Tom Brennan – MAJORING ON THE MINORS - B METS SEASON PREVIEW
Last year was a great B Mets year. Finishing with a terrific record, the Boys of Binghamton went on to win the Eastern League championship behind stellar pitching from top Mets' prospect lefthander Steve Matz.Matz has moved on to AAA, as has the terrific Dilson Herrera, Travis Taijeron, and others. More guys likely would have been promoted, if not for a surplus of talent in AAA.
So how does the opening day roster look for the B Mets, as they open their season on the evening of April 9?
Terrific again. Let me touch upon a bunch of these guys and you'll get the picture that a championship repeat is certainly possible in Bingoville.
In the outfield:
Top prospect Brandon Nimmo struggled after his mid-season promo to AA last year. My guess is 2nd time is the charm for him and he is promoted to AAA mid-season.
Jayce Boyd is moving to the outfield in 2015, making room for Jairo Perez at 1B and perhaps TJ Rivera as well. Boyd had a terrific bat in the first half of 2013, sustained a serious thoracic injury, and as a result started very slowly in AA in 2014, but soared later in the season to finish at .293. I'd not be surprised if he hits .340 this year with added power.
Outfielders Gilbert Gomez, Jared King and Eudy Pina have all been promoted to Binghamton, and I wish them well.
Former first rounder Gavin Cecchini gets promoted to AA, with help from Lee Mazzilli and his 50 game suspension clearing infield space. Will Gavin break out in 2015, after signs of growth in 2015? I'd not be surprised.
The two infield hit machines (Jairo Perez (.363/.396/.539) and T.J. Rivera (.349/.388/.446)), both 26 years old, will see if they can again hit well above .300 in a fight to climb out of obscurity before collecting Social Security.
Catcher Xorge Carillo will shortly turn 26, but I believe he will also turn heads with his bat, as he finally gets real playing time. He had a really fine hitting winter league stint after a very solid year with the stick in 2014. Backing him up will be light-hitting Al Cordero.
Dustin Lawley, who struggled a bit in 2013 but who has PLUS power, ought to break out this year in his return to AA; his full season #'s last year were dampened by a brutal start. Big bopper #'s in 2015 are expected by me from Lawley, who had 2 doubles in 4 official at bats this spring.
Josh Rodriguez and disappointing (career-to-date) Aderlin Rodriguez round out the infield contingent.
7 guys as of now, including 3 from the vaunted Cyclones rotation of 2012. Missing is Luis Mateo, whose status in the organization is unclear to me following TJ surgery in 2013, and a rough return in 2014. Some arms don’t heal. But former 2012 Cyclone alumni from 2012, Gabe Ynoa, Luis Cessa, & Rainy Lara, will be likely starters in 2015, with Ynoa the gem of the 3.
Michael Fulmer, the hard throwing but oft-injured righty, gets a chance to show us he’s got some goods here in 2015. Maybe a future pen arm – we’ll see.
An exciting starter promotion is John Gant, who had a terrific year starting for Savannah in 2014. He is skipping St Lucie and going straight to B Mets, which speaks volumes. Go, Johnny, go.
Matt Koch has been enigmatic in his career, so let’s see whether he will be so-so, or step it up in 2015. Even more of a career mystery has been Domingo Tapia, who throws very hard but struck out very few in 2014. My bet is he moves to the pen in 2015, where maybe he channels the great Jeurys Familia, who also never did well as a starter.
In the pen:
Several fine dudes. First, Paul Sewald, whose career #'s so far have been terrific, and Beck Wheeler join AA. Wheeler, a guy who strikes out plenty but has occasional disastrous outings that mar his stat line – does Beck plateau in AA? We'll see.
Dario Alvarez, who jumped from Savannah to the Mets last September, is the lefty crown jewel of the AA pen, and hope is very high for him after a fine spring (10 good outings, 1 bad one). Other good pen arms include Chase Huchingson, John Church, Adam Kolarek, and Seth Lugo.
All in all, a heck of a roster. No doubt a winning one.