Robert Brender, @robertbrender on TwitterLas Vegas 51s 3, @ Salt Lake Bees (LAA) 4
The Las Vegas 51s dropped the opening game of their best-of-five PCL Conference Championship Series against the Salt Lake Bees 4-3 Wednesday night in Utah.
The 51s got on the board first thanks to a two-run single from Dustin Lawley with two out in the opening inning. Lawley has been outstanding at the 3A level since being promoted from St Lucie August 28. In his six regular season games for the 51s, the 24-year-old was 6-20 (.300) with a pair of doubles, a homer and four driven in. Wednesday, he finished 1-3. Lawley, an Alabama native, spent the past two seasons primarily in Savannah and St Lucie, launching 40 combined homeruns, while striking out 235 times and walking 86 times. In 2011, his first season in the Mets chain, he smacked 10 homers in just 60 at-bats.
Vegas took a 3-0 lead in the 3rd inning when Mike Baxter led off the frame with a triple followed by a run-scoring single from Eric Campbell. With all the fantastic offensive numbers put up by Wilmer Flores, Josh Satin, Andrew Brown and other notable prospects, Campbell flew under the radar posting one of the top offensive seasons in the PCL in 2013. His .435 OBP and .910 OPS led the league, while his .314 BA was 7th, just seven points behind Flores.
RHP Matt Fox got the start for the 51s and was very good for 5 2/3 innings. His only difficulty came in the 4th when he suddenly lost command of the strike zone, walking three batters, one of which came with the bases loaded to force in a run. The second Salt Lake run scored on a single Efran Navarro, also as part of that difficult bottom of the 4th. The final pitching line for Fox: 5.2IP, 5H, 2R, 2ER, 3BB, 2K.
Salt Lake tied the game 3-3 in the 8th on a two-strike, two-out single from former big leaguer Scott Cousins off reliever Robert Carson. The run was charged to Sean Henn who gave up a single and a walk earlier in the inning. Carson remained on the mound to pitch the 9th and surrendered a game-ending homerun to Matt Long.
Notes: The winner of this series will play the winner of the Oklahoma City vs. Omaha series in the PCL Championship round beginning September 10. That will also be a best-of five format with the Pacific Division winner playing on the road the first two games….Vegas was 10-6 during the regular season against Salt Lake…The 51s were winners of the PCL Pacific Southern Division and had the 2nd best record in the league (81-63).
The Mets three full season affiliates to make the postseason get their series underway tonight.
AAA: Las Vegas 51s @ Salt Lake Bees [LAA] Listen
Game One 8:35 ET – RHP Matt Fox (8-4, 4.59) vs. RHP Matt Shoemaker (11-13, 4.64)
Matt Fox ended up leading the 51s in wins and second in IP despite not making his first start until mid-May. Fox has been solid down the stretch with 5 wins in his last 8 starts, and 19 K to 1 BB over his last two starts, but is an interesting choice for game one in Salt Lake. On August 19th he allowed 8 runs on 9 hits and 4 walks in Salt Lake, and on July 10th he allowed 6 runs on 8 hits (2BB/4K) over 4.2 IP in Salt Lake. Back on June 24th Fox faced Salt Lake in Vegas and limited them to 2 runs on 9 hits over 6.1 IP. Fox has a 2.66 ERA in 8 home starts and a 6.02 ERA in 12 road starts.
Matt Shoemaker finished 4th in the PCL in wins, and tied for 4rd in losses, leading the league in starts (29), IP, hits, strike outs, and homers allowed (27). He’s held the 51s to 5 runs total in three starts against them, striking out 22 and walking 2 over 20.2 IP. He’s made 64 regular season starts for Salt Lake and allowed 55 homers, so he is not stranger to the hitter friendly environment in Salt Lake.
