8/25/19

August 24th Transactions and Kudos: Tomas Nido, Josh Wolf, Matt Allen

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Ernest Dove - @ernestdove

Down on the farm – St. Lucie OF Wagner Lagrange now through 30 games played with club:

.300/.366/.445/.811   11 BB   18 K


Mets RP Edwin Diaz last last night games with 'trap tightness".


New York Mets C Tomas Nido laced on the 7 day IL for concussion protocol after being struck in the head with a bat Friday night.


AAA-Syracuse C Rene Rivera recalled by the Mets

      Rivera has 25-HR and 73-RBIs for Syracuse this season


The corresponding move was to DFA OF Aaron Altherr.


The Mets activated IF/OF Jeff McNeill


AAA-Syracuse activated C Colton Plaia off of the IL list


A-Columbia activated C Hayden Senger after his 2-game suspension


C Zak Whelan was transferred fro A-Columbia to Rookie-Kingsport



Kudos –
     
AAA-Syracuse – RP Nick Rumbelow: 1.2-IP, 0-R, 0.00


AA-Binghamton – SS Andres Gimenez: 1-4, R, 8th HR

      The powers developing.


A+ St. Lucie – RP Carlos Hernandez: 2-IP, 0-R, 3-K


A-Columbia – 1B Chase Chambers: 2-5, R, 2-RBI


Low-A Brooklyn – RP Corey Garconi: 3-IP, 0-R, 3-K


Rookie-Kingsport – C Francisco Alvarez: 2-4, 2-R, 2-HR, 2-RBI, .288


             GCL – Interesting 1-2 starter/piggy punch…

                  SP Josh Wolf: 2-IP, 0-R, 4-K, 3.38

                  Piggy Matt Allen: 2-IP, 0-R, 3-K, 1.08

Obviously the Mets goal here was to get the maximum look/see at these two future stars of the game before the season ends.

4-IP, 7-K… I’ll take it.


            DSL-1 – SP Williams Valencia: 5-IP, 0-R, 2-K

           
DSL-2 – SP Alan Ramirez: 5-IP, 0-R, 4-K

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John From Albany - Mets Minor league playoff races to watch this week

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One week left in the minor league season and two Mets teams who play in New York State have a legitimate shot of making the playoffs, The Brooklyn Cyclones and the Syracuse Mets. 

After 9 straight wins, Syracuse fell to Rochester last night, 6-2.  Even though the Syracuse Mets honored one of their former players who is now on the Rochester Red Wings with a video before the game (you really should look at this link), Rochester did not cut Syracuse any slack and scored 2 runs in three successive innings (3rd, 4th, 5th) to take a 6-0 lead against Ervin Santana.  The Mets bullpen held the Red Wings scoreless from there featuring 1.2 shutout innings from Nick Rumblelow in his Mets debut and another 1.1 shutout innings from Matt Blackham who lowered his ERA to 1.35. 

Luckily, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre also lost fell to Lehigh Valley 7-3 on Saturday, leaving the Mets 1.5 games back.  After they wrap up their series with Rochester this week, The Mets are home for 4 games against the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (Phillies affiliate) before heading to Rochester for 4 with the Red Wings (Twins affiliate).  Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders (Yankees affiliate) travels to Pawtucket to play the Red Sox before heading home next weekend to play the Buffalo Bisons. 

The Mets have been 9-1 over the last ten games while the Rail Riders have been 5-5.  If this trend can continue, the Mets will make the playoffs.  However, with two of the Mets' best hitters this year, Rajai Davis and Rene Rivera, now in Queens, it could be tough.
PC - Ed Delany

My suggestion?  Bring up Patrick Mazieka and Andres Gimenez from Binghamton to join the other Rumble Ponies recently called up to Syracuse, Ali Sanchez, Sam Haggerty, and Jason Krizan.  This would give the Mets some reinforcements while also giving these players some pennant race experience.

