A+: Sunday: @ St. Lucie Mets 8, Bradenton Marauders (PIT) 2
The FSL did not play baseball on Memorial Day, which seems almost un-American.
They did play on Sunday, and Matt Bowman was sharp again: 7 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K. Bowman’s been great in four starts in the FSL: 27 IP, 2.57 ERA, 21 H, 4 BB, 33 K. The Princeton product has a full five-pitch arsenal, two and four seam fastballs, curve, slider and splitter, which replaced his changeup this year. There’s a little bit of deception in his Tim Lincecum-like delivery. Bowman, who will turn 22 in five days, is rolling through a-ball because he throws strikes, can spin his off-speed pitches for strikes, and can out-smart hitters. His strike-throwing ability will move him up the ladder, but there’s just a really sharp limit on the ceiling on a 6′ right-hander with a fastball regularly at 89-91 mph.
Sunday: Augusta GreenJackets (SF) 3, @ Savannah Sand Gnats 1 (12 innings)
Monday: Savannah Sand Gnats 4, @ Greenville Drive (BOS) 1
The Drive are lousy (14-36), but Gabriel Ynoa was still really good on Monday in South Carolina: 8 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K. Ynoa, who turned 20 on Sunday has really started to roll. In his last three starts, he’s gone a combined 20.1 IP, with 14 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB and 19 K for a 1.33 ERA. He hits at 91 and can touch 92 or 93. Ynoa is a stronger prospect than Bowman because he is younger, bigger, throws a few ticks harder on his fastball and gets more outs with his fastball.
Sunday, Luis Cessa threw well (6.2 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K), but the team didn’t score enough for him as Jayce Boyd and Kevin Plawecki combined on five of the Gnats’ 10 hits.
A combined 1-for-8 in the last two games dropped SS Philip Evans to .183/.261/.238 in 48 games.
Still no Brandon Nimmo.
A+: @ St. Lucie Mets 1, @ Bradenton Marauders (PIT) 0
Little Angel Cuan was outstanding: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K. St. Lucie manager Ryan Ellis told MiLB.com that it was the best he had ever seen the soft-tossing Cuan.
Jeurys Familia and Scott Atchison each threw a scoreless inning of relief with one strikeout. According to the gang at MetsBlog, Terry Collins told reporters that Familia will be headed right back to Vegas to continue his rehab.
A: @ Savannah Sand Gnats 2, Augusta GreenJackets (SF) 1
SS Philip Evans drove home the winning run in the bottom of the ninth on a hanging slider. After the game, the 20-year-old told the Savannah Morning News:
“He threw a hanging slider, and I was able to get good wood on it. It’s been a rough season of ups and downs, mostly downs. So that definitely felt good. I hope it gets me back in a groove of playing at the level I feel I can play at.
“I got a little frustrated last night and let that take over. But I realized I needed to be there with my team to finish that game. I stayed focused tonight.”
Evans (.186/.269/.244 – 46 gms) was ejected Friday, and grounded out with the bases loaded in the seventh Saturday, so his game-winner had to feel especially rewarding for him.
DH Kevin Plawecki (.358/.438/.600 – 45 gms) was 0-for-4 to snap his consecutive games on base streak at 34. TRAID. Or PROMOAT.
Jake Kuebler, a converted position player, made his first career start and was solid: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K.
A+: Bradenton Marauders (PIT) 8, @ St. Lucie Mets 6
The Mets scored five times in the final two innings, but it was not enough to overcome an early 7-0 deficit. Why were the Mets down big? Domingo Tapia was wild in his return from the DL with a burned (non) pitching hand: 0.1 IP, 2 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 4 BB, 0 K, HBP. Just yuck. It was his first game in 19 days, but that’s not good.
At the plate, 3B Aderlin Rodriguez (.261/.287/.484 – 45 games) was 3-for-5 with an RBI. The 21-year old is bopping along at .345/.376/.632 in 21 games in May.
SS Matt Reynolds, who has had a tough May for average (.233/.321/.384) was 2-for-2 with three walks. The 22-year-old is now hitting .253/.337/.365 with 19 walks against 32 strikeouts in 44 games.
A: @ Savannah Sand Gnats 6, Augusta GreenJackets (SF) 5
Matt Koch has a good arm, but the results have not really been as good as his low-mid 90s fastball: 5 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 2 HR, 12 gb; 1 fb. On this night, his defense, which committed three errors, did not help him.
