Jacob deGrom is off to a good start

Toby Hyde, Mets Minor League Blog:

Mets RHP prospect Jacob deGrom has allowed just one earned run, seven hits and three walks in 11 innings this season for Triple-A Las Vegas. He has struck out 11 of the 43 hitters he’s faced.

It has been reported that deGrom, 25, may be considered later in the season to help in the big-league bullpen.

He was added to the team’s 40-man roster last November.

DeGrom’s power two-seam sinker (92-96 mph) and good command will get him to the big leagues. He’s lean and long and the velocity comes relatively easily for him. He added a curveball to his repetoire in 2013 to complement his slider and changeup. If he can get two of those pitches to MLB average, he can be a starter. Otherwise, the Mets hope that they found themselves a nice, hard-throwing reliever in the 9th round of the 2010 draft.

Screen shot 2014-04-15 at 11.08.17 AM

The Mets added deGrom to the 40-man roster in November, 2013 which makes promoting him to the big leagues that much easier.

It’s early yet, but compare deGrom’s performance in a number of key categories in AAA in 2013 versus 2014.

13 PCL4.6475.678724637.319.043.6331
14 PCL0.821173117.025.665.543

DeGrom ripped through the system in 2013, moving from advanced Single-A to Double-A after just two starts in April. After four starts for Binghamton, the Mets moved him to Triple-A for a spot start on May 6. After a decent, but not dominant, six start run in Double-A from May 9-June 9 (4.79 ERA, 30/12 K/BB and an opponents’ batting line of .310/.364/.465 in 157 PA) the Mets moved deGrom up to Triple-A where he made 14 starts with a 4.52 ERA and a seven  percent walk rate against just a 17 percent strikeout  rate. In a world in which MLB starters strike out 20 percent of their opponents, deGrom’s 17 percent strikeout rate in 2013 in Triple-A was a red flag. Yes, some sinker ballers have had success with low strikeout rates, but deGrom’s groundball rate of 43.6 percent in Las Vegas was just a tick above the league average of 43 percent.

A former college shortstop at Stetson, who pitched relatively little, deGrom’s professional career got off to a slow start. He strained his UCL in 2010 when he was with Kingsport in the Appalachian League. Initially, he opted to attempt to rehab it, rather than go straight for Tommy John surgery. However, eventually, he went under the knife which cost him the entire 2011 season. While rehabbing in Port St. Lucie, he met one Johan Santana, who helped teach him the two-seam fastball. He unleased the two-seamer on professional hitters for the first time in the South Atlantic League in 2012, earning a mid-season promotion to the Florida State League.

My preseason #16 prospect, I don’t think the projection on deGrom has changed that dramatically, yet.

DeGrom and his power sinker could help the Mets bullpen in short order. However, if his secondary offerings take a step forward this year, the Mets might keep him stretched out in the minors to give him a better chance to start in the big leagues.

Mets Minors Recap: Sunday, April 13

las vegas april 13

Chris Young, rehabbing from a quad injury, went 5-5 with two home runs in the leadoff spot. He also doubled, had five RBI and scored five runs. Rafael Montero tossed 6 1/3 innings, allowing two earned runs and striking out four. >> Read more at MiLB.com

bingo april 13

Hansel Robles tossed five shuout innings as the B-Mets walked ten times. Matt Clark walked five times and scored twice. Cory Vaughn and Dustin Lawley both doubled and drove in one. >> Read more at MiLB.com

To read more of this story, click here

Mets trade Forsythe to Oakland

The Mets have traded Double-A catcher Blake Forsythe to the Oakland Athletics for future consideration.

Forsythe was the Mets third round pick in 2010. He hit .192 with 10 home runs and 33 RBI in 88 games for the Binghamton Mets last season.

Friday Mailbag: Akeel Morris, Brandon Nimmo and Jacob deGrom

Toby Hyde, Mets Minor League Blog:

Q: Scott writes:
Toby, did Akeel Morris really strike out ALL NINE batters he faced in 3 innings of work the other night?  Can you make even a brief post on what you saw and how he managed to do that?  Thanks.

