I was traveling over the weekend, and largely apart from Mets Minor League box scores. It was interesting. I missed them a little. Anyway, since I have no interest in going play-by-play through the weekend, I figured it was a good time to take a slightly larger picture look at what’s going on at each affiliate.
We’ll start at the bottom of the full-season level in Savannah.
Brandon Nimmo has not played since April 29 with a “hand bruise” on his left hand. The Mets officially placed him on the disabled list on May 7, so he was eligible to return to action almost a week ago. He was taking batting practice 10 days ago. I should have more on his situation later.
No, seriously it’s time to talk promotions for a trio of 22-year olds.
C Kevin Plawecki is hitting .364/.444/.615 with 19 doubles, five homers and 14 walks against 20 strikeouts in 39 games. He’s #1 in the SAL in batting average, doubles and extra-base hits (25). He’s #2 in slugging (.615) behind only Tom Murphy, who plays his home games in Asheville, so Plawecki is tops among players who play in non-mountain environments, and it’s even more impressive considering that Historic Grayson Stadium is the least power-friendly ballpark in America. Plawecki is #3 in hits (52) and OBP (.444). He’s a fine receiver. His arm is the weakest part of his game, so he will need to be perfect mechanically on every throw and rely heavily on his pitchers’ keeping runners close. He has nothing left to prove to me in the South Atlantic League.
1B Jayce Boyd is hitting .356/.449/.510 with 14 doubles and three homers and 24 walks against 19 strikeouts in 39 games. He’s #2 in the SAL in average, OBP and hits (53) and fourth in doubles (14). First basemen usually need to hit the ball over the wall to profile at the position. For example, in 2012, among 1B who accumulated at least 1.0 fWAR, Yonder Alonso was the only one who hit fewer than 18 homeruns. Among those who reached average-or-better production, (2.0+ WAR) everyone except Adrian Gonzalez hit 20 homeruns. Boyd is limited to first, but there’s little else the sixth-rounder in 2012, who is walking more than he strikes out, can accomplish in the SAL.
RHP Rainy Lara is 4-1 with a 1.17 ERA and 47 strikeouts against 5(!) walks in 46 innings. He’s tops in the SAL in WHIP and is #2 in opponents’ walk rate. Lara throws 90-91 and can touch 92 or 93 on a given night. He’s kept the SAL off-balance with sliders, lots and lots of sliders. He has really nice feel for the pitch, although will need to tighten up its break. Lara, like Plawecki and Boyd, is 22.
Philip Evans: .176/.271/.235, 5 XBH, 18 BB, 26 K – 136 AB, 40 G
Stefan Sabol: .190/.290/.273, 6 XBH, 17 BB, 33 K – 121 AB, 35 G
I expected more from both hitters. Sabol turned 21 in February, while Evans will not turn 21 until after the regular season.
He’s the Gnats’ best arm. His fastball has been sitting 93-95 mph from the left side, and his range has been as wide as 92-97 mph. About once or twice a game, he’ll throw something that looks like a Major League slider. He just needs to throw the pitch more to get used to using it in games.
Often in A-Ball games whether a team wins of loses is less important than how a top prospect or two performs. Such was the case Thursday. Fans should skip past the St. Lucie bullpen allowing the winning run in the bottom of the ninth and focus instead on the performance of Noah Syndergaard.
Syndergaard’s a box score night: 6.2 IP, 7 H, 2R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 10 K. If the season-high 10 strikeouts and his first zero walk start doesn’t get you a little bit excited, we’re not coming from the same place. Syndergaard induced six ground ball outs and three fly outs.
Syndergaard’s last five starts: 32.2 IP, 27 H, 6 R 4 ER, 0 HR, 6 BB, 33 K. That’s an ERA of 1.10 with a K/Bb ratio of 5.5. Yeah that’s good.
Hansel Robles, not so good: 4 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 5 K.
The Met’s offense had little trouble against Brewers RHP Jed Bradley, (5 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 HR, 3 BB, 3 K) the Brewers first round pick at #15 overall in 2011. Bradley, the Georgia Tech product has walked 20 in 31.2 innings this year.
LF Dustin Lawley and RF Travis Taijeron each homered, but I’m more interested in the work of 3B Aderlin Rodriguez. The 21-year old was 2-for-5 with an RBI. He’s sitting at .333/.370/.667 with eight extra-base hits, three walks and three strikeouts in his last 10 games. Aderlin has the best raw power of any Mets farmhand. This is the best raw power in the Mets’ system.
The Dogs scored twice in the eighth against hard-throwing reliever Julian Hilario. Starter Luis Cessa outpitched his peripherals, yielding just three runs despite four walks and two homers: 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 2 HR.
