5/28/17

TOM BRENNAN- MINORS SPOTLIGHT: MET SLUGGERS

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TOM BRENNAN - MINORS SPOTLIGHT: MET SLUGGERS


There really are precious few sluggers in the Mets' system.

Who are our

2 good young'uns: Dash Winningham & David Thompson.

Dash should change his name to Smash, Mash or Bash.


The 21 year old, a 6'2", 225 lb. first baseman that bigger Tim Tebow might refer to as Tiny, is now in Columbia.  

Dash has knocked in 180 runs in 1,041 at bats, with 66 doubles and 33 homers.  While he is just a career .242 hitter so far, those power numbers truly stand out.

The good thing for him is, at 21, he has ample time to strengthen his batting average and perhaps even add further power.  Another good thing is that his strikeout rate is reasonable, at 241 so far in 280 games.

David Thompson - like Smash err I mean Dash Winningham, Thompson loves RBIs.  137 of them in 778 at bats is impressive indeed.  He started slow in AA year, hitting an anemic .171 as late as April 29, but has cranked it at a .320 pace since then.  He certainly is a future Mets 3B candidate.  He is ERRORLESS in 35 games at 3rd in 2017, very impressive (compare to Jhoan Urena below).


Mike Paez - a diminutive power hitting SS drafted in the 4th round 2016, the red hot Paez was hitting .292 through Monday with 5 homers and 14 other extra base hits in just 38 games.  He has hit .325 since he filed his taxes on April 15.  He also sports a nifty .381 on base % this season.


Mike is definitely one to watch.





Pat Mazeika - heck, man, I have written about this lefty career .330 hitter with the explosive bat before I learned to spell his name correctly, and I have written about him afterwards too.  I may start spelling his name Pat Amazing.  Pat is having an MVP year for St Lucie.

Jhoan Urena - one level down from Thompson, the 22 year old Urena is hitting robustly in St Lucie (.337/.432/.491), but his highly error prone ways continue, with 12 errors at 3B this year in 30 games, and a mind-blowing 105 in 350 games at the hot corner in his career.  A switch to 1B (which he has played) or the outfield (which he has not) may be in order.

Travis Taijeron - ol' reliable is putting up strong numbers again for Vegas (.304/.400/.569 in 43 games).  His 41 Ks is a distinct improvement, and he has done it mostly against righty pitchers.  I still see a career in the bigs for him primarily against lefties, against which he is a fierce hitter with a lower strikeout rate.  317 career extra base hits in just 2,333 at bats (1 every 7.3 ABs) is very impressive.


Those are your boppers in the minors, people.  Hopefully a few will make a Conforto-like impact.  Because we love Mike.

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5/27/17

RIP Gregg

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Died at his home here in Savannah, Georgia
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ROSTER MOVE - Seth Lugo

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Please note the following transaction involving the Binghamton Rumble Ponies.

May 27:
  • RHP Seth Lugo assigned to Binghamton (AA) on Major League rehab
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Tom Brennan - MINORS STARTERS TO PROMOTE

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Tom Brennan - MINORS STARTERS TO PROMOTE

The Mets struggle with their major league pitching quality.

Many starters in the top 3 minor league levels are journeymen. Heck, Vegas was pressed into starting Beck Wheeler after promoting Tyler Pill to Queens.  Beck's results were far from pretty.

So why not be aggressive in promoting superior young, exciting performers?  Pitchers are fragile, don't waste their bullets in the minors, I always say.

Here are several I would promote immediately, or very soon, if not sooner, because the Mets will anyway, sooner or later:


AA to AAA:

PJ Conlon - already pitching in AA after not much more than 1 brilliant season in the minors, Conlon hit a bit of headwinds in starts on April 20 and May 18, giving up 5 runs in 3.1 IP in the first, and 5 in 6 innings in the latter.  How would he respond after each?  

He responded BIG TIME.  Two 7 inning shutout starts in which he allowed a total of 4 hits and a walk.  He is not a power pitcher, but has still managed to fan 48 in 53 IP through Thursday, going 5-2, 3.02, making him 17-5, 1.86 in his career.    Good golly, Miss Molly.

My take?  He is ready for AAA - right now.  Hand him his plane tickets, please.

