2012 Draft: - Tyler Naquin, Jake Stewart, Jeremy Baltz, Byron Buxton, Anthony Bazanni

Tyler Naquin:

6-20-11: - http://bleacherreport.com/articles/740905-omaha-eye-openers-2012-mlb-draft-prospects-at-the-2011-college-world-series#/articles/740905-omaha-eye-openers-2012-mlb-draft-prospects-at-the-2011-college-world-series/page/ - Without a doubt, the Aggies top offensive player this season was OF Tyler Naquin, who could be a very interesting prospect on draft day next year. Naquin was a 33rd-round pick of Baltimore’s back in ’09, but honored his commitment to A&M, where he blossomed into one of the best hitters in the Big-12 this season. In 65 games, he hit .390 with a team-leading 23 doubles, seven triples and 65 runs. He also hit two home runs, drove in 44 runs, posted a 29:33 BB:K ratio and swiped six bases.

Jake Stewart:

7-21-11: - http://www.mockdraftmania.com/  - 26. San Francisco Giants Jake Stewart OF Stanford Jake Stewart is an outfielder for Stanford. His dad James played baseball at Virginia Tech before being a minor league player for the Minnesota Twins. His high school team won 3 straight state championships before being drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 14th round following high school. He won state championships in 2007 and 2008 while playing football and basketball in high school. Williams had a .511 batting average during his senior year of high school. Stewarts batting average peaked from .209 to .287 as a sophomore at Stanford. He should bat over .300 in 2012 possibly eclipsing the .350 batting average mark. Jake Stewart had 16 multi hit games and 5 consecutive multi hit games. Stewart got 3 hits against a Vanderbilt pitching rotation that was extremely deep with MLB talent in 2011.

Jeremy Baltz:

Jeremy Baltz (St. John’s)- He headed into the 2011 College Baseball season as one of the sophomores to watch. Jeremy got off to a slow start before settling in where he finished with a .311 average with six homers and 60 RBI. He has continued his hot hitting in the Cape this summer as he is hitting .310 with two homers and 21 RBI. - http://www.collegebaseballdaily.com/2011/07/29/2011-cape-cod-all-star-game-players-to-watch/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CollegeBaseballDaily+%28College+Baseball+Daily%29&utm_content=Twitter  

Byron Buxton:

7-30-11: - http://www.perfectgame.org/Articles/View.aspx?article=6082  - Byron Buxton (2012 OF/RHP, Round Trip Baseball)- From a town of 4,150 people, Buxton is a player that may have slipped through the cracks a couple of decades ago. The supremely athletic OF with plus plus speed is a two sport star for Appling County High School (also a star QB), preventing him from getting much exposure during the fall. When PG last saw Buxton he showed flashes of what he would become, in spite of going 2-for-14 as a RF the scouting notes suggested that he was capable of much more. In 2011 Buxton announced his presence as a big time prospect for the 2012 MLB Draft at the 18u and 17u WWBA National Championships. Buxton hit .393/.500/.675 and went a perfect 6-for-6 on stolen base attempts while also going 2-0 with a Save, allowing just three runs over 12 innings, striking out 16 and walking just three. Buxton’s fastball topped out at 94 mph, but his impressive arm strength is eclipsed by his blazing speed. Buxton posted phenomenal home-to-first times for a right handed hitter, with PG scouts clocking him between 3.96 and 4.12 seconds. With improving swing mechanics and quick hands, Buxton has a chance to develop into a legitimate 5-tool player and after his performance in Marietta, he will be followed very closely leading up to next year’s draft.

Anthony Bazanni:

7-19-11: - http://www.mlbbonusbaby.com/2011/6/29/2250656/early-look-at-2012#comments  - Anthony Bazzani, E Kentucky, 6’4 200, behemoth with good arm strength, low 90’s live sinker with hard 81-84 slider and throws strikes, a bit of a head jerk but it doesn’t hurt him. He’s pitching this summer in the Northwoods league for Mankato.

2012 Draft: - Video - SP - RHP - Marcus Stroman

Compliments of http://www.collegebaseballdaily.com/ -

Savannah Sand Gnats Pre-Game Notes

Savannah Sand Gnats  @ Greensboro Grasshoppers 

RHP Gonzalez Germen (6-5, 3.79) vs. RHP Jheyson Manzueta (2-10, 6.56)

Today: The first-half champion Gnats look for a split in their four-game series against the Greensboro Grasshoppers, SAL affiliate of the Florida Marlins. The Gnats return home tomorrow to host the Augusta GreenJackets Monday through Thursday, August 1-4.

Last Night: The Gnats pounded out 15 hits while three Savannah pitchers held the Grasshoppers to three knocks in a 7-1 win. All nine Gnats starters reached base safely. Reliever Adam Kolarek improved to 5-0 with five-innings of one-run baseball, fanning a personal season-high seven batters.

Now Pitching: RHP Gonzalez Germen is scheduled to make his team-leading 19th start this afternoon. With 99.2 innings pitched to his credit, he is 13 innings behind Ryan Fraser for the Gnats’ team lead. Germen has enjoyed a strong July. His 2.52 ERA (7 ER/25 IP) is his second-best of any month in 2011, trailing only May when he had a 2.39 ERA. His strikeout to walk ratio of 4.8 (24 K/5 BB) in July is second only to June when he had a K/BB of 5 (20 K/4 BB). Germen spent most of the 2010 season with Kingsport in the Appalachian League where he was 2-5 with a 3.69 ERA in 61 innings over 10 starts with 54 strikeouts and 11 walks. He made two starts with Savannah to finish out the year. On August 27th, in his Savannah debut, in game two of a double-header against Charleston, he took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and a shutout into the seventh. The Gnats are 9-9 when Germen starts and have supported him with 4.50 runs per game (81 runs/18 starts), the third-best run support of any Savannah starter.

About Last Night: The Gnats set a new season-high with five doubles in a nine-inning game… the paid crowd of 6,781 was the biggest for any Gnats’ game, home or road, in 2011.

Formidable Forsythe: Blake Forsythe, who doubled twice last night, now has five doubles in his last four games and seven in his last eight contests. After hitting .220/.295/.353 (AVG/OBP/SLG) in 173 AB over 50 games in the first half, he’s up to .273/.413/.466 in 88 AB over 26 games in the second half. His 13 second-half extra-base hits are just two shy of his 15 from the first half in just over half the number of games. His isolated slugging percentage, a measure of a batter’s power, calculated by subtracting batting average from slugging has risen from .113 in the first half to .193 in the second half where the SAL average is .133.

Playoff Scenario: The first-half champion Gnats will play the second-half winner in the best-of-three Southern Division series beginning on the road September 7 and returning to Savannah on September 9. The Gnats currently lead the second half standings by 2.5 games over the Augusta GreenJackets and three games each over the Greenville Drive and the Asheville Tourists. If the Gnats win the second half, their first-round opponent will be the team with the next-best overall record, where the Greenville Drive are currently 6.5 games better than both the Tourists and the GreenJackets.

Division Data: The Gnats are 14-20 against the Northern Division in 2011, and 6-13 on the road.

Strong Arms: The Gnats still lead the SAL in ERA at 3.18, 41 hundredths better than second-best Hickory. The Gnats also lead the League in WHIP (1.21), and fewest hits allowed (799) - 21 fewer than second-best Hickory. The Gnats are fifth in the SAL in strikeouts (818), 27 behind fourth-place Lakewood.

Vs. Greensboro: The Gnats are 2-5 against the Grasshoppers, 1-3 at home, 1-2 on the road. The only two teams who have clinched a season series win against the Gnats in 2011 are both Northern Division teams: the Grasshoppers and the Delmarva Shorebirds.

Buffalo Pre-Game Notes

Buffalo Bisons  vs. Lehigh Valley IronPigs

Sunday, July 31, 2011 (5:35 p.m.) - Coca-Cola Park

LHP Pat Misch (5-6, 4.84) vs. LHP Ryan Feierabend (9-5, 5.37)

Radio: WWKB AM 1520, bisons.com

TODAY’S GAME: Tonight, the Bisons take on the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in the finale of a two-game series from Coca-Cola Park (5:35 p.m.). The Herd will look for the two-game sweep of the I-Pigs after its 2-1 victory on Saturday night. Tomorrow, Buffalo’s season-long, four-stop roadtrip continues at Frontier Field in Rochester.

VS. THE I-PIGS: The Bisons are 6-7 against the IronPigs this season. The teams split both four-game sets in Buffalo, but Lehigh Valley won three of four over the Herd at Coca-Cola Park, April 30 - May 3. Last season, the Bisons were 5-3 in their eight total games in Lehigh Valley.

DISCH ON MISCH: LHP PAT MISCH makes his 16th start of the season tonight. The southpaw lost his last time out, allowing seven runs in 4.2 innings to the Yankees on Tuesday. Misch has faced the IronPigs three times already this season and defeated Lehigh Valley on June 29 at Coca-Cola Field. Overall, Misch is 1-0 with a 5.19ERA in 17.1 innings against the IronPigs.

