CFBrandon 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.
St. Lucie scored six times in the sixth inning, punctuated by a two run homer from LF Dustin Lawleyto 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.
RHP Rainy Larawas perfect through four innings in this one before giving up a single leading off the fifth. He was also the perfect pitcher for a rainy afternoon in Savannah (ba-da-buh!). He was touched for two runs in the sixth when he tired. He made life hard for himself when he slipped on wet grass in front of home plate and threw a bunt attempt into centerfield trying to nail the lead runner at second. I didn’t have a gun on Lara, but I would guess that his fastball was 90 ish or a little better. He throws his slider a lot by the standards of a-ball. He can bend it in for a strike, but it’s soft and slurvy. The fact that he can throw it for a strike means he’ll do fine in a-ball. He threw a few changeups as well. The 22-year old is big and a little intriguing.
SS Philip Evans had his best day at the plate, going 3-for-4 with three singles. He blooped one in along the right field line, and then shot harder hit balls up the middle and into right field. It was a particularly good sign that he proved that he was willing to go the other way with pitches.
C Kevin Plawecki and 1B Jayce Boyd were each 0-for-4.
Daily Nimmo CF Brandon Nimmo was 2-for-4. He singled hard through the hole on the right side in the first. A batter later, he was picked off first by a righthanded pitcher, who also nabbed Cole Frenzel in the fifth. With two on and one out in the third, he bounced back to the pitcher. He was pretty clearly looking to shoot a ball up the middle. He fanned on a curveball in the fifth and shot a single over the second base bag in his final at bat in the eighth. After 10 games, he’s hitting .405/.500/.486, tops in the SAL in on-base percentage and number two in batting average. He’s drawn five walks, and fanned eight times. He has 15 hits in 10 games. Last year, it took him 21 games in Brooklyn to pick up his 15th hit. At that time he was hitting .205/.379/.342.
Little lefty Angel Cuanmade his first start of the year. His previous outing came in relief of Noah Syndergaard a week ago. Had St. Lucie stayed in turn, this would have been Luis Mateo’s day to throw. It’s possible that the team was taking this opportunity to extend the rotation out to six men, or that something else is afoot. As I write this, I do not know the story here.
SS Matt Reynolds was 2-for-4 with a double to lift his 10-game line to .300/.364/.350. Ten of his 12 hits have been singles to go along with two doubles.
RF Charley Thurber was 3-for-4 with two doubles while 1B Brian Harrison was 3-for-4 with a homer and two RBI in his third game back from an ankle sprain.
Noah Syndergaard: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 8 K. Syndergaard faced just one over the minimum through three innings, despite issuing a walk in boht the second and third innings, but walked in a run in the fourth and gave up a couple of singles that turned into a run in the fifth. He threw 55% of his pitches (46 of 83) for strikes. Obviously, his control was not really sharp. On the other hand, the eight strikeouts speak to the quality of his stuff. Harnessing it is really what the minors are all about.
Michael Baron reports that there was a benches’ clearing incident involving C Cam Maron, but, no surprise, the Marauders’ game story does not mention it.
3B Aderlin Rodriguez’sslow start continues. After an 0-for-4, he’s hitting .139/.158/.194 (5 H/36 AB) with zero walks and seven strikeouts.
The really important thing is that Steven Matz looked really good in his second SAL start. In his five innings, he gave up just one unearned run on four hits, walked one and fanned seven.
The run he allowed was in the first. After walking the leadoff man, Jose Peraza, Matz induce a grounder up the middle that should have been two. SS Philip Evans fielded the ball near the second base bag, but rather than take it himself, or flip with his barehand, he tried to shovel the ball with his glove to 2B Yucarybert De La Cruz, who was covering the bag. It did not work. Instead, the ball rolled onto the dirt and the Gnats did not record an out on the play. The following batter, LF Josh Elander, blooped an 0-2 pitch into shallow right field. De La Cruz tried to make an over the shoulder catch, but the ball glanced off of his glove allowing Peraza to score from third. Matz then got down to business, striking out two of the next three hitters, sandwiched around a harmless groundout to first that staunched the bleeding.
In fact, Matz retired 12 of 13 batters from the first through fourth innings.
