- This is a nice profile of Tom Signore, who will be filling in for Frank Viola as the Las Vegas 51s Pitching Coach while Frankie recovers from open heart surgery. Signore has worked with the Expos, Marlins and Blue Jays and at Onandaga Community College, Flagler College, Quinnipiac and as a grad assistant at Western Connecticut State University. That’s paying dues.
- Baseball America lists the Mets at #10 in their preseason organizational talent rankings.
Their “High Ceiling Sleeper”: “RHP Rob Whalen’s fastball exhibits good life and low 90s velocity, and his ability to throw it for strikes should help him move quickly and stay in a rotation role.”
Whalen will begin the year as a piggyback starter in the Savannah Sand Gnats’ rotation.
TC Palm photographer Xavier Mascarenas passes along St. Lucie Roster, or at least a group of guys where were at a workout Tuesday night.
There are 29 players listed, so obviously, some of these guys will not be on St. Lucie’s active roster on Opening Day on Thursday. Take your guesses in the comments below. Hint: this team is not going to carry eight infielders or eight relievers.
Matt Koch (I suspect)
Maikis De La Cruz
- MiLB.com did a Prospect Primer for every team to get fans ready for Opening Day. They focused on three players:
Shining Star – Syndergaard
Breakout Prospect – CF Brandon Nimmo
At the Crossroads – Hansel Robles. (I can’t hear the phrase “At the Crossroads” without thinking of Bone Thugs N Harmony.)
Mets VP of Amateur Scouting and Player Development, Paul dePodesta on Nimmo: “I think we could see Brandon Nimmo have a big year in 2014 … I think his numbers are suppressed by the ballpark in Savannah, though it was still a good year. I think for a guy who spent the year there, his OBP was as high as anyone we’ve seen there. I think Brandon getting out of that environment, not that the Florida State League is more friendly, I think we’ll continue to see an increase in power numbers.” (Rober Emrich, MiLB.com)
- More argument for Nimmo having a big season: his 2013 hand injury was more severe than the Mets originally believed, and in fact lingered all season. Even last August, Nimmo conceded as much. Nimmo, was eventually diagnosed as having a “dislocated joint and partial tear of a couple of ligaments.”
The 21-year-old as quoted by Adam Rubin at ESPNNY, “It was a situation where we got the MRI done in Savannah, and it happens where nothing showed up, so I played the rest of the season with it. I let the people know afterward it still wasn’t all the way there. I went to New York and that’s when we found out everything that happened. And we went to Cleveland, too, and saw a pretty good hand doctor there, Dr. Thomas Graham. He said, ‘It isn’t going to change things. You don’t need surgery. They’ve already repaired themselves. You’re just going to have to get it stronger.’ And, actually, we took a couple of months off.”
- Noah Syndergaard is not scared of pitching in Las Vegas, “This is a tough league to pitch in, but there are a lot of tough ballparks in the big leagues to pitch in….It can’t be much different.” (Ray Brewer, Las Vegas Sun)
- Savannah native, RHP John Gant, will start for the Gnats on Friday night. His family moved to Florida when he was 11 years old, but Savannah is home, “I love the marsh and the water. I’ve got to be near water.” (Nathan Dominitz, Savannah Morning News)
- Baseball America has a followup on the suit former minor leaguers are bringing against their former teams which alleges that baseball teams collude to violate the Federal Labor Standards Act and state labor laws by paying well below minimum wage.
Former labor lawyer and Stanford professor Bill Gould seems to see change coming, “This is the sleeping giant in terms of employees in baseball,” Gould said. (Josh Levanthal, Baseball America)
There’s a contrarian impulse in me, but I cannot break from the consensus here; Thor is the top prospect in the Mets’ system.
Height/Weight: 6’6”, 200 lbs
Acquired: Trade with Toronto with John Buck, Travis d’Arnaud and Wuilmer Becerra for R.A. Dickey, Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas
Born: 8/29/92 (Mansfield, TX)
2013 Rank: #3 | Stats
Why Ranked Here: He’s the best prospect in the Mets system, and barring injury, he should be up in the Majors in 2014 where he could make an immediate impact. In a perfect world, he would be the Mets’ #2 starter behind Matt Harvey on the club’s next playoff team.
First, Syndergaard is huge. He’s really 6’6”. He’s built like a truck. His weight lifting regime is now the stuff of legend. It’s not just meathead strength either, he’s embraced yoga for flexibility and to prevent injuries. If any pitcher can hold up to the rigors of a Major League season, it should be Thor, a nickname Syndergaard has embraced.
Any discussion of Syndergaard’s stuff starts with his fastball. He can sit 94-96, with reach back to 98 or 100. He commands the offering well and has good “plane” down through the zone on the pitch. He mixes two and four seam varieties.