The Brooklyn Cyclones have been one of the best and most exciting teams in the New York Penn League and the Mets Minor League system all yearHighlighted by Wilmer Reyes, Yoel Romero, Jose Peroza, Jake Mangum, and solid pitching, Brooklyn has been right behind the Hudson Valley Renegades (Rays affiliate) for the division lead.  After last night's 6-5 loss to the Connecticut Tigers, Brooklyn remained one game out tied with the Aberdeen Iron Birds (Orioles affiliate).  

Brooklyn starts a three home game series with the Vermont Lake Monsters (A’s affiliate) this week, then goes to Aberdeen for three before wrapping up the season with 3 against the Staten Island Yankees. 

The crazy thing is that only 2 games separate all four teams in the McNamara division as the SI Yankees are in last place just a game behind the Cyclones and the Iron Birds and two games behind the Renegades.  Also, while the Renegades and Cyclones have been about .500 over the last ten games, the Yankees and Iron birds have each won 7 out of 10. 

This is Syracuse’s first year as a Mets franchise and it will be great to give that dedicated fan base a playoff series.  Brooklyn is trying to make the playoffs for the first time in seven years.  It is an exciting circumstance at any level.  Here’s hoping they can both make it happen.  
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Draft News

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MLB.com has these three guys as their top college prospects in the upcoming June 2020 draft:

1.     Emerson Hancock, RHP, Georgia

Hancock has several similarities to 2018 No. 1 overall pick Casey Mize as a Southeastern Conference right-hander who pounds the strike zone with a deep repertoire and missed some time with physical issues as a sophomore. He has top-of-the-rotation upside with a fastball that reaches 98 mph, a slider that can be an out pitch, a changeup that shows flashes of becoming a plus offering and an effective curveball. He allowed a total of eight runs in his first 10 starts last spring but didn't dominate as much after missing two weeks with a lat issue.

2.      Spencer Torkelson, 1B, Arizona State

Like Vaughn, Torkelson generates almost all of his value with his bat but will go near the top of the Draft because he generates a lot of value at the plate. He's not a much of a pure hitter as Vaughn but may have more right-handed pop -- he broke Barry Bonds' Sun Devils freshman home run record with 25 in 2018, then encored with 22 homers last spring.

3.     Austin Martin, 3B, Vanderbilt

Martin had a sophomore year to remember, leading the SEC in hitting (.392) and on-base percentage (.486) while helping the Commodores win their second national title. The best pure hitter in the college crop, he has great feel for the barrel and developing power from the right side of the plate plus the versatility to play solid defense at multiple positions -- perhaps even shortstop.

As for the high school kids…

1.     Jared Kelley, RHP, Refugio (Texas) HS

Kelley was in the discussion for best high school pitcher at the beginning of the summer and cemented his spot atop this list with a dominant three-inning performance at the Area Code Games, where he worked from 94-98 mph while striking out six in three innings. He generates premium velocity with ease and has a quality changeup he'll throw in any count, though his low-80s slider could use more consistency.

2.     Mick Abel, RHP, Jesuit HS (Portland, Ore.)

Abel would have ranked No. 1 on this list if his stuff didn't dip slightly in August, though that's somewhat understandable because he spent three weeks at the Prospect Development Pipeline League in June while Kelley skipped that event. Abel's more projectable than Kelley at 6-foot-5 and 185 pounds, has a fluid delivery that yields plenty of strikes and shows flashes of three plus pitches (93-95 mph fastball with downhill plane, 82-86 mph slider, deceptive 86-88 mph changeup with tumble) when he's fresh.

3.     Austin Hendrick, OF, West Allegheny HS (Imperial, Pa.)

Hendrick clearly has established himself as the top high school position prospect at this point, pounding the ball all summer and showing the best bat speed and raw power in the class. He'll need to get better against off-speed pitches but he fits the right-field profile perfectly with his huge left-handed pop and strong arm.


