Posted by Ernest Dove at 10:00 AM
On Thursday night I had the pleasure of spending time in Port St. Lucie with my buddy Scot, sitting in unbelievable seats along the backstop next to the Mets dugout. Trust me, if you haven't experienced LIVE minor league baseball in your life, you need to strongly consider it. There was true value in the seats, ticket price, beer, food and talent on display last night at the A ball level. Of course, the main attraction had to be Travis d'Arnoud, who was the DH for the St. Lucie Mets.
Travis is still finding his way back into playing shape, but you wouldn't know it by the way he was being pitched to on this night. Every at bat seemed to be filled with breaking pitches off the plate and in the dirt during the early going. After being pretty much walked almost intentionally in the first, Travis did manage to make contact on a ball in his second at bat, with runners in scoring position, leading to an RBI groundout. During his last at bat, its almost as if he was surprised that the pitcher actually threw consecutive pitches in the strike zone, with Travis eventually striking out in his final at bat of the evening on a 91MPH fastball. But all is well. Travis looked relaxed, upbeat and definitely focused throughout the entire game. My eye ball test had him swinging on top of the ball a bit, leading to all the grounders and chopper hit.
But hey, there was plenty of other talent on display on Thursday night, mostly of the younger kind.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Mets have themselves a legit defensive shortstop. Only, he's 19 years old and currently plays for the A level St. Lucie Mets. It seemed like every inning, there was a ball hit right towards short, and Rosario made every play with ease. Amed looked fluid in his motion, no issues with range, a fast glove, and a strong arm which he used to target the first baseman's glove on the fly with ease. On one play, it was as if Rosario almost misjudged the bounce of the ball, but his hand movement was so fast with the glove that it gave him time to snag it and gun to first in time to get the out.
Rosario made a play ranging to his right, and also made a nice play running forward, throwing on the run with a solid throw on the fly to get the out. He made every play look routine, even through they all weren't. And, with his bat, I was happy to have seen Rosario, in the 9th inning, work out of an 0-2 hole in the count. He worked the count to 2-2, and then drove the ball opposite field over the second base side to bring in a run.
The player Rosario drove in with that run in the 9th was First Base prospect Dominic Smith. Who also, as observed by my buddy Scot, does have a....... nimbleness to his running stride..... (he definitely looks a little different from the kid that was drafted in 2013.... physically.......
Oh, and regarding the power.... well, hey Mack, buddy, this kid has LEGIT power that was on display. After having earlier roped a shot to right earlier in the game, Dom Smith stepped up in the 9th and absolutely scorched a ball off the Left field wall for his 12th double of the season.
And his glove was magnificent. I now know what the scouts were already raving about with this kid. He has a solid glove and a natural ability to dig out grounders and catch hot shots off the bat over there at first.
Speaking of power and solid contact, I was also very happy that Michael Conforto was out there playing tonight. As I told my friend at the end of the night, it's crazy to see a stat line of 0-5 on a website, and consider it a bad night for a guy, when in reality he had a solid night at the plate.
I believe his first 3 at bats pretty much were ball SMOKED off his bat, driving the ball to all sides of the field, including a ball to pretty much dead center, which I would guess went about 400 feet. Of course, center field at Tradition is 410 soooooooo a night of long outs at the plate for Mr. Conforto. In the Field, he made solid plays, running hard, using speed and making above average catches when he needed to. If I wanted to be totally neutral and unbiased, I believe there was one fly ball that he seemed to have misjudged off the bat (it sounded a lot harder hit) and the ball ended up dropping in front of him after what may have been a split second slow jump on it.
If There was an unsung hero on the night, I believe it was Mets infield prospect Jeff McNeil (and no, I'm not just saying that because I made him laugh on deck in the 9th). Jeff looked solid in the field, and made solid contact for two hits, to go along with that 9th inning intentional walk (they probable knew he was now relaxed thanks to me and did not want to chance it). His bio has him as a California kid, and in person he definitely looks the part. I feel like he seemed relaxed enough throughout the game (even without my humor) and comfortable enough to go fishing or surfing. And I can see why he is leading the FSL in batting average, because he certainly swings a smooth bat, and can pull the ball with ease with his bat speed.
Ok, I think I like RHP prospect Rob Whalen. Maybe not that excited about his 89-90MPH fastball, but more about his mid 70's hook, and his fiery attitude. Rob was showing a lot of emotion on the mound...... and unless I stand corrected (it happened kind of fast) I believe he was thrown out of the game in the 5th. What I also saw was simply way too many pitches per inning. Whalen did not seem to get into an easy groove, and it lead to many high pitch at bats, and though he was doing very well at mixing his pitches and their speeds (again, 89, 76, 90, 77) it caused extra workload on the arm. Overall, despite some hard hit balls throughout the game (nice defense out there behind him tonight), it was the 3run homer that basically caused the roof to cave in tonight.
Some of my thoughts on others in the game tonight:
Maikis De La Cruz looks like a very physically imposing hitter out there, but he ended up going hitless on the night.
Colton Plaia looked solid at the plate with two hard hit opposite field shots on the night...... side note.... he somehow managed to break a bat..... while swinging it in the dugout....... without hitting anything....... now that's power LOL......
Champ Stuart....... well....I'm a diehard Mets fan, and I respect everyone out there going for their dreams...... he's definitely very fast..... I'll just say that Champ appears to be having trouble catching up to the ball, even at only 90-93MPH
Kelly Secrest pitched a solid 1 and 1/3 innings, throwing 90-91 and sporting a mid 70s hook of his own.
Overall, it was a fun experience all around....... Again, final thoughts, I don't expect to see Conforto again in a St. Lucie Mets uniform when I go back there because he just simply looks like a major leaguer already, and so good luck to the man as he eventually heads to AA level to hit balls solid off his bat regularly like he did tonight. Rosario is a stud. I want Whalen and Wally in Vegas yelling at umpires........ And Dom Smith...... lay off the dollar hotdogs.....
LETS GO METS