Mets Mid-Term Farm System Review 2011: Binghamton

PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 10: U.S. Futures All-Star Matt Harvey #43 of the New York Mets throws a pitch during the 2011 XM All-Star Futures Game at Chase Field on July 10, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Today we'll move onto a look at the first half that was for the Double-A Binghamton Mets.

Oh and it dawned on me the other day when I started this thing that I forgot to announce the creation of a new 'Met Minor League' section on this site. You can find it over on the left side of the homepage directly under the 'SB Nation: New York' link. The beauty is that for you prospect watchers out there, if you ever want to filter out the other stuff or perhaps you were away from the site for a few days -- for shame! -- and you want to see if you've missed anything, you now have a centralized location for all things minor leagues. Hurrah!

Ok back to our review of Binghamton. Yes, we have to.

Team Spotlight

There's no beating around the bush, Binghamton has been bad this year. No mystery why either, they've got no talent. Or at least they didn't for most of the year. Their Opening Day active roster had a whopping two of the Preseason Top 20 prospects. And one of those was Brad Holt. Top prospects like Reese Havens and Sean Ratliff were nowhere to be found thanks to injuries. Others like Eric Campbell, Robert Carson and the aforementioned Holt have greatly underperformed expectations. Don't get me wrong, there have been a few bright spots on the team but all in all it's a wonder that Manager Wally Backman still hasn't melted down. Fortunately for his sake though, the second half has brought with it an injection of talent, guys like Matt den Dekker, Matt Harvey and Juan Lagares. And though the club won't be making any playoff runs, they've certainly been a lot more palatable than the 9 and 22 May version.

Current Standings

TEAM W L PCT GB
New Hampshire 55 45 .550 -
Trenton 54 48 .529 2
Reading 53 48 .525 2.5
New Britain 51 48 .515 3.5
Binghamton 42 61 .408 14.5
Portland 41 60 .406 14.5

 

The Usual Suspects

RHP Matt Harvey - STOCK UP

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
STL FSL 8 2 2.37 14 14 0 0 0 76.0 67 24 20 5 24 92 1.20 .238
BIN EAS 0 3 7.15 5 5 0 0 0 22.2 31 18 18 2 8 28 2.25 .330
Minors   8 5 3.47 19 19 0 0 0 98.2 98 42 38 7 32 120 1.38 .261

The first rounder from New London had quite a bit of hype surrounding him coming into his pro debut and he had no problem living up to every bit of it. He didn't allow an earned run through his first 22 IP and soon after he won the FSL's Pitcher of the Week award and it was clear to all that Harvey was the goods. Though he eventually did allow a run, Harvey looked dominant throughout his stay in Hi-A to the tune of a 10.89 K/9 and a .238 average against.

However -- not surprisingly -- Double-A has a much tougher test for Harvey. Suddenly we are seeing first-hand evidence of the raw secondary stuff and sometimes shaky command that we heard about back when he was drafted. Though he's actually striking out more batters than before, his biggest problem has been consistently falling behind batters. As a result he's serving up more meatballs (.338 AVG against) as well as racking up big pitch counts early. Despite the struggles, this isn't alarming or uncommon for a Double-A debut. Really all it tells us is that perhaps Harvey is not the Gooden-esque phenom people hoped when he first busted out of the gates...but he can still be very good.

 

2B Reese Havens - STOCK DOWN

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
STL FSL .273 3 11 1 3 2 0 0 2 5 2 5 0 0 .385 .455 .839
BIN EAS .255 26 98 15 25 6 1 2 10 39 11 29 1 0 .333 .398 .731
Minors   .257 29 109 16 28 8 1 2 12 44 13 34 1 0 .339 .404 .742

As has become custom, Havens spent a lot of time on the DL during the first half of the 2011 season. Initially, he began the year nearly two months late as the team had him on a slow timetable for return from an offseason rib surgery meant to alleviate his nagging oblique problems. After 25 games back with Bingo Havens once again succumbed to injury, though this time it was a back problem unrelated to the meddlesome oblique. 

Nothing has changed here. When he plays, he looks like an impact player who could easily join Ike and Niese as part of the new wave of cornerstone players. Except he doesn't always play. As we've seen with Fernando Martinez, the more that happens the less we can assume it will stop happening.

