BA: Mets 13th in International Spending in ’13

Baseball America has compiled a list of an estimate on what every Major League team spent on on international bonuses during the 2013 year. The problem with a list like this is that it spans two different signing periods: the back half of the ’12-13 period when every team had $2.9 million to spend, and the ’13-14 period where teams’ official bonus pools ranged from $1.8 million (Nationals) to $4.9 million (Astros).

The Mets were 13th at $3.13 million in the 2013 calendar year. Most teams were in this range. Nearly half of the teams in baseball (14) spent between $2.5 million and $3.5 million.

The Mets began the 2013-14 signing period with a bonus allotment of $2,664,600, but added the #51 slot from the Angels, valued at $360,500 for OF Julio Concepcion and RHP Andres Perez in July. The Mets’ total bonus pool for the 2013-14 signing period is $3,025,100.

Here are the Mets’ major international signings from the 2013-2014 period so far:

PlayerPositionBA RankCountryBonus
Ricardo CespedesCFDR725,000
Aly SanchezC25VZ690,000
Yeffry de AzaSSDR475,000
Luis CarpioSS30VZ300,000
Luis SilvaRHPVZ275,000
Total2,465,000

Mostly Mets pres by Caesars AC: More Drew Rumors and Offseason Grades

Robert Brender and I talk again about Stephen Drew possibilities, grade the entire Mets offseason, and dish out the weekly One Good Thing and One Bad Thing.

You can rate, review and subscribe on iTunes here.

Rundown/Stuff We Talked About:
More Stephen Drew Talk (It’s a ZOMBIE topic)
Grading the Mets Offseason
One Good Thing, One Bad Thing (37:55)
Good: Seahawks D, Mets adding pitchers
Bad: Sochi stuff, Bad basketball

Prospects by Postion – LHP Relievers

Time to finally put a capper on my Mets prospects by position series with our second-to-last entry: the always in-demand, left-handed reliever group.

There just are not very many guys working out of the bullpens in the Mets system who throw from the left side.
LHP – Relievers
1. Jack Leathersich
2. Adam Kolarek
3. Chase Huchingson
4. Hamilton Bennett

Leathersich Wind (Baron)1. Leathersich, who has put up big strikeout numbers throughout his minor league tenure, reached AAA in his age 22 season. He was extremely effective in AA (1.53 ERA in 29.1 innings with 55 strikeouts (44%) and 16 walks (13%).  More patient AAA hitters pushed his walk rate up to a walk an inning (29 BB/29 IP), an overall rate of 20%. He still missed bats with 47 strikeouts, but his ERA rose to 7.76. Leathersich has succeeded as a pro with a low 90s fastball (91-93, usually) that hitters just do not seem to pick up at all. His second pitch is a curveball, and he adds in a seldom used changeup. He’s never been a plus command guy, and the control issues he ran into in AAA are very concerning. Leathersich has a good feel for how to improve his own pitching and runs a fun twitter account, so he’s become something of a minor league follower fan favorite. He should start 2014 in Las Vegas, where his first mission will be to keep the ball down.
2. Kolarek has not put up the same crazy strikeout numbers as Leathersich, but he has also walked fewer batters. He had a strong 2013 for AA Binghamton with a 1.71 ERA and a 25% strikeout rate to go along with a 8.6% walk rate in 63 innings. His fastball is 89-92, settling in at 90-91 most nights and he’s worked on improving his slider to get to about 80mph. There’s nothing in there that’s overpowering. He ran a .649 OPS against righties and a .537 OPS against lefties. He could be a left-handed focused middle-reliever with a small improvement in his command. Like Leathersich, he will start 2014 in Las Vegas.

3. Huchingson, a 6’5″ lefthander, who joined the Mets as a non-drafted free agent, is all about a deceptive delivery that results in him slinging the ball from a pretty low armslot. It looks like there are many arms and legs flying at the hitter. He was effective for Binghamton in 2013, with a 1.61 ERA and 68 whiffs against 29 walks in 67 innings in his first full year in the bullpen. His fastball sits at 90. His best off-speed pitch is a to be a changeup. He’s also added a sinker to give lefties another look. As a result, lefties ran a .487 OPS against him in AA compared to .708 for righties. He was suspended 50 games for a second violation of a “drug of abuse” at the end of 2013, so will miss the first month and a half of the 2014 minor league season. When he is eligible to play, he should head to Las Vegas where he will work on taking the final steps toward MLB LOOGY-dom.

