Columbia Ballpark Links

Bull Street Ballpark Plan 1-9Columbia SC is moving closer to building a minor league baseball $35 million stadium in partnership with Hardball Capital, the group that owns the Savannah Sand Gnats, the Mets’ a-ball affiliate. It’s possible the Gnats will move to Columbia, or Hardball will buy a new team to move to Columbia. Either way, it’s a story, as a Mets affiliate could move to a new city as soon as 2015.

So, there is a lot of baseball talk in Columbia, SC right now.

- This is a great synopsis of the history of baseball in Columbia and the City’s baseball facilities.

- In the State, Clif Leblanc compares Columbia’s proposed ballpark to the very successful Fluor Field in Greenville, SC. The opposition in Greenville to a stadium now cited as a catalyst for expanding downtown is pretty interesting.  Greenville spent roughly $8.5 million in public money on the ballpark while Columbia is proposing roughly $29 million and Greenville collects property taxes on the stadium, while Columbia would not.

- Also in the State, Terry Brown, a “prominent” local businessman, who owns Edens, the largest privately owned shopping center developer, which is headquartered in Columbia, complained about many things South Carolina. His targets included the fact the State still flies the Confederate flag, the siting and method of the proposed ballpark’s funding,  the juvenile behavior of SC’s elected politicians and the state’s low-tax policies which hurt spending on infrastructure and social services.

First Cuts. One of These Things is Not Like the Others

The Mets made their first round of cuts Monday. This is largely a clubhouse management exercise in which teams send players who have no chance to make the Opening Day roster back over to the minor league side. This accomplishes two goals: the players sent down can pick up more game repetitions and the guys playing for Major League spots for Opening Day and callups later in the year can impress the big league staff.



Highest 2013 Level Primary 2013 Level 40-man Roster
LHP Josh Edgin MLB MLB Yes
LHP Steven Matz A A Yes
RHP Erik Goeddel AA AA Yes
SS Wilfredo Tovar MLB AA Yes
OF Cesar Puello AA AA Yes
LHP Jack Leathersich AAA AA/AAA No
RHP John Church AAA AA No
RHP Logan Verrett AA AA No
LHP Adam Kolarek AAA AA No
RHP Chasen Bradford AA A+ No
C Kevin Plawecki A+ A/A+ No
INF Danny Muno AA AA No
3B/LF Dustin Lawley AAA A+ No
CF Brandon Nimmo A A No
OF Cory Vaughn AA AA No


And yet, look at the list above. There is one name unlike the others: Josh Edgin

Edgin was a big leaguer the last two years and the only guy among the first cuts who spent the majority of his 2013 in the big leagues. The only players still with the Mets who made more appearances than Edgin’s 68 in 2012 and 2013 were Bobby Parnell (123) and Scott Rice (73). On the whole, Edgin was not particularly effective overall (-0.5 WAR) in the last two years, but he threw hard and he was left-handed. And no, he has not been good this spring (3 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 1 K). He’s done this, in 19 batters against an opponents’ quality of 7.5, according to Baseball Reference, which is halfway between AA and AAA. His velocity appears to be down.

The timing of this move seems curious. What was the harm in letting Edgin throw another week or two in big league camp to regain his velocity and show that he can be effective? It’s not like the Mets have lots of other left-handed options for the bullpen in camp. The only other lefties on the 40-man roster, aside from Jon Niese, are Steven Matz, who is headed to advanced-A and Scott Rice. Among the non-roster invitees, Adam Kolarek and Jack Leathersich do not look ready for big league duty, and neither was effective above double-A in 2013. And that leaves only John Lannan, has been equally (in)effective against lefties (.333 wOBA) and righties (.334) in his career. This does not suggest future success as a left-handed relief specialist.

The Sandy Alderson Mets have operated largely in a (small c) conservative manner, in which the have kept as many options as possible as long as possible. The cost to keeping Edgin around in big league camp was extremely small, so this move seems like a very minor departure from that pattern. Or spin it around the other way: the Mets are absolutely convinced that Edgin will not be an asset in the big leagues early in the 2014 season.

The rest of this list is composed of minor league guys of varying potential from Brandon Nimmo and Steven Matz, both of whom will begin 2014 in advanced-A, on down, who had no chance to make the Mets Opening Day roster.

