Upper Minors Wednesday: A Big Step Forward for Jeurys Familia

AAA: Buffalo Bisons 5, @ Columbus Clippers (CLE) 1

This was absolutely a positive step for Jeurys Familia: 5.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K. He threw 61% of his pitches (59 of 97) for strikes and induced 10 groundball outs against jsut one in the air. This was his first start of 2012 in which he did not allow a run.

In his two starts in June, he’s fanned 10, walked three, and thrown 63% strikes. It’s too early to say he’s turned a corner for sure, but the last two starts have been extremely encouraging.

Bisons’ pitching coach Mark Brewer told MiLB.com he liked what he saw from Familia:

“Tonight primarily he used a really heavy sinking fastball and just was overmatching some hitters with the sinking fastball that he threw across the plate. He got some swing-and-misses and induced ground balls. He mixed his secondary pitches to keep them off the fastball.

“He calls it a curveball but he it has a little more of a slider look. When he has a feel for it, it’s a real good pitch he can throw it front door to righties and he can drop it on the back foot of lefties when he needs to. His change, he’s getting real comfortable with these days.”


Interesting comment too from Brewer about the work ethic on Familia as compared to the rest of his staff:

You don’t run into kids like this very often that have the ethic he does. It’s not overbearing. It’s not the guy who will run through the wall … but being consistent about his work, he’s the best.

LF Fred Lewis was 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles. The 31-year old is up to .313/.365/.486 in 36 games with the Bisons. The left-handed hitter has fairly extreme L/R splits, going .265/.308/.327 in 49 vs. LHP and .337/.394/.568 in 95 AB vs. RHP.


AA: @ Harrisburg Senators 4, Binghamton Mets 3 

In the seventh inning, with the B-Mets up a run, Collin McHugh left a pair of runners aboard for Rob Carson, who gave up a double to the first batter he faced to score both runners.  McHugh allowed a run in each of the first two innings, and then settled in, retiring 13 of 16 batters at one point. His final line: 6.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 5 K.

Adrian Rosario worked a scoreless eighth with a strikeout. In 5.2 innings in AA, he’s walked five and fanned two.

Meanwhile, at the plate, CF Matt den Dekker was 3-for-4 with a double, a triple and a walk. The 24-year old is up to .318/.382/.545 in 54 games. We’ll do this again because it’s so fun: he’s first in the Eastern League in doubles (18), extra-base hits (30), total bases (120), runs scored (41), fourth in slugging and batting average, ninth in on-base percentage, and tied for fourth in strikeouts (60). The Eastern League’s All-Star game is July 11. At this rate, there’s no way he will play for Binghamton on July 12th at home versus Erie.

3B Jefry Marte (.292/.359/.422 – 50 games) was 1-for-4 with a triple, his second of the year.

Upper Minors Saturday: Pedro Beato Inches Closer; Matt den Dekker Goes Yard

AAA: @ Toledo Mud Hens (DET) 3, Buffalo Bisons 2 

Lets start with the performance with the most immediate big league impact: Pedro Beato allowed a hit and a walk, but struck out the side in a scoreless seventh inning.

SS Brent Dlugach hit the game winning home run, his first of the year, off the Bisons’ Fernando Cabrera in the bottom of the ninth.

Outings like this from LHP Garrett Olson (5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 3 K), will make it much easier for the Mets to find space in the Bisons’ rotation for both Collin McHugh and Zack Wheeler. Olson has walked 12% of the batters he has faced, or 31 in 56.2 innings.

LF Fred Lewis was 2-for-4 with a double. The 31-year old is hitting .297/.348/.461 and plays a good defensive left field. He’s good against righties (.330/.378/.560 in 91 AB this year) but struggles against southpaws (.216/.275/.216 in 37 AB). I’m not sure that’s good enough to become Mike Baxter’s replacement, but he has to be under consideration.


AA: @ Binghamton Mets 5, @ Akron Aeros (CLE) 4 

Something simple, and good: CF Matt den Dekker (pictured) was 2-for-4 with a home run, his eighth to put the B-Mets up 1-0 in the third inning. The 24-year old is hitting .301/.367/.526 with 28 (!) extra-base hits in 51 games. He’s tied for the Eastern League lead in extra-base hits, doubles (17) and is all alone in first in total bases (110) and is fourth in strikeouts (58).

