Once again Robert Brender contributes this from Vegas.
Poor starting pitching put the Las Vegas 51s in a hole they couldn’t dig out of, falling for the 2nd straight night to the Colorado Springs Sky Sox 11-6 in front of 5,848 at Cashman Field.
Tonight, Darin Gorski (0-1) was the victim of the hot-hitting Sox, surrendering five runs (all earned) in just two innings, collecting the loss. Gorski had difficulty with command, walking four in his brief outing and throwing 72 pitches, 38 for strikes (53%).
Gorski’s final line: 2 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 0 K. Woof.
As they did Friday night, the Sky Sox (6-3) sent all nine batters to the plate in the opening inning, scoring three times. Back to back doubles from Nolan Arenado and Ryan Wheeler started a run of five consecutive batters to reach in the frame. Nine of the Sky Sox 17 hits went for extra bases.
The Las Vegas bats made a charge in the middle innings, scoring all six runs between the 3rd and 5th. Travis d”Arnaud and Wilmer Flores had two doubles each in the game. d’Arnaud crushed a pair of line drives off the 20’ high wall in left field, coming just a few feet shy of homeruns each time. He drove in two runs on the night and now has six runs batted in this season.
Josh Satin continued his red-hot start, going 2 for 3 with 3 RBI, including a long 2-run homerun in the 5th inning off Colorado Springs starter Drew Pomeranz. Satin has now hit safely in nine of 10 games this season and has a club leading 4 long-balls to go with 12 RBI.
Pomeranz (1-0) was the benefactor of great run support, collecting the win despite allowing six runs (all earned) in five innings.
Trailing 8-6 in the bottom of the 7th inning, the 51s (5-5) loaded the bases with nobody out against Sky Sox reliever Manuel Corpas. However, two shallow fly balls from Zach Lutz and pinch hitter Jamie Hoffmann followed by a Reese Havens strike out got Corpas out of the jam without surrendering a run. The 51s would not get any closer as Colorado Springs tacked on a single run in the 6th and three more in the 8th.
Six Las Vegas pitchers combined to allow 11 runs and 17 hits, the highest total for a 51s opponent in each category this season. Every starting position player for both teams reached base at least once.
This continues our unsexy section of the Top 41 – the MLB Spare Parts category. These guys could carve out big league roles, but they will never be average (or above) Major League regulars.
#21 – 1B/3B Zach Lutz
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 220 lbs
Acquired: 5th rd ’07 (Alvernia College)
Born: 6/3/86 (Reading, PA)
2012 Rank: 28 | Stats
Why Ranked Here: As we’ve written in this space every year for going on three years running “when he’s healthy, Lutz can really hit. But he’s often not healthy.” Lutz has some strength in his swing and he’s disciplined. He’s not really a bat speed guy, and will strike out more in the big leagues against the world’s best fastballs to the point where it should really take a bit out of his batting average. Still, he could be a useful bench bat with a little pop.
The issue for Lutz is that he provides very little value when he’s not in the batter’s box. He’s a below average runner, who plays a below average third base. He’s played a grand total of 38 games at first base in his minor league career so he is far from natural there.
Lutz has never played the outfield as a professional and would likely be a liability defensively were he to play leftfield.
2012: A standard Lutz season: an injury (this time a broken hammate bone), a nice offensive line in AAA and lookee here, a MLB debut.
Dr. Pangloss Says: A useful bench piece. His minor league numbers are better than “pinch-hitter extraordinaire” Willie Harris‘s were.
Debbie Downer Says: Teams often won’t/can’t carry a 1B/3B righty bench bat in the era of 12 and 13-man pitching staffs.
Projected 2013 Start: AAA Las Vegas (where he should be up big numbers)
MLB Arrival: He’ll be back in 2013.
#22 – LHP Darin Gorski
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 210 lbs
Acquired: 7th rd ’09 (Kutztown U)
Born: 10/6/87 (Mt. Joy, Pa)
2012 Rank: 13 | Stats
Why Ranked Here: Gorski drops nine spots because he was an average pitcher in AA. In a League that allowed 4.3 runs per game, Gorski allowed 4.4. He works with a below average fastball. When I saw him early in spring training he was mostly 86-88. Even if that goes to 87-89, as the weather warms, it will not change the math of the pitcher/batter confrontation very much.
As I wrote earlier this spring: “His changeup at 79 mph remains his best weapon. He has good armspeed with the offering and a little sink.”
Gorski’s breaking ball is now a curveball at about 74 mph. It’s shorter and tighter than when he was in a-ball, which is a good thing. Even so, it’s clearly his third pitch. If he is to succeed, it’s as a fastball/changeup southpaw. I do not think the breaking ball is good enough yet that it makes sense to put Gorski in the pen. Besides, the Mets might need a few extra starting pitchers along the way and Gorski is depth in that valuable category.