LUIS, LUIS: INF LUIS FIGUEROA has six hits in his last nine at-bats and brings a six-game hit streak into tonight’s game. Since July 25, Figueroa has averaged .407 (11-27) with three RBI and five runs scored. On the season, his .313 average now ranks as the fifth highest mark in the International League.

Mr. VP: INF VALENTINO PASCUCCI leads the International League with 73RBI on the season and ranks in top 5 in slugging percentage (2nd, .508) and on-base percentage (4th, .386). The slugger enters tonight’s game on an 11-game hit streak over which he has averaged .357 (15-42).

BISONS BITS: INF JOSH SATIN has hit in seven straight games. The Triple-A rookie has averaged .407 (11-27) during his hit streak...With his recent time in New York, INF NICK EVANS is 37 plate appearances from having his .322 average qualify as the 2nd highest mark in the International League...RHP DALE THAYER is up to 13 saves for the season. That total is tied for the fifth most in the league...The Bisons have won two straight without the benefit of an extra-base hit. The team’s last extra-base hit was a INF VALENTINO PASCUCCI home run in the seventh inning on Thursday night (81 AB ago).

B-Mets Pre-Game Notes

LAST GAME: Robert Carson was tagged for 12 hits and the Harrisburg Senators defeated the Binghamton Mets 5-3 last night at Metro Bank Park. The Senators jumped on Carson with three runs in the first inning. Tyler Moore supplied a two-run double and Bryce Harper added another run-scoring two-bagger. Meanwhile, Harrisburg starter Tanner Roark cruised through five innings while allowing just one hit. The B-Mets finally broke through in the sixth. With Matt den Dekker on base, Jordany Valespin and Brahiam Maldonado both reached to load the bases. Allan Dykstra bounced a single to center to plate two runs and cut the deficit to one. Harrisburg responded quickly in the bottom half of the frame on Chris Rahl’s two-run home run off Carson. Mike Fisher’s RBI groundout in the sev-enth proved to be Binghamton’s final score. Rafael Martin closed things out with two scoreless innings to nail down his sixth save of the season. Carson was handed his team-leading ninth loss of the year.

STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP: RHP Collin McHugh makes his eleventh start of the season and first against the Harrisburg Senators. McHugh took a no-decision in his most recent start against the Portland Sea Dogs on July 26. The right-hander allowed two runs on four hits and struck out seven over six innings of work. McHugh began the year with St. Lucie (Hi-A) and went 1-2 with a 6.31 ERA before being promoted to Bing-hamton (AA) on May 29.

RHP Erik Davis will make his 18th start of the season and sec-ond against the B-Mets. Davis has lost each of his last four starts, including a defeat at the hands of the Bowie Baysox on July 26th. The right-hander allowed four runs on eight hits, including two home runs over six innings. In five starts in the month of July, Davis has gone 1-4 with a 7.52 ERA. Davis lost his only start against Binghamton on June 8, allowing two runs on four hits in six innings in a game the B-Mets would win 4-1.

ALL GOOD THINGS MUST END: B-Mets outfielder Juan Lagares saw his Double-A opening hit streak end at seven games with his 0-for-4 showing last night against the Senators. Lagares was promoted to the B-Mets on 7/23 and hit .419 (13-31) in his first seven games.

DIRTY DOZEN: Robert Carson set a B-Mets starting pitcher season-high by allowing 12 hits over 5.1 innings last night to the Senators. The previous high was set by Mark Cohoon when he allowed 11 hits to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats on 5/18.

2012 Draft: - Stephen Bruno, Kenny Diekroeger, Marcus Stroman, Victor Roache, Duane Underwood

Stephen Bruno:

6-20-11: - http://bleacherreport.com/articles/740905-omaha-eye-openers-2012-mlb-draft-prospects-at-the-2011-college-world-series#/articles/740905-omaha-eye-openers-2012-mlb-draft-prospects-at-the-2011-college-world-series/page/2  - INF Stephen Bruno saw very little time this year after a breakout freshman season that saw him hit .388 in 36 games. A native of New Jersey, Bruno is a baseball rat, who can do a little of everything on the field. He is somewhat limited by his size (5'9", 165), but he was already drafted once by New York back in the 26th round of the '09 draft.

Kenny Diekroeger:

7-21-11: - http://www.mockdraftmania.com/  - 5. San Diego Padres Kenny Diekroeger SS Stanford The Padres need a shortstop. Diekroger had a breakout freshman campaign, but fell of the map as a sophomore with a batting average that fell from .342 to .292. Scouts said he would have to move to outfield straight out of high school. Diekroger has mastered his craft at shortstop and should remain a shortstop in the MLB despite his 6 foot 2 200 pound size. Kenny Diekroeger has the ability to be a complete shortstop prospect with the baseball IQ and high character that former Stanford baseball prospect Sam Fuld had coming out of college. I don’t see any reason why the Padres should not draft Kenny Diekrogger if he slips to #5 overall.

Marcus Stroman:

7-19-11: - http://www.mlbbonusbaby.com/2011/6/29/2250656/early-look-at-2012#comments  - Marcus Stroman, Duke, 5’9 185, one of the best arms I’ve seen in this area, starts mostly for Duke, but used as closer for Team USA this summer. Upper 90’s fb with hard slider, both pitches abv ave and yes, you can compare to former MLer Tom “Flash” Gordon. Definite early round guy!

Victor Roache:

Victor Roache (Georgia Southern)- He has dominated the Cape Cod Baseball League this summer as he has a .328 batting average while hitting six homers and driving in 28 runs. Roache is coming off an outstanding sophomore year with Georgia Southern which saw him hit .326 with 30 homers and 84 RBI. These numbers were off the charts as the new bat rules went into effect this season to help deaden the bats but Roache’s was far from it. - http://www.collegebaseballdaily.com/2011/07/29/2011-cape-cod-all-star-game-players-to-watch/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+CollegeBaseballDaily+%28College+Baseball+Daily%29&utm_content=Twitter  

Duane Underwood:

7-30-11: - http://www.perfectgame.org/Articles/View.aspx?article=6082  - Duane Underwood (2012 RHP/OF, East Cobb Astros 16u)- PG was first introduced to Duane Underwood at the 16U National Championship in 2009. Underwood was a primary OF for the Georgia Blue Jays, and he made a mildly positive impression with his bat. The scouting notes on Underwood from that event read: “high hands, late start, athletic, quick hands, spins out on curveball, runs well.” The pitching notes were more positive on the secondary RHP who sat 82-84, topping out at 86, throwing all fastballs. Underwood showed enough raw talent to be invited to the 2010 Jr National Showcase, where he touched 89 mph on the radar gun and flashed potential with both his curveball and slider and a much improved swing. In 2011 Underwood absolutely blew us (and opposing hitters) away with his ability on the mound. With significantly improved mechanics Underwood’s live arm now routinely generates low-mid 90s velocity, touching 96 on the PG gun with sharp downhill plane. One of the best power arms in the country, Underwood’s bat is almost as impressive and he’s a big time two-way prospect who will be representing the East team at the PG All-American Game on August 14.

Mack's Semi-Annual Donations Drive Is Over

Our goal:   $ 999.00

Final Tally:    $ 0.00

Thank you for your consideration

The Keepers: - #113 (125) - OF - Greg Pron

Phot0 by Allen Greene
113. Greg Pron:

6-22-11: - RF Greg Pron went 3-5, 1-R for Kingsport Tuesday night. Pron was the 42nd round pick for the Mets earlier this month and played for West Florida, where 28th round pick Dustin Lawley also played. 2011 numbers: .423, 10-HR, 69-RBI. He also was a semi-finalist for the D2 player of the year award. From UWF web site: One of the most productive and talented overall players in West Florida baseball history... helped lead UWF to its first-ever NCAA championship as a senior in 2011... finished his four-year career as the school’s all-time leader in hits (291), hit-by-pitches (34), RBIs (187), total bases (413) and stolen bases (77)... also ranks fifth in career batting average (.359), ninth in slugging percentage (.510), fifth in on-base percentage (.439), third in runs (161), third in doubles (46), second in home runs (22) and second in walks (89).

7-30-11 - Normally, you don’t write much about 42nd round draft picks, but I keep noticing the Kingsport box and Pron’s stats keep screaming out. Last night, he hit his 6th home run of the season and raised his BA to .310. We’re going to keep an eye on this 6-6 rookie.

The Keepers: - #4 (8) - 3B - Wilmer Flores

4. 3B Wilmer Flores

Flores was signed as an international free agent in October 2007.

In late January 2007, Baseball America ranked Flores as the 17th overall Mets prospect, adding: "should grow into his body and become a force with the bat ... ..internal comparisons to Miguel Cabrera for his present pull power and ability to use the whole field."