Darin Gorski put together his longest outing of the year (6.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K). One of the runs scored when he bequeathed a runner at third base with one out to Brad Holt in the seventh.

Here Comes Vinny. And Weekend Links

1. 1B/3B/OF/C Vinny Rottino is back and RHP Chris Schwinden is headed back to AAA Buffalo.

Things that make the 32-year old Rottino an attractive fit on the May 2012 Mets roster:

  • He’s on the 40-man roster.
  • He bats right-handed.
  • He can hit. He’s after a three-homer game Saturday, he’s up to .307/.361/.479 in 36 games in Buffalo in 2012. That’s no small-sample size aberration; he’s a career .294/.360/.436 hitter in seven seasons in AAA.
  • He abuses lefties. He was hitting .333/.361/.606 in 33 AB vs. lefties in the Internal League this year. Last year, in 119 AB it was .353/.394/.454 for New Orleans. In 2010 in AA he smoked ‘em at a .323/.428/.511 clip in 133 AB.
  • He owns lots of different baseball gloves. Here are his minor league games played by position: C – 303, 1B – 164, LF – 197, RF – 87, OF – 70, 3B – 223, SS – 3, 2B – 1, P – 1. Versatility is a good thing.
  • Can he really catch? Right now, he’s the Mets’ third catcher. Can he be a backup? The most he ever worked behind the plate were the 2007 and 2008 seasons in AAA with Nashville when he caught 57 and 101 games respectively and threw out 35% and 28% of attempted thieves against him, two of his four best three career marks. He nailed 33% of runners against him in New Orleans in 2011 in 39 games.


2. In the New York Post, Tim Bontemps catches up on the progress of Jefry Marte. Said B-Mets manager Pedro Lopez: “We have a philosophy that we’re trying to execute, and having a kid like Jefry, at 20 years old, being able to buy into our hitting philosophy, I think it’s paid big dividends for him.”

3. Baseball America place Binghamton CF Matt den Dekker at #13 on their weekly Prospect Hot Sheet and recognized Jefry Marte “in the team photo.” About den Dekker, they wrote in part, “The center fielder out of Florida still has a high strikeout rate, but his improving average and power numbers show signs of promise.”

Upper Levels Sunday: B-Mets Hit Enough for Everyone. Matt den Dekker Extends Hitting Streak

AAA: Indianapolis Indians (PIT) 4, @ Buffalo Bisons 1 

On a bullpen day for both teams, former Marlin Rick VandenHurk and two Indians held the Bisons to just two singles all day.

2B Jordany Valdespin, who hit a pinch-hit home run in his return to AAA Saturday had a rough Sunday: 0-for-3 with two errors.


AA: Binghamton Mets 11, @ Portland Sea Dogs (BOS) 7

Portland could not stop the B-Mets offense Sunday. Binghamton scored in eight of the nine innings, rapped out 12 hits and drew seven walks.

The three hitters, all of whom are good prospects, 3B Jefry Marte, CF Matt den Dekker and RF Juan Lagares, who have been carrying the Binghamton attack, had good days.

- den Dekker (pictured) was 3-for-5 to extend his hitting streak to 15 straight games. He’s hitting .353 (23 H/63 AB) over his streak with 10 extra-base hits. Overall, the 24-year old is up to .309/.369/.527 in 40 games.

- Marte was 1-3 with the B-Mets’ only home run in the game. After going the first 29 games of the season with a homerun, the 20-year old Marte now has three jacks in his last seven games and is up to .326/.396/.462 overall in 36 games.

- Lagares was 3-for-5 with a double, his eighth of the year. In the midst of a .344/.373/.453 line in 16 games in May, the 23-year old is up to .296/.359/.401 overall in 38 games; it’s the closest he’s been to a .300 batting average all year.

2B Reese Havens was 1-for-5. After going hitless for six straight games, he had a single hit in both Saturday and Sunday’s games and is sitting at .148/.268/.246 in 18 games in AA this year.

Greg Peavey was hittable, but hung around long enough to get the win: 5 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 HR, 3 BB, 2 K. He’s allowed 51 hits and has just 26 strikeouts against 10 walks in 39.2 IP this year.

Matt den Dekker photo courtesy Michael Baron. 