2012: How close to Eastern League average was Gorski? The EL as a whole fanned 7.3 batter per nine, and walked 3.3. Gorski: 7.6 and 3.2 respectively.
Dr. Pangloss Says: Backend starter
Debbie Downer Says: Up and down, AAA journeyman.
Projected 2013 Start: AAA Las Vegas.
#23 – OF Matt den Dekker
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 205 lbs
Acquired: 5th rd 2010 (Florida)
Born: 8/10/87 (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)
2012 Rank: 18 | Stats
Why Ranked Here: Den Dekker slips five spots from a year ago because he “hit” .220/.256/.373 with strikeouts in 28% of his plate appearances in AAA in the second half of 2012 in the season in which he turned 25. That’s not going to play in AAA and it certainly means he is not ready to play in the big leagues. Now, he will miss the first half of 2013 with a broken wrist.
Den Dekker can really go get it in centerfield. There’s little question about that. He’s not a burner, but he gets excellent jumps, covers ground well, and is fearless. His arm is below average, but plays in center.
At the plate, lefties and good breaking balls give him fits.
2012: Den Dekker crushed AA Eastern League pitching, but more experienced AAA pitchers ate him up.
Dr. Pangloss Says: A 4th outfielder.
Debbie Downer Says: A AAA veteran.
Projected 2013 Start: Las Vegas (late)
MLB Arrival: 2013 (maybe)
Darin Gorski had a rough Wednesday afternoon. He he had trouble throwing strikes. I counted 48 pitches, of which 25 were balls. (I might have missed a pitch or two – Adam Rubin had him at 49 pitches.) Either way, Gorski’s strike percentage was under 50%. By my count, he threw first-pitch strikes to just five of the 12 hitters he faced.
Gorski acknowledged his location was not sharp and it was a problem: “It was just a matter of some close misses and not really having the fastball command that I wanted, but it’s still early so it’s something to work on,” he said after the game. As for why he struggled, “Maybe [I was] trying to be bit too fine. Could be a little bit of the approach and being able to find that command.”
His two part cure: mechanically “keep everything smooth and consistent and go from there” and in approach, be “aggressive in the zone.”
Gorski’s fastball was anywhere from 85-90 on the Tradition Field stadium radar gun which today matched the scouts’ guns behind home plate exactly. He touched 90 once, but mostly worked at 86-88 mph.
His changeup at 79 mph remains his best weapon. He has good armspeed with the offering and a little sink. I have notes on at least eight changups, and I think that he threw a few more, giving changeup usage of at least 16% (and I think closer to 20%). By the standards of Major League pitchers, that would put him in the most changeup reliant category were he to maintain that rate all year. In fact, the list of the top eight guys who threw the most changups in 2012 includes a whole bunch of lefties who share Gorski’s profile with a fastball around 88 mph (more or less): Mark Buehrle (less – 85 mph), Jason Vargas, Chris Capuano, Cole Hamels (more – 91 mph) and Tommy Milone. Again, lefties who do not light up radar guns can carve out careers by keeping batters honest with their changeups and fastball command.
Gorski used his changeup early in counts and often in classic hitter’s counts like 1-0 and 2-1 when other pitchers would throw their fastball. This usage was very conscious, as Gorski said of his changeup, “It’s how I keep guys off the fastball. I’m trying to make that pitch work for me in certain counts.”
That preceding list of lefties though, all feature above average Major League control. Their career walk rates: Beuhrle (5.4%), Vargas (7.2%) -and 6.7% and below in each of the last four years – Capuano (7.4%), Hamels (6.1%) and Milone (4.4%). Gorski last year at AA: 8.5%.
Gorski showed a short curveball at 74. He’s tightened up the offering in the last few years, and I liked it better than the sweepier slider he used to throw. He did not use it very much, focusing on his fastball/changeup combo.
So, a lefty like Gorski, can have success working off a fastball averaging 88 mph, needs 1. to throw his changeup a lot, and 2. keep runners off the base paths via above average walk rates. Wednesday, when he walked three batters, and did not strike out a single one, in two plus innings he did one of the two.
Of course, this outing took place on February 27 in a game that did not matter. Gorski, who spent all of 2012 at AA, is not really pitching to make the big league team. Rather, in addition to preparing for his AAA season, he’s learning what does, and does not work against Major League caliber hitter. Hint: it helps to throw strikes.
Slightly under the radar, LHP Darin Gorski has put together a solid season for the AA Binghamton Mets.
Overall, he is 9-7 with a 3.66 ERA (where league average is 3.90) with a 2.4 K/BB ratio (where 2.2 is league average).
