6/2/20

Mike's Mets - Out of Nowhere

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One of the top blogger's in the business is back. Mack's Mets welcomes back Mike's Mets with previews of some of his recent posts.


Out of Nowhere


Sometimes a pitcher explodes onto the scene, as Matt Harvey did in 2012 or Doc Gooden in 1984, immediately staking his claim to glory. Some, like former #1 overall pick Brian Taylor, never even come within sniffing distance of the majors despite major hype as a prospect. Still others take a more circuitous route to major league success. 2005 Mets pitcher Aaron Heilman is a member of that third group.

Drafted #1 by the Mets (18 overall) in the 2001 draft out of Notre Dame University, Heilman put up decent numbers as he advanced from A ball to AAA by June 2003. Heilman was elevated to the major leagues after GM Steve Phillips was handed his walking papers that June, and it did not go well. Heilman was pummeled over 13 major league starts to the tune of a 6.75 ERA and a WHIP of 1.83. Over 65.1 innings he gave up an incredible 13 HR. It was clear that Aaron Heilman was not a major league pitchers at that point, and rather questionable that he would ever be one.

Sent back down to Triple-A Norfolk in 2004, Heilman's performance was mediocre, and he was quite bad again in 5 late-season major league starts. By the time 2005 rolled around, Heilman's career was stalled and he was no longer viewed as a prospect.

What happened that spring resurrected Aaron Heilman's career.  The 6'5" righty had pitched with a low 3/4 delivery during his successful Notre Dame career, but at some point in the Mets minor league system his arm angle was changed to more straight overhand. The change cost him both his consistent delivery and the movement off his fastball.

While working with Heilman that spring, pitching instructor Al Jackson noticed a similarity between Heilman's old delivery with the delivery of the late Don Drysdale who, like Aaron, was also a tall righty. Jackson discussed it with bullpen coach Guy Conti.  After looking at some film, they took it to pitching coach Rick Peterson. A decision was made to move Heilman back to that low 3/4 delivery, which led to the successful 2005 campaign that salvaged his career.

An injury to starter Kris Benson opened the door for Heilman to start the season as the Mets fifth starter. After all of the hype in the offseason, the Mets got off to an 0-5 start in 2005, including Heilman's initial start. He allowed 5 runs in 5 innings against the Braves, and it looked a lot like all his failed MLB starts from the previous 2 seasons. Not to mention, the natives were getting restless with the losing streak.

By the time Aaron Heilman's second start rolled around on Friday night, April 15, the Mets had calmed their fans by winning 4 in a row. It didn't look like there would be a fifth straight win, however, with the erratic Heilman slated to face Josh Becket and the Marlins. Becket was one of the best young pitchers in baseball, and was riding a 15 inning scoreless streak coming into the game.

In the top of the first, Heilman set the Marlins down on 3 ground balls. The Mets put an end to Becket's scoreless streak in the bottom of the frame with a couple of unearned runs. Heilman quickly navigated the second by striking out Carlos Delgado and inducing 2 more ground ball outs. I remember watching that game and thinking to myself that his stuff looked electric, both his fastball and changeup showing great movement. Still, after a couple of seasons of watching Aaron Heilman pitch, the  question seemed to be not if but when it would all fall apart.

Becket held the Mets at bay in the second. Heilman followed in the third by sandwiching a pair of Ks around another groundball out. The Mets squandered a pair of baserunners in the bottom of the frame. It seemed ominous at the time to waste a scoring chance against Becket.

The top of the fourth went bad quickly as Heilman hit Juan Pierre with a pitch. Pierre stole second, then moved to third on Luis Castillo's infield hit. There were 2 on, no outs, and the heart of the Marlins order coming up. I mentally prepared for the worst. Heilman dodged a bullet when Miguel Cabrera lined out to Chris Woodward at 3B. Delgado followed with a short fly to Beltran in CF that failed to advance Pierre. The crowd got noisy as Heilman faced Mike Lowell with a chance to emerge unscathed. Heilman coaxed another groundball, forcing Castillo at second, and Heilman walked off to an ovation from relieved fans.

Becket got the Mets 1-2-3 in his half of the fourth. Heilman worked around a 2-out walk in the fifth. At one point Fran Healey, calling the game on TV, noted that Heilman was dominating the Marlins. He sounded as if he didn't believe it himself.

The Mets finally touched up Becket again for a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth on Mike Piazza's 2-run double. With a 4-0 lead, the question became how much longer Heilman could keep the Marlins off the board.