He was throwing hard and Rome batters were consistently late on his fastball, flailing for strike three, or harmlessly fouling balls off. Unlike his first start, when he threw fastballs almost exclusively, he threw his off-speed pitches a little bit. According to Gnats’ Pitching Coach Frank Viola, he threw seven of his 10 sliders for strikes and two of his three changeups for strikes. I had him at 82 pitches with first-pitch strikes to 16 of the 21 batters he faced. If my count is close (and it usually is to within a pitch or two), he threw his off-speed stuff 16% of the time. He’ll need to throw it more as he moves up, but fastball command is important too, and living off his heat, and location is a good sign too. Matz was able to throw his fastball in and out, and after the first, keep it down in the zone.
His last pitch of the night might have been his best. Matz was facing Elander, the Braves’ most dangerous hitter, who already had two hits off him, with two aboard in a 1-1 game. The count went full. After mixing fastballs and sliders early in the count, Matz finished him off with a vicious two-seamer running away from the right-handed hitter at 93 mph. It started near the outside edge and then started moving. Again, he held 93 mph past his 80th pitch of the night with movement.
Matz used to throw a curveball, but in the last few weeks, he and Viola have scrapped the pitch to focus on his slider, which the two like better out of Matz’s lower arm slot. So these days, Matz’s breaking balls are called sliders, not curves.
There’s a long way from five innings in the South Atlantic League in April to the big leagues, but it was a very encouraging performance.
Hitters 1B Jayce Boyd pounded a three-run homer in the fifth when a lefty reliever tossed one over the middle for him. It was his first long-ball of the year. The 22-year old is hitting .412/.512/.618 (14-for-34) with seven walks and six strikeouts in his first nine games in the SAL.
DH Kevin Plaweickiwas 1-for-4 with a double ripped to the base of the leftfield wall in the sixth inning. The Gnats bus did not get back to Savannah until 4 am Saturday morning so he had the night off from catching duty. The 22-year old has seven doubles in his last four games as part of a .457/.500/.743 line in nine games.
SS Philip Evans- 0-for-4 at the plate dropped him to .167 (5-for-30). In addition to his fielding error in the first, he committed a throwing error in the sixth, his fifth error in eight games.
CF Brandon Nimmo was 0-for-1 officially. He flew out to shallow right in the first. In the third with a runner at third and one out, he drove a ball to center field for a sac fly to even the game at 1-1. It was a first pitch fastball, and a solid piece of situational hitting to score the run. Facing a lefty reliever in the fifth, he allowed an inside offering to catch him on the bicep/upper arm for a HBP. Boyd followed a batter later with his three-run homer. Nimmo was hit on his shinguard by a righty reliever in the seventh.
St. Lucie kept Bradenton winless with by putting together three straight singles from OF Charley Thurber, Travis Taijeron and Gilbert Gomez in the top of the 12th.
Taijeron, who was 4-for-5 with a double and triple, doubled his hit total from the first seven games in one night to lift his batting average to .214 (6-for-28).
Jacob deGrom: 6 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 1 HR. DeGrom faced one batter over the minimum through three innings, but was hurt by a three-run fourth and then a solo homer in the sixth. He threw 74% of his pitches for strikes (69 of 93), which is outstanding. I think the arm is absolutely legit. In 12 innings, he’s now fanned 13 and walked just two.
CF Brandon Nimmo: 2-for-3, BB, R. The 20-year old is hitting .406/.500/.500 in his first eight games in the SAL with five walks. He’s fifth in the SAL in batting average and tied for third in on-base percentage and hits (13). It’s a long season, but that’s a tremendous start for the youngster.
C Kevin Plawecki: 3-for-4 with 2 2B, and an RBI, driving home Nimmo from first base in the first inning. Plawecki now has six doubles in his last three games and is hitting a strong .484/.528/.774 in his eight games in the SAL as a 22-year old. He’s #1 in the SAL in batting average, hits (15), and slugging and #2 in on-base percentage, doubles (6) and extra-base hits (7).
RHP Gabriel Ynoapitched to four batters in the fifth without retiring any. His line: 4 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K.
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.
Matt Bowman threw strikes and mixed in enough off-speed to keep Augusta off-balance for six innings. His line: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K. Jake Kuebler, who is making the transition from Royals’ first base farmhand to pitcher, finished off the last three innings for his first professional save. Kuebler is raw – he threw lots and lots of fastballs – but there’s some arm strength in a big 6’5″ frame.
