Opening Night in A-Ball: A Slam and Five Hits for the First Rounders

A+: @ St. Lucie Mets 6, Palm Beach Cardinals 5 

Nimmo Stance ST '14Batting second, and playing CF, Brandon Nimmo was 2-for-3 with a double, a walk and a strikeout.

TJ Rivera’s fifth inning grand slam snapped a 2-2 tie and put St. Lucie ahead for good. The 25-year-old Rivera played his first professional game at first base in this one, while going 3-for-4 with a double, a homer, and 5 RBI. This will be the third separate season Rivera has played at St. Lucie after earning a promotion from Savannah in 2012. I thought coming into this year, that Rivera had a chance to break spring training as a backup middle infielder in AA, but the BMets are only carrying two middle infielders: Wilfredo Tovar and Matt Reynolds. Rivera is probably a more productive hitter in advanced-A than Cole Frenzel or the recently released Chris Garcia.

Gabriel Ynoa’s night was not crisp: 5.1 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. He did not work a single clean inning in his six tries. He induced 10 flyball outs.

 

A: Lakewood BlueClaws (PHI) 6, @ Savannah Sand Gnats 3  

Despite early scoring opportunities, the Gnats could not move the scoreboard until the bottom of the ninth, when CF Patrick Biondi launched his first professional homerun, a three run shot to right field. The left-handed hitting also singled into center in his first at-bat and dragged a bunt for a knock in his second to finish 3-for-4. Biondi went 50 games with Brooklyn without homering in 2013 on his way to a .249/.348/.301 line. He spent much of his offseason working out with the Barwis crew since the gym is about 40 minutes from his Michigan home. Biondi also showed off his speed, cutting off a ball in the right-centerfield gap, to hold a runner to a single.

SS Gavin Cecchini had a solid night at the top of the order, going 2-for-4. The 2012 first rounder singled sharply on a grounder that nearly hit the second base bag in his first AB, and slashed the first pitch he saw in the eighth for a clean single to right. He lined out to left field in the third inning, and bounced out up the middle to end the game in the ninth. He’s clearly trying to work up the middle of the field in batting practice and was able to take that approach to the game Thursday. He nearly made a spectacular play defensively in fourth inning. With a runner at third and two down, he fielded a chopper on the rightfield side of second. However, his throw to first was errant.

1B Dom Smith was 1-for-4. He singled up the middle in his second AB. He launched a fly ball to rightcenter in the ninth, that was his best piece of contact, but at Grayson was merely a harmless fly ball out.

Robert Gsellman did not look really sharp in his first start of the year. He did not work a clean inning in his six tries. On the other hand, his changeup got some bad swings. He did not throw many curveballs, but when he did, I thought it was a better offering than he showed with Savannah in 2014. The 20-year-old’s line: 5.1 IP, 10 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K.

An Almost St. Lucie Mets Roster

stlmetslogoTC Palm photographer Xavier Mascarenas passes along St. Lucie Roster, or at least a group of guys where were at a workout Tuesday night.

There are 29 players listed, so obviously, some of these guys will not be on St. Lucie’s active roster on Opening Day on Thursday. Take your guesses in the comments below. Hint: this team is not going to carry eight infielders or eight relievers.

 

Rotation
Steven Matz
Luis Cessa
Michael Fulmer
Domingo Tapia
Gabriel Ynoa
Matt Koch (I suspect)

 

 

Bullpen
Hunter Carvevale
Julian Hilario
Jake Kuebler
Seth Lugo
Bret Mitchell
Paul Sewald
Randy Fontanez
Beck Wheeler

 

Catchers
Albert Cordero
Cam Maron
Nelfi Zapata

Infielders
Philip Evans
Cole Frenzel
Dilson Herrera
Jairo Perez
Jeff Reynolds
TJ Rivera
Aderlin Rodriguez
Robbie Shields

Outfielders
Maikis De La Cruz
Gilbert Gomez
Brandon Nimmo
Eudy Pina

A+-AA Notes: Plawecki Plunked. In the Head. He’s Fine.

