I've watched a lot of winter league baseball this offseason and in so doing have caught a good amount of Mets. Guys like Daniel Murphy, Brad Emaus, Wilmer Flores & Jenrry Mejia (to name a few) have all kept busy with winter league clubs along with a couple of Mets coaches in Ken Oberkfell & Dave Hudgens. And aside from distracting me from 'financial uncertainty' as well as fostering a newfound appreciation for the vuvuzella, watching winter baseball has also allowed me to put together an interesting little collection of Mets-related screenshots. With the Caribbean Series well under way it seems like the perfect time to take a look:
Hey, I know that Irish Hammer! Murph definitely looked comfortable swinging the lumber in his time in winter ball batting .320 with four bombs and 13 walks compared to 11 strikeouts.
Mets Rule 5 draftee Brad Emaus showed a nice power stroke while playing for the Toros slugging .449 with 4 homers....
...and check out the open stance. Who does he think he is, Tony Batista?
And the final member of this spring's second base competition, Justin Turner logged played some winter ball too and he also played well batting .313 with a nice 1:1 K-to-BB . The funny thing is that none of the three played second base for their respective Dominican clubs; Murphy bounced between first base & third base, while Emaus & Turner both played almost exclusively at third...
..."Excellent defense, big bat". People are downplaying Turner's chances to earn the starting job this spring but I've got to say that if it were based solely on all-around ability, he might win out. Now they're all similar players so it's going to be really close either way and since Emaus needs to break camp to stay with the organization and Murphy is the most established hitter of the bunch and plus Turner has options left, he's probably the odd man out.
I remember that guy, he builds churches right?
Thanks to a thumb injury suffered from the beatdown heard round the world, K-Rod was limited to just one appearance in the VWL this winter. But on the bright side, no fathers-in-law were harmed in the making of this winter league appearance.
Former Mets OF Carlos Gomez is still doing the winter league thing.
Though he looks like he could probably still rake, another former Mets OF Moises Alou now watches winter league games from the stands as the GM for Escogido. Speaking of bosses who are probably in better shape than their players, Julio Franco is a manager in the Venezuelan League.
If you're a prospect watcher like me, the winter leagues offer a valuable opportunity to watch a good amount of up and coming minor leaguers. Toolsy Mets second base prospect Jordany Valdespin made a brief, late season appearance in the DWL after a very successful stay in the Arizona Fall League was cut short by an arm injury in October.
As you can see from his stat line Frankie brought along his offensive woes this winter. 2011 is pretty much going to be a make or break season for the one-time highly touted catching prospect.
Big righty reliever Elvin Ramirez showed the kind of high-90's velocity in the DWL this winter to get plucked out of the Mets system as the Nats top Rule 5 draftee in December. Should be interesting to see if he'll stick; if so, we should see plenty of him.
24-year old RHP Armando Rodriguez only made a few appearances for the Leones this winter but seemed a bit overmatched by the largely veteran-dominated league. Like Savannah in 2010, he showed a solid 91-94 mph fb but his spotty slurve and barely there change up point to a reliever long-term.
One of only two Mets players still playing in the Caribbean Series, Merritt caught on late in the Puerto Rican Winter League and has been very strong in relief. As usual he's been especially tough as a lefty-killer which is a role he'll likely get a shot at with the big club sometime in 2011.
Owen is the other player that's still active. It's funny to me that the Caribbean Series is not as strict as the WBC about nationality; obviously Owen is not Puerto Rican. But he's been a revelation for his PRWL squad: He held the opposition scoreless for his first thirteen innings with the club including a seven inning, no-hit outing.
And finally, a couple of Mets coaches are managing down in the winter leagues: Hitting Coach Dave Hudgins in the VWL for Caracas...
...and the always lovable Ken Oberkfell, managing Escogido in the DWL.