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8/24/19

August 23rd Transactions and Kudos: Friday’s game, Tom Brady, Harol Gonzalez, Michel Otanez

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One thing about last night’s root canal loss.

It’s one thing to go out there and have a collective bad game, losing by, oh say, 11-3. You shrug that off as a bad night and move on.

The tough part about last night was the complete loss of our offense, especially from the bottom of the 9th through 13th.

5 innings where all we needed was one batter to cross the plate and we all go home with a smile on our face.

Silver lining… Philly and the Cubs lost


Michael Baron - @michaelgbaron

Mets starting pitchers in the 2nd half own a 2.70 ERA, the 2nd best mark in MLB/NL.

The starting pitchers own a combined 6.8 WAR in the second half, the most in MLB.

Jeurys Familia:  (written before last night's game)

-1.64 ERA with four hits allowed, seven walks and 13 strikeouts in 11 games in August.

-Has a 2.76 ERA in his last 20 relief appearances.

PC - David Rubin 

New England Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady was died his request to patent the term “Tom Teriffic”.

      Give me a friggin’ break.

      Stick to throwing footballs Tom or we’ll come up there and whip your arse a third time in the Super Bowl.


A-Columbia OF Jose Medina was transferred to A+ St. Lucie.


3B Mark Vientos was activated from the A-Columbia IL


OF Jose Miquel Medina has been promoted to A+ St. Lucie from A-Columbia

      The 22-year old Medina has hit .306 in his last 10 games


Kudos –

     
PC - Howard Kaplan
AAA-Syracuse - SP Harol Gonzalez: 7-IP, ER, 3-K WIN (4-0), .267

Wow! What a turnaround from a 1-16, 4.80 season last year for St.Lucie/Bing/Vegas.

Returning him to blue status and raising him to a possible SP5 candidate in next year’s Mets rotation.


AA-Binghamton – SP Mickey Jannis: 8-IP, 0-R, 5-K


A+ St. Lucie – RP Darwin Ramos: 2-IP, 0-R, K, 0.74


A-Columbia – LF Guillermo Granadillo: 3-4, 2-R


PC - Ed Delany

Low-A Brooklyn – SP Michel Otanez: 4.1-IP, 0-R,3-K, 2.49

The problem here is that he is already 22/yrs. old, after spending one season on the shelf and debuting on the DSL team in 2016.


Rookie-Kingsport – RP Hector Rodriguez: 2.2-IP, 0-R, 6-K
             

            DSL-1 – RP Yeily Encarnacion: 3.1-IP,0-R, 7-K, 0.00

           
DSL-2 – 3B Jose Rivera: 2-4, .297



             
     

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John From Albany - Syracuse wins their ninth in a row!

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There is another Mets team in the playoff hunt, the Syracuse Mets.  On August 13th, after a 9-6 loss to the Durham Bulls, the Syracuse Mets were 59-61 and 6 games out of first place.  

Since then they have won 9 straight games and have pulled to a game and a half behind the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders (the Yankees AAA affiliate) with a 68-61 record. 

What has been the biggest reason for the turnaround?  Pitching.  Especially starting pitching.  Corey Oswalt and Drew Gagnon have each recently won International League Pitcher of the week awards.  Ervin Santana, Chris Mazza, and Walker Lockett have been solid too. 

Last night, Harol Gonzalez went 7 innings allowing just 4 hits and one run in a 5-1 win over Rochester.  Stephen Nogosek pitched a scoreless 8th to keep his ERA at 0.00 and Tim Peterson pitched a scoreless 9th. 

Every night it seems like there is a different offensive contributor as well.  Danny Espinosa leads the team with 75 RBI’s and always seems to have a big, multiple pitch at bat, when needed.  Rene Rivera has 25 homers and 73 RBI’s and Travis Taijeron has 24 homers and 69 RBI’s.  