 

RHP Jeurys Familia - STOCK UP

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
STL FSL 1 1 1.49 6 6 0 0 0 36.1 21 7 6 1 8 36 1.16 .171
BIN EAS 2 2 3.38 10 10 0 0 0 56.0 51 27 21 7 25 64 0.98 .239
Minors   3 3 2.63 16 16 0 0 0 92.1 72 34 27 8 33 100 1.05 .214

I'm not one to toot my own horn...but beep beep. Me, Jan. 17: 'I for one am still looking for that big-time breakout campaign from Familia, just a year later than we all expected.' And so it shall come to pass. After a 2010 that saw his ERA more than double -- from 2.69 in '09 up to 5.58 in '10 -- Familia fulfilled the promise that kept him among the organization's top 5 pitchers in the pre-season rankings. He has translated increasing fastball velocity -- now in the mid to upper 90's -- and a sharpened change into exceptional results.

He quickly dispatched FSL hitters, posting a 1.49 ERA and a .171 average against before being promoted after just six starts. He continued to roll initially but began to see that Double-A hitters wouldn't chase and worse, when behind they could catch a good fastball (see: seven hrs allowed). But despite finding Double-A a bit trickier, Familia still maintained a K/9 above 10 and a .239 average against. He has struggled over the past month with a mysterious injury that the club seemed happy enough to label a lack of energy. Yet it recently landed him on the DL in the form of a shoulder impingement. Regardless, he has emerged to challenge Harvey and Mejia as the organization's top minor league pitcher. 

 

RHP Brad Holt - STOCK DOWN

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
BIN EAS 4 7 5.11 22 13 0 0 0 74.0 62 50 42 6 50 58 0.73 .219



















So those of us holding onto hope for Holt coming into 2011 look pretty stupid now huh? I will say that keeping him in my top 20 (#19) isn't as bad as BA listing him at #10 overall. 2011 has basically just become an extension of 2010 as he's continued to have serious issues throwing strikes. And finally the inevitable happened as he was shifted to the bullpen in what has pretty much become a salvage job. It's sad to say but if he has any impact on the major league club at this point it will be considered a success.

I will say that there are some positives here. For one, he's FAR less hittable this year than last (2011 AVG: .219 | 2010 AVG: .336). Two, his stuff is definitely playing up in relief. Reports have him hitting 94mph with the heater much more consistently and he's struck out 20 guys over his 15.1 relief innings. And finally, a relief role seems to have had the desired effect on his control as he has not walked a man in his last six appearances. Nothing to write home about but there is still a glimmer of hope that maybe he can settle into a nice 7-8th inning role with the big club.

 

LHP Robert Carson - STOCK DOWN

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
BIN EAS 3 8 4.40 18 18 0 0 0 92.0 107 58 45 11 39 69 0.83 .292

Look, he's definitely been better in Double-A in 2011 than in 2010. His K/9, BB/9 and HR/9 are all better. He's improved, just not as much as you'd like from a top pitching prospect. At 22, he's no longer that young and the Eastern League is having no poblem hitting him as he's allowed a .292 average against thus far. Even worse, one of the hallmarks of his game, an excellent GB%, has deteriorated since the promotion to Bingo. It's never wise to \ disregard a 20-something, 6'3" lefty that can consistently hit 93mph but I must say that I expect a better results from someone with that profile. He still shows reasons to hope -- see, last night's performance -- but I continue to envision Carson's realistic major league ceiling as a late-inning lefty a la Antonio Bastardo.

 

OF Matt den Dekker - STOCK HOLDING

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
STL FSL .296 67 267 54 79 19 8 6 36 132 24 65 12 5 .362 .494 .857
BIN EAS .242 34 132 26 32 7 2 6 16 61 13 43 5 2 .318 .462 .780
Minors   .278 101 399 80 111 26 10 12 52 193 37 108 17 7 .348 .484 .831

Den Dekker showed many of the tools that make him such an easy bet to make the show. His glove in CF has lived up to all expectations. He has solid speed on the bases. He's even showing the kind of home run power that many thought would only translate to doubles in the pros. But for me to really feel good about his prospect status he's going to have to cut down on the strikeouts. At St. Lucie they were high but acceptable and as a four year college player he they should have been. In Bingo they're pushing 30% which will not cut it in the majors, let alone the high minors. The development of his plate discipline is the key. It is what will determine if he can maintain a passable OBP as he climbs the ladder. It is what will allow his surprising power to either continue to blossom or to fizzle. And it is ultimately what will determine whether he's Jordan Schafer or Drew Stubbs.