I think it’s worth pointing out here that the Mets added Erik Goeddel to the 40-man roster in November 2013, but that did not save him in March 2014. Instead, he will begin the season in AAA.

Other Notes
- Plawecki was promoted to AA Binghamton for their playoff series at the end of 2013, but was never activated as a B-Met. He’s been all but guaranteed to start in Binghamton in 2014.

- Dustin Lawley had 21 AAA regular season AAA plate appearances after spending 122 games in advanced-A where he hit .260/.313/.512 with 25 homers. He’s really, for the purposes of this exercise, an advanced-A guy. He went to AAA late in the year to help the Las Vegas 51s, rather than Cory Vaughn because Vaughn was already helping a playoff-bound affiliate in AA Binghamton.

- In 2013, Leathersich ran a 7.76 ERA in 29 innings in AAA with as many walks as innings pitched.

- Tovar made 19 plate appearances in the big leagues beginning with his MLB debut on September 22, 2013 after hitting .263/.323/.340 in 133 games in AA Binghamton during the season.

- In 20 games in AA, Bradford ran a 0.71 ERA.

Top 41: #18 – RHP Jeff Walters and #19 – RHP Cory Mazzoni

We’re fully into the “middle relievers who could be up in 2014″ section of this list. It’s not sexy, but these guys are potentially useful big league pitchers as soon as a few months from now. That proximity to providing big league value puts them ahead of higher upside players who might never see a day in the big leagues.

18 – RHP Jeff Walters

Bats/Throws:  Right/Right
Height/Weight:  6’3”/170Walters ST 2014
Acquired: 7th rd ’10 (Georgia)
Born: 11/6/87 (Orlando, FL)
2013 Rank: NR Stats
Why Ranked Here: Walters jumps from unranked to the top 20 by virtue of AA success, a tick up in velocity in the last few years, and big league hair. He’s a sinker, slider guy who throws 92-94 with his fastball and can touch 96 on a good day. He can lose the strike zone when he overthrows, but when he’s calm, and spotting in the zone, His slider is mid-80s (82-86) and has the potential to be a plus offering. Truth time, Walters’ long, flowing locks did not really help him with this ranking, but they sure didn’t hurt.

He chatted with the Mostly Mets Podcast here.
2013:  Hey, he set a Binghamton record with 38 saves and split the AA Sterling Award with Noah Syndergaard.
Dr. Pangloss Says: 8th inning guy
Debbie Downer Says: Not quite enough command to get big league hitters out regularly. Up and down guy.
Projected 2014 Start:  AAA Las Vegas
MLB Arrival: June/July 2014

Recent Stats

2011 NYP3.3214/14656229243244845
2012 SAL0.9517/028.332073043013
2012 FSL3.7619/026.33271311181923
2012 Total2.3136/054.664720141124936
2013 EL2.0953/0564613132166013



2011 NYP3.
2012 SAL1.
2012 FSL2.
2012 Total2.
2013 EL2.


19 – RHP Cory Mazzoni

Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Height/Weight: 6’1”, 190lbs
Acquired: 2nd rd ’11 (NC State)
Born:  10/19/89 (Evans City, PA)
2013 Rank: 19 (2012: 10) Stats

Why Ranked Here: Mazzoni projects as a middle reliever, potentially as soon as some time in 2014. His size, stuff and the fact that he has broken down under a starter’s workload suggest that Mazzoni’s future is in the bullpen.

Mazzoni is a three-pitch guy: fastball, slider and changeup that he throws with a split-finger grip. As a starter, his fastball was mostly 91-93, but he threw harder early and has shown the ability in the last few years to reach back and touch 94, 95 or even 96 for a given at bat.
2013:  After two starts in April, Mazzoni had elbow neuritis that kept him out most of April. He made 11 more starts before he tore his meniscus in a July start and had season-ending arthroscopic surgery in August. When he was healthy, Mazzoni bumped his strikeout rate from 16% in AA in 2012 to 26% in 2013.
Dr. Pangloss Says: Backend starter, but more likely, a middle-reliever
Debbie Downer Says: Baseball nomad who splits the next six years between MLB and AAA for three or more franchises.
Projected 2014 Start: AAA Las Vegas 
MLB Arrival: 2014, if he’s healthy and there’s a need.


