Morning Reading: Jeff Walters

Walters B-Mets HeadJeff Walters has an outside shot to make the Mets’ bullpen this Spring Training. His fastball is 92-94, and he can touch 96.

At MLB.com, Anthony DiComo catches up with Frank Viola, Walters’ pitching coach in Savannah to learn more.

At ESPNNY, Adam Rubin talked to Walters when he arrived in camp.

Rob Brender talked to Walters on this week’s Mostly Mets Podcast.

Minor League Spring Training Schedule

spring-trainingWhile most of the focus is on Major League Spring Training, beginning this weekend, the first of hundreds of Mets minor leaguers will officially populate the back fields of Port St. Lucie.

Minor leaguers who are on the Mets’ 40-man roster, or were invited to Major League Spring Training as NRI are already officially in Port St. Lucie of course.

Key Dates
February 22 – Early Camp Pitchers & Catchers
February 26 – Early Camp Position Players
February 28 – All Staff
March 1 – Pitchers and Catchers
March 5 – Position Players

Note: almost all of the starters on full-season rosters will be in the “Early Camp.” Last year, for example, among pitchers were were invited to STEP Camp among healthy pitches, only Miller Diaz did not break Spring Training on a full-season roster.

 

Game Schedule
Early Camp

Mon, 3/11 – Early Camp @ WAS
Tue, 3/12 – Early Camp v. HOU
Wed, 3/13 – Camp Day

All
.                                AAA/AA                               A
Thu, 3/14                   @ MIA                                vs. MIA
Fri, 3/15                                   Camp Day
Sat, 3/16                    @ STL                                 vs. STL
Sun, 3/17                   @ MIA                                 vs. MIA
Mon, 3/18                 vs. STL                                 @ STL
Tue, 3/19                                  Camp Day
Wed, 3/20                vs. MIA                               @ MIA
Thu, 3/21                  @ STL                                  vs. STL
Fri, 3/22                   @ MIA                                 vs. MIA
Sat, 3/23                                 Camp Day
Sun, 3/24                vs. STL                                @ STL
Mon, 3/25               vs. WAS                               Camp Day
Tue, 3/26                vs. MIA                                 @ MIA
Wed, 3/27              @ STL                                   vs. STL
Thu, 3/28               vs. MIA                                  @ MIA
Fri, 3/29                                     Camp Day

That’s 12 games for the AA and AAA working groups and 11 for both a-ball groups. Of the 12 games for AA and AAA, they’ll see the Marlins six times, the Cardinals five and Washington once. The two a-ball groups face the Cardinals and the Marlins the same amount, but miss the Nationals.

Often players play up a level in spring training. So, guys who can reasonably expect to break camp in advanced-A will see lots of time with the AA group for example. As April draws closer, and the MLB team dispatches players who are not going to make the team, filling out the double-A and triple-A rosters, this happens less.

 

Sat/Sun 3/30-3/31 – Travel Days
Thu, April 3 – OPENING DAY

Morning Prospect Links

Link- Paul DePodesta clarified what to expect regarding Noah Syndergaard’s inning limits will be this year with Adam Rubin of ESPNNY, suggesting that 30 innings over his 124.3 from last year is a “rough estimate,” but “A lot of it’s going to be on how he actually racks up those innings — how efficient he is in the pitch counts, how much rest he’s getting between starts, how much side work we do with him.” DePodesta also suggested Syndergaard might take a few turns out of the Las Vegas bullpen to keep his innings down.

- Good stuff from Jeff Paternostro and Jason Parks at Amazin Avenue Audio discussing Baseball Prospectus’ Top 10 Mets prospects. They focused on Marcos Molina, Amed Rosario, Wilmer Flores and Cesar Puello in the chat.

- Brandon Nimmo added 10 more pounds of muscle over the winter and is now up to 205.

Elsewhere
- According to Aaron Fitt of Baseball America, the Phillies have reported Oregon State LHP Ben Wetzler to the NCAA for using an agent last summer. The Phillies drafted Wetzler in the 5th round, but were unable to come to an agreement on a signing bonus. Just about any player draft in the top 20 rounds is going to use an “advisor” who becomes their agent when they officially sign. Guys don’t sign every year: it happens to the Phillies, Mets, Blue Jays, Rays and every other team occasionally. Unless Wetzler did something really, really underhanded, this looks like just a vindictive, bitter move by the Phillies.