Corey Oswalt: having struggled a few times with injuries since becoming a Met minors pitcher in 2012, he has had 8 healthy starts in 2017.  So how does a healthy Oswalt pitch?  Like Roy Oswalt.   

Corey has gone 4-3, 2.25 with 41 Ks in 48 IP.  He may warrant a bit more time in AA, to show this fine pitching is indeed the real deal, but the 23 year old 6'5" righty (a fine 29-16 in his career) should be singing Viva Las Vegas soon.



High A to AA:

Marcos Molina: the highly regarded 22 year old is back from TJS and has pitched well in 2 outings.  If he can build upon that in his next 2 or 3 starts, I'd send him up to AA and challenge him. He'll meet that challenge.

Nabil Crismatt: already having one fine AA start under his belt last season, Crismatt's last 4 starts have been brilliant: 26 IP, 1 earned run, 30 Ks.  

The 22 year old righty sure seems ready for more Binghamton cooking.  Promote him before he embarrasses any more FSL teams.

Chris Flexen - after a very solid 10-9, 3.56 season for St Lucie in 2016, he needed knee surgery this spring, the Tommy John survivor from prior to 2016 has pitched well in two outings so far in 2017.  What I said about Molina applies to him: a few more tune ups and send him to AA.



A to High A:

Chris Humphreys: pitching like an elite stud, 7-1 and striking out the world, he is wasting his time at this level.  Promote him immediately.

Merandy Gonzalez: the only difference between Humphreys and Gonzalez is that Chris fans more than Merandy.   And he is only 6-1.  Promote him immediately.  

These two Fireflies studs are 13-2, and both have ERAs slight above a run and a half per game.  Move on up!!

And that's just the starters.  Some relievers are ready to move up too.  An article for another day.
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Reese Kaplan -- AL West Trade Targets (Part 4 of 6)

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Houston Astros

The high flying Houston Astros are getting pretty good production in most areas of the lineup.  The only disappointments are Carlos Beltran who at age 40 may have reached the end of the road.  As a full time DH he’s hit 3 HRs, driven in 12 and is batting .254.  That’s not much return on a $16 million investment (though it’s still far superior to the nearly as-rich Curtis Granderson).  The starting pitching is anchored by Dallas Keuchel and Lance McCullers, Jr.  Charlie Morton is doing an average level of performance.  After that it’s ugly.  In the bullpen closer Ken Giles is mirroring his season from a year ago with a somewhat unimpressive 4.11 ERA.  Young Michael Feliz has been brilliant and steady Will Harris is turning in another solid year.  Surprisingly Luke Gregerson who owns a career ERA under 3.00 is pitching to a 6.89 this year.  Teams at the top rarely want to tinker with success, but it’s possible they would want someone like Lucas Duda to provide more than what Beltran has been giving them.  Alex Bregman isn’t setting the world afire and Neil Walker would be a huge upgrade but no one is likely going to want to take on his $17.2 million salary unless you picked up some in return.  Would you do a Neil Walker for Luke Gregerson and a top prospect?  The Astros are so full of quality young starters in their lineup that there have to be some folks blocked in the minors. 



Los Angeles Angels

After Mike Trout, there’s not a lot there.  Albert Pujols is driving in runs but only hitting .232. Yunel Escobar at 3rd base is hitting .272/5/17.  It’s pretty dismal after that.  Every one of the starting pitchers is above 4.00 except Tyler Skaggs eking under at 3.99.  Converted starter Bud Norris is doing a reasonable Dennis Eckersley impression in his first year as a closer.  Jose Alvarez has been pretty much unhittable in a setup role.  Former Met farmhand Yusmeiro Petit is having a fine season with hitters just managing to deliver a .202 BAA.  Journeyman David Hernandez has been even better with batters managing to do .156 against him.  Rounding out the supporting cast is right hander Blake Parker who’s pitching to his career norms.  The left handed Jose Alvarez is probably the best bet assuming they do not want to lose their closer who is only earning $1.75 million.  Surprisingly the Angels are hovering around .500, though trailing the division leading Astros by 8 games already.  



