Friday, May 28, 2004

Mets Minor League Recaps for 5/27

Stars of the Day:
AAA: Royce Ring/John Pachot
High A: Luz Portobano/Aaron Baldiris/Jay Caligiuri
A: Ian Bladergroen/Shawn Bowman/Javier Ochoa

Rochester 5, Norfolk 2
Bob Keppel suffered through six innings during which he gave up four runs. He dealt with baserunners all night allowing eight hits and two walks and a homerun. His ERA is a nasty 6.35. Royce Ring followed with a scoreless inning of relief during which he allowed just one hit.
Bob Keppel, who is regarded as a top prospect ended last year with Binghamton, but started in St. Lucie this year. His ERA in the Florida State League was a microscopic .87 and opposing hitters managed to hit just .200 against him. However, at AAA, the league is hitting .348 against him in two appearances. That’s such a huge jump, high-A to AAA, that we should be patient with Keppel.
The offense managed just seven hits. Catcher John Pachot had a pair in a 2-4 night to raise his average to the .300 mark. Mike Collins also added two singles. The only extra base hit of the night for the Tides was Craig Brazell’s thirteenth home run of the year.
This team sits in last place in their division, and with that lineup, it’s not hard to see why.

By the way, last night, Jason Scobie fired 6.2 innings and allowed just one run. He gave up six hits, and three walks, but struck out five. Then Kole Strayhorn followed with 1.1 perfect innings in which he struck out three.
And David Wright was 2-3 with a walk, a HPB, and a stolen base.

St. Lucie 0, Clearwater 10
Well, the good news on the pitching side is that Luz Portobanco managed 2.1 innings without giving up a hit. Brian Bannister and Tim McNab were both hit hard.
Jay Caligiuri and Aaron Baldiris each had two of St. Lucie’s five hits. Caligiuri’s double was the only extra base hit of the night for the Florida Mets. Lets move on…

Capital City 10, Columbus 7
The Bombers did all of their damage against Columbus starter Phil Sobkow who gave up six runs in the fourth, and four in the fifth.
Many, many offensive stars tonight. Ian Bladergroen led the charge of course with his 3-5 night that included a pair of doubles. Third baseman Shawn Bowman was 2-3 with a double, RBI and a walk. (How about that for positional depth? I’ve mentioned Wright, Baldiris and Bowman tonight. The Mets just are stacked at third.) Lastings Milledge was 1-5 with a stolen base. Wilson Batista was 2-4 with a double and RBI to raise his average to .295/.392/.386
Tanner Osberg got the win for giving up “only” five runs in 6.1 innings. He struck out four and walked two. Javier Ochoa finished off the seventh and allowed just one basehit. Bryan King gave up two hits in the eight, but didn’t give up a run. Greg Ramirez gave up two runs, one earned in the ninth. He struggled with his control, walking one and hitting a batter.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

The Mailbag

My first mailbag on the website. Keep those questions coming. I'm in High Desert now, and it's off to Lancaster tomorrow.

Dan writes: How good of a prospect is Diaz? Believe it or not, the Binghamton game was
on TV last night in New Haven and I watched an inning. He looks like he has
good stuff with no control.

You've seen him throw one more times than I have, but the scouting reports and numbers are very promising for Jose Diaz. His ceiling is pretty high - read: big leagues. He's supposed to have a good arm, but is very raw since this is only his third year as a pitcher. Baseball America, which ranks him asthe 17th best prospect in the Mets system coming into the year, reports that his fastball can sit at 95-96, but since his arm was tired last fall in the Arizona fall league it hit just 91-92. This probably means that as a big league starter he could pitch at 92-94, whereas he might be able to hit the high 90s in shorter relief appearances...As of last fall he'd shown a change that some scouts thought could become a plus pitch, but they (the scouts) wanted to see it more during games. Apparently, last year he was throwing his curve too hard making it a slurve and very difficult to control. His motion needs work as it contributed to his lack of control.
Diaz was a catcher in the Dodgers system until 2001, when his light bat - he had a .185 career average- and strong arm suggested they try him out on the mound. Lets throw out the numbers from 2001, but in 2002 he was 3-1 with a 4.21 ERA in the SAL (low A).
His 2003 numbers certainly support your conclusion that he has good stuff, but no control. In Vero Beach (FSL) he was 5-2 with a 3.50 ERA and in 62 IP he struck out 69 but walked 48 while the league hit .181 against him. He made it up to AA jacksonville before the Burnitz trade and in 8 innings up there allowed just one run on five hits and struck out seven while walking 3.
His numbers this year basically continue the trend he set last year, nearly a strikeout an inning, almost as many BB as K, and the league hitting under .200 against.
2004: 3-1, 3.08 ERA, 38.0 IP, 19 H, 31 BB, 6 HPB, 36 K, .151 Avg,
I think this is very, very intriguing...

