With baseball season finally upon us, the full season leagues of MiLB are in full gear. For your consideration, here are some news and notes from the affiliates of the New York Mets:
The Bisons are off to a rough start, dropping to 1-11 today after Jonathan Niese turned in his second poor effort in three tries. Niese gave up seven runs, five earned, on nine hits over 5.1 innings, though he did strike out six Syracuse Chiefs while walking none. According to the report in MiLB.com, Niese actually faced the minimum over the first three innings, before allowing the Syracuse Chiefs to bat around in the fourth. This has been a theme in Niese's starts with the Mets, hopefully he learns to mix things up a bit better the second time through opposing lineups. Kyle Snyder and Ken Takahashi turned in 2.2 scoreless relief frames, but short of 2-4 efforts from CF Fernando Martinez and C Robinson Cancel which included a double for each, the Bisons pitching found little help from the offense. On a side note, Lastings Milledge was the number three hitter for Syracuse, and after taking an 0 for 4 is hitting just .182.
Here are some individual performance notes from the Bisons:
-Mets top prospect Fernando Martinez is off to a solid start in his Triple-A campaign. He's hitting .277 / .333 / .532 and already has nine extra base hits, seven of which are doubles, in 50 PAs. He is also back in the outfield after beginning the year at DH due to an elbow injury.
-On the flipside, 1B/LF Nick Evans is off to a very poor start, hitting just .122 / .280 / .366, though he has drawn nine walks and hit three homers in his 50 PAs.
-The poor outing for Niese brings his ERA to 8.65 over three starts. While this is obviously not what the Mets were hoping for from the young lefty, he has struck out 13 in 12.1 innings and given up just one homer, so hopefully he's just been catching some bad breaks.
-RHP Eddie Kunz and LHP Ken Takahashi are both pitching well out of the bullpen. Kunz has appeared in four games and has given up two runs and just four hits over eight innings while striking out seven, though also walking five. Takahashi has also appeared in four games and given up just one run on seven hits over 10.1 innings, striking out nine and walking four. Takahashi, a 40 year old Japanse import making his stateside debut this year, was originally signed by the Orioles this offseason, and subsequently released. The Mets quickly snatched him up on a minor league deal. Look for him to get a shot at cracking the Mets pen at some point if he continues to pitch well.
-The Mets called up LHP Casey Fossum after today's game. Fossum had made two starts for the Bisons, giving up just one run in 11 innings, striking out 12 and walking five. Nelson Figueroa was released, but Fossum will essentially take Darren O'Day's spot in the bullpen.
The B-Mets are off to a much better start than the Bisons, moving to 5-4 today after a win over the Portland Sea Dogs. Though Amazin' Avenue favorite Josh Thole took an 0-3, he did drive in a run with a sac-fly, and it still just drops his average to .367. The Offensive stars of the day were third baseman Shawn Bowman and first baseman Lucas Duda, as the corner infielders both had two hits including their first homers of the year. The Bingo pen was the other star attraction here. Three relievers combined for a perfect 3.2 innings of work, allowing no hits or walks and striking out four. Adam Bostick picked up the win in relief, though Double-A relief wins are little consolation for all of Matt Lindstrom's big league saves. Future LOOGY Roy Merritt picked up a five out Save.
Here are some individual performance notes from the B-Mets:
-The big story of the early season here is C Josh Thole, who is has 11 hits in his first 30 ABs, including four doubles and four walks, good for a .367 / .444 / .500 line. I know many like Eric are more than ready for the Josh Thole era.
-Lucas Duda, a 23 year old first base product who spent last year in in the FSL, is also off to a rollicking start. Considered a fringe prospect, Duda is hitting .333 / .500 / .481, showing excellent plate discipline with nine walks in his first 36 PAs.
-3B Shawn Bowman is a guy to root for, and he's off to a good start, hitting .303 / .386 / .436 over 43 PAs.
-SS Ruben Tejada, who has no business being in the Eastern League, is off to the kind of start you'd expect from a 19 year old who struggled through an FSL campaign in his previous season, hitting just .194 / .323 / .226 through 36 PAs.
-LHP Michael Antonini is off to a solid start, allowing just three runs in two starts totaling 9.2 innings.
-LHP Roy Merritt has also been solid out of the gate. The sidearming reliever has yet to allow a run in his 6.1 relief innings, and has earned a save in each of Binghamton's five wins.
St. Lucie Mets
The St. Lucie Mets are also off to a decent start despite losing to the Ft. Myers Miracle today. Their record now stands at 6-4 on the season. St. Lucie actually lead this game going into the ninth, after getting a combined eight innings of one run ball from starter Eric Niesen and relievers Nicolas Carr and Emary Frederick. But Jose De La Torre blew the save and took the loss, giving up three runs in the ninth. The only offense the PSL Mets could muster were solo homers from SS Reese Havens and C Fransisco Pena.
Here are some individual performances notes from St. Lucie:
-SS Reese Havens, one of the three 2008 first rounders on the St. Lucie Mets, is off to a great start. He's hitting .300 / .370 / .550 through his first 45 PAs, including a pair of homers.