AA: Binghamton Mets @ Trenton Thunder [NYY] Listen-Alternate Audio
Game Two 7:05 ET – RHP Noah Syndergaard (6-1, 3.00) vs. RHP Bryan Mitchell (0-0, 1.93)
Starting the year in St Lucie Noah Syndergaard showed flashes of his top prospect status, striking out 7 or more four times, but mostly meandered his way through 12 starts on his way to a mid-season promotion to Binghamton. Instead of being tested by what might be the toughest jump in the minor leagues Thor exploded on the Eastern League. His K rate ballooned to 32.2% a career best and his walk rate dipped to a best of 5.6%. On August 16th he struck out 10 and allowed just 3 hits over 5 IP and at the time he had a 1.59 ERA through 10 EL starts, striking out 64 with 10 walks over 51 IP. After being skipped a turn to help extend his season into the playoffs he took the mound on August 26th and got smacked around for 9 ER on 9 hits (2BB/5K) over 3 IP. The 9 ER doubled his total in AA and nearly doubled his ERA. With the Mets concerns about his workload (which is 117.2 IP after 103.2 IP last year) was this start a sign that he is tiring, or just a rusty/low adrenaline performance for a team that had already clinched its playoff spot.
Bryan Mitchell is a curious choice for game one as he has made just 3 starts at the AA level, however he did finish up the year with a 10K/0BB 4 hit over 7.1 IP performance against New Britain. He spent most of 2013 pitching for Tampa (4-11, 5.12 ERA) with 104 strikeouts and 53 walks over 126.2 IP. He faced St. Lucie on July 29th in a game that included Cory Vaughn as well as Plawecki and Reynolds. Plawecki had the only hit of that trio, it was a double (of course), with each of Binghamton’s late season additions walking once.
Greg Peavey has rejoined the Binghamton staff, and it appears that Kevin Plawecki and Matt Reynolds will not be a part of the active roster as the playoffs start.
A: Savannah Sand Gnats @ Augusta Greenjackets [SF] Listen
Game One 7:05 ET – RHP Gabriel Ynoa (15-4, 2.72) vs. RHP Martin Agosta (9-3, 2.06)
Gabriel Ynoa beat Augusta 3 times in the course of a month this summer. In the first two starts he gave up just 1 run on 11 hits and 1 walks while striking out 9 over 12.2 IP. However in the third match-up the Greenjackets figured him out to the tune of 10 hits and 4 ER over 5 IP, 0BB/3K. Is it a case of over-exposure, or just one poor start late in a long season…
Marcos Camarena was left off the postseason roster, while OF Greg Pron was activated to give the Gnats 13 position players.
Martin Agosta made the jump from low rookie ball to the SAL this year as a 22 year old and as a result saw a limited workload throughout the year. As a result he came up 20 IP short of qualifying for the ERA title which he otherwise would have won (leader was 2.25) He is a low contact pitcher having struck out 109 and walked 43 over 91.2 IP while batters hit just .180 against him. Against the Gnats he’s had some trouble with walks, on April 10th he walked 3 and struck out 2 while allowing 6 hits over 3.2 IP. On May 19th he walked 5 and struck out 5 while allowing 4 hits in 3.1 IP, in a game that did NOT include Plawecki and Zurcher. His very next start he put it together against the Gnats going 7 shutout innings, striking out 8 and walking 2 on May 25th. He did not face the Gnats in the second half as the Giants began spacing out his starts to not run into innings limits.
Regular season finale for the Cyclones
A-Sh: Brooklyn Cyclones (37-37) @ Tri-City ValleyCats (44-31) Listen
Wednesday 6:00 ET – RHP Miller Diaz (6-3, 2.01) vs. RHP Troy Scribner (1-2, 5.51)
The Cyclones led the NYPL in attendance for the 13th straight year.
Bonus points if you follow along with this contest…
Down to their last out, the Greenville Astros came from behind to beat the K-Mets in the decisive third game of the Appalachian League semi-finals eliminating Kingsport from the playoffs before the other three playoff-bound Mets affiliates even played a single game.
The K-Mets built a 2-0 lead behind Rob Whalen, who shutout Greeneville through six innings. However, Whalen could not escape the seventh, giving up a double and an RBI single to make it a one-run game. Reliever Luis Rangel walked one and hit one to load the bases. The Mets brought in hard-throwing Ricky Jacquez with the bases loaded and one out, and after walking in the tying run, he picked up a strikeout and a fly ball to get out of the inning with the game tied. Whalen’s final line: 6.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K. Whalen was 88-89, touching 90 when I saw him in July.
