Monday, April 24, 2006

Mets Minor League Report 4-24-2006

I’m preparing for my first Mets game of the season tonight at Telecom Park in SF by spending some time with the minor leaguers.

Norfolk

Lastings Milledge earned the International League Batter of the Week honors for his torrid April 17-23rd run. In the week, he hit .550 with a home run and 2 RBI. He’s hit in eight straight games and is now hitting .400/.526/.633 (AVG/OBP/SLG). His rank in the IL in the three categories: #4/#1/#3.

Heath Bell’s four saves tie him for third in the IL and his 2.25 ERA leads Norfolk. He’s struck out 14 and walked three in 8 IP. He’s also bounced 3 WP.

The rest of the team continues to struggle. The Tides split a doubleheader Sunday, but have dropped four of their last five and seven of their last nine games.

Jose Lima pitched the Tides to their only win of the weekend, a 1-0 defeat of Richmond. He fired off six shutout innings and allowed just three hits. He struck out six without walking a batter. Richmond is second to last in the IL in batting average (.229) and second from the bottom in runs scored (47). Only the Tides have lower team batting average (.228).

Binghamton

Jorge Padilla was named the Eastern League’s hitter of the week for the week ending April 23rd. The 26-year old Puerto Rican was 11-for-21 with a HR and 2 2B for a .524 AVG and .762 SLG. He’s now hitting .377/.431/.623, ranking him 1/3/5 in the league respectively. Padilla was originally a 3rd round pick of the Phillies in 1998 out of Florida Air Academy High School. After spending most of the last two seasons in AAA with Scranton/WB, the Mets signed him as a free agent this winter.

The rest of the Eastern League leaderboard is speckled with Mets. Brett Harper’s .373/.448/.492 line puts him third in the league in AVG and atop the charts in OBP. Carlos Gomez’s nine SB tie him for third in the league. Gomez has hit .221/.329/.294 through 17 games.

The B-Mets lost two of three to Erie over the weekend including a 15-4 shellacking Sunday. Tim McNab, who led Binghamton with 44 appearances in 2005, made his AA debut Sunday and gave up five runs on six hits in just two innings. Binghamton, like Norfolk, has lost four of its last five.

Evan MacLane earned the only win for Binghamton over the weekend for his four run, five inning performance Friday. Anderson Garcia, who celebrated his 25th birthday Sunday was one hit away from perfection in working the final four innings for his first save of the season. His 1.26 ERA leads the B-Mets and places him fifth in the league.

St. Lucie

St. Lucie lost 3-0 to Palm Beach Friday, but beat Brevard County 7-3 on Sunday afternoon to improve to 10-6. Jose Sanchez, who got I believe is the same Jose Sanchez who got lit in seven appearances in the California League last year with the San Jose Giants, following a solid performance in the SAL League, dealt five two run innings Sunday to pick up the win. He struck out three and walked three in lowering his ERA to 1.23, sixth in the league.

Four St. Lucie Mets are among the League’s top 10 in ERA: #3 Alay Soler (1-0, 0.60), #4 Michael Pelfrey (1-1, 1.13), #6 Jose Sanchez (2-0, 1.23) and #7 Michael Devaney (0-1, 1.32). The best secondary numbers belong to Pelfrey who has struck out 18 an walked one in 16 innnings.

In a very encouraging development, Ambio Concepcion (.348/.411/.455) is tied for second in the league in 2B (7) and is tied for third in SB (7) and hits (23). Already on the Mets 40 man roster, Concepcion has already walked 7 times, a dramatic increase over last year when he drew 22 free passes in 130 games in Hagerstown on his way to a .251/.289/.413.

Hagerstown

After not completing Friday’s game, the Suns dropped two one run games to the Lake County Captains to slip back to 2 games under .500 at 7-9. The Suns are tied for fifth place in the eight team SAL North, 3.5 games behind the Lexington Legends.

Fernando Martinez, Baseball America’s #4 prospect in the Mets organization is making that ranking look good with a .328/.403/.552 start. He already has 6 2B and 2 3B

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Mets Minor League Report 4-18-2006

Some very good friends took my mom to Shea to see Pedro win #200. I’m a little jealous. Pedro called the win, “one of the biggest things to happen” in his career. He reported feeling “light all day.” His press conferences are awesome.

Stars of the Day:

AAA: Lastings Milledge

AA: Brett Harper/Miguel Perez

A+: Jesus Florez/Alay Soler

Norfolk 3, @ Scranton/WB 13

Jose Lima was tattooed for 9 runs, all earned on 11 hits in four innings. Scranton/WB hung a six spot on the board in the first inning. Royce Ring lasted only .1 of an inning and gave up four runs on three hits.