-1B Ike Davis, however, continues to struggle in his early professional career. He's hitting .256 / .256 / .326. He's yet to draw a walk in 43 PAs, and yet to hit a home run in his professional career.
-22 year old 3B Zach Lutz, a 5th round draft pick in 2007, is also off to a hot start. He's hitting .324 / .385 / .471 over 37 PAs. Injuries have held Lutz back in his early professional career, but he's always gotten good grades on his ability to swing the stick. Hopefully he can stay healthy this year and start pushing his way through the system.
-20 year old 2B Greg Veloz looks like the heir apparent to the title of "Slappy McDasher," hitting .326 / .396 / .333 in 48 PAs. Unlike Ruben Tejada, the Mets wisely held the 20 year old Veloz back, letting him pick up where he left off in the FSL. He'll never develop much power, but he could turn out to be something like Luis Castillo pt. 2, Slappy's Revenge. Veloz has also already attempted seven SBs, but been caught three times.
-19 year old C Fransisco Pena is finally starting to show some signs of life with his bat. The Mets could have easily held him back to repeat the SAL for a third year, but they promoted him, and he's showing both a bit more patience and pop, hitting at .241 / .333 / .431 over his first 30 PAs. Though that line is hardly awe inspiring, especially in just 30 PAs, its a clear improvement over his .265 / .308 / .380 from the SAL last year. His homer today was his first on the year.
-22 year old RHP Scott Shaw, a 13th round pick from 2008, continues to look like a great late round find. After pitching very well last year in the NY-Penn League as well as the HWB, Shaw has turned in two solid starts to start 2009. He's given up just two runs on seven hits in 12 innings, striking out nine and walking just three. Mixed scouting reports on his fastball mean his ultimate ceiling is questionable, but he seems to have a bit more "stuff" than the brothers Dylan (Gee and Owen) and has already turned some heads with his early professional performance.
- Things haven't been quite as easy in the FSL so far for the Mets 2008 Supplemental first round pick, RHP Brad Holt. Holt's FSL debut was ugly, giving up seven runs in 3.2 innings. However he bounced back nicely, pitching six scoreless innings in his second start, giving up just four hits and one walk while striking out seven. Its tough to read into this one way or the other, but the FSL will be the first real test for Holt's developing curveball and changeup.
-19 year old RHP Jenrry Mejia, the Mets other fireballing right hander, has a prettier ERA than Holt, though he's allowed nearly as many baserunners and is having his innings limited more closely due to his age. Mejia is still something of a project for now, but he pitched very well last year in the NY-Penn league, and is someone to keep close watch on.
-Oft-injured reliever Brant Rustich is also off to a fast start. In two relief appearances, he's yet to allow a run while striking out eight in five innings and walking just one.
Savannah Sand Gnats
The Sand Gnats are off to the best start of any Mets affiliate, sitting at 7-4 after completing a four game sweep over the Augusta Green Jackets today. Savannah should be one of the more interesting teams to watch for fans of the Mets farm system this year, with teen sensations SS Wilmer Flores and 3B Jefry Marte manning the left side of the infield. Indeed, they both played a role in today's game. Flores' 3 for 4 effort brought his SAL batting average to .359 over his first 10 games, while Marte's 2 for 4 effort brought him to .317. Marte and Flores have been batting back to back, second and third in the order, respectively. On the pitching side, RHP Eric Beaulac turned in five scoreless innings to pick up his first win in his first start of the season. He's yet to be scored upon in nine innings, including one relief appearance. Kyle Allen picked up a 12 out save, finishing up the rest of the game by giving up one run in four innings.
Some individual performance notes on the Gnats:
-The pleasant surprise with this team so far has been 24 year old 2B Josh Satin. Satin is 13 for 30 to start the year, and though he has yet to produce an extra base hit, with his five walks thats good for a .433 / .500 / .433 batting line. Consider Satin a sleeper moving forward given his age, but someone worth peeking at every now and again.
-Though Flores and Marte are off to good starts, they're yet to find their power strokes. Considering these are 17 year olds we're talking about, that's hardly a concern. However, the uber-duo has combined for just four extra base hits in their 84 combined PAs, a pair of doubles for Flores and a pair of triples for Marte.
-21 year old 2B Jordany Valdespin is giving Satin a run for his money and the position. Valdespin is hitting .316 / .333 / .516 with a pair of homers in 39 PAs.
-The pitcher to watch for the Gnats is Beaulac. The big 22 year old righty was taken in the 8th round of the 2008 draft, and scouts seem to love his slider.
-22 year old RHP Chris Schwinden and 21 year old RHP Elvin Ramirez are both also off to solid starts and could bear watching.
-Though RHP Kyle Allen has a 10.80 ERA in his 6.1 innings, the 19 year old is an interesting sleeper after posting a 2.12 ERA in the GCL last season. He was taken in the 24th round of last year's draft.
That's it for now. Short Season leagues don't open for a few months, but if you guys are interested I'll try to keep some updates on the full season leagues rolling in from time to time.
By the way, If I'm encroaching on someone else's turf doing a minor league check-in, please let me know, and I will kindly yield to the Amazin' Avenue vet who usually handles this. I haven't seen much discussion on the minors in the fanposts, and since I was poking around the Mets minor league stats, I figured why not try to get one started.