- At Amazin’ Avenue, Chris McShane takes a very careful look at Travis d’Arnaud’s struggles blocking pitches in the big leagues. I noticed on a few pitches that he’s wincing rather than trying to catch the ball with his chest protector. He also reaches late a few times. I look forward to a followup when d’Arnaud has both more big league time and more time working with the big league pitchers in 2014.
The plan for Thor? The same as it was for Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler. He will start the season, in Noah Syndergaard’s case 2014 in AAA, and once he has passed the deadline for super-two status, is pitching well, has convinced the Mets he can succeed in the big leagues, and when there’s a need in the roation, the Mets will call him up.
Via Andy Martino in the New York Daily News
Lets start Monday around here with a look at the Mets playing baseball in the Arizona Fall League for the Scottsdale Scorpions.
There are few surprises.
RF/LF Cory Vaughn - Hits in four of his last five contests have moved his batting average up 20 points so that the 24-year-old is hitting .254/.329/.394 in 18 games. Once again, Vaughn owns a huge platoon split: .318/.464/.455 with a homer and five walks in 22 AB against lefties and .224/.255/.367 with four extra-base hits including three triples, two walks and 13 whiffs in 49 AB vs. righties. Vaughn’s platoon splits have been strong now for the last three years. It’s a thing. He hits lefties, but does not hit righties.
“3B” Aderlin Rodriguez - A week shy of his 22nd birthday, Rodriguez is hitting .203/.215/.234 in 17 games in the AFL. He’s played seven games at first and seven at third with each of his last five appearances at either first base or DH. He has yet to draw a walk while striking out 16 times. Remarkably, he’s hitting .050/.050/.050 (1-for-20m 0 BB, 7 K) against left-handed pitching. It used to be the case that lefties would attack him with soft stuff away and he would lunge, chase and make himself an easy out.
C Cam Maron – The 22-year-old Maron has hit safely in four straight games to lift his AFL line to .227/.370/.273 with two doubles 10 walks and 10 strikeouts. That’s typically Maron-ish. He hit .235/.327/.295 with 0 HR, 38 BB and 49 strikeouts in 84 games for St. Lucie this past summer. He’ll probably go to double-A in 2014 to back up Kevin Plawecki.
RHP Hansel Robles – Two starts ago, when he threw in a stadium with pitchfx, he was 89-91 in the first two innings with a slider at 85-86 and changeups at 85-87. He touched 92 twice in the first three innings. By the fourth inning, he was 88-90 and his first offering of the inning was classified as a fastball at 86 mph.
His numbers look solid: 2.40 ERA, 15 IP, 13 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 15 K. The “how” for a young pitcher is as important as the results, and Robles’ fastball velocity - Dillon Gee-ish – is just not impressive. Again, there are under 15 starting RHP who average under 90 with their fastballs. Robles also has relatively little separation on changeup from his fastball. It’s hard to see Robles as anything more than a back-end starter or middle reliever.
Robles made 15 starts for St. Lucie this year and was ok: 3.72 ERA, 83 H, 66 K/29 BB in 84.2 IP. That’s a 18% strikeout rate and a 8% walk rate.
RHP Cody Satterwhite – The last time he threw in a pitchfx game, he was 89-92, but touched 93 and 94. His slider was 79-81 (below average velocity), while the changeup was 83-84. His AFL line: 1.64 ERA, 11 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 HR, 4 BB, 10 K.
RHP Chasen Bradford - Bradford has been very effective out of the Scorpions’ bullpen, in fact he has not allowed a run yet in his 10 innings. Again, the “how” matters; he’s been sitting 89-91, and touching 92 and mixed in his mid-80s slider a lot. His AFL line: 10 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 HPB, 1 BB, 8 K
Maybe there’s a useful middle reliever in here.
RHP Jeurys Familia - He’s still throwing hard: sitting 94-95 with a few 93 and 96 mixed in. His slider is 83-85. And yet the results have not been there yet: he’s allowed runs in four of his seven appearances. His total line: 8 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 HR, 4 BB, 10 K.
The Silver Slugger is awarded to a single player per position, determined to be the most valuable offensively, in both the American and National Leagues as determined by Major League Baseball’s coaches and managers.
When it comes to thirdbase in the National League in 2013, the League’s managers and coaches picked extremely poorly in selecting Pedro Alvarez. In his age-26 season, Alvarez hit .233/.296/.473 in 152 games for the playoff-bound Pirates. He led the National League in two categories: homeruns (36) and strikeouts (186).
On a plate appearances basis, he was a mid-pack thirdbaseman offensively. By wOBA, Alvarez (.330) was seventh in the NL behind David Wright (.391), Aramis Ramirez (.366), Chris Johnson (.354), Ryan Zimmerman (.353), Juan Uribe (.334), and Pablo Sandoval (.331). wRC+ tells the identical story, slotting Alvarez seventh among Nation League hot-corner handlers.
