- Friday night, Mets’ RHP Domingo Tapia burned his left (non-throwing hand) while cooking and was placed on the disabled list. Tapia was off to a nice start for advanced-A St. Lucie. In seven starts, he had a 2.23 ERA. His strikeout (22.5%) and walk rates (10.4%) were unremarkable, but he was not giving up hits – just 20 in 32.1 innings. It’s hard to hit a mid-upper 90s power sinker. Indeed, last week, Mets VP of Player Development and Amateur Scouting Paul dePodesta told Baseball America that Tapia was touching 100 mph. I saw 99 mph from him last year and I heard rumors of triple digits. That’s fun and all, but as dePodesta pointed out, it’s better at 96 with more sink.
I’m not very concerned about Tapia’s hand, mostly because it’s his non-throwing hand. Also, in the long run, cooking for himself and his teammates is, burns aside, certainly healthier than eating out every night.
- Lynn Worthy reports that AA RHP Tyler Pill has been shut down for three weeks with a Bennett lesion in his right shoulder. Per Worthy, “Bennet lesion is a buildup or mineralization in a ligament located in the back of the shoulder capsule.” Not all Bennett lesions are painful. One study found 22% of asymptomatic pitchers had Bennett Lesions, and pain is associated with a bony spur. This falls into the category of impingement in the area around the posterior rotator cuff which are not good words for pitchers. This might be nothing and some minor irritation that goes away, but I suspect that Pill will be out for a significant length of time. Even after a three-week shutdown, he’d need a few weeks in the throwing program to build his arm strength back up so he’s looking at 5-6 weeks minimum.
- CF Brandon Nimmo, who was placed on the Savannah disabled list retroactive to May 7 with a hand bruise, took full batting practice over the weekend. He was hitting wearing physio tape underneath a wrist wrap and reported that his hand/wrist felt much, much improved versus a week ago.
There were some twitterers who wanted to be critical for the Mets’ handling of Nimmo in this case, and I just don’t see it. His hand started bothering him around April 20, he tried to play through it for a week, found it affecting his swing because he didn’t trust his hands, and was rolling over balls and couldn’t reach the outside pitch with authority. He then saw a doctor., went through the basic tests, determined nothing was broken, rested, and is now progressing back to game action. Hand injuries have a habit of sapping a player’s bat control and strength, so I just hope he’s given himself enough time to heal.
A+: @ St. Lucie Mets 1, Daytona Cubs 0
Domingo Tapia: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 4 K. In 32.1 innings this year, the big 21-year-old has allowed just 20 hits, while walking 13 and fanning 28.
St. Lucie manager Ryan Ellis told MiLB.com that Tapia’s breaking ball, which was formerly sliderish has improved and mutated:
“It’s more of a curveball and it’s come along nicely. He’s starting to trust it a lot more. Even when he’s behind in the count, he’s comfortable enough to mix it in. He’s found control enough with it where he feels comfortable throwing it.”
I’d be pleasantly surprised if Tapia can throw a true curve from his low release. Any breaking ball progress to complement his power sinker and hard changeup is a good thing though.
Frank Francisco threw a scoreless inning of relief behind Tapia and fanned two.
A: Savannah Sand Gnats @ Hickory Crawdads – ppd by Rain
They’ll play two today.
A: Savannah Sand Gnats 6, @ Lakewood Blue Claws (PHI) 4
SS Philip Evans (pictured) had one at-bat on Saturday and popped out to first base. He was then removed from the game by Gnats’ manager Luis Rojas because he did not run out the play. “It’s organizational policy,” Rojas explained after the game. “We talked about it, and he [Evans] understands.” The 20-year-old Evans has had a tough start to the year, hitting .189/.254/.226 through 15 games with seven errors.
1B Jayce Boyd: 3-for-4, 1 2B, BB, 4 RBI. The 22-year-old is hitting .387/.473/.532 with 10 walks against nine strikeouts (!) in his 16 games with the Gnats.
CF Brandon Nimmo: 1-for-3, 3B, 2 BB, 1 K. It was the second game in a row with a triple for Nimmo, who now has more triples (3) than doubles (1) to go along with eight walks and 13 strikeouts in 16 games for a ridiculous .444/.520/.603 line. It’s early and all, but he’s off to a 2-for-9 start (.222) against lefties.