Lastings Milledge launched his first HR of the year, and along with a double had a 2-2 night with two walks. He was the only Tide with two hits.

Binghamton 3, @ New Hampshire 0

Thirty-year old Miguel Perez blanked the ‘cats on two hits through seven innings. Henry Owens picked up his fourth save with a strikeout in the ninth.

The B-Mets did all of their scoring in the fourth. Brett Harper, who was 3-4 singled home a pair in the inning. Harper raised his average to .421.

St. Lucie 12, Daytona 3

The Mets turned a 2-1 heading into the sixth into a laugher with five run innings in the sixth and eighth innings. Ambio Concepcion led the offensive charge from the top of the order with a 4-6 night with 2 doubles and three runs scored. Jesus Flores had his best night of the season by drilling three doubles as part of a 4-5 evening. All told St. Lucie had seven doubles on the night.

Alay Soler lowered his ERA to 0.60 with 5 innings of one run ball. He fanned six and walked one while allowing three hits. I’m as happy with the one walk as I am with the one run, as he seems to be conquering his control issues.

Edgar Alfonzo picked up the three inning save while giving up two runs, but whiffing six ‘lil Cubbies.

Hagerstown

OFF. Begin an 8 game homestand starting with West Virginia Tuesday.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Mets Minor League Report 4-17-2006

Isn’t it nice to know you root for the best team in baseball?

Last Wednesday, I broadcast a California League record. My team, the Visalia Oaks, became the third team in League history to hit 8 HR in a game in a 17-15 win over the Bakersfield Blaze. Shortstop Reid Brignac had 3, and 8 RBI. He said it was the first time in his life he’d ever hit 3 roundtrippers in a game. The other two times teams to hit 8 HR in a game did it on consecutive days on August 14th, and 15th,1999. Yup, it’s minor league minutiae time.

Norfolk

Since I last wrote, the Tides are 1-4. In their losses, they have scored 2 or 3 runs in every game, and allowed between 5 and 8. Norfolk is now 3-8.

Kaz Matsui is 1-4.

Two guys have had standout games over this stretch: Jeremi Gonzalez, who was a NRI to spring training threw 7 shutout innings on Wednesday night. He struck out nine and walked just one. Jeff Keppinger had a big night in the Tides win Friday with a 3-4 night and 3 runs scored.

There is really good news for me in Norfolk’s first 11 games. The three guys who have the greatest potential to help the Mets in 2006 and beyond, Jeff Keppinger, Heath Bell and Lastings Milledge are all off to good starts. Kepp and Bell fall into the helping in 2006 category while Milledge is in the beyond. I think Keppinger and Bell should be on the Mets roster right now, but I’d be willing to bet they will be by June. Keppinger is hitting .323/.436/.355 (AVG/OBP/SLG). His only extra base hit is a double, but he’s drawn 7 walks while striking out just once! Bell (0-0, 2.08) has struck out eight without giving up a walk in 4.1 IP. Milledge is hitting .325/.404/.475 and leads the team with 4 2B, 7 R, and is the only Tide with a 3B.

Binghamton

The B-Mets are 3-2 in their last five, although they dropped two of three to Portland over the weekend.

Some big offensive lines for B-Mets hitters so far. Twenty-fiver year old catcher Andy Wilson, an NRI to big league camp following MVP honors in St. Lucie a year ago, is getting on base like it’s his job: .300/.404/.350. Baseball America notes that scouts wonder whether Wilson can catch at the big league level, and compares him to Kevin Millar. The previous year’s St. Lucie MVP, Brett Harper leads the team with 5 doubles propelling him to a .382/.475/.529. Harper’s 36 bombs a year ago were good for third in all of minor league baseball. Jonathan Slack, a career .258 hitter in four minor league seasons is off to a big start bopping along to .360/.433/.560 with 3 2B and a triple in 9 games. Aren’t early stats fun?

Not so fun is Carlos Gomez’s start. The youngster is hitting but .186/.321/.279 in 43 AB. He’s already stolen 7 bases and been caught twice, but he’s struck out 9 times already.

Henry Owens continues to dominate. He’s faced 25 hitters and struck out 16 and hasn’t yet given up a hit or a run.