Wally writes:
a few questions for you, since we only know what we can read in boxscores
and recaps.
1- how versatile is danny garcia? i know he can play a solid 2b, and he
came up as a CF. but do you think his arm is strong enough to play a
credible 3b? could he handle SS in a pinch? what about 1b?
2- how is the victor diaz experiment going defensively? his bat is
obviously slow to come around. even now that he's starting to hit, his OBP
is still brazellian. but how's his glove? has he been adequate? or is it
time to move him back to the infield, where his bat could at least
potentially be a plus?

1. Danny Gacia is versatile, and that's one of his major strengths. He was a centerfielder for two years at Pepperdine, before shifting to second base. He played 18 games at shortstop in 2002 for St. Lucie where he made 7 errors in 18 games. I don't know about his arm at third, I just haven't seen him play there enough, but he certainly could be a useful backup middle infielder.

2. I haven't seen Diaz all that much in the outfield, but his stats, and defensive stats stink, are just fine. He's made a pair of errors, but has 88 PO and 5 assists. I think you almost have to let him play the outfield, because the Mets infield situation is packed. The Dodgers tried him at first, second and third in 2002, but he didn't find a home anywhere. I'm more concerned with his walk rate, which is really, really bad: just 4 vs. 172 AB this year.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Mets Minor League Recaps for 5/24

AAA: the heavens
AA: Jose Diaz/David Wright/Angel Pagan
High A: Robert Paulk/ Brett Harper/Jay Caligiuri
A: the whole lineup/Evan MacLane

PPD “due to unsafe playing conditions caused by heavy rain overnight in Buffalo.”

Binghamton 7, Portland 0
Jose Diaz put together his second consecutive excellent start for the B-Mets. This time he went five shutout innings and gave up a mere two hits. He did walk four however while striking out five. Ken Chenard fired four scoreless innings during which he struck out six, gave up two hits and walked three for the long distance save.
The offensive attack was balanced as only two starters were held hitless, and only two had multiple hits. One of course was David Wright. It was just another average day at the park for Wright: ¾, with a pair of doubles, an RBI and a run scored. Angel Pagan was 3/5 with three singles and one run. Wayne Lydon hit a two run home run. Prentice Redman doubled home a pair with his only hit of the night. Justin Huber went 1 for four and is now hitting .268 after a very slow start.

Clearwater 4, St. Lucie 3
St. Lucie scored in the top of the tenth, but Clearwater got to Tim McNab for a pair in the bottom half to edge the St. Lucie Mets. Robert Paulk turned in a solid 5.2 innings, giving up just three hits and two runs. Paulk, the Mets 22nd round choice in 2002, had an up and down 2003. His numbers were very good for Capital City (2-1, 1.52 ERA 29.0 IP, 22H, 17 BB, 23 K) which earned him a promotion to Port St. Lucie where he struggled in two outings giving up five runs, three earned in just two innings. He returned to Brooklyn where was also excellent: 1-1 2.48 ERA 32.0 IP 18H 10 BB 38K. This year he’s been good, but in 42.2 IP he’s given up 54H so opponents are hitting .307 against him. Even so, he’s 5-1 with a 2.74 ERA. Alarmingly, his K/IP totals have fallen drastically in Brooklyn it was 1.18 now it’s down to .40. Paulk’s K/BB rate is still an impressive 2.8.
Bobby Malek, Dante Brinkley and Joe Hietpas each doubled in four trips. Brett Harper and Jay Caligiuri each had solo homers.
St. Lucie’s in second place, 3.5 games behind division leading Palm Beach. Brett Harper’s .358/.453/.568 put him third in the league in average, first in OBP and third in SLG. His 13 2B are near the tops in the league as are his 7 HR. Jay Caligiuri’s 8 HR lead the team. Almost as impressively, he’s walked thirteen times while striking out 16.

