@ Savannah Sand Gnats 6, Hagerstown Suns (WAS) 0
Gabriel Ynoa labored early on Thursday, but found his groove and, combined with plenty of offense, carried the Gnats to within one win of a South Atlantic League Championship.
Ynoa was a little bit tentative early, poking around the edges of the strike zone. In the first inning, he threw first pitch strikes to only one of five batters and after a double and a walk, needed a strikeout to strand two runners. He needed 33 pitches to finish the frame. Then, after a leadoff double in the second, he really started to settle in. He needed just 63 pitches or less than twice his first inning total, to shut out the Suns, in innings two through seven while retiring 14 of the final 15 batters he faced. After the first inning, he threw first pitch strikes to 15 of 21 batters. His final line: 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K – 96 pitches. He spotted his fastball beautifully, working down in the zone and to both edges of the plate. He threw his changeup and then followed with his heat to make the pitch play up for weak contact or strikeouts. He froze batters or induced weak contact with his slider.
Ynoa only turned 20 in May, but really displays an impressive feel for working both individual batters and the game itself. He did not give up a run in the first six innings of his first playoff start in Augusta, only yielding runs in that one with the Gnats up big and his pitch count climbing. His combined playoff line: 14.2 IP, 11 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 9 K; 1.23 ERA. That’s the stuff that wins titles.
The Gnats’ offense came from the middle of the order as the 5-7 hitters, 1B Cole Frenzel, LF Stefan Sabol and 3B Jeff Reynolds were a combined 6-for-8, with a triple, three walks, four runs scored and five RBI.
Frenzel was 2-for-3 with a walk and scored twice. Sabol used a sacrifice fly and a blast of a triple to right-center for his two RBI. It was a Grayson Stadium triple in that it would have been out of most other yards, and in some cases, way out. Sabol finished the regular season at .203/.298/.345 in 105 games, during which time 33 of his 74 hits went for extra-bases.
Reynolds’ night was remarkable for its consistency. In each of his first three plate appearances, he batted with a runner – either Frenzel or Sabol – at second or third. Each time he drove a hard single up the middle to plate the run. Twice he did it with two outs, and twice he did it on two-strike counts. It was Reynolds’ first three-hit game since June 2 after a regular season in which he hit .242/.312/.303 in 96 games.
Rehabbing Jeurys Familia worked around a Philip Evans error in an easy eighth inning with two strikeouts. I thought his fastball location was sharper than on Tuesday in Hagerstown and he threw one filthy slider for a strikeout.
CF Brandon Nimmo had a quiet night, and was 1-for-4 with all four his plate appearances coming against left-handed pitchers. I’ve written it before and I’ll say it again: he’s been hanging in much better against southpaws recently.
2B Dilson Herrera was 0-for-3 with a walk and is still looking for his first hit of the Championship Series, but at least he’s drawn three walks.
The Gnats send Steven Matz, who shutout Augusta through seven sensation innings in the first round to the hill on Friday against the Whitewall Ninja.
A: Hagerstown Suns @ Savannah Sand Gnats Listen
Game Three 7:05 ET – LHP Kylin Turnbull (7-5, 3.58) vs. RHP Gabriel Ynoa (16-4, 2.70)
Kylin Turnbull started and won the decisive game three in the Suns division round win, holding the Power to 2 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks over 5 IP while striking out 3. After spending most of last year putting up mediocre numbers with Hagerstown the Nations promoted Turnbull to Advanced A to start this year and it did not go well. Over 3 starts and 10.2 IP he allowed 20 hits, walked 8 and struck out 3. Moving back to Hagerstown didn’t change a whole lot (5 G, 22 IP, 31 H) and Turnbull was sent to extended spring training to work things out. In addition to working on his mechanics Turnbull added a split-change to his fastball/slider/curve arsenal. A trip to the NYPL came next, and over 4 starts for Auburn he allowed earned runs just once, struck out 15 and walked 3. While he struggled at times after moving back in the SAL he got the walks under control and put up 8 or more K three times. Pitchers with 4 useful pitches are rare in the SAL so he should make for an interesting challenge to the Gnats raw lineup. (Thanks to Eli Pearlstein for the detail on Turnbull’s season.)