Upper Minors Wednesday: Marte Delivers Walkoff in AA

AA: @ Binghamton Mets 1, Trenton Thunder 0

CF Matt den Dekker led off the bottom of the ninth in a 0-0 game with a double, and then after Josh Rodriguez bunted for a base hit and Reese Havens walked to load the bases, 3B Jefry Marte delivered a line drive into right field to bring home den Dekker with the winning run. Den Dekker now is part of a three-way tie for first place in the Eastern League with 13 doubles and is alone in first with 21 extra-base hits while bopping .293/.355/.524 in 36 games. Perhaps even more importantly, he’s trimmed his strikeout rate from 29% in AA in 2011 to 23.6% in 106 PA April to 18% in 61 PA in May.

Despite the walk in the ninth inning, Reese Havens was 0-for-2. He’s hitless in his last four games and is sitting at .146/.255/.250 (7-for-48) with seven walks in 14 games thus far.

Marte had slowed down after a hot April, and has just one extra base hit in the month of May. However, he drove two balls to the warning track Wednesday and is still hitting .305/.362/.398 overall in 32 games as a 20-year old in AA where he is the fourth-youngest player.

Meanwhile on the hill, Collin McHugh scattered six singles in seven scoreless innings to drop his ERA to 2.05. He struck out six and walked one to move his K/BB ratio to 2.8 (42 K/15 BB) in 48.1 innings of work for the B-Mets. McHugh has earned his way to AAA, now he’s just waiting for an injury or opening in the AAA rotation.

AAA: @ Buffalo Bisons 14, Gwinnett Braves 7

The Bisons outhit Gwinett 17-15 and out-homered them 2-1 to win a slugfest. The Bisons touched Jair Jurrjens for 11 runs, 10 earned on 12 hits and two walks in 4.2 innings. When the Braves sent Jurrjens down to AAA, I doubt that’s what they had in mind.

OF/C Vinny Rottino was 2-for-4 with a walk to extend his hitting streak to 19 straight games. He is one away from tying Toledo’s Brad Eldred for the longest streak in the IL this year. Since April 18, he has hit .338 (25-74) with eight extra-base hits with the Bisons sandwiched around an 0-for-4 in the big leagues.

None of the Bisons’ pitchers (Garrett Olson, Jack Egbert, Chuck James or Justin Hampson) were particularly effective. It was the first action in 15 days for James who had been sidelined with a back strain.

Links: Mock Draft, Matt den Dekker Impressing, and Grinding

1. At Baseball America, Jim Callis did his first mock draft of the 2012 first round. He ties the Mets to Texas HS OF Courtney Hawkins, Louisiana HS SS Gavin Cecchini and Texas A&M RHP Michael Wacha, before suggesting the team would take Cecchini. Gavin’s older brother Garin Cecchini is a Red Sox farmhand.

Callis did not place Harvard-Westlake RHP Lucas Giolito with a team. Giolito could well be the best arm in the class, but he’s been sidelined for over two months with an elbow problem. He wants a big bonus and is signed to go to UCLA. I have trouble imaging him slipping out of the top 10 picks, but where he falls is but one of the big stories in a very uncertain year at the top of the draft as Callis happily acknowledges in his Ask BA column.

2. At Baseball Prospectus, Kevin Goldstein is upping his projection on Matt den Dekker, just a smidge:

He’s still an impatient hitter who expands his strike zone too often, but with plus-plus defense in center, he just might have enough bat to be more of a second division starter than an extra outfielder.

3. In the Philadelphia Inquirer, Matt Gelb writes about career Minor Leaguer Rich Thompson, who had one MLB at-bat all the way back in 2004 back when he was a Rule 5 pick. One AB.  And he’s still plugging along.

AA Sunday: Jefry Marte’s First Homer of 2012 Scares ‘Cats

AA: Binghamton Mets 7, @ New Hampshire Fisher Cats 6 

3B Jefry Marte broke a 5-5 tie with a two-run homerun in the seventh to put the B-Mets up two. It was his first homerun of the year, and his first extra-base  hit in a dozen games. After a hot April (.358/.421/.478 – 19 games) the 20-year old cooled down considerably in May (.256/.304/.326 – 11 games) and committed a pair of costly errors this week. He’s still hitting .318/.377/.418 overall.