The K-Mets then scored a run in the bottom of the eighth on a walk, a two-base throwing error and a sacrifice fly to take a 3-2 lead going to the ninth.
In the ninth, one out from the Appalachian League Championship Series, Jacquez fell one swing short. With a runner at second and two outs, he gave up a game-tying double. With the game tied, the KMets turned to Robert Coles, who issued an intentional walk and then two singles and a double to account for four runs and a 7-3 KMets deficit.
Jacquez ended up throwing 2.1 innings, his longest outing since June 28 when he threw three innings in his only outing this year longer than 2.1 innings. He had gone two innings just once in his last 14 outings. The Mets were extending him beyond his standard usage pattern to try to get him through the ninth. It was quite reasonable to do so; he has the best arm in the Kingsport bullpen. I saw Jacquez at 92-94 in July. The arm is legit. He should start 2014 in Savannah.
1B Dominic Smith was 0-for-4.
SS Amed Rosario was 0-for-3.
CF Champ Stuart did not start so the Mets could play older Yeixon Ruiz, in center.
R: Greeneville Astros @ Kingsport Mets
Game Three 7:00 ET – RHP Frederick Tiburcio (3-2, 2.43) vs. RHP Robert Whalen (3-2, 1.87)
Frederick Tiburcio was a part of the Astros early season sweep of the Mets with a 7 strikeouts over 5 IP while allowing 2 hits and a walk. He hasn’t faced them since. On August 13th he got tagged by Johnson City, allowing 6 runs on 9 hits over 3 IP (2BB/2K) in his only start in which he allowed more than 2 runs. He rebounded with 12 K, 1 BB, and 10 hits over his last 2 starts against quality teams Elizabethtown and Bluefield. For the year he has struck out 51 and walked 19 over 55.2 IP, holding batters to .213
Robert Whalen was among the best pitchers in the APL this year. He finished second in ERA and whip (0.93) among qualifiers, led the league in IP as one of just two starters to average more than 6 IP/start (Flexen) and finished second in the league with 76 strikeouts. He faced Greeneville three times this year, and didn’t factor in the decision in any of them.
June 26th: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 8 K
July 9th: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 UER, 2 BB, 6 K
Aug 9th: 5.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 4 K
In the first two he left with the lead only to see Greeneville rally for wins, in the last game he left trailing and his teammates would rally for the win. The last game was just the second time he struck out less than 6, and the second time he walked more than 2. As you can see the K/BB numbers in those starts are trending down. Has Greeneville seen him enough to stop swinging at his pitches out of the zone?
A-Sh: Brooklyn Cyclones (37-36) @ Tri-City ValleyCats (43-31) Listen
Tuesday 6:00 ET – RHP John Gant (6-3, 2.33) vs. LHP Evan Grills (6-1, 3.38)
A four game losing streak in the seasons final week has eliminate the Cyclones, who now try to avoid having a losing season. John Gant had probably the best start a Mets farmhand has had this year, striking out 6 and facing the minimum over a complete game shutout. He walked 1 and allowed 1 hit, but both were erased on a double play and a caught stealing.
Evan Grills has struck out 46 and walked 12 over 56 IP working in a tandem starter role with RHP Kevin Comer (2-5, 4.80, 43K/17BB in 45 IP)
The Mets AA affiliate in Binghamton clinched their first playoff berth since 2004 on August 17th and coasted to the division title, their first since 2000, which they wrapped up with a win on August 21st. It was a banner season all around as the B-Mets set a franchise record with 86 wins, had the league MVP in Allan Dykstra, and manager of the year was won by Pedro Lopez. Jeff Walters set the team career saves record with his outstanding season, while Mark Cohoon extended his franchise records for starting pitchers. Player of the week and month awards were too numerous to list.