In the first half, he had a 3.89 ERA with a 1.9 K/BB ratio (66 K/34 BB) in 88 innings. In eight starts after the All-Star Break, he trimmed his ERA to 3.26 while increasing his K/BB to 3.3 (50 K/15 BB) in 49.2 innings. Notably, he has improved on both sides of that key ratio: his strikeout rate has risen, from 18% in the first half to 24% in the second half, while his walk rate has fallen from 9% in the first half to 7% in the second half.
Gorski told Lynn Worthy of the Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin:
“Some of my mistakes in the middle of the year had to do with not being able to find the strike zone, falling behind guys, walking guys, stuff like that,” Gorski said. “I put myself in a hole. Recently, I’ve been more around the strike zone. I make mistakes inside the strike zone sometimes, but for the most part you stay as close as you can to the zone and try to keep the ball down. That’s the biggest thing.”
At ESPNNY, Gorski told Adam Rubin:
“I feel now, as opposed to the start of the year, I’m more polished and I have a better understanding what I’m trying to do with my pitch set and what I like to do when I go out there,” Gorski said. “I definitely feel a lot more comfortable than at the start of the year, so I take that as a positive.”
Home runs remain Gorski’s major statistical red flag. He’s allowed 19 HR in 137.2 innings this year (1.2 HR/9; 3%).
Gorski has clearly done enough to earn a promotion to AAA Buffalo for the 2013 season. From there, it might be a a short hop into the back end of a big league rotation.
AAA: @ Louisville Bats (CIN) 3, Buffalo Bisons 1
Lucas Duda was 1-for-4 and played right for the second straight night as a member of the Bisons.
CF Matt den Dekker: 0-for-4 with a strikeout to slip to .201/.229/.414 in 41 games in AAA with 56 strikeouts in 41 games.
LHP Rob Carson threw two innings in his AAA debut: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K.
AA: @ Binghamton Mets 2, Portland Sea Dogs 1 (7 innings)
@ Binghamton Mets 3, Portland Sea Dogs 1 (7 innings)
Yeah, when the two starting pitchers combine to allow one run over 12 innings, that will make a sweep easier.
Game 1, Cory Mazzoni: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
Game 2, Darin Goski (pictured): 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K
Despite a 3.21 ERA, Mazzoni has fanned just 5.8 batters per nine IP (27 K/42) in AA. I don’t see an MLB starter here. Maybe a bullpen arm.
Frank Francisco handled the save in game one, yielding one hit in his first save in AA.
Gorski’s key ratios in 104 innings in AA: 7.1 K/9, a 3.5 BB/9 and a 1.2 HR/9 on the way to a 3.98 ERA.
Meanwhile CF Juan Lagares is not just hitting, he’s starting to hit for power: a triple in game one, and a double in game two to take him to .327/.342/.477 in 25 games in July and .282/.331/.387 in 101 games for the year.
AAA: @ Scranton WB Yankees 8, Buffalo Bisons 7 (10 innings)
This was a classic AAA affair in which the prospects flopped early while the old men decided it late when Jack Cust homered off Edgar Ramirez in the 10th.
The Bisons got to Dellin Betances for four runs on four walks in two innings, but Jeurys Familia gave the runs right back. His line: 2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 1 K. He was throwing hard, but that’s not enough. For example, in the first inning, with two aboard, he threw Cust two straight fastballs, the second of which was right over the middle, and Cust smacked it for a two-run single. Then, he really started using his curveball, throwing it four times against the subsequent two hitters to help produce a strikeout looking and a groundball out.
It’s frustrating to watch Familia these days. The fastball has plus velo and the curveball can be a hammer. However, he stayed nearly exclusively with his fastball to the first four hitters of the game while allowing two runs. He really had trouble throwing his heater where he wanted it. The curveball was effective for him, but he he just needs to throw it more. I did not see a single changeup in the first inning.
In other pitching news, Pedro Beato hung a curveball that turned into a game-tying two run homer in the 7th.
One of the runs Beato allowed was charged to Josh Edgin, who was also charged with an unearned run in his 1.2 innings.
AA: New Hampshire Fisher Cats (TOR) 9, @ Binghamton Mets 3
Darin Gorski gave up a couple of home runs in this one, every reliever allowed at least one run to score, and the B-Mets just could not match the Cats’ output.
Gorski: 4.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 2 HR as his ERA rose to 4.63. Gorski will be looking forward to June. In four appearances in May, he’s allowed five homers and 24 hits, and 10 walks in 19 innings for a 7.58 ERA.
AA: @ New Hampshire Fisher Cats 9, Binghamton Mets 0
The ‘Cats roughed up Darin Gorski on Sunday: 4 IP, 10 H, 9 R, 8 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 WP. He pitched to four batters in the fifth inning, but could not retire any of them.
After the game, he tweeted:
After a slow start to the year, RF Juan Lagares is starting to get going. The 23-year old was 2-for-4 with a double, his sixth, to push his season line to .277/.344/.370 on the heels of a six-game hitting streak.
