyclones Walk Off

SSA: @ Brooklyn Cyclones 7, Williamsport Crosscutters (PHI) 6 

2B Richie Rodriguez drew a bases-loaded walk, the Cyclones’ third of the 11th to force in the winning run. That’s taking walk-off a little literally, don’t you think?

Both Cyclones’ first rounders had two hits. 2011 first rounder CF Brandon Nimmo (.203/.373/.344 – 18 games; pictured) was 2-for-5 with two strikeouts, and an RBI. 2012 supplemental first rounder Kevin Plawecki put together his second two-hit game. In 11 games, he’s rocking a .205/.367/.359 line with five walks and two strikeouts and two homers.

Sixth-rounder Jayce Boyd homered, his first pro blast. The Mets’ 6th rounder is off to a quick start for the Cyclones (8-for-20) with six extra-base hits in his first five games.

 

R: @ Elizabethton Twins 6, Kingsport Mets 2
@ Elizabethton Twins 5, Kingsport Mets 4  

Gavin Cecchini (.241/.279/.293 – 15 games) took an 0-for-7.

Still no Bradley Marquez in centerfield. He has not played in eight days.

Short-Season Thursday: Matt Koch Makes Professional Debut

SSA: Aberdeen Ironbirds (BAL) 5, @ Brooklyn Cyclones 2 

RHP Matt Koch, the Mets’ third round pick this year, made his professional debut over 1.2 innings, he allowed three runs, all earned on a hit, two walks and a HBP.

CF Brandon Nimmo was 1-for-3 with a walk, his first hit in his last five games. In 11 games, he’s hitting .167/.400/.222 with six hits, 13 walks and 10 strikeouts.

SS Philip Evans (.244/.380/.439 – 11 G) was 0-for-4.

 

R: @ Kingsport Mets 4, Bluefield Blue Jays 3 

SS Gavin Cecchini was 2-for-4 with 2 RBI. He’s off to a solid .286/.324/.371 start (10-for-35) with two walks and eight whiffs in his first nine games.

Short-Season Thursday: Hansel Robles Carries Brooklyn to Win

SSA: @ Brooklyn Cyclones 4, Hudson Valley Renegades (TB) 1 

Cyclones’ starter Hansel Robles: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K. In 10.2 innings over two starts, Robles (pictured) has 11 strikeouts and one walk.

Dave Gershman at the Penn League Report has a fairly positive review of Robles’ first start, noting that he was sitting 91-92 with his fstball, which touched 94 at times.

CF Brandon Nimmo was 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts. While going hitless in his last four games, he has drawn five walks and is up to 12 walks against 10 strikeouts in 10 games this year. He’s also 5-for-33 (.152/.391/.212).

 


R: @ Danville Braves 8, Kingsport Mets 1 

19-year old Persio Reyes, who had a 1.95 ERA in the DSL last year is having a tougher time in the Appy League: 4.2 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 3 K.

Speaking of rough times, there’s LHP Zach Dotson who, for the second outing in a row, lasted just 0.1 of an inning. His line of .1 IP, 0 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 1 WP lowered his ERA from 54.00 to 40.50.

SS Gavin Cecchini was 0-for-2 before departing before the bottom of the sixth inning.

Short-Season Tuesday: Steven Matz Solid for Kingsport

SSA: @ Hudson Valley Renegades 4, Brooklyn Cyclones 2

When I open up a Brooklyn Cyclones box score, I look for Brandon Nimmo and Philip Evans first. They were both 0-for on Tuesday night, but Nimmo drew a walk and struck out.

The Cyclones had just seven hits, all singles, including two from LF Stefan Sabol, who also committed an error, his second.


Rookie: @ Danville Braves 5, Kingsport Mets 3

Steven Matz took his first professional loss, but pitched pretty well in his second game: 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 HBP.

SS Gavin Cecchini: 2-for-4 with a triple, his first, and an RBI. The Mets’ first rounder this year is hitting .276 (8-for-29) with two walks and eight strikeouts in seven games. Last week, I talked to a scout who had Cecchini in his area and really liked the kid. Cecchini was not an option for his team based on their spot in the draft, but he liked the pick and thought Cecchini would hit.