Flores played most of the 2008 season for K-Port, played one game for Savannah, and finished the year with Brooklyn. His combined stats were: .307/.347/.468/.815, 8 HRs, 42 RBIs, in 68 games. Flores won the Sterling Award as the top Met player for the 2008 Kingsport team.

In February 2008, Baseball Prospectus named Florez a 3-star prospect, and ranked him as th 4th overall Mets prospect.

Also in February 2008, Rotoworld ranked Flores as the #15 Mets prospect.

In March 2008, Baseball America wrote: Ten prospects to watch out for in 2008: Wilmer Flores, SS - Since Omar Minaya took over as general manager, the Mets have been extremely active on the Latin American scouting front. Flores is the latest high-profile prospect to join the system and the Mets are very excited about what he can do, especially after a strong showing at instructs. Flores is lean and tall and his best tool is undoubtedly his bat, drawing comparisons to a Miguel Cabrera when he first began his pro career. He'll stay at shortstop for now, but there's a chance he'll grow out of the position and end up at third. It's up in the air where he'll begin the year and the Mets will use Spring Training to determine if he's ready to go to Savannah on Opening Day or if having him stick around in extended spring training makes more sense

Baseball America printed their “Hot 10” prospects on 6/27: No. 10 WILMER FLORES, SS - METS - Team: Rookie-level Kingsport (Appalachian) Age: 16 - Why He's Here: .400/.417/.578, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 7 RBIs, 0 BB, 7 SO - The Scoop: Flores is a 16 year old playing in a league where the average age is more than 20, and he has been arguably the best player in the league for the first week and a half. After belting a home run in his professional debut, Flores has continued his steady production. Enduring the loss of manager Nick Leyva, who also served as his Flores' translator, could have been a hitch in the road for Flores, who had grown close to Leyva, but the teenager's makeup impressed observers in Kingsport as he kept up his steady production under new leadership. The only knock on Flores is his defense, which at times can be shaky. He made three errors in a game on Tuesday night, but played the next two games error-free. Flores' hitting is his best present tool and he showed it on Thursday night, going 4-for-5 with a triple and three RBIs.

In late July 2008, ProjectProspect updated their “top 25 non-top 100 prospects” and guess who made the list: #10 Wilmer Flores SS What a way to start a career: .360 BA, .640 SLG, 5 HR in 75 AB

Also in late July 2008, ProjectProspect.com updated their top 10 Mets prospect list and Flores was ranked 6th

In August 2008, NYBaseballDigest wrote: Wilmer Flores was the top International Free Agent signed by Omar Minaya in the 2007 season. He was signed for roughly $800,000 in comparison to some other “top level” talent that got bonuses in excess of a million dollars, or like Michel Inoa who received over $4 million. Flores is quickly emerging as a premium talent, even being mentioned by Minaya in an article about the importance of Pedro Martinez and how his signing led to guys like Flores and Fernando Martinez signing. Flores just turned 17 years of age at the beginning of August. He was expected to be brought to the US for this season, but it was widely expected he’d play in the Gulf Coast League where he’d still be young, as the average age of a player in the GCL is roughly 18-19. But instead, the Mets decided to push Flores and see what he could do in Kingsport against competition with an average age of 21-22.

Flores has responded. He has played in 53 games thus far, and is sporting a .332 batting average to go with 8 home runs and 40 RBI. His on-base percentage is at .374, while his OPS(on base+slugging) is hovering near .900 at .897. He also has 12 doubles, and 3 triples to go with his 8 home runs to make 23 extra base hits in 53 games. He will need to work on his plate discipline, as he only has 11 walks, with 25 strike outs.

Flores gets a lot of comparisons to Miguel Cabrera by scouts. Cabrera also was signed as a 16 year old out of the International Free Agent market for what was at the time the biggest bonus given to an international free agent at roughly $1.6 million. Cabrera came state side for his 16 year old/17 year old season, and played in the aforementioned Gulf Coast League with the average age of 18-19. Comparatively speaking he played against younger, and more raw talent than Flores has experienced in the Appalachian League.

Cabrera played in 57 games, hitting .260 with a .344 on base percentage, and had an OPS of .696. He hit 2 home runs, and drove in 22 runs with 10 doubles, and 2 triples. He struck out 46 times, while walking 23. It’s early to deem Flores the next superstar, or the next Miguel Cabrera, but statistically speaking based on age/level, he’s more than comparable. They both played the shorstop position at the 16/17 age. Flores is expected to outgrow short, and possibly be a third baseman, or a first baseman, or even a left fielder long term. Ironically those are the three positions Cabrera has played.

To compare, Flores has hit for a higher average, hit more home runs, drove in more runs, reach base at a higher clip, and OPS significantly higher. He has more doubles, more triples, struck out almost half as many times as Cabrera, but also has walked less. Flores ranked 10th on my Mets Top 10 prospect list back in July, I imagine end of the season list he will be much higher. Flores is very much a prospect to keep an eye on for the long term.

Flores played most of the 2008 season for K-Port, played one game for Savannah, and finished the year with Brooklyn. His combined stats were: .307/.347/.468/.815, 8 HRs, 42 RBIs, in 68 games.

Flores won the Sterling Award as the top Met player for the 2008 Kingsport team.

In October 2008, From Kevin Czerwinski/MiLB.com:

It's not as if what Wilmer Flores was doing this season was without precedent. After all, Elvis Andrus played in the Gulf Coast and Appalachian Leagues as a 16-year-old in 2005, while Carlos Triunfel played in the Midwest and California Leagues last year just after turning 17. Yet it still remains remarkable that someone so young could do so much so far from home at such a young age. Flores split the 2008 season between the Appalachian and New York-Penn Leagues. He didn't turn 17 until August, yet for much of his time in Kingsport, his batting average hovered around .340. Only a late-season slump -- he had three hits in his final 25 at-bats -- brought his average down to a still-impressive .310. The Venezuelan native also spent a day with Savannah of the Class A South Atlantic League (he went 2-for-5) and finished up the season by spending two weeks with Brooklyn, where he hit .267 in 30 at-bats. Overall, Flores -- who missed a week in July with a strained oblique muscle -- hit .307 with eight homers, 42 RBIs and a .347 on-base percentage this season. Now, he's down in Port St. Lucie participating in the Mets' Florida Instructional League program, doing even more to prepare for what New York is hoping will be a big Sally League season in 2009. "He's a very impressive young player," said Adam Wogan, New York's director of Minor League operations. "He's a very talented player and he's making great strides. He certainly is an impressive individual." Flores, though young, has never played as much ball as he did this season. While some may be fearful that he's worn down by this point in the year, Wogan and the Mets aren't concerned. They won't work the kid until he drops in Florida but they also aren't planning to let him skate through camp. Wogan said that New York's Instructional League program is a bit different than it was a few years back. He said there is much more focus on the mental side of the game and more attention is paid to intra-squad games. With that in mind, the Mets have targeted a program for Flores and all their prospects. "His individual play will be based on specific areas rather than game activity," Wogan said. "There might be guys who signed later and aren't quite as far along that it might be more important for them to get into games than it is in Wilmer's case. But we're certainly not worried or concerned that it's too much for him."

Toby Hyde on: #2 - SS Wilmer Flores - Why Ranked Here: Flores is ranked here because he can hit, and really hit. His bat, says scouts, could well be an All-Star level piece of lumber. In an Appalachian Leauge season which he began at the tender age of 16, Flores had an extra base hit once every 6.9 at bats. Flores rolled through the Appalachian League while playing against players two, three, four even five years his senior. Flores, who committed 21 errors in 68 games in 2008, is not a good defender at shortstop, nor is he likely to stay at the position as he grows and fills out. Observers who saw him play regularly in Kingsport used words like “awkward” when describing his work at shortstop. At 6’3”, and still growing, Flores is unusually tall for a shortstop. There were only three SS in the top twenty VORP for their position, Hanley Ramirez, Derek Jeter and Ben Zobrist, listed at 6’3” in 2008. Generally speaking advanced fielding metrics consider the first two below average, if not well below average and Zobrist a strong defender. No MLB starting SS is listed as tall as 6’4”, a height Flores might well reach if he continues to grow. Should Flores reach the Majors at 6’4”, he would be the tallest SS in baseball. It’s not impossible for Flores to stay at short, but succeeding there would be unusual for a player his height. At age 17 in 2009, the Mets will certainly give Flores the opportunity to improve at short even if his MLB position lies in at an infield or outfield corner, where his bat might be good enough to make him a star. 2008: Flores finished fourth in the Appalachian League in total bases. All three players above him had at least three years on him. After crushing to a .331/.363/.554 mark through the season’s first two months, Flores slowed down in August, hitting a more pedestrian .278/.336/.392 in 24 games with Kingsport. The Mets promoted him to Savannah for one day on August 27th, before moving him to Brooklyn, where he had just one extra base hit in his eight games in the NYP. Projected 2009 Start: Savannah

February 2009: MYOB on: - Wilmer Flores SS - He will probably get too thick to play shortstop but he’s got the stick to fit at third. He is often compared to Miguel Cabrera, though he should be better defensively. For Kingsport he was the youngest player in the league and still hit .310 with eight homeruns and a .490 slugging. His bat speed is special. Flores signed for $750,000 out of Venezuela.

