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+: @ 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.
AA: @ Bowie Bay Sox (BAL) 11, Binghamton Mets 0
In 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.
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+: 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
While 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: Savannah Sand Gnats 5, Kannapolis Intimidators (CHW) 2
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.
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)
The 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.
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.
A+: @ St. Lucie Mets 4, Fort Myers Miracle (MIN) 3
Better from Domingo Tapia: 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 K.
Tapia is one of the most confounding prospects in the Mets’ system. He has one of the best fastballs in the system, showing 95-96 mph with sink regularly with plenty of 98 and a few 100s mixed in. His changeup, when it’s right, dives like a splitter out of the zone. He’s struggled in years past to find a release point for his slider as it used to come out loopy from his low 3/4 arm slot and he basically stopped throwing it at the end of the 2012 season in Savannah.
This year, Tapia got off to a strong start in April in St. Lucie (2.73 ERA, 26.1 IP, 18 H, 11 R, 8 ER, 10 BB, 24 K) but has had an ERA above 4.50 every month thereafter, with an 8.53 ERA in May and an 11.37 ERA (8 ER/6.1 IP) in August. Simply, he’s walking too many guys. In August, he’s walked seven in those 6.1 innings. In July it was 15 walks in 21.2 innings.
Excluding a rainout on April 30, Tapia has failed to finish his second inning five times, and thrice in his last five starts. As Mets Pitching Coordinator Ron Romanick explains, bad things can snowball on Tapia, “He just misses out of the zone, and he has a hard time recovering,” he explained on Sunday. “His stuff moves so much. He’s probably one of our best front-runner pitchers. [When] he gets out on a roll, he rolls it out of there. But that first or second inning, when he’s just missing, he’s had his struggles.”
The velocity is still there. As a scout told me in late June/early July: “Tapia threw the sh-t out of the ball.”
And yet on August 9, Baseball America as part of their weekly Hot Sheet, Baseball America wrote, “Tapia’s stuff hasn’t been the same as it was in 2012, when his fastball hit 98 mph and his changeup looked like a potentially plus pitch. The 21-year-old has struggled ….
Romanick too, disputed that the raw stuff has declined, “Everything is there, the reports I get. His changeup, which I think is his second best pitch, we’re trying to get him to be aggressive with it and throw it, when maybe his fastball is missing with it. At times, he’ll try to force the fastball all the time, when he has a plus second pitch.” Romanick thinks the slider too has improved, “we’ve tightened that up; it’s gotten a lot better.”
All of this sounds good and the FSL is still only hitting .240/.354/.331 against him and has 3 homerus in 86 innings. But if he cannot throw strikes, none of it matters.
Tapia was my #11 Mets prospect entering the 2013 season. He’ll drop this coming year, and probably not that far anyway, but a few realy good starts in August would make for a smaller dip.
A: @ Rome Braves 3, Savannah Sand Gnats 2
CF Brandon Nimmo: 1-for-3, 2B, BB. In 13 games in August, the 20-year-old Nimmo is hitting .364/.517/.500 with three doubles, a homer and 12 walks against 14 strikeouts. That a good way to end a season. For the year, he’s up to .272/.389/.366 in 89 games.
Nimmo is not one of the SAL’s 20 youngest players overall, but he is one of just 28 hitters to qualify for the SAL’s batting title at age 20 or younger. According to Baseball Reference, 55 of his plate appearances have come against pitchers younger than himself, while 344 have come against his “elders.”
AA: @ Reading Fightin’ Phils 7, Binghamton Mets 6
For the second time this year, the B-Mets lost a game on a walk-off wild pitch. This time the offender was Jeff Walters who blew his first save in 21 attempts, dating back to June 6. A recent scout’s pithy report on Walters, “He has a chance. Nice sinker.” Walters (pictured) has run a 3.9 K/BB ratio in AA (51 K/13 BB) with over a strikeout an inning (49 innings). He’s a fastball slider guy, who with a fastball in the low-mid 90s, certainly profiles as a middle reliever. Walters, like deGrom, who I wrote about in AAA today, seem like extremely strong bets to be added to the Mets’ 40-man roster this off-season.
LF Cory Vaughn was 2-for-5. He’s bopping along at .379/.406/.724 with a double, three homers, one walk and six whiffs in eight games since his return to AA at the beginning of August. He had six homers in his first 46 games in AA this year before this run. It’s interesting too that Vaughn is playing left while Travis Taijeron plays right for the B-Mets.
Erik Goeddel, Meh: 5.2 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K.
A+: @ St. Lucie Mets 5, Fort Myers Miracle (MIN) 4
C Kevin Plawecki’s two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh inning gave the Mets the runs they needed in a comeback win. Plaweckis is up to .322/.426/.430 with a 17/17 K/BB ratio to go with 12 extra-base hits against 10 HBP in 44 games in advanced-A. I had Plawecki ranked as my #11 prospect pre-season. He will move up a couple of notches in 2014.
Rainy Lara, meh: 6 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 1 HR. Lara’s working a 49/16 K/BB in 69.1 innings in advanced-A.
By the way, 19-year-old Twins prospect Byron Buxton was 3-for-4 in the game to lift his line to .300/.365/.456 in 38 games in the FSL.
A: @ Rome Braves 2, Savannah Sand Gnats 1
CF Brandon Nimmo: 1-for-2, 2 BB, 1 K. The 20-year-old is rolling along at .366/.519/.488 in 12 games in August with 11 walks and 13 strikeouts. It’s particularly important to see him get his strikeout rate under control after fanned 69 times in 49 games in June and July. I strongly suspect, because I watched him that either his hand was not 100% healed in June/July, or if it was “healed” he didn’t trust it, because he was trying to compensate mechanically.
Gabriel Ynoa just rolls along too: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 4 K. After a pair of rough starts at the end of July, Ynoa has been untouchable in his last three: 18.2 IP, 13 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 13 K. That’s a 0.96 ERA, a 1% walk rate and a 19% k/rate. This is why K% is better than k/9. By K/9, Ynoa’s at 6.3 K/9, but he faces so few batters, because he allows few hits and almost never walks a batter, that he’s actually fanning a healthy, if not overwhelming, number of batters.