A: Nope. Morris did not strike out all nine batters he faced on Wednesday night in Savannah. He fanned nine of eleven batters he faced. He allowed a leadoff walk in the sixth and then struck out the next three straight. In the seventh, he induced a flyball out and then struck out the next two. His eighth inning began with a strikeout/wild pitch combo and then he struck out the next three, two swinging, one looking for the fun four strikeout inning.

The Mets drafted Morris as a very raw arm in the 10th round of the 2010 draft out of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. He had played very, very little organized baseball until he started auditioning for MLB teams in the run up to the draft itself. He’s listed at 6’1″, 170 lbs, and he’s still rather slender by the standards of professional pitchers. He’s a little dude with a live arm. In spring training he was regularly 92-94 mph and he has 96 in there when he maxes out. There’s effort in his delivery, but he has a really quick arm so his four-seamer jumps on hitters. He uses the fastball a lot.

He showed something off-speed in that nine-strikeout performance. I’m not sure what it was – it was poorly defined. I was told he coming into the season, that he had a curve and slider.

Re-listening to my broadcast, eight of his nine strikeouts came on fastballs and one I did not identify. More than half were up or away. Right now, he’s just blowing away SAL hitters.

It’s taken four years for Morris to reach a-ball as he struggled to throw strikes as a starter in the Gulf Coast League in 2010, and the Appalachian League in 2011 and 2012. Even last year, when he was excellent in the Brooklyn bullpen, he walked over 12% of opposing hitters, the same as he did in the Appalachian League in 2012. The difference was that his strikeout rate hopped to 33% last year.

He’s easily the best arm in the Savannah bullpen right now.

Morris needs to improve his fastball command and the breaking stuff needs plenty of work. He’ll put up numbers in the SAL out of the bullpen strictly by blowing his fastball by guys. We see some relievers post big strikeout rates in the SAL every year. Out of the bullpen in his two outings, he’s thrown strikes on 68% of his pitches. If he can maintain that over a few more moderate length relief outings, he could earn a starting spot or piggyback role where the innings would certainly be productive developmentally. I still think he’s a reliever in the end, but even MLB relievers are usually starters in a-ball.


A: Quite possibly, but he’s not going anywhere for a while. After turning 21 in March, he’s off to a really nice start hitting .348/.516/.565 with two doubles and a homer with eight walks and seven strikeouts in 31 PA. If this spray chart is to be believed, he’s using the whole field nicely. His homerun was pulled to rightfield, just like his two homers last year while his two doubles came from drives to left field. His singles have mostly been back up the middle and into centerfield. Nimmo Spray Chart 4:11:14 My preseason #6 prospect certainly has a chance to be in Binghamton by June.  

A: My preseason #16 prospect, I don’t think the projection on deGrom has changed that dramatically, yet.

However, his two starts for Las Vegas have indeed been really good: 11 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 HR, 3 BB, 11 K. It’s early, but he’s missing bats in a way (26% of plate appearances) that he has not since leaving the SAL.

His power two-seam sinker (92-96 mph) and good command will get him to the big leagues. He’s lean and long and the velocity comes relatively easily for him.

I’ve said for years that if he could develop and average or better breaking ball, he’d have a chance to start. I didn’t think it was there at the end of 2013. A National League scout who saw him in Spring Training with a defined curve and slider thought either could get to that level and saw his ceiling as that of a Major League starter. Scouts I talked to who saw him in the past generally regarded him as a reliever.


If his strikeout rate stays elevated, and I get more good reports about his breaking stuff, I’ll really start to believe he can be a big league starter.



Three Mets pitchers on Baseball America’s Prospect Hot Sheet

Three Mets minor league pitchers appeared on Baseball America’s Prospect Hot Sheet this week (Badler, April 11).

Rafael Montero showed up at No. 8 on the list, Jacob deGrom appeared “In The Team Photo,” and Akeel Morris got a note in the “Helium” section.

“Montero toed the Vegas rubber in his first two starts this year and continued to show exceptional command—his 14.0 SO/BB ratio ranks second in the PCL—while striking out one-third of batters faced,” Ben Badler wrote.

The 25-year-old deGrom was mentioned as a future big leaguer, while Morris was mentioned for striking out 11 of the 12 outs he’s recorded this season.