Texas Rangers

The usually slugging Rangers are hovering around the .500 mark with some surprising production from their lineup (both good and bad).  Shortstop Elvis Andrus is demonstrating that last year’s .302 AVG was not a fluke.  Catcher Jonathan Lucroy seems to be a bit under what they had hoped to get.  They have received power from Roughned Odor at 2B and Joey Gallo at 3B, but both are hovering around the Mendoza line.  Mike Napoli is well below it at .165.  Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Gomez and Nomar Mazara are all playing at replacement level.  What’s kept them alive has been what thus far has been the best rotation in baseball – Cole Hamels, Andrew Cashner, Yu Darvish, A.J. Griffin and Martin Perez are all under 4.00 with only Perez significantly over 3.00.  Last year 30 year old rookie Matt Bush turned in a fine season after wrestling his demons that delayed the start to his big league career.  He’s picked right up where he left off with a 1.32 ERA.  Lefty Alex Claudio is now in his fourth season for the Rangers and owns a career ERA of 2.78.  Young Jose LeClerc pitched to a 1.80 ERA in a dozen games as a rookie last year and is doing it again with a 2.31 thus far.  Former Met strikeout specialist Dario Alvarez is still walking too many people, but you can’t argue with a 2.79 ERA and 55 punch outs in 41 IP.   Alex Claudio seems like the prize here and with such a strong supporting case you might be able to talk the Rangers into parting with him.  What do they need?  Well, Neil Walker or Lucas Duda or Wilmer Flores would provide superior DH production or corner infield production. 



Seattle Mariners

This club is sporting one of the better lineups in baseball these days.  While Danny Valencia and Kyle Seager at the corners are having subpar seasons, they’re getting great contributions from household names like Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano and Jean Segura, as well as lesser known players like Mitch Hanigan, Guillermo Heredia and Ben Gamel.  Newcomer Jarrod Dyson is a bit of a disappointment, hitting just .215 but contributing double digits in stolen bases.  Catching is weak as Mike Zunino never seemed to live up to his advance billing and Carlos Ruiz is hitting just .135 at age 38.  For a team with Felix Hernandez, Yovani Gallardo and Hisashi Iwakuma, you’d be very surprised to learn the top starter has been James Paxton who thus far is 3-0 with a 1.43 ERA and just a .190 BAA.  Closer Edwin Diaz appears to have fallen prey to the dreaded sophomore jinx.  Tony Zych has notched one save.  Quality relievers include Nick Vincent, James Pazos and veteran Mark Rzepczynski.  Of this group, I’d like to see the Mets make a run at James Pazos or Tony Zych and possibly offer up Travis d’Arnaud in return.  It’s a low risk move for the Mariners considering how little production they’re getting out of the catcher position.  



Oakland Athletics

1st baseman Yonder Alonso leads the team’s offense with .283/12/29 but then it gets pretty ugly pretty quickly.  Khris Davis has provided 11 HRs but is hitting just .220.  DH Ryan Healy and 3rd baseman Trevor Plouffe have each provided 6 HRs but not much else.  Big right hander Andrew Triggs is having an All-Star type of season.  Jesse Hahn has also pitched quite well thus far.  Sonny Gray started the season on the DL with a strained lat (sound familiar, Mets fans?) and thus far has started just 3 games.  Kendall Graveman is pitching to his 5th starter career norms and big lefty Sean Manaea has been terrible.  Santiago Casilla had been given closing duties off his stellar Giants’ career but he was recently replaced by Ryan Madson after pitching to an ERA over 5.00.  Madson  may have an 0-3 record but he has a 1.98 ERA and the Athletics think he may be the better option going forward.  Lefty Daniel Coulombe is off to a decent start, but nothing in his past suggests it is sustainable.  Oakland has been known to make some head scratching trades over the years, including dumping younger players seemingly too early.  They will likely entertain offers for Alonso, selling high in his free agent walk year, but it seems his production is an outlier and not better than what the Mets have in Lucas Duda or may have in Dom Smith.  I don’t see any trade possibilities here.


   
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5/26/17

FLASH - SP - Tyler Pill

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The Mets have purchased the contract of pitcher Tyler Pill.

He will join the team in Pittsburgh.

No announcement yet on who he will replace on the 25-man.
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Tom Brennan - FAST AND NOT FURIOUS

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Tom Brennan - FAST AND NOT FURIOUS

One guy has stolen 16 of 18, the other 11 of 13 and the season is only about a quarter complete.  THAT'S FAST! Vin Diesel refused to drag race against them - even without them using a car!

But one of those 2 guy is hitting .204 and one is hitting .213.  They are certainly not giving the baseballs a FURIOUS beating.

