Here are some happenings from the Mets Short-season affiliates:
Brooklyn Cyclones (7-4)
The Cyclones blew a late lead last night.
On Saturday, Cyclones starter Chris Hilliard continued his winning ways.
Marco Camarena was stellar on Sunday afternoon.
Power surging infielder- Brandon Brown has hit three home runs over his last seven at-bats.
Outfielder Travis Taijeron was voted as Cyclones player of the week.
SS Daniel Muno has missed the last three games with a lingering right fingernail issue.
Kingsport Mets (3-4)
Brett Mitchell was named Appy League Pitcher of the Week, after pitching five no-hit innings on Saturday.
Gregory Pron leads the Appy League with a .476 batting average, while Julio Concepcion leads the league with 13 hits.
Juan Urbina got absolutely shelled last night, as Kingsport loses 15-6. Urbina’s line: 4 2/3 IP, 10 hits, 7 runs, 5 er, 0 bb, 3 k, 2 HR.
GCL Mets (4-2)
20-year old SS Juan Carlos Gamboa is off to a hot start (11-27, .407/.463/.481).
Michael Hebert made his first rehab start on Saturday.
SS-A: @ Hudson Valley Renegades 4, Brooklyn Cyclones 1
SS-R: Johnson City Cardinals 2, Kingsport Mets 1
Akeel Morris made his Kingsport debut last night, and had one of the most interesting pitching lines I have seen in a while.
Morris’ line: 3 1/3 IP, 1 hit, 2 runs, 2 er, 4 bb, 4 k, 2 HBP, and 4 wild pitches. (Bolded for emphasis)
The good: Morris clearly had good stuff with the four strikeouts and only one hit allowed.
The bad: I can’t remember the last time I saw a pitcher have four walks, and two hit batsmen, but most of all four wild pitches in less than four innings of work.
Let’s not overreact though, Morris is only 18 and a bit on the shy side. I am sure he was a bit nervous in his first start of the year. One thing I know for sure though, I love Morris’ potential and ability. No worries folks, he will be fine.
SS-R: GCL Mets 5, @ GCL Marlins 3
SS-A: @ Brooklyn Cyclones 5, Aberdeen Ironbirds 2
Eduardo Aldama (pictured) led the way for the Cyclones to sweep the series over Aberdeen. Aldama pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing only one hit, walking three, and striking out five.
Danny Muno 2-4, 2B
Charley Thurber 2-4, 2 B, RBI, SB
Travis Taijeron 1-2, 2 bb
SS-R: Johnson City Cardinals 5, @ Kingsport Mets 3
Here is the opening line in the Tricitiessports.com‘s write-up of the game:
For the second time in about 24 hours, the Kingsport Mets found themselves playing an Appalachian League baseball game in the midst of a downpour.
That is not good.
Domingo Tapia (pictured) was good despite taking the loss for Kingsport. Tapia allowed just three hits and two earned runs in five innings of work. He struck out six, walked none, and allowed a homerun.
SS-R: @ GCL Mets 8, GCL Astros 5
Carlos Leyva (2011 32nd round pick) 3-4, 2 2B, 5 rbi
Gilbert Gomez 2-4, 2 rbi
Alberto Baldonado 5 IP, 3 hits, 1 er, 1 bb, 6 k.
SSA: @ Brooklyn Cyclones 3, Aberdeen Ironbirds (BAL) 2
Lucas Stewart doubled home Javier Rodriguez with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth.
R – APP: @ Johnson City Cardinals 7, Kingsport Mets 6 (10 innings)
Juan Urbina made his Appalachian League debut and the 18-year old’s line wasn’t pretty (4 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K), but you know what, he has a whole season to get better.
GCL – OFF
The last of the Mets affiliates to take the field will be the Kingsport Mets of the Appalachian League, as they open their season tonight against Johnson City. There is a lot of buzz surrounding this team, primarily due to a trio of young talented starters they will feature.
According to Tricitiessports.com, the K-Mets will feature three of the youngest and most intriguing Mets pitching prospects in their starting rotation. Juan Urbina, who will get the call on opening day tonight, Domingo Tapia, and Akeel Morris will strut their stuff this summer in Kingsport.
Kingsport manager Frank Fultz had this to say about his highly regarded trio:
We’ve got some really good starting pitching. I expect good games out of all three of them. They are some of the top players in our organization with a very high ceiling. I would expect them to have good games. They are three truly great prospects for the Mets’ family.
To note, the plan is to limit starting pitchers to roughly five innings of work in the early part of the season:
Fultz- That’s the basic concept. Pitch count is important to these guys and we don’t want to overuse them but we want to make sure they develop a progression of pitches.
While on my trip to spring training, I had the privilege to watch all three of these youngsters, and came away very impressed. All three guys have tremendous upside, and best of all, they are all still teenagers.
