A: @ Savannah Sand Gnats 8, Greenville Drive (BOS) 0
RHP Gabriel Ynoa rolled through five innings. He allowed just three singles, did not allow a runner to third or a walk and fanned six. The Mets had Ynoa (pictured), who turned 20 at the end of May, on a 80-85 pitch count, and he was lifted after finishing five innings at 76 pitches. I was told there is “no way” he will throw in the SAL All-Star game, to which he was elected, on Tuesday in Lakewood. So, the Mets limited his workload. Why? Does this portend a promotion to St. Lucie in short order, or is the team just starting to manage his workload already? I was told by a scout that Ynoa was 92-95 and sitting 93-94 in his previous start, last Monday, but did not get velo on Sunday’s outing. That increase in velocity from a year ago, combined with a slider and changeup will bring him a whole lot more attention by season’s end. Ynoa’s last six starts: 41.1 IP, 30 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 1 HR, 3 BB, 32 K. That’s a 1.52 ERA and a .194 opponents’ batting average (30 H/155 AB).
1B Jayce Boyd finished up a ridiculous series against Greenville by going 2-for-2 with three walks. The 22-year-old has hit safely in his last eight games, but in the four games against the Drive, he reached base safely in 17 of 19 plate appearances as part of a 11-for-13 binge, with a triple, two homers and six walks to boost his season line to 361/.441/.494 in 65 games in the SAL. I would be shocked in Jayce Boyd did not fly directly from the SAL All-Star Game Tuesday to the Florida State League on Wednesday.
CF Brandon Nimmo’s first four plate appearances came against LHP on Sunday and he was 1-for-3 against the southpaws. Facing Greg Larson, a 6’8″ right-handed reliever, in the eighth, he rifled a single back up the middle that almost decapitated Larson. The 20-year-old Nimmo is hitting .302/.404/.420 overall in 42 games.
A+: FSL South All-Stars 8, North All-Stars 1
The Mets and the South won the FSL All-Star Game. Noah Syndergaard scooped up the win for a scoreless fourth inning in which he allowed a double, but nothing more. TJ Rivera was 0-for-5 at secondbase while LF Dustin Lawley was 3-for-4 with two runs scored while playing leftfield.
Minor league All-Star games are like their big league cousins, a fun exhibition. There’s no sense in putting any special weight on the results of the game. Noah Syndergaard is one of the Mets’ best young arms in the minors – like Top two once Zack Wheeler makes his MLB debut – but that status does not change based on one scoreless inning in the FSL All-Star Game.
A: @ Savannah Sand Gnats 7, Greenville Drive 2
Speaking of All-Stars, 1B Jayce Boyd, one of five Gnats’ All-Stars, is enjoying what is likely his final week in Savannah. The 22-year-old 1B was 3-for-4 with a homer and two RBI Saturday. In three games against Greenville, Boyd (pictured) is 9-for-11 with three walks, a triple and two homers. After going 14 games coming into this stretch without an extra-base hit, Boyd is right back up to .356/.431/.490 with 32 walks against 32 strikeouts in 64 games. He will likely play in the SAL All-Star game on Tuesday in Lakewood, and then fly to Florida to join St. Lucie.
Boyd has a nice, easy swing and is comfortable going to right field or getting out and yanking a pitch over the leftfield wall. The issue he faces is simply the extremely high bar to be a productive MLB first baseman. He’s on the old side for a prospect in either the SAL or the FSL, and likely will not really face a age appropriate competition until Opening Day 2014 in AA when he will already be 23.
Luis Cessa had a nice outing for the Gnats: 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K. It was fourth-straight outing of six innings or longer for the 21-year-old from Mexico. On May 19, Cessa allowed six runs on 11 hits in Augusta. Since that start he has been very good: 27.1 IP, 22 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 31 K – 0.98 ERA. Cessa does not throw very hard – (
I think he was sitting 90-91, but will have to double-check), but he throws strikes, and has feel for a changeup and can spin a breaking ball. That’s plenty of stuff to have success in a-ball. Ok, so apparently Cessa was 91-95 with his fastball Saturday night, while sitting 92-93. That’s a materially important difference from 90-91 where he had been last year and even early this year. Anyway, that, combined with his feel for his changeup makes him a lot more interesting. He calls his breaking ball, which can have an inconsistent shape, a slider.
A+: St. Lucie Mets 5, @ Clearwater Threshers (PHI) 4
The Mets scored the go-ahead run in the ninth when CF Gilbert Gomez walked and scored on T.J. Rivera’s single into right field.