Last night, Ali Sanchez went 3 for 3 with 2 RBI’s.  In 12 games since being called up from Binghamton, Ali is .273 while proving solid catching skills and handling a new pitching staff. 

At a recent Syracuse Mets game, a long time Syracuse fan told me how happy he was that the Mets had stocked the team with former Major Leaguers and that the Nationals had never done that.  He added that the Nationals would call the best players up the majors as soon as September hit killing any post season chance that Syracuse might have.  He said that young players need to learn how to win and that playoff experience can be invaluable even in the minor leagues. 

I tend to agree with him.  I hope the Syracuse Mets get to experience it this year.  

What do you think?


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Reese Kaplan -- A Tale of 2 Players & 2 Managers

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If you polled any Mets fans during this incredible run and asked what was the most important acquisition made in the off-season, it wasn’t the high profile trade to Seattle or the several free agent signings that signaled the Mets were serious about winning.  No, it was the unheralded signing of a suspect good-hit/no-field player from the Astros organization by the name of J.D. Davis who cost the club catcher Scott Manea, outfielder Ross Adolph and infielder Luis Santana.  The Mets also received an infielder named Cody Bohanek.  None of the prospects that went to Houston have done much this year but Davis has been a lynchpin in the club’s rise to success.

At the time the best some folks could say was, “Well, I guess he’s a cheaper version of Wilmer Flores” who was allowed to depart as a free agent to the Arizona Diamondbacks to the tune of $3.75 million this year and either $6 million next year or a $500K buyout.  J.D. Davis makes minimum and has several years of team control, so it made sense if Davis could indeed translate his AAA batting title success to the big league level. 

Right now in 306 ABs, about half a season’s worth of play, Davis is hitting .310 with 15 home runs and 44 RBIs.  It’s funny that when given the chance to play no one is complaining about his defense anymore, huh?

The man he replaced isn't exactly bottom feeding either.  He's hitting .307 with 6 home runs and 22 RBIs in just 189 ABs.  He was vexed by the veteran bias of his manager and the never ending criticism of his defense.  In one game on Memorial Day in 2017 Flores got three hits, raising his season’s average to .317 and his hot streak performance to .389, so naturally Terry Collins benched him to get playing time for the .202 hitting Jose Reyes. 


This should come as no surprise to anyone who watched the white-haired skipper over his career.  The game immediately after Flores tied Edgar Alfonzo’s 6-hit performance for a club record (including two home runs), the great demotivator benched him in favor of Jose Reyes.  To his credit, Reyes went 1-5 and Flores, a late game sub went 1-2 with 3 RBIs showing he was once again the better choice.

So the hypothetical I posed to a group of fellow Mets fans just recently was how deeply on the Mets bench would J.D. Davis be buried if Terry Collins still held the lineup pencil.  Granted, J.D. Davis was not Mickey Callaway’s first choice, either, but with injuries to Yoenis Cespedes, Jed Lowrie, Brandon Nimmo and at various times to Robinson Cano, Jeff McNeil, Dom Smith and others, Davis was given playing time.  The big difference is not that Davis delivered, it’s that Callaway rode the hot hand instead of benching him after delivering. 


Given the hot spell that has people talking about October baseball not wistfully as a thing of the past, but as a distinct possibility, it’s nice to see a guy like Davis getting the opportunity to show what he can do.  What will be interesting to see is as the cavalry arrives what will the new manager do with playing time. 

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8/23/19

Patrick Mazeika Named to 2019 Eastern League Season-Ending All-Star Team

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Mazeika Named to 2019 Eastern League Season-Ending All-Star Team

PC - Ed Delany
BINGHAMTON, NY – The Eastern League announced today that Binghamton Rumble Ponies catcher Patrick Mazeika has been selected to the 2019 Eastern League Season Ending All-Star Team. The All-Star Team is voted on by respective Eastern League managers and media personnel.