To refresh here is my report on Urbina, my report on Tapia, and Toby’s report on Morris. (All 3 with video)
Brooklyn (A) of the New York-Penn League
Manager: Rich Donnelly
Pitching Coach: Frank Viola
Hitting Coach: Bobby Malek
Trainer: Kiyoshi Tada
Strength Coach: Allison Salter
I touched on this staff when it was first announced at the end of January, but the striking thing is the very experienced Donnelly shepherding Viola, taking his first shot at coaching professionals with Malek, who’s been working his way through the Mets organization a level a year as a hitting coach moving from the GCL to Kingsport to Brooklyn.
The other thing is that this team will have a female strength and conditioning coach. I can’t recall ever seeing that before although Deb Iwanow has been a trainer in the Mets organization for a few years now.
Kingsport (R) of the Appalachian League
Manager: Frank Fultz
Pitching Coach: Jonathan Hurst
Hitting Coach: Luis Rivera
Trainer: Margaret Rall
Strength Coach: Roderick Richard
- Frank Fultz worked as the Mets Rehabilitation Pitching Coordinator last year after serving as the GCL pitching coach in 2009. Before joining the Mets, he served as a strength and conditioning coach for the Braves for 17 years. He’s worked in pro-ball as a strength coach for the Astros and Pirates 1986-91. He was the head coach at Texas Wesleyan College for six years and took that team to the NAIA DII championship in each year, and also worked as a pitching coach at Triton College (’76-’77) and George Mason (’78).
- Hurst is back in Kingsport for his second straight year. He was in Savannah in ’07 and ’08, but was sent to the GCL in ’09. I’ve heard the team values his teaching abilities and his work with young hurlers.
- Rivera made the transition from player to coach in the middle of last season. He hit .217/.250/.233 in 21 games for the Gnats in the first half of last year at age 26 while playing all over the diamond including a few games at first, second, third, short. Essentially, he was an additional coach on the field. I’m a big fan of Rivera’s. I know he spent plenty of time last summer working with Aderlin Rodriguez on his defense at third.
GCL Mets (R) of the Gulf Coast League
Manager: Luis Rojas
Pitching Coach: Mark Brewer
Hitting Coach: Yunir Garcia
Coach: Joel Fuentes (Second Half)
Trainer: Eric Velazquez
Strength Coach: Eugene Dalid
- Rojas was the fourth coach on the Gnats last season, so it’s nice to see him get his own team as he enters his fifth season with the organization. Rojas, Felipe Alou’s son, was the manager of the Marlins’ DSL team in 2006. Expect to see him rise steadily through the Mets organization.
- Brewer’s the veteran voice on this staff, having been in AA last year. He’s been a Rehab Coordinator for the Pirates (2009), the Latin American Pitching Coordinator for the Mets (2008) while working as the AAA pitching coach, a coach in AAA for the Royals and the Dodgers Minor League Pitching Coordinator from 2001-2004.
- This is the first stateside assignment for Yunir Garcia who managed the Mets’ DSL2 team last year. It was his first managerial experience after working as a coach for the team’s VSL affiliate in ’08 & ’09. Garcia, a minor league catcher, reached AAA with the Mets for nine games in 2006. All told, he was a career .204/.340/.317 hitter in three VSL seasons and five US based seasons.
SS-A: Brooklyn Cyclones 8, @ Vermont Lakemonsters 7- 12 innings
@ Brooklyn Cyclones 6, Vermont Lakemonsters 4
Brooklyn took a pair of games from Vermont, the first being the completion of a previous suspended game. The first game was originally played on August 21st, and was suspended due to rain in the bottom of the 12th, with Vermont runners on first and second with one out. Ryan Fraser finished the game off with two quick outs to complete the victory.
The second game, a 7-inning affair, finished in dramatic fashion. Trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the 7th, with two runners on and one out, Jeff Flagg (2-4, HR, 5 RBI) stepped up to the plate. Flagg capped a five-rbi night, with a walk-off bomb to left, his ninth homerun of the season. This was the 3rd walk-off victory for the Cyclones this season. Folks as you already know, there is something really special going on in Brooklyn. Good teams fight and scrap and find ways to win, and that’s what the Cyclones have done this season, under the watch of manager Wally Backman. The two victories give Brooklyn an astounding 47-22 record, including a 26-6 home record.
A.J. Pinera (5 IP, 8 its, 4 runs, 3 er, 0 bb, 6 K) started for the Cyclones, and Adam Koralek (2 IP, 4K) picked up the win in relief.
SS-R: Bristol White Sox 4, @ Kingsport Mets 2
Kingsport finished the season out, with a 4-2 loss to Bristol. The Kingsport offense banged out 12 hits, but could only score 2 runs. Chase Greene (3-5, 2B), Ray Van Gurp (2-5, 3B, RBI), Albert Cordero (2-4), and Nelfi Zapata (3-4) all had muti-hit games for the K-Mets.
Kingsport finished the season 28-39, third place in the APP West Division.
SS-A: Brooklyn Cyclones 6, @ Connecticut Tigers 1
The Brooklyn (45-22) offense racked up 14 singles in the 6-1 victory over Connecticut. J.B. Brown (2-5, RBI), Cory Vaughn (2-5), Joe Bonfe (2-4), William Cherry (2-5, RBI), Blake Forsythe (2-4, RBI), and Wilfredo Tovar (3-4, RBI) all had multi-hit games for the Cyclones. Jonathan Kountis picked up his first win of the season: (5 IP, 6 hits, 1 run, 0 er, 3 bb, 5 K).