C Kevin Plawecki (.366/.447/.615 – 44 games): 2-for-3 with a three-run homer (his sixth), a bases loaded walk, and four RBI. He’s reached base safely in 34-straight games. As discussed Friday, there’s little developmental reason for the 22-year old Plawecki to still be in Savannah. However, keeping him in Savannah both helps keep the Gnats alive for a first half title (after Friday’s win, the team is 0.5 games out of first) and buys Cam Maron a few more advanced-A at-bats. Plawecki now has more extra-base hits (27) than strikeouts (20).
It’s hard to have a worse night than SS Philip Evans: 0-for-3, 2 errors (in the ‘Jackets three-run second) and an ejection after a sixth-inning strikeout looking with runners at second and third. In 45 games, the 20-year-old Evans is hitting .184/.269/.243 with 16 errors, tied for the second-most among SAL shortstops.
A+: @ Dunedin Blue Jays 5, St. Lucie Mets 3
Noah Syndergaard (2-2, 2.86): 5.2, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
In all three of the innings in which the Jays scored against Syndergaard, they stole at least one base off Syndergaard and Cam Maron. Maron has thrown out 24% of opposing base stealers this year (12 of 50), which is a major improvement over last year’s 12.5% (10 of 80). Anyway, this was Thor’s shortest outing and most runs he has allowed in over a month, since he gave up seven runs in three innings against Fort Myers on April 18. What me worried? Not at all. Fun fact, after walking 10 batters in 25 innings in April, he’s walked just five in 25.1 innings in May.
A: Charleston River Dogs (NYY) 4, Savannah Sand Gnats 2
This game, in which the teams combined on six runs, 25 men left on base, and 5-for-29 (.172) with runners in scoring position took three hours and nine minutes.
RHP Rainy Lara did not have his good location and was punished a little for it: 4.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K. As usual, he threw his slider A LOT. The Gnats made his life more difficult by committing three errors behind him, allowed a run to score and helping pushing his pitch up.
DH Kevin Plawecki, who had the night off from catching was 3-for-5 with a pair of clean singles to center and a bloop off the end of his bat into shallow right that scored a run in the ninth. Plawecki, at .364/.445/.597 is now leading the SAL in average and OBP and doubles (19).
One other night deserves note: SS Philip Evans. With the bases loaded and two outs in the second, with the Gnats down 1-0, he bounced out to first to end the inning. With the Gnats down 2-0 in the fourth, and runners at second and third, he popped out on a que shot foul to first. Frustrated, he smashed his bat over his knee. Evans doubled and scored in the ninth to finish 1-for-4. His frustration is understandable, he’s carrying a season line of .185/.273/.247 in his first 43 games. Evans also committed his 14th error of the year on a routine ground ball to the left of the second base bag.
A+: St. Lucie Mets 5, @ Dunedin Blue Jays 3
Not much exciting here in the box score.
22-year-old LHP Alex Panteliodis was ok, but not special: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, with 5 ground outs and six flyouts.
A pair of 24-year-olds – 2B TJ Rivera and RF Travis Taijeron -were both 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Taijeron is hitting .270/.385/.482 thanks to a big May (.323/.432/.613 with 9 2B and 3 HR) but he has major contact problems, for an offensively oriented position (LF), having struck out 44 times in 41 games. Rivera, a non-drafted free agent out of Troy is hitting .300/.362/.371. He’s stretched at shortstop, but makes a fine second baseman in a-ball.
A: Charleston RiverDogs 2, @ Savannah Sand Gnats 0
This one, played in perfect weather – 77 degrees at first pitch – featured a really fun pitching matchup: NYY’s Rafael De Paula and the Mets’ Steven Matz (pictured).
Both Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America rated De Paula as the Yankees’ #10 prospect coming into this year, and he has more than lived up to the billing, leading minor league baseball in strikeouts with 73. De Paula lied about his age and identity and MLB investigated him for 16 months before finally approving his contract last year (more background here). De Paula’s line actually might understate how good he was: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K. He did not allow a runner to third. I didn’t get gun readings on him during the game, but he was throwing damn hard (BP had him topping out at 99 entering the season and BA at 98). Gnats’ hitters could not square up his stuff. He showed both a breaking ball and a changeup with a chance to be plus. I believe I described one change on air as “unfair.” The one blemish on De Paula’s game: control: he’s walked 19 batters in 45.1 innings. For a guy making the jump from the DSL to the SAL, that’s understandable. I think he’s the top pitching prospect I’ve seen against the Gnats this year.