March 2009:

My World Of Baseball listed the top Venezuelan born prospects and has Flores as number two: 2. Wilmer Flores SS (Mets) - As Wilmer develops he may end up looking more like Miguel Cabrera, which would make a stay at shortstop unlikely. As a below average runner who lacks first step quickness his best position may be third base or an outfield corner. Unlike Alcides, there is no question that Wilmer will have a powerful bat, but unlike Alcides his defensive tools are not suited for shortstop. The Mets will keep him there until he shows he becomes a liability at the position. As his bat develops don’t be surprised to see 30 homerun power.

In March 2009, Rotoworld ranked the Mets Top 10 Prospect:

2. Wilmer Flores - SS - DOB: 08/06/91 - ETA: 2013

.310/.352/.490, 8 HR, 41 RBI, 28/12 K/BB, 2 SB in 245 AB (R Kingsport)

.267/.290/.300, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 7/1 K/BB, 0 SB in 30 AB (SS-A Brooklyn)

.400/.400/.400, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 2/0 K/BB, 0 SB in 5 AB (A- Savannah)

For Flores to hold his own as a 16-year-old in the Appy League would have been quite an accomplishment. However, the native of Venezuela was actually one of the circuit's better players, amassing an 842 OPS in 245 at-bats before a couple of brief stints at higher levels. Seen as a future 30-homer guy, Flores has supplanted Martinez in having the greatest offensive upside in the Mets' system. He's not going to last at shortstop, and his most obvious landing spot, third base, is likely out as an option with David Wright entrenched. However, it's something the Mets won't have to worry about for a few years yet.

Project Prospect updated their top 200 prospect list in March 2009:

#48 Wilmer Flores SS Went .310/.351/.490 with .356 wOBA in 265 R-ball PA; puts ball in play: 4.5% BB, 10.6% K

New York Mets Top 5 - by Brett Sullivan - March 26, 2009

Wilmer Flores – Not many 17-year-olds who have the type of season that Wilmer Flores did in 2008. The Venezuelan was one of the Appalachian League’s best hitters, putting up a .375 wOBA over 245 PA. He combined legit power (.180 isoP, 8 HR) with the ability to make tons of contact (10.6 K%) at the level. But in what we’ve seen so far, Flores can stand to be more patient at the plate (4.5 BB%). Though he was overmatched during a 32 plate appearance stint in short-season ball, the current shortstop displayed just about everything else you are looking for from a potential star. He’s likely to outgrow shortstop. Still several years away from the bigs, Flores could hit his way up the Mets' chain rapidly and become a household name at some point.

In 2009, Flores played the entire season for Savannah: .264/.305/.332/.637 in 488-AB, only 13 errors.

1-1-10 Forecast: - We never know if the 16-year old bonus babies are going to make out until three, sometimes four, years later. Most don’t, and, frankly, the string is still out on Flores. He had an okay season in A-ball… yeah, I know, he’s old three years old… still, there’s no rush here, what with Miquel Tejada in line to step in if Jose Reyes goes down (or away). I wish they’d play him again in Savannah, but he’s probably on his way to Florida.

I wrote on Feb 10: - Wilmer Flores – everybody on the Mets are still excitied about this kid… me too… he definitely looks like he has what it takes to make it big time. Watch for the Mets to move him to Lucy this spring and take his time with him. There’s no rush since I’m sure Jose Reyes is going nowhere soon. Look for Flores to graduate to Queens in 2013.

4-15-10: - SS- A-Savannah: The 18-year old prospect is repeating A-ball this year, which tends to tell me that the Mets have big, long range plans for Wilmer. As usual, he's starting the season off with less pop, but his .333 batting average after 30-AB leads the team in hitting. I stil look for him to be converted to either right field or first base in the future, but probably not this year.

4-28-10: - Wilmer Flores – SS – A-Savannah – the 18-year old Flores is off to his best professional start. This is his third pro-season and he’s still three years away from the legal drinking age. More important, is the fact that his pop has come around these past couple of weeks, especially on the last road trip. Stats for the season: .338/.384/.525/.909

5-5-10: - SS Wilmer Flores – A-Savannah – 19/yrs. old – Flores went over 100 at bats on Tuesday and has impressed once again at the A level: .327/.376/.535/.911. He especially has stepped up power wise in the last month and seems to be primed for the next level. The only shortstop prospect ahead of him is Reese Havens, who’s playing second base lately. If you live around the Savannah area, get a game in quick. Flores won’t be around long.

SS Wilmer Flores: Wilmer is dominating during his second year at Savannah. He currently is batting second in the league with a .343 batting average. This is a kid with a. 946 OPS and he doesn’t turn 19 until August. I’ve had the pleasure of watching him first hand for two years and this is the real deal. Expect him to be switched to right field next year and it’s going to very difficult to keep this kid in the minors past the 2012 season.

5-24-10: - Wilmer Flores – 3B – A – this is Flores’ second year in Savannah and he definitely looks ready to move on: .330/.388/.520/.907 in 179-AB. He also is leading the team in home runs, with five. The problem with any movement is the fact that St. Lucie gave their shortstop job to 19-year old Wilfredo Tovar, who is holding his own at the A+ level. Yes, Flores is scheduled to eventually be moved to the outfield, but that won’t happen until winter ball. Neither Flores or Tovar would hold their own at the AA level, so my guess is, even though Wilmer deserves the promotion, he probably is going nowhere.

5-7-11: - Question: Just what do the Mets do with Wilmer Flores? Flores turns 20-years old this August. He’s already playing his fourth season in the Mets organization and is currently hitting .284/.315/.362/.677 for Lucy. The pop still hasn’t come and he only has one home run this year with 19 runs batted in (116-AB). He’s leading his team in errors (guess what other infielder he’s tied with?) and no one has ever projected him as a future shortstop in Queens. Additionally, his lack of foot speed (this guy is really slow) doesn’t project him as an outfielder in CitiField.

That leaves first base and no one is moving Ike Davis, right? The Mets seem to have a bunch of infield prospects playing the wrong position. 3B Jefry Marte is projected as a future corner outfielder. 3B Aderlin Rodriguez isn’t thought of as the future replacement for David Wright. Only SS Wilfredo Tovar is projected to stay in the infield, but he weighs around twelve pounds and makes Ruben Tejada look like Miquel Tejada. Normally, I would say use this guy as trade bait to an AL team, but a .362 slugging percentage isn’t going to earn him a DH slot. No… enough with second base.

5-24-11: - Wilmer Flores needed a good day. He went into Tuesday’s game hitting only .167 in the past ten games and his slugging percentage was down to a mere .365. Then came a double, a home run, and five RBIs and hopefully it will be the start of something good.

5-27-11: - Dan Valis - http://metsmerizedonline.com/2011/05/the-invisible-top-prospect-wilmer-flores.html  - The question remains about when Flores could become a regular contributor to a franchise that badly needs a bright spot. He doesn’t have a set position and since he is still so young (something we’ve heard before i.e Fernando Martinez), he has plenty of time to establish himself as a future Major Leaguer and not another bust. He hasn’t had ridiculously high expectations thrust upon him like other top prospects early into their careers and he is progressing at a steady rate. He’s not a guy who we’ll see this season, or a guy who will necessarily dominate the Majors quickly, but he’s a kid who works at his own pace and that has gotten him to top prospect status rather quickly. As long as there are distractions in the franchise, and sadly there probably will be, Wilmer Flores looks like a guy who can come up and surprise a lot of fans. Let’s just hope there will be some other big pieces to couple with this youngster in the near future so the Mets, and their fans, have something to look forward to.

6-5-11: - It’s time for us to take a deeper look at SS Wilmer Flores and see how he is… err… progressing this season. In his defense, he’s still only 19-years old, which translates to a college freshman, or sophomore. However, let’s look deeper. The one true stat teams look for progress from the kids is OPS. Here’s what Wilmer has done: 2008 K-Port: .842… 2009 Gnats: .637… 2010 Sav/Lucy: .751… 2011 Lucy: .679. I’m going to keep saying this until someone important reads it. Leave the kid in Lucy through the 2012 season and give him time to lose his baby fat. At the same time, bump Robbie Shields ahead of him, which is where he’s supposed to be in the first place.