Stepping back from advanced statistics, Alvarez was 17th in on-base percentage and second in slugging behind David Wright.
Wright played only 112 games and thus, did not reach 20 home runs or qualify for the NL batting title. He still was more valuable at the plate not just on a rate basis, but in terms of aggregate production than Alvarez. By Batting runs above average, Wright crushed Alvarez 29.7 to 9.9. That’s worth two wins on the field.
Alvarez was one of only two National League thirdbasemen to hit over 20 homeruns joined by only Ryan Zimmerman. Zimmerman had a strong overall season, hitting .275/.344/.465 in 147 games for the disappointing Nationals, who like Wright’s Mets missed the playoffs. Both Chris Johnson and Juan Uribe had nice seasons for the playoff-bound Braves and Dodgers, but neither has a real clear claim to being the best-hitting third baseman in the National League.
It’s not a stretch to say that hitting home runs was the only productive thing that Alvarez did in a better than average manner in 2013. Well, that and whiff, as he struck out in 30% of his plate appearances.
And somehow, National League managers decided that Alvarez’s ability to hit homeruns made him the best hitter in the league at the position. That’s wrong.
Robert Brender and I are joined by ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick to talk all things Mets and the MLB offseason. Also, a look at Matt Harvey, the future of the Mets starting rotation, and the weekly dose of One Good Thing and One Bad Thing.
Email the show at mostlymetspodcast (at) gmail.com.
The Mostly Mets Podcast can now be found on the SNY.tv Mets Podcasts feed – along with other great Mets audio content. Please subscribe to the feed HERE. The current Mostly Mets individual feed will soon be removed, so if you already subscribe there, you must re-subscribe to the SNY.tv Mets Podcasts feed. You can also subscribe in iTunes by clicking the link in the SoundCloud player above.
Talking Mets and MLB Offseason with ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick
Starters, your season is over, what’s next? (17:45)
One Good Thing, One Bad Thing (34:05)
Good: Instant Replay in AFL, Goodbye and Thanks to Johan
Bad: Rafael Furcal rumor, New NCAA baseball
In his age 23 season, the injury-prone Ceciliani missed a week with a hamstring strain in August, but still played in a career-high 113 games for AA Binghamton where he hit .268/.322/.380 with 17 doubles, six triples and six homers, and a 6.3% walk rate and a 22.8% strikeout rate. He was also 31-of-38 (82%) stealing bases. The left-handed hitter split his time between centerfield (58 games) and left (48 games).
He hit .243/.304/.350 in 103 AB vs. lefties in 2013 and .276/.328/.390 in 315 against righties.
He does not profile offensively in an outfield corner at all. His only hope of starting everyday is in centerfield. Even there, he would struggle to put up a .300 on-base percentage in the big leagues as pitchers will exploit his aggressive approach. On the other hand, he runs well, and offers the ability to play center or left, but does not have the arm for right.
Ceciliani is most likely to stick as a fourth/fifth outfielder who can add speed/defense in LF off the bench and picks up some spot starts for a MLB team against right-handed pitching. He is Rule 5 eligible for the first time this winter (if you’re curious, the full list is available here) and I do not expect the Mets to add him to the 40-man roster this winter.
Jeff Paternostro has his Top 30 Mets Prospects up. It’s solid.
Jeurys Familia threw 96-97 in the AFL Rising Stars game over the weekend, but hung a changeup at 87 mph that Brett Nicholas hit for a home run. It’s cool that Familia is trying to throw his changeup in the AFL, but I think it’s likely that Familia will be a fastball/slider reliever in the big leagues. There are many relievers who thrive in MLB who throw changeups, roughly never.
At Beyond the Box Score, Chris St. John looked at historical walk and strikeout rates for Top Prospects in a-ball. His first conclusion: High [walk]/High [strikeout] players have the best chance, while the players in trouble tend to gather towards average. Of his consensus Top 190 prospects who passed through a-ball in 2013, the only Met on the list, Kevin Plawecki earns a 27% chance of greater than .001 batting runs AND 1,500 plate appearance.
At Baseball America, J.J. Cooper argues that the current Options/Rule 5 system hurts international free agents who sign at the age of 16 because MLB teams must add them to their 40-man rosters earlier than their domestic counterparts who are older when they sign both out of high school and college. His two solutions, both of which must be collectively bargained:
It would help even the playing field if MLB and the Players Association adopted a rule that made players eligible for the Rule 5 draft after six years if they sign at age 16. Alternately, the international signing age could be increased to 17.
Minor League Baseball and Topps have named Wilmer Flores to the Triple-A All-Star team for his work with the Las Vegas 51s in 2013.