Steven Matz was almost as good: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, and 93 pitches and first pitch strikes to 15 of 22 batters. Matz gave up a run in the first that should never have happened and a run in the fourth that should have happened. In the first, leadoff man Taylor Dugas slapped hard one-hop single past 3B Jeff Reynolds who was drawn in against his speed to begin the inning. I thought it was a ball Reynolds should have fielded. After Dugas stole second, Matz gave up a single the other way to light-hitting SS (bust) Cito Culver to put runners at the corners with no outs. He induced a double-play grounder, but the run scored three batters into the game. In the fourth, Matz gave up a pair of triples blasted up the right-center field gap for the ‘Dogs’ second run. After that, he set down the final eight batters he saw in the game.
Matz was sitting at 92 mph, was 90-93 and touched 95, according to those sitting behind home plate. He worked heavily off his fastball early, before working in more sliders and changeups as the night went on. He got back-to-back strikeouts off the slider in the fifth. Many of his other whiffs were on elevated heat. The good news is that he was 1. more comfortable throwing his slider in games and 2. getting swings and misses with it. The nine strikeouts were a new season-high, tying his career high from last year in Kingsport.
C Kevin Plawecki (.356/.441/.597 – 41 games) was 0-for-2 with two walks, and has now reached base safely in 31 straight games. I asked Mets’ Special Assistant to the GM JP Ricciardi before the game what else Plawecki had to prove in the South Atlantic League. Not much, he conceded, saying it was “only a matter of time” until he earned his promotion to advanced-A. I had a scout praise Plawecki’s “quick release” the other day to me and he was 1-for-2 throwing out runners Tuesday.
A+: @ Brevard County Manatees (MIL) 3, St. Lucie Mets 2
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.
Both A-ball starters walked four batters Monday. Oops.
A+: Brevard County Manatees (MIL) 6, St. Lucie Mets 5
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.
A: @ Charleston RiverDogs 5, Savannah Sand Gnats 3
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.
A+: Palm Beach Cardinals 7, @ St. Lucie Mets 3
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.
A: Rome Braves 3, @ Savannah Sand Gnats 2
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 Wheeler gave 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.
A+: @ St. Lucie Mets 6, Daytona Cubs 5 (10 innings)
3B Aderlin Rodriguez lined a single to center in the bottom of the tenth to give St. Lucie the win in extra innings. Rodriguez, who was 3-for-5 with a double, a homer, and 3 RBI is hot. The big guy is hitting .317/.356/.683 (!) in his last ten. He’s part of a six-way tie for second in the FSL in homers. A slow start has held his overall line down to .234/.263/.476 in 31 games. He lost a bunch of weight this winter, to help his agility in the field, but he’s all about the bat. I suspect he will be a first baseman by the time he reaches the big leagues. Like Cesar Puello a level above him, Rodriguez will need to learn to walk more as his 23/5 K/BB ratio in 31 games attests. That strikeout rate of 16% is fine for a guy with his kind of power, but he’s walked in just 3.8% of his plate appearances. He must become more patient.
Alex Panteliodis started (5 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HR).
Frank Francisco got himself in trouble with a pair of walks, but fanned two to end the threat in the eighth.
A: The Gnats were off.
A+: @ St. Lucie Mets 1, Daytona Cubs 0
Domingo Tapia: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 4 K. In 32.1 innings this year, the big 21-year-old has allowed just 20 hits, while walking 13 and fanning 28.
St. Lucie manager Ryan Ellis told MiLB.com that Tapia’s breaking ball, which was formerly sliderish has improved and mutated:
“It’s more of a curveball and it’s come along nicely. He’s starting to trust it a lot more. Even when he’s behind in the count, he’s comfortable enough to mix it in. He’s found control enough with it where he feels comfortable throwing it.”
I’d be pleasantly surprised if Tapia can throw a true curve from his low release. Any breaking ball progress to complement his power sinker and hard changeup is a good thing though.
Frank Francisco threw a scoreless inning of relief behind Tapia and fanned two.
A: Savannah Sand Gnats @ Hickory Crawdads – ppd by Rain
They’ll play two today.