Twenty-six year old Willie Collazo has been untouchable in 12 innings. He hasn’t given up a run or a walk yet and just five hits while punching out nine. Last year in Salt Lake, the Angels AA affiliate he was 0-1, 7.71 ERA in just 23 IP. His best ERA at AA or better is 3.66 in Greenville in 2003. Can anyone who watched him throw for PR in the WBC offer any comments?

St. Lucie

The FSL Mets are 8-2 and trail the Brevard County Manatees by a game in the FSL East. The Mets have won 3 in a row, 5 of 6 and hold a league leading 1.76 ERA. Alay Soler has thrown 10 innings without giving up a run. The good news is that he’s given up only five hits, and struck out 11. The bad news is that his control has been erratic.

Pelfrey has been perfect.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Mets Minor League Report 4-12-2006

Stars of the Day:

AAA: Jose Lima/Chase Lambin

AA: Jay Caligiuri

A+: Mike Pelfrey**

A: Jonathan Niese/Rafael Arroyo

Norfolk 6, Buffalo 4

Jose Lima recovered from a disastrous first start and dealt six one run, four hit innings. Bartolome Fortunato was rocked for 3 runs in .2 of an inning in the eighth, but Heath Bell came in and shut the door with the bases loaded. Bell struck out 3 in his 1.1 IP.

Chase Lambin was the only Tide with 2 hits. He scored twice and drove in a run. Chris Basak continued his fine start in a 1-3 night with a walk and a run scored. Lastings Milledge was 1-3 with a double and a walk.

Tide Corey Aldridge was thrown out at the plate, and called out when he was ruled to have pulled the ball out of Buffalo catcher Einar Diaz’s mitt. Aldridge credited playing lots of ping-pong recently for quickening his hand speed!

Binghamton 8, Reading 7

Jay Caligiuri drove home Carlos Gomez with the winning run with two out in the bottom of the ninth on the 11th pitch of an excellent AB. The Mets fell behind by five runs, rallied to take a 6-5 lead in the eighth, only to Reading retake the lead in the top of the 9th, setting up Caligiuri’s heroics. Caligiuri finished the game 3-4 with 2 2B, 2 R, and the game winning RBI. Corey Ragsdale was 2-4. Gomez was 1-4 with a SB in the ninth.

Reading jumped on B-Mets starter Evan MacLane for 5 runs, all earned in five innings. MacLane still fanned 6 while walking just one and retired the final nine batters he faced. Reading scored a run in the top of the first, ending the B-Mets starting pitchers scoreless innings streak at 26.

St. Lucie 4, Dayftona 1

Mike Pelfrey was dominant over six innings allowing four hits and an unearned run while punching out seven Cubs without issuing a walk. In 13 FSL innings, Pelfrey has allowed but 6 hits, and struck out 13 batters with one walk. It’s early, but it’s very good.

The southern Mets had just four hits, and scored a pair of unearned runs. Jesus Flores doubled home a run in a 1-4 night. The top three batters in the order, Ambio Concepcion, Jose Coronado, and Shawn Bowman each scored a run.

Hagerstown 3, Lakewood 2

Jonathan Niese, last June’s 7th round pick, struck out five in five innings. He allowed two unearned runs and three hits in earning his first win of the year. Two non-drafted free agents, Brandon Nall and Joseph Serfass each contributed 2 scoreless innings of relief.

Fernando Martinez, he of the $1.4 million bonus, was 1-3 with a 2B, walk and a run. Catcher Rafael Arroyo, the 24th round pick in 2004, was the only Sun with two hits. He added a double and an RBI.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Mets Minor League Report 4-11-2006

Stars of the Day:

AAA: Yusaku Iriki

AA: Bryan Edwards

A+: Ambio Concepcion/Electrons

A: Leivi Ventura, Drew Butera

Norfolk 7, Buffalo 1

The Tides won their first game of the season behind five scoreless innings from Yusaku Iriki. He struck out five walked to, and allowed just one hit: a single to Bisons prospect and Stanford alum Ryan Garko.

Offensively, Lastings Milledge was 1-2, but drove home two runs and scored two. He was plunked on the shoulder twice, and reported that “it’ll be pretty sore in the morning” in the Virginian-Pilot’s game story. Joe Hietpas added a pair of hits in a 2-4 night. Sandy Martinez supplied 3 RBI and a two run HR.

Binghamton 5, Reading

Binghamton is off to a strong 4-1 start. Monday, Bryan Edwards extended the starting pitchers’ scoreless innings streak to 26 with six shutout innings. No Binghamton started has allowed a run, earned or unearned yet. Edwards gave up just two hits, while fanning three and walking one. Ryan Cullen dodged four hits in working a scoreless final three innings.