DH Kevin Plawecki: 1-for-4, 2B. The double was his ninth in his last 10 games to move him into a tie for the league lead with nine doubles and a .373/.441/.678 line overall in 15 games.
Rainy Lara: 5.1 IP, 11 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HR
A+: @ St. Lucie Mets 6, Fort Myers Miracle (MIN) 5
Frank Francisco threw an inning of scoreless relief in the eighth inning, in his second outing with St. Lucie.
Domingo Tapia: 7 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K. The 21-year old has bounced back nicely from his 0.2 outing on April 11 in which he walked four batters. In his last two starts, he’s fanned 14 and walked two, while allowing just two earned runs in his 13 innings of work.
SS Matt Reynolds: 3-for-4, RBI, SB. In 16 games, he’s up to .297/.357/.406.
2B TJ Rivera: 2-for-4, 2 2B.
1B Aderlin Rodriguez: 0-for-4, K. Look, guys are allowed to take an -for. However, in 15 games to start the year, Rodriguez has now fanned 14 times without walking once for a .150/.159/.333 line. Also he played first base again. His days at third are numbered, clearly.
A: Savannah Sand Gnats 8, @ Greensboro Grasshoppers (MIA) 5
CF Brandon Nimmo (pictured) as 3-for-5 with a homer, his first of 2013 and five RBI, a new season-high by a Gnat. After 11 games, the 20-year-old is hitting .429/.510/.571 with three extra-base hits, five walks and eight strikeouts. I am very pleasantly surprised. He’s young for the league and for the season’s first week and a half, been the circuit’s best hitter.
1B Jayce Boyd added a 2-for-5 night with a double, his fifth. The 22-year old is hitting a robust .372/.460/.558 in his 11 games.
Eight of the nine Gnats’ starters had hits in this one.
The ‘Hoppers touched starter Logan Taylor for three runs on eight hits in four innings. Reliever Matt Koch struck out six and did not walk a batter in his four innings of relief. That’s the good news. The bad: six hits and two homers. He touched 95 in his last outing, but his command was rough.
A+: @ St. Lucie Mets 6, Charlotte Stone Crabs (TB) 3
St. Lucie scored six times in the sixth inning, punctuated by a two run homer from LF Dustin Lawley to make a winner of Domingo Tapia. Tapia, in his third start of the year, struck out eight and walked one in six innings while allowing three runs, two earned on five hits, including a homer. This is a pretty good bounce-back from his last start in which he did not finish the first inning while walking four.
A+: @ Palm Beach Cardinals 7, St. Lucie Mets 4
Domingo Tapia, yuck: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 1 K, 2 WP. Yuck.
The four walks tied the 21-year old Tapia’s 2012 season-high. He had a really short outing in April ’12 on the road in West Virginia, when the Power smacked every fastball he tossed up for eight hits and eight runs in 1.1 innings. This feels different thanks to the walks and wild pitches.
A: Savannah @ Rome
The Gnats and Braves were postponed by rain in north georgia.
#10 – RHP Domingo Tapia
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 190 lbs
Acquired: NDFA 12/16/09
Born: 12/16/91 (Santo Domingo, DR)
2012 Rank: 14 | Stats
Why Ranked Here: Domingo Tapia is big with a seemingly effortless motion that might well generate the best fastball in the Mets’ system. If it’s not the best, it’s top three. He’s regularly 95-96 with the offering and will spark 98 and 99 on the radar gun. It’s a two-seamer with sink and run in to righties, and away to lefties. In 2012, he worked to add a four-seamer to his arsenal to give him something to throw on the glove side of the plate.
His changeup is 88-90 with pretty good arm action. When it’s good, it has a little bit of dive. The movement on the pitch is inconsistent, sometimes it cuts if he does not finish well. Of course, at 88-90, over the middle of the plate, that’s a tempting meatball for opponents. Sometimes it feels like Tapia does opponents a favor when he throws a changeup.
Tapia, with a little more experience could probably be a solid reliever mostly with his fastballs and changeup.