Halfway through the holiday weekend, lets check in on a few stories in the system.

- Friday night, C Kevin Plawecki left the St. Lucie game after getting hit in the head by a pitch. At the time, Plawecki was 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles. At ESPNNY, Adam Rubin reported that the move to remove him from the game was a “precaution.”  Sure enough, he’s back in Sunday’s lineup playing first base. The 22-year-old has hit .292/.389/.391 in 59 games in advanced-A.

- Sunday, Jeurys Familia worked a scoreless inning for St. Lucie with a walk, a hit, and a strikeout.

- In AA, Darin Gorski was sharp on Friday (7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K) in the B-Mets’ 3-0 win over New Hampshire.

- Also in AA Friday, Frank Francisco pitched a scoreless eighth inning. Which is cute, in some way. This is an odd way, one inning at a time, to audition for 2014 work beginning in late August.

A-Ball Thursday: Ynoa Tunes up for the Playoffs, Dilson Herrera’s Savannah Debut

A+: @ Jupiter Hammerheads (MIA) 12, St. Lucie Mets 3 

This decisive loss eliminated St. Lucie from playoff contention.

Alex Panteliodis (6-6, 4.75): 4.2 IP, 10 H, 8 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 3 K. The 23-year-old has fanned 56 in 102.1 innings this year. There’s no way he can go to AA as a starter next year.

 

A: Savannah Sand Gnats 5, @ Rome Braves 3 

After 10 days off, Gabriel Ynoa (15-4, 2.72) made his final tuneup for the SAL playoffs. After allowing two runs in the first, he settled down to finish six innings: 6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K.  Yesterday, Ynoa was named the 2013 Most Outstanding Pitcher in the SAL (more on that later).

2B Dilson Herrera had a busy night in his Mets system debut: 2-for-3, two runs scored, an RBI, and a stolen base from the cleanup spot. While it could not have been the primary motivation behind the trade, adding Herrera to the Gnats’ lineup makes this a much more dangerous offense headed to the playoffs and gives this team a significantly better chance of winning the SAL title.

A+ & AA Monday: Thor Leaves Mjollnir (His Hammer) At Home.

AA: @ Bowie Bay Sox (BAL) 11, Binghamton Mets 0 

Syndergaard Stl HeadIn Norse mythology, Thor slays the serpent Jörmungandr, and then ties himself from the snake’s venom. In another story Thor’s hammer Mjollnir is stolen, and eventually Thor tricks the thief using an age-old cross-dressing strategy before killing all who tried to steal his treasured hamer. Lets just say we’re at the point in the story without a hammer.

Noah Syndergaard is alive, but had a bad outing Monday night: 3 IP, 9 H, 11 R, 9 ER, 2 BB, 5 K. Hey at least he threw 64% of his pitches (55 of 86) for strikes. He was pitching on nine days rest because the Mets are limiting his innings down the stretch. Prior to Monday’s meltdown, since a homerun alllowed on 7/28, Thor had been untouchable: 20.1 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 26 K, .106 OBA, 239 pitches/178 strikes (74%). One bad start does not seem like a big deal. I suspect he will get an extra day or two of rest and then throw in game one or two of the B-Mets’ playoff series next Wednesday or Thursday.

The B-Mets had two hits, singles from 3B Josh Rodriguez and C Xorge Carillo.

 

A+: @ St. Lucie Mets 5, Charlotte Stone Crabs (TB) 2 

Domingo Tapia walked three batters in the first inning and then allowed two unearned runs in the second thanks to an error by 3B Robbie Shields. He settled in nicely after that facing three over the minimum from the third through the seventh innings thanks to two walks and a double. His final line: 7 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 5 BB, 4 K. A night like this counts as a step forward for Tapia.

Dustin Lawley was 2-for-4 with a double. The 24-year-old has hit .260/.313/.512 this year in St. Lucie with 63 extra-base hits and 111 strikeouts in 122 games. He’s also 24.

A-AA Thursday: Everybody Loses.

