Upper Levels Wednesday: Rain, Josh Satin and Chris Schwinden

AAA: @ Fresno Grizzlies (SF) 6, Las Vegas 51s 3

Satin 51s HeadBad: 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 Tuesday: Zack Wheeler and his Fastball Command; Josh Satin Goes Big Fly

AAA: @ Fresno Grizzlies 4, Las Vegas 51s 1

Wheeler (Baron)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

Upper Levels Sunday: Not So Fun

AA: @ Akron Aeros (CLE) 13, Binghamton Mets 3 

Tyler Pill allowed one run through the first five innings. Then he began the sixth, allowed three singles and a walk to load the bases and score a run, and his night was done. Mark Cohoon allowed all three inherited runners to score. Pill’s final line: 5 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 2 BB,  K.

In addition to three of Pill’s runs, Cohoon gave up five of his own to turn a close game into a blowout.

Once again, Alonzo Harris played center, Darrell Ceciliani played left, and Cesar Puello played right. I would dub this lineup, with Cory Vaughn or Puello in right, the B-Mets standard now. It’s a fairly remarkable turn from last April, when Harris was the fourth outfielder behind the other three, and the third choice in center behind Puello and Ceciliani. Harris earned this on the field: in 2012, he hit .287/.354/.424 with 40 stolen bases and showed the speed to play center.  For what it’s worth (not much) he’s hit safely in each of his first four games, going 5-for-17 (.294) with two doubles and a walk.

After sitting on Friday, Ceciliani had back-to-back two-hit games over the weekend with a double in each.

 


AAA: @ Sacramento RiverCats 8, Las Vegas 51s 4

Carlos Torres started and did this: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K.

CF Juan Lagares collected his first two-hit game of the season and his first extra-base hit, a double.

Reese Havens started at second while Wilmer Flores DHed. each had one hit.

Upper Levels Saturday: Collin McHugh Sharp. The AA Outfield Hits Again

AAA: Las Vegas 51s 6, @ Sacramento RiverCats (OAK) 1 

McHugh Vegas HeadCollin McHugh was sharp to help the 51s improve to 3-0. McHugh’s line: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K. He threw 60% of his pitches for strikes (56 of 93).

Offensively, the big names (Juan Lagares, Travis d’Arnaud and Wilmer Flores) were all o-for. Instead, the offense came from SS Brian Bixler (2B, 3B), DH Andrew Brown (3-for-4), Josh Satin (HR, 2 RBI) and Jamie Hoffman (3-for-3, BB). I got the feeling that Terry Collins really likes Hoffman during spring training. If the Mets’ outfield is unproductive, he’d be on Collins’ replacements list.

 

AA: Binghamton Mets 7, @ Akron Aeros (CLE) 5

Darrell Ceciliani played centerfield for the first time in three games, while Alonzo Harris shifted to left, Cory Vaughn played right, and Cesar Puello had the night off. All three starting outfielders were productive. Harris was 2-for-4 with a double, his second, and a walk. Ceciliani was 2-for-5 with a double and a triple, while Cory Vaughn was 2-for-4 with a triple, a walk and a stolen base.

Logan Verrett was ok in his AA debut: 6 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 HR

Upper Levels Friday: Everybody Wins; Notes About Walks

AAA: Las Vegas 51s 9, Sacramento RiverCats 3 

The RiverCats played some a-ball level defense which led to a five-run Vegas third inning that removed much of the suspense from this game early.

Notable offensive performances:
C Travis d’Arnaud: 1-for-2, 3 BB.
– The only statistical blemish in d’Arnaud’s performance in the last two years in AA and AAA has been his walk rate – under 7% last year in AAA, so it’s especially nice to see him being this patient early.

Game two in AAA is already Chris Schwinden time, and he was very Schwindeny: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K.

 


AA: Binghamton Mets 1, Akron Aeros (CLE) 1

The B-Mets scored the go-ahead run in the seventh on a dropped popup.

Cory Mazzoni had a nice start: 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K. Watch his strikeout rate really closely in 2013. His seven strikeouts tied a AA-high he achieved once in 14 starts in 2012.

For the second game in a row, Alonzo Harris lined up in CF, with Cory Vaughn in LF and Cesar Puello in RF. Harris was 1-for-4.