4. Bennett is a soft-tossing lefty with a great moustache, and a better story of personal redemption from college dropout to professional baseball player. He’s survived and thrived in a-ball by throwing lots of curveballs. I don’t know that he has the fastball to pitch in the big leagues, but since he held left-handed hitters to a .375 OPS in advanced-A in 2013, maybe he too can grow up a LOOGY.

Moore: Play Flores at SS

Flores LV HeadJeff Moore, who writes at Baseball Prospectus, has a column up on his personal site arguing that the Mets should play Wilmer Flores at shortstop in 2014.

His argument is that the “the Mets are not going to be competitive in 2014…The main goal for the Mets in 2014 is to figure out what they have for 2015. … And most importantly, what kind of major league hitter is Wilmer Flores?”

The argument would be a lot more convincing if the Mets hadn’t moved Flores off of shortstop two years ago. In 2012 and 2013, Flores played a mix of first, second and third, but not a single game at short. If the Mets thought Flores could play shortstop at all, they would have played him there at some point in the last two years.

Keith Law’s Mets Top 10

law_keith_mKeith Law at ESPN.com is out with his list of the Top 10 Mets prospects.

His goes:
1. Thor
2. Travis d’Arnaud
3. Dominic Smith
4. Rafael Montero
5. Brandon Nimmo
6. Kevin Plawecki
7. Dilson Herrera
8. Wilmer Flores
9. Cesar Puello
10. Amed Rosario

The first five spots are all consistent with where he had the respective players in his Top 100 list from earlier in the week. The back half of the Top 10 should be familiar enough to regular readers around here at this point.
As a bonus, in his comments, he lists his next few which he describes as “pretty tightly bunched together”:
11. Gavin Cecchini
12. Gabriel Ynoa
13. Jacob deGrom
14. Michael Fulmer
15. Domingo Tapia

Eric Young Jr. at Leadoff – Sure. Maybe.

Yesterday, Mets manager Terry Collins told Adam Rubin of ESPNNY, that utility man

Eric Young Jr. is his primary leadoff candidate at this point.

Still, with a full spring training to go, Collins cautioned: “But anything is possible.”

“Anything is possible,” is the key here. Maybe Collins is talking about some advanced level stuff platoon. And maybe this isn’t really going to happen. The reaction to his idea over at Metsblog and elsewhere around the Mets internet was pretty negative, and  understandably so.

Young should not start over Juan Lagares, who will be 25, and in his age 24 season, established himself as one of the top defensive centerfielders in the game (behind only Carlos Gomez in Fangraphs adjusted UZR metric Def). Still, Lagares hit only .242/.281/.352 overall. If Lagares’ offense regresses at all, that on-base percentage will be a heavier weight down on the value his defense provides. Young, who will be 29 in May, has played 307 innings in center and Total Zone and UZR put him near average, although it’s a dangerously small number of chances from which to draw strong conclusions. Lagares, who displayed a relatively small platoon split in 2013 (losing a little power against RHP) should play over Young in center unless Lagares proves he really cannot hit Major League pitching.

Eric Young’s .258/.325/.338 batting line in 1273 career plate appearances will hardly inspire swooning from fans in the first row of seats, or those with access to the internet. However, he was pretty close to 2013′s leadoff man average of .265/.329/.390. Young is light in the power, but almost MLB average in on-base percentage for a leadoff man. He’s also a switch-hitter with next to no platoon split – .253/.323/.336 vs. RHP and .268/.330/.342 vs. LHP in his career.

Now, in both corners, the Mets are planning on starting outfielders with major and complementary platoon splits. The Mets will maximize the value of both players, and their roster in general, by recognizing and embracing these splits. Chris Young has beat up lefties at a .262/.363/.474 rate for his career and hit just .225/.295/.415 against righties. Oh, sure, among Youngs, Chris has Eric well covered with that .190 isolated slugging percentage against righties, but Eric Young provides just a little more on-base skill at the top of the lineup.

In the other corner, Curtis Granderson also has major platoon splits and is weak against lefties. He has gone .274/.357/.519 against righties in his career and .226/.295/.409 against lefties. Again, Granderson has more power, but less on-base skills than EY against his same-handed pitchers.

Maybe Collins is suggested an extended platoon where Chris Young sits against many righties, Granderson against many lefties and Eric Young Jr. plays a lot. That seems to fly in the face of the market valuation of the three players, but it would give the Mets a little more on-base percentage at the top of the lineup.