CF Matt den Dekker was 2-for-5 with a two-run double and a solo home run. Now hitting .295/.361/.525, 19 of the 24-year old’s 41 hits have gone for extra-bases which helps explain his .356 BABIP. Even with 36 strikeouts in 34 games, he’s trimmed his strikeout rate from 29% in AA in 2011 to 22.6% in 2012.  He’s abused righties at a .324/.377/.602 rate in 108 AB while hitting .194/.306/.258 against lefties in 31 AB. The Mets’ current lefty-heavy lineup and outfield now present an interesting problem for den Dekker.

RHP Greg Peavey was not really sharp: 5 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 1 HR. He’s been hurt in the zone as his 4 HR and 43 H in 34.2 IP attest. He’s not walking guys (1.8 BB/9), but his strikeout rate (6.2 K/9) is a close match for advanced-A in 2011 (6.4).

LHP Robert Carson picked up the save while allowed a run in 1.2 innings. It was the first earned run he had allowed since April 10th, interrupting a run of nine straight appearances without yielding an earned run. The move to the bullpen has been kind to Carson. His strikeout rate is up to 20%, his best at any level since 2010 and his walk rate is down to 6%, also his best since 2010. He’s not ready yet, but store hims away as a hard-throwing left-handed bullpen piece.


No A-ball games Sunday. St. Lucie was scheduled for an off-day and the Gnats were rained out in Hickory.

Upper Levels Friday: Binghamton Bombs New Hampshire

AAA: @ Charlotte Knights 3, Buffalo Bisons 2 (10 innings)

Charlotte RF Greg Golson doubled off LHP Josh Edgin to begin the 10th and then scored later in the inning on a single off RHP Jack Egbert. That’s now 14 hits and six walks off Edgin in 8.1 appearances in AAA.

With Jenrry Mejia and Chris Young on the mend and headed in the direction of Buffalo, Garrett Olson made a fairly compelling case to keep his rotation spot: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 K. In 37.2 IP, he’s fanned 38 batters his year. Also, lefthanders do not have a single extra-base hit against him in 30 AB for a .200/.286/.200 line.


AA: Binghamton Mets 11, @ New Hampshire Fisher Cats (TOR) 4

The B-Mets ripped three home runs to give Gonzalez Germen plenty of support in this one.

CF Matt den Dekker (pictured) extended his hitting streak to seven straight games by going 2-for-4 with a homer, his fourth. The 24 year old is hitting .292/.358/.508 with 34 strikeouts and 17 extra-base hits in 32 games.

1B Eric Campbell was 3-for-4 with a double and a homerun. The 25-year old is up to .308/.415/.500 in 23 games. Campbell can play third and left a little. He got off to a brutal start in 2011 hitting .210/.334/.272 in the first half before cranking things up to .311/.364/.466 in the second half. Time might have passed him by as he’s been at double-A since the middle of the 2010 season.

Since homering in a 3-for-4 effort in his 2012 debut, 2B Reese Havens is in a 4-for-34 skid (.118/.231/.176) including an 0-for-4 Friday.

Germen was effective but without attractive peripherals: 7 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 1 WP.

It’s interesting that Germen has remained with the B-Mets even after Zack Wheeler’s return. The team is carrying six starters: Wheeler, Germen, Collin McHugh, Darin Gorski, Greg Peavey and Mark Cohoon with little room ahead in AAA. The good news is that “problems” of too much talent usually sort themselves out fairly quickly.

The FisherCats starter Deck McGuire faced the B-Mets for the third time in his last five starts and each start has been progressively worse. He shutout Binghamton through 6.2 innings on April 18. Since, the B-Mets got to him for seven runs in three innings on April 25 and five runs in .1 (!) of an innings Friday.

April in Binghamton

The Binghamton Mets finished April at 12-11, in third place, four games behind division-leading Reading. As a team, the B-Mets hit .258/.355/.390 while drawing an Eastern League leading 105 walks to finish 7th in the 12-team league with 95 runs scored. The pitching staff is fourth in ERA, and tied for third in strikeouts (182) and is tied for the second-most walks (88).


The Most Pleasant Surprise
20-year old Jefry Marte hit .358/.421/.478 in 19 games in April after returning from a hamstring strain that sidelined him for a few days. He did not homer, but he drew six walks while only striking out nine times.  Just as importantly perhaps as the high batting average over three weeks was that he committed but two errors, a career-best in any month in which he played as many as 19 games. His previous best: 5 errors in a month.


