From Eric Curl in the Savannah Morning News:
Some members of the Savannah City Council have lost their enthusiasm for a new baseball stadium, now that the owner of the Sand Gnats has entered into negotiations with Columbia, S.C., for a minor league team and stadium there.
Mayor Edna Jackson and aldermen expressed their hesitation during a retreat on Tuesday, while discussing whether they still wanted to pay a consultant to analyze the feasibility of building a multi-use facility at the Savannah River Landing site, east of downtown.
The City Council is not balking over spending money on a ballpark. Rather, the current issue is whether the City will pay for a new feasibility and economic study. The last study, which one Alderman wants to review, was done in 2000.
Columbia, SC is working through the process of building a ballpark and has been negotiating with Hardball Capital, the Gnats’ parent company. However, a stadium in Columbia does not mean the Gnats are necessarily going to move. A new stadium in Savannah would keep the Gnats in the Coastal Empire.
As Hardball CEO Jason Freier explained to Curl:
Hardball is willing to purchase another team, he said, if both governments agree to stadium proposals.
“We are more than happy to do both,” he said. “All we need is the city of Savannah to show us they are interested in doing a project like this.”
It’s time I started publishing my Mets Top 41 Prospects for 2014. For the guys outside the top 10, I’m going to publish them in groups of similar value, some of which will be bigger than others. I’ll aim for two groups per week day.
I probably could have put any of the Mets’ major international signings from last year in the last few spots. However, in general, I wait until after a guy has played his first year in a domestic rookie league to rank a player, or, in the case of Amed Rosario last year, it was clear he would play stateside in the following season. To justify the uncertainty of putting a 16-year-old who has yet to play his first professional game and might still be a year or two away from even playing on US soil, I want to see monster potential.
So our list this year starts with two 19-year-olds who are years away from the big leagues. Their group: Infielders who Can’t Legally Drink.
#40 – 3B Pedro Perez
Acquired: IFA 2011
Born: 9/31/94 (Cartagena, CO)
2013 Rank: NR | Stats
Why Ranked Here: I saw Perez have the best game of his life on July 4 in Johnson City, TN. Small sample size? Yup. He’s also a big, strong, young ballplayer with pop in his bat. Just that potential for in-game power earns him a spot on this list. At the plate, he spread out his feet last year to simplify his swing and focus on letting his hands work.
He might well outgrow third and he will need to improve in just about every respect defensively to stay at the position.
2013: All but nine of Perez’s 176 plate appearances in the Appalachian League came against older pitchers.
Dr. Pangloss Says: A Major League 3B
Debbie Downer Says: A minor league 3B
Projected 2013 Start: Perez has a chance to begin 2014 with Savannah. Anthony Chavez played third and did not hit much for Brooklyn in 2013.
MLB Arrival: 2018
#41 – SS Luis Guillorme
Height/Weight: 5’10”/170 lbs
Acquired: 10th rd, 2013
Born: 9/27/94 (Davie, FL)
2013 Rank: NA | Stats
Why Ranked Here: That Fu Manchu moustache he’s sporting in the selfie on the right side in preparation for spring training. At this point on the list, we’re looking for something that looks like a major league tool. That ‘stache qualifies. Also, Guillorme has the defensive chops on the field. Baseball America praised his “soft hands and tremendous footwork,” and called him one of the best middle-infield defenders of the 2013 draft class.
Most of the video online of his swings is now at least two years old, but in it, he uses his entire body in his hack. He’ll need to get his hip action and timing under control if he is going to hit in professional baseball.
2013: In 41 games in the Gulf Coast League, Guillorme had 37 singles and four doubles, and zero triples or homers. On the plus side, he had as many walks (17) as strikeouts (17).
Dr. Pangloss Says: Backup middle infielder
Debbie Downer Says: Yup, backup middle infielder in double-A
Projected 2013 Start: Extended Spring Training and then Kingsport
MLB Arrival: 2019
Toby Hyde and Robert Brender talk Pitchers and Catchers – as the early arrivals begin in Port St Lucie – and they also dish out the weekly One Good Thing and One Bad Thing.