In the sixth, Heilman walked Luis Castillo with one out, but then induced an inning-ending double play from Cabrera. In the seventh he got a bit of a scare when, with 1 out, Mike Lowell hit a ball to deep center, but Beltran tracked it down. Heilman struck out Paul Lo Duca looking to end the frame. The top of the eighth passed quickly as Heilman struck out the side.

As Heilman took the mound in the top of the ninth, the remaining drama was whether Aaron Heilman could finish his one-hit shutout. He got Juan Pierre leading off the inning on a flyout to Beltran, bringing up Luis Castillo, whose infield single in the fourth stood as the lone hit for the Marlins. Castillo worked a full count and then drew a walk. With Miguel Cabrera at the plate, Heilman got ahead with a strike, then induced another ground ball that turned into an easy 6-4-3 double play. Game over.

Aaron Heilman entered that game as a failed prospect, with a lifetime major league record of 3-11 and an ERA over 6. By the time he walked off the mound 2 hours and 21 minutes later, he had a future again.

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2012 Draft Recap

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As we head towards the 2020 MLB Draft, we are going to detail the last ten years of Mets drafts.  Today, we look at 2012.

The Astros drafted Carlos Correa #1 and after has put a 24.5 WAR in 5 seasons.  I am sure the Astros are very happy with this pick. 

The Mets picked Gavin Cecchini in the first round, 12th pick overall.  Gavin was signed as a minor league free agent by the Arizona Diamondbacks and was released last week as part of the D-Backs release of 62 minor leaguers.  

The Mets also drafted Kevin Plawecki in the supplemental 1st round, Corey Oswalt in the 7th round, Tomas Nido in the 8th round, Paul Sewald in the 10th round, and Chris Flexen in the 14th round. 

The full Mets list is below. 

Here are some other notable picks:

1st Round: #6 Chicago Cubs, Albert Almora OF; #10 Colorado, David Dahl, OF; #11 Oakland, Addison Russell, SS; #16 Washington, Lucas Giolito (Mack thought this is who the Mets would take); # 18 LA Dodgers, Corey Seager, SS;

#19 St. Louis, Michael Wacha, RHP; 22 Toronto, Marcus Stroman, RHP;   

Supplemental 1st Round: #32 Minnesota, Jose Berrios, RHP; #36 St. Louis, Stephen Piscotty, 3B; #38 Milwaukee, Mitch Haniger, OF; #39 Texas, Joey Gallo, 3B; #41 Houston, Lance McCullers, RHP;

2nd Round: # 76 Chicago White Sox, Chris Beck; # 85 Atlanta, Alex Wood, LHP; #87 Boston, Jamie Callahan, RHP;

3rd Round: # 98 Seattle, Edwin Diaz, RHP;

4th Round: #135 San Diego, Walker Lockett, RHP;

5th Round: # 169 Oakland, Max Muncy, 1B;

6th Round: # 213 Arizona, Jacob Lamb, 3B, Washington;

Round
Pick #
Name
Pos
1
12
SS
1s
35
Kevin Plawecki 
C
2
71
Matt Reynolds 
3B
2
75
Teddy Stankiewicz 
RHP
3
107
Matt Koch 
RHP
4
140
Branden Kaupe 
SS
5
170
Brandon Welch 
RHP
6
200
Jayce Boyd 
1B
7
230
Corey Oswalt 
RHP
8
260
Tomas Nido 
C
9
290
Richie Rodriguez 
2B
10
320
Paul Sewald 
RHP
11
350
Logan Taylor 
RHP
12
380
Rob Whalen 
RHP
13
410
Matt Bowman 
RHP
14
440
Chris Flexen 
RHP
15
470
Nick Grant 
RHP
16
500
Myles Smith 
RHP
17
530
Stefan Sabol 
C
18
560
Paul Paez 
LHP
19
590
Tyler Vanderheiden 
RHP
20
620
Tim Peterson 
RHP
21
650
Gary Ward 
LHP
22
680
Tejay Antone 
RHP
23
710
Connor Baits 
RHP
24
740
Andrew Massie 
RHP
25
770
Leon Byrd 
2B
26
800
Chris Shaw 
1B
27
830
Zach Arnold 
C
28
860
Jake Marks 
RHP
29
890
Austin Barr 
C
30
920
Dustin Cook 
RHP
31
950
Vance Vizcaino 
SS
32
980
Jon Leroux 
1B
33
1010
Jared Price 
RHP
34
1040
Mikey White 
SS
35
1070
Brad Markey 
RHP
36
1100
Donovan Walton 
SS
37
1130
Benny Distefano 
C
38
1160
Jeff Reynolds 
3B
39
1190
Patrick Ervin 
2B
40
1220
David Gonzalez 
RHP


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Mack's Mets © 2012