On May 24th the B-Mets were 26-22 and were in fight for the top of the standings, two games behind Portland with Trenton right there as well. They would win their next three from Portland and not look back from there. They would win 4 of 5 from Trenton in early June, and 3 of 4 from them in late June to move 10.5 games ahead of them, a lead that ended up being insurmountable. A five game in three day set with Portland awaited the B-Mets out of the all star break. They won four of the five and had a comfortable 10+ game lead on everyone in the division. In all they went 60-33 from May 25th on. In an odd note they went 34-11 on weekends.
The regular season series with Trenton went to Binghamton 10-7, with 12 of the games played in Binghamton. Three of the five games in Trenton went to the Mets. Trenton had the best home record of any team in the EL going 43-27.
Offensively Trenton has the lowest OPS and SLG% in the EL, hitting .245/.324/.364 as a team. They struck out the third most and stole the fewest bases. Yankees top prospects C Gary Sanchez and CF Mason Williams have joined the team during August and will likely see regular playing time.
Binghamton on the other hand was second in the EL in OBP and OPS hitting .253/.340/.393 as a team. While they lead the league in striking out they also walked the most, many games letting pitchers self destruct with patience. They ended up second in the league in runs scored, and third in homers. Allan Dykstra lead the league with a .938 OPS, the only qualifier over .900, lead the league in walks and was in the top ten in homers and RBI. Cesar Puello was also a huge part of the offense, hitting .326/.403/.547 over 91 games, but is suspended for involvement in biogenesis and will not be seen again until next year. Travis Taijeron (14 homers .826 OPS) and Cory Vaughn (10 homers .769 OPS) provided power threats in partial seasons with the team. Danny Muno hits leadoff and put up a walk (92) and doubles (27) heavy .249/.384/.379
Trenton put up a team ERA of 3.63 good for third in the EL, and were third in strikeouts, and allowed a league low 85 home runs. They led the league in walks with over 4 per game leading to the third worst whip at 1.41, and hit 72 more batters. Despite all the shortcomings they performed exactly as run expectancy would predict. They used 19 different starting pitchers thanks mostly to the Yankees constant need for new long relievers at the big league level messing with the AAA and AA rotations. RHP Tommy Kahnle closes for them, with 74 strikeouts and 45 walks in 60 IP. LHP Francisco Rondon has struck out 79 and walked 50 (!) over 74 IP.
Binghamton put together the second best ERA (3.53) and whip (1.27) in the EL, and struck out the most batters while walking the second fewest. The B-Mets led the league in holds with 64, which is a silly stat, but does suggest they had many outstanding years from the relief crew outside of Jeff Walters. LHP Adam Kolarek and RHP Chasen Bradford are the relievers most likely to be seen in pressure situations. LHP Chase Hutchingson is out due to suspension after a solid season in a set up role.
Game One is Wednesday at 7:05
Over the weekend, on Sunday night to be specific, the Binghamton Mets announced that the Eastern League had named manager Pedro Lopez the Manager of the Year and 1B Allan Dykstra the AA League’s MVP.
From a value perspective with the bat, Dykstra is a worthy choice. Over the full season, he was the most productive hitter on the League’s best team. (I suspect had he played, and hit well in August, this would have been Cesar Puello’s award.) The 26-year-old Dykstra hit .274/.436/.503 with 22 doubles, 21 homruns, 102 walks and 123 strikeouts in 122 games. It’s a modest credit to the award’s voters that they looked past Dykstra’s sub-.300 batting average to pick the guy leading the League in on-base percentage and slugging, (and walks, who was fourth in RBI and tied for fifth in homeruns).
In advanced metrics, Dykstra was #1 in the Eastern League in both wOBA (.423) and wRC+ (163).
This was the third go-round in AA for Dykstra, who hit .267/.389/.474 with 22 doubles and 19 homeruns at age 24 in Binghamton in 121 games in 2011. The major change for him in the last two three years statistically is that he moved his walk rate from a strong 14.5% in 2011 to an extremely discipline 20.9% in 2013. His power output was similar.