In the game three win over West Virginia RHP Ronald Pena (4-3, 3.48) pitched 4 shutout innings to finish the game. If he is not in consideration for a start later in the series he could be a weapon for tonight’s game.
Gabriel Ynoa won the Sand Gnats first playoff game against Augusta with the following outing: 7.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 4 K. His 15 regular season wins were 3 more than anyone else in the SAL, while his whip of 1.02 was second only to Augusta’s Kendry Flores.
In the regular season RF Eudy Pina hit .233/.334/.396 showing the ability to take a walk and drive the ball (163 ISO) In the postseason he 6-for-16 with 2 triples and 1 walk (.375/.412/.500) from the leadoff spot. Brandon Nimmo has gone 0-for-6 with 2 walks and a sac fly in the two games against the Suns after hardly making an out in two games against Augusta. Cole Frenzel put up a .235/.333/.346 slash in the season playing half the time at 3B and half at 1B. After a 0-for-12 start to the playoffs his single, double, and walk effort last night helped both multi run innings.
In July, I interviewed SS Amed Rosario. The Mets signed Rosario to a $1.75 million as a 16-year-old in 2012. Fast-forward all the way to 2013, where the 17-year-old hit .241/.279/.358 in 226 PA over 58 games with Kingsport in the Appalachian League.
Rosario is very young – every single at bat he hand in 2013 came against an older pitcher. He’s very raw with a swing that will need to be rebuilt before he reaches the big leagues. I’ll spend more time on that, with video in later posts. For now, enjoy this conversation that we conducted post-game, translated by KMets Manager Jose Leger.
TH: What do you think of the Appy League so far?
AR: I like it so far. I have struggles now and then, but I like it. I feel like I’m progressing, and getting used to it.
TH: What was the hardest thing about the early part of the year?
AR: The offense.
TH: Why was it hard?
AR: I was getting a lot of curveballs and not used to it. Now, I feel like I am getting a better rhythm.
TH: Had you ever seen that many curveballs before in the Dominican?
TH: Offensively, what do you work on, when you work in the cage with [Hitting Coach] Yunir [Garcia]?
AR: Trying to hit the ball the other way.
TH: How’s that going?
AR: Little by little, improving.
TH: What do you need to do, to hit the ball the other way?
AR: Let it get deep.
TH: Lets talk defense. What are you working on defensively?
AR: Getting in a good position to catch the ball, making sure my glove is ready every time.
TH: What else do you have to do to get better at the plate?
AR: Make sure that I give 100% everytime I’m on the field, because that’s the only way I can improve and get better.
TH: When you signed, was it a hard decision to sign with the Mets?
TH: How did signing with the Mets change your life?
AR: Everything. All aspects of my life changed.
TH: Your family, did you buy a new house? What changed?
AR: Bought a new house, a new car – a Four-Runner.
TH: What’s it like having a job – being a professional? [Note, full professional style, this interview was conducted after a game, and at this point, the fireworks show outside neared its loud and distracting finale.]
AR: Now, I have to me more careful with everything I do. I represent the team now. Some people, some kids, will look up to me because of the signing bonus and I represent the Mets.
TH: Did you always want to be a baseball player?
AR: I’ve been playing since I was two.
TH: Did your parents plat baseball?
AR: My dad played soccer (but not as a professional).
TH: What’s the hardest thing about being away from home?
AR: Sometimes I feel lonely and homesick and a little sad.
TH: How about the food, are you adjusting to the food?
AR: We cook at the hotel. Abreu, the catcher cooks.
TH: What’s the best thing that Abreu cooks?
[Rice with meat and together, pictured at right.]
TH: Who’s your best friend on the team?
After five and a half months, we reach this point every year, there are no minor league games to discuss. Last night, for the second time in four nights, there were no Mets’ affiliates playing a game as the Gnats’ pursuit of a South Atlantic League title stopped.
The SAL Championship Series resumes tonight in Savannah with game four Friday night. If necessary, game five will be Saturday evening.