The most notable thing in this box score was ugly as Domingo Tapia walked five. His line: 4 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 4 K. He induced four groundouts, but the bottom line is that he walked five of the 22 batters he faced. That’s not good. Tapia has now walked 25 in 47.2 innings thus far and 12 in 15.1 since returning from his burned hand on May 24.
A: @ Savannah Sand Gnats 9, Greenville Drive (BOS) 4
The Gnats moved this close to clinching a playoff berth Thursday. Savannah’s win, combined with Charleston’ double-header split versus Augusta dropped the Gnats’ magic number to two with three games to play.
1B Jayce Boyd, who had done 14 games in a row without an extra-base hit, broke out, going 4-for-4 with a double and a three-run homerun in the third inning that put the Gnats up 4-0. The homer was a line drive down the leftfield line on a hanging curveball. The 22-year-old Boyd is now back up to .346/.420/.471 with 16 doubles and four homeruns. Surely, he’ll be headed to advanced-A St. Lucie immediately after the South Atlantic League All-Star Game.
On the hill, converted 1B Jake Kuebler dominated the Drive through five innings. He set down the first 13 batters in a row, nine on groundballs. He did not give up a hit under a chopper kicked out of his own glove with one out in the fifth. He was using his two-seamer a lot, and letting Greenville beat it into the ground. I was told coming into the start that his two-seamer has been 90-92 and he possesses the ability to reach back for 94 mph. The 23-year old’s batting average against and ERA by month: April: .322/3.60, May: .200/2.45 and June: .156/2.45. His breaking ball is pretty raw, but Kuebler has size and a decent enough arm that he might show up in a Major League bullpen with continued progress.
Signs of life from SS Philip Evans’ bat? He was 2-for-4 with two runs scored. One of the hits was a gift on a lousy throw from the Greenville 3B, but he hit a few balls hard on a line. After going 5-for-10 in his last three games, the 20-year-old is UP to .186/.251/.233.
CF Brandon Nimmo was 1-for-5 with an RBI triple in the eighth. He struck out twice. The triple was crushed to right-center and was the classic Grayson Stadium triple in that it was a home run in almost every other professional stadium in America. Nimmo (.300/.404/.413 – 39 games) now has more triples (5) than doubles (4). A scout pointed out to me that Nimmo does not handle the inside pitch well. Opponents have started recognizing this, and have worked to pound him inside with fastballs.
A+: @ Clearwater Threshers 6, St. Lucie Mets 0
The Mets picked up two hits.
RHP Rainy Lara was pretty good: 6 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 HR.
Aderlin Rodriguez (0-for-3) was back at third after a few games at first.
A: @ Savannah Sand Gnats 9, Asheville Tourists (COL) 2
Matt Koch (5-2, 4.56): 6 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 11 K. The right-hander from Louisville took advantage of a nice, large strike zone to set down the first nine batters in a row. He gave up a couple runs in the fourth. In the sixth, with his pitch-count north of 80, two singles and a double-steal put runners at second and third with no outs in a 6-2 game and Koch (pronounced: Cook) responded by striking out the next three batters in a row, all swinging. Koch (pictured) got most of his strikeouts with high fastballs. He works aggressively, throwing in on batter’s hands when he needs to to week contact and for swings and misses. He was ahead a lot, throwing first pitch strikes to seven of his first nine batters. There’s plenty of arm strength in here, as he’s 91-95 on any given night, sitting 93-94. He threw his curve and change sparingly, but got a few swings and misses with the curve. A scout who saw him a few weeks ago liked his cutter (at 87-91 mph), but truth be told, I had trouble picking it out from the press box. Easily the most impressive set of numbers of Koch’s season: 51.1 innings and 52 strikeouts against ONE walk. ONE. Oh, and he’s getting better. His ERA by month: April – 6.75, May – 4.00, June – 3.27.
3B Cole Frenzel was the most productive Gnat with an RBI single and a two-run double.
This was a very a-ballish game: twice, the Tourists missed getting an out when their second baseman Juan Ciriaco left second too early on force plays. The Gnats’ two-run rally without a hit in the third inning began when SS Philip Evans reached on a strikeout and wild pitch. Evans had a productive game, going 1-for-3 with a single, two runs scored and a sac fly.
The Gnats’ win kept Savannah one game ahead of the Charleston RiverDogs for first place in the SAL Southern Division with four games to play for the Gnats and five for the Dogs.