- Bob Egelko in the SF Chronicle reports that three former minor league baseball players are suing their former teams and Major League Baseball for violating “minimum wage and labor laws.”

Four Mets Make Baseball America’s Top 100 List

baseball-america-logo.jpgBaseball America released their Top 100 prospects in baseball on Wednesday night and included four Mets: Noah Syndergaard at #16, Travis d’Arnaud at #38, Rafael Montero at #68 and Dominic Smith at #92.

John Manuel’s player capsules are below. Subscribers can read lengthier reports here.

Syndergaard

Syndergaard’s secondary pitches flash above-average if not better. More consistent power on his curveball would complement his premium fastball and help him make a midseason jump to New York.

Travis d’Arnaud

Stay. On. The. Field. His first injury-free season since 2011 would help make d’Arnaud a Rookie of the Year contender.

Montero

Few minor leaguers throw more consistent quality strikes than the smallish Montero, and as long as he maintains his command he should get his first shot in New York in 2014.

Smith

Smith might make his full-season debut at low Class A Savannah, a decided pitcher’s park. He’ll have to focus on his hitting approach and avoid getting down if the results aren’t there this season.

Top 41: #31 – LJ Mazzilli & #32 – Jared King

As a pair, Mazzillia and King make sense. They had nice debuts in Brooklyn and will start 2014 in a-ball. Their projections top them out as average big leaguers. They don’t strike out too much and walk a bit.

 

#31 – 2B LJ Mazzilli

Mazzilli DefenseBats/Throws: Right/Right
Height/Weight: 6’0/185 lbs
Acquired: 4th rd ’13 (UConn)
Born:  9/6/1990
2013 Rank: NA | Stats
Why Ranked Here: Draft position, pedigree, a little bit of offense and an up-the-middle position. He’s limited to the right side of the diamond so he is unlikely to hold onto an MLB utility role.  There is no margin for error, injury or non-performance, here at his age. He has to hit his way out of Savannah and into St. Lucie this season, for example.
2013: Mazzilli signed quickly and went right to Brooklyn where he hit .278/.329/.381 at age 22. Oddly, he hit all four of his homers in August. Here’s some video on him right around Brooklyn’s Opening Day.
Dr. Pangloss Says: MLB second baseman.
Debbie Downer Says: Upper minors second baseman
Projected 2014 Start:  Savannah
MLB Arrival: 2016/2017

 
Recent Stats

GABH2B3BHRBBSOAVGOBPSLG
2013 NYP702737612242253.278.329.381

XBH%SO%BB%HR%BABIPISO
2013 NYP6.017.67.31.3.326.103

 

#32 – OF Jared King

Bats/Throws: Switch/Left
Height/Weight:  5’11/210 lbs
Acquired: 5th rd (Kansas State)
Born: 10/12/91 (Dublin, OH)
2013 Rank: NA | Stats
Why Ranked Here: He’s a good athlete with contact ability and a little pop in his bat. He has a short, compact swing, which is a good thing. After a short load, his hands go right to the ball. He’ll have to add more in-game power, by focusing on getting full extension at contact and using his legs to drive his hips forward more aggressively, to profile as a starter in leftfield. Here’s a little video on him from 2013.   

He should be fine in a corner and could play center in a pinch. He hops over den Dekker and Vaughn below him on the list because he has the potential to be a more well-rounded player.

Without more homers, King does not fit in a corner, and he lands as a tweener, 4th/5th outfielder.
2013:  He played mostly leftfield (61 games) and just a handful in center for the Cyclones (4). He missed 10 days in August with a rib cage injury and hit just .224/.337/.303 in 22 games in the month. I think he’s a better hitter than that as evidence by his .305/.393/.411 line in July.
Dr. Pangloss Says: Everyday leftfielder
Debbie Downer Says: Everyday minor league outfielder
Projected 2014 Start:  The expansive Savannah outfield
MLB Arrival: 2016/2017

Recent Stats

GABH2B3BHRBBSOAVGOBPSLG
2013 NYP632225915013549.266.365.347

XBH%SO%BB%HR%BABIPISO
2013 NYP6.118.613.30.4.330.081

Ballpark Developments in Columbia, SC and Savannah, GA

columbia stadiumThe City of Columbia, SC has expressed an interest in building a minor league ballpark as the centerpiece of a redevelopment project. The Sand Gnats, the Mets’ a-ball team, are one potential new tenant. Through late January, the Columbia project was moving right along. Now, that the city has to figure out how to pay for the projects, the process is getting tougher.