Recent Stats

2012 FSL3.2512/1263.76428233164814
2012 EL4.4614/1480.79045409205624
2013 EL4.3613/1266.07043324197422



2012 FSL2.
2012 EL2.
2013 EL2.610.

Daily Thor: Noah Syndergaard’s Second Spring Training Start

LinkNoah Syndergaard made his second Spring Training start Saturday. He struggled to command his fastball. His line: 3 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K. He was 96-98 early and 95-97 over the course of his outing.

According to Michael Fenson in The Star-Ledger, Syndergaard threw 31 of 52 pitches for strikes – 59.6%. MLB average is 62.5%.

He threw just one changeup through the first two innings, but added “seven or eight” in the third inning. As Syndergaard put it, about Dan Warthen:

“I think he got a little frustrated with me because I had only thrown one changeup. And that’s something I really need to work on to make the next step to the big leagues — being able to locate my changeup, and being able to also work behind in counts. Just be a little bit more unpredictable — not so fastball-oriented. If you’re not throwing the changeup, or you can’t throw it for a strike, then hitters can just eliminate that pitch and they’re going to sit on the heater.” (Adam Rubin,

Syndergaard’s own explanation for his walks focused on his mechanics.

“Just kind of started coming out of my delivery. Started doing too much… Opened up my front side, came out of my delivery. Just trying to do a little too much.” (Matt Ehalt,

Ian Kinsler was impressed by Syndergaard’s curveball.

“He looked like he belonged out there, and he threw the ball well today. … He had really good velocity. He had a pretty good presence out there. He threw me a couple of curveballs for strikes. It was a good pitch. I don’t know where he is in his development or anything like that, but he threw the ball well today.” (Adam Rubin,

Mike Vorkunov in The Star-Ledger goes long about Syndergaard. He tells the now familiar story of Syndergaard’s late high school growth spurt and velocity increase. Vorkunov attributes the beginning of Syndergaard’s Thor nickname to his photo in the weight room on Halloween. That’s surely wrong. We were using it around here all of the 2013 season (in April, May, and June, for example) and Daniel Wexler started using it in December 2012.

Oh, and his bunting looks, well, awkward (thanks Amazin Avenue).

Links: BA’s Mets International League Roundup, McHugh on Belonging, and the Cost of Rushing

LinkAt Baseball America, Ben Badler broke down the Mets’ 2013 international signing class at a level of detail only he can.

There’s a new name, so we’ll start with an excerpt on him:
RHP Scarlyn Reyes – $25,000 – “The Mets took a flier on an intriguing arm last February when they gave $25,000 to 6-foot-3, 190-pound Dominican righthander Scarlyn Reyes. By Latin American amateur standards, Reyes is already ancient, having turned 22 in November. Reyes also has a big arm, sitting at 92-94 mph, touching 97 and throwing a lot of strikes.

At his age, and with this scouting report, I’d expect to see Reyes stateside this year. 

OF Ricardo Cespedes – $725,000 – “one of the youngest players eligible to sign last year… a 6-foot-2, 185-pound lefty with a loose, whippy swing and good bat path. …He’s around an average runner with good body control and a solid arm, so the Mets project him as a center fielder.”
C Ali Sanchez – $690,000 – “an excellent receiver with good footwork, quick hands and an average arm that plays up because of his quick release and accuracy. Scouts highest on Sanchez have seen him hit in games with a contact-oriented swing from the right side, though other scouts were more skeptical of his bat.”
SS Yeffry de Aza -$475,000  - “high-waisted frame at 6 feet, 170 pounds and generates surprising power at times….With an average arm and average speed, de Aza will get a chance to play shortstop, though scouts from other organizations thought he fit better at second base.”
SS Luis Carpio – - $300,000 – “Several teams were surprised the Mets were able to sign Venezuelan shortstop Luis Carpio for just $300,000 and felt he was one of the more underrated players in the 2013-14 signing class…. good athlete who does a lot of things well… good bat control, recognizes pitches.. at least a plus runner underway…will start out at shortstop and has solid hands, though some scouts feel he could end up at second base or center field…”
RHP Luis Silva – $275,000 – ” 6-foot-2, 170-pound frame….88-92 mph before July 2, Silva has since been up to 94. His changeup is advanced for his age and is ahead of his slurvy 74-78 mph curveball.”