CF Brandon Nimmo was 0-for-2 with two walks, a strikeout and a HBP. Nimmo also committed his second error of the year in CF, overrunning a single up the middle that allowed the batter/runner to take second base.
A+: St. Lucie Mets 4, @ Clearwater Threshers 2 (10 innings)
LF Dustin Lawley lifted a two-run homer, his 12th, in the top of the 10th inning to give St. Lucie the extra-inning win. The 24-year old Lawley is strong (33 XBH) but is hitting just .226/.288/.485 overall.
Alex Panteliodis was meh: 6.1 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 2 HR.
Aderlin Rodriguez (.263/.299/.432 – 61 gms), who was 2-for-4 played first base for the second straight night. It was the seventh time in his last ten games that he has played first. Hi, position change.
A: Asheville Tourists 4, @ Savannah Sand Gnats 3 (8 innings)
@ Savannah Sand Gnats 1, Asheville Tourists 0 (11 innings)
I called 19 innings of baseball Tuesday. That might be a new personal-high.
Lets go backwards through the day. The Gnats won game two when CF Brandon Nimmo drew a bases-loaded walk. Apparently, in the big leagues, this is cause for a #shrinpalert. I had no idea. Anyway, the at-bat was impressive. He fell down 0-2, took two pitches to get to 2-2, then fouled off six in a rown. Finally, the reliever threw two more out of the zone to put him aboard and force in teh winning run. The win kept hte Gnats one full game in front of Charleston for first place in the SAL Southern division with five to play for the Gnats and six for the RiverDogs.
SS Phllip Evans (.178/.247/.226) snapped an 0-for-23 skid with a pair of singles in game two.
I thought Logan Taylor threw the best he has all year against a tough Asheville lineup: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 6 K. I’ll have to get accurate velocity readings Wednesday, but I suspect he was back in the 92-94 range. It looked like his secondaries have made a little progress, but still he’s mostly about the fastball for now.
In game one, the Tourists scored the go-ahead run when Francisco Sosa came around from second base on a wild pitch by Beck Wheeler that catcher Jeff Glenn could not find off to his right. Second base!
Gabriel Ynoa rolled through the first five innings, in game one before giving up a homer and then two more runs on some bleeders, bloops and infield hits in the sixth inning that evened the game at 3-3. His line: 7 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 3 K.
1B Jayce Boyd had a single in each game of the double-header, but the first baseman has now gone 13 games without an extra-base hit as part of a .336/.413/.444 overall line in 60 games for a .108 isolated slugging percentage.
A+: @ Jupiter Hammerheads (MIA) 2, St. Lucie Mets 1 (8 innings)
St Lucie Mets 4, @ Jupiter Hammerheads 1 (14 innings)
The advanced-A affiliates of the Mets and Marlins decided to match their parent clubs and play a pair of extra-inning games on Sunday.
SS Matt Reynolds doubled and 3B Aderlin Rodriguez walked to start a three-run St. Luicie rally in the top of the 14th inning in game two to ensure that the Mets did not come up empy in extra-innings this weekend. Neither player has hit well recently as Reynolds is down to .242/.325/.354 in 58 games, and Rodriguez to .255/.287/.430 in 59 contests.
Matt Bowman made a decent start in game two, but without strong peripherals: 6 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K
A: @ Rome Braves 6, Savannah Sand Gnats 3
The Braves’ Josh Elander hit a game-winning three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth off Savannah reliever Bret Mitchell. The Savannah loss, combined with the Charleston win, left the RiverDogs six one-thousands of a percentage point in front of the Gnats for first place in the SAL Southern Division with seven games to play in the season’s first half.
The Gnats took a 3-0 lead in the seventh inning on a Brandon Nimmo RBI double, a wild pitch and a 1B Jayce Boyd single. After a 3-for-4 day with a double and a walk, Nimmo is hitting .316/.409/.426 in his first 35 games in the SAL. Nimmo was also picked off on the bases and threw out a runner at the plate.
RHP Luis Cessa was strong: 6 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K.
SS Philip Evans was 0-for-3 with a walk and a throwing error, his 20th error of the game in his 59th contest. Evans is hitless in his last six games, a span of 19 at-bats to slip to .173/.244/.223 for the year.
A+: St. Lucie @ Jupiter – ppd by rain.
They’ll play two Saturday with a little Domingo Tapia action.
A: Savannah Sand Gnats 6, @ Rome Braves 4
This one didn’t look like it was going to happen either, but the teams waited out a 53 minute rain delay in north Georgia. Tyler Vanderheiden tweeted this sweet picture of left field at 5:30 pm.