7-28-11: - http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/prospects/watch/y2011/index.jsp  - Scouting report: Flores, just 19 for most of the 2011 season, can flat-out hit. He makes good, consistent contact and does not strike out much. He's starting to grow into his power, as evidenced by the jump in extra-base hits a year ago. He doesn't run well, and the lack of speed likely means he won't be a shortstop long-term. If the bat continues to develop as it seems it might, it's quite possible he'll hit enough to be a big league third baseman in the future

Harrisburg 5, Binghamton 3

Lefthander Robert Carson allowed 12 hits over 5 1/3 innings and took his team-leading ninth loss in Binghamton’s 5-3 setback to Harrisburg Saturday night at Metro Bank Park. The Senators outhit the B-Mets 15-5 in the contest led by three hits from leadoff man Chris Rahl, who homered in the sixth to provide the winning margin.

Harrisburg (61-47) jumped on Carson with three runs out of the gate. Rahl led off with a clean single and was joined on base by Leonard Davis who also singled. After Derek Norris flied out, Tyler Moore tattooed a two-run double to the gap in left-center. Bryce Harper added to the lead with a double to center, making it 3-0 in a flash.

Carson settled in from there, but was pitted up against Tanner Roark, who cruised through the first five innings with just one hit allowed.

Binghamton (43-65) finally got to the Senators starter in the sixth. Reese Havens reached on a fielder’s choice after Matt den Dekker walked. Jordany Valdespin and Brahiam Maldonado followed and loaded the bases on a single and a walk, respectively. Allan Dykstra made it count with a seeing-eye single to center which plate two to draw the B-Mets within a run.

Harrisburg, however, answered in the bottom of the inning and knocked Carson out. Roark helped his own cause with a single to center and then Rahl followed with his second homer of the season onto the boardwalk in left field.

Roark allowed a leadoff triple to Kai Gronauer in the sixth. Mike Fisher drove him home with a groundout to short, but the B-Mets would not score again. Roark departed to the win after 6 1/3 innings. He allowed three runs on four hits and struck out three.

Rafael Martin sealed the deal for the Senators with two, scoreless innings to pick up his sixth save in as many chances.

Gronauer led the way with a 3-for-4 game, his highest hit total of the season.
From team press release


2012 Draft Profile: - RHP - Lance McCullers Jr.

Lance McCullers Jr.

6-11-10: - mlb  Lance McCullers, RHP, Tampa Jesuit HS, Fla.: McCullers has an electric arm. The son of the former big leaguer of the same name, he has the chance to be much better than his dad, with a fastball that can touch the upper 90s and signs of a plus slider.

6-23-10 from: - http://perfectgame.atinfopop.com/4/OpenTopic?a=tpc&s=114295945&f=6174069131&m=3221081702  - Day 1 at TOS: - 3b, Lance McCullers for Pony is a 2012, shows a near 70 arm at the corner and solid bat and approach at the plate. Runs ok, not a sprinter by any means, solid glove and range to his left. Can't wait to see him on the bump, hopefully tomorrow.

6-24-10: -  http://sullydraft.blogspot.com/2010/06/sneak-peak-2012-high-school-top-ten.html  - After watching the Junior National Showcase at Tropicana Field. Here is my top ten list for the class of 2012. - 1. Lance McCullers- RHP/SS, Jesuit HS (FL)

6-29-10 from: - http://www.baseballamerica.com/blog/high-school/?p=192  - The highlight of Saturday came during the fourth game with AABC and PONY vying for a spot in Sunday's bronze medal game. Starting for PONY was Lance McCullers Jr., a well-known prospect for 2012, son of an ex-big leaguer and already a favorite among a couple Baseball America staffers. McCullers is a 6-foot-1, 180-pound infielder/righthander from Jesuit High in Tampa. I first saw McCullers—along with dozens of scouts and recruiters—at the World Wood Bat Championships in Jupiter, Fla. in 2008. He was an incoming freshman then and hadn't thrown a varsity pitch yet. He had an 88-90 mph fastball and also showed a nasty curveball. Almost a year later he made an appearance at USA Baseball's National Training Complex in Cary, N.C. for the Labor Day Cup for Florida Travel Ball, his summer team. He showed the same nasty curve with a little more velocity and ran his fastball up to 94.

6-29-10 from: - http://perfectgame.atinfopop.com/4/OpenTopic?q=Y&a=tpc&s=114295945&f=6174069131&m=6261024791&p=2  - RHP, Lance McCullers, Jesuit HS, Tampa, 6'1 185 now, probably will end up 6'2 plus and 210, power arm, runs ok, nice level swing, good hands and know how, competes and does it all easy!! fb vel ranges from 92-96, saw a couple at 97 on the jugs, solid at 93-94, with nasty knee buckler cb. Command is ok for his age and he can only get better.

6-28-10 from: - http://www.baseballamerica.com/blog/high-school/?p=204&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter  - With the conclusion of the Tournament of Stars in Cary, N.C., USA Baseball has now announced the trials rosters for the 18U national teams.. - Lance McCullers RHP/INF L/R 6-1 180 Jesuit HS, Tampa 2012

6-24-10 from: - http://sullydraft.blogspot.com/2010/06/sneak-peak-2012-high-school-top-ten.html  - Sneak Peak: 2012 High School Top Ten - After watching the Junior National Showcase at Tropicana Field. Here is my top ten list for the class of 2012. - 1. Lance McCullers- RHP/SS, Jesuit HS (FL)

7-13-10 from: - http://web.usabaseball.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20100713&content_id=12240358&vkey=recap_usab  - The USA Baseball 18U National Team beat the Minnesota Class A All-Stars 5-4 Tuesday night at Veterans Field.. Lance McCullers (Tampa, Fla.) worked a perfect ninth, striking out the side on just 13 pitches, to earn his first save. McCullers was electric in the ninth, sitting all three batters faced down on strikes to seal the U.S. win.

7-13-10: - MaxPreps Sophomore All-American Baseball Team - Lance McCullers, Jesuit (Tampa, Fla.), All-Purpose - Helped lead the Tigers to the 4A state finals by batting .457 with 8 doubles, 30 RBI, 35 runs scored and 2 home runs. Named to the All-Suncoast Team by the Tampa Tribune.

8-12-10 from: - http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/high-school/events/under-armour-preseason-all-america-tournament/2010/2610524.html  - RHP/IF - Jesuit HS, Tampa The son of the former big leaguer, McCullers is the top pitcher in the 2012 class and was one of just two underclassmen on Team USA's 18U squad this summer. He has an electric arm with a fastball that has touched 98 and is consistently in the mid-90s. He mixes in a filthy slider and shows good composure. McCullers is also an athletic infielder with with power potential from the left side.

8-16-10 from: - http://www.mlbbonusbaby.com/2010/8/16/1625615/2010-under-armour-all-american#storyjump  - Lance McCullers, Jr., RHP/IF, Jesuit HS (Fla.) Committed to Florida as another top 2012 prospect, McCullers woke up a relatively dead crowd in the fourth inning on the mound on Saturday – reaching back and pumping 95-97 mph heat. Obviously, the arm was the best of the day, and he was able to showcase his 83-85 power curveball as well. Both pitches have plus to plus-plus potential. The only downside on this day was his control and command, which graded out as below-average. He could have just been trying to do too much as a younger kid at a national event full of older players, so he’ll get a pass for now. The arm action is pretty long, so I’m curious to see how the control develops in the next couple years. Also a top prospect as an infielder, McCullers has some big-time raw power in his swing as well. But, my gut feeling based on what I saw on Saturday sees him as a pitcher down the road if he can correct a few mechanical errors.

8-16-10: - http://www.prospectwire.com/pw/article.php?id=130  - Lance McCullers Jr., RHP, Jesuit HS (FL)- A 2012 grad, McCullers featured the most impressive stuff of any pitcher in the game. He has two potential plus-plus pitches. He ran his fastball up to 97, and sat in the 94-96 range. He walked one, and hit two batters to load the bases, but got out of the inning by striking out Mason Robbins, and getting game MVP Brandon Nimmo to line out to first. His command needs to improve, but he will only be a junior this season. McCullers is one of the best pitchers in the country, regardless of class.

8-29-10 from: - http://www.mlbbonusbaby.com/2010/8/16/1625615/2010-under-armour-all-american#comments  – McCullers was impressive but raw. Absolutely no feel for the breaking ball in this inning. I see why he gets dinged as not having much projectability left — he’s pretty well-proportioned and doesn’t have a lanky frame at all — but he definitely has room to get stronger, which is scary as he was 94 all day. He’s definitely a Sonny Gray type, where the lack of size scares you

8-14-10 from: - http://www.5tooltalk.com/notes-mainpage.html  - As noted above, no one matched McCullers heat. He sat at 94 and touched 95 twice. The arm strength and overall delivery are pretty easy, and he also mixed in a violent hard downer low-80s curve that had some slurve-like two-plane to it at times. He threw too many breaking balls, and likely would have enjoyed a much more crisp inning had he thrown more fastballs. He walked and hit a batter and he struck out both Nick Delmonico and Mason Robbins on fastballs. It’s going to be hard to determine how to develop this young man, a debate scouts will likely have for nearly two years.