1B Jayce Boyd and C Kevin Plawecki combined to go 0-for-9, although Plawecki walked. When that pair goes hitless, Savannah will have a tough time scoring enough to win.
The Gnats had more errors (4) than hits (3). That’s a tough, or nearly impossible, way to win a game.
LF Stefan Sabol (.175/.279/.227 – 28 games) provided the Gnats’ lone offensive highlight, going 1-for-2 with a walk and a long homer to left.
C Kevin Plawecki (.392/.449/.675 – 32 games) singled to extend his consecutive games on base streak to 23 games.
Matt Koch (1-2, 5.40) needed 86 pitches to get through four innings: 4 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K. He probably could have gone another inning into the game had the Gnats made the routine plays behind him. In his first few outings of the year, he threw nearly 100% fastballs. On Sunday, he used his slider more and showed a few changeups. The slider is short and has potential, although he was up with the pitch a little bit. Koch is rawer than I would expect from a third-round pick out of a four-year school (Louisville) but he has a good arm. His numbers are odd: in 23.1 innings so far, he has fanned 20 without issuing a walk; on the other hand, he’s given up 30 hits and a .300 opponents’ batting average.
Angel Cuan started in place of RHP Domingo Tapia who was placed on the Disabled List earlier in the day with a burn on his non-pitching hand.
About the only notably good performance came from DH Dustin Lawley who was 3-for-4 with a triple, a homer (his seventh) and two RBI. The 24-year-old Lawley’s hit .317/.356/.610 in his last 10 games to pull his season line to .238/.291/.485. There’s some power and strength in here, but he’s 24, in a-ball, and a left-fielder.
Every St. Lucie reliever either gave up a run of his own or an inherited runner as the Mets could not hold a 3-2 lead heading into the seventh inning. Oh well.
Rainy Lara: 7 IP, 5 H (all singles), 2 R, 1 ER, 0 HR, 0 BB, 8 K. He earned run came in the top of the first on two singles and a stolen base. The unearned run in the fifth was set up by a SS Philip Evans error. With a runner at first and one out, Lara induced a bouncer to short. The runner from first was going, but I still think had Evans fielded cleanly, the Gnats had a chance to turn two. At the very least, Evans could have taken the easy out at first. Instead, he overran the ball for his 11th error this year, and the Braves had runners at the corners with one out and used the following batter to squeeze to bring home the run.
Lara was mostly 90-91 with his fastball, although he got to 92 and 93. His changeup was 79-82 and his slider was 79-81. The slurvy slider is the key pitch for Lara. He throws it a lot, and because he can throw it for a strike, or bury it, he can dominate a-ballers.
The 22-year old is really close to pitching his way to advanced-A St. Lucie. His 1.42 ERA is fourth in the SAL and his 0.89 WHIP is third, including HBP – he has none – he has allowed the fewest baserunners by innings among qualified SAL starting pitchers. His K/BB ratio is 9.5 (38 K/4 BB) in 38 innings. His last three starts: 21.1 IP, 14 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 23 K. That’s a 0.42 ERA and a .187 opponents’ batting average. At 6’4″, there’s plenty of frame here. He could be a back-end starter option or middle reliever option in a few years.
Beck Wheelergave up a run that should not have happened in the eighth when a slow grounder trickled up the middle off of 2B Yucary De La Cruz’s glove into centerfield. It looked like either De La Cruz or Evans could have reached the ball, but both hesitated with the other closing behind the second base bag and neither could make the play. Wheeler was 92-93 with his fastball and 82-83 with his splitter. At 6’3″, with 21 strikeouts against 1 walk in 14.2 innings, if you’re looking for a deep bullpen sleeper in the Mets system Wheeler qualifies.
The most interesting thing here is that Robert Gsellman made the spot start for St. Lucie with RHP Hansel Robles placed on the disabled list. The Mets picked Gsellman in the 13th round in the 2011 draft out of high school in southern California. He made five starts and six relief appearances for Kingsport last year and was likely headed for Brooklyn this season. I suspect he got the nod tonight because he was in extended spring training and the most ready of any of the XST guys to help St. Lucie out now and that he will last in the rotation only until reinforcements arrive either from the DL (Michael Fulmer) or from Savannah.
At the time of his selection, Mets’ scouting director Chad McDonald said:
We went Budgell, Montgomery, Matthews and Gsellman. We’re talking about four high school pitchers with upside. Body, athleticism, arm action, delivery, all the foundation to think these guys are going to be starters in the big leagues.