- Former Met Colin McHugh writes about the anxiety of reporting to a new organization, driving an old car, but finishes optimistically with the pleasure it feels to “belong.”

- Tim Dierkes at MLBTradeRumors, points out that the “Marlins gave up rights to Jose Fernandez’s age 26 season (2019) so he could throw five additional innings for them in 2013 (Apr 7 debut).” This is part of the reason that Noah Syndergaard will not start the season with the Mets. Even if he’s awesome in spring training, and basically MLB ready, he needs to spend two weeks in the minors (and make two or three starts) to give the Mets an extra year of control – which, if he’s as good as the team and fans hope – could be worth $20 million or more on the open market. Of course, he’d be arbitration eligible in that final season – the 2020 season -and perhaps making $10-$15 million. Even so, smart organizations do not piss away $5-10 million for one start from a guy who has never pitched in AAA as the Mets would if they started Syndergaard in the big leagues.

Mostly Mets pres. by Caesaers AC: The 1B Battle and Phillies Preview

Rob and I discuss the first base battle between Ike Davis and Lucas Duda, the impressive prospects in Mets camp. We also kick off our NL East Preview with Bill Baer of Crashburn Alley on the Phillies.

You can rate, review and subscribe via itunes here.


Ike vs. Duda

Jon Niese injury

Young guns in camp

Bill Baer interview (14:35)

One Good Thing, One Bad Thing (31:40)

Minor League Reading: Matz, Smith, Thor Projections, Mazilli, Seratelli, FLSA and Knuckleballs

Link- Mike Puma writes about Steven Matz in the Post.
Frank Viola, his pitching coach in 2013, explains that Matz needs to improve his curveball: “He’s got a two-seam, four-seam fastball and changeup that will challenge anybody — I’ll go to my grave with that one. The biggest thing he needs to do is get a consistent slide on his curveball and be able to repeat that. Once he’s able to do that and mix it up with the fastball and changeup, he’ll go fast.”

- Jeff Moore at Baseball Prospectus watched a few Mets farmhands – Dominic Smith, Amed Rosario, Dilson Herrera, Luis Guillorme and Gavin Cecchini and offered scouting notes. On Smith, who he notes is “physically developed”:

This is both good and bad for Smith. It’s an advantage now that gives him a leg up on low minor-league competition, but at six foot even, there’s not a ton of projection left in his body. He’s not physically imposing so much as he’s just solidly built.

With the bat, everything Smith does is smooth. He has a fluid left-handed stroke that stems from a quiet set-up and stance. He may struggle at first with quality breaking stuff (when he eventually faces some) due to an elongated weight-transfer that is as much lunge as it is a stride, but it’s a simple fix. He doesn’t need as dramatic of a weight transfer to generate power.

Smith’s power comes free and easy from the natural loft in his swing. He generates backspin without forcing it and the ball carries. Because he doesn’t have to swing hard to generate power, he is able to control the bat within the strike zone.

- Jake Seiner at looks at the ZiPs projections for rookie pitchers for 2014, and finds once again, that ZiPS really likes Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero.

- In the Times, Tim Rohan writes about L.J. Mazzilli’s day in camp on the minor league side. It’s almost less about Mazzilli than a standard minor league camp day.

- At Anthony DiComo wrote a tear-jerking story about Anthony Seratelli and his close knit-family.  Seratelli, trying to make the Mets and the Majors for the first time this year, lost his father in a tragic car accident three years ago, and his grandmother this year.

- More Minor Leaguers are suing their former teams and MLB for violating the Fair Labor Standards Act. At Sports Illustrated, lawyer Michael McCann breaks down some of the players’ novel arguments and odds of success. Remember, the MLBPA only covers big leaguers and guys on the 40-man rosters.  Curious aspiring lawyers can read the full amended complaint here.

- Former Mets statistical guy, Ben Baumer, who created the team’s analytics department, and is now a college professor, talked to Amazin’ Avenue.