Matt den Dekker is Hitting Like Himself, Only Better
The 24-year old den Dekker is bopping along at .290/.352/.516 in 23 games with a .358 BABIP. He’s striking out less, walking slightly less and hitting for more power than he did a year ago in AA. He’s fanned in 23.6% of his plate appearances, down enough from his scary 29% mark in AA a year ago to call it progress. His walk rate ticked down as well from from 8.3% to 7.5% right now. Meanwhile, he’s running an isolated slugging percentage of .226 and has extra-base hits in 12.3% of his plate appearances, both of which would be career highs if he could maintain them for a full-season. I will freely admit that I did not see this kind of power from den Dekker when he was in Savannah in 2010, when he ran an ISO of .125. He did not homer in 2010, and I did not see many homers in his future based on a very flat swing plane. Now about 1/4 of his extra-base hits are going over the wall. He is a different, more powerful hitter now at age 24.

The twin monsters of BABIP and strikeout might eat his batting average, as they did in AA last year, in AAA or the big leagues, but he has kept them at bay so far in 2012.


Progress for Lagares, Disguised by low AVG
RF Juan Lagares set a new career-high with 11 walks in April 2012 while hitting .256/.348/.359 with five extra-base hits, 14 strikeouts in 22 games. The 23-year old was a slow starter in 2011 too: even while hitting a total of .349/.383/.500 between advanced-A and and double-A, in 2011, he hit .262/.314/.369 in 18 games in April, with four extra-base hits and five walks and seven strikeouts.


Zack Wheeler finished April 5th in the Eastern League with a 1.75 ERA (5 ER/25.2 IP) and second behind the Phillies’ Trevor May with 30 strikeouts.  He’s “missing bats” with his fastball and slider. However, as discussed over the weekend, he is not ready for AAA. He is walking 4.9 batters per nine innings, or 13% of all hitters he faces. He has succeeded thus far because he has limited the hits against him just 6.0 per 9 IP (17 H in 25.67) which in itself is a testament to the natural movement on his pitches. He still must learn to harness that movement.


Less Fastball, Plenty of Strikeouts
Collin McHugh is tied for fourth in the EL in strikeouts (26) and Darin Gorski is tied for eighth (23).  In three of his five starts, Gorski has allowed zero or one run over six innings. Gorski added velocity in the last two years, and is now 89-91. Both McHugh and Gorski share some statistical traits at his point as opponents are hitting under .200 against both guys (.189-Gorski  and .194-McHugh) but both are walking too many guys. In Gorski’s case, his walk rate is a career-high 13.2% and 4.9 BB/9 IP, so while he’s missing plenty of bats (22% K/rate) he must get back in the strike zone. McHugh’s walk rate is less extreme: 9.6BB% and 3.7 BB/9, but still too high for the type of stuff he possesses.


Another Bullpen Piece
RHP Elvin Ramirez in April: 7 G, 11.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 5 BB, 16 K, 2 WP.
Of course, he gave up two runs on the first day of May, but he is human after all. He’s working with plus velocity, throwing 94 mph regularly. The Nationals had to return the 2010 Rule 5 pick, and it looks like the Mets are better for it.


Player of the Month
Jefry Marte (.358/.421/.478) edges out Matt den Dekker (.290/.352/.516) on the basis of fewer strikeouts (9 to 25) at a younger age.

Pitcher of the Month
Elvin Ramirez did not give up a run and struck out 12.7 batters/9 IP. Wheeler, Gorski and McHugh all would have been fine selections, but all will improve when their walk rates drop.

AA Thursday: Cats Claw Peavey; Matt den Dekker Goes Big Fly

AA: New Hampshire Fisher Cats (TOR) 16, @ Binghamton Mets 3

Oh, ouch, Greg Peavey (pictured): 2.1 IP, 12 H, 11 R, 9 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 2 HR. After two scoreless starts to start the season, Peavey has given up 16 runs on 20 hits and 3 BB in his last 6 IP.  

On a happier note, CF Matt den Dekker was 3-for-5 with a homer, his third of the 2012. In 19 games, the 24-year old is hitting .308/.360/.538 and is tied for the Eastern League lead in extra-base hits (11) and is leading the league in total bases (42).

2B-SS Josh Rodriguez was 2-for-5 to extend his personal hitting streak to nine straight games. The 27-year old is hitting .377/.479/.525 in his fifth time through the EL.