AA: @ Akron Aeros (CLE) 7, Binghamton Mets 3

A day after clinching the Division Title, the B-Mets put together a performance that looked like a hangover with four hits and four errors leading to five unearned runs which the team’s own official recap called “ugly.”

CF Alonzo Harris had a nice night at the top of the order: 2-for-4, 3B. The 24-year-old has hit .219/.284/.306 overall, weighed down by a .170/.261/.245 line in the last 34 games after the All-Star Break.

A+: @ Palm Beach Cardinals 6, St. Lucie Mets 3 

C Kevin Plawecki was 2-for-4 to move his average back over .300 to .302/.402/.397 in 52 games in the FSL as a 22-year-old. Between Savannah and St. Lucie, he has 35 doubles and 8 homeruns in 117 games. And yes, he will start in AA next year.

Also, at 22, SS Matt Reynolds drove in a couple of runs, but has hit just .231/.305/.335 overall in 108 games. I thought there would be a little more average in there for last year’s second round pick.

 

A: @ Kannapolis Intimidators 1, Savannah Sand Gnats 0 

The Gnats finished up their 10-game road trip to Rome, Augusta and Kannapolis at 3-7 while scoring just 25 runs (2.5 runs/game).

CF Brandon Nimmo was 0-for-4, with a strikeout.

RHP Julian Hilario (7-6, 3.67) was very solid, but took a tough loss: 7 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 1 HR.

A-Ball Wednesday: Typical Tapia; Brandon Nimmo is Scorching

A+: St. Lucie Mets 6, @ Palm Beach Cardinals 4
@ Palm Beach Cardinals 7, St. Lucie Mets 0

 

Game one was the completion of Tuesday’s suspended game. The Mets scored twice in the top of the seventh on a 3B Robbie Shields (.248/.301/.337 – 83 gms; age 25) double to grab the lead.
Game two was a repeat of the Domingo Tapia (2-9, 5.24) show. He worked through the first three innings without a major incident, allowing a second inning single and then a pair of walks in the third. It all fell apart for him in a six-run fourth that went: walk, double, strikeout, walk, walk, single, single, double, pitching change. His line: 3.1 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 5 BB, 6 K. Tapia has now walked 57 batters in 89.1 innings in one of the most disappointing years by a Mets’ pitching prospect in the whole system.

 

A: @ Kannapolis Intimidators (CHW) 4, Savannah Sand Gnats 3 

Nimmo Gnats HeadWhile the Gnats are 3-6 on their current 10-game road trip that ends Thursday, CF Brandon Nimmo is just smoking hot. He was 2-for-3 with a walk and no strikeouts Wednesday. On the trip, Nimmo is hitting .480 (12-for-25) with two doubles, 10 walks and six strikeouts. In August he’s up to .406/.553/.516 with 19 walks against 18 strikeouts in 20 games to push his season line to .285/.405/.376 in 96 contests.

A-AA Tuesday: Brandon Nimmo and Gabriel Ynoa Shine

A: Savannah Sand Gnats 5, Kannapolis Intimidators (CHW) 2 

Ynoa Delivery (Devyatkin)The Gnats put up a five-spot in the top of the seventh in a rally started by a couple of walks from guys at the bottom of the order. Batting with the bases loaded, CF Brandon Nimmo then singled into left field to drive home two runs to give the Gnats a 2-1 lead at the time. Nimmo was 3-for-5 with a run scored of his own and a strikeout. A ridiculous August (.393/.543/.508 in 19 games with 18 BB and 18 K) has lifted the 20-year-old’s his overall line to .282/.401/.374 with 22 extra-base hits, 61 walks, and 118 strikeouts in 95 games.

Gabriel Ynoa was good enough: 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 1 HR. After a slight rough patch at the end of July, Ynoa (pictured) has bounced back to finish well, going 3-0 with a 1.38 ERA in his last four starts with 16 strikeouts against just one walk in his last 26 innings while holding opponents to a .200/.209/.278 batting line. His velocity has moved around a little bit this year, but while sitting 90-92 in his last start in Savannah, a scout told me he saw three major league pitches in Ynoa’s fastball, changeup and slider. Just 20 years old, Ynoa the strike-throwing Ynoa, who has walked just 14 batters all year, a rate of 2.7%, is working towards a reasonable shot at a Major League rotation future.

