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Mets Daily Farm System Report - 4/16: Spotlight on the LOOGYs

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New York Mets Daily Farm System Report - 4/16

Just because I now have minions to do my bidding doesn't mean you won't still be hearing from me (sorry I just watched Despicable Me -- verdict: so-so). Actually I wanted to use this opportunity to announce the Amazin' Avenue Prospect Mailbag, a new feature we'll be running every so often where we'll answer your questions. I correspond with a number of you through personal email on a semi-regular basis already so I figured why not share the joy? So go ahead and start sending your prospect questions to AAProspectMailbag@gmail.com!

*All results from games played on Friday, April 15th 2011

AAA - Buffalo Bisons (4-5)_______________________________________

BUFFALO 3, SCRANTON/WILKES BARRE 5 (Box) Not much to talk about here, starter LHP Casey Fossum was meh, allowing 2 ER over 4.2 IP while LHP Mike O'Connor's struggles continued and RHP Manny Acosta was bad in his second outing as a Bison in 2011. Pair that with just five hits by what has been a surprisingly underwhelming offense to this point -- including zero in the final three innings -- and you've got the recipe for a loss. 

AA - Binghamton Mets (2-6)_____________________________________

NEW HAMPSHIRE 2, BINGHAMTON 1 (Box) And you thought the Buffalo offense was bad yesterday? Two Fisher Cat pitchers held the B-Mets to just three hits; fortunately one was a longball by OF Brahiam Maldonado, already his third on the season. But the real story in this game was RHP Brad Holt who went seven scoreless, allowing just four hits and no walks. Let me repeat, no walks. It's way too early to start with the 'Holt's back!' stuff but he seems to be in a much better place mentally and the addition of a cutter as well as increased comfort with his off-speed pitches certainly can't hurt either. Unfortunately fellow 2010 headcase LHP Eric Niesen didn't fare so well, blowing this one on a homer in the ninth.

  • SS Jordany Valdespin:  0-4
  • LF Eric Campbell: 0-3
  • IF Josh Satin: 0-3, K, E(1)
  • Kai Gronauer: 0-3
  • RHP Brad Holt: 7 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 0 BB, 5 K, WP; And a 10-to-1 GB:FB rate is a very good sign 
  • LHP Eric Niesen: L, 1 IP, 2 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 0 K, HR
  • ROSTER UPDATE - With the return of OF Lucas Duda to Buffalo, OF Jesus Feliciano was optioned down to Binghamton for the first time since '07. 

Hi-A St. Lucie Mets (8-1)________________________________________

CHARLOTTE 4, ST LUCIE 5 (Box) Despite the fact that three of four Mets relievers allowed a run in this game, St. Lucie managed to pull it out on the strength of some timely hitting including 3B Jefry Marte's first homer of the season. Also, C Ronny Paulino began his rehab assignment last night with four innings in this game.

  • SS Wilmer Flores: 0-4; Slow .206 start to the season
  • RF Cesar Puello: 2-4, K, CS(3); Strange run continues for Puello who was 45/55 in 2010 however remember, he's a big-bodied guy not a speedster in the Gomez mold
  • CF Matt den Dekker: DNP, had been 3 for his last 19
  • 3B Jefry Marte: 1-4, HR(1), K
  • LF Juan Lagares: 1-3, BB, K
  • 2B Rylan Sandoval: 1-4, 3 K
  • RHP Kyle Allen: 4.2 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 2 BB, 2 K, WP
  • REHAB ALERT - C Ronny Paulino: 0-2, K; Played four innings in his first action of 2011
  • INJURY UPDATE - The news broke earlier this week but for anyone that didn't see, RHP Armando Rodriguez will miss at least the first month of 2011 with an oblique strain while LHP Jim Fuller will miss the entire season after shoulder surgery. Fuller posted a 2.19 ERA between Savannah and St. Lucie in 2010 and ranked #37 on the 2011 AA Top 50 Prospect List.

Lo-A Savannah Sand Gnats (3-5)__________________________________

SAVANNAH 8, GREENSBORO 4 (Box)

★ Star of the Night ★

Out of principle this one is going to Binghamton's RHP Brad Holt for his seven shutout innings; here's hoping that he's on the comeback trail.

And so naturally the Goat of the Night must go to LHP Eric Niesen, who blew Holt's victory by allowing a 2-run shot in the ninth of that game.

 

Prospect Spotlight: Potential LOOGYs

Thus far in 2011, it’s pretty clear to see that one of the biggest problems with the Mets roster is the bullpen. The relief corps have logged at or near league-highs in hits, walks and runs and with such a veritable collection of gambles, there’s no guarantee that they’re going to straighten things out. Things aren’t all bad though; as a poster mentioned the other day, with guys like Jose De La Torre, Josh Stinson, Manny Acosta and Manny Alvarez at or above Double-A, there are certainly options to improve from within, if necessary. However, one hole that this system has had considerable trouble filling in recent years is that of the LOOGY.

With the departure of workhorse Pedro Feliciano, the budget-conscious Sandy regime was forced to rely on waiver wire fodder like Tim Byrdak, Taylor Tankersley and Les Walrond to fill that role. And while the right guy won the job, the 36-year old Byrdak has not exactly filled me with confidence thus far. Now he hasn’t been a disaster, retiring 9-of-12 lefties he’s faced, but he certainly isn’t blowing anyone away and it definitely does not fill me with confidence that his fb velocity has declined each of the past six seasons. So who then could this farm system produce to take his spot in the event of injury, ineffectiveness or overuse? Good question.

While the Mets system has been sub-par in producing big leaguers, it’s actually been woefully bad in terms of left-handed pitching talent. Before Jon Niese, can you guess the last lefty that spent a substantial amount of time with a Mets minor league affiliate then made more than just a handful of appearances with the big club, starting or relief? You can count Feliciano if you wish but he spent most of his formative years in the Reds system and/or Japan before striking it big with the Mets. Royce Ring might have made it were he not traded for a bag of hot garbage shortly after joining the Mets. And then…hmm. While the Braves boast Johnny Venters, the Fish Mike Dunn and the Phillies the aptly named Bastardo, the last lefty who truly came through this system and logged significant innings for the big club was Jaime Cerda back in 2003. Awful.

And as for the top LOOGY candidates this year, the pickings are unsurprisingly slim: At Triple-A, Mike O’Connor posted a very nice 2.67 ERA in 2010 but he also allowed a .269 AVG to lefties and has never exhibited strong splits. Ditto for Pat Misch. In Double-A Binghamton, Roy Merritt has always had good success against lefties (.228 BAA in ’10, .209 in ‘09) thanks to a true sidearm delivery and a Feliciano-esque slurve. The problem is that his velocity barely breaks the high-80’s and he’s been hit very hard any time he’s advanced to Triple-A. Fellow B-Met and former third rounder Eric Niesen was on the fast track thanks to low-90’s velocity and a sharp downward curve but mechanical issues/command problems derailed him and he has a lot of work to do before he is back in the discussion for a major league role. Down the line, guys like Josh Edgin, Adam Kolarek and Angel Cuan look like good bets to change these fortunes but as for 2011, don’t expect a lot of LOOGY help from within.