Reese Kaplan -- Death by Vegas

T.J. Rivera, Brandon Nimmo, Gavin Cecchini and Kevin Plawecki all hit well over .300 while swinging the bats in the Las Vegas desert.  In limited samples Rivera did so in Queens, too, with a .333 AVG over a 105 AB trial.  Nimmo had just 73 ABs to show what he could do and managed a respectable .274.  Cecchini got only 6 ABs for the season but managed hits in 2 of them…to put that in perspective, Logan Verrett had more than 3 times as many ABs as did Cecchini.  Kevin Plawecki did get chances – 132 of them to be precise – and didn’t reach the Mendoza line. 

So what does this tell us about Las Vegas as a hitter’s paradise?  Want some more evidence?  How about Ty Kelly who hit an impressive .328 in Las Vegas but just .241 for the Mets?  Then there’s the gone but not forgotten soup man, Eric Campbell, who was a Las Vegas superstar, hitting .363 and .301 his last two stints in Sin City, but failed to crack the Mendoza line in 2015 or 2016 in the majors.  Even Johnny Monell in Las Vegas hit .324 and .276 in Vegas but only managed .167 in the majors over a 48 AB trial. 

Pitching is another matter entirely.  Take year end wunderkind Seth Lugo.  He was on the path to anonymity with a Las Vegas line of 3-4, 6.50 ERA and a ghastly 1.677 WHIP.  He comes to the majors at age 27 and responds with a late season stat line of 5-2, 2.67 and a tidy 1.094 WHIP. 

Robert Gsellman had a good pitching pedigree right up until Las Vegas.  He finished the rookie season going 4-2 with a 2.42 ERA.  In the minors he was 34-31 with a 3.11 career ERA but in Las Vegas it ballooned to 5.73. 

Not too many flourish in Las Vegas.  For some, it’s the end of the road.  Take Darin Gorski who in 2011 pitched to a 2.08 ERA in Port St. Lucie.  In 2013 after missing time due to injury he returned with a 1.83 in AA and then a 2.22.  Then came the wall in Las Vegas.  He gave stints of 6.59, 4.56 and 5.52 and 5.90 over parts of 4 seasons.  Those are outstanding numbers prior to Vegas and then he falls apart against better competition…or do the inflated hitting stats mess with a pitcher’s head and success?

Want an even better example, think about Rafael Montero.  He was on cruise control towards an All-Star career, with an 18-11 record and a 2.22 ERA over his Rookie, A and AA career.  His WHIP and strikeout numbers were impressive, too.  He was allowing less than a baserunner per inning pitched and fanning about 8.5 per 9 IP.  Then came Vegas.  It got ugly.  In the majors it got worse for the most part but there were a few starts where he showed that brilliance that had him on the fast track.  Last year it got so bad he got demoted to AA again where he once more flourished with a 2.20 ERA.  So is it that he’s unable to handle the stiffer offensive competition in AAA or is the hitter friendly environment messing with his head?

Another good case is Sean Gilmartin, one of Terry Collins’ doghouse puppies.  After staying on the roster for all of 2015 and delivering a 2.67 ERA over 50 games he didn’t even get to come north with the team.  Left to rot in Las Vegas, he did just that – a 9-7 record with a 4.86 ERA – and a brief return to the majors showed what that had done to him – a 7.13 ERA over a 17 IP 2016 trial. 

So why do the Mets stay in Las Vegas given the geographic issues, the hitting numbers that make Coors Field look like a pitcher’s park and the sometimes irreparable damage it does to is pitchers?  Granted, there are a finite number of pre-approved cities where AAA baseball operations take place and you kind of have to wait for a stadium/team affiliation deal to expire before you could explore relocating, but the rest of the baseball world knows your hitting prospects aren’t worth much and you’re trashing otherwise valuable pitching trade chips by making their numbers tank.  It’s a ponderous thing that they have not only endured this environment since moving from Buffalo for the start of the 2013 season, but also twice extended their agreement.  They’re now contractually bound to their AAA hell through the end of the 2018 season.  Like many things related to the Mets, you have to wonder if there is an actual plan for the future.