Columbia, SC
Tuesday, the Columbia, SC City Council met again on the proposal to spend $92 million on the Bull Street Redevelopment project which will also include a new ballpark (accounting for roughly $35 million of the project cost). The action in the meeting considered different funding mechanisms for the City’s contribution to the ballpark, which mostly dealt with the type and quantity of bonds the city can legally and practically issue. (ColaDaily)

There’s a lot more about the structure of potential bonds here. The City can either “wrap” or “layer” their bond payments around their existing obligations. Wrapping would keep the City’s total bond payments (including existing commitments) to ~$2.5 million annually through 2044, while layering would keep payments on the new Bull Street bonds constant- leading to higher bond payments from 2015-2025, and then smaller payments thereafter. (ColaDaily)

The next big public date is March 4, when “Assistant City Manager Melissa Gentry said the date also would be the time staff could present council with three draft agreements:

  • A Venue License Agreement that relates to the use of the stadium
  • A Venue Management Agreement that covers details regarding management and Operation
  • A Venue Development Agreement that outlines the development of the stadium”

The plans the city released this week, relied on two different bonds, a $24 million hospitality bond, and a installment revenue purchase bond. The hospitality bond is $6 million less than the $30 million price tag from February, prompting arts and cultural organizations, who already rely on that hospitality money, to fear they will face budget cuts. Mayor Steve Benjamin met with GoodSenseColumbia, representing the art organizations Tuesday. GoodSenseColumbia claims that phone poll conducted from “Jan. 30-31 of 402 registered voters … showed that 67 percent of respondents opposed a publicly funded stadium in the Bull Street development,” with similar results from a poll over the weekend (The State).

To read more of this story, click here

A Composite Mets Top Prospect Ranking

This is one of my favorite posts of the year, in which I compare how the major national prospect outlets – ESPN, Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com, ranked the top Mets prospects. It’s revealing.

There is a little bit of guesswork as different authors rank different numbers of players and have slightly different eligibility rules, which this year only matters for Jeurys Familia. I tried to hew as closely as possible to each author’s intent. For every player beyond the number of players each publication ranked, I assigned that player the next best rank. If Keith Law ranked 15 players for example, to create my average ranking, I assigned every other player a 16. Law ranked 15 guys, Baseball America 30, MLB.com 20 and BP 10. I used Jason Parks’ commenta to separate the next few players after #10 into tiera. He suggested that Matz, Fulmer and Herrera were in play for him at #10; they all got 11s. Everyone else 14s. “Flattening” the back of these lists artificially reduces the combined rank of non-consensus Top 15 players and the variance on their ranking, but I don’t know a fairer way to do it.

Keith Law (ESPN.com)Baseball ProspectusBaseball AmericaMLB.comAVGSTD Dev
Thor11111.00.00
Travis dArnaud22222.00.00
Rafael Montero44333.50.58
Dominic Smith36475.01.83
Wilmer Flores83645.32.22
Brandon Nimmo59856.82.06
Kevin Plawecki685107.32.22
Cesar Puello971168.32.22
Dilson Herrera71113910.02.58
Gavin Cecchini11149810.52.65
Amed Rosario10572110.87.14
Michael Fulmer1411141313.01.41
Jacob deGrom1314101914.03.74
Cory Mazzoni1614161214.51.91
Gabriel Ynoa1214151814.82.50
Jeurys Familia1614181114.82.99
Vic Black1614171415.31.50
Steven Matz1614122115.83.86
Domingo Tapia1514191616.02.16
Luia Mateo1614221516.83.59
Marcos Molina1610312119.58.89