My guess is that CHAMP STUART would edge out PATRICK BIONDI in a foot race, given his grade 80 speed.
But sadly, neither can really hit well enough, and as the old adage says, "you can't steal first."

The 24 year old, 6'0", 185 lb. Stuart's problem has always been far too many strikeouts. 

It seemed progress was being made by Champ, and as recently as May 2, Champ was hitting .258 for the AA Binghamton Rumble Ponies. 

But his last 7 games?    Doozies: 28 at bats, 2 hits, 16 Ks.

Despite his blistering speed, Champ has hit just .225 in 1,322 career at bats, with 503 Ks, a nasty K rate.  In the past 2 years, he's played 142 games and fanned 207 times. 

Sadly, a guy who's stolen 117 of 134 in his career just can't seem to fix the K flaw.  It would seem the path to major league success for Champ would be cutting the strikeouts in half, at a minimum...easier said than done.  Well, he has 3 1/2 more months this year to figure something out. 

I suppose there would be no rush to cut him in 2018, either, to give him more time to drastically improve his contact rate.  But without major improvement, a dead end. 

Biondi, small at 5'8", 170, and a former 9th rounder in 2013, is already 26, and in 29 games this year has just one extra base hit (a homer, one of just 6 he has hit since 2013). 

He had a decent year last year with St Lucie (.271/.352/.332)  and has stolen 75 of 95 in the last 231 games since 2015. 

But without power (a career .316 slug %), it would seem his path to the big leagues would really require a minimum 50 point boost to his career .253 average, even for a guy who has stolen 116 career bases with a 75% success rate. 

 And, at age 26, time is "running" short in his quest to make that sort of a quantum hitting leap.

Sad to see such speed seemingly not being enough for either to get them over the hump that few prospects manage to make it over.  I hope they prove me wrong.

BEFORE I GO:

The Mets' pitching has been a mess....case in point, the throw-away loss to lowly San Diego after having an early 5-1 lead.  DILLON GEE. meanwhile, stymied the Las Vegas 51's on Wednesday, allowing just 2 hits over 6 shutout IP, fanning 9.  It represented his second straight excellent start and 6th in his 9 starts for the Round Rock PCL affiliate of the Rangers.  

At some point, Wheeler will hit his very low innings limit, and Thor may or may not be back by then.  So shoring up the pitching is a worthwhile idea before the season slips away.  I know Gee was not treated well in his departure from the Mets, but I would think he'd prefer Queens to Arkansas.  So, unless the Mets feel that AA's PJ Conlon (7 brilliant shutout innings Wednesday night) is a viable near-term addition for the big league club, I would explore a deal for Dillon.


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5/25/17

ROSTER MOVES - Binghamton

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Please note the following transactions involving the Binghamton Rumble Ponies.

May 25:
  • INF Asdrubal Cabrera completed his Major League rehab assignment with Binghamton (AA)
  • INF Jio Mier placed on Disabled List
  • INF Gustavo Nunez transferred from Brooklyn (SS-A) to Binghamton (AA)
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Tom Brennan - METS SPOTLIGHT: PAT MAZEIKA

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Tom Brennan - METS SPOTLIGHT: PAT MAZEIKA


I wanted to highlight someone whose name I misspelled so many times that a frustrated (and rightly so) Macks Mets reader finally called me out on it - mea culpa.

But how I spell it is not consequential, really.  How he hits, however is very consequential.

This Patrick dude spelled Mazeika has put up the equivalent of a full 162 game season's with of plate appearances in his career, and what does he have to show for it?  

MMM MMM GOOD, THAT'S WHAT:

602 AB, .332, 54 2B, 15 HR, 115 RBI, 79 K, .431 OB%.  

Dag nab, that is GOOD. No Vegas inflated #s.


And the good news?  This year as a 23 year old in St Lucie is BETTER than his career numbers: 

.343, 32 RBIs and 6 of his 15 career homers in just 38 games, and 32 RBI through May 21.  A lefty hitter who has fanned just twice in 40 plate appearances vs. lefties this year.  And 24 for 57 (.421) with runners on base.  And just 14 Ks in over 150 plate appearances this year.


Something must be wrong, correct?  He's too small, right?  Nope, he's 6'3". 210.  No speed?  Not sure how you hit 54 doubles and steal 4 of 4 in you are slow.     