Mack Ade said...

What I hate the most about having to play our top tier minor leaguers in this league is the fact that we know this game is over 50% mental and having hitters hit higher than they should while pitchers pitch worse than they would at any other altitude, is just unfair and does not allow a club the opportunity to evaluate these players correctly.


I would keep my top prospects in AA for an additional year and promote them then to the Bigs.

Thomas Brennan said...

One fault with Nimmo, despite his .270's average, was that in 79 MLB plate appearances, he had just two extra base hits. He did not fail his audition, but he did not pass it either.

Robb said...

SO you're saying, that vegas is great for pitchers, bc it puts them through adversity so that when they get to ny they get a bit more break on the off speed pitches and balls dont go as far. and now all of a sudden they get outs. they had to be better to get outs in vegas.

while for hitters its a fools paradise bc they get flatter pitches to hit and the balls jump into the gaps in a way they dont in ny.

so a 30% discount rate seems fair. just adjust the methodology for evaluation. to get a truer result. the cal league is the same for hitting prospects. or yankee stadium for pull hitting lefties.

Mack Ade said...

having to calculate percentages on your players because of altitude adjustments is just plain stupid.

I hate being part of this league

Reese Kaplan said...

You'd think some western affiliate would want to swap with the Mets if Vegas wasn't such a third rate facility. The Oakland A's, for example, have their AAA in Nashville. Wouldn't it geographically make sense for both teams to swap affiliates?

Mack Ade said...

Reese -

Is the Las Vegas facility as bad as Grayson Stadium was here in Savannah?

Thomas Brennan said...


Summerlin Could Offer Solution for 51s by Zach Spedden on November 10, 2016 in Minor-League Baseball, News

In the midst of their effort to replace Cashman Field, the Las Vegas 51s (Class AAA; PCL) could find a solution in Summerlin.

The 51s have actively sought to replace Cashman Field with a new ballpark in suburban Las Vegas, with Summerlin being viewed as a viable option. Earlier this year the 51s laid the groundwork for a new facility in Summerlin, which called for a land donation from the Howard Hughes Corporation. That plan, however, stalled when concerns about its cost estimate arose.

Now some are wondering if a similar plan could be executed, but this time with the ballpark tied to a development that includes an NHL training facility. The NHL expansion franchise that will begin play in Las Vegas next fall is developing a training complex in Summerlin. As previously covered on our sister site Arena Digest, the vision for the training center is fairly ambitious, as it includes two rinks, allowing the community to be used by the community as well as the NHL franchise.

Adding a ballpark to the mix has become an intriguing proposition for developers, as it could trigger the creation of a sports complex and additional development. More from the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

It’s no secret that The Howard Hughes Corp., which owns the property and has leased the site of the hockey facility for 20 years to Black Knight Sports & Entertainment LLC — owner of the NHL franchise — would like to have the 51s playing in a baseball stadium next door.

There are many reasons for this, not the least of which is that Hughes Corp. is a one-half owner of the 51s baseball franchise. In fact, there’s a huge blueprint for development of the second phase of Downtown Summerlin hanging on one wall in the third-floor conference room of the Hughes Corp. headquarters at 10801 W. Charleston Blvd. On that layout is the area designated for a possible baseball stadium. And that area happens to be located just next door to the hockey practice facility.

So, Summerlin Sports Complex in the making? Well, people in the know aren’t talking about a baseball stadium — at least not just yet. There are too many of those other things that still have to be settled, like who will pay for constructing it, and how much will it cost, despite the willingness of Hughes Corp. to donate the land, which it values at considerable millions of dollars.

The 51s have a lease at Cashman Field that runs through 2022. However, the team and the Pacific Coast League have both expressed a desire to construct a new ballpark sooner rather than later, citing the poor conditions of Cashman Field.

Richard Herr said...

Of course there were the good old days when we had the team in Norfolk/Tidewater. Unfortunately their folks got pissed at the Mets because a certain someone wouldn't return their calls. I'm posting something else on that topic very shortly.

Thomas Brennan said...

A lot of the players don't realize few will escape Vegas, because what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

Mack's Mets © 2012