Mazeika has appeared in 105 games for the Rumble Ponies this season and is batting .253 (96-for-379) with 24 doubles, 15 home runs, 64 RBIs, and 47 runs scored. Patrick has been a key offensive contributor for the Rumble Ponies, leading all Binghamton hitters in hits (96), total bases (167), doubles (24), home runs (15), and RBIs (64). Mazeika currently ranks among the league leaders in RBIs (64-4th), extra-base hits (40-tied 6th), home runs (15-tied 6th), slugging percentage (.441-9th), and total bases (166-tied 10th). Patrick was selected as a member of the Eastern Division roster for the 2019 Eastern League All-Star Game in Richmond and was named Eastern League Player of the Week for the period of May 13th-May 19th.
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August 22nd Transactions and Kudos: The Race, Ronny Mauricio, Zak Whalin, Jeremy Vasquez

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First, my thoughts on the Wild Card race.

      The Mets have won five in-a-row but we have to do better.

      Huh?

See, we lost four of the previous six games played and put ourselves back in the pack running for the finish line.

We need some of these teams to lose a few, especially the sizzling Nats. After their current series with the lowly Pirates, they play three games with the Cubs. The good news is one of these two teams that currently are ahead of us in the race will lose three games. The bad news is the Nats will end the month of August with series against Baltimore and the Marlins.

Yes, we have to play the Braves first, but I believe the first critical test for us will be the three-game series against the Cubs, beginning 8-27. We can put distance between this team if we sweep them.

Other teams in play and who they have to play yet in August past the current series they are being played:

      Philadelphia – the Marlins, the Pirates, and the Mets

      Milwaukee – Arizona, the Cardinals, the Cubs

      St. Louis – the Rockies, the Brewers, the Reds


Fangraphs on the best players in the Sally League:

      Ronny Mauricio (Mets): An 18-year-old that is hanging around the SAL circuit and makes a lot of contact. He’s got a wiry body that you can imagine growing into some power. His numbers at his age, consistency in barreling up the ball, and a cannon of an arm at short really stand out.


A-Columbia roster moves:

      C Hayden Singer begins his 2-game suspension

      C Zak Whalin transferred from Rookie-Kingsport

Whalen is an undrafted 24/yr. old out of the University of Central Missouri, who had one at-bat with Kingsport

      RHP Bryce Hutchinson placed on the IL


P Nick Rumbelow was added to the Syracuse roster


1B Jeremy Vasquez was promoted from A+ St. Lucie to AA-Binghamton

This move forces David Thompson into the outfield, what with the rest of the Rumbles’ starting infield being Luis Carpio, Andres Gimenez, and Quinn Brodey.


Kudos –
     
AA-Binghamton – CF Quinn Brodey: 3-5, RBI

A+ St. Lucie – RP Andrew Mitchell: 2-IP, 0-R, 2-K

A-Columbia – RP Cole Gordon: 2.2-IP, 0-R, 2-K

Low-A Brooklyn – SP Frank Valentino: 4.2-IP, ER, 3-K

Rookie-Kingsport – RP Hector Rodriguez: 2.2-IP, 0-R, 6-K

             GCL – LF Kenedy Corona: 2-5, R, .307

            DSL-1 – C Derwis Troconiz: 2-4, 2-R, RBI, .288
           
DSL-2 – RP Daniel Juarez: 3.2-IP, 0-R, 8-K


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Tom Brennan - GULF COAST LEAGUE METS BATS ARE THUNDERING

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The Gulf Coast League Mets do not get a lot of print space anywhere, except from baseball nerds such as myself.

But let me say this:

The bats there in GCL Metsville are THUNDERING!

The team has a W...I...D...E margin in leading the league in runs scored with 263 in 48 games (5.5 runs per game), with the next best team scoring just 226 and the worst team plating just 162.

The team is 4th in HRs with 26, first in on base % at .362, and is 2nd in hitting at .255.  Yes, that means they are first in walks with 213.

How is this happening?