Ranked #1 in the 2012 Prospects List compiled by the All-American Athletic Foundation - http://allamericanfoundation.pointstreaksites.com/view/allamericanfoundation/news/mlb-2012-draf t

10-11-10 – Top 10 2012 Prospects from Jim Callis/Baseball America - #3. Lance McCullers Jr., rhp, Jesuit HS, Tampa

6-10-11 from http://www.draftsite.com/mlb/mock-draft/2012  - Mock Draft - Minnesota Lance McCullers RHP United States 6' 2" 195

6-12-11: - http://bleacherreport.com/articles/722354-2012-mlb-mock-draft-early-predictions-for-next-years-top-10-picks#/articles/722354-2012-mlb-mock-draft-early-predictions-for-next-years-top-10-picks/page/2  - At only 16 years old, Lance McCullers was already throwing 97 mph fastballs, which means that as a high school sophomore, he is already pretty much assured of a place in the Top 10 of the 2012 MLB draft. There is a strong chance that he will go No. 1 overall, breaking the mold and becoming the first high school pitcher ever tabbed with the No. 1 pick. McCullers could have fit in very well with the 2011 draft class, seeing as how he's a diminutive pitcher around the same size as Trevor Bauer. In addition to his mid-to-high-90s heat, McCullers also features a hammer curveball that should be a plus pitch as a pro. He's also been throwing a changeup, and the pitch has considerable promise. One thing that might put a damper on McCullers' prospects on the mound is his ability at the plate and in the field, where he moonlights as Jesuit's power-hitting shortstop. In the field, he has shown more than enough arm to handle the position and is more fluid than you would expect a pitcher to be. His footwork is impressive as well. At the plate, he has a sweet left-handed swing that oozes with raw power. He has tapped into it in games, but could really take off if he would give up a career on the mound. And of course, McCullers has the lineage working in his favor. His dad was a seven-year MLB veteran who pitched for the Padres, Yankees, Tigers and Rangers.

6-19-11: - per Twitter - PGPatrickEbert - 2012 #mlbdraft prospect Lance McCullers throws 97, 97 and 98 with his 1st 3 pitches here at the PG National, also throws nasty 86 curveball

6-20-11: - http://www.baseballamerica.com/blog/draft/2011/06/pg-national-ends-on-a-high-note-with-mccullers  - McCullers threw 22 fastballs today: five at 94 mph, seven at 95, six at 96 and four at 97. He throws both a curveball and a slider. There is a subtle difference in the velocity—the curveball is 83-84 mph and the slider is 86-87—but the pitches blend together a bit with hard, late break. McCullers said he has been hitting the gym to add muscle to his 6-foot-1, 190-pound frame, mostly focusing on strengthening his legs and core. The improved strength showed up on the mound today, as McCullers looked more balanced than he has in the past. He was sticking his landing pretty well instead of falling off or overthrowing and the adjustment allowed him to throw more strikes.

6-25-11: - http://mlbdraftguide.com/1/2011/06/23/lance-mccullers-jr-2012-draft-profile  - Lance McCullers Jr. has been on the prospect map for a long time and is in line to be one of the first players selected in the 2012 draft. He is ranked numer 1 in Perfect Game’s Top 200 Draft Prospects for 2012. McCullers, whose father pitched in the Majors for 7 seasons, is a two way prospect, but his future is clearly on the mound. McCullers has great stuff and good command. His fastball sits 94-97 with some reports as high as 99. He also throws a power curve and a quality change. All three project as plus pitches. He has a fast, loose arm and uses a 3/4 arm slot. McCullers has the stuff and the competitive drive to excel at the next level.

7-3-11 via twitter: - PerfectGameUSA Perfect Game USA - Lance McCullers runs his FB up to 96 mph and shows a power breaking ball at 18U WWBA. Current #1 ranked player in 2012 class. 2012 #mlbdraft

7-21-11: - http://www.mockdraftmania.com/  - 1. Houston Astros Lance McCullers Jr. P Tampa Jesuit High School Florida I said back in March that the Astros would finish in last place instead of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Looks like I was right on that call while the rest of the country is shocked by the Pirates being in contention this season. To be honest, I’m not that surprised by the Pirates this season. I said back in March that the Pirates would win 70 games and have the division lead at some point in the MLB season. Every other MLB expert, sports personality, or Pirates fan never in their right mind would have picked the Pirates to win 70 games let alone be in contention for first place this late in the season.

Press Release: C Mike Nickeas

The New York Mets today announced the team recalled catcher Mike Nickeas from Buffalo (AAA) of the International League.

Nickeas, 28, joins the Mets for the second time this season. He made the club's Opening Day roster and appeared in eight games and hit .250 (5-20) before being optioned to Buffalo on April 29. The 6-0, 213-pound native of Vancouver, British Columbia also collected one home run and three RBI.

After being optioned, Nickeas appeared in 49 games with the Bisons, hitting .208 (30-144) with two home runs and 13 RBI.

Originally acquired from the Texas Rangers in exchange for outfielder Victor Diaz on August 20, 2006, Nickeas has seven hits in 30 career at-bats (.233) over a span of 13 games split between this season and last.

B-Mets Pre-Game Notes

LAST GAME: Jean Luc Blaquiere racked up three hits and col-lected four RBI to help the B-Mets dig out of a 5-0 hole and defeat the Harrisburg Senators last night by a 8-7 score at Metro Bank Park. Brandon Moore started for Binghamton and tossed two scoreless innings before allowing five runs over his final three frames. Trailing 5-0, the B-Mets offense woke up in the sixth. Binghamton started the inning with four straight sin-gles against Shairon Martis. After a sac fly from Mike Fisher, Blaquiere plated two with a double. The catcher scored later in the inning to tie the game at five on a throwing error by reliever Hassan Pena. Brad Holt kept the game tied with two scoreless innings before Binghamton took the lead for good in the eighth. With Fisher and Raul Reyes on base, Blaquiere ripped a two-run double to center. Matt den Dekker followed with a pinch-hit single to score Blaquiere. The Senators came within one by scoring twice off Edgar Ramirez in the eight, but Erik Turgeon closed the door with a perfect ninth for his sixth save.

STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP: LHP Robert Carson makes his 19th start of the season and second against Harrisburg. Carson earned the win, his first since 6/17, in his most recent start against the Portland Sea Dogs on July 25. The southpaw al-lowed two runs (one earned) on five hits while striking out six in six innings of work.

RHP Tanner Roark will make his 15th start with Harrisburg and second against the B-Mets. Roark snapped a five-game losing streak by defeating the Bowie Baysox in his last start on July 25. The righty allowed just one unearned run on four hits over eight innings.

ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY: Today is the one year anniversary of the trade that brought starting pitcher Tanner Roark to the Washington Nationals organization. Roark was traded along with Ryan Tatusko from the Texas Rangers for Cristian Guzman on July 30, 2010.

LONG TIME, NO SEE: Prior to last night’s game, infielder Mike Fisher was transferred from Buffalo (AAA) to Binghamton (AA). Fisher had started the season with the B-Mets before getting called up on May 12. He earned the Bisons Player of the Week award in his first week and hit .292 in the month of May. How-ever, he batted just .225 in 19 games in July before being re-turned to the B-Mets.

WINNING IN RELIEF: Brad Holt tossed two scoreless innings to earn his fifth win of the season and third as a reliever. In 11 relief outings, the righty has gone 3-1 with a 4.15 ERA. He went 2-6 with a 5.04 ERA as a starter.

Savannah Sand Gnats Pre-Game Notes

Savannah Sand Gnats  @ Greensboro Grasshoppers

RHP Taylor Whitenton (4-2, 2.71) vs. RHP Rett Varner (5-4, 5.91)

Tonight: The first-half champion Gnats try to snap a two-game skid in game three of their four-game series against the Greensboro Grasshoppers, SAL affiliate of the Florida Marlins. The Gnats return home to host the Augusta GreenJackets Monday through Thursday, August 1-4.

Last Night: The Grasshoppers’ starter Robert Morey tossed a complete game five hit shutout to take Greensboro to a 5-0 win over Savannah. The Grasshoppers hit three solo home runs off Savannah starter Ryan Fraser.

Now Pitching: RHP Taylor Whitenton, who missed two starts with a strained right forearm is scheduled to return to the hill today against Greensboro. Whitenton’s 2.71 ERA would be good enough for third in the SAL in ERA, but he is three innings shy of qualifying for the league leaderboard. His oppenents’ batting average of .181 would be good enough to lead the league. In his last 34 innings over six starts, he owns a 1.32 ERA (5 ER/34 IP) with 19 walks, 27 strikeouts and 16 hits for an opponents’ batting average of .136 (16 H/118 AB). In 2010 with the Gnats, Whitenton walked 5.7 batters/9 IP (68 BB/108.1 IP). This year, he’s walked 4.3 BB/9 (38 BB/79.2 IP). Last year with Savannah, Whitenton was 8-9 with a 4.57 ERA in 18 starts and eight relief appearances with the Gnats. He fanned 113 batters and walked 68, the second-most in the SAL, in 108.1 innings. In 2009, Whitenton threw five scoreless innings over four games in the Gulf Coast League, striking out seven, walking five and yielding just one hit. The Mets drafted Whitenton in the 39th round of the 2009 draft out of Darton (GA) College. The Gnats are 9-5 when Whitenton starts and have supported him with 3.3 runs per game.