 

IF Jordany Valdespin - STOCK UP

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
BIN EAS .308 95 351 57 108 23 2 15 47 180 19 60 30 14 .354 .513 .866

Talk about a pleasant surprise. I was higher than most on Valdespin this winter and I still only just barely had him in the top 30. All he's done is go out and confirm that he may have the most dynamic all-around package of tools in the entire system and what's more, he's beginning to capitalize on all of them. I don't know what's a bigger surprise, the fact that a guy with a career high of six homers has already reached 15 or the fact that he's already matched his sb total from the last two seasons combined. He's even batting .280 against lefties. And he's always been more about tools than skills but he's even improved his walk rate, from around 1.5% up to 5%, which isn't great but the percentage increase is excellent. He still has a lot of rawness to his game (see: 28 errors) but he's turning a lot of it into production and if this continues expect to hear his name as a serious contender for a future starting MI role.

 

OF Juan Lagares - STOCK UP

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
STL FSL .339 81 307 51 104 15 6 7 49 152 21 47 5 6 .381 .495 .876
BIN EAS .538 3 13 3 7 2 1 0 2 11 0 2 1 0 .500 .846 1.346
Minors   .347 84 320 54 111 17 7 7 51 163 21 49 6 6 .386 .509 .895

Lagares has seemingly come all the way back from one of the worst botched prospect mishandlings of the Minaya era. It's a testament to his talent that he's lived up to his initial billing as an IFA Robin to FMart's Batman back in the summer of '05. Lagares was only recently called up to Binghamton but in his time with St. Lucie he was tremendous, posting a .339/.389/.495 triple slash. He's added a lot of muscle to his athletic frame which has meant far more in-game power yet he's still showed good speed, even filling in at CF when needed.

The reason why he toiled away at Hi-A for so long is the plate discipline, or lack thereof. Yes, the .339 average is nice now but do not forget, Lastings Milledge once batted .337 with Binghamton leading many to minimize his poor on-base skills, yet I'd say they caught up with him quickly and thoroughly. However, like Valdespin, Lagares has made strides in the BB% department this season which is a good sign going forward. Despite more room for improvement his excellent tools and emerging production are forcing his name into the discussion as a top tier prospect in this system.

 

RHP Manny Alvarez - STOCK DOWN

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
BUF INT 0 2 10.29 7 0 0 0 0 7.0 11 8 8 0 3 3 0.78 .367
BIN EAS 0 0 3.00 2 0 0 0 1 3.0 4 1 1 1 0 2 5.00 .333
Minors   0 2 8.10 9 0 0 0 1 10.0 15 9 9 1 3 5 1.20 .357

Alvarez was one of those 'out of nowhere' prospects in 2010, rocketing from St. Lucie up to a starring role in the Buffalo bullpen and eyeing a 2011 shot in the majors. Well as fun as those kinds of prospects are, you always have to be wary that they can just as quickly return from whence they came...and Alvarez has. After seven disastrous outings in Buffalo (see: 10.29 ERA), Alvarez was sent back to work things out in Bingo. Three innings later he was sidelined with an elbow strain and hasn't been heard from since. Typically those sorts of things end in the initials TJ, which could realistically explain for his struggles in April. Meaning we shouldn't forget the name completely but don't expect to see him in Queens anytime soon.

 

OF/3B Eric Campbell - STOCK DOWN

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
BIN EAS .230 91 296 29 68 14 0 2 34 88 46 61 4 1 .341 .297 .638

Campbell has been a flat out disaster this season, looking like a completely different player from the guy who was beating up the EL in 2010 until the hand injury. And that may have a lot to do with his offensive woes as he's slugging at sub-.300 levels, yet his typical high walks and low strikeout totals are still there. In fact, after consecutive ISO's in the .160's the last two years, he's now in the .060's. Not good. However, thus far in July he's batting .382 with no homers but five doubles, so perhaps the hand is finally back to strength. Let's hope we see a return to 2010 levels with the bat as the glove is still nothing but a liability.

 

RHP Josh Stinson - STOCK DOWN

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
BUF INT 3 7 7.44 13 13 0 0 0 61.2 77 54 51 7 33 32 1.20 .312
BIN EAS 2 1 4.75 14 2 0 0 0 30.1 35 16 16 0 11 21 1.91 .292
Minors   5 8 6.55 27 15 0 0 0 92.0 112 70 67 7 44 53 1.39 .305

Tough to penalize Stinson who has definitely gotten the jerkaround this season, but it's hard to argue with a 6.55 ERA. He made the disappointing trip back to Double-A this spring due to a numbers game in the Bisons rotation andwhen he did get a quick call up he fizzled, posting a 7+ ERA in 13 Triple-A starts. He was so-so upon return to Bingo and that's when the organization -- finally -- decided he'd be best served in the 'pen. His sinker-slider mix is passable as a starter but long-term he's a major league bullpen asset. And after a bumpy transition, he seems to have gotten back into the relief routine -- where he excelled between '08 and '10 and he actually expressed a preference for -- posting a 1.78 ERA over his last six outings along with his trademark superb GB rates (1.91 GB:FB). Add in the fact that lefties have batted .353 against him and he seems destined for the 'pen at Citi.