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Pitchers and Catchers Preview!
One Good Thing, One Bad Thing (22:30)
Good: Travis d’Arnaud, Michael Sam
Bad: Bob Costas Pink Eye, Ruben Tejada not early enough
Mets pitchers and catchers report officially Saturday, but many of the smart or eager players are already in Port St. Lucie. Yes, the guys are throwing, running, fielding grounders and talking to reporters, who are tweeting out blurry pictures. These are important traditions after all. It’s baseball activities if not actual baseball.
Here’s the reminder: there will be next to no news generated this week unless some pitcher’s arm falls off, or a guy breaks a bone.
Here’s a primer on the major battles for the 2014 Mets.
Jenrry Mejia is the incumbent, sort of. He will have to hold off the old guys – John Lannan and Dice K – and the prospects like Jacob deGrom, or Rafael Montero. I regard guys like Cory Mazzoni and Logan Verrett as better fits in the bullpen. Noah Syndergaard will not make his big league debut until well after the Super-2 deadline. So enjoy watching him in Spring Training, and then wait a few months (Hey, it worked for Harvey and Wheeler).
Mets VP of Amateur Scouting and Player Development, Paul DePodesta explained to Kristie Ackert regarding the team’s pitching depth:
Our pitching is at a critical mass. You look at the arms we’ve had at Triple-A and we’ve got pitchers who are very, very close. We know the history, we know not every pitcher makes it, but we have enough of them that certainly some of them will.
“Maybe they are starters, who will transition back to being starters later, or maybe they won’t because they have become so valuable in their role,” DePodesta continued. “Thats the situation we’ve wanted to be in.”
Ike Davis or Lucas Duda?
I’m actually more interested in who the right-handed half of the platoon will be. This is Josh Satin’s job to lose as he will mostly have to hold off Wilmer Flores.
I think, that assuming health, and no major spring training meltdown, this unit is pretty close to set for Opening Day.
By my count, six of spots are relatively secure.
Closer: Bobby Parnell
LHP: Scott Rice, Josh Edgin
RHP: Vic Black, Carlos Torres, Jeurys Familia
If the Mets do decide to head north with seven relievers, Gonzalez Germen has the incumbent advantage. He will be fighting more journeymen than prospects: Ryan Reid, Joel Carreno (NRI), Kyle Farnsworth (NRI), Miguel Socolovich (NRI). There’s a chance that deGrom, who worked in Vegas last year as a starter, slides into this battle with a solid spring if Mejia fends him off for a rotation spot. On the prospect side, RHP Jeff Walters, Logan Verrett and Cory Mazzoni, all of whom ended 2013 in double-A, are unlikely to jump the guys in front of them and will begin the year in triple-A Vegas.
Marc Carig at Newsday catches up on the Steven Matz story. Short version: he was healthy, and very good in 2013 for the first time since 2010 Tommy John surgery.
The best quote comes from a “rival evaluator:”
“He definitely has a chance… [His] stuff is good enough. He’s definitely back on the radar.”.
- Eric Simon at Amazin’ Avenue transcribed Sandy Alderson’s appearance with Keith Law on the Dish Podcast. It’s well worth your time to read the whole thing. Topics: acquiring talent to rebuild the farm system, developing talent and the difference between signing international guys and drafted players, how the Mets emphasize and develop “strike throwers,” the problems of scouting high school with little/unreliable data and MLB’s relationship to the Dominican.
- In one of his final acts as a Mets’ beat reporter, Mike Kerwick, at Baseball America, writes that Michael Fulmer is “back on track.”
- In 1962, NBA great Dave DeBusschere played for the Savannah White Sox. He’s #24 on the Gnats’ “Savannah’s Greatest Countdown.”
Chris Crawford, who writes at ESPN and under the MLB Draft Insider name, has a list of his Top 14 Mets prospects.