All of this is to say I’m not fully ready to shift ino off-season mode yet around here. Off-season mode will bring a full retrospective of the season that was, when of of course it ever ends.
A: Savannah Sand Gnats 6, @ Hagerstown Suns (WAS) 2
Behind a strong start from Seth Lugo, the Gnats evened the best-of-five SAL Championship Series at 1-1. The series now shifts back to Savannah for games three and four Thursday and Friday, and if necessary game five Saturday.
Austin Voth, who the Nationals drafted in the fifth round in 2013, lost it in the second inning. With one out, he walked three batters in a row. C Jeff Glenn battled in a long at-bat and on the eighth pitch of the at-bat, drilled a double into right-center field to drive home two runs. Birthday boy Philip Evans followed with a sacrifice fly to right.
The Gnats made it 5-0 in the fifth behind RBI doubles from 1B Cole Frenzel and Glenn. Glenn finished 3-4 with two doubles and 3 RBI. Frenzel was 2-4, with a double, a walk and two runs scored.
The 21-year-old Glenn hit .196/.303/.276 in 70 games for the Gnats in the regular season. He had one three-hit game, on April 24 and zero two extra-base hit games. As playoff offensive heroes go, he’s almost as unlikely as it gets on the Gnats.
On the hill, Seth Lugo (pictured) lived a little dangerously, stranding two runners in three of four innings from the second through fifth innings before finishing six scoreless innings. He fanned seven, walked one and allowed five hits in his six scoreless innings. It wasn’t fancy. He threw lots of fastballs. He did not use his slider much. I had him right at 100 pitchers. He took a line drive off his side/arm in the third but stayed in the game. It was a tough performance.
The Gnats, who were held to four singles in game one, had three doubles and a triple on Tuesday while seven of the Suns’ eight hits were singles. Breaking news: extra-base hits help a team score runs.
The Gnats are in a pretty good spot, heading home to Historic Grayson Stadium with the series tied at 1-1 and Gabriel Ynoa and Steven Matz lined up for games three and four with each guy on extra rest. The Gnats were 45-25 at home during the 2013 season, a .643 winning percentage, the best in the SAL.
CF Brandon Nimmo was 0-for-3 with a walk and a sacrifice fly in the eighth with three of his five plate appearances against lefties. In four playoff games, he’s hit .308/.444/.462 (4-for-13 with a triple and four walks).
2B Dilson Herrera: 0-4, 2 K, BB, R. He’s 2-for-15 in the Gnats’ four playoff games.
A: Savannah Sand Gnats @ Hagerstown Suns Listen- Suns Audio
Game Two 7:05 ET – RHP Seth Lugo (2-2, 2.53) vs. RHP Austin Voth (1-0, 3.38)
Seth Lugo got a chance with the Gnats as an injury fill in and ran with it. Over 7 starts in the SAL he struck out 39 and walked 6 over 32 IP, holding batters to a .196 mark against him. Its all the more impressive compared to his NYPL numbers where he strugled with command, walking 13 in 34.1 IP and was hit at a .260 clip.
Austin Voth pitched the Suns to a win in game one of the first round, shuting out West Virginia for 5 IP allowing 3 hits and 2 walks while striking out 5. The Nationals selected Voth in the 5th round of this years draft, made 2 starts at the GCL level, 7 at the NYPL level, and finished up the regular season with two for the Suns. Like his teammated from last night he was overmatching the NYPL with a 1.47 ERA and a .193 batting average against, while striking out 42 in 30.2 IP. He managed 9 more strikeouts with 2 walks and 8 hits over 10.2 IP in two starts against Lakewood before the playoff win.
We talk about the return of Tejada, minor league playoffs, Wally Backman’s future and end of season wraps on relievers Scott Rice and Bobby Parnell. Of course we end with the weekly dose of One Good Thing and One Bad Thing.
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Ruben Tejada, minor losses in the playoffs, what’s Wally’s future?
Scott Rice and Bobby Parnell, your season is over (21:15)
One Good Thing, One Bad Thing (28:00)
Good: West Coast in 2014, Dice K!