Fun for Forsythe: Blake Forsythe, who doubled last night, has doubled in three straight games. After hitting .220/.295/.353 (AVG/OBP/SLG) in 173 AB over 50 games in the first half, he’s up to .262/.404/.440 in 84 AB over 25 games in the second half. His 11 second half extra-base hits are just four shy of his 15 from the first half in precisely half the number of games.

The Keepers: - #2 (3) - RHP - Zack Wheeler

2. Zack Wheeler RHP

6-3, 180 - Dallas, Ga. - drafted 1st round 2009 by SF

2010 - A-ball - 3-3, 3.99, 58.2-IP, 70-K

Fastball – Sits mostly in the 91 – 94 range, but can get as high as 95 or 96 in short spurts…tremendous life…gets on hitters quickly as it explodes out of his hand…will run into lefties and away from right handed batters…terrific carry through the strike zone, indicating plenty of arm strength…Wheeler has said he features two fastballs — a two-seamer and four-seamer

Slider – Hard slider is more like a slurve…comes out of his hand looking like his fastball and travels on a similar plane as well, which you can see in the below clip…the pitch breaks a little early, so it could use some tightening, but the break has some snap to it and will generate plenty of swings-and-misses.

Change-Up – Below average at the moment…doesn’t get enough differentiation from his fastball velocity to really get hitters off balance. When you contrast that with Jacob Turner’s change-up, even though he doesn’t throw the pitch very often, I’ve never seen it described as anything worse than “developing”. That’s one of the differences between Turner and Wheeler.

Mechanics - Wheeler’s mechanics are a bit herky-jerky. Pitchers with herky-jerky mechanics will often times make hitters less comfortable in the box, make it more difficult for hitters to pick up the ball out of the pitcher’s hand, and make it tougher for hitter’s to time a pitcher’s release. - http://www.baseball-intellect.com/scouting-zack-wheeler/

Fastball: At 94-96 MPH, Wheeler’s fastball exploded on top of Sand Gnats hitters. His long stride created excellent downward plane with a touch of arm side fade. In this outing, he appeared to be rearing back trying to light up the radar gun instead of working to command the pitch. With only an inning to showcase his stuff, it’s easy to understand why. The fastball may already be a plus offering and has plus-plus potential with improved command.

Curveball: Thrown in the low-80′s, Wheeler’s curveball is a harder offering than I normally see at the level. With tight, sharp break, the pitch exhibits wipeout potential in the bullpen. although he hung it a couple of times in game action, Wheeler creates plenty of depth with enough glove side run to make it more of a 11-5 offering.

Changeup: A third offering with plenty of potential, Wheeler’s changeup features some arm side run and a good amount of velocity separation from the fastball. However, in reviewing his side angle video, I was able to pick up on a slight slowing of his arm action which will have to be corrected.

While it’s not easy producing a report off of a single inning of relief work, I felt it important to let readers know Wheeler is still a fantastic prospect even after missing a couple of months due to injury. Wheeler had a definite “wow” factor which the overwhelming majority of prospects simply do not have. Behind Julio Teheran, he’s the second best pitcher I have ever seen at the level and has true impact starter upside. I look forward to seeing him again in a couple of weeks in what I hope will be for multiple innings. - http://scoutingthesally.com/zack-wheeler-san-francisco-giants-baseball-prospect-scouting-report-video

5-23-11: - http://projectprospect.com/article/2011/05/23/zack-wheeler-scouting-report   - Wheeler has two pitches that could surface as plus, in his fastball and curveball. The changeup I saw doesn't look like it will be more than a slightly above-average pitch. He could use more seasoning with his changeup as well as his command, but he could be a back-of-the-rotation starter in the big leagues tomorrow. His upside, which he could still be 3-4 years from reaching, is as a very good No. 2 starter and maybe even an ace for stretches of time. Every young pitcher comes with a good amount of injury risk, but Wheeler's mechanics make him an unlikely bet to avoid major arm injuries over the next five years. Hopefully he can stay healthy, mature into his frame, sharpen his command and get a chance to face big-league hitters. Wheeler is a treat to watch and one of the higher upside arms in the minors.

11-28-11: - http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/prospects/watch/y2011/index.jsp  - Scouting report: The Giants' first-round pick in 2009 is was a Futures Gamer in 2010, his first full season. He features a heavy fastball that he can run into the mid-90s with a vastly improved breaking ball and a changeup that has developed well this year. He's a much better pitcher after an up-and-down first full year that was interrupted by a fingernail problem, though he's still working on refining his command. Still, at age 21 and in the California League, he's ahead of the curve.

Mets vs. Expos - Again?

Is baseball dead in Montreal?

That's the question I asked myself several times this past week, walking this beautiful city from top (Mount Royal) to the bottom (the Old Port).

I always enjoyed going to Mets-Expos games while growing up as a baseball fan of New York's National League team. The Expos had a certain exotic appeal, being from another country and from a primarily French-speaking part of the world. It was also a chance to sing "O Canada" before the game, a song I learned the words to strictly because the Expos played in the National League East.

Today I take special joy in watching the Mets beat the Nationals, as they did last night, and I've developed a particular enmity for the team that was stolen from Montreal and given to a city that has already proven twice over that it cannot support Major League Baseball. Washington DC does not support professional baseball and history will prove it so again.

Seven years later after having its team hijacked, the newspapers in Montreal cover baseball from afar. When the Mets traded Carlos Beltran and cash for Zack Wheeler this week, it made barely a ripple on the sports pages of the Globe and Mail. (To be fair, the Globe and Mail is based in Toronto and its baseball coverage is Blue Jays-centric. That said, there is no excuse for Canada's English-speaking version of USA Today not to have MLB box scores in its sports section!)

You've read plenty of analysis on the trade already, but let me join the chorus of hosannas for Sandy Alderson. The Mets GM got a very solid pitching prospect for a player in his walk year, one who will not even reap the benefit of compensatory draft picks when he files for free agency thanks to a clause in his contract. I don't know how Alderson convinced ownership to pay the majority of Beltran's remaining salary this year, but doing so directly lead to the quality of the return the Mets got for Beltran.

Back to Montreal baseball. There are still reminders that baseball once existed in the city. The tourist shops on Rue Sainte Catherine still feature plenty of Expos shirts, jerseys and ball caps. They must be big sellers, because it is not unusual to see those shirts, jerseys and ball caps being worn all over the city by tourists and natives alike.

My temporary home for the week was on Boulevard René-Lévesque, less than a mile ... I mean, a kilometer from where Labatt Park would have stood. The entire saga is detailed in Claude Brochu's 2002 book My Turn At Bat, but you already know the ending. Labatt Park was the working name of a new downtown ballpark that would've saved the Expos from the cavernous and crumbling Olympic Stadium.

However, like every deal of this nature, ballpark financing relied primarily on public money. The city of Montreal and the province of Quebec were initially willing to participate, but political in-fighting and Quebec's unique culture ultimately led to the entire plan being shelved. Labatt Park was never built and Montreal lost the Expos to Washington soon after.

The Montreal Gazette crafted the flimsiest of rumors into a story this week, claiming that an unidentified group is looking to bring baseball back to Montreal.

"Before doing anything, I told the group to get their business plan together," Rodger Brulotte, the former longtime French-language broadcaster for the Expos said. "It has to include plans for a stadium, for radio and television rights, for everything, as though they already have the franchise."

Oh, is that all? The white elephant of Olympic Stadium still stands in the western part of the city, serving as the closest thing to a gravestone for Montreal baseball. Without a new stadium, however, baseball is never coming back to Montreal. The Labatt Park side has since been developed, although the article claims that other sites are under consideration.

So is baseball really dead in Montreal? Olympic Stadium will be the temporary home of the Montreal Impact during its inaugural season in Major League Soccer in 2012, while ownership figures out how to upgrade Stade Saputo to MLS specifications without spending a dollar ... I mean, a loonie of private money.

It's going to take a hell of a lot more than $23 million to build a new baseball stadium, but the simple fact that there is now precedent for public money being spent on a sports team is a step forward for Montreal baseball. Quebec has proven to be willing to put forward public money to renovate a soccer-specific stadium, a sign that public money for private sports projects that do not involve a puck and a stick isn't entirely off the table in Montreal.

The Expos were known as a small-market team for much of its history, but you may have noticed that the American dollar isn't quite as dominant as it used to be. The vaunted exchange rate was often cited as a cause of death for the Expos, and that was certainly a fair assessment in the days when the dollar was worth 30 percent more than the loonie.