LHP Jack Leathersich fanned two and walked two in the ninth for his first AA save. His walk rate has climbed as he’s moved through the minors.

Las Vegas 51s Release Opening Day Roster

51s LogoThe Las Vegas 51s released their Opening Day Roster Monday evening. The complete roster is here.

The big names are RHP Zack Wheeler and C Travis d’Arnaud.

Outside of Wheeler, the pitching staff is nearly exclusively MLB depth guys like Collin McHugh and Aaron Laffey and Carlos Torres.

There are two notes that are interesting in terms of pitching assignments.

  1. The first surprise is that Greg Peavey, coming off a year when he ran a 5.06 ERA and allowed 169 hits in 144 innings in AA earned the promotion to AAA. The second half of the surprise is that he did so at the expense of LHP Darin Gorski, who is headed back to AA Binghamton.   
  2. Cory Mazzoni is headed back to AA. Given that he made only 14 starts in AA in 2012, and was far from dominant, this makes sense. If the organization wanted to be aggressive with him, they could have moved him to the AAA bullpen, but that is far from the Mets’ current style. And there really is no urgency at the big league level.

I wonder how much the pitcher-hostile environment factored into Gorski and Mazzoni’s assignments. There appears to be plenty of innings to go around while creating a spot for either (or both) of Gorski and Mazzoni. So, this looks like a developmental decision.

I suspect that this pitching staff, as it is currently configured, is going to give up a lot of runs.

On the infield, the big name is Wilmer Flores. As always, the question is where he’ll play and how he’ll look while doing it. Given how cautious the Mets appeared with their pitchers, it’s notable that they felt comfortable promoting Flores who played a strong half a season in AA where he hit .311/.361/.494 in 66 games. Flores is joined by Brian Bixler, Zach Lutz, Reese Havens, Brandon Hicks, Josh Satin and Omar Quintanilla.

The roster lists only three outfielders: Andrew Brown, Jamie Hoffman and Juan Lagares. Brown is exclusively a corner guy, and Hoffman played just four games in center last year after 86 in 2011 and 124 in 2010 for AAA Albuquerque. I’d think Lagares, who mostly played center last year in AA, will be the primary centerfielder in this group. All three can thank Matt den Dekker’s wrist for an increase in their own playing time in the first half. Eric Campbell split his time between first base and left field in AA Binghamton in 2012, and given the crowded infield, I suspect much of his early playing time will be in left.

 Full Roster: 51s_2013Roster_1

Las Vegas Names Staff – The Return of Wally Ball

51s LogoThe AAA Las Vegas 51s named their coaching staff today, headed by manager Wally Backman. I am mildly surprised that Backman chose to return to the Mets to manage in Las Vegas, but I think it speaks to the fact that switching jobs, or finding a better one, can be awfully difficult. Backman will be joined by pitching coach Randy St. Clair and hitting coach George Greer.

This is St. Clair’s first go-round with the Mets after working for the Marlins for three seasons in the big leagues and six some odd seasons for the Expos/Nationals. He’s an interesting hire in that he seems never to have worked with Sandy Alderson, Paul dePodesta or J.P. Ricciardi before. Rather, he would have worked with Omar Minaya, Tony Bernazard and their associates in the final days of the Montreal franchise.

Greer is now in his eighth year with the Mets. He’s worked his way up from rookie ball after 23 seasons as the Head Coach at Wake Forest.

 

Mets and Las Vegas 51s Make it Official; Sign Two-Year PDC

Monday night, the Mets made their divorce with the Buffalo Bisons official, signing a two-year player development contract with the Las Vegas 51s.

From the Mets’ press release:

The New York Mets today announced they have signed a two-year player development contract with the Las Vegas 51s, which will be the club’s new Triple-A affiliate.  The 51s play in the Pacific Coast League and have Cashman Field as their home stadium.
“We are excited about our new partnership with the Las Vegas 51s and the city of Las Vegas, one which values equally player development, winning and community involvement,” said Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson.

 

“We are familiar with many of the front office personnel with the Mets,” said 51s Executive Director Don Logan. “I’ve known Sandy Alderson for 20 years to go along with J.P. Ricciardi, Paul DePodesta, Dick Scott and Terry Collins.  These individuals are all very familiar with Las Vegas from the time they spent here with other organizations. We are excited to welcome the Mets as our new Triple-A affiliate.”