Both advanced-A St. Lucie and low-A Savannah announced their 2013 coaching staffs this week, and in both cases, the Mets will send the identical coaching lineup to each team as they did in 2012.
In St. Lucie, this means Ryan Ellis will serve as the manager, with Phil Regan as the pitching coach and Benn Distefano teaching hitting.
In Savannah, Luis Rojas take his second go-round as manager, with Frank Viola working as his pitching coach and Joel Fuentes as his hitting coach. (I get lucky. This is a really easy staff to work with, and you can’t beat Frank Viola’s insight.)
Including AA Binghamton, the Mets will have the exact same staff in place in three of their four full-season affiliates. That’s awfully impressive. Continuity is a good thing.
A+: Jupiterhammerheads (MIA) 11, @ St. Lucie Mets 7
The Jupiter Hammerheads raced out to 6-1 lead through four innings on their way to a 11-7 win over St. Lucie to take the Florida State League South Division Series 2-1 and eliminate St. Lucie, team record for wins and all, from the FSL playoffs.
Down 6-1 in the fourth, the Mets rallied for five runs in the bottom of the fifth to forge a 6-6 tie. 2B TJ Rivera, CF Cesar Puello and LF Alonzo Harris began the frame with singles, and then Danny Muno brought home two runs with a triple to rightcenter and 1B Richard Lucas brought home two more with a double to leftcenter.
The tie was short-lived however, as Jupiter scored three times off reliever John Church in the top of the sixth. Church was ejected from the game after he was removed.
The Mets found themselves in the big early hole because LHP Chase Huchingson was roughed up for six runs, all earned on seven hits in three and a third innings. The Mets committed four early, so the defense was not helpful.
From the nine-hole, Puello was 2-for-4 with a solo homerun in the ninth. Muno was 3-for-5 with a double, a triple and two RBI. Harris was 2-for-5 with a homer in the third inning and one of St. Lucie’s four errors. Harris and Muno are certainly ticketed for double-A to start 2013. Puello, with a good performance in the Arizona Fall League can lock in his spot as well.
The Cyclones, who begin their playoff run Friday night, are now the only Mets’ affiliate still playing.
A+: @ St. Lucie Mets 2 , Jupiter Hammerheads 1
Jacob deGrom threw six shutout innings to lead the Mets past the Hammerheads and even their best-of-three game South Division series at one game each. The third and final game will be Thursday night.
deGrom’s line: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K. In five starts between the regular season and playoffs in the FSL, he’s now allowed 18 hits in 27.2 innings, five runs, 8 BB and 23 K for a combined 1.65 ERA. The Mets have generally waited 12-15 starts before promoting a starter, but deGrom is already 24 and has made a strong case to start 2013 in double-A.
The Mets broke a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the seventh when with two outs, 2B TJ Rivera singled, CF Cesar Puello reached on an error, and LF Alonzo Harris singled to left to score Rivera.
DH Darrell Ceciliani and 1B Richard Lucas were each 2-for-4 with Lucas adding a double and an RBI.
@ Jupiter Hammerheads 3, St. Lucie Mets 1
This was the game Jupiter needed with their ace on the hill, in their only home game, to take a 1-0 lead, and give themselves a shot in game one of this best-of-three game series.
The Hammerheads scored twice in the bottom of the eighth off Adrian Rosario to break a 1-1 tie. After a leadoff walk, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna singled to bring home the second run. The third run scored on a sacrifice fly off Hamilton Bennett. Yelich was 3-for-4 with a strikeout and two runs scored. I wrote briefly about him on Tuesday. He’s really good.
A two-hour and 58 minute rain delay helped chase starters Logan Verrett and Jose Fernandez from the game after five innings.
The St. Lucie offense mustered only four hits including two from SS Danny Muno, who was 2-for-4. CF Cesar Puello, who was 1-for-3 with a triple, scored St. Lucie’s only run. Notably, Robbie Shields started at third, while Aderlin Rodriguez sat.
The St. Luce Mets begin a best-of-three series Northern Division Championship series tonight against the Jupiter Hammerheads, SAL affiliate of the Miami Marlins.