Perhaps the Mets are on to something more radical. For road games, EY Jr. leads off, and the #9 spot in the batting order is held as a place-holder by the previous night’s starting pitcher. EY Jr. and his speed, come to bat in the top of the first inning. At the end of the inning, Collins can then choose to insert his starting pitcher into the #9 spot in the order or the #1, and substitute his anther position player either into the #9 or #1 spot in the order, or just roll with Young. Collins could deploy Juan Lagares, Daniel Murphy or any of his other outfielders to make a double-switch, or not. Does this make any sense? I’m not sure.

Maybe Eric Young will lead off in a extended platoon with both corner outfielders. Doing so would sacrifice power for on-base percentage and speed. Maybe he won’t. Either way, it’s the end of January. It’s been a long winter without baseball. Terry Collins is still two months away from writing out his lineup card in the first game that counts in 2014.

Keith Law Followup on Syndergaard’s Offspeed Pitches …

Keith LawAs a followup to his Top 100 prospects in baseball, Keith Law hosted a chat yesterday at ESPN.com. There was plenty of Mets talk.
Syndergaard vs…..
Miles (Park City): Who’s got the better curveball, Syndergaard or Stephenson?
Klaw (1:21 PM): Stephenson.
Eric (DC): Great list! It is really a highlight of the hot stove season. Q: Glasnow vs. Syndergaard. Glasnow was ranked higher but the writeup, at least from my reading) favors Syndergaard. Is it a matter of splitting hairs so we should generally consider them both in the same tier or is Glasnow’s ceiling just a little higher?
Klaw (1:23 PM): Glasnow has the higher ceiling – huge fastball with sink, chance for two breaking balls, still projectable. I probably spent more time talking to scouts and execs about Syndergaard’s offspeed stuff than about any single facet of any player on or off this list. The range was narrow, and the consensus was that it’s a solid-average pitch for him. Even if you go 55 – which would be a big improvement since he was drafted – that’s about as good as it will probably ever be.

Emphasis added. We spent some time around here discussing Syndergaard’s secondary offerings yesterday. He still feels his curveball is ahead of his changeup, but of course, other scouts/evaluators looking at it from the outside can feel differently. Law’s done his homework on this question.

Dom Smith (And Keith’s Process)
Andrew (Dallas): 
What do you see in Dominic Smith compared to everyone else who has left him out of their top 100 completely?
Klaw (1:14 PM): I wrote 200 or so words on why Smith is ranked where he is. As for other lists, I don’t write them, and I don’t read them, and I am certainly not going to disrespect their authors by saying anything that might be construed as criticizing them.

Keith (New York): Considering his advanced approach, is Dom Smith a quick mover through the minors?
Klaw (2:02 PM): Relative to the typical HS product his age? Yes. But I don’t think he’s a four-levels-in-two-years kind of guy.

Guys Outside the Top 100
Lenny (Philadelphia): As a long-suffering Mets fan it’s great to see 5 prospects make your top 100. Were any of prospects 6-10 in the “just missed” range? IIRC you are down on Puello and Flores but you like Plawecki and Cecchini.
Klaw (1:09 PM): I’ll do a “just missed” piece next week. NL top tens run on Friday. Plawecki, Puello, and Flores are all on the Mets’.

matt (CT): Is no Flores and indication that you don’t think he can play second? I know the PCL is a hitter’s dream, but what he did there at that age was still impressive to a SUPER BIASED mets fan.
Klaw (2:03 PM): No position except maybe LF/1B, at least not as a regular.

Law: Five Mets (Thor, d’Arnaud, Smith, Nimmo & Montero) in Baseball’s Top 100 Prospects

Keith Law of ESPN.com is out with his Top 100 prospects in baseball. Unlike similar lists from Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com, which had three Mets each, Law has five Mets farmhands in his top 100.

24 – RHP Noah Syndergaard
36 – C Travis d’Arnaud
37 – 1B Dominic Smith
60 – RHP Rafael Montero
92 – CF Brandon Nimmo

I’ve excerpted Law’s comments fairly heavily as I think he provides an admirable level of mechanical detail.

On Syndergaard

Syndergaard_front-2an awesome 2013 season from start to finish…..and still has room for further improvement.

He already has the build of a workhorse starter, with velocity up to 98 mph that’s easy like Sunday morning and the ability to get downhill plane on it when he stays on top of the ball. His changeup is comfortably plus already, but his curveball, a grade-40ish pitch in high school and early in his pro career, is already solid average, and plays up because he gets on top of the ball and releases so close to the plate; hitters swing and miss at it like it’s a sharper, harder pitch.