There were two standout hitting performances.
1. C Kevin Plawecki: 3-for-5 with three doubles. His doubles went up the right-center field gap, into the right field corner and the left field corner. All were hit squarely and hard. His big night lifted his season line to .444/.500/.704 (12-for-27) in seven games. I saw Plawecki (pictured) make lots of contact for Brooklyn in 2012, but did not see him drive the ball like this. It’s been a really good week.
2. LF Stefan Sabol hit his first home run of the year, on a liner over the left field wall to cap the game’s scoring. Sabol was 2-for-4 with a walk, a homer and a stolen base. A catcher as an amateur, Sabol is really going to have to hit to profile in left field, but I like his swing. I put up my homer call below.
Daily Nimmo: 1-for-5, 2 K. He singled crisply into left-center in the third. Working against a lefty reliever, Steven Okert in the third, he hit a shot towards the right side, but Augusta 2B Travious Relaford came up with the ball on a dive towards the hole. Okert then fanned Nimmo in the fifth. Against a righty in the seventh, he made solid contact, but lined out to center when Augusta had him played perfectly, shaded slightly to pull. Nimmo has hit safely in six of his seven games as a Gnat to finish his first week in full-season ball at .379/.471/.483 (11-for-29).
Something good: Luis Mateo’sFSL and 2013 debut: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 K. The Mets skipped the hard-throwing Mateo over Savannah. One start in, it looks like he’s more than ready for St. Lucie. Something awesome: The Mets turned a triple play in the bottom of the first. With runners on first and second, SS Matt Reynolds caught a liner, and then went second to first to double off the runners. Something good: 3B Aderlin Rodriguez was 2-for-4, his first two-hit game of the year. Rodriguez started slow in Savannah 2012 and was off to a 1-for-14 start in 2013. I believe in this bat. He’s also back playing third, with Joe Bonfe playing first.
Something good: Luis Cessa’s first start of 2013, and his Gnats’ debut: 6.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K. He looked hittable in the first inning, when he gave up a run on a single and a double and some hard contact. A diving stop from Philip Evans saved a single into centerfield and a run in the inning. As the night went on, he threw his secondary pitches more, which kept the ‘Jackets off his fastball better. He canned four of five batter from the end of the fourth inning through the start of the sixth. I saw mostly changeup/slider from Cessa from the press box. He’s not going to blow batters away, but he clearly has some feel. Something good: 1B Jayce Boydwas 3-for-5 with a double in the third inning and an RBI groundout in the eighth. His .545 batting average (12-for-22) leads the SAL as do his 12 hits and .643 on-base percentage. He’s tied for the league lead with four doubles, and six walks, and is third with a .727 slugging percentage. Hello, SAL Player of the Week Award. Something good: Kevin Plawecki was 2-for-4 as a DH with a double, a single up the middle and a sacrifice fly. He’s hitting .409 (9-for-22) – sixth in the SAL – with three walks and five strikeouts in his first six games. Daily Nimmo: CFBrandon Nimmo was 0-for-3 with a walk and a HBP, snapping his five-game hitting streak to start the year. He took a fastball off his right wrist in his first at-bat. The trainer looked at it, and he was grimacing, but stayed in the game. He struck out against a lefty reliever in the fourth, I believe swinging through a fastball. He walked and scored in the seventh, making a nice read on a Boyd single to right field to go first to third to put himself in a position to score on Plawecki’s sacrifice fly. He reached on an error in the eighth when the ‘Jackets’ 2B Travious Relaford muffed a bouncing ball that should have been a double play.
This one began really well for the Gnats. Three batters into the bottom of the first, the team had a 2-0 lead. Chad Zurcher doubled down the left field line, CF Brandon Nimmo lined a single over the shortstop and LF Jayce Boyd ground a single up the middle to plate Nimmo who had advanced to second on a throwing error.
Nimmo also bunted for a base hit against a left-handed reliever brought on specifically to face him in the fifth inning. After going 2-for-4 with a walk, he’s sitting at .476 (10-for-21) with three walks. It’s a long season, but that’s a very nice beginning in the South Atlantic League for Nimmo whose 10 hits currently lead the league.
Boyd with nine hits and six walks in five games is leading the league with a silly .652 on-base percentage. See, first week stats are fun!