 

AA: Bowie Baysox (BAL) 4, @ Binghamton Mets 1

The Baysox scored three runs in the final two innings against the B-Mets’ bullpen to break a 1-1 tie.

Danny Muno played shortstop for the 17th time this year while Wilfredo Tovar nurses a bum wrist.

 

A+: St. Lucie Mets 4, Palm Beach Cardinals 2  (4.5 innings)

They’ll try to finish this one Wednesday evening.

C Kevin Plawecki is already 2-for-3 in the game.

Nothing impressive about Rainy Lara’s line: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K. After running a K/BB of 8.5 in the SAL in 50.2 innings, Lara, the slider specialist, is down to 3.06 (49 K/16 BB) in 69.1 inning in the FSL.

The Weekend in Advanced-A: Michael Fulmer Leaves Early Sunday

Friday: Jupiter Hammerheads 7, St. Lucie Mets 0 
Saturday: @ Jupiter Hammerheads 4, St. Lucie Mets 2 
Sunday: @ Jupiter Hammerheads 2, St. Lucie Mets 1 (10 innings) 

 

injury-red-crossThe real news here is that RHP Michael Fulmer, one of the Mets’ top a-ball amrs, left Sunday’s game early. The note I got from a source in St. Lucie: “May be his throwing shoulder.” That sounds ominous, but more after further tests and a more extensive diagnosis. The 20-year-old Fulmer’s line: 3.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K. Fulmer’s season started late after meniscus surgery on his right knee, which has held him to just seven starts in St. Lucie.

Friday, Hansel Robles (5-3, 4.02) was ordinary again: 7 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K.
- Since returning from the DL with a back strain on July 4, Robles has a 4.36ERA in (16 ER/37 IP) with 26 K/10 BB and 50 hits allowed, including four homers. Robles who turned 23 last week, is on the Mets’ 40-man roster, a spot that is I would describe as shaky.

Saturday, was Alex Panteliodis‘ (6-5, 4.24) turn: 7.2 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 K

The St. Lucie offense had a slow weekend, mustering just three runs in 28 innings of baseball, all three losses. St. Lucie has now lost four games in a row to slip 1.5 games behind Charlotte for first place in the FSL South with 14 games to play.

An 0-for-7 on Saturday and Sunday, pulled C Kevin Plawecki down to .298/.401/.399 in 49 games for St. Lucie. Impressively, the 22-year-old has a 19/19 K/BB ratio in advanced-A, which is even better than his 32/23 K/BB in 65 games in the SAL.

Thursday in A-Ball: Is Three Runs Enough?

A+: Fort Myers Miracle (MIN) 5, St. Lucie Mets 3 

There’s really very little in this box score that deserves special recognition, good or bad.

DH Jayce Boyd had a couple of knocks in a 2-for-5 evening. He’s hitting .280/.358/.439 in 45 games in St. Lucie. The 22-year-old has hit for very little power in the last four weeks. Since homering four times in his first 26 games in St. Lucie, he’s hit .231/.351/.292 in his last 19 games.

Matt Bowman (6-4, 3.18) was meh: 4.2, 7 H, 5 R,  ER, 3 BB, 4 K.

 

A: @ Rome Braves 4, Savannah Sand Gnats 3 

The Braves finished off a three-game sweep of the Gnats in which Savannah scored a combined six runs over the three games. Actually, the Gnats have lost four in a row and five of six while scoring 10 runs total in those six games (1.67 runs per game).

To be fair, on Thursday, the Gnats ran into Lucas Sims, the Braves first round pick in 2012, who is a very good prospect in his own right, and one who’s made important strides this year from shaky relief outings early to recent dominance.

CF Brandon Nimmo: 0-for-3, BB. He grounded into a double-play and flew out twice. It was the first time in nine games that he has not struck out. He’s doing a much better job making contact in his .340/.500/.468 August with 13 walks against 14 whiffs.