In 2013, Syndergaard’s curveball passed his changeup as his second-best pitch. It’s a hard, short breaker in the 81-84 mph range. This should be an average pitch by the time Syndergaard makes his big league debut with a chance to be a plus offering.
The changeup is upper 80s, which is fine given that it’s 8ish miles off the fastball. However, when it’s not down at the knees, it’s a batting practice fastball at that velocity.
Syndergaard has started messing around with a slider which he credits with helping him throw his curveball harder. For now, it’s his fourth offering.
One of the remarkable features of Syndergaard’s game is his control. In the season in which he turned 21 in late August, he walked 6.2% of batters in the Florida State League and 5.6% in the AA Eastern League. That’s better than average. Syndergaard had ONE four walk start (April 13, 2013, @ Fort Myers) and ONE three walk start (July 17 v. Richmond). In his other 21 starts, he walked two or fewer batters. By contrast, in the season in which he turned 21, Zack Wheeler had six starts of four walks or more, four with three walks and 12 with two walks or fewer on his way to a 10.5% walk rate. Wheeler did not pitch in AA in the season in which he was 21. Long story short, Syndergaard is ahead of Wheeler at the same age.
2013: The Mets started the recently acquired Syndergaard in advanced-A. The idea was that he would pair with fellow 20-year-old Michael Fulmer, with whom he became friends in Spring Training at the front of the St. Lucie rotation. However, while Fulmer was working his way back from meniscus surgery, Syndergaard was dominating the League. By the time Fulmer returned on July 7, Syndergaard had already made three starts in AA after his promotion on June 23.
In an effort to limit his workload, the Mets did not let Syndergaard go past five innings in any of his four August starts.
However, Syndegaard was at his most dominant at the end of the year. Leaving out his final start of the year, on August 26, which came after he had been skipped in the rotation, in four starts from July 28 through August 16, Syndergaard allowed one run, on a solo home run, and eight hits with 26 strikeouts and two walks in 21 innings over four starts. Batters hit a collective .116/.141/.188 against him in 71 plate appearances.
Dr. Pangloss Says: Thor is the #2 to Matt Harvey’s Batman in a series of Mets’ playoff appearances from 2015-2020 and a legitimate star in his own right.
Debbie Downer Says: The changeup just does not come along, and he’s more AJ Burnett (a fastball/curveball starter). Or he’s monster at the back of a bullpen.
Projected 2014 Start: AAA Las Vegas
MLB Arrival: June or July 2014.
Robert Brender and I sort through the carnage of Opening Day, which leaves behind a battered bullpen and bad news about Bobby Parnell. On the bright side, I chatted with 2013 1st round pick Dominic Smith during Savannah Sand Gnats media day.
Link to Subscribe on itunes.
Breaking down the broken down bullpen
Bad news for Bobby Parnell
Opening Day wasn’t fun
Are there any bullpen solutions in Vegas?
Dominic Smith interview in Savannah (16:15)
Monday, the Las Vegas 51s, the Mets’ AAA affiliate quietly posted an initial roster on the team’s site.
There are no surprises here.
This rotation of Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom is prospect-fun.
Also, the roster came out before the Mets officially signed 40-year-old Bobby Abreu. Also, the Mets signed Bobby Abreu to a minor league contract!
SS Wilmer Flores
2B Danny Muno
1B Allan Dykstra
UT Anthony Seratelli
1B/3B Zach Lutz
1B/3B/OF Eric Campbell
Wilmer and friends should get on base plenty. In all seriousness, this would be a good time for Flores to get his walk rate to 6% or better.
Matt den Dekker
In addition to Abreu, Eric Campbell can also play left field.
This is now an interesting race between den Dekker and Nieuwenhuis who are basically racing/hitting against each other and Abreu in case the Mets need another outfielder. And of course, can Puello prove that 2013 was not a fluke?
The Mets’ bullpen on Opening Day was bad. Some, maybe even most of these guys will get a shot in the big leagues over the course of 2014. Who will be first? Vic Black? Edgin? Goeddel? Reid?
Despite a tweet/story saying that had made the team, Jon Velasquez is not listed on the initial roster.
Here’s the roster in a Vegas_2014_Roster_March31_igbcrpag.
The B-Mets did not release their roster officially, but thanks to tweets from players and a roster preview story from beat writer Lynn Worthy, we can get pretty close to estimating the complete roster. The best prospect in the group is C Kevin Plawecki, my #11 Mets prospect.