 

IF Josh Satin - STOCK UP

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
BIN EAS .325 94 338 60 110 35 2 11 60 182 57 91 2 2 .423 .538 .962
BUF INT .250 4 16 2 4 0 0 1 3 7 1 6 0 0 .294 .438 .732
Minors   .322 98 354 62 114 35 2 12 63 189 58 97 2 2 .418 .534 .952

Quickly becoming one of the more polarizing players in the system, Satin eschewed questions about his advanced age (26) and proved that his bat is for real in his time with Binghamton. He posted a .325/.432/.528 line with 11 homers and an Eastern League-leading 35 doubles before a recent call-up to Triple-A. The issue is and always has been his lack of a position. He's not a major league second baseman and he's still leearning first and third. I've always considered him a righty Dan Murphy and that seems even more true today. He takes his walks, has a knack for line drives which means tons of doubles and decent home run pop and he has no position.Who knows where he fits but the bottom line is the guy can hit and that's a good thing.

 

C Kai Gronauer - STOCK HOLDING

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
MTS GCL .238 6 21 2 5 3 0 0 6 8 3 4 0 0 .333 .381 .714
BIN EAS .218 27 78 8 17 2 0 1 9 22 9 21 1 0 .308 .282 .590
Minors   .222 33 99 10 22 5 0 1 15 30 12 25 1 0 .313 .303 .616

After a slow start at the dish in 2011 -- including a .227 April with a single HR -- Gronauer went down on May 12th with a balky hamstring. He only just returned last Friday so it's tough to really grade his season thus far. However, unlike guys like Havens or FMart, an isolated injury doesn't hurt the catcher's stock.

 

RHP Brandon Moore - STOCK UP

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
BIN EAS 8 7 3.73 19 19 0 0 0 99.0 112 57 41 5 27 77 0.95 .277

Despite a somewhat mediocre run for much of 2011 Moore has rolled lately, posting a 1.93 in his last five starts bringing his overall line below 4. A 14th rounder handling Double-A in his first go around is a good thing. His potentially fatal flaw though is that as a righty with so-so stuff that relies on deception, he's becoming more and more hittable as he climbs (.277 AVG against). To further isolate the key issue, lefties see Moore extremely well. Righties have hit a paltry .233 against him while lefties accumulated a stout .339. Though he's making it work as a starter thus far in Double-A, to me that's a future big league reliever right there.

 

RHP Rhiner Cruz - STOCK UP

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
STL FSL 2 1 2.77 8 0 0 0 0 13.0 9 9 4 1 6 18 0.33 .200
BIN EAS 2 1 3.69 24 0 0 0 4 39.0 28 16 16 2 29 32 0.72 .200
Minors   4 2 3.46 32 0 0 0 4 52.0 37 25 20 3 35 50 0.63 .200

Not exactly a household name and he didn't appear in the preseason Top 50, but the 25-year old Cruz is opening a lot of eyes by handling Double-A hitters to the tune of a .200 average against in his first go-around with Bingo. Specifically, it's the heater, which has gained a couple ticks and now tops out at 99mph, that will keep scouts interested in his exploits, good or bad. So far it's mostly been good but like many fireballers Cruz has a problem keeping it in the strike zone. Throughout his career he's posted BB/9 at or around 5 and this season has been no different. But if he can somehow figure that out he'll move real fast.

 

Odds and Ends

Trash-for-trash newcomer 1B Allan Dykstra has performed exceptionally considering the Padres pretty much dumped him. As always his plate discipline has shined, but now a .539 SLG in July has pushed his power numbers into respectability as well. At the very least he's a good organizational guy and at the most he may be a solid bat off the bench...OF Brahiam Maldonado isn't really a prospect, batting .207 thus far and already blowing past 100 K's but he leads the org. with 18 hrs and recently won the EL Player of the Week...Potential LOOGY Roy Merritt has struggled in relief -- including a .386 AVG against lefties -- but strangely the career reliever has posted a 0.69 ERA in three starts this season before recently hitting the DL with a leg contusion...RHP John Lujan may be the rare minor league Rule 5 pick that could end up helping the major league club. The 27-yr old reliever was solid in Buffalo thanks to excellent command but got pushed back due to a numbers game in early July...In his return from numerous arm injuries that sidelined him for much of 2010, RHP Tobi Stoner has not been good, posting a 5.25 ERA and a .301 average against.

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