Big Noah Syndergaard bounced back nicely after allowing seven runs in three innings in his last start. Tuesday: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K. Of his non-strikeout outs, he picked up eight on the ground and four in the air. In 18 innings, Syndergaard has fanned 19 (good), and walked nine (not so good).
SS Matt Reynolds and 1B Aderlin Rodriguez were each 1-for-4 with a double. Rodriguez has now played first in three of his last four games. He neither walked nor struck out so the 21-year-old is 18 games into the 2013 season with 16 strikeouts and zero walks as part of a .167/.173/.347 start in 18 games.
RHP Luis Cessa (pictured) made it look easy for six shutout innings while the Gnats’ batters on the other side ground their way through at-bats, took their walks and bopped three run-scoring doubles.
Cessa’s line: 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K. He induced six ground ball outs and just two air outs. Four of the hits he allowed were singles, and the fifth probably should have been but for Eudy Pina overrunning a ball in right field. Cessa threw first pitch strikes to 19 of 23 batters. I don’t have velocity readings on Cessa, but I suspect he was low 90s most of the night. He has some feel for a breaking ball and changeup.
Of his seven strikeouts, four were looking and three swinging. Of the three swinging strikeouts I described one as swinging at a breaking ball, one late on a fastball, and one I let the pitch type go uncalled, but I suspect it was a fastball. I believe all of the looking strikeouts came on fastballs. Cessa was able to work to both sides of the plate with his heat on this night. It was a fine performance. In three starts, Cessa now owns a 1.02 ERA with two walks and 16 strikeouts in 17.2 innings.
At the plate, 1B Jayce Boyd was 2-for-4 with a double ripped up the left-centerfield gap and a walk. He’s up to .394/.476/.549 with 11 walks against nine strikeouts in 18 games in Savannah. He extended his hitting streak to eight straight games, a Sand Gnats’ season-best. The 22-year old sure seems to have the SAL figured out.
SS Philip Evans doubled home two runs in the Gnats’ three-run fourth inning. It was a breaking ball up, and Evans dropped it along the rightfield line for his first double of the year in his 17th game. He also made a nice play on a ball up the middle in the ninth that reliever Tyler Vanderheiden deflected. Evans swooped in, made the bare-handed pick and fired to first in time. He went the other way with a line out in the sixth, but he seemed to do a better job Tuesday of staying on contact and using the right side of the field on pitches away.
CF Brandon Nimmo: 1-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts. The hit was a clean single up the middle. He earned the walk after falling behind in the count in the sixth and then battling back to full. He chased fastballs in his first two at-bats for the strikeouts.
Boyd’s RBI double, and Evans’ nice plays are embedded below.
2B TJ Riveradrove home both Mets’ runs while going 2-for-4 with a walk. At .310/.383/.394, the 24-year-old was the only guy in the St. Lucie lineup Monday hitting above .280. Rivera (pictured), who can second or short in the minors, provides some nice roster flexibility.
Aderlin Rodriguezplayed firstbase again and was 1-for-4 with a strikeout. Now hitting .162/.169/.338 he has gone 17 games without drawing a walk while fanning 16 times.
RHP Marcos Camarenaworked in and out of trouble to keep the Crabs from doing much damage: 4.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K.
A: Sand Gnats – Off
The Gnats were off, but begin a stretch of 10 games in 11 days at home on Tuesday.
RHP Hansel Robleshad his best outing of 2013: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K.
Four of St. Lucie’s six hits were doubles.
3B Aderlin Rodriguezhad one of the doubles – his third of the year – in a 1-for-4 afternoon. The 21-year old is now hitting .156/.164/.344. Six of his 10 hits have gone for extra-bases and there’s nothing wrong with his isolated slugging percentage of .188. The issues: 1. no singles (well few: just four) and 2. no walks. Seriously. No walks. He’s played in 16 games and has zero walks and 15 strikeouts. We are officially putting Aderlin Rodriguez on a walk-watch. He’s too talented to do this.
Rodriguez does have a history of slow starts. In 2012 with Savannah, he hit .200/.266/.370 in April, but he did draw eight walks in the month, a mark he will be hard-pressed to replicate in 2013. Actually, his 2013 looks a whole lot like his April 2011 in Savannah when he put up a .209/.236/.442 line with 10 extra-base hits, eight singles and two walks in 21 games in the month.
Ho-hum, more production from C Kevin Plawecki and 1BJayce Boyd.
Boyd (.388/.468/.537 – 17 gms) was 2-for-5 with a double. Plawecki (.381/.444/.667 – 16 gms) was 2-for-4 with an RBI.
CF Brandon Nimmo was 0-for-3, but walked twice and stole a base, his second of the year. He’s only hitting .424/.513/.576, topping the SAL in average and on-base percentage and triples (3).
Logan Taylorfinished four innings, but had his issues: 4 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K. Matt Kochfollowed, allowing one run on two hits in four innings with one strikeout and no walks. He throws hard, so it’s a little surprising that he does not miss more bats, especially in the SAL.
By going 0-for-3 with a strikeout, Philip Evans slipped to .179/.254/.214 in 16 games with the Gnats.