Once the game started, the Gnats scored five times in the first two innings to grab the early lead.
Matt Koch (4-2, 4.76) pitched well enough to earn the win: 5 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 1 HR. In 45.1 innings this year, Koch has an insane 41 strikeouts against ONE (!!!) walk while throwing in the low-mid 90s. The downside? The 54 hits allowed and .284 opponents’ batting average. Still, there’s progress here over the course of the year, a big body (6’3″) and a MLB caliber fastball.
CF Brandon Nimmo (.302/.399/.413 – 32 gms) was 1-for-4 with a triple and a HBP. Fun Nimmo fact: he has more triples (4) than doubles (3).
A Break for Evans
On Tuesday, Philip Evans was 0-for-4 with four strikeouts and two errors (his 18th and 19th of the year) while his batting line slipped to .180/.250/.232 in 56 games. He did not play Wednesday or Friday sandwiched around a rainout on Thursday. Hmm.
A+: Lakeland Flying Tigers (DET) 5, St. Lucie Mets 0
Meh. The Mets had four hits, all singles.
LHP Alex Panteliodis (2-2, 3.06): 5.2 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 HR
A: @ Savannah Sand Gnats 9, Lexington Legends (KC) 2
Just too much Gnats as Savannah used a six-run second inning to cruise past the Legends and, with the help of a Charleston loss, into first place in the SAL Southern Division with 12 games to play in the first half.
Logan Taylor, who has been sidelined since April 21 with a strained oblique was limited to 65 pitches, but did good work after allowing the game’s first two batters to score runs. His line: 3.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K. He got the first two strikeouts on curveballs for a called strike three and then used fastball up to finish off his next victims. Given the time away, it was a nice performance. I’ll get velocity readings on him Wednesday, but he had plenty on his fastball.
Julian Hilario also continues to make progress in the Savannah bullpen, giving the Gnats two shutout innings with three strikeouts. In his last five outings, he’s thrown 12 innings with 6 H, 1 BB and 13 strikeouts. He’s been 92-95 in recent outings.
CF Brandon Nimmo (.314/.410/.415 – 30 gms): 2-for-3, 2 RBI, 2 BB
It was a very nice night for Nimmo (pictured).
Nimmo’s first three plate appearances were against a left-handed starter. In his first at-bat, he saw nothing in the strike zone, earning a four-pitch walk. In his second, he sat back nicely on an 0-2 offering and laced it over the shortstop’s head for a lined RBI single into left-center. He swung at the first pitch he saw in the fourth, and made solid contact, flying out to center. Facing a right-handed reliever in the sixth, he pulled a crisp single through the right side before walking in the bottom of the eighth. He’s still looking for his first extra-base hit against a lefty in 2013, hitting .250/.308/.250 (6-for-24 with one walk, six singles and seven strikeouts).
Nimmo was charged with an error in the first inning. Speedy Lexington LF Ethan Chapman dropped a single to shallow left-center. Nimmo got caught in between and dealt with a high hop that he fumbled, allowing Chapman, who’d taken a good hard turn at first, to race up to second.
SS Philip Evans: 0-for-4 with four strikeouts and two errors (his 18th and 19th of the year). He’s down to .180/.250/.232 and lost at the plate. Strikeouts had not been his problem: entering Tuesday the 20-year-old had a moderate 15.6% strikeout rate and had not struck out more than twice in any game this year. Defensively, he fumbled a ball in the seventh that ended up rolling between his legs. Then, on the subsequent plate, Hilario induced what should have been a double-play ball. His throw to second was not great – a little to Evans’ left and a little low. However, Evans could not catch the ball and was charged with his second error in as many plays. After the game, a friend asked me what the Mets should do with Evans. I think they’ll continue to run him out basically everyday in Savannah. While playing Yucarybert De La Cruz more might be defensive upgrade, the team is more invested in Evans.
A+: @ Charlotte Stone Crabs 7, St. Lucie Mets 4 (7 innings)
St. Lucie Mets 5, @ Charlotte Stone Crabs 3 (7 innings)
- Have a day Travis Taijeron. The LF/RF combined to go 3-for-5 with three homers, and two walks.