Another 0-for-4 for 2B Reese Havens dropped him to .063 (2-for-32) in his last nine games and .167/.271/.286 overall in just 12 games so far.
CF Matt den Dekker (.291/.359/.500) was 1-4 to extend his hitting streak to eight straight games and stole a base. He’s now 5-for-11 stealing bases this year.
AA: @ Akron Aeros (CLE) 3, Binghamton Mets 2
Ok, so the key play or plays in this one occurred in a 1-1 game in the bottom of the eighth. So, with runners at first and second, lets turn it over to the B-Mets game recap:
“Aeros second baseman Ryan Rohlinger sent a chopper to Jefry Marte at third. The ball took an awkward hop, bounced past Marte and rolled into left field, allowing Chun Chen to score from second.
Left fielder Pedro Zapata missed the cutoff man with his throw to home, enticing pinch-runner Ben Copeland to try for third. Centeno’s throw to the bag was on time, but Marte muffed it, allowing the ball to roll into left again. Copeland scampered home, giving Akron a two-run lead.”
Hmm. What else happened Monday?
Darin Gorski (pictured): 6 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 K. It does not seem like he had his good command, although he held the Aeros in check as he threw 60% of his pitches (55 of 92) for strikes.
2B Reese Havens was 0-for-2 with two walks and two strikeouts in his second game in 2012.
RF Juan Lagares was 2-for-3 with a walk to finish April at .256/.348/.359 with five extra-base hits, 11 walks and 14 strikeouts in 22 games. Lagares, even while hitting a total of .349/.383/.500 between advanced-A and and double-A began slowly a year ago when he hit .262/.314/.369 in 18 games with four extra-base hits and five walks and seven strikeouts. And Lagares’ 11 walks in April 2012, were not just more than in any single month in 2011, but set a new career-high.
CF Matt den Dekker was 1-for-4 with a strikeout, his 25 in 23 games in April. More strangely, he was caught stealing and is now just 2-for-7 stealing bases in 2012.
AAA: Rochester @ Buffalo – ppd by rain
The Bisons and Red Wings were rained out they’ll make it up on the Red Wings’ next visit to Buffalo, August 25-28.
Wait? Rochester does not visit Buffalo again, a whopping 80 minutes away from each other, until the end of August? Stay hot, minor league schedule makers.
AA: @ Binghamton Mets 6, Portland Sea Dogs (BOS) 0
Darin Gorski was commanding again: 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 HBP, 4 K. He threw 62% of his pitches (54 of 87) for strikes. That’s two out of three starts in which he’s thrown six shutout innings. His three-start line: 16 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 7 BB, 16 K, 1.13 ERA. Sure, you want to point out that he’s walking 3.9 batters per nine? Fair. He’s also not allowing hits. The Eastern League is hitting just .120 against him. There’s a tradeoff, he could throw more strikes and give up a few more hits and walk fewer batters.
Also, Elvin Ramirez keeps racking up the strikeouts out of the B-Mets’ pen. Thursday, he fanned four and walked one in two innings of action while throwing a wild pitch. Ramirez has now struck out 14 of the 30 batters he’s faced at double-A this year. That’s… good.
3B Jefry Marte returned after missing three days with a tight hamstring and extended his hitting streak to nine straight. Still just 20, he’s hitting .379/.438/.517 in his first nine games in Binghamton. Leave the batting average aside over nine games: he has three walks and just four strikeouts. That’s good stuff.
Entering Wednesday’s game, Matt den Dekker was hitting .318/.375/.500. After going 0-for-8 with two strikeouts since, he’s down to .269/.333/.423. Small sample sizes are still fun, y’all.
Gorski photo courtesy Michael Baron.
AAA: Lehigh Valley IronPigs (PHI) 8, Buffalo Bisons 4
There might or might not have been a blown call on a force play at the plate that opened up into a five-run eighth inning for Lehigh that broke a 2-2 tie. The runs were charged to Jack Egbert who finished with this ugly line: 1 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K.
I’m more interested in CF Jordany Valdespin (.269/.319/.373) who was 3-for-4 with a homer, his second, and a walk, his fifth. He’s now drawn more walks in 15 games of 2012, than he did in 27 games at AAA in 2011. His 2012 walk rate thus far is 6.9%, nearly double his 2012 AAA rate of 3.5%. Small numbers and all, but progress in small numbers nonetheless.
2B Bobby Scales was 2-for-4. He’s reached base at least twice in every single game he’s started. At 34 years old, it’s highly unlikely he’ll ever help the Mets, but he’s in the midst of a remarkable two-week run for Buffalo.
Jeff Paternostro at Amazin’ Avenue fills out his thoughts on the B-Mets who impressed him on a freezing opening weekend. Hint: Zack Wheeler, Darin Gorski and Jefry Marte.