Tuesday in A-Ball: A Really Fun Pitching Night in Savannah

A+: St. Lucie Mets 5, @ Dunedin Blue Jays 3 

Not much exciting here in the box score.

22-year-old LHP Alex Panteliodis was ok, but not special: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, with 5 ground outs and six flyouts.

A pair of 24-year-olds – 2B TJ Rivera and RF Travis Taijeron -were both 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Taijeron is hitting .270/.385/.482 thanks to a big May (.323/.432/.613 with 9 2B and 3 HR) but he has major contact problems, for an offensively oriented position (LF), having struck out 44 times in 41 games. Rivera, a non-drafted free agent out of Troy is hitting .300/.362/.371. He’s stretched at shortstop, but makes a fine second baseman in a-ball.

 

A: Charleston RiverDogs 2, @ Savannah Sand Gnats 0 

Matz Gnats HeadThis one, played in perfect weather – 77 degrees at first pitch – featured a really fun pitching matchup: NYY’s Rafael De Paula and the Mets’ Steven Matz (pictured).

Both Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America rated De Paula as the Yankees’ #10 prospect coming into this year, and he has more than lived up to the billing, leading minor league baseball in strikeouts with 73. De Paula lied about his age and identity and MLB investigated him for 16 months before finally approving his contract last year (more background here). De Paula’s line actually might understate how good he was: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K. He did not allow a runner to third. I didn’t get gun readings on him during the game, but he was throwing damn hard (BP had him topping out at 99 entering the season and BA at 98). Gnats’ hitters could not square up his stuff. He showed both a breaking ball and a changeup with a chance to be plus. I believe I described one change on air as “unfair.” The one blemish on De Paula’s game: control: he’s walked 19 batters in 45.1 innings. For a guy making the jump from the DSL to the SAL, that’s understandable. I think he’s the top pitching prospect I’ve seen against the Gnats this year.

Steven Matz was almost as good: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, and 93 pitches and first pitch strikes to 15 of 22 batters. Matz gave up a run in the first that should never have happened and a run in the fourth that should have happened. In the first, leadoff man Taylor Dugas slapped hard one-hop single past 3B Jeff Reynolds who was drawn in against his speed to begin the inning. I thought it was a ball Reynolds should have fielded. After Dugas stole second, Matz gave up a single the other way to light-hitting SS (bust) Cito Culver to put runners at the corners with no outs. He induced a double-play grounder, but the run scored three batters into the game. In the fourth, Matz gave up a pair of triples blasted up the right-center field gap for the ‘Dogs’ second run. After that, he set down the final eight batters he saw in the game.

Matz was sitting at 92 mph, was 90-93 and touched 95, according to those sitting behind home plate. He worked heavily off his fastball early, before working in more sliders and changeups as the night went on. He got back-to-back strikeouts off the slider in the fifth. Many of his other whiffs were on elevated heat. The good news is that he was 1. more comfortable throwing his slider in games and 2. getting swings and misses with it. The nine strikeouts were a new season-high, tying his career high from last year in Kingsport.

C Kevin Plawecki (.356/.441/.597 – 41 games) was 0-for-2 with two walks, and has now reached base safely in 31 straight games. I asked Mets’ Special Assistant to the GM JP Ricciardi before the game what else Plawecki had to prove in the South Atlantic League. Not much, he conceded, saying it was “only a matter of time” until he earned his promotion to advanced-A. I had a scout praise Plawecki’s “quick release” the other day to me and he was 1-for-2 throwing out runners Tuesday.