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2017 Minor League Preview: Binghamton Rumble Ponies

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Newly rebranded, Binghamton will look to stampede up the standings and trample the competition.

Luis Guillorme
Chris McShane

A year removed from a playoff appearance, the Binghamton Mets ended the 2016 season in fifth place, with a 63-77 record. The .450 winning percentage marked the worst record in the Pedro Lopez era, a period that goes back five seasons. While it is unfortunate that the B-Mets did so poorly, the timing of their poor season is even more unfortunate. When the last out of the 2016 Binghamton Mets season was made, the B-Mets ceased to be.

After a long and drawn out battle that was fought in the legal system and in the newspapers, Binghamton Mets ownership decided to keep the team in its current location—but re-brand. From the ashes of the Binghamton Mets—who themselves were created in 1992 when the Mets purchased the Williamsport Bills and moved the franchise upstate—the Binghamton Rumble Ponies were born.

The Manager

The newly-minted Binghamton Rumble Ponies will have a new manager to go along with their new name. Former St. Lucie Mets manager Luis Rojas will be moving up and serving as skipper for the Ponies. In addition to running the St. Lucie Mets for the last two seasons, he previously served as manager of the Savannah Sand Gnats in 2012-2014, and the GCL Mets in 2011. Under his stewardship, the Savannah Sand Gnats went 231-179 and captured the 2013 South Atlantic League championship, while St. Lucie Mets went 142-131 and clinched a playoff berth in 2016.

Joining Rojas will be Glenn Abbott and Val Pascucci, who will be serving as pitching and hitting coaches, respectively. Abbott has served as Binghamton pitching coach over the last six years. Prior to his current position, he served as pitching coach with the Savannah Sand Gnats in 2011. Pascucci, who ended his professional career in the Mets’ minor league system after 13 seasons, spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons serving as hitting coach for the Savannah Sand Gnats, and the 2016 season serving as hitting coach for the St. Lucie Mets. He will be replacing Luis Natera, who has been in the organization for twenty-five years now, and requested to be transferred to the St. Lucie field staff in order to be closer to home.

Players to Watch

The Hitters

The 2017 Rumble Ponies will have a talented infield, with Luis Guillorme and Jeff McNeil playing up the middle and Matt Oberste and David Thompson playing the corners. Catching prospect Tomas Nido will get the lion share of the catching behind the plate, while Colton Plaia will serve as his back up.

The outfield will have plenty of speed and defense, with Champ Stuart and Patrick Biondi both playing in the field, but will be lacking for power. Kevin Kaczmarski will likely be Binghamton’s most potent outfield bat, but the 25-year-old isn’t much of a power threat himself.

The Pitchers

Tyler Pill, who will be starting Opening Day, and Irish left-hander P.J. Conlon will headline the inaugural Rumble Pony rotation. Joining them will be Chris Flexen, when he returns from the disabled list. Mickey Jannis, Casey Delgado, Corey Oswalt, and Scarlyn Reyes will compete for starts, with more than one of those pitchers likely being transitioned into the bullpen over the course of the season.

The bullpen will likely be buoyed by Corey Taylor, who closed for the St. Lucie Mets in 2016, but like the starting rotation, it, too, gets thin past its headliner. Like last season, there will be multiple left-handed options to go with, with four southpaw relievers in the Rumble Pony pen.