C Tomas Nido, the Mets’ eighth round pick was 2-for-4. He’s catching every other day, and has hit .294 (5-for-17) in his first four games.

Short Season Thursday: Evans Homers.

SSA: Staten Island Yankees 8, @ Brooklyn Cyclones 1 

The Yankees scored six times in the seventh inning to turn a close game into a laugher.

Don’t blame starter Hansel Robles, who was effective through five innings: 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K. According to Dave Gershman at the Penn League Report, the 21-year old was sitting 90-91 and touched 94 with a usable slider and curveball. Robles, who is listed at just 5’11″, 185, put up good numbers in the Kingsport bullpen a year ago. Sounds like a reliever to me.

SS Philip Evans was 2-for-3 with a homerun, his first as a professional. He’s off to a .385 (5-for-13) start with five walks and two strikeouts in four games.

CF Brandon Nimmo picked up a hit, a walk and a strikeout and now has walked six times in four games.

 


@ Princeton Rays 15, Kingsport Mets 2

Blech.

SS Gavin Cecchini was 0-for-3 and eventually removed for a pinch-runner. Hmm.

Zach Dotson, who the Mets went overslot to sign in 2009, appeared in his seventh professional game and was less than effective: 0.1 IP, 1 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 0 K.

Short Season Wednesday: Steven Matz is Alive And Pitching

I’ll try to have short-season box score notes up around 10 on weekdays in the future, so we’re a little behind today.

 

SSA: Brooklyn Cyclones 7, @ Staten Island Yankees 2 

LF Stefan Sabol led the way offensively, going 2-for-5 with a double and two strikeouts. He’s an interesting mid-round pick from this year. Look for an interview with him around here in the next week.

CF Brandon Nimmo was 1-for-3 with a double, his first extra-base hit of the year, two walks, and an RBI. In three games, he’s walked five times and struck out once, which is nice.

First start of the year for Luis Cessa: 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K.

 


R: @ Princeton Rays 10, Kingsport Mets 7 

If the teams combine on 21 hits and nine errors, odds are, you’re looking at an Appalachian League box score.

The news here is Steven Matz, who pitched in an official game for the first time. The Mets’ top pick, in the second round in 2009 did this: 3.1 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 2 K, 1 HR. He induced five ground balls and allowed four flyouts. The important thing is that his career is now taking place on the mound rather than under the surgeon’s knife or in the training room.

Short Season Tuesday: Luis Mateo Shines for the Cyclones; Gavin Ceccini’s Professional Debut

SSA: Brooklyn Cyclones 4, @ Staten Island 1 

Tuesday in Staten Island, RHP Luis Mateo shut down the Yankees. He’s an interesting arm. In his 5.2 innings, he allowed just two hits, one a solo homerun, a walk and struck out nine. In the first inning, he was sitting 94-95 mph with his two-seamer with movement. In the second, he was down to 93-94. By the fifth, he was living 90-91, although he reached back to sit 92 mph in the sixth.

His slider was in the upper 80s, although I liked the bit on it at 87-ish best. He induced both swings and misses and called strikes with the offering. He got a away with a few up, but also hung a flat one that turned into the Yankees’ only run on a solo home run by DH Saxon Butler in the third. At times, he just did not finish the pitch.

Already 22, he has plenty of size at 6’3″ and 200 pounds. Why is he 22 and just starting out? In 2008, he signed with the Giants, who tore up the contract after finding bone chips in his elbow. Then after agreeing to terms with the Padres that fall, MLB began investigating. It turned out he had lied about his age, and was suspended for a year in March 2010. The Mets signed him immediately thereafter.

Pitching Coach Marc Valdes was a happy camper post-game, saying of Mateo, “He attacked. He threw a sharp slider today. He had good movement later when it looked like he got a little bit tired. … He went for the strikeouts today. When he was 0-2 and 1-2, those are his times when he can be selfish and go get those strikeouts.”

At times, Valdes wanted Mateo to pitch more to his strength, “There was one inning where I thought he was primarily too many sliders,” Valdes said. “He’d get ahead with the fastball and then want to go slider, slider. For me, not when he’s got that good fastball. He mixed well.”