On Friday morning, when I left Montreal to return to New York City, I stopped at the money exchange to cash in what was left of my Canadian dollars and coins. The teller offered me 92 cents for every Canadian dollar I gave back, an indication that the financial times certainly have changed.

Suddenly, you realize that Montreal is the largest metropolitan area in the United States and Canada without a baseball team. It's a relatively affluent population, considering that Canada's economy is now stronger than that of the United States. If Selig can't blackmail Tampa/St. Petersburg or the Bay Area into building a stadium for the Rays or the A's, might those teams be relocation candidates?

Today, there is no baseball in Montreal only because the commissioner's office did nothing to help a struggling market during tough times. MLB allowed the Expos to die so that Bud Selig could wrangle yet another completely publicly-financed stadium out of a struggling municipality. It was a travesty, a sham and a disgrace.

But baseball is not dead in Montreal. From the Gazette article: "The Expos were regularly stripped of their talent and mismanaged," said MLB. com reporter Barry Bloom, a longtime baseball writer. "They would need a new stadium above all else, but the precedent is there.

"Seattle lost the Pilots and got the Mariners. Milwaukee lost the Braves and got the Brewers. Kansas City lost the Athletics and got the Royals. New York lost the Dodgers and Giants, and got the Mets. And we know what happened in Washington."

The precedent is there. The money is there. And so, the potential is there. I'm not holding my breath that I will see the Expos at Citi Field one day, but I am practicing my version of "O Canada" ... just in case.

Roster Moves

July 29

INF Michael Fisher transferred from Buffalo (AAA) to Binghamton (AA).

INF Niuman Romero placed on Binghamton (AA) disabled list (right shin contusion).

P Isaac Monrroy assigned to GCL Mets from St. Lucie Mets

Marcos Camarena, Greg Pron, Brad Holt, Matt den Dekker, Mike Nickeas

Marcos Camarena:

Camarena first turned our head in 2009 when he went 7-2, 1.74 for the DSL Mets. Do you have any idea how hard it is to pitch that well in that league? Anyway, he continued his success last year (3-3, 2.68) for the GCL Mets and we were looking for big things from him this season in Brooklyn. Last night, he was almost unhittable for the Cyclones, going: 6.0-IP, 4-H, 0-R, 1-BB, 7-K.

Greg Pron:

Normally, you don’t write much about 42nd round draft picks, but I keep noticing the Kingsport box and Pron’s stats keep screaming out. Last night, he hit his 6th home run of the season and raised his BA to .310. We’re going to keep an eye on this 6-6 rookie.

Brad Holt:

Holt’s been trying to make the conversion from starter to pen and, frankly, he started out as inconsistent as a reliever as he’s been in the rotation. Last night; however, was his third plus outing, throwing 2.0 scoreless innings. That’s five scoreless innings in his past three outings. Boy, wouldn’t it be great if this worked out.

Matt den Dekker:

7-26-11: - http://www.amazinavenue.com/2011/7/26/2287253/mets-mid-term-farm-system-review-2011-binghamton#storyjump  - OF Matt den Dekker - STOCK HOLDING - Den Dekker showed many of the tools that make him such an easy bet to make the show. His glove in CF has lived up to all expectations. He has solid speed on the bases. He's even showing the kind of home run power that many thought would only translate to doubles in the pros. But for me to really feel good about his prospect status he's going to have to cut down on the strikeouts. At St. Lucie they were high but acceptable and as a four year college player he they should have been. In Bingo they're pushing 30% which will not cut it in the majors, let alone the high minors. The development of his plate discipline is the key. It is what will determine if he can maintain a passable OBP as he climbs the ladder. It is what will allow his surprising power to either continue to blossom or to fizzle. And it is ultimately what will determine whether he's Jordan Schafer or Drew Stubbs.

Mike Nickeas:

The Mets tried to quietly promote Mike Nickeas to Queens as the third catcher, but some of the online blogs have questioned why Nickeas and not a big bat. Well, you’re welcome to go to www.milb.com and check out the Bisons roster and look for that bat. To be honest, the Mets are quite concerned with the catching defense, which is a specialty of Nickeas. I may be wrong, but doesn’t Josh Thole lead the league in passed balls?

Terry Collins, Zack Wheeler, Robert Carson, Ryan Fraser, BaBip

Terry Collins:

Thats a lot to deal with for any manager, but Terry Collins has maintained the team's course and they continue to win in spite of these difficulties. Plugging in different players, moving them around and basically putting them in positions where they can succeed, Collins has managed to extract every last ounce of effort from a variety of players who were never expected to sniff the Major League level this season. Collins has also excelled in preemptive strikes against his ball club. As recently as this week, Collins informed his players that should they feel sorry for themselves and struggle as a result of Carlos Beltran's departure, they will not be here. Earlier this year when the team was struggling, he took the media and threatened to basically blow up the roster in order to find more wins out of his team - http://www.metsfever.com/2011/07/collins-continues-to-push-right-buttons.html  

Zack Wheeler:

7-29-11: -  http://bullpenbanter.com/  - Wheeler's stuff is top notch. His final pitching line was ugly: 5 1/3 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 3 K's, but the takeaway was that Wheeler has the stuff to pitch at the front of a major league rotation. The videos above will show that he can make pretty drastic adjustment to his delivery and I expect him to continue to make progress which will lead to improved command/control. The development of the change will be the main thing to keep an eye on in his development as he looks for a pitch to neutralize left handed hitters. Keep in mind that he has only logged 146 2/3 professional innings. There aren't a lot of minor league pitchers that have his type of upside. I was very surprised that Wheeler was traded for a playoff run "rental". These types of prospects aren't often traded.

Robert Carson:

7-26-11: - http://www.amazinavenue.com/2011/7/26/2287253/mets-mid-term-farm-system-review-2011-binghamton#storyjump  - LHP Robert Carson - STOCK DOWN - Look, he's definitely been better in Double-A in 2011 than in 2010. His K/9, BB/9 and HR/9 are all better. He's improved, just not as much as you'd like from a top pitching prospect. At 22, he's no longer that young and the Eastern League is having no poblem hitting him as he's allowed a .292 average against thus far. Even worse, one of the hallmarks of his game, an excellent GB%, has deteriorated since the promotion to Bingo. It's never wise to \ disregard a 20-something, 6'3" lefty that can consistently hit 93mph but I must say that I expect a better results from someone with that profile. He still shows reasons to hope -- see, last night's performance -- but I continue to envision Carson's realistic major league ceiling as a late-inning lefty a la Antonio Bastardo.

Ryan Fraser:

7-29-11: - https://mail.google.com/mail/?shva=1#inbox/131778f24f2bdfef  - RHP Ryan Fraser, who is tied for ninth in the SAL with 107.2 innings pitched, is scheduled to make his 17th Savannah start today. Fraser gave up a personal season-high 10 hits and six runs in his last start versus Lexington. He has walked nine batters in his last 10.2 innings. Last year with short-season Brooklyn, Fraser struck out 39 batters in 31.1 innings pitched, a rate of 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings. This year, he’s fanned 66 in 107.2 innings, a rate of 5.5 K/9. With the Cyclones last year, working exclusively out of the bullpen, he was 3-3 with a 1.44 ERA and 12 saves in 31.1 IP. He struck out 39, walked 20 and yielded just 16 hits. The Mets drafted Fraser in the 16th round of the 2010 draft out of Memphis. The Rays originally drafted Fraser out of Walker Valley HS in the 49th round in 2006, but he chose to attend Gulf Coast Community College and then Memphis. At Memphis, he led the Tigers with 93 strikeouts and 92 IP in 2010 on his way to three C-USA Pitcher of the Week honors and a Second Team All C-USA selection. In the classroom, he was a member of the C-USA All-Academic Team in 2010 and ran a 4.0 grade point average in high school. The Gnats are 8-8 when Fraser starts, and have supported him with 3.00 runs per game (48 runs/16 games), the lowest mark of any Savannah starter.


BaBIP - “Batting Average on Balls in Play”. Whereas batting average takes into account the percentage of at bats which become hits, BaBIP takes this a step further to determine the percentage of balls hit into play which become hits. By removing strikeouts from the equation, BaBIP can be a good indicator of how “lucky” either a pitcher or hitter has been, based upon the number of balls the opposing defense was able to handle (or mishandle as the case may be). Since baseball is comprised of a long season where statistics often regress to the mean, BaBIP can often be used to predict a player’s future statistics. For a hitter with a BaBIP much higher than the league average, it may indicate a dip in batting average is due. Conversely, a pitcher with a low BaBIP rate may be predicted to see an increase in hits allowed in upcoming games. - http://baseballreflections.com/2011/07/28/sabermetrics-101-gaining-the-fantasy-baseball-edge/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=sabermetrics-101-gaining-the-fantasy-baseball-edge