Valentino Pascucci: From minor league slugger to teacher

Toby Hyde, Mets Minor League Blog:

Valentino Pascucci, something of a cult hero in certain segments of Mets fandom, was looking for a job hitting baseballs. Instead, he found a job teaching others how to hit them, as the hitting coach for the Savannah Sand Gnats, the Mets Single-A affiliate.

Pascucci, who turned 35 last November, was coming off a 30 home run season, split between Reynosa in the Mexican League and Camden in the Atlantic League, bopping 15 in each. But he and his 191 Triple-A long balls and career .266/.390/.493 line in over 1,000 games could not find a job on a Major League team’s 40-man roster or in Japan.

Pascucci Gnats HeadAnd so, it was time for a change. Truthfully, the Mets have had their collective eyes on Pascucci as a coaching candidate since at least 2011 and 2012 when Pascucci was still playing for the team’s Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo.

“It started back a couple of years ago with [Minor League Field Coordinator] Dick Scott,” Pascucci said, “We talked about what I wanted to do when I was done playing – if there was an opportunity to coach, they would love to have me back as a coach in the organization.”

This year there was. After Pascucci’s preferred Japanese team went with another hitter, Pascucci and Scott got back together and finalized a deal in mid-January.

The Philosophical Fit
Pascucci drew a walk in 15.5 percent of his minor league plate appearances and hit 301 doubles and 281 minor league homers. His style, represents, pretty closely, the kind of patient, powerful hitters the Mets are looking to develop.

Mets Hitting Coordinator Lamar Johnson, who oversees the minor league hitters and hitting coaches, talked about Pascucci, the hitter: “When you watch him play, and watch him hit, he does everything you would like a hitter to do. A guy like that, with that kind of discipline, that kind of plate coverage, and that kind of power, hey. He’s perfect for what we’re trying to do.”

Pascucci hit like a Mets farmhand, even before he was a Met.

“I kind of fit in with the Mets philosophy,” he said. “They want you to get a good pitch to hit. If you get it, drive it. If not, recognize it, [and] lay off it. Most of my career, I think I did a pretty good job of that.”

Johnson liked that Pascucci, did not just wait for his pitch, but he did damage when he connected: “He was a guy that would get good pitches to hit and when he got good pitches to hit, he would drive them. What he did at the plate was our main philosophy: always get a good pitch to hit.”

Even though he stood 6’6″ and north of 200 pounds, with tremendous power, Pascucci took pride in using the whole field.

“Keep it to the big part of the field, the hits will come.” he said he always told himself. “I stayed to the big part of the field. Hit a lot of balls to right-center. It’s that old saying, ‘Hard in, soft away.’ I know guys are going to try to do that to me, so I just stayed looking out over the plate … recognizing offspeed and laying off of it was a big part of my game.”

Where other hitters, particularly guys his age, were skeptical about drawing walks, Pascucci saw their value.

“I knew if I could draw a walk and get on base, then we’d have a runner on base, and the next guy would have a good chance, with a double, we’re scoring,” he said, likely making wise baseball fans weep for joy. To read more of this story, click here

Mets Minors Recap: Wednesday, April 9

las vegas april 9

Noah Syndergaard allowed four runs — three earned — in five innings. He allowed six hits, walked two and struck out two. He threw 91 pitches, 61 for strikes. Eric Campbell hit a two-run home run. Bobby Abreu and Cesar Puello each had two hits and scored once. Abreu added an RBI. >> Read more on MiLB.com

bingo april 9

Matt Bowman allowed one earned run over five innings. Jack Leathersich struck out two in one inning of work. Wilfredo Tovar had two hits and drove in three runs. Kevin Plawecki went 2-5, scoring once. >> Read more on MiLB.com

To read more of this story, click here

Mostly Mets pres by Caesars AC: d’Arnaud will be fine, Colon is doing fine, Vegas starters are really fine

Robert Brender and I talk about a little patience with Travis d’Arnaud, the solid starts for Colon and Niese, and the really solid starts for the prospects in the Vegas rotation.

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  • Have a little patience with Travis d’Arnaud
  • Colon, Niese, so far so good (10:30)
  • Vegas rotation shaping up well
  • One Good Thing, One Bad Thing (31:10)
  • Good: Hank Aaron, Pitcher who caught 715
  • Bonus Good: Savannah prospects
  • Bad: “True” HR King, Full service gas in NJ