The Kingsport Mets began their 2013 season last night. Kingsport, in the Appalachian League, occupies the middle level of the Mets’ three short-season teams, playing at a level above the Gulf Coast League and below the New York Penn League and the Brooklyn Cyclones. Last year, the Mets did not operate a Gulf Coast League team, so the Kingsport team was young and inexperienced and it showed on the field.
This year, the Mets will control all of the team’s business operations in addition to the on-field agenda.
SS German Rosario is just 17 years old and will not turn 18 until November. I had figured the Mets would start Rosario (pictured), who they paid a team-record $1.75 million for an international amateur, in the Gulf Coast League. Instead, at 6’2″, 170 lbs, he will headline the Kingsport roster which is a nice, if minor, endorsement of his skills.
In April, I had him ranked as the system’s #15 prospect and wrote:
This one is all about projection and patience. Rosario is unlikely to be in the big leagues for years. The Mets think he is true shortstop with an impact bat including some raw power now. Minor league instructors who saw him play at the team’s Domincan complex came away universally impressed, as they should considering his price tag.
However, other teams’ assessment of Rosario in the scouting period was less charitable. Baseball America called him potentially the “most divisive player in Latin America” because teams were concerned about his uppercut swing and the potential to fill out, move off of shortstop and be relegated to a corner outfield spot.
Yoan Gonzalez/Andrew Massie
Persio Reyes/Carlos Gomez
A slash and two names indicates that the two players are expected to piggyback.
I know almost nothing about Martires Arias other than that he is 6’7″ and 22 year old.
The Mets went overslot to sign Corey Oswalt, last year’s seventh-round pick, paying him $475,000 to sign. His results in the Appy League were poor (8.15 ERA, 35.1 IP, 49 H, 33 R, 7 BB, 20 K) so he will repeat the level. At the time he was drafted, Baseball America wrote: “He currently pitches in the 88-90 mph range as a starter but touches 91-92, and he has some feel to spin a breaking ball, though he doesn’t really know what he’s doing with it, in the words of one scout. His changeup is in its nascent stages. Oswalt is a long-term project…”
The 20-year-old Reyes is repeating the Appy League as well after giving up 66 hits and 39 runs in 51 innings last year on his way to a 6.18 ERA. I was told he had a good arm, but is really raw.
The Mets picked up Rob Whalen in the 12th round in 2012. Amazin Avenue reports that he was throwing 90-92.
Although he is not scheduled to start the season’s first five games, Chris Flexen will be in the rotation. When I saw him as a starter in 2012, he was throwing 92-94 with both a slider (he called it a cutter) and a curveball.
Ty Bashlor, who the Mets paid $550,000 to sign in the 11th round this year, can touch 97 or 98 although I was told that he works more regularly in the low 90s. I’m not sure what the plan is for Bashlor.
Rosario is the big name here.
3B Pedro Perez is a little interesting. He’s 18 now, is a switch hitter, and at times in the past, Paul dePodesta has talked him up. He was overmatched in 12 games in the Appy League last year, hitting just .119/.178/.190.
There are a pair of 20-year-old speedsters in this outfield: 2013 6th round pick Champ Stuart and Texas Tech WR Bradley Marquez.
Stuart, Baseball America wrote, “has a short, strong frame at 5-foot-11, 175 pounds and offers surprising power. Speed is obviously his biggest calling card. He needs to work on his routes in center field, though he can get away with outrunning his mistakes. The biggest question is with the bat. He has a simple swing but a poor approach and gets beat by below-average stuff.”
Marquez, the Mets 16th round pick in 2011 has split time between the Mets and Texas Tech the last two years. A hamstring injury held him to just nine games in the Appalachian League last summer when he hit .267/.313/.367 (8-for-30). There have been hints that he would leave football behind to give baseball his full-time attention. Marquez and his marvelous hair at right, will be 21 by 2014 at which point he needs to be playing full-season ball if he is ever going to mean something as a baseball player. So, it sounds very odd to say, but Marquez has an unusual amount to prove by the standards of the Appalachian League.