The 24-year-old is raking at .455/.474/.939 (!) with four homers in his last 10 games to push his season line to .303/.398/.562 in 52 games. Taijeron (pictured) had a fairly miserable April (.228/.347/.380 with 1 homer) but turned it on in May and is off to a loud start in June. He’s also second in the FSL with 20 doubles. He’s not going anywhere for a little while. The room ahead of him – the AA outfield – is full with Cesar Puello, Cory Vaughn, Darrell Ceciliani and Alonzo Harris sharing playing time and rotating through the DH spots. Both Vaughn and Puello are younger than Taijeron so he will need either a promotion or an injury to open a hole ahead of him. Taijeron, in his first exposure to the FSL last year, hit only .203/.304/.373 in the second half with 52 strikeouts in 48 games. He used to use an arm-bar to begin his swing which helped his power, but made him susceptible to fastballs in.
- Aderlin Rodriguez, who had two hits and a walk, his seventh of the year, in game one, played both ends of the double-dip at first. The 21-year-old hit hitting .264/.292/.458. Rodriguez has one more home run than Taijeron, six fewer doubles, and four more singles, but has walked 16 times fewer giving Taijeron a healthy advantage in all three slash categories.
- RHP Matt Bowman, who was off to a fast start in the FSL put together a more pedestrian effort Sunday: 5 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 2 HR.
- RHP Luis Mateo made his second rehab appearance with St. Lucie, and it did not go well. Mateo threw on Thursday, so he was appearing on two days’ rest. The line was ugly: 1 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 HR, 1 BB, 2 K. With extended spring training shut down this week, it makes sense to get Mateo into games as part of his rehab. The surprise to me is that he’s not doing so on a starter’s schedule and working every five days with a bullpen and a side in between.
A: Savannah Sand Gnats 7, @ Kannapolis Intimidators (CHW) 1
Gabriel Ynoa is getting the hang of this South Atlantic League thing becoming the first pitcher in the League to throw a nine-inning complete game this year: 9 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K. Since giving up six homers in a two-start span in early May, Ynoa has learned to keep the ball down and been excellent: 29.1 IP, 19 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 HR, 3 BB, 23 K. That a 1.23 ERA and a 7.7 K/BB ratio for those of you playing along at home. Ynoa just turned 20, and sits 91-92 with a developing slider. At a lean 6’2″, he is certainly a name and arm to watch.
CF Brandon Nimmo (.304/.396/.409 – 29 games) was 2-for-5 with a double, his second game in a row with a two-bagger. The strikeouts were numbers 32 and 33 in 29 games and push his strikeout rate to 25% so far this year. It’s an issue. On the other hand, he’s walking at a 10% clip, which is very nice.
A: Savannah Sand Gnats 6, @ Kannapolis Intimidators (CHW) 2
The Gnats kept pace with the first place Charleston RiverDogs to remain one game out of first with 16 to play in the first half.
RF Maikis De La Cruz had a big night from the top of the order, going 3-for-5 with a homer, two RBI and two runs scored. The 22-year old is hitting .312/.376/.455 in 20 games in 20 games in Savannah with six extra-base hits, seven walks and 13 strikeouts. It was his second game in a row with a homer. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by De La Cruz’s overall approach and productivity, but I thought that he was faster. At 22, 5’11, 175 lbs, in the SAL, he’ll need to keep hitting in a big way, to profile, even as a fouth outfielder, at a corner spot.
Conversion project Jake Kuebler started, and lasted four innings, allowing two runs on four hits.
Again, I want to point out the good work out of the bullpen of Julian Hilario who did not allow a run on three hits while fanning four. In his last 10 innings, he’s unscored upon, while fanning 12 and issuing just one walk. There’s arm strength here (low-mid 90s) and a an improving change-up. At 6’1″ and thickly built, I think he’s a reliever all the way, but he’s getting better. As long as we’re doing A-ball relievers, Bret Mitchell struck out two more batters in a perfect ninth. He’s now fanned 34 of the 92 guys he’s faced and walked just five. He’s 92-94 with a curveball at 81-83 that looks like it really could be a MLB weapon. He missed all of last year with a torn hip labrum, so he’s now 24. At the latest, he’ll start the second half in Port St. Lucie, or perhaps move up the day the Gnats clinch or are mathematically eliminated from first half contention.
The top four teams in the Southern Division (Charleston, Savannah, Asheville and Rome) are separated by only three games, so the Division race remains wide open. In fact, six of the seven teams in the SAL Southern Division are above .500, while only three teams on the Northern Side can make that claim.
Brandon Nimmo (.302/.400/.396 – 27 gms) was 1-for-4 with an RBI and two strikeouts.
St. Lucie was rained out. They’ll play two today.