Twenty-year old Carlos Gomez, who’s struggled to a 3-for-21 start, led off the first inning with a single, stole second and scored on Brett Harper’s RBI single. Harper was 2-3 with 2 RBI. Corey Ragsdale was 2-4 with his first homer of the year, a solo shot.

Jorge Padilla won Sunday’s 15 inning game with a walk-off HR, his only longball of the year. He has a team best 5 RBI.

Converted catcher Henry Owens, who was Rule 5ed from the Pirates in 2004 and added the 40-man roster over the winter has been completely dominating in his four innings so far. He hasn’t given up a hit, and has struck out 10!

Baseball America ranked Gomez as the #3 prospect in the Mets system prior to the season. Although “some in the organization think his raw tools might be better than Milledge’s” he is still very much a work in progress. The Mets are challenging him with this assignment to AA. Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus had this to say about the assignment Friday morning:

The Mets have done little to hide their enthusiasm for Gomez, a 20-year-old Dominican with all five tools. Still, having him skip the Florida State League seems like a reach for Gomez, as his speed (64 stolen bases in 2005) is the only tool that has shown up in games so far. He was 1-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base last night, but he hit just .275/.331/.376 last year at Low Class A Hagerstown--not exactly the kind of numbers that suggest he's ready for this kind of push.

I think Goldstein pretty much nailed this one. What’s the rush?

Daytona 3, St. Lucie 5 (Top of the 9th)

In true minor league baseball style, this game has been suspended with a runner on and one out in the top of the ninth, because of a power outage.

Ambio Concepcion was 2-3 with a run and an RBI. Alhaji Turay was 2-4 with a 2B, a run and an RBI

23 year-old Michael Devaney gave up two runs, one earned in four innings in his first start of the year.

Alay Soler (5 IP, 0 R, 4 H, 3 BB, 5 K) had a mixed start over the weekend. Soler belongs in the FSL for now.

Jesus Flores, who missed the first half of last season and then struggled last summer in Hagerstown (.216/.250/.339) is off to a 1-12 start. Like Gomez, the Mets are pushing Flores a little bit with the St. Lucie assignment.

Hagerstown 8, Lakewood 7

The Suns slugged their way to their first win Monday. Leivi Ventura led the way to the promised land with a 3-4 night that included two doubles. Catcher Drew Butera was 2-4, with 2 RBI.

Friday, April 07, 2006

4/6 - Opening Night!!

Evan MacLane and Mike Pelfrey rolled. I was fired up to be back in the broadcasting booth for an 11 inning game that ended on a wild pitch. Opening night=good times.

Stars:

AAA: BJ Upton

AA: Evan Maclane/Brett Harper

A+: Mike Pelfrey

Durham 8, Norfolk 0

The Tides managed just five hits all night, and three off DRays prospect Jason Hammel in his five innings of work. Lastings Milledge had a hit and Juan Tejeda, who the Mets signed from the Tigers in December, had two.

Jose Lima, Mitch Wylie and Steve Schmoll were all ineffective. This is an excellent Durham lineup. BJ Upton, Delmon Young and Elijah Dukes go 2-5 and were a combined 6 for 14. All will be in big leagues sooner rather than later.

The mayor was in the house. Also, Jose Lima sang God Bless America during the seventh inning stretch.

Akron 0, Binghamton 3

Evan MacLane, who checks in a #30 on BA’s Mets prospect dominated the Aeros. He limited them to just two hits in five shutout innings. He fanned five and did not issue a walk.

Twenty-six year old Wilson Batista was 2-4 with a double, a triple and n RBI. Brett Harper had three hits as well with a RBI.

Vero Beach 0, St. Lucie 1

As good as Evan MacLane was, he was overshadowed by Mike Pelfrey on Opening Night. Pelfrey’s pro debut was _____________ (thrilling, exciting, tantalizing, or pick your own word). He dealt 5 scoreless innings allowing two weak hits with six strikeouts and one walk.

Alhaji Turay drove home Shawn Bowman with the Florida Mets only run.

Hagerstown 7, @ Greensboro 11

1B Nick Evans had a big 3-5 night with a homerun and 3 RBI. Jose Castro had a double and 2 RBI in his 3-5 night.

Niese, Marte, Brown, and Schemmel were each Jose Lima-type ineffective.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Roster Time!

Rosters for the full season minor league teams came trickling out this week with Opening Day on Thursday. This is absolutely the most hectic week in the life of a minor baseball staffer. The games bring a sweet rhythm but this week is a mad dash.