SS-R: Bristol White Sox 2, @ Kingsport Mets 1
The struggling Kingsport offense sudddenly got weaker when their top hitter, Aderlin Rodriguez, was summoned to finish the season with Class-A Savannah. The K-Mets could only produce 1 run on 3 hits, in the 2-1 loss to Bristol.
Carlos Vazquez- 6 IP, 4 hits, 1 run, 1 er, 3 bb, 4 k.
SS-R: @ GCL Phillies 8, GCL Mets 4
The GCL Mets qualified for the GCL playoffs as the wild card representitive. In a one game series to reach the championship round, the GCL Mets were eliminated 8-4 by the GCL Phillies. SS Yucarybert De La Cruz (2-4, HR, RBI, SB) and OF Gilberto Gomez (2-4, 2 RBI) were the lone standouts offensively. Domingo Tapia (1 1/3 IP, 6 hits, 7 er, 2 bb, 1 K) got shelled in the loss.
SS-A: (Sat)- Brooklyn Cyclones 10, @ Connecticut Tigers 0
(Sun)- @ Connecticut Tigers 6, Brooklyn Cyclones 3
The Brooklyn Cyclones (44-22) clinched their 5th division title in 10 seasons, in style with a dominating 10-0 victory over Connecticut on Saturday night. With the victory combined with a Hudson Valley loss, the Cyclones are division champions for the first time since 2007. The dominating performance was led by starting pitcher, Yohan Almonte. Almonte (8-4) went the distance for the complete game shutout, as he gave up 6 hits, while walking none and striking out 5. The complete game was the first for Almonte in 14 starts this season. Over his last 10 starts, Almonte has been dominant: 6-2, 1.42 ERA, 63 1/3 IP, 46 hits, 10 er, 9 bb, 43 K.
The Cyclones offense produced 10 runs and 15 hits, including homeruns by Blake Forsythe (2-4, HR, RBI) and Jeff Flagg (2-4, HR, RBI). Other offensive stars include: Darrell Ceciliani (2-5, 3B, 3RBI, SB), Cory Vaughn (2-4, 2B, RBI), James Schroeder (2-4, 2 2B, RBI), and Justin Schafer (3-5, 3 runs, 2B, RBI).
On Sunday, the Cyclones offense could only muster up a three-run homerun by Cory Vaughn (1-4, HR, 3RBI), his team leading 13th on the season. Vaughn also leads the team with 49 RBI. Angel Cuan (5-1) suffered his first loss of the season, pitching 5 innings, giving up 6 hits, 4 runs, 3 earned, walking 1, and striking out 3.
SS-R: (Sat)- Kingsport Mets 6, @Greenville Astros 4
(Sun)- Bristol White Sox 4, @ Kingsport Mets 3- Game 1
(Sun)- Bristol White Sox 3, @ Kingsport Mets 1- Game 2
Aderlin Rodriguez continues to swing the bat well, as the Kingsport Mets (28-37) are just playing out the string. Over the weekend Rodriguez was 5-10, with 2 doubles, a homerun, and 4 RBI. Rodriguez has gotten stronger at the plate as the summer moves forward, as he is hitting (.343/.369/.556), his highest batting average over any month this season. For the season Rodriguez is hitting (.312/.352/.556) with 13 HR and 48 RBI.
SS-R: GCL Mets 6, @ GCL Astros 1
A six-run 2nd inning led the GCL Mets (31-25) to a 6-1 victory over the GCL Astros.
Ernesto Yanez (1-2): 5 IP, 4 hits, 1 er, 1 bb, 4 K.
SS-A: @ Brooklyn Cyclones 2, Aberdeen Ironbirds 0
Chris Hilliard was the star of the show, pitching 8 shutout innings in the 2-0 victory over Aberdeen. The Brooklyn Cyclones (43-21) left-hander gave up only 2 hits, while walking only 1 and striking out 4. Hilliard (pictured) improved to 9-1, 3.77 ERA on the season. Ryan Fraser pitched a scoreless 9th, for his team leading 12th save.
The win cuts the Cyclones magic number to two, to clinch the McNamara Divison title.
SS-R: Burlington Royals 4, @ Kingsport Mets 3
Aderlin Rodriguez (2-3, 2 RBI, BB) continues to hit, and is now at .304/.344/.538 for the season. The 18-year old is 15-40 (.375) with 9 rbi over his last 10 games. ZeErika McQueen (2-4) and Ismael Tijerina (2-3, 2 runs, 2 SB) also had multi-hit games for Kingsport (27-35).
Michael Weldon pitched 4 perfect innings, while striking out four, in relief of starter Jhonathan Torres (5 IP, 8 hits, 4 er, 4 k, 2 HR).
SS-R: @ GCL Mets 2, GCL Cardinals 1
Nestor Moreno (1-4, 2 RBI) drove in 2 with a single in the 3rd inning.
Zack Cox, the Cardinals 1st round pick, started at 3B and was 1-3, with a walk and 2 strikeouts.