He might need to be because he did not really improve his slider in a significant way over the course of the 2012 season. Tapia throws out of a very low arm slot (pictured at right) and had trouble getting on top of the ball and finding a good release point. There were nights at the end of the year where he barely tried to throw the pitch. St. Lucie Pitching Coach Phil Regan has a reputation within in the system for his mechanical acumen with pitchers, so perhaps he can figure out a slider for Tapia. If Tapia cannot develop a slider, he’s headed to the bullpen.
2012: He was good, he was healthy, but there is little statistical evidence from Tapia of major improvements over the course of the 2012 season.
Dr. Pangloss Says: An elite closer
Debbie Downer Says: A less elite reliever against whom MLB batters sit on the heat until his shoulder gives up.
Projected 2013 Start: Advanced-A St. Lucie
MLB Arrival: 2016
#11 – C Kevin Plawecki
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 215 lbs
Acquired: 1st rd supplemental (Purdue)
Born: 2/26/91 (Carmel, IN)
2012 Rank: NA | Stats
Why Ranked Here: Mets VP of Amateur Scouting and Player Development Paul dePodesta explained Plawecki’s strengths in a March conversation : “This is a guy at a premium position who has a chance to contribute on both sides of the ball, offensively and defensively. …. We thought he was an outstanding receiver at Purdue. Really, really soft hands. Made it look easy back there.”
Offensively, dePodesta continued, Plawecki, “Also really controlled the zone. Good bat to ball ability. Felt like he was a guy who could hit for some average, but we also thought there was strength in there. He didn’t hit for a lot of power in college, but we thought that there was power in there. …. We were pleased that Plawecki went out and hit for a little bit of power in the New York Penn League while also playing really good defense.”
While Plawecki’s receiving earns plaudits, his arm is the weakest part of his defensive game. He will have to work hard to be crisp mechanically, and get some help from his pitchers to control opponents’ running game.
2012: Playing with metal bats at Purdue, Plawecki had 31 extra base hits, seven homers and a .219 Isolated slugging percentage in his junior year. Playing with wooden bats in Brooklyn, Plawecki had 15 extra-base hits but seven homers and a .134 isolated slugging percentage in 61 games. Also, he controlled the strike zone as Paul dePodesta talked about, earned 25 walks while striking out just 24 times.
Dr. Pangloss Says: Above-average catcher who plays in a few All-Star Games.
Debbie Downer Says: The power does not play at higher levels and he settles in as a lower tier starter/high-end back catcher.
Projected 2013 Start: Savannah. If he’s a Sand Gnat in August, something has gone wrong
MLB Arrival: Late 2015/Early 2016
#12 – RHP Jeurys Familia
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 230 lbs
Acquired: NDFA 7/13/07
Born: 10/10/89 (Santo Domingo, DR)
2012 Rank: #2 | Stats
Why Ranked Here: I thought the work Familia had done to clean up his delivery in 2011 was real, and his big fastball/slider combo gave him a chance to start. Whoops.
The good: He throws hard, regularly 93-96 mph. He throws his fastball a lot, and has trouble repeating his delivery, and thus his release point, and thus throwing good strikes with the pitch. His breaking pitch gets called a slider, but when it’s good, sometimes it looks like a tight curveball with depth. Other times, he pulls it, either wide of the strike zone or into the dirt. His changeup was just a non-factor. Watching him in 2012, I often just wanted him to throw his breaking ball more to keep batters honest and get them off his fastball.
Have a little patience with Familia, who could struggle initially in the big leagues. It wasn’t so long ago that Bobby Parnell was running double digit walk rates in AA (2008) and the big leagues (2009), and he’s turned out just fine.
2012: One small evidence of progress for Familia: his walk rate by month in AAA: Mar/April: 20.4%, May 10.9%, June 11.7%, July 8.8%, Aug/Sep: 8.0%. So that’s good. Then he reached the big leagues and walked 17% of the batters he faced (9 of 52). Yikes.
Dr. Pangloss Says: A good hard-throwing reliever and soon.
Debbie Downer Says: He never throws enough strikes to be a quality MLB reliever.