Norfolk

C: Sandy Martinez

1B: Juan Tejeda

2B: Jeff Keppinger

SS: Chris Basak

3B: Chase Lambin

OF: Lastings Milledge, Cory Aldridge, Julio Ramirez, Todd Self

SP: Jason Scobie, John Main, Jose Lima, Jeremi Gonzalez
BP: Steve Schmoll, Heath Bell, Royce Ring, Tim LaVigne

Note: I have 17 of 25 roster spots accounted for.

Binghamton

C: Andy Wilson/Yunir Garcia

1B: Brett Harper

2B: Wilson Batista

SS: Corey Ragsdale

3B: Jay Caligiuri

OF: Carlos Gomez, Bobby Malek, Jorge Padilla, Jonathan Slack

SP: Vincent Cordova, Evan MacLane, Orlando Roman, Miguel Pinango, Bryan Edwards
BP: Eddie Camacho, Willie Collazo, Ryan Cullen, Ivan Maldonado, Tim McNab, Miguel Perez, Luz Portobanco, Henry Owens

Notes: Evan MacLane starts opening day. Also, it was really, really cold in Binghamton for the B-Mets first workout.

St. Lucie

C: Aaron Hathaway/Sean McCraw

1B: Mike Carp

2B: Blake Whealy/Emanuel Garcia

SS: Ryan Coultas/Russ Triplett

3B: Shawn Bowman/Tyler Davidson

OF: Alhaji Turay, Jamar Hill, Derran Watts, Corey Coles

SP: Alay Soler, Philip Humber, Michael Pelfrey, Michael Devaney, Michael Swindell
BP: Daniel Foley, Tim Worthington, Greg Ramirez, Shane Hawk, Chuck Smith, Greg Belson, Carlos Muniz, Rafael Cova, Blake Eager, Marcelo Perez, Jose Sanchez

Notes: A stacked rotation featuring three Mikes should make for an interesting race to AA.

Hagerstown

C: Rafael Arroyo, Andrew Butera, Joan Martinez

1B: Nick Evans

2B: Jose Castro

SS: Jonathan Schemmel, Hector Pellot

3B: Leivi Ventura, Matt Anderson

OF: Fernando Martinez, Elvis Cruz, Jonel Pacheco, Jonathan Sanchez

P: Sal Aguilar, Josh Appell, Eric Brown, Jeff Landing, German Marte, Wagner Mateo, Ryan Meyers, Brandon Nall, Jacobo Neguilis, Jorge Reyes, Joe Serfass, Kevin Tomasiewicz

Notes: I didn’t spend the time to differentiate between starters and relievers in Hagerstown. Add another thing to my to-do list.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

4/3 - MLB Opening Day

Opening day really should be a national holiday. I hope 2006 turns out to be very special.


Monday, the minor league rosters should start to filter out.

In honor of the Big Leaguers Opening Day, I thought I’d analyze the lineup that Willie Randolph said he would use in the opener. The lineup read: Reyes, Lo Duca, Beltran, Delgado, Wright, Floyd, Nady and then Hernandez. I’ve put Diaz, who’s deserves to play this year, in the chart below as well. The OBP, SLG are the weighted mean projections from Baseball Prospectus’s PECOTA forecasting system. Essentially, they’re a “best guess.” MLVr is Marginal Lineup Value, Rate. My favorite way to think about it is that it represents the number of runs a hitter could be expected to contribute above replacement level per game.

OBP

SLG

MLVr

Reyes

0.317

0.397

-0.068

Lo Duca

0.328

0.374

-0.086

Beltran

0.365

0.479

0.122

Delgado

0.378

0.525

0.198

Wright

0.385

0.530

0.233

Floyd

0.359

0.485

0.113

Nady

0.332

0.448

0.021

Diaz

0.329

0.466

0.037

Hernandez

0.309

0.351

-0.157

Why is Lo Duca batting second? He projects to have the third lowest OBP of the starters, the second lowest SLG and the second worst overall production by MLVr. Why not move the Beltran through RF section of the lineup up a spot, and drop Lo Duca to seventh?

The Mets announced late last week that Minor League Field Coordinator Tony Tijerina will be the interim manager in Norfolk to begin the season while Ken Oberkfell recovers from complications surrounding surgery. He originally had surgery on February 15th to remove blood clots in his leg and had a second procedure “to alleviate discomfort” (per the Tides Website) on March 23rd. Tijerina has been in the Mets organization for 16 years, including six as a minor league player.