2011 Mets Minor League Season in Review: Savannah Sand Gnats

Sand Gnats 21-year old shortstop Wilfredo Tovar showed excellent contact ability at the plate while continuing to display gold glove-caliber defense in the field in 2011.

For today's edition of Minor League Monday, we're going to continue our Season in Review series by climbing up the ranks to the Mets Lo-A South Atlantic League affiliate in Savannah. And yes I know I skipped Brooklyn. We'll get to them next, I just happened to start writing about Savannah when I sat down so that's who we're going to talk about:

Team Spotlight

For the second straight season, the Gnats were playoff-bound in the SAL thanks to a first half title. Manager and former minor league catcher Ryan Ellis showed a lot of potential as a first year skipper as he seemed to have a good grip on the reins of his ball club, stating “I’m just proud of everybody here, all the guys and the coaching staff. They’ve done a tremendous job...I told the guys we needed everybody to step up and do their jobs and you see how the guys responded...it’s been outstanding." The Gnats finished the first half on a 31-12 stretch after that fateful team meeting.

Unfortunately, once again the Gnats fell short of a championship, this time on the very last game of the season. In fact, Savannah mimicked the Rangers at the major league level and were within one strike of a title before ultimately falling to Greensboro. It was a wild and entertaining championship series chuck full of late-inning heroics, controversial calls and obviously lots of drama. It was a hard-fought series and the ball just happened to bounce in favor of the Grasshoppers but the Gnats put themselves in a position to win it all and that's pretty much all you can ask for.

Statistically, the Gnats didn't have any standout offensive performances but for the second straight season they were bolstered by the best pitching staff in the league. Like 2010, they featured the best staff ERA in the league while also boasting numerous names in the top ten in ERA, strikeouts and opponent average.

Final Standings:

TEAM W L PCT GB
Augusta 39 29 .574 -
Greenville 40 30 .571 -
Savannah 40 30 .571 -
Asheville 38 32 .543 2
Rome 35 35 .500 5
Charleston 29 41 .414 11
Lexington 29 44 .353 14

The Usual Suspects

OF Darrell Ceciliani - STOCK DOWN

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
SAV SAL .259 109 421 62 109 23 4 4 40 152 52 96 25 8 .351 .361 .712

After a stellar 2010 with Brooklyn where he batted .355 with 33 extra-base hits in just 68 games, the '09 fourth rounder came back to Earth with a so-so campaign for the Gnats. His numbers were down in pretty much every department, most significantly his BABIP which dropped from .430 down to .327. And the scary thing is that's still kind of a high number. And while his average naturally took a huge hit as a result, the bigger concern is the nearly 200 point drop in slugging he experienced.

Now Savannah is a notorious pitchers paradise and like his underwhelming debut campaign Cecilliani battled some injuries this season. However, it's undeniable that the sky-high enthusiasm that many had for him last winter has to be dashed...at least somewhat.

C Albert Cordero - STOCK UP

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
SAV SAL .286 104 385 38 110 15 2 6 44 147 15 69 1 1 .324 .382 .705

2011 was an excellent season for the long-term value of Cordero in the catching-starved Mets organization. With growing expectations coming into the year, Cordero was slow out of the gates to say the least. However, things changed after he made some adjustments at the plate around the All-Star Break:

Untitled_large

That pretty much says it all. Oh except for his 24 vs 36 baserunners caught stealing (40%). All in all, it was a very strong season for Cordero as he emerged as the top prospect on this Savannah club.

LHP Angel Cuan - STOCK HOLDING

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
SAV SAL 10 3 3.56 32 14 0 0 1 124.0 125 56 49 10 16 99 0.73 .262

Another year, another solid performance from the little lefty who I'd say is not far from serious consideration as a future LOOGY candidate. You could make the case for a stock up here as he mastered another new level and I didn't only because his stuff is still fringy at best. However, he made the most of it posting a spectacular 1.16 BB/9, a very strong .73 HR/9 all with a BABIP right around .302 so luck was not a factor here, as you can see by his 3.14 FIP.

C Blake Forsythe - STOCK HOLDING

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
SAV SAL .235 105 370 44 87 24 4 9 43 146 56 123 0 1 .334 .395 .729

It was an OK season for Forsythe, especially when you consider that by the All-Star Break he was batting .220 with three homers and a .353 slugging. Not to mention his customary awful K/BB ratio. However, he'd go on to bat .249/.368/.431 in the second half, showing off the power that pretty much starts and ends the discussion of his value proposition. His plate discipline is still a pretty big concern but if he can continue to translate his big raw power into longballs he's at least got a chance.

RHP Ryan Fraser - STOCK DOWN

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
SAV SAL 7 9 3.58 28 21 0 0 1 138.1 140 64 55 13 63 90 1.13 .271

Like Cecilliani, Fraser didn't quite live up to his stellar 2010 as a Cyclone. However, for Fraser 2011 meant a shift in roles as he went from a dominant closer to a mainstay of the Savannah rotation this season. And while the numbers might looks ok on the surface, dig a little deeper and you'll see that Fraser didn't exactly master Lo-A hitters. Take his FIP which ended up over a run higher than his ERA (4.75). Or his K/9 which you figured would drop as he moved to starting, but not as much as it did ('10: 11.20 | '11: 5.86).

RHP Gonzalez Germen - STOCK UP

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
SAV SAL 7 7 3.93 26 21 0 0 0 119.0 126 56 52 9 35 111 1.17 .271

Another interesting season for the 24-year old Dominican who continues to post strong results on the strength of a big fastball and not much else. He's currently active down in the DWL pitching for Este and continuing to miss bats, having K'd 21 batters in just 14 innings. One of a number of Gnats pitchers who has to prove that he wasn't living on their big home ballpark.