The Mets acquired Allan Dykstra for Eddie Kunz in a swap of disappointing first round draft picks in March of 2011. The Padres plucked Dykstra 23rd overall in 2008 out of Wake Forest while the Mets grabbed Kunz 42nd out of Oregon State in 2007. Kunz was released by the Padres this spring after a 6.35 ERA in 21 games last year with a 12/20 K/BB. By any measure, whether Dykstra ever becomes a real big leaguer, the Mets have already won the trade.
Toby Hyde, Mets Minor League Blog:
So, can Dykstra be a useful big leaguer?
Here is a sampling of questions I received over email and twitter this weekend.
By email, Mark asked of Dykstra: “could he be the mets version evan gattis? great obp. if he is thank you eddie kunz”
As far as Mark’s question, Gattis is a few months younger than Dykstra and despite his wonderful story is now down to .238/.298/.469 in 80 games in the big leagues. Since July 1, his power has disappeared as he’s hit .215/.263/.280 in 27 games with a two-week trip to the DL and a short trip to AAA Gwinnett over the weekend. As far as profile, Dykstra is a higher walk rate guy with less raw power than Gattis, but Gattis’ case provides a great warning about counting on guys who make their MLB debuts at age 26 or later.
As far as J.D.’s question, will Dykstra get big league time after the Eastern League playoffs end, barring more Mets’ injuries, the answer is: “wildly unlikely.”
Why? Dykstra is big, 6’5″, 240 pounds and old for the Eastern League. His bat is slow. He’s succeeded on strength and approach in the minors. He’s a well below average runner limited to first or DH duties. He’s been a similar hitter for three years, although his walk rate has climbed more recently. He still strikes out in over 25% of his AA plate appearances. Ask Kirk Nieuwenhuis what happens to high strikeout guys in the upper minors when they get to the big leagues. Plugging Dykstra’s 2013 numbers into the handy Minor League Equivalency Calculator yields an MLB line of .197/.329/.342 in 404 AB. That’s not playable at first base. Basically, he would run into some balls, but MLB pitchers, and their fastballs, would eat him up.
Put simply, I believe Dykstra will not be an everyday player in the big leagues. Perhaps, he can be a bench bat, but teams rarely carry true 1B-only bench bats.
Now for the roster considerations. First, the Mets already have a better version of Dykstra playing first in Lucas Duda who crushed AA and AAA at age 24. Second, Dykstra is not on the Mets’ 40-man roster, which is currently full. The Mets could certainly make space in the short term by moving Matt Harvey to the 60-day DL for example. I do not believe Dykstra would be eligible to be a minor league free agent until after the 2014 season. Adding Dykstra now only limits the Mets’ choices in terms of adding other players this off-season, and of course protects him from the Rule 5 draft.
Dykstra has certainly earned a promotion to AAA for 2014. However, AA success at age 26, and the way he has done it, do not indicate that he is a big league piece moving forward.
@ Tri-City Valley Cats 3, Brooklyn Cyclones 1
Tri-City scored twice in the bottom of the eighth inning off reliever Christian Chivellli to eliminate the Cyclones from playoff contention. Aberdeen, who won on Monday, leads Brooklyn by 2.5 games with two games to play in the New York Penn League season.
The Cyclones collected just three hits, all singles.
In past years, the Mets have tried brought some of the more promising prospects from Kingsport to help Savannah at the end of the year while Brooklyn chased the playoffs, or earned a berth. With the Cyclones missing out this year, and Kingsport in the playoffs, the Mets might well choose to fortify the Savannah roster with some players from Brooklyn.
Obvious candidates include the three Cyclones’ leaders in OPS: SS Gavin Cecchini (.274/.320/.316), LF Jared King (.271/.373/.355), and 2B L.J. Mazzilli (.286/.334/.391). I doubt Mazzilli would displace Dilson Herrera, but perhaps the Mets would find a spot for him or King at DH or on the bench for a pinch-hitting assignment. Edit: As Nate pointed out in the comment section, on September 1, the Cyclones’ game notes claimed that 2013 third round pick Ivan Wilson was heading to the Brooklyn roster. It does not appear he has been added on any of the MiLB.com sites at this writing. Adding Wilson seems to make it more likely that King could join Savannah.
On the pitching side, Robert Gsellman, Akeel Morris and Miller Diaz have all been very good. It would be simple to fit the pitchers either into the bullpen or, in Gsellman’s case as the fourth starter, in game one or two of the championship series, if the Gnats get that far.
Rookie – Appy League
Greenville Astros 7, Kingsport Mets 2
The Greenville Astros evened the best of three game first round series at 1-1 with the Kingsport Mets. The Astros scored four runs in the third inning and a run in the fifth for an insurmountable 5-0 lead against starter Carlos Gomez. Gomez’s line: 4.1 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 2 HR.
1B Dominic Smith was 2-for-4 with a strikeout. The 2013 first round pick didn’t start game one of the K-Mets’ playoff series, but started, and hit in game two.
Rob Whalen will throw for Kingsport in game three Tuesday night at 7 pm.
Both the double-A B-Mets and the A-ball Sand Gnats have long-since clinched playoff berths and both came up with just three hits on the season’s final day.
AA: New Hampshire Fisher Cats (TOR) 8, @ Binghamton Mets 1
The B-Mets ran into Toronto prospect Marcus Stroman, their 2012 first-round draft pick. Stroman’s had a nice year in AA with 129 strikeouts and just 27 walks in 111.2 innings.
SS Matt Reynolds made his AA debut and was 0-for-3. The Mets’ second round pick in 2012, Reynolds hit a disappointing .226/.302/.337 in 117 games with St. Lucie as a 22-year-old. He and Kevin Plawecki were promoted to AA Binghamton to help out with the B-Mets’ playoff run.
A: Greenville Drive (BOS) 1, Savannah Sand Gnats 0
CF Brandon Nimmo(pictured): 0-for-3, BB, 2 K, SB. The 20-year-old finished the regular season at .273/.397/.359 in 110 games. He’s running better and taking stronger leads. He stole a base in each of the last two games of the season. In the second half, he’s 8-for-12 stealing bases (67%). That’s not special, but in the first half he was 2-for-5 (40%), that’s worse.
2B Dilson Herrera: 1-for-3, BB, K. Herrera’s single was a perfectly placed bunt in the second inning. In the ninth, he drew a two-out walk and went to second on a passed ball only to be stranded there when the game ended. The 19-year-old finished the SAL regular season at .267/.334/.416 with West Virginia and Savannah. As long as we’re on the subject of running, Herrera was 11-for-17 with West Virginia, and is a perfect 3-for-3 in seven games with Savannah. It might not be a meaningful change, or maybe he, like Nimmo, is picking his spots better.
The fact that Nimmo and Herrera can run is a nice ancillary boost to their overall value. They are good prospects because they can hit.
SS Philip Evans: 0-for-3. He finished the regular season at .203/.268/.263 in 106 games.
Robert Brender, @robertbrender on TwitterTucson Padres (SD) 5, @ Las Vegas 51s 4
Newly acquired reliever Cory Wade gave up a pair of runs in the top of the 9th inning, giving Tucson a 5-4 win at Cashman Field on the final day of the PCL regular season. The 51s finished the regular year with the second best record in the league (81-63), one game worse than Oklahoma City.
Aaron Harang, who signed as a Minor League free agent Sunday, got his first appearance in relief for the 51s and was okay: 4IP, 7H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 5K, 1HR. The 35-year-old will likely pitch for the 51s through the playoffs before joining the big club for a few spot starts down the stretch.
Catcher Juan Centeno had the best day at the plate for the 51s, going 3-4 with two triples and an RBI. Yep, not one but two triples. Those were his first two this season in 213 AAA at-bats. He had one early this season playing for Binghamton. Its been a very nice season for Centeno in a part time role, batting .305/.346/.371. Although Francisco Pena likely has more big league potential, Centeno has flown under the radar putting up decent numbers all year.
Notes: the 51s open their 1st round playoff series Wednesday in Salt Lake…Rylan Sandoval had two more hits and is batting .327 in AAA.