SS Wilfredo Tovar
SS/2B Matt Reynolds
1B Jayce Boyd
1B Matt Clark
3B Dustin Lawley (will also see time in OF)
Util Rylan Sandoval (source)
LHP Darin Gorski
RHP Logan Verrett
RHP Matt Bowman
RHP Rainy Lara
RHP Tyler Pill
RHP Greg Peavey
LHP Jack Leathersich
LHP Adam Kolarek
LHP TJ Chism
LHP Hamilton Bennett
LHP Angel Cuan
RHP Chasen Bradford
RHP Cody Satterwhite (source)
The list above has 24 players. Binghamton will open with 25, and presumably, I missed a backup infielder, someone like Josh Rodriguez, or TJ Rivera.
The addition of Cody Satterwhite takes this roster to 25 players, 13 pitchers and 12 position players of whom there are three catchers. The Mets could well use the phantom DL to stretch this roster with an extra arm or infielder.
12:40 pm: Adding Sandoval takes this roster to 26 players. It seems likely that only two catchers will be active at a given time.
The guy who seems like he belongs here is RHP Hansel Robles. In his age 22 season in the Florida State League, he ran a 3.72 ERA in 16 games over 84.2 innings with a 66 K/29 BB ratio. That’s not the stuff of stardom, but I figured it would be good enough for a trip to Binghamton, unless he is hurt.
The Sand Gnats released their first 2014 roster on Sunday afternoon. The headliners are the Mets’ last two first round picks SS Gavin Cecchini (2012) and 1B Dominic Smith (2013).
Dawrin Frias (not a typo, that’s the correct spelling)
View the roster here. 2014 Sand Gnats Roster 3-30
Height/Weight: 6’2”, 210 lbs
Acquired: In trade with Blue Jays with Noah Syndergaard, Wuilmer Becerra and John Buck for R.A. Dickey, Mike Nickeas and Josh Thole
Born: 2/10/89 (Long Beach, CA)
Why Ranked Here: Travis d’Arnaud is ready to be a Major League contributor now. d’Arnaud should not be here. In a perfect world for the Mets, d’Arnaud would have played a few months in AAA in 2013 and replaced John Buck sometime mid-summer when the Mets traded away Buck into prospects via trade.
Instead, d’Arnaud was hurt again, missing significant time for the third time in four years. A foul tip broke the first metatarsal bone in his foot on April 17, 2013. In 2012, d’Arnaud played only 67 games while missing the second half of the year after tearing the PCL in his knee trying to break up a double-play with Las Vegas. He was healthy in 2011. In 2010, back problems limited d’Arnaud to 71 games with advanced-A Dunedin.
I have few questions about d’Arnaud’s skills. At the plate, he has vicious bat speed. Over two years in Vegas, he hit a combined .328/.402/.588 in 86 games. Sure, he’s playing in Las Vegas, in the PCL, but those are big time numbers. There’s power. When he’s dialed in, he can scorch balls to the rightcenter field gap. He can become too pull-conscious, and end up rolling over pitches resulting in too many groundouts to middle infielders. Coming into 2013, the only hiccup in d’Arnau’s profile was his aggressive approach – he walked in 6.3% of his plate appearances in AAA in 2012. In 2013, he drew 21 walks in 19 games in AAA, an almost silly 27% walk rate in 78 PA. Sure, that’s small sample size stuff and all, but I view it as evidence that he is coachable, and can make a change when prompted.
Defensively, he has the tools as well. His arm is strong, and his release is quick enough to throw out 30% of opposing base stealers in Vegas in 2012. He’s a fine receiver, who was really, really good framing pitches in small samples in 2013 with an average or better arm for a catcher.
Projection systems from Oliver, Steamer, ZiPS and PECOTA put d’Arnaud in a pretty narrow range of .241/.307/.392 to .254/.320/.414 for 2014. The top range of those estimates put him battling to join the five National League catchers in the group behind Yadier Molina and Buster Posey. Really.
2013: I’m not sure whether there is much statistically to be gathered from Travis d’Arnaud’s 2013, his age 24 season. He began the year by hitting .250/.429/.472 in 12 games in Las Vegas with 12 walks and six extra-base hits before he broke his foot. His game rehab began in the GCL on July 24 and transferred to AA Binghamton on July 31. He mashed in AAA for a week beginning on August 9 and after going 8-for-20 (.400) with three doubles and a homer, nine walks and four strikeouts in seven games, earned his MLB debut on August 17th when the Mets visited the Padres.
He admitted he was “anxious” in the big leagues in 2013.
Dr. Pangloss Says: Top three catcher in the National League in 2014 and multi-time All-Star in his career.
Debbie Downer Says: He never learns to stay healthy long enough to leverage his considerable talent.
Projected 2014 Start: Catching Dillon Gee (!) on Opening Day
MLB Arrival: 2013