These are two of the better offenses in the FSL, Jupiter is second in runs scored (623) and St. Lucie is third (613). St. Lucie was second in OPS (.733) while Jupiter is fifth (.713) and both teams have offenses with .336 on-base percentages. Given the fact that the two offenses got on base at the same rate, and St. Lucie hit for more power, it’s a little odd that Jupiter has scored more runs. St. Lucie lead the FSL in homeruns (106) and was second in doubles (251) and stolen bases (167). Jupiter is tied for sixth in homers and was third in doubles, while occupying one of the bottom steps on the ladder (ninth) in stolen bases (99).
St. Lucie and Jupiter had the top two ERAs in the FSL as St. Lucie was first at 3.34 and Jupiter was second at 3.51. St. Lucie was third in strikeouts (1027) while Jupiter was fourth (1013) while St. Lucie walked the second-fewest batters (378) while Jupiter was fifth (415).
The Hammerheads are led by two of the Marlins’ best prospects: RHP Jose Fernandez and CF Christian Yelich.
Fernandez began his season with Greensboro in the South Atlantic League, but was promoted to the FSL in early July three and a half weeks before his 20th birthday. He’s simply the best pitching prospect I saw in the SAL this year (I missed Dylan Bundy due to some unfortunate scheduling). He’s big – listed at 6’3″ and a strong 230 pounds with mid-upper 90s heat (93-97) and a slider with sharp two-plane break. In the SAL, there were times when the slider got away from him, but it certainly has plus potential. Oh, and he’s been dominant in the FSL as well with a 1.96 ERA in 11 games and 59 strikeouts against 17 walks in 55 innings with just 38 hits allowed.
The joy of short series is that if he can deliver the Hammerheads a win in game one in his matchup with RHP Logan Verrett, the ‘Heads need to win just one of the final two in St. Lucie Wednesday and Thursday.
The 20-year old Yelich, is just a really good outfield prospect with a lean body – 6’4″ and listed at 190 pounds. He is the kind of prospect that the Mets hope Brandon Nimmo can become. Yelich led the FSL in OPS (.922) as part of a .330/.404/.519 line with 29 doubles, five triples and 12 homers in 106 games. He steals bases (20-for-26) but his real calling card is his smooth swing from the left side. Yelich got really hot in the second half of 2011 and then helped lead the Greensboro Grasshoppers over the Savannah Sand Gnats in the SAL Championship Series. This year, he hit a bonkers .362/.435/.517 with 30 walks against 40 strikeouts in 62 games in the second half. St. Lucie manager Ryan Ellis, who skippered Savannah a year ago, has seen this movie before.
Yelich’s bash brother is RF Marcell Ozuna, who led the FSL with 24 homers, one more than St. Lucie’s Cory Vaughn. Ozuna finished with a scorching August as well: .365/.421/.673 with eight double and eight homers in 27 games.
The Hammerheads are a little more top-heavy, but the St. Lucie Mets are deeper.
The series will hinge on game one; the Hammerheads must win behind Fernandez in game one to have a chance. St. Lucie with two at home Wednesday and Thursday can deal with a game one loss.
MiLB.com has more here.
A+: @ St. Lucie Mets 7, Bradenton Maruaders (PIT) 3
LHP Chase Huchingson struck out a season-high 11 batters in his final regular season start of the year: 6.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 11 K. I still think that if the long lefty has a big league future, it’s in the bullpen. However, for what it’s worth, he has slight reverse platoon splits this year as lefties have a .729 OPS against him in 140 AB while righties have a .689 OPS in 321 AB.
RF Cesar Puello was 1-for-2 with a triple, a walk and a HBP. The 21-year old is hitting .284/.377/.537 in 21 games in August, but still has fanned 16 times and walked just three times even in his best stretch of the year. It’s going to be a problem at higher levels.
LF Alonzo Harris (.288/.355/.429) was 2-for-5 and stole his 40th base of the year. He’s running at an 80% clip (40-for-50) and has swiped 28 bags in the 62 games since the All-Star Break while hitting .301/.360/.438. He’s earned his promotion to AA to start 2013.
A: Savannah Sand Gnats 4, @ Kannapolis Intimidators 2
DH Cam Maron was 1-for-3 with a walk and a run in his final game in Savannah before he was promoted to advanced-A St. Lucie. The 21-year old leaves the Gnats as a .300/.403/.408 hitter in 93 games with 53 walks against 73 strikeouts. He threw out 13% of opposing base stealers (10 of 80).