Projected 2013 Start: MLB
MLB Arrival: Now
Domingo Tapia is throwing for the Mets today against the Nationals in lovely Viera, FL. ESPN has the broadcast.
Tapia is a fun prospect. He’s huge, with a loose, easy arm that generates a plus-plus fastball. He was regularly 94-96 with plenty of 98 and 99 mph in 2012 with Savannah. It’s not straight either. He gets sink on the two-seamer and armside run if it’s up.
During the 2012 season, he started added a four-seamer (also in the mid-upper 90s) to work away to righties and in to lefties. Alongside Zack Wheeler’s heater, it was the best fastball in the system last year.
His primary off-speed pitch is a change-up at 88 ish mph. He throws it with good arm speed. At times he gets really good tumble on the pitch and it almost acts like a splitter or even a two-seamer if he turns it over. If it’s up however, it’s a fat (slow) meatball.
Tapia could probably survive, or even be very effective out of an MLB bullpen with his two fastballs, and more consistent action on his changeup. However, he’s rough around the edges – he has trouble holding runners at first and can be awkward fielding his position at times.
Tapia throws out a very low arm slot and struggled with his slider in 2012. I tried to capture the low arm slot standing behind him in spring training. In the frozen frame at right, you can see the arm is almost straight out to the side from his shoulder and his hand is not much higher. That’s really low. At times he would baby his slider, and it would be soft. If he picked his arm slot up to get on top of the pitch, it just looked very different out of his hand than his fastball. So, if you’re really looking for something out of Tapia today, enjoy the gas, but see if he can throw a slider for a strike.
Baseball America is back with their South Atlantic League Top 20 Prospects list, slotting RHP Michael Fulmer at #13 and RHP Domingo Tapia at #18.
Obviously, no RHP Rafael Montero, RHP Jacob deGrom or 3B Aderlin Rodriguez. Montero, I suspect will be on the Florida State League list, but I confess I am still fuzzy on BA’s eligibility requirements by league.
“He improved in every phase of the game this year,” Savannah manager Luis Rojas said. “His command got better, his secondary pitches got better and his sequences got better. He’s a smart kid with tools.”
Fulmer sit 93-95 and can touch 96 or 97 on a given night. His slider got much better, and he’s just 19. He’s definitely among the Mets’ better prospects.
Tapia had as much pure arm strength as anyone in the league. He repeatedly throws his fastball at 95-98 mph, working both sides of the plate and occasionally featuring good sink. Tapia worked diligently to improve the quality of his curveball and changeup, having more success with the latter.
I saw a lot of Tapia. By the second half of the season, he had almost stopped throwing his cuveball/slider in games. However, he had introduced a four-seamer to get in on lefties and stay away from righties. It too was nasty. I’m not sure four-seam and sinking two-seamer and changeup with sink (at 88-91) are enough to start. However, there were scouts who thought that his fastaball changeup combo were nearly enough to pitch in a big league bullpen almost immediately.
A+: @ Jupiter Hammerheads (MIA) 5, St. Lucie Mets 4 (7 innings)
@ Jupiter Hammerheads 4, St. Lucie Mets 2 (7 innings)
RF Cesar Puello (.257/.325/.424) was 1-for-3 with a homer in game one. He played rightfield in both games, while Darrell Ceciliani roamed in center in game one and Alonzo Harris did the same in game two.
LF Cory Vaughn (pictured) was 2-for-3 with a double (his 22nd), a homer (his 23rd) and a stolen base, (his 21st) in game one and doubled and walked in game two. Vaughn is tied for the FSL homerun lead with Marlins OF Marzel Ozuna, who won game one with a walkoff off Adam Kolarek in the bottom of the seventh. Ozuna might be a better prospect simply because as a 21-year old who won’t turn 22 until November, he’s a year and a half younger than Vaughn, who turned 23 this year. After a .222/.330/.430 line in 61 games in the first half, Vaughn is up to .269/.382/.510 in 60 games in the second half as he’s cut his strikeouts from 60 to 50. He has a significant platoon split as he’s run a .922 OPS versus lefties and a .773 OPS versus right-handed pitching. Before you get excited about the next Scott Hairston, remember that he plays center and Vaughn doesn’t.