RHP Erik Goeddel - STOCK DOWN

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
MTS GCL 0 0 1.50 3 3 0 0 0 6.0 5 1 1 0 0 2 2.20 .217
SAV SAL 3 5 3.39 15 13 0 0 0 71.2 58 29 27 5 24 67 0.97 .220
Minors 3 5 3.24 18 16 0 0 0 77.2 63 30 28 5 24 69 1.05 .220

The concern with Goeddel has always been his health and 2011 was no different as he missed a good deal of time with shoulder problems. However, as always when the 23-yr old pitched he was effective. And to see the difference between Goeddel and the aforementioned Fraser despite their similar ERA's, look to their opponent's average. Goeddel actually sported one of the best mark's in the SAL while also striking out nearly a batter an inning, showing that he clearly has the stuff to dominate if he can stay on the field. However, that has been the calling card of many a young pitcher who never panned out so until he proves more durable you've got do ding his long-term value some.

LHP Chase Huchingson - STOCK UP

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
SAV SAL 7 2 1.82 27 8 0 0 0 84.0 61 24 17 1 25 91 1.51 .203

I like to think of Huchingson as Darin Gorski Jr. After showing a little promise in his pro debut in 2010, the 22-yr old converted outfielder came out and absolutely mowed down SAL hitters to the tune of a .203 average -- good for top ten in the SAL. And that was perfectly balanced against righties and lefties. Even better he struck out well over a batter an inning and showed very solid command for a 3/4 lefty with a lot of deception in his delivery. What's more, he even posted a 1.77 ERA in eight starts this season and though he was moved to the 'pen to limit his innings, expect him to get a full season in the rotation come 2012.

3B Aderlin Rodriguez - STOCK DOWN

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
SAV SAL .221 131 516 59 114 23 2 17 78 192 29 106 2 1 .265 .372 .637

One of the biggest disappointments in the Mets farm system in 2011, ARod just didn't deliver on the promise he showed as an 18-yr old crushing Appy League pitchers in 2010. In fact, following that performance I stated, "his plus-plus power and advanced bat will have to carry him as a prospect since the other aspects of his game are all sub-par." Well in 2011 they didn't, at least not to the level we'd hoped they would this time last year.

His already lacking plate discipline got even worse as he whiffed in nearly 20% of his at bats and while he maintained his 5% walk rate, that kind of swing-and-miss against more advanced pitching cut into his power. In fact, after mashing at an incredible .244 ISO in 2010, he was down to a more pedestrian .153 mark despite leading the club in homers. Average-wise, he was barely able to stay above the Mendoza Line against lefties and even worse, his numbers only decreased following the ASB.

SS Wilfredo Tovar - STOCK HOLDING

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
SAV SAL .251 131 491 70 123 21 3 2 41 156 44 53 15 9 .318 .318 .636

Tovar stayed the course in 2011, continuing to show off a plus glove at shortstop while making enough contact to stay relevant at the plate. Even better, he capitalized on an excellent opportunity out in the desert by batting .281 with a surprising .448 SLG in the Arizona Fall League. There's a case to be made for a stock up here as the same numbers at a higher level should usually be considered an improvement. But based on expectations after a strong 2010 this is exactly where I pegged him to be.

RHP Taylor Whitenton - STOCK UP

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
SAV SAL 5 5 2.49 26 22 1 0 1 112.0 77 39 31 6 48 119 0.79 .193

Like Tovar, the 23-yr old also earned a spot out in the AFL and while he didn't quite have as much success overall -- see, 4.76 ERA -- the fact that he was out there speaks to the strength of his 2011 season. Perhaps the only thing you need to know is that Whitenton led the entire SAL in opponent's average, posting an exceptional .193 mark. Much like Germen, Whitenton dominated on the strength of an explosive fastball paired with a developing slider and as such will have to show his chops in a home ballpark that's not as forgiving in 2012.

More Names to Watch For:

OF Alonzo Harris successfully made the switch from second base out to left in 2011 while bouncing back at the plate as well. After a disastrous 2010 where he batted .220 with a 21% K-rate, he pulled the average back up to .270 while also showcasing his athletic power/speed mix (4 hrs/15 sbs). Problem is his 19% K-rate is still not great and he doesn't have the kind of power to profile as a left fielder offensively...This time last year I said about RHP Yohan Almonte, "Almonte certainly doesn't have a huge pitcher's build and isn't oozing with stuff so he's definitely a 'show me'-type prospect." And in 2011 he showed us that he's having a hard time fooling more advanced hitters by spotting his average fastball. Despite excellent command, his 3.91 ERA was helped by luck as his FIP indicated a mark well over 4 and one reason was his underwhelming 6.12 K/9...2010 11th rounder LHP Adam Kolarek posted an excellent 2.22 ERA as a power lefty out of the Gnats 'pen in 2011. His low-to-mid 90's heater gives him a chance to climb fast in that same role, as evidenced by a .164 opponent's average against lefties...It seems each season Savannah moves a reliever into their rotation and watches him thrive and I'd say RHP Michael Hebert is your best bet to be that guy in 2012. The '08 seventh rounder has struggled with injuries as a pro but possesses a mid-90's fb and a solid mid-70's curve and in just ten games with the Gnats posted a .202 opponent's average with nearly a K/IP. The quality of Hebert's repertoire is equal to that of guys two levels ahead of him and if he can put things together and keep an eye on that command the 21-yr old could begin to make up for lost time fast.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Amazin' Avenue

You must be a member of Amazin' Avenue to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Amazin' Avenue. You should read them.

Join Amazin' Avenue

You must be a member of Amazin' Avenue to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Amazin' Avenue. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker