clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Mets Mid-Term Farm System Review: Savannah

New, comments

We've checked out BuffaloBinghamton and St. Lucie, which means that we're down to the very last full-season affiliate, the Savannah Sand Gnats.

Team Spotlight

Following up on a banner 2010 season, the Gnats have been very strong in 2011. After a tough April where they went 8 and 14, the Gnats have taken off, playing well over .600 baseball. They've managed three straight winning months and in that time have tallied four separate streaks of six or more consecutive wins, including an 11-game streak between June and July. As in 2010, the Gnats have done it mainly with pitching, pacing the SAL with the far and away best ERA total. Guys like Greg Peavey, Erik Goeddel and Taylor Whitenton have anchored the league's top rotation while guys like Adam Kolarek dominate out of the 'pen. On the other end, the bats have been disappointing in 2011 with top prospects like Darrell Ceciliani and Aderlin Rodriguez failing to live up to their big 2010's. However, the timely hitting has excelled as they've continued to score enough runs despite the lowest AVG and OPS totals in the entire league.

Current Standings (second half)

TEAM W L PCT GB
Savannah 26 14 .650 -
Greenville 22 17 .564 3.5
Asheville 22 18 .550 4
Augusta 20 19 .513 5.5
Rome 17 21 .447 8
Charleston 16 24 .400 10
Lexington 15 25 .375 11

 

Usual Suspects

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 .220 104 404 49 89 19 1 13 65 149 29 88 0 0 .276 .369 .644

2011 was a tipping point for the big-bodied 19-year old. He showed the kind of natural hitting ability and plus-plus raw power in the rookie-level Appalachian League that makes prospect-watchers take note. However, he also featured the kind of offense-only, swing-and-miss profile that we've seen flame out so often before. In short, this was the fork in the road that determines a hitter like Prince Fielder or Miguel Cabrera and a guy like Joel Guzman or Wily Mo Pena. And unfortunately he followed the path of the latter, disappointing thus far in 2011.

After making it look so easy at such a young age, he's struggled mightily with Savannah, only once posting a monthly OPS at or above .700 (July). Interestingly his walk rates have increased (6.6%) but his K's have jumped above 20% and after a .333 BABIP in 2010, luck hasn't been on his side this year (.251). He's still shown decent home run pop and he won't turn 20 until November so we shouldn't dump him completely -- I'd still like to see what he looks like in a season with average luck. However, it seems that he won't be rocketing to the top of prospect rankings as the next Jesus Montero like we'd hoped around this time last year.

 

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 .240 83 321 45 77 17 1 4 32 108 35 75 16 7 .328 .336 .664

The 2010 Brooklyn hero has been one of the most notable disappointments in the Mets system this season, losing over 100 points on his batting average as well as dozens of extra base hits in the process. His incredible .181 ISO has dropped down to a punchless .091, and don't just blame the difficult home run environment of Grayson Stadium. After setting a Cyclones record with 12 triples last year, he's managed just a single lonely three-bagger as a Gnat.

In short, his problems can be drawn back in very large part to his highly-publicized BABIP swing between the two seasons. Most of us recognized that the .430 mark from 2010 was not sustainable but with his line drive-oriented approach, the question was could he maintain higher than normal levels? Well so far this season he's at a very conventional .305 which, when coupled with his .280 2009, looks much more like the norm. The fact that he mans a strong center certainly buoys his value but unless things change drastically his ceiling is shifting from Jacoby Ellsbury to Brett Gardner.

 

RHP Erik Goeddel - STOCK HOLDING

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
SAV SAL 2 2 2.72 9 7 0 0 0 43.0 35 14 13 5 9 46 1.00 .222
MTS GCL 0 0 1.50 3 3 0 0 0 6.0 5 1 1 0 0 2 2.20 .217
Minors   2 2 2.57 12 10 0 0 0 49.0 40 15 14 5 9 48 1.14 .221

Tough to grade the 2010 24th round steal after he missed a huge chunk of the season with a shoulder strain. There's a case to be made that with his prior injury history he should be graded down after showing further problems staying healthy. However, it's still early for Goeddel and when he has pitched, he's been very good. With Savannah thus far he's posted a K/9 over 9.5 with a superb BB/9 under 2. The stuff is clearly there, it's just about staying healthy. Expect the Mets to take it easy on Goeddel the rest of the way, including short pitch counts and early hooks. And while it might not hurt his grade yet, injuries do increase whispers about a long-term move to the 'pen. 

 

C Albert Cordero - STOCK HOLDING

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
SAV SAL .263 78 281 28 74 10 1 5 30 101 8 52 1 0 .293 .359 .653

After a sub-par April and a May where he batted .182 with an awful .411 OPS, 2011 was looking down for the 21-year old backstop. He had managed a single measly walk versus 27 K's to that point and worse, he'd tallied over a dozen errors, a great deal of those being passed balls. However, it's been a tale of two halves for the diminutive one as he began to rake following the ASB (First half triple slash: .219/.248/.297 in 155 ab's | Second half triple slash: .317/.348/.437 in 123 ab's). A re-worked approach obviously has him seeing the ball much better and has re-affirmed his status as the Mets top catching prospect. If he continues this pace he'll move up in the rankings for sure. One more positive note, Cordero has thrown out 22 of 44 would-be base stealers, a figure which leads the SAL.

 

SS Wilfredo Tovar - STOCK DOWN

Team League AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG OPS
SAV SAL .229 104 389 53 89 13 3 0 25 108 33 42 11 5 .298 .278 .576

Another diminutive Sand Gnat, another sour April, however not as nice a rebound in this version. After a slow start, the 19-year old Tovar began to figure things out, posting a .319/.376/.385 June. Alas, it was just a mirage as he's sunken back down to pretty putrid offensive levels since then. It's interesting though because he has posted very strong walk rates this season (7.7%) and continues to be one of the toughest strikeouts in the system (9.6%). Probably his .253 BABIP has a hand in all this though I will say that weak, defensive cuts to avoid striking out resulting in poor contact will keep that BABIP down. Considering his age and strong ratios I'm not ready to give up on one of my pre-season sleepers but it might mean I'll have to wait until next year for the returns.

 

RHP Greg Peavey - STOCK HOLDING

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
SAV SAL 6 2 3.12 14 14 0 0 0 78.0 75 31 27 3 11 69 1.21 .256
STL FSL 5 2 4.10 8 7 1 0 0 41.2 50 23 19 0 10 28 1.21 .301
Minors   11 4 3.46 22 21 1 0 0 119.2 125 54 46 3 21 97 1.21 .272

I forgot to include Peavey in the St. Lucie review so we'll discuss him here. He began his pro career on fire with the Gnats, matching fellow 2010 draftee Matt Harvey start for start throughout April. Obviously he fell behind the pace a bit, but he continued to dominate SAL hitters, utilizing incredibly spot-on command to garner an all-star nomination. He's found the going a little tougher since his promotion to Hi-A, as evidenced by a K/9 that dropped below 6. FSL batters have also hit him at an unimpressive .301 clip, though a .368 BABIP doesn't help. However, even with Savannah he was allowing a .256 average against. And when you consider his mediocre K-rates at both levels it probably speaks to his less than stellar stuff. Thus far Peavey looks a lot like his initial projections, a run of the mill, mid-to-lower rotation starter.

 

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 7 3.44 22 18 0 0 1 117.2 115 51 45 12 52 74 1.15 .264

Like Ceciliani, Fraser looked like a star on the 2010 Brooklyn club, however has not quite lived up to expectations this season. The hard-throwing Cyclones closer was shifted to the rotation and has not seen the same kind of dominant results. His stuff has taken an expected downturn in extended usage as his K/9 has been cut in half. Despite a slight uptick in command, he's just been far more hittable as a starter with an average against that has jumped from .155 up to .264 in 2011. One of the Mets most dynamic hurlers in his pro debut, he's looked much less so as a starter. His solid ERA so far masks an uglier 4.90 FIP and though he's had his moments, expect a Bobby Parnell track for Fraser who is likely a reliever long-term. 

 

LHP Angel Cuan - STOCK UP

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
SAV SAL 9 1 3.00 26 8 0 0 1 90.0 84 34 30 7 10 72 0.76 .246

The diminutive Panamanian continues to show that despite middling stuff, his mix of spot-on command and left-handed deception will play as he climbs the ladder. Though he's excelled in his eight starts this season (2.36 ERA), Cuan profiles long-term out of the 'pen as a lefty specialist and his splits bear that out. With lefties batting just .213 against him so far, the chances of Cuan carving out a major league career are increasing by the day.

 

RHP Yohan Almonte - STOCK DOWN

Team League W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO GO/AO AVG
SAV SAL 5 6 3.72 18 18 1 0 0 92.0 85 46 38 13 21 60 1.07 .250

Despite decent totals thus far, when you look under the hood Almonte's 2011 has not been a great indicator of future success. He sports a 4.58 FIP and though his BB-rates are still at manageable levels (2.05) his already poor K-rates have continued to go downhill (5.87). Add in a slight frame, so-so stuff, a .266 BABIP and the fact that he's pitching in one of the tougher hitting environments in the system and I don't like his chances going forward.

 

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 4 2 2.52 20 16 1 0 1 85.2 55 26 24 6 39 92 0.79 .182

This 23-year old former 39th rounder from '09 has had a breakout year so far for the Gnats. After an intriguing 2010 where he posted a 9+ K/9 and a 3.88 FIP mainly out of the 'pen, he's grabbed hold of a rotation spot and matched those totals and more. Not only has he improved his K/9 (9.8), he's brought down a troublesome 5+ BB/9 to nearly 4. Walks have still been an issue but he's allowed an extraordinary .179 average against thus far which really lets you know the quality of his stuff. He features a fb which he gets up to 94mph and an improving slider which does get swing and misses. Though his secondary stuff is improving, I'd say that the quality of his fastball and his age probably point to a career in the bullpen at the highest levels, if he can continue to refine that command.

 

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 6 2 1.77 20 8 0 0 0 71.0 52 21 14 1 22 79 1.61 .204

Another under the radar college pitcher, Huchingson actually went undrafted last summer after a solid yet unspectacular two-way career at the Univ. of Central Arkansas. Still pretty unbelievable that nobody took a chance considering that he's a 6'5", long-armed lefty. He immediately signed as an non-drafted free agent and thus far he's rewarded the Mets diligence. After a 4.09 ERA in five appearances last year, Huchingson has busted onto the scene in 2011 with a sub-2 ERA and well over a strikeout per inning. Despite so-so stuff, he's limited SAL hitters to a .204 AVG thanks to a deceptive three-quarters delivery from the left side. Like Darin Gorski at St. Lucie, he may not project as a future starter in the majors but suddenly the idea of a future left-handed reliever at the highest level isn't ridiculous. Huchingson is currently working out of the 'pen again to keep his innings count down.

 

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 5 3.70 21 19 0 0 0 104.2 109 45 43 9 28 101 1.22 .268

Like both Huchingson and Whitenton, the '07 IFA out of the DR has put his name on the map with a very strong year in the Savannah rotation. The 24-year old has posted a 8.68 K/9 and features excellent command. SAL hitters have batted .268 off of him though a .330 BABIP hasn't helped. However, his advanced age and lack of secondary offerings doesn't bode well for future success but thanks to a very solid fastball a career in relief isn't out of the question.

 

Odds & Ends

2010 11th rounder LHP Adam Kolarek has been death on lefties in 2011, allowing a .171 average against. Even better, he's been death on righties as well (.169). Add in a 10+ K/9 and strong command and you're looking at someone who may follow in Josh Edgin's footsteps as a power lefty reliever...LHP Hamilton Bennett is another lefty reliever who, though he may not have that same power stuff, has posted similarly excellent results, including nearly a K/IP. His crafty style might not translate as well at the higher levels though...RHP Michael Hebert is another reliever worth keeping an eye on. The 21-yr old '08 7th rounder has been very solid in limited time with Savannah and thanks to a fb that touches the mid-90's and a strong curve, he could be the next Gnats starter to emerge in 2012...Another second half success story, 2010 3rd rounder Blake Forsythe was disastrous out of the gates but has batted .275 after the break with an .871 OPS, including the extra-base power expected out of the big-bodied backstop...In what has been a moderately successful move to the OF, the toolsy Alonzo Harris has also improved his offensive approach. He's already posted a career high in walks and has batted .295 or above in 3 of 4 months.