Well, OK, he has only thrown out 29% of baserunners this season, although his 7 career errors in 101 games as a catcher certainly are not bad for a guy refining his skills as a backstop.  And his zero errors in 23 games as a first baseman are one sign that he could catch, split time between the two spots, or become a full time 1B.

It sure seems he is a top 3 hitter in this minor league system right now.   And could well be a top 3 hitter on the Mets by 2019 or 2020.

So do like me: please learn to spell his name, because you'll be seeing a lot of it. M-A-Z-E-I-K-A.

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Mack’s Morning Report – 5-25 – Seth Romero, Robert Gsellman, Gavin Cecchini, Patrick Mazeika

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Good morning.


Seth Romero

It’s no big secret that Seth Romero is one the most talented pitchers eligible for June’s draft. The 6-3, 220-LB lefty had a 2015 freshman stat line of 1.94 ERA in 83 innings with a 92/22 K/BB, which was followed up in 2016 with 2.29 ERA in 94 innings with a 113/28 K/BB. His fastball early on averaged at around 93 and topped off at 95.

It’s also no big secret that he has been thrown off the University of Houston baseball team recently for repeated violations of the team policies. His first suspension was in February 2016 for “conduct detrimental to the team”. Then, this April, he was suspended again for “a violation of university and athletic department policy”. The Houston AD said “at this time, it is important for Seth to focus primarily on his academic and personal life”. Ironically, Romero was leading D1 baseball at the time of his suspension with 76-Ks in 44.1-IP.

The final hammer fell when UH kicked Romero off the team earlier this month. The school cited ‘an undisclosed event’. Sources said he had a fistfight during batting practice before Houston was to play Rice.

His complete Houston 3-year stats were 47-appearances, 28-starts, 2.43, 226.1-IP, 290-K, 70-BB.

I bring up Romero because it’s just about guaranteed that he will still be on the board when the Mets #20 pick comes up. Take away all the bullshit and he would have been a definite top ten pick and possibly the second lefty taken behind Louisville’s Brandon McKay. Now, who knows? You pass on him and you most definitely lose a future start in this sport. You draft him, and he goes back to school at some junior college so he can stat up and come back next year for an earlier pick in the draft and a higher $$ slot.

Tough call, but you pass on this guy and you may be making a big mistake.


Fangraphs reviewed a list of 2016 rookies they wrote about last year –

          



Robert Gsellman, RHP, Mets: The Mets have struggled with injuries early on in 2017 but rather than step up, Gsellman has taken a step back. He’s producing lots of ground balls but he’s still allowing too many homers (five) and he’s not missing many bats (28 Ks) through his first 36.2 innings. He’s been peppered for 52 hits already and his ERA is north of 7.00. The bullpen might be a better place for him right now.

          
Gavin Cecchini, SS, Mets: Known mostly as a good-glove, decent-hit player coming into pro ball, Cecchini hasn’t done much to disprove that scouting report. However, he’s moved through the minors well and is at triple-A as a 23-year-old. And he’s already had a taste of the majors. Asdrubal Cabrera is hurt and Jose Reyes is struggling to hit so Cecchini might get a chance to play a little as the year progresses — especially if Cabrera struggles to stay healthy (or becomes trade bait) and the Mets continue to fall out of the playoff picture.

                       Mack – I have two thoughts here:

1.     I hope we didn’t give up too early on Gsellman as a starter

2.     I would give Cecchini the second base job after the all-star break

MLB.com had an interesting article on Patrick Mazeika

If Mazeika can polish his catching skills, his prospect ranking with the Mets -- No. 26 right now -- could rise dramatically. His Major League potential at the plate isn't questioned.

The left-handed hitter batted .354 in 2015 for Kingsport in the Rookie Appalachian League, then .305 last season with Columbia in the Class A South Atlantic League. Mazeika got a late start at Columbia, though, because of an elbow injury -- and his arm was already fringy in the view of scouts.

"I've been working hard to catch up with my defense," Mazeika said. "My arm is coming along, and I think I'm getting a little bit better at everything."


Mack – No one loves Mazeika’s bat more than I do, but I still believe his ticket to the majors will be at first base. Still, it doesn’t hurt to try and improve behind the plate.


A great story last week on Corey Oswalt and P.J. Conlon
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