Capital City 12, Charleston 2
Big night for the offense which pounded out sixteen hits. Lastings Milledge went 3 for 5 with two 2B, 3 RBI and 2R from the leadoff spot. Ian Bladergroen went 2 for 5 with a double and an RBI. Wilson Batista added a 2 for 5. Tyler Davidson went 3 for five with two doubles and 2 RBI. Shawn Bowman was 2 for 4.
The beneficiary of all this offense was Evan MacLane who went five innings for the win. He only run he allowed was a solo home run. He struck out six and did not walk a batter. Domingo Acosta threw three scoreless innings for the save. Now defend that rule.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Mets Minor League Weekend Wrap 5/23

.500 is better than not, and better than I hoped for from this season. Esix Snead, we hardly knew ye. I’m very happy that Tyler Yates is returning to the bullpen. Now he can maintain 90+ on his fastball in shorter spurts. In short, a smart move.

The Tides have lost five of their last six, falling in the final three games vs. Rochester, and losing two of three over the weekend to Buffalo. Their slide has put Norfolk three games under .500 in last place in the International League South. This team is dead last in the league in batting average, runs scored (by 42!), walks, and second to last in HR. The pitching is fourth in the league overall with their 3.90 ERA and middle of the pack in strikeouts and walks.
I won’t discuss any of the position players because it’s not worth it. I do think Craig Brazell will see some time this year in the bigs, but his .301 OBP is rather troubling.
Jeremy Griffiths did not have it last time out, and was knocked around a bit in his last start, giving up seven runs, five earned on eight hits and three walks in just 4.2 innings against Rochester Wednesday. His ERA is now 4.43. He’ll pitch Monday in a 10:35 at Buffalo.
Heath Bell picked up the lone Tides win since Wednesday for his scoreless 2.2 innings of relief of Bob Keppel Thursday night. He fanned two and gave up one hit.
Sunday, Aaron Heilman gave up five runs, all earned on seven hits in 7.1 innings. He walked two and struck out two, but left with the lead. However, the bullpen of Heath Bell and Jose Parra gave up the run to tie it in the ninth, and the winning run in the bottom of the tenth. Buffalo tied up the game in the ninth when Raul Gonzalez reached on a Brazell error and came home on a Mark Little double.

Much more fun than Norfolk. The B-Mets lead the lead with their .614 winning percentage, and sit two games in front of New Hampshire after taking two of three from them this weekend.
David Wright is a stud. His .453 OBP leads the league, his .599 slugging is fourth, his 17 doubles are third, his eight home runs are 8th best and his 14 stolen bases are tied for second. However, I’ll happily wait until August or September to see him in NYC.
Alongside Prentice Redman is doing a little mashing of his own. His .610 SLG leads the league as do his 29 extra base hits. He’s second in the league with 19 doubles and sixth with 9 HR. One important difference is age: at 25, Redman’s time is running short. He had just three hits in 24 AB with the Mets last summer. His star was brightest after 2001 when he was named the FSL star of stars when he hit .261/.322./.366. This year’s .308 average and .383 would both be career highs. Remember, a standard career trajectory suggests that a player’s most productive year is age 27.
The best recent pitching performance belongs to Neal Musser for his six shutout innings on just four hits against Harrisburg. He was denied the win when Harrisburg tied it in the ninth, but it doesn’t diminish his six strikeouts versus just one walk. Musser, originally a second round draft pick in 99, gave up over a hit an inning last year, and walked 39 in 100.1 innings. His K/BB ratio has hovered around 2 since reaching the Florida State League in 2001. This year that’s declined to 29/19, but the league is hitting .255 against him, an improvement versus the last two seasons.
Jose Diaz who came from the Dodgers alongside Kole Strayhorn, Victor Diaz and cash improved to 2-1 with a 5 innings of two run ball this week during which he struck out 5 and allowed only three hits. The league is hitting just .153 against him in 33 innings. The problem: he’s walked 27 while fanning 31. I’d still rather have him in my system, than Burnitz in my outfield, which inevitably leads to indigestion in my system.

St. Lucie
Jose, Jose, Jose! Reyes of course is now 5-19 with a double and pair of stolen bases. Jose played all nine innings Sunday, and took an 0-5. This came on the heels of his best game: a 3-5 with a run, RBI and a stolen base Saturday. I read somewhere he might return Friday. Shouldn’t he be punishing A ball pitching before that happens?

More A ball tomorrow, but it’s party time out here on the left coast.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Mets Minor League Recaps for 5-18

Stars of the Day:
AAA: Chris Basak
AA: raindrops

Slow day in the system as Norfolk was the only affiliate to complete a ballgame, and the two A teams were scheduled for off days.