A player with a perfect last name for the Mets, given the NY Mets' home location, is Kenedy Corona.

The 19 year old OF is 10th in the league in hitting at .303...his .394 OBP and .485 slug % rank him 10th and 9th in those categories, and he has swiped 10 of 11 in the GCL while scoring 32 runs in his 37 games.  And if Jeff McNeil were commenting, I'm sure he'd say that his 21 Ks in about 150 PAs is excellent.

"Ask not what Kenedy can do for you - ask what you can do for Kenedy".  Don't know what to ask? OK, I'll tell you - know who he is, and root for him, that's what you can do.

6th rounder Zach Ashford struggled in his initial assignment in Brooklyn, but afterwards in the GCL?  .298/.414/.446 in 35 games.  Nice, I'd say.

PC - John Canary

Jose Peroza, 19, is a slugger who went .328/.389/.766 in 16 games, with 6 homers and 20 RBIs, which got him an immediate promo to Brooklyn, where he has hit .229, but with 3 HRs and 18 RBIs in 24 games, including 9 ribbies in his last 7 games.  JP won't be 20 for a while, as he and Dom Smith share the same June 15 birthday, so his first few months of 2020, most likely in Columbia, will be as a 19 year old.

Of course, Mets top prospects Francisco Alvarez and Brett Baty went a combined 19 for 46 with 13 walks before their early promotions to Kingsport.

Bahamian SS Warren Saunders (6'3", 190, 20 years old) is getting it done BIG TIME in his debut pro assignment, folks.  .324/.355/.398 in 27 games is some heckuva way to debut.  

I have a feeling he may zoom up the Mets prospect charts in 2020.

34th round, 22 year old Ryan Shinn is hitting a solid .248/.382/.368, with 8 hits and 9 walks in his last 10 games.  Shinn may not know who the 34th rounder was in 2011 for the Mets...Seth Lugo.  34th rounders can be stars in the major leagues - just ask Hall of Famer Mike Piazza, who was a 62nd round pick back in 1988.

One struggler has been $475K bonus baby William Lugo - partly, no doubt, because he is just 17 years old.  Lugo is hitting .150/.270/.217.  Something tells me 2020 will be a whole different story for him as he turns 18.  

As the song goes, "What a Difference a Year Makes" (OK, the song says "day", not year, but this is my article and I'll say what I want).  I prefer him to struggle this year stateside rather than play in the lowly DSL myself.

So that's it - lots of GCL Mets hitting....and I LOVE HITTING!  

KEEP IT UP, FELLAS.

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Reese Kaplan -- AAA Game Has a Totally Different Vibe

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For most baseball fans, the introduction to the game occurred on the sandlot (playground, street, etc.) with organized ball taking the form of some type of community or regional Little League.  It was during those year many of us learned the fundamentals of hitting, throwing, fielding, baserunning and the unwritten rules of the game as well (such as not talking about a no-hitter when it’s in progress). 

From there most folks are forced to give up their dream due to lack of baseball skills or other life priorities getting in the way of varsity, junior college or college ball.  Maybe you join a beer league softball game or spend some time with friends lying about how good you were when tossing coins into a pitching machine.  The baseball diamond is now usually just relegated to the occasional visit to the home field of your favorite team for whom you have a rooting interest.

Many individuals (particularly those in proximity to major metropolitan areas) skipped right over one of the more interesting aspects of baseball – the minor leagues.  For folks in the New York City area, for example, it’s a bit of a drive to see the AAA Syracuse Mets, though the Staten Island Yankees and Brooklyn Cyclones are not too far away.  However, the lower levels of the minors are chock full of people who likely will never make it much higher than where they are right now.  A lot of fundamental mistakes are made on the field and there’s a certain palpable stress level as each pitch or at-bat can spell the difference between being asked to suit up tomorrow or being told that perhaps baseball just isn’t your thing.