Flores hit .321 with 15 home runs and 86 RBI in 107 games with Las Vegas before being promoted to the Mets.
He is listed on the team as a second baseman.
Is Gavin Cecchini on the verge of a make or break year as a prospect? He had a solid average in a pitcher friendly NY Penn League, but his power numbers are really lacking. A lot of reports I read are down on him, and was just wondering your take Toby. Thanks.
Toby Hyde, Mets Minor League Blog:
No, 2014 is not a make or break year for Cecchini, who will make his full-season debut in 2014. Barring a Spring Training injury, he will be playing shortstop for Savannah as a 20-years-old on Opening Day, Thursday, April 3, 2014. He will be young for the South Atlantic League. Again, he will be 20 years old in 2014.
Yeah, Cecchini does not hit for much power, that’s not what his game is about.
Instead, his game is about playing a well-rounded shortstop. He’s at best an average runner, but he has lithe actions quick feet around the bag. His hands work well. He has enough arm to play short. So, while he’s not going to blow anyone away running from home to third like, say Jose Reyes, the Mets expect him to play short, and do so well.
As Mets VP of Amateur Scouting and Player Development Paul DePodesta told me in March, “I think he’s going to be a solid average defender at shortstop. I don’t think we have any question that he’s going to stay at the position… We think he’s going to a very steady defender. It’s probably not going to be Omar Vizquel, it’s not going to be flash, but he’s going to be a very solid defender.”
For the sake of argument, lets say that Cecchini does become average to a little better at short, say zero through plus five runs above average defensively. Last year, by UZR, the list of guys in this profile, who played at least 700 games at short (half a season), included Ian Desmond, Elvis Andrus, Stephen Drew, Brandon Crawford, Pedro Florimon, Jhonny Peralta, Brendan Ryan and Jean Segura. (Note: Segura’s UZR/150 of -1.1 was the only one here who was negative, but it’s close enough to average that I think he can be safely included in this group and he was above average by Total Zone, DRS and +/-.) This selection of eight guys comprises seven starting shortstops – a quarter of Major League Baseball, and Ryan, who played mostly for the Mariners in 2013.
Here is this octet of players ranked by fWAR:
And what do we have here? A wide range of value from replacement level through qualifying offer-level (Drew) and beyond. Even while playing averagish defense at short, there is a line at which teams will stop running a player who is hapless with bat out onto the field. Ryan, who hit .192/.24/.265 in 87 games with the Mariners is living proof. Moving up the chart, Florimon was above replacement level, barely, thanks to a .221/.281/.330 line for the Twins. Ok, that’s not really useful to a winning baseball team.
Instead, it’s Crawford (.248/.311/.363) and Andrus (.271/.328/.331) who establish the bottom bound of useful when combining averagish to slightly above average defense at short with enough offense to get above 2 WAR. For what it’s worth, Crawford hit nine homeruns and Andrus stole 42 bases.
Cecchini’s glove should be an important part of his overall value, but the hitting matters too, always.
In 2013, Cecchini hit .273/.319/.314 with a 6.6% walk rate and a 14.2% strikeout rate in the New York Penn League as a 19-year-old. At the plate, I like the way Cecchini’s hands work, but he’ll need to become stronger in the coming years. I thought he was too pre-loaded in 2012, and was starting to use his lower half better in 2013. And yes, power will always be the weakest of his traditional tools.
On our eight-player list of average to slightly above defensive shortstops, there’s only one other guy who was drafted out of high school: Ian Desmond. He played in Savannah as a 19-year-old for the Washington Nationals and hit an imposing .247/.291/.334 with 13 walks, 60 strikeouts and 16 extra-base hits. For some reason, the Nationals promoted him to advanced-A to finish the season, and had him begin his age-20 season in double-A. It’s all worked out in the end, but his path through the system was certainly faster than Cecchini’s will be despite unimpressive statistical markers. Desmond, of course is 2-3 inches taller than Cecchini and stronger.
Peralta played in the South Atlantic League at age 18 in 2000 and hit .241/.352/.309 for Columbus.
There’s nothing make or break about Cecchini’s 2014, as long as he shows the tools to play short. His glove will give him a chance to get to the big leagues, and it’s his bat that will determine what time of value he provides when he gets there. Wishy-washy? Sure, but that’s the thing about a guy who has not played a day in a full-season league.
For our Mets Minor League Report on Cecchini, click here.
Topps named Gabriel Ynoa the Player of the Year in the South Atlantic League and Chris Flexen Player of the Year in the Appalachian League.
The 20-year-old Ynoa went 15-4 with a 2.72 ERA and 1.025 WHIP in 22 starts for Single-A Savannah.
For the Rookie League Mets, Flexen, 19, went 8-1 with a 2.09 ERA and 0.942 WHIP in 11 starts, pitching 69 innings.