For what it’s worth, this has been a rough spring for this quartet. Budgell “retired” this spring and Christian Montgomery was busted for a drug of abuse and suspended for 50 games.
So Monday Gsellman was fine: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K.
On the position side, SS Matt Reynoldswas 2-for-4 with a walk. The 22-year old is hitting .274/.343/.358 in 24 games.
25-year-old utility man Rylan Sandovallaunched grand slam as part of a 3-for-5 night with 5 RBI.
Pedro Felicianogot back on the hill for the Mets for the first time in 12 days and threw a scoreless inning. I suspect he could throw a scoreless inning in an advanced-A game at 75 mph, 84 mph let alone his normal upper 80s stuff.
The Power and DH Stetson Allie snapped the Gnats’ six-game winning streak by becoming the first team to score 10 runs against the Gnats in 2013.
Luis Cessawas hittable: 5.2 IP, 11 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 6 K. He was up in the zone a lot and gave up plenty of loud contact. He got a few strikeouts on fastballs up too, but he cannot pitch off elevated heat.
C Kevin Plawecki (.391/.455/.667 – 23 games) was 1-for-3 to extend his hitting streak to 10 straight games. “Pla” is leading the SAL in batting average and slugging and is second to teammate Jayce Boyd in OBP.
CF Brandon Nimmo was 0-for-4 with a strikeout, a pop-out and two groundouts on the right side. He’s now 1-for-27 with 11 strikeouts in his last seven games. I thought Nimmo’s issue was primarily a timing question, when he was getting beaten by fastballs, but Gnats’ hitting coach Joel Fuentes thought it had more to do with Nimmo’s back side collapsing that was monkeying with his swing path. The scouts this week were concerned that he’s taking too many fastballs and not putting together good at-bats. I think it’s all symptomatic of a bad week for a 20-year-old.
Power DH Stetson Allie, a failed pitching prospect blasted two homers and both were true blasts. The first, a three-run jack to left put West Virginia up 3-0 and then a very rare opposite-field drive to right made it 8-0. He was kinda all or nothing (he also fanned three times), but he’s tied for the SAL lead with eight homers as part of a .351/.409/.660 line and the power is very real.
RF Josh Bell, who the Pirates paid $5 million to sign two years ago put a pair of impressive swings on balls as well for doubles. As a left-handed batter, he drove a ball to the base of the wall in the left field corner that hopped over the wall and drilled on to the base of the wall in right-center that’s out of almost every other professional baseball stadium in America. The Gnats were able to beat Bell in on fastballs at times in the series, but he generated really impressive carry on both balls Monday.
I was impressed by RHP Tyler Glasnow (5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K). He’s really long (6’7″)and lean and Gnats’ hitters could not catch up to his fastball. I suspect it was low-to-mid 90s based on the swings the hitters were taking. The 19-year-old showed a well defined curveball late in the outing. He bounced a whole bunch of pitches early. He’s a project, but it’s a good project.
Noah Syndergaard was excellent: 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K. Apparently, it was the first time he’s thrown seven innings since high school. One of the major reasons that the Mets like their six-man rotations is that they can let their pitchers throw more pitches in any single game.
St. Lucie Pitching Coach Phil Regan told MiLB.com,
“Today, he really located his fastball really well over both sides of the plate. Kept the ball down and was pretty much in command of all his pitches,” St. Lucie pitching coach Phil Regan said. “He also had two strikeouts on curveballs and two on changeups, and these are the things we have been working on.
He’s throwing mid-90s gas too. His last two starts, both on the road: 13 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 11 K.
25-year-old Robbie Shields, who’s spending his fourth season with St. Lucie was 4-for-5 with two doubles.
The Gnats won their sixth straight thanks to a nice day from 3B Cole Frenzel. Frenzel, the Mets’ 6th round pick out of Arizona, either scored or drove home each of the three Gnats’ runs. With two down in the ninth, he saved the teams from extra-innings with a single to left that drove home C Kevin Plawecki, who had been hit by a pitch to start the game-winning rally.
Plawecki was also 1-for-4 with a double, his league-leading 12th.
Matt Koch, who had been piggy-backing behind Logan Taylor in the Gnats’ rotation got to make his first start of 2013 with Taylor on the sheld with a strained oblique. His line: 3.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K. Both runs he allowed were in the first. With one out and the bases clear, SS Philip Evans dropped a grounder that should have been the second out for his ninth error of the year in his 22nd game. The next three batters all singled to produce the runs. Koch still relies heavily on his fastball. He throws hard (usually 93ish) but his command is spotty. I’d like to see more of the slider and changeup before writing about them.