The AAA baseball level is kind of special in a few ways.  First, you do have some of the hot shot prospects working their way up the final rung before being promoted to the majors.  They are not subject to the “one bad game and you’re gone” worry of the lower levels.  However, mixed alongside them are the fringe major leaguers who are hanging on for another opportunity to make it back to the show.  Then you have the AAAA type of players who seemingly drift between the minors and the majors, but never quite good enough to stick at the next level.  Finally you have the older lifers in the minor leagues who may never have had a shot at the Show, probably have long since given up the hope of ever having one, but who continue to play for either the love of the game or simply because they have not defined a new life path outside of the dimensions of the ballpark. 

Tuesday night, again on Thursday and finally for the last home game of the season next Wednesday I will be in the stands watching the hometown El Paso Chihuahuas play.  They are the AAA franchise affiliate of the San Diego Padres, and even from the beginning of the season until now I hardly recognize the team with the parent club having raided them for reinforcements like Franmil Reyes (since traded to Cleveland), Luis Urias, Ty France, Travis Jankowski and Josh Naylor. 



Taking their place are a number of high performing sluggers in the notoriously hitter friendly PCL where statistics like EPA gas mileage ratings must be taken with a grain if not a whole silo of salt.  Starting at first base these days for El Paso is former 3rd baseman in the Mets organization, Aderlin Rodriguez.   More than once the announcers said he’s the hottest hitter in the league.


Perhaps even more surprising to me was the leadoff batter and centerfielder for the visiting Fresno Grizzlies, none other than former Met infielder Matt Reynolds.  Hitting .285 with 12 HRs he’s holding his own but again you have to remember that these numbers are a product of dry air and high altitude.  (By the way, for all the crap the Mets took for having their AAA franchise in Las Vegas for the past several years, the Grizzlies are the affiliate of the east coast Washington Nationals!)

Starting the game for the Grizzlies was another former major leaguer, Scott Copeland.  He appeared in 5 games (3 starts) for the Toronto Blue Jays at age 27 and in one game in 2018 for the Mets at age 30. 

Another name I recognized was infielder Luis Sardinas who has played 182 games in aggregate over several seasons with five different teams, now at age 27 hoping to catch on once again with a promotion to the Washington Nationals or perhaps to catch the eye of some other big league franchise.

The minor leagues are much more fan friendly than their major league counterparts with activities scheduled between each inning such as “Margarita Trivia” on Margarita Night at the ballpark.  Losers of the questions got doused with a giant helmet filled with water which, when it’s around triple digits, probably feels pretty good.  There was the forehead-to-the-bat and spinning in circles, then trying to race across the diamond, a foot race between a fan clad as a bottle of tequila, another as a salt shaker and another as a lime around the warning track.  There was a hamburger giveaway with giant cutouts of burgers, fries and Whataburger logos being passed from fan to fan to see who could move their logo the fastest.  There were t-shirts and balls thrown into the stands.  People got up and danced between innings to Latin rhythms, often on the scoreboard with animated accompaniments.  All-in-all, it’s a totally different experience.

Also, unlike the big league parks where giveaways are reserved for the weekends, the minor league ballparks manage to give something away virtually every day.  I have been given canned and bottled beverages upon leaving, hot sauce, caps, towels, Hawaiian shirts and next week I’ll be given a commemorative El Paso Diablos fleece blanket. 

One way in which the minors have caught up to the majors is at the concession stands.  The tickets to the games are indeed cheaper, but $12 for a burger and fries or $7 for a lemonade is nearly major league in price.  It’s a shame really, because between refreshments and parking it’s a night’s entertainment that’s probably still out of reach for a majority of folks in this impoverished community. 


Anyway, if ever you get the chance to go to a AAA game, I highly advocate it for the experience.  And oh yeah, there was a ballgame, too, with none other than Matt Reynolds driving in the go ahead runs in the top of the 9th to give the Grizzlies a come-from-behind victory about which I got nasty glances from the El Paso fans for cheering. 

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