On a (not so) beautiful day in Port St. Lucie I was lucky enough to catch a spring game between the Mets and the Braves. I was anxious to see my favorite team, and one of their shiny bright new stars, Jacob deGrom. And it wasn't until I checked twitterverse this morning when I found out about all the prospects taking the field. On all accounts, it ended up being a great day.
The Man of the hour, Michael Comforto
First and foremost I simply have to talk about the player of the game, Mr. Michael Conforto. Even from just the naked eye of a (non) baseball expert, I could see that he looks legit. Conforto looked comfortable at the plate. Looked to have a solid swing, and made SOLID contact every time the ball hit his bat. You can hear the crack sound during each of his 3 hits, and only out of the game.
To make things more exciting for Mets fans, he seemed to play directly into this organizations philosophy. He challenged the pitchers. He worked the count to 3-2 on multiple at bats (including going from 0-2 to 3-2 and also connected on one of his three solid hits against a lefty pitcher.
What else can I say about him? He hit with men on base. He hit with men I scoring position. He hit while leading off an inning. Couldn't have asked for anything more.
deGrom was de-MAN
When in doubt, throw strikes
Good thing my family and I found our seats just in time before the first pitch, because deGrom seemed to be on a mission. A mission to be the poster boy for speeding up games times for the MLB (ok, maybe I'm pushing it a bit)..... Anyway, deGrom immediately came out throwing strikes, topping 95MPH and setting up the heater with his breaking pitches to completely keep the Braves hitters off balance.
No ball reached the outfield against Jacob until the 3rd inning. deGrom pretty much threw nothing but strikes, and saw a lot of swings and misses. I guess I should mention the one run, but that would mean I would have to mention it came off a hit that should have resulted in an inning ending double play that never came to be (oh Wilmer).
I wish I could give a ton of more analysis and thoughts on deGrom's outing, but he absolutely blew through the Braves lineup for two innings, leading to the coaching staff giving the old green light for that 3rd inning. Jacob looked great.
How bout that shortstop position, huh?
Ok, why not talk about the elephant in the room. deGrom was rolling along, then gave up a couple measly hits, but then induced a grounder to Dilson Herrera, who flipped it to Wilmer, who........... threw it in the dirt and got past Mayberry Jr. There was also another defensive chance where Wilmer got the out, but also threw it low. I've always known Wilmer to have a strong arm, and neither of these opportunities required any kind of real movement or long range to retrieve the ball before throwing.
And, as has been the case in what to possibly expect from Wilmer overall, I have to point out the laser shot he had at the plate, which resulted in a ground rule double, and led to him scoring the first run of the game (God bless em, but Wilmer almost looked surprised that he was even given the green light to head home on Conforto's shot that drove him in, and in the immortal words of Chris Berman, he appeared to rumbling bumbling stumbling home on the play.
I don't know. I'm a big Wilmer Flores fan. Its only spring training. Everyone is working out the kinks. But obviously the history (short as it may be) of all the critics against him are probably only piling up at this point.
My thoughts on some of the other young guys
Plawecki quietly looked pretty solid. I noticed (and heard) some really solid contact on the ball in a couple of his plate appearances. And he was catching deGrom, so that part of his game seemed to go well.
Can I just say that Cesar Puello seriously seems to have the God given ability to hit the crap out of a baseball. ............ Ok, his base hit was more of an excuse me shot opposite field on the ground that he was able to leg out. But for me, I'm talking about the moon shots that seemed to keep going out of the stadium, during 3 or 4 foul balls throughout the game. Anyway, he showed some good speed. His defense looked good in the outfield, and he did ok.
Matt Bowman pretty good to me as well. Like deGrom, he pretty much threw nothing but strikes for to innings. I believe 7 of his first 9 pitches were for strikes. However, unlike deGrom, I did notice and hear a few loud cracks of the bat as Braves hitters had some good contact on the pitches thrown by Bowman. And he did walk a batter in the second inning. But no runs given up is no runs given up. I'm not smart enough to calculate the BABIP type stuff and evaluate if Bowman can sustain ongoing shutout innings based on the way a couple of hitters made solid contact for outs, but I still like what I saw.
Dilson Herrera made some good plays defensively, made contact at the plate and still looks to me like a young man who can be on this team some time during the season.
My overall thoughts from Tradition Field
A two year old is only good for about 7 innings. After that, she needs more food and room at the bar and grill to roam......(wait, I'm getting off track)
Besides that, I saw a winning baseball club. Again, I'm not fooling myself here. It was a spring training game. A lot of unknown Braves hitters seemed to be in the lineup (although, I don't think the Braves themselves don't know anymore who is who at this point). And that two run shot by Conforto to give the Mets the lead, only happened thanks to an error on a routine double play by the Braves second baseman. But the point is that the Mets won a close game. The Mets won with pitching. The Mets won with a timely hit.
I saw lots of 3-2 counts worked by Mets hitters, such as Conforto and den Dekker. Maybe it wasn't the A team out there, but........ I love it when a plan comes together.
Oh, and last thing, the captain looked good. He drove another rocket to opposite field, and he made a gold glove type defensive play on a grounder with his bare hand. Can we call him healthy please ?
Go METS !!!!!!!!!