Bad: Harvey doctor appointments, Goodbye to WFAN
A: @ Hagerstown Suns 6, Savannah Sand Gnats 1
After two really sharp games in the Divisional round, the Gnats played a team-wide meh game in the opener of the SAL Championship series.
One game at any time of the year does not make a prospect. The playoffs – one outing for a pitcher, or a few game for a position player – really should not change my perception of a player, especially one I’ve seen 10 other times in a year. And yet, I’m going to have trouble shaking this last look at Luis Cessa. He was solid all year, and is a solid prospect. On the other hand, on Monday, he gave up lots of loud contact including four doubles in his five innings of work. His line: 5 IP, 6 H (4 2B), 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K. I just wanted to see better from him. He showed little feel or adjustments.
The Suns, a team that led the SAL in OBP and runs scored, stood in there and took very comfortable swings against him nearly about all night long. Yeah, he was working against a bette lineup in Hagerstown than Steven Matz or Gabriel Ynoa did in their first playoff starts against Augusta last week, but the comparison between Matz and Ynoa’s level of dominance in round one and Cessa on Monday was quite striking. Cessa did not locate well, did not command the inside of the plate, did not sequence well/manage the game and did not have his best stuff. And yet, it was just one start. And he left the Gnats a chance, down 3-0 after five innings.
Meanwhile, despite drawing four walks, the Savannah offense was basically quiet. The Gnats collected four hits all night, all singles. In the first five innings, they dealt with hard-throwing RHP Jake Johansen who was touching 97 and working nearby. The Nationals drafted the 6’6″ right-hander in the second round this June out of Dallas Baptists. After 10 basically dominant starts in the NYP (1.06 ERA/ 22 H/42.2 IP), they gave him two starts in the SAL to finish the regular season and a playoff look. The way the Nationals have treated Johansen seems pretty different from the way the Mets use their collegiate arms. In 2011, the Mets drafted Cory Mazzoni in the second round and in 2012 selected Matt Koch in the third round. In both cases, the team sent the pitchers to Brooklyn, under pitching an inning or two at a time every fifth day, in the summer that they were drafted.
Jeurys Familia worked a 1-2-3 sixth inning with a strikeout on 12 pitches. He looked like a guy who belonged in AAA or the big leagues who was getting his work in. He located a few fastballs well and then missed on a few.
Game two is Tuesday night.
A: Savannah Sand Gnats @ Hagerstown Suns Listen- Suns Audio
Game One 7:05 ET – RHP Luis Cessa (8-4, 3.12) vs. RHP Jake Johansen (0-2, 5.79)
Luis Cessa was one of the SAL’s best pitchers in 2013, totaling a 1.19 whip on the strength of just 19 walks over 21 starts. He struck out 124 over his 130 IP. His last game action was August 31st when he wrapped up his season with yet another walk-less start (7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 7 K)
Jeurys Familia will join the Gnats on his rehab from an elbow issue earlier this year, otherwise the Gnats roster remains the same as the previous round.
Jake Johansen made just two starts for the Suns after spending most of this season in the NYPL with Auburn. He was the Nationals second round pick in this years draft, from Dallas Baptist U., and showed why with a 1.06 ERA while holding batters to a .147 batting average over 10 starts with Auburn. Over 42.1 IP he allowed 22 hits, 18 walks, and struck out 44. Two of the SAL’s lesser teams managed 13 hits over his 9.1 IP, walking 5 and striking out 7 in his two starts after being promoted.
The match-up includes two of the three lowest team home run totals in the SAL. The Gnats hit 50 homers this year, the Suns 6 more. The Gnats were one of the top pitching teams in the SAL all year with a league best 1.17 whip, league low walks (by 101! over next best) and second lowest ERA with a 3.15 team mark. Hagerstown scored the most runs in the SAL, tied for the best OBP with the second most walks and second best batting average. The Gnats ability to take walks out of the game should be a key in this series, helping to limit the Suns rallies that lead them to almost 700 runs this year.
The Rising Apple has a preview of the matchup
The Gnats will head to the SAL Championship series tonight with the same roster as in the Divisional Series with one nice addition: Jeurys Familia will join the team on a MLB rehab assignment.