LHP Alex Panteliodis was ok without the kind of peripherals I look for: 7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 1 HR
A+: @ St. Lucie Mets 5, Bradenton Marauders 1
I’m telling you, Jacob deGrom is legit. With a fastball that can touch 95 or 96 on some nights, he is a serious arm. His line Thursday: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 2 WP.
In four starts (one rain-shortened) in the FSL: he’s fanned 18 batters and walked six in 21.2 innings with a 2.08 ERA thanks to 14 hits allowed and a .177 opponents’ batting average. The Mets have tended to promote pitchers after a minimum of 12 starts or so, but if deGrom adds another good start in the FSL playoffs he will only reach five or maybe six in the FSL. He’ll be 25 in June 2013, so I would like to see him get a crack at double-A.
Aderlin Rodriguez played first and was 1-for-4. It was the 10th time this year, between Savannah and St. Lucie he’s played first, his likely eventual defensive home.
A: @ Asheville Tourists 6, Savannah Sand Gnats 2
The Gnats have lost six games in a row and 12 of their last 13.
RHP Yohan Almonte: 5 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HBP
A+: @ Jupiter Hammerheads 2, St. Lucie Mets 1
The Mets had just four hits, and RF Cory Vaughn, who was 1-for-3 with a double, had the only extra-base knock.
RHP Logan Verrett had a strong outing: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K. In six starts in the FSL, Verrett, the Mets’ third round pick a year ago, has a 2.09 ERA, driven by the fact that he hasa 0.88 WHIP. He’s walked FOUR batters in 38.2 innings, a walk rate of 2.7. That’s a remarkable degree of control. All the same, I look at strikeout rate first, and here, he’s fanned 26 batters, a rate of 17%. That’s a little low. I really want to see a pitcher in advanced-A striking out a batter an inning – in the 20-25% range. I don’t know how this “all strikes, few strikeouts” plan will play in AA or the big leagues.
A: @ Asheville Tourists 6, Savannah Sand Gnats 0
Miller Diaz came up from Kingsport to make his first start in the SAL and he did not get a whole lot of help from his defense in a game in which the Gnats committed five errors: 4.2 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, although he also balked twice. The 20-year old Diaz struck out over a batter an inning in Kingsport out of a sturdy frame, listed at 6’1″ and 210 lbs.
A+: @ Jupiter Hammerheads (MIA) 5, St. Lucie Mets 4 (7 innings)
@ Jupiter Hammerheads 4, St. Lucie Mets 2 (7 innings)
RF Cesar Puello (.257/.325/.424) was 1-for-3 with a homer in game one. He played rightfield in both games, while Darrell Ceciliani roamed in center in game one and Alonzo Harris did the same in game two.
LF Cory Vaughn (pictured) was 2-for-3 with a double (his 22nd), a homer (his 23rd) and a stolen base, (his 21st) in game one and doubled and walked in game two. Vaughn is tied for the FSL homerun lead with Marlins OF Marzel Ozuna, who won game one with a walkoff off Adam Kolarek in the bottom of the seventh. Ozuna might be a better prospect simply because as a 21-year old who won’t turn 22 until November, he’s a year and a half younger than Vaughn, who turned 23 this year. After a .222/.330/.430 line in 61 games in the first half, Vaughn is up to .269/.382/.510 in 60 games in the second half as he’s cut his strikeouts from 60 to 50. He has a significant platoon split as he’s run a .922 OPS versus lefties and a .773 OPS versus right-handed pitching. Before you get excited about the next Scott Hairston, remember that he plays center and Vaughn doesn’t.
With a couple walks in game one, and two hits and a walk in game two, “SS” Danny Muno is up to .289/.390/.429 in 76 games. I got some questions on Twitter about him. I see him as a MLB utility guy. First of all, he’s 23 in advanced-A and was suspended 50 games this year for testing positive for an anabolic steroid metabolite. Second, he does not have the range for short everyday.
RHP Erik Goeddel was ok in game one: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K.
A: @ Asheville Tourists (COL) 6, Savannah Sand Gnats 5
Domingo Tapia shutout a good Asheville lineup through five innings, but was touched for five runs in the sixth and seventh innings combined. His line: 6.1 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, 1 HR. Want something positive? Think nine strikeouts and no walks.