Notes

  • There is complete agreement about the team’s top two prospects: Syndergaard and d’Arnaud.
  • After Montero, a consensus #3, there is some tiering. Dom Smith earned rankings between 3-7; barely edging Wilmer Flores. The consistency of Smith’s rankings, nothing as low as the #8 that Flores received from Law, pushed him to #4.
  • The standard deviation on the rankings of consensus guys 5-9 (Flores, Nimmo, Plawecki and Puello) are all really tightly bunched.
  • There’s “chaos” at #10 as each author preferred a different player in that spot with Jason Parks making the boldest leap for Marcos Molina, a young hard-throwing RHP. This is one of the boldest selections for a Mets Top 10 in years. While I don’t see Molina as a Top 10 guy yet (too much risk/unknown), I applaud the thought process.
  • Amed Rosario is a consensus top-10 outside of MLB.com, bringing down his overall rank and pushing his variance up.
  • I’m going to keep pushing Steven Matz, who missed ESPN and MLB’s lists.
  • The agreement on Michael Fulmer – at 11-14 in all four rankings is interesting.

Mostly Mets, pres. by Caesars AC: Spring Training has arrived!

Rob and I discuss the first few days of Spring Training, Noah Syndergaard, the starting staff, and the bullpen. Also, Rob sits down with right-handed relief pitcher Jeff Walters.

Topics are below, but the most important was probably Jose Valverde wearing a hot dog jersey.
Valverde in a Hot Dog Jersey

Stuff we Talked About
Spring Training has arrived
Noah Syndergaard
The Starting Pitchers
The Bullpen
Jeff Walters interview (17:05)
Watching Nimmo, Puello, Flores
One Good Thing, One Bad Thing (31:22)

Thor Reading and Video

Noah Syndergaard threw his first bullpen of Spring Training yesterday, and drew rave reviews.

Everyone has Terry Collins’ quote that he was “throwing 97 miles an hour today with a hook from hell,” but Jared Diamond at the Wall Street Journal has the followup in which Collins told his youngster, “”You’re not going to make the team throwing on the side.”

Adam Rubin at ESPN has a great honest characterization from Syndergaard of his own work,  “he spent the offseason working to upgrade his changeup. He threw eight or 10, he recalled, in Monday’s session. “I kind of impressed myself a little bit,” he said.

At Newsday, Marc Carig quotes Anthony Recker who caught the session, “Pretty much my first impression was ‘wow.’ He’s got really good stuff — great stuff. The ball jumps out of his hand, good movement on the two-seam, changeup. You don’t expect a power-arm guy that young to have a changeup like that.”

Rob Brender talked to Thor.

Bill Price in the Daily News wins the award for worst column arguing that the Mets should bring Syndergaard north.

BP: Top Ten Mets Prospects (with a Marcos Molina Surprise)

baseball prospectus logoJason Parks and his merry crew at Baseball Prospectus are out with their Top 10 Mets Prospects for 2014. Please go read their writeups as they are perhaps the most detailed in the industry.

1. RHP Noah Syndergaard
2. C Travis d’Arnaud
3. 3B Wilmer Flores
4. RHP Rafael Montero
5. SS Amed Rosario
6. 1B Dominic Smith
7. OF Cesar Puello
8. C Kevin Plawecki
9. CF Brandon Nimmo
10. RHP Marcos Molina

 

The news here is Marcos Molina slipping into the Top 10 instead of a guy like Steven Matz. Molina is 6’3″, 190 and Parks loves him.

His strengths: “Plus-plus athlete; physically projectable; fast-twitch; big arm strength; very quick arm; routinely worked 91-96 in the GCL; good feel for filling up the zone; turns over a promising changeup; excellent late action on the pitch; commands it; slurvy breaking ball shows some bat-missing potential; slower slider action; highly competitive on/off the mound”

Prospects on the Rise
1. RHP Michael Fulmer
2. RHP Casey Meisner
3. SS Luis Guillorme

Factors on the Farm (Potential MLB Contributors in ’14)
1. RHP Vic Black
2. LHP Jack Leathersich
3. RHP Jake deGrom

A Parting Thought: This is a very good farm system that will take a hit with likely major-league promotions for their top four prospects, but the strong depth coming out of short-season ball could keep the Mets in the top-10 farm discussion for the foreseeable future.