Frank Viola’s son Frank, who has been working on a knuckleball for a few years, signed with the Toronto Blue Jays where he will get to pick R.A. Dickey’s brain.

Prospect Lines from Wednesday’s Games

spring-trainingI’m not listing every minor leaguer’s line, only those that are notable, good or bad.

@ Washington Nationals 11, Mets 5 (In Viera, Radio Only)

Position Players
CF Brandon Nimmo: 1-1. He’s having a very nice spring
2B Wilmer Flores: 0-2, 2 BB. Key facts here: he played second, and walked twice.

Jacob deGrom: 2 IP, 1 H , 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K. Nice
Cory Mazzoni: 1 IP, 5 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 2 HR.

Oh dear. Terry Collins, as quoted by Adam Rubin at ESPNNY:

We like his stuff. Today was a bad day. He was flying open. Stuff was flat. This kid has got very good velocity. He didn’t have it today. But he’s come with some high recommendations from the people in the organization that this kid can be an absolute late-in-the-game kind of bullpen guy, because he’s got three quality pitches. Today they just weren’t working.


Miami Marlins 5, @ Mets 2 (on SNY)

Not much in the way of prospect pitching in this one, but at the plate Cesar Puello was 1-for-3 and hit a few balls hard.

Columbia, SC City Council Votes for Preliminary Approval of New Ballpark Funding

columbia stadiumIn the first of two required votes, Tuesday, the Columbia City Council voted to approve a venue license contract and funding for a new minor league baseball stadium that will provide the anchor for the Bull Street Development, called Columbia Commons. The vote was 4-3. The second and final vote is scheduled for March 18. A WIST reported tweeted play-by-play from the meeting.

Hardball Capital, which owns the Savannah Sand Gnats, would put up $6 million toward construction of the park which is currently budgeted to be $35 million. The City will pay for the remaining $29 million with a hospitality tax bond, to be repaid over 30 years.

This might be a Mets issue and might not. The Mets’ Player Development Contract with the Savannah Sand Gnats runs through the 2014 season. The two parties can renew anytime. Once the season ends without an agreement, the Mets and Gnats would each be free to hunt for other partners (the Mets for an a-ball team, the Gnats for a MLB team.) A Gnats franchise moving into a new ballpark in Columbia, would be very desirable for a MLB team’s perspective which wants the best developmental environment (new training facilities, weight rooms, batting cages, clubhouses) and yes, fans for their prospects. The Gnats lease with the City of Savannah also expires at the end of the 2014 season.

More financial details from The State:

Freier also has agreed to contribute yearly to a $250,000 ballpark maintenance fund if the city’s income from the stadium does not generate the full $250,000. Further, he would pay up to $516,000 annually until the Bull Street project puts $60 million of property on the tax rolls, said Jeff Palen, the city’s chief financial officer.

The city also would keep all the ticket sales and advertising dollars at events that don’t involve baseball; half of the money from concessions at city-sponsored events as well as half the income from naming rights for the stadium. provides detail on the back and forth between councilmember Leona Plaugh, an opponent of the ballpark and Mayor Steve Benjamin, its leading proponent. “Plaugh wanted to delay the first vote on the stadium until April 1 to give staff time to execute a cost-benefit analysis on the venue. She also wanted to add a provision to the developer contract that would require Hughes to build 20 percent of residence properties in Columbia Commons as affordable housing.”


Consultant for the City, Rich Neuman of Brailsford and Dunlavey Consultants retorted that:

““I’ve never seen a cost/benefit analysis for a project like this.”

City manager Teresa Wilson told council that she has been unable to find an economist willing to do a cost/benefit analysis without knowing details of Hughes’ construction plans which he has yet to disclose.” (The State)

Building a stadium in Columbia for Opening Day 2015 will require approval on March 18 and a very brisk construction schedule. It is possible.

There are still a few scenarios in play ranked in rough order of likelihood in this author’s estimation:

  1. The Gnats leave Savannah for a new ballpark in Columbia for 2015.
  2. The Gnats leave Savannah for a new ballpark in Columbia for 2016 and sign a one-year lease in Savannah for 2015.
  3. IF the City of Savannah moves ahead with a new ballpark for the Gnats in Savannah, Hardball Capital would purchase another team and move that second team to Columbia for 2015 or 2016. Lynchburg in the Carolina League is for sale. Last month, the Savannah City Council, which has committed to an arena and arts center, did not sound very interested in building a new ballpark.