Evans has had a rough April (.182/.264/.221 with nine errors) in 22 games.
Like so many minor league Sunday afternoon games this one had a slow feel. Both teams had failed to turn a doubleplay that lead to a run for the opposite side. The Gnats trailed from the first through the eighth inning despite drawing eight walks. It was only a close game because Savannah was 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position. The Gnats lead the SAL in OBP and walks drawn and thus have been generating lots of baserunners. It was an unsurprising comeback against a walk-prone West Virginia pitching staff.
The play before Frenzel’s game-winning single was unusual too. With Plawecki at first, C Jeff Glenn, swung and broke his bat. Both the bat head and ball traveled toward WV 3B Eric Wood. Wood got a little confused (?) and froze, and the bat looked like it hit him in the shoulder. It was a glancing blow and he stayed in the game and did not even require his trainer’s assistance.
CF Brandon Nimmois in the midst of his first slump of the year. He was 0-for-4 with a HBP Sunday and is now 1-for-23 with 10 strikeouts in his last six games to slip to .337/.437/.453 overall in 22 games.
RHP Rainy Larawas marvelous over 7.1 shutout innings for the Gnats (7.1 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K). He threw first pitch strikes to 20 of 25 batters. Once ahead, he used his slider liberally – throwing it 24 times, 17 for strikes. As good as Lara was throwing to the outside corner, Frank Viola told me after the game that he still wants Lara to become more comfortable throwing inside to keep hitters. More from Frank and Lara here. He’s something as a prospect.
RHP Brett Mitchellhandled the final five outs for his second save. He struck out heralded Pirates’ prospect Josh Bell on a hammer of a curveball to end the game after tying him up inside with a fastball on the previous pitch.
The Gnats scored the game’s only run on a SS Philip Evans fielder’s choice groundout.
C Kevin Plawecki was 2-for-3. Plawecki’s been more aggressive the last few days: he saw six pitches in his three plate appearances. He’s up to .400/.457/.688 through 21 games good enough for #1 in the SAL in slugging, doubles and extra-base hits and #2 in average and OBP.
1B Jayce Boyd was 0-for-3 to snap his 11-game hitting streak.
CF Brandon Nimmo was 0-for-3 against competent LHP starter Orland Castro. The 20-year old grounded out to right side twice and struck out looking in the sixth on a pitch he appeared to think was inside. He’s 2-for-15 with zero walks or extra-base hits with six strikeouts vs. lefties so far.
LF Dustin Lawley was 2-for-3 with a pair of homers and a walk to sink the Marauders. The 24-year old is now hitting .184/.244/.421 in 20 games with St. Lucie. He’s a strong dude, and eight of his 14 hits have gone for extra bases. Still, this is a complicated swing that makes him unlikely to hit for enough average to provide value on the corners above AA.
After a lost 2012 (.194/.276/.270 in 76 games in Savannah) C Albert Cordero was 2-for-4 with a stolen base (! – he’s not fast) to push his little hitting streak to five games and his batting line to .294/.333/.382 in nine games. Cordero is now 23, but is a fine defensive catcher with a strong arm. He just needs to hit a little bit to stay employed playing baseball for a long time.
Soft-tossing Angel Cuan started: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K.
The two teams combined for five runs in the first four half-innings and then one in the subsequent 13 as both starters and bullpens found their groove.
The Gnats scored three runs in the first, helped out by a bases loaded walk, a pair of hit-by-pitches (one with the bases loaded) and a bases-loaded infield single from SS Philip Evans. C Kevin Plawecki was plunked, it looked like near his left wrist, received a visit from his trainer and manager, but he stayed in the game. I would not be surprised in the slightest, if he DHed or had the day off Saturday. He also singled up the middle. More importantly, he threw out two of three runners who attempted to steal against him (two with Steven Matz on the mound and one with Julian Hilario). Plawecki has now thrown out five of 18 attempted thieves (28%). The one he missed, was a throw a few feet to the right of second base, which is the direction he seems to miss when he misses. I’m not sure why mechanically.
1B Jayce Boyd was 1-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to 11 games – the longest active streak in the SAL and the longest by a Gnat this year. He’s hitting a modest .465 wit ha .538 OBP in his last 11 games with five doubles and a homer for a .651 slugging percentage. Overall, he’s leading the SAL in AVG (.420), OBP (.505) and hits (34), is third in doubles (9) and total bases (49) and is fourth in slugging (.605).