With a couple walks in game one, and two hits and a walk in game two, “SS” Danny Muno is up to .289/.390/.429 in 76 games. I got some questions on Twitter about him. I see him as a MLB utility guy. First of all, he’s 23 in advanced-A and was suspended 50 games this year for testing positive for an anabolic steroid metabolite. Second, he does not have the range for short everyday.
RHP Erik Goeddel was ok in game one: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K.
A: @ Asheville Tourists (COL) 6, Savannah Sand Gnats 5
Domingo Tapia shutout a good Asheville lineup through five innings, but was touched for five runs in the sixth and seventh innings combined. His line: 6.1 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, 1 HR. Want something positive? Think nine strikeouts and no walks.
A+: Jupiter Hammerheads (MIA) 7, @ St. Lucie Mets 5
Darrell Ceciliani, who has been out since June 27 with a strained hamstring, returned as the DH and was 3-for-4 with a strikeout. He’s played a whopping 15 games this season in a season essentially lost to his hamstrings. When he’s played, he’s hit: 18-for-57 (.316/.375/.474). The issue is that he has barely played and will probably have to repeat St. Lucie to begin 2013.
RF Cesar Puello was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. In 12 games in August, the 21-year old hit .293/.383/.488 with six extra-base hits (good) and 1 walk against 13 strikeouts (alarming). Again, note that he’s playing right, while Alonzo Harris plays center. That’s interesting.
C Blake Forsythe was 2-for-3 with a triple and a homer. The double was his 16th and the homer his 8th as part of a .262/.361/.427 line in 80 games. Scouts are still at least a little intrigued by the 23-year old’s size and strength.
RHP Erik Goeddel followed up seven shutout innings in his last start with a clunker variety: 4.2 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K. He’s now allowed 103 hits in 96 innings while working to a 3.75 ERA in an FSL where the league-average is 3.88.
A: Asheville Tourists 8, @ Savannah Sand Gnats 7
The Gnats had a 5-0 lead after two innings and a 6-5 lead after three but could not hold it in a mess of a game that featured: 15 runs, 30 hits, 37 AB combined with RISP, a disputed inside the park HR call, two Gnats thrown out at home plate in the third inning, and all in a brisk 3 hours and 42 minutes.
Before we get to the game, a pair of minor injury updates.
- CF Gilbert Gomez returned to the lineup for the first time in a week. He had been out with a bruised hand sustained when he took a throw off the palm sliding to break up a double play.
- SS Matt Reynolds, the 2012 second round pick, missed his second straight game with a strained groin. The timing is poor for the 21-year old who had just started to hit: .333/.412/.500 in 16 games in August.
Domingo Tapia: 4 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 5K, 1 HR.
The homerun was the first he had allowed in 102.1 innings this year. It came on an inside-the-parker on a ball that should have been a double pulled on the ground down the leftfield line into the corner. However, the ball lodged itself under the bench in the Asheville bullpen. The rule is that the ball stays in play unless it is stuck. Pron threw up his hands to ask the umps to stop play. 1B ump Mike Patterson did the same. The Asheville runners kept running and both scored. Pron, seeing the runners continue, kept digging under the bench, and eventually found the ball and threw it very late home. The key to the ruling is that the ump put his hands up during the play, to signal dead ball (and double) but that allowed the runners to continue running. It was an awful interpretation of a bad rule.
Anyway, as for the 20-year old Tapia, who gave up a season-high 10 hits. He looked untouchable in the first. He lost a little location in the Tourists five-run third. Many of the balls were hit hard, and a whole bunch of grounders some snuck through the Gnats infield including replacement SS Ismael Tijerina. However, this is what happens when you try to attack a good lineup with fastballs and no breaking ball. As hard as he throws and with his changeup, location can get him through the South Atlantic League.
Someone asked me on Twitter whether, with one start remaining, the Mets should shut Tapia down. Unless he’s hurt, the answer is “no.” This is part of what development is about: learning to pitch deep into seasons. He threw 56 innings last year, and is up to 102.1 this year with just 85 hits allowed.