Top 41: #20 LHP Jack Leathersich and #21 RHP Luis Mateo

After the fun and promise of far-away toolsy outfielders like Champ Stuart and Ivan Wilson and young faraway arms, this list takes a turn towards the mundane and focuses on a series of guys who are likely to be Major Leaguers relievers.

#20 – LHP Jack Leathersich

Leathersich Wind (Baron)Bats/Throws:  Left/Left
Height/Weight: 5’11”/205 lbs
Acquired:  5th rd (UMass Lowell)
Born: 7/14/90 (Beverly, MA)
2013 Rank: 31 (2012 34 )Stats
Why Ranked Here: The high-strikeout minor league reliever has a chance to be a solid Major League reliever.

Leathersich’s stuff is ok, but it plays up thanks to a deceptive delivery. Batters just do not seam to see the ball out of his hand from a short-arm delivery. He’s picked up many of his strikeouts up in the last few years, and upper level hitters might not chase or punish those kind of elevated offerings.

Leathersich added a tick to his fastball last year, sitting 91-93, touching 95 up from 90-92, 93 in Savannah the year before. He used to work with a curveball in the upper 70s, but had a tendency to pull it outside the strike zone against lefties.
2013: The move to AAA was a very tough one for Leathersich, who walked a batter an inning, and gave up more than a run an inning.

Leathersich had fairly dramatic reverse left/right splits in which he was better against righties than lefties in 2013.






















Dr. Pangloss Says: A left-handed reliever who is effective against both lefties and righties.
Debbie Downer Says: A AAA reliever 
Projected 2014 Start:  AAA Las Vegas
MLB Arrival: 2014
Twitter: @LeatherRocket

Recent Performance

12 SAL0.7512/0241042083750
12 FSL4.1326/0484125223247653
13 AA1.5324/029.3319551165510
13 AAA7.7628/0293233252294734
13 Total4.6352/058.3351383034510244

12 SAL3.
12 FSL4.514.
13 AA4.916.
13 AAA9.
13 Total6.915.



#21 – RHP Luis Mateo

Bats/Throws: Right/Right
Height/Weight:  6’3”, 200 lbs
Acquired: NDFA ‘11
Born:  3/22/90 (Nizao, DR)

2013 Rank: 14 Stats 
Why Ranked Here: Mateo has a big league body, big league stuff, and had Tommy John surgery in June 2013, which continues a pattern of elbow trouble. If everything clicks, there’s an elite level reliever in here for a few years. This is not Mateo’s first brush with elbow trouble – his 2008 contract with the Giants was voided due to bone spurs in the joint.

First, the good. Mateo throws hard, sitting 92-95 mph, and can touch 96 mph. His slider, which he throws frequently, could be a plus big league pitch. I saw a raw changeup in the New York Penn League.

Now, the bad. Mateo will miss at least the first half of the 2014 season recovering from Tommy John surgery. He threw only 11.2 innings in 2013. Even if he returns one year post-surgery, he will throw a very limited number of innings. It’s hard to see him surpassing 75 innings, and even that feels extremely optimistic. That means at 25 entering 2015 – his next full, healthy (ideally season), he will have thrown under 100 innings in the previous two years. He cannot get to a big league rotation from that spot. Rather, his future is in the bullpen.
2013:  Mateo had a weird year, throwing only 11.2 innings over only four appearances, three in advanced-A and one in AA. His first start in A+, April 9 was sharp: 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 K. Promoted to AA Binghamton, his first AA start was rough: 3 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 HR. He was diagnosed with an elbow strain immediately thereafter. He attempted to return in late May in advanced-A, and following a on inning, 4 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 2 K outing on June 2nd, shut it down for Tommy John surgery June two weeks later.
Dr. Pangloss Says: Very good MLB reliever
Debbie Downer Says:  Aggressive mechanics prevent him from staying healthy long enough to cash in on his strong arm.
Projected 2014 Start: Disabled List 
MLB Arrival: 2015