1. Noah Syndergaard
2. Dominic Smith
3. Travis d’Arnaud
4. Rafael Montero
5. Brandon Nimmo
6. Kevin Plawecki
7. Amed Rosario
8. Dilson Herrera
9. Wilmer Flores
10. Cesar Puello
11. Gavin Cecchini
12. Michael Fulmer
13. Vic Black
14. Gabriel Ynoa
I believe this is the first list I have seen that has Dominic Smith (pictured) ahead of both d’Arnaud and Montero. He assigns a 65 grade to Smith’s future hitting tool and a 60 to his power with a 70 to his glove on the 20-80 scouting scale.
I like Nimmo at #5, but that makes most sense if one thinks, as I do, that he can play center. Crawford writes, “Defensively, Nimmo’s likely landing spot is a corner outfield position, but there’s a non-zero chance he can stick in centerfield as he gets decent reads in the outfield with above-average speed.”
I enjoyed Ralph Kiner, the broadcaster. I didn’t know Ralph Kiner, the Man. From the remembrances today, that sounds like my loss.
On air, he was insightful and entertaining. He didn’t make me a Mets fan, he just made the game better. In recent years, the SNY crew clearly looked up to him, and he returned the favor with grace and humility. Just hearing his voice was like hearing that of an old friend.
- Marty Noble remembers the Gentleman.
- Here’s a fun interview he did from 1983 with Tom Seaver. (via @AntDeRosa)
- Ted Berg did a wonderful series “Kiner’s Korner Revisited” in 2010.
- Some Kinerisms are here.
Also, there are some amazing fashion tips in this photo of Mets broadcasters Bob Murphy, Ralph Kiner and Lindsey Nelson (via @jameskann).
Among position players on the 2014 Mets, perhaps the most important is catcher Travis d’Arnaud. That’s not to say he’s likely to be the best Mets batter in 2014 – that should still be face-of-the-franchise David Wright. It’s just that d’Arnaud’s development is a bigger story with more uncertainty.
Wright needs another above average player or two to help him out, if the Mets are going to contend in the near term. Daniel Murphy has been solid enough at second base in recent years, and the Mets paid to upgrade the outfield this season. However, D’Arnaud is the Mets’ best chance to become the B to David Wright’s A, and do so cheaply. Since the Mets control d’Arnaud for six more years, if he does live up to the hype, or even become an elite catcher, it will change the franchise’s outlook.
Kristie Ackert has a nice profile of d’Arnaud in the New York Daily News. He discusses the fact that he was not quite fully comfortable when he was in the big leagues last year:
“Anxious would probably be the right word for it,” said d’Arnaud, who turns 25 on Monday. “I was just trying to impress everyone. Every time I went up there, I was trying to hit a home run. I was trying to throw my hardest and hit my hardest to prove myself every time I got a chance. I was trying to prove myself and I just wasn’t myself.”
Yesterday, Baseball Prospectus released their weighted means PECOTA forecast spreadsheet for the 2014 season. PECOTA, one of the top forecasting systems sees d’Arnaud hitting .250/.315/.414 with a 2 WARP. His top comps are Ryan Lavarnway, Devin Mesoraco and Geovany Soto. One of the nice things with the full PECOTA projections, which will be out later, are the forecast ranges from the the 10th percentile to the 90th.
Fangraphs’ ZiPS saw .245/.307/.392 with a 7.4% walk rate and a 24.1% strikeout rate. ZiPS’ rounded WAR forecast for catcher, added d’Arnaud to Anthony Recker suggested that the catcher position would be worth 3 WAR, tied for the second-best among the Mets’ positions behind Wright at third and even with Chris Young’s contribution in rightfield.
The other projections at Fangraphs are similar enough: Steamer (.254/.320/.418 – 2.6 WAR) and Oliver (.241/.312/.397 – 3.1 WAR). The WAR projection in Oliver is higher because the system sees d’Arnaud picking up more at bats (600) than Steamer (431) and being worth more defensively (13.3 to 7.2).
Basically, all of the projection systems see d’Arnaud as a useful starting catcher in 2014. The Mets hope for more.