Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mets Minor League Update: Mets Top Pitching Prospects Dominate, NewMets Start Their Careers

There  is only one week left in the minor league regular season. For some, the development on the field is coming to a close and the offseason is here, but for others, with September and expanded rosters around the corner, the excitement is just beginning.

Buffalo Bisons: 9 – 4

The Bisons have been playing some of their best ball of the season these last two weeks, a lot of which is due to some of its more high profile players.

Josh Satin has not flinched since his call-up to AAA. He is now hitting .325 in 120 at-bats with the Bisons, and a strong .342 over his last ten games. One thing he needs to work on is his power, as he only has one home run in Buffalo, after hitting 11 with AA Binghamton. Despite that, he is a player you can expect to see in Flushing when the rosters expand in September.

Another player you might see is Zach Lutz. As with many of the top players in the Mets system, Lutz has shown the tools, but he struggles mightily to stay on the field. This season he is hitting .298 with a .502 SLG, improving to a .615 slugging over his last ten games, but he has only accumulated 205 at-bats this season. He has not played 20 games in any month this season, so the Mets may prefer to keep him out in September, and then send him to either the Arizona Fall League, or winter ball.

As for an update on the recently promoted Jordany Valdespin, he started off slow in AAA but has picked it up recently. He is hitting .296 in his last six games with four extra base hits, to bring his AAA average up to .237.

Binghamton Mets: 9 – 3

Reese Havens is putting up quite the August. After a home run and three RBIs last night, he is now hitting .349, with a .440 OBP and a .540 SLG for the month. The best stat of all is that he has played in 18 of the team’s 20 games. As I have written here numerous times, a healthy Reese Havens is the Mets best long term option at second base. The Mets have to look into getting him some at bats this winter, getting him as ready as possible to compete for the second base job for next season.

The other Binghamton bopper, Juan Lagares, has “cooled off” on the Lagares scale. Over the last ten days, he hit .370, which brought his AA average DOWN to .381. He continues to hit for power, with a .587 SLG over that same period, but this offseason he needs to focus on his plate discipline and cutting down the strike outs. With 19 punch outs against only three walks, he has plenty of work to do if he wants to have continued success, especially at the higher levels.

As for the pitching, Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia continue to impress. In his last two starts, Harvey has pitched 12 IP, giving up only nine hits and three earned runs, while striking out 11 and walking only four. Familia pitches tonight, but had his best AA start his most recent outing. In six innings, he did not allow a run, and only gave up one hit while striking out seven. These two have proven themselves at the AA level, and with some more consistency, should start next season at AAA with a mid-season major league debut becoming very realistic.

Port St. Lucie Mets: 4 – 5

It has been a rough two weeks for St. Lucie, as they played three double headers and had four separate games postponed.

The top hitting prospects in St. Lucie did not do so well with the inconsistency. Both Wilmer Flores and Jefry Marte continued to hit for average, but their power numbers fell off over these last ten days, slugging .385 and .387 respectively. On a brighter note, Cory Vaughn returned from injury on Sunday, collecting two hits. Hopefully he can finish this last week off strong and continue to improve this offseason.

While the hitting has slowed down, the pitching continues to be outstanding.

Josh Edgin has been lights out. In his last ten appearances, he has five saves, throwing 13.2 innings, striking out 16 and walking only two. His ERA on the season is 1.20, and this hard throwing lefty has gained a lot of supporters in the Mets organization and around the league this season. Expect him to start next season in AA.

As for Zack Wheeler, every time I read about him, I get even more excited about the Mets and their potential future starting rotation. He started Sunday, going five innings, giving up four hits and two walks while striking out nine! His cumulative stats for his last three starts are 16 IP, with a 1.12 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP, to go along with 19 K’s against only 5 BB’s!! I could not have asked for a better first four starts as a Met.

Savannah Sand Gnats: 8 – 7

It figures that as soon as I mention Albert Cordero, he starts to slump. Over his last ten games, he is hitting .238 and slugging only .310. Even the best major league hitters have their slumps, so focus more on the positive overall second half numbers (.328 BA, .453 SLG), rather than his recent production.

Savannah’s best pitcher this season, Angel Cuan, had his worst start of the season on Sunday. Angel lasted only five innings, giving up seven runs and allowing an absurd 16 total base runners. Much like Cordero, take this start as an aberration rather than a pattern, and look forward to better results his next time on the hill.

Kingsport Mets 8-4

The two prime pitching prospects for Kingsport, Akeel Morris and Juan Urbina, each had one good and one bad outing over the past two weeks.

August 12, Morris had his worst start of the season. He lasted only one-third of an inning, allowing five runs (two earned) and walking four batters. He come back strong his next start, going six innings, and giving up one run on one hit. The best news from that start was he only gave up two walks, and considering the last time he gave up two walks or less was July 5th, it is a step in the right direction.

Urbina was the other way around. He seemed to turn a corner Aug 17th, going six innings and not allowing a single run. Pitching again last night, he started off very well with three scoreless frames, but imploded in the fourth inning, giving up six runs.

The best way to look at these two prospects is one step at a time. At such a young age, any success is something they can build on for the offseason ahead. The fact they are competing, with a fair amount of success, bodes well for their futures.

Brooklyn Cyclones: 5-3

The story of the Cyclones has been, and continues to be Danny Muno. The eighth round pick in this year’s draft is now hitting .332, placing him fifth in the league, while also being in the top ten in total bases and walks. With a great eye at the plate, as evidenced by his BB:K ratio of 33:37, he looks like a legitimate hitter, and someone to watch for in Savannah or St. Lucie next season.

Gulf Coast League Mets

For those interested in keeping track of the high profile players in this year’s draft class, watch for news on the Gulf Coast Mets. Some of the main names to keep an eye on are:

Brandon Nimmo (1st round pick – 13th overall) – Within days of signing his first contract, Nimmo was playing baseball as a Met. No matter what the results are, it is a great sign to see a kid so enthusiastic on the field, and motivated off it to become a better player. Today, he hit his first professional home run as a Met, so congratulations to Brandon and his family.

Philip Evans (15th round pick) – First off, ignore the round Evans was drafted in. Phillip received the third highest bonus of all Mets drafted (650,000), and only fell that far in the draft because of questions regarding his signability. While the Mets had to go over-slot, they got themselves a very promising short-stop. He made his professional debut yesterday, hitting behind Brandon Nimmo, and has since collected three hits in his first seven at-bats.

Michael Fulmer (1st round 44th overall) – Fulmer, 18, was drafted as a starting pitcher out of high school. He already has three appearances, piling up six strike outs in just over three innings. He is fairly active on twitter, @MFulmer12, so I’d suggest giving him a follow!

The Mets have not had this much pitching potential in their minor league system in quite some time. I keep dreaming of a Mets rotation composed of Harvey, Familia, Mejia and Wheeler and wake up with a big smile on my face. In a season where everything seems to go wrong, the future looks ever so bright.

Zach is also the author of Follow him on Twitter @zpetersel

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