Steven Matz 4.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K. He was sharp in the first, third, and fourth innings, but lost control of the strike zone in the second inning, when he threw almost 40 pitches and which led to him getting pitch-counted out of the ball game right near 90 pitches. He induced five grounders. It looked like he was throwing his changeup a whole lot more than he did in his first start at home (a low bar considering I think he he threw three in that start on April 13). He threw a few really good ones with sink and good armspeed. He threw very few sliders, but clearly he was working on his changeup, his primary offspeed pitch a year ago in Kingsport.
In the second, he walked two and gave up two singles, and only got out of the inning thanks to an excellent running catch by LF Stefan Sabol. which is embedded below. Sabol caught the ball on the warning track at Historic Grayson Stadium just to the left of the manual scoreboard. That’s a three-run homerun in a lot of parks or at least a two-run double off the wall in others.
CF Brandon Nimmo, who was 1-for-his-last-16 had his first off-day of the season after 20 straight starts.
The St. Lucie bullpen helped turn a 1-1 tie into a laugher. Domingo Tapialeft in a 1-1 game in the sixth with a runner at third at two out. Wanel Mesa allowed that run to score and then the rout was on.
Tapia’s line: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K. 7 GB/2 AO. That’s good if not great. His fastball will get him to the big leagues.
Offensive notes: SS Matt Reynolds: 2-for-3 with a walk to push his 20-game line to .291/.349/.392 with five extra base knocks and six walks against 14 strikeouts in 20 games. I think there’s a big leaguer in there, but he’ll need to show more pop to profile as an everyday guy.
3B Aderlin Rodriguez: 1-for-3 with a walk. The walk was his first of the year in his 19th game. At age 21, he’s hitting .173/.190/.347 with one walk and 16 strikeouts. This one of the more disappointing (healthy) Aprils in the system.
This St. Lucie offense is hitting .225, one point above last in the FSL and is last in the League with a .327 slugging percentage.
Gabriel Ynoa was really very sharp for the Gnats: 6.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K to go with 7 GO and 1 AO. He retired 12 in a row and 18 of 20 from the of the first through one out in the seventh. It would have been 20-of-20 but for some shaky Gnats’ defense up the middle. Guys were late on his fastball, which he spots well. (I don’t have velo readings, but I suspect it was his standard 90-93 ish, sitting 91 ish.) As the night went on, he showed more sliders and some nice changeups. He has some feel for both. I like the changeup better right now, but he got a pair of swinging strikeouts with his slider in the fifth. Just 19, he will not turn 20 until late May. There’s something here. How much his slider develops will say a lot about his ceiling and eventual role, but for right now, just monitor his progress.
The 22-years are crushing the SAL.
DH Kevin Plawecki: 3-for-4, 2B, HR. The homer was a first pitch (fastball, I think) that he blasted to left. Plawecki is hitting .392/.447/.603. He’s leading the SAL, in doubles, extra-base hits, slugging and is second in batting average and fourth in OBP.
1B Jayce Boyd: 3-for-4, HR, 2 RBI. Boyd came to the plate 14 times the Gnats’ three-game sweep of Delmarva and reached base safely 11 times, going 7-for-10 with four walks, two doubles and a jack. He’s leading the SAL in AVG and OBP as part of a .429/.516/.623 line in 20 games.
The key to understanding the difference in prospect status between the two players is all about position. Plawecki plays the premium position, while Boyd, the Mets’ sixth round pick last year is a first baseman, the position with the greatest offensive expectations.
In terms of offensive ability, both players could move to the Florida State League tomorrow and be productive. In the last two years, the Mets have been slow to move their position players, who started in Savannah to St. Lucie. However, Boyd and Plawecki’s performance might push the Mets’ plans. In 2011, the first Gnat regular to move to St. Lucie was Robbie Shields on June 15 (the same day as Josh Edgin). Cory Vaughn had to wait until the All-Star Break. Last year, the team did not promote any regulars until the All-Star Break (when TJ Rivera and Travis Taijeron earned the nod). Boyd and Plawecki are far more dominant than any of those guys were in their time in Savannah. I suspect they’ll be in Savannah for a few more weeks, but not much more. The 20-year olds had a tough night.
CF Brandon Nimmowas 0-for-5 with a strikeout and four groundouts. He was 1-for-13 in the three games against Delmarva with six strikeouts. His timing, which was on point for the first two weeks of the season, has deserted him this week as he’s getting beat by fastballs regularly. All told though, he’s still bopping away at .367/.463/.494 good enough for seventh in the SAL in AVG and second in OBP.
SS Philip Evanswas 1-for-4 with a single to center and two errors defensively, one on a ball in front of him, and one on a throw from behind the pitcher’s mound. He’s committed nine errors in 19 games while hitting .176/.250/.221.