Friday Mailbag: Mazzoni, Smith and Alderson Draftees

To submit questions to our weekly mailbag, use the contact form on the site, or use the twitter-wheel. I also respond to many questions that don’t make the site if the answers are short and quick.

On the disabled list. After leaving his final spring training start on March 27 with pain in his triceps, Mets doctors later diagnosed him with a strained lat. This is now the third year in a row that the 2011 second round pick has missed time with an injury. Mazzoni had elbow neuritis last April and arthroscopic surgery on his knee in August 2013. He also missed a start in late July 2012 with a finger issue. 

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Damnit, Ryan. I asked for non-PROMOAT questions. But this is a good one, and fun to speculate on.

[sny-table rowheader=true columnheader=true]
Round;2013;Current Level ;2012;Current Level ;2011;Current Level
1;Dominic Smith;A;Gavin Ceccini;A;Brandon Nimmo;A+
1;;;;;;
1s;;;Kevin Plawecki;AA;Michael Fulmer;A+
1s;;;;;;
2;Andrew Church;XST;Matt Reynolds;AA;Corey Mazzoni;DL in AAA
2;;;Teddy Stankewicz;DNS;;
3;Ivan Wilson;XST;Matt Koch;A+;Logan Verrett;AAA
3;Casey Meisner;XST;;;;
4;L.J. Mazzilli;A;Branden Kaupe;XST;Tyler Pill;AA
5;Jared King;A;Brandon Welch;XST;Jack Leathersich;AA
6;Champ Stuart;XST;Jayce Boyd;AA;Joe Tuschak;XST
7;Matthew Oberste;A;Corey Oswalt;XST;Cole Frenzel;A+
8;Ricky Knapp;A;Tomas Nido;XST;Danny Muno;AAA
9;Patrick Biondi;A;Richie Rodriguez;XST;Alex Panteliodis;…
10;Luis Guillorme;XST;Paul Sewald;A+;Matt Budgell;XST
11;Tyler Bashlor ;XST;Logan Taylor;DL in A+;Christian Montgomery;??
[/sny-table]

Coming into this year, I’d have bet on Jack Leathersich on the assumption that he would 1. start in AAA, 2. be ok, and 3. the Mets bullpen would need help and 4. Terry Collins would ride his lefties hard. So, I was half-right there. Now for the damning half. Leathersich has really stalled. In 7.2 innings in AA, he’s run a 4.70 ERA (4 ER/7.2 IP) but he’s back to walking a batter an inning (6). He’s running a 16% walk rate. Again, it’s early, but the control problems have been a consistent issue for him for years now.

2B/UT Danny Muno is one of two other Alderson draftees active in AAA at the moment and with that, he takes the lead in this slow-motion derby. He’s off to a .238/.342/.349 start with 3 XBH and 9 walks against 15 K in his first 20 games. Remember, that’s in a high-offense environment. That’s who Muno is though: a high-walk, medium power player who will run low batting averages. He holds his own with a limited range 2B and shortstop.

RHP Logan Verrett has allowed 32 hits in 20.1 innings on the hill for Las Vegas this year. He’s a low-walk rate guy who will get hit hard in AAA and the big leagues. However, if the Mets need an arm to stretch the staff through a double-header at some point and Jacob deGrom, Rafael Montero are not available, and it’s not Noah Syndergaard’s time yet, maybe Verrett could squeeze in there. He needs some help to win this one though.

Cory Mazzoni, if he gets healthy, is certainly a possibility.

C Kevin Plawecki, the supplemental first rounder from 2012, is working at AA. He’s off to an ordinary start with no power – .273/.333/.318, 2 2B, 0 HR, 4 BB, 6 K in 11 games. On the current depth chart, if the Mets need a stop-gap at catcher, he’s behind Juan Centeno (and maybe even Taylor Teagarden) on the list. He’s not likely to come up to the big leagues before late in 2014, if at all this year.

I think it’s likely that Muno or Verrett will see the Mets’ active roster this year for at least a few days. If they don’t, the darkhorse in this race is Brandon Nimmo. He’s off to a big start for St. Lucie, Now up to .364/.490/.481 in 20 games with 19 strikeouts and 19 walks a  19.8% rate in both categories. By FSL ranks, he’s #3 in AVG (.364), #2 in hits (28), #1 in OBP (.490), #1 in runs scored (22), #1 in walks (19). Lets say he finishes 2014 in AA, and has a big second half that’s good enough to warrant starting 2015 in AAA.

Meanwhile, Travis d’Arnaud establishes himself as the Mets’ everyday catcher. Anthony Recker and Juan Centeno back him up. Plawecki hits, but not for much power and spends the whole 2014 season in AA. He begins 2015 in AAA or is traded over the winter. Meanwhile some combination of Montero/Syndergaard/deGrom/Walters/Vic Black/Miguel Socolovich handle the 2014 pitching reinforcement responsibilities. Now, Verrett and Plawecki’s proximity advantage over Nimmo disappears.

My final answer: Muno. However, the first Alderson draftee to 200 MLB PA or batters faced: Brandon Nimmo.  

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He looks simply like the game is a little fast for him right now. He’s 18. He won’t turn 19 until June.

In his first 18 games, he’s hit .172/.229/.172 with zero extra-base hits, five walks and 10 strikeouts. His underlying ratios look fine: 14% strikeout rate and a 7.1% walk rate are fine. He’s just not doing much on contact. In his last series in Savannah, I saw a hitter starting to press. Rather than trusting his hands, he was sliding his weight to his front side too early which sapped his power.

Defensively, the game has been fast too. He’s made a couple of errors, and he’s done little to save his infielders’ errors either on scooping balls in the dirt, or getting off the bag to grab errant throws.

It’s early. Lets see where he is in June and August.

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