It’s very unusual to have a pitcher this young show this kind of athleticism, present command and pure stuff and even if Syndergaard doesn’t improve further, he’s at least a quality third starter who can handle 200-inning workloads, but the curveball could get a little tighter and push him up to a No. 2 or better.

Law’s out on his own with his assessment of Syndergaard’s secondary pitches with his changeup ahead of his curve. When I’ve seen him, I’ve thought that his curve is ahead of his changeup.

Syndergaard himself thinks the same. As he said in January, “I feel like my best pitch is my fastball. My second-best pitch from there, which actually improved a lot from last year, is my curveball. My curveball last year was a below-average pitch – like 69-70 miles per hour. And then something this year clicked, and I was able to get it up to 83-84 miles per hour. I feel like my third best pitch is my changeup. [I] just have to keep on throwing it, gotta get a good feel for it, maintain arm speed…”

On d’Arnaud

d’Arnaud would be a top-10 prospect if he could stay on the field, …

When he’s on the field, he’s an impact player on both sides of the ball, featuring outstanding receiving (including pitch-framing) ability, an above-average arm, and good relationships with pitchers, as well as above-average power that should lead to 20-25 homers if he plays a full season. His hand-eye coordination is excellent but his approach isn’t as polished, as he’s not a patient hitter and struggled terribly against both sliders and curveballs in his brief major league time in 2013.

… so for d’Arnaud the main issue is just trying to avoid the trainer’s room so he can get 450-500 plate appearances in 2014.

 

On Smith

Smith was the best pure hitter in the 2013 draft class, sporting a beautiful left-handed swing and flashing above-average power, along with plus defense at first base and an arm that reached 92 mph when he was on the mound in high school.

When Smith keeps his weight back, he generates big-time power from his lower half, with hard contact thanks to quick, strong wrists. He had a habit of drifting too quickly over his front leg, something the Mets seem to have worked on eliminating. … his footwork has limited him to first base, where he projects as a 70-grade defender thanks to incredibly soft hands.

His ceiling is an impact bat at first, a cleanup hitter with 25-30 homer power and .300-plus averages to go with outstanding defense.

 

On Montero

Montero has a lower ceiling than the pitchers ahead of him on this list — and even many of the pitchers behind him — but he’s extremely advanced right now and has better stuff than your standard “command right-hander,”…. He will show plenty of 93s and 94s and commands the heck out of it to both sides of the plate, pairing it with an above-average slider and an above-average changeup, nothing knockout but all very effective because he can locate….. He has the stuff and control (walking just six men in his final six starts of 2013) to contribute in the majors right now…”

I wasn’t ready to call Montero’s slider “plus” the last time I saw it. I think it’s noteworthy that Law does so here.

On Nimmo
Law:

[He] showed great patience at the plate, a hugely positive marker for a player as inexperienced as he is. Nimmo has great rotation in his swing but can be a little long to the ball because he loads his hands high, behind his left shoulder. He’s a fringe-average defender in center — better with reads than with range — but he’ll be plus in either corner. … High-OBP guys with other tools, especially defensive ability, are pretty uncommon, and a healthy Nimmo should be an average to above-average regular by the time he’s 24.

nypl_asg_2014_bridge_480x270_swvgmjo8_417imt42

Brooklyn Cyclones to host 2014 NYPL All-Star Game

The Brooklyn Cyclones will host the 2014 New York Penn League All-Star Game at MCU Park.

“We are excited that the NYPL All-Star Game is coming back to Brooklyn,” Cyclones Vice President Steve Cohen said in a statement. “It’s been almost 10 years since we hosted the game, and we are excited for the opportunity to show the fans, players, and executives from around the league the transformation that Coney Island has undergone. It is one of the can’t-miss destinations of summer for the people of New York City, and now because of the New York-Penn League All-Star Game, it is a must-visit destination for people from all over the footprint of our league.”

The Cyclones have announced that the team has partnered with Mercedes Benz of Brooklyn and TicTocStop.org as the presenting sponsors for the New York-Penn League’s flagship event, according to their press release.

“The New York-Penn League All Star Game has always showcased the finest talent in professional baseball,” NYPL President Ben Hayes said. “The 2014 All Star Game will be no different, except that it will also showcase one of the finest franchises in professional baseball. The Brooklyn Cyclones have led the League in attendance each year it has operated. More importantly, the Cyclones have consistently set the bar for excellence in their operations, overall fan experience, and community involvement. This year’s All Star Game will celebrate all of that and more.”

MCU Park also played host to the first-ever NYPL All-Star Game in 2005.