Mateo’s changeup was pretty raw. Valdes pinned its velocity “at times it’s about 86-87. He fluctuates between 81 and 88. Sometimes he hits it and gets it pretty good and turns it over at times, but it falls out armside pretty good.” Some, however, he pulled across the plate.

Long Island product LHP John Mincone followed Mateo with 2.1 innings of nearly perfect baseball. Mincone, was 87 mph on his heater  with a 78 mph curveball. He’s going to get a lot of outs in the New York Penn League this summer.

LHP Jeremy Gould struck out the side in the ninth working with a similar 87 mph heater and an 80 mph hook. After the game, manger Rich Donnelly announced that Gould was heading to Savannah alongside C Xorge Carillo and INF Yucarybert De La Cruz.

At the plate, SS Philip Evans barreled up a hanging curveball and ripped it for a single into left-center. he finished 1-for-4 with a walk.

1B Cole Frenzel, who was a Gnat for a week, was 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored.

(More about Brandon Nimmo and Kevin Plawecki’s nights coming in a separate post.)

After the game Jeremy Gould, Xorge Carillo, Yucy De La Cruz were promoted to Savannah.

 

R: @ Princeton Rays 8, Kingsport Mets 4

First rounder Gavin Cecchini was hitless in his professional debut, going 0-for-3 with a two walks and two strikeouts. 2012 fourth-rounder Branden Kaupe was 0-4 with one walk and three whiffs.

Akeel Morris: 3 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HR

On the plus side, LF Joe Tuschak was 1-for-3 with his first professional homerun. He was homerless in 32 games in the GCL in 2011 when he hit just .204/.318/.222 in 32 games.

 

 

 

Meet Your 2012 K-Mets

The Kingsport Mets, who begin their 2012 Appalachian League season tonight, have now updated their roster on Kmets.com. There are players worth watching up the middle and on the mound.

Up the Middle
SS Gavin Cecchini, the Mets first round pick in the 2012 is the team’s biggest name. His double-play partner will be 2012 fourth-round pick Brenden Kaupe, a diminutive Hawaiian, listed at 5’7″.

The outfield features one of the best athletes from the Mets’ 2011 draft class Brad Marquez. Marquez, the Mets’ 16th rounder that year, had a decent season as a freshman wide receiver at Texas Tech.

He’s joined in the outfield by Joe Tuschak, 2011′s 6th round pick who didn’t hit much in his brief professional debut in the GCL in 2011, but has nice fluid movements defensively.

Behind the dish, Tomas Nido, 2012′s 8th rounder leads four catchers. The Mets had to go $113,100 overslot to sign Nido away from a Florida State commitment. His power made him a top-10 round pick although, as is usually the case with HS catchers, there are questions about his work as a receiver.

On the corner, I’m a little interested in 17-year old 3B Pedro Perez, who will not turn 18 until the final day of August. Perez hit .262/.350/.343 in 61 games in the DSL last summer, going 15-for-17 stealing bases which speaks well of his athleticism and 25 walks against 47 strikeouts in 61 games which speaks reasonably well of his plate discipline.

 

Pitchers
Lots of interesting names here again, starting with Steven Matz, the Mets first selection in 2009, in the second round, who has yet to throw a professional pitch after Tommy John Surgery in May 2010.  So, good to see he’s survived his setbacks to make a roster.

It’s very interesting that RHP Akeel Morris will repeat Kingsport. The hard-thrower fanned 10.7 batters per nine innings  (61 K/51.1 IP) in 2011, but also walked 6.7 (38/51.1 IP). He was tied for fourth in the league in strikeouts, but led the Appy League in walks.

The Mets had to go $328,400 overslot to sign 7th round RHP Corey Oswalt away from a UC Santa Barbara commitment. According to Baseball America, he “is a long-term project,” as he throws 88-90, but can touch 91-92 mph with “some feel” for spinning a breaking ball.

Also, LHP Zach Dotson is on the K-Mets’ roster. The Mets went overslot for a $500,000 bonus to sign their 13th round pick in 2009. He tested positive for a banned substance in 2010, and threw just one inning over two appearances in the GCL in 2011.