Norfolk 3, Richmond 4
Aaron Heilman gave up four runs in the first inning on just one hit. He loaded the bases by hitting a batter, and walking a pair. Then came the big moment in the ballgame: a grandslam by Terry Tiffee who was 2-4 on the night. Heilman recovered to fire five scoreless innings so his final line was four runs on three hits, with three walks, one hit by pitch and four strikeouts.
Norfolk got three runs back in the bottom of the second, but couldn’t push across the tying run. Wilson Delgado singled home Victor Diaz. Chris Basak tripled home two as part of a 2-3 night with 2 RBI and walk. He’s now hitting .286 and has 2 HR in just 35 at bats, but hasn’t walked yet.
The other Norfolk pitchers kept the Tides in the game. Royce Ring threw two innings without giving up a hit or striking out a batter and Heath Bell pitched a perfect ninth.

Rained out. The B-Mets and the Senators will play two tomorrow.

St. Lucie

Capital City

Mets Minor League Recap for 5/17

Stars of the Day:

AAA: Tyler Yates/Gerald Williams
AA: Matt Peterson/David Bacani
High A: Micah Mangrum/Corey Ragsdale
A: Greg Ramirez/Ryan Harvey

Norfolk 3, Rochester 0
Tyler Yates acted like he wanted to go back to the bigs. He threw 5.2 hitless innings while fanning five. The only blemish was three walks. The bullpen picked up right where Yates left off, although each of the three relievers allowed one hit. Jason Roach got out of the sixth and seventh fanning two. Lefty Pedro Feliciano walked a batter in the eighth, while Jose Parra struck out one for his ninth save.
Gerald Williams had a solo homer and the only RBI for the Tides as part of a 2-4 night. The only other Tide with multiple hits was 36 year old Jesse Levis who was playing in his first ballgame of the year. Craig Brazell was 1-4. Levis was drafted in 1989, and played last year in the Phillies organization, but was released following the season.

Binghamton 2, Harrisburg 1
The B-Mets came from behind to squeak by the Harrisburg Senators. David Bacani’s pinch hit triple drove in Chase Lambin with the winning run in the top of the ninth. Josh Pressley tied the game by singling home Prentice Redman in the eighth. Pressley was the only B-Met who had two hits and is now hitting .328/394/.426. Justin Huber went 1-4 to continue his hot streak. David Wright was actually held hitless for once, but did draw a walk.
Matt Peterson gave the B-Mets another excellent outing Monday night to improve to 3-0. In eight innings he allowed one run, on a solo homer. He struck out six while walking one and giving up six hits in all. He lowered his ERA to 2.35. Jeremy Hill gave up one hit in the ninth, but recorded his fifth save.
With the win, Binghamton reclaims first place in the Northern Division, and now boasts a one game lead over New Hampshire.

St. Lucie 6, Jupiter 2
Micah Mangrum threw the required five innings to even his record at (1-1) giving up just one run on five hits to lower is ERA to 0.73 in 12.1 innings. He struck out two without walking a batter. He’s struck out 5 and walked three, so he’s not overpowering hitters, but is getting outs. Mangrum, who is now 27, was signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Royals in June 2000. He had 32 AA innings in 2002 for Wichita, and after being released by the Royals last spring pitched in the independent Atlantic League last summer.
Corey Ragsdale went 3-4 with two runs scored and an RBI at the top of the order. First baseman Brett Harper drove in two while going 2-3 with a walk, to raise his average to .375/.472/.561. Harper’s four home runs already tie a career high he set last summer while playing at nearly every level of the lower Mets system, in order: St. Lucie, Capital City, Kingsport and winding up in Brooklyn. After a slow start, Harper was demoted from St. Lucie to Capital City, where he did hit, but was sent down to the Appalachian League, which he demolished to a tune of .429/500/.800 clip and where’s he’s listed as a third baseman. Rightfielder Zack Clements had a pair of hits and a run scored. David Reaver and Jay Caligiuri each went 1-4 with an RBI.

Charleston 6, Capital City 0
Vincent Cordova gave up four runs, two earned in five innings to take the loss. He gave up eight hits and struck out seven, without walking a batter. Greg Ramirez came in to fire a perfect inning of relief, but Bryan King gave up a two run home to Clinton Johnson in the seventh.
The Bombers mustered only four hits on the night. Wilson Batista, Andrew Wilson and Jimmy Anderson each singled and Ryan Harvey doubled, and that was it for the Capital City offense against Justin James and pair of relievers.

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