SS Philip Evans (pictured) had one at-bat on Saturday and popped out to first base. He was then removed from the game by Gnats’ manager Luis Rojas because he did not run out the play. “It’s organizational policy,” Rojas explained after the game. “We talked about it, and he [Evans] understands.” The 20-year-old Evans has had a tough start to the year, hitting .189/.254/.226 through 15 games with seven errors.
The good: 1B Jayce Boyd: 3-for-4, 1 2B, BB, 4 RBI. The 22-year-old is hitting .387/.473/.532 with 10 walks against nine strikeouts (!) in his 16 games with the Gnats.
CF Brandon Nimmo: 1-for-3, 3B, 2 BB, 1 K. It was the second game in a row with a triple for Nimmo, who now has more triples (3) than doubles (1) to go along with eight walks and 13 strikeouts in 16 games for a ridiculous .444/.520/.603 line. It’s early and all, but he’s off to a 2-for-9 start (.222) against lefties.
DH Kevin Plawecki: 1-for-4, 2B. The double was his ninth in his last 10 games to move him into a tie for the league lead with nine doubles and a .373/.441/.678 line overall in 15 games.
The not: Rainy Lara:5.1 IP, 11 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HR
Frank Francisco threw an inning of scoreless relief in the eighth inning, in his second outing with St. Lucie.
The Good: Domingo Tapia: 7 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K. The 21-year old has bounced back nicely from his 0.2 outing on April 11 in which he walked four batters. In his last two starts, he’s fanned 14 and walked two, while allowing just two earned runs in his 13 innings of work.
SS Matt Reynolds: 3-for-4, RBI, SB. In 16 games, he’s up to .297/.357/.406.
2B TJ Rivera: 2-for-4, 2 2B.
The Not: 1B Aderlin Rodriguez: 0-for-4, K. Look, guys are allowed to take an -for. However, in 15 games to start the year, Rodriguez has now fanned 14 times without walking once for a .150/.159/.333 line. Also he played first base again. His days at third are numbered, clearly.
AnAderlin Rodriguez homer in the fourth inning gave the Mets an 8-7 lead in the fourth inning. However, the Mets did not score again, while Fort Myers tallied twice against the bullpen in the seventh and tacked on single runs in the eighth and ninth innings.
Good Stuff – The Bats
The Rodriguez (pictured) homerun gave him three straight games with a jack. In 13 games, he’s hitting .173/.182/.385 with five extra-base hits, zero walks and 12 strikeouts. It’s early, but that’s an unusual looking line.
SSMatt Reynolds was 2-for-5 with a triple, a two-run homerun and three RBI. In 14 games, the 22-year old is hitting a healthy .286/.355/.411 in 14 games.
CF Gilbert Gomez was 2-for-4 from the bottom of the order with seven walks and 14 strikeouts and just one extra-base hit in 14 games, he’s hitting .326/.415/.348.
Not So Good – The Arms Noah Syndergaard gave up two runs in the first inning, on a homer to Twins prospect Miguel Sano, and five runs in the third. His ugly line: 3 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 HR. Fort Myers improved to 13-1 with the win.
Oh man. The Gnats scored three runs in the top of the ninth to come back from a 6-5 deficit to take an 8-6 lead only to watch Greensboro win it on a three-run walkoff jack i nthe bottom of the frame.
The Gnats’ ninth: CF Brandon Nimmo singled, SS Yucary De La Cruz reached on an error, 1B Jayce Boyd sacrifice fly (tied the game), C Kevin Plawecki (pictured) two-run homer for the lead.
The ‘Hoppers’ ninth vs. reliever Julian Hilario: single, single, bunt to move the runners to second and third, three-run homer by Viosergy Rosa, his third of the year.
After going 3-for-5, Nimmo now has three-straight multi-hit games and is beating SAL pitching at a .447/.518/.574 rate in his first 12 games as a 20-year old. Boyd is bopping along at .383/.455/.553 in his 12 games while Plawecki is sitting at .375/.426/.667 in his dozen contests. Boyd, Nimmo and Plawecki have powered the Gnats offense.
Luis Cessawas solid but let down by his defense: 5 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HR. Philip Evans made an error behing Cessa that opened the door on a three-run bottom of the second. After striking out to end the third to fall to 0-for-2, he was ejected. 3B Cole Frenzel also committed two errors behind Cessa.
The Mets scored five runs in the fourth and six runs in the sixth to blow out the Crabs. Every St. Lucie starter had a hit and scored a run in this one.
C Cam Maron led the way from the two-spot in the order, going 3-for-5 with a triple and 3 RBI. The 22-year old has finished his first 10 games hitting .286/.318/.405.
3B Aderlin Rodriguez hit his first homer of 2013 in a 2-for-5 effort. The 21-year old is off to a slow start (.159/.170/.273 – 7 H/44 AB) in part because he’s not controlling the strike zone at all (0 BB/ 9 strikeouts).
LF Dustin Lawley had a grand slam, which is nice, because slams are fun.
Reliever Wanel Mesa made his first appearance as a Met. The 26-year-old ran a 7.00 ERA in the SAL with Hagerstown, a Nationals’ affiliate last year in 2010, in 54 innings over 38 relief appearances. His peripherals were about as poor as you would expect: .304 opponents’ batting average, 32 strikeouts/25 walks. I suppose the Mets signed him as a minor league free agent.
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.