On the hill Logan Taylor was awfully effective, putting together five shutout innings with five strikeouts zero walks and four hits allowed. I had him at 66% strikes (52 of 79). He worked heavily off his fastball and got into deep counts when he did not use any other pitch. He threw a few good sliders, mostly when he was ahead in the count. It looked like he even tried a few changeups in the last few innings of his outing. The 6’5″ Taylor, the Mets’ 11th round pick last year, is a pretty deep sleeper as the team went slightly overslot to sign him. I’m intrigued.
Taylor gave way to Matt Koch, who had no trouble in the sixth, but allowed six runs in the seventh. Yeah, sure, all but one of the runs were unearned, but the reason they were unearned was that he threw the ball down the rightfield line on a bunt attempt. He gave up six hits, all cleanly struck, in the six-run seventh. Koch simply looked like he was catching too much of the plate with his fastball. The good news for Koch is that the Louisville product got to catch most of the thrilling second half of the Cardinals’ NCAA championship win.
Noah Syndergaard’s first start as a Met was nice, if short: 4 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K. He induced five groundouts and two flyouts.
C Cam Maron doubled home Aderlin Rodrguez in the second inning to plate the game’s only run. Rodriguez played thirdbase for the first time in 2013, as Rylan Sandoval flipped across the diamond to play first.
RHP Rainy Lara’s 2013 debut was awfully nice: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K. The 22-year old is a long 6’4″. Apparently, he topped out at 93 last year and he’s always thrown strikes. I’m eager to see him myself this year.
Offensively, the top three hitters in the Gnats’ order – CF Brandon Nimmo, SS Philip Evans and 1B Jayce Boyd, combined on nine of the Gnats’ 12 hits.
Nimmo was 3-for-4 with a double and a walk. He’s hit safely in all four Gnats’ games and his 8-for-17 (.471/.526/.647) with two extra base hits, two walks, a stolen base and three strikeouts. For what it’s worth, Nimmo, who just turned 20 in March, had three hits or more four times in 69 games in Brooklyn and did not pick up his first such game until the 24th game of the year.
Evans was 3-for-5, his first three-hit game of the year.
The 22-year old Boyd has also hit safely in all four games, going 8-for-14 with three doubles (.571/.667/.786).
The most important story in the Mets system in Saturday night’s games: Steven Matz’s full-season debut. I watched most of this start on the Rome Braves’ video feed. His line: 4 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K. Matz (pictured) held the Braves off the scoreboard through the first four innings, but left two runners on base via a double and a walk in the fifth, and Jake Keubler allowed both to score. Matz threw a lot of fastballs. The good news: the pitch was very lively. He induced lots of swings and misses and late swings that turned into foul balls. However, his command of the offering appeared spotty.
He really did not throw many breaking balls. In the span of watching a few innings I saw one good slider, and one more that looked more like a curve. The slider I remember, was buried, but the movement was tight. It would be more surprising if he could throw his off-speed pitches for strikes. There were a few pitches that the Rome broadcaster described as two-seamers, and I wonder if a few of them were actually changeups, but I could not be sure over video.
Matz just needs health and innings. His performance sort of reminded me of an early-season Michael Fulmer line from 2012: live arm, reliant on the fastball, command that comes and goes. For example, in 2012, Fulmer did not finish five innings on the road until his third try, on May 12th. Matz is two years older, of course.
With a night game after a morning bus trip, Kevin Plawecki did not catch, but DHed. He was 2-for-3 with an RBI, a walk and a strikeout. His first three games in the SAL: 6-for-11, 2 BB, 1 HR for a .545/.615/.818.
Jacob deGrom’s season debut was very nice: 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K to go along with 8 groundouts and only one flyout. All five hits he allowed were singles. Again, the Mets have generally had starters make 10-12 starts at a minimum at a level before promoting them. deGrom now has five starts at Advanced-A between 2012 and 2013 with a 1.63 ERA and a K/BB of three (24 K/8 BB) in 27.2 innings. So, I expect him to spend all of April and most of May in St. Lucie.
24-year old 2B TJ Rivera who was 2-for-5 with a double was the only Met with multiple hits.
For the third straight game, with Brian Harrison out of the lineup, Aderlin Rodriguez played first.