4/30/16

ROSTER MOVES - Columbia

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Please note the following New York Mets Minor League transactions:

Effective Friday, April 29, 2016

OF Tucker Tharp transferred from Columbia Fireflies to the Disabled List.

OF Enmanuel Zabala transferred to Columbia Fireflies from Short-Season A Brooklyn Cyclones.
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Reese Kaplan -- Dunno About d'Arnaud

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Travis d’Arnaud is rapidly devolving into Cliff Floyd, the talented but seemingly perpetually injured outfielder who played for the Mets for four years between 2003 and 2006, only once eclipsing 114 games played in a single season.  (Ironically Floyd was eventually replaced in LF on the roster with even more fragile Moises Alou, but that's another story for another day).  Though still three years younger than Floyd was upon his arrival to the Mets, the fact remains that Travis’ high water mark of games played is just 108. 

There are flashes to show you what he’s capable of doing.  Last year, for example, in his mere 67 games he slugged 12 HRs and drove in 41 in just 239 ABs.  Extrapolated over the course of a full season and he’d be challenging Buster Posey for the All Star berth. 

With him once again on the shelf for what appears to be a catching related injury due to throwing, the question arises about his future with the ballclub.  There are a few ways to go.  You could hope his recovery proceeds and he returns to his customary place behind the dish.  You could start grooming him for another position on the field that’s less strenuous (though a number of his injuries have been freakish in nature and not directly attributable for playing backstop).  Or you could simply move on and plan for the future without him. 

A participant in a Mets mailing list confided that the impingement in the shoulder caused a year-long recovery for him when the same injury hit (and he was not a professional ballplayer).  That’s pretty scary stuff.  There’s not been a whole lot written about the prospective recovery period for d’Arnaud nor what options exist – rest, surgery, etc – so it’s all a guessing game.

In the interim we once again have Kevin Plawecki receiving a much larger share of playing time than was originally forecasted when they penciled him in as the backup.  Even if his gap hitting comes around, he’s not going to provide the run production expected from d’Arnaud.  Plawecki’s best minor league season saw him deliver 11 HRs and 64 RBIs while hitting .309 between Binghamton and Las Vegas.  As a career .290 hitter in the minors he’s likely better than he’s shown thus far.  The hope is that with the off-season surgery his breathing problems are behind him and he can now produce at the big league level, too.

However, if he does not, what do the Mets do in the future about the catching position?  Some people advocate defense first and a .250 average for a catcher.  Is he a strong enough defensive catcher that replacement level hitting is acceptable?  Do you roll the dice on finally getting a healthy year from d’Arnaud?  Or is it time to start moving in another long term direction?

Personally, I would advocate a position switch for d’Arnaud.  While 1B would be the best fit for someone who is recovering from arm problems, there’s a 6’5” obstacle in his way there.  Most catchers do not have the foot speed to play the outfield, so it would appear he could be heir apparent to David Wright if 2016 proves to be the Captain’s farewell tour.  You’d still have Wilmer Flores as a backup.

Of course, if Wright’s enormous salary comes off the books then they could go in another direction and perhaps try to ink Neil Walker to stick around to play 3B with Dilson Herrera slotting in at 2B.  That would leave the Travis d’Arnaud question unresolved. 

So is it time for the Mets to think about another catcher or is d’Arnaud still the man of the present and the near future?
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Mack’s Morning Report – 4-30-16 – Dee Gordon, Brandon Brosher

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Good morning.


First, I watch the NFL draft last night and see projected top five pick, OL Larry Tunsil, dropping like dead flies after someone posted a picture of him hitting a bong, with a gas mask on, on his Twitter account.

Then I go online and find out that Dee Gordon, one the best ballplayers in baseball and the reigning National League batting champ, has tested positive for PEDs.

Buster Olney /ESPN put it best about actions like these: A player taking PEDs now is choosing to cheat brethren working for a level playing field; he's taking service time and money from somebody else.

The first thing that comes to my mind are they just simply stupid. Both Tunsil and Gordon are superstars in their respective sports and need no chemical help to succeed.

I have two simply solutions to ‘things’ like this.

First, one… forget an 80 game suspension. Make the 80-game only used if there are 80 or less games left in the season. If not, suspend the player for the entire season.

And two… cancel any existing long term commitment to these players and just have his current year’s salary available to him that… oh… yeah… that will be suspended and he won’t get that either.

I wouldn’t expect the player’s union to rollover here, but you create these kind of fines and I assure you these players will take these chances far less in the future.


Ernest Dove asked me yesterday if I noticed that St. Lucie slipped in a couple of players that had been working out on the other side of the complex.

Catcher Brandon Brosher and outfielder Raphael Ramirez were added to the roster for reasons unexplained which is normal for the way St. Lucie operates. Adding players directly from the extended camps is a cost efficient way of filling in a slot that usually has been created by someone going on the disabled list, coupled with not desiring to move someone from Columbia this early in the season. I have no idea what has happened to either catcher Lednier Ricardo or outfielder Patrick Biondi.

I’ll reach out to team spokesperson Adam McDonald for an explanation and will get back to you if I find out anything.

          Update – got this email from Adam –


Mack - Biondi and Ricardo got nicked up earlier this week and Brosher and Ramirez are the temporary replacements. Biondi and Ricardo have not been placed on the DL. – Adam
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4/29/16

Ernest Dove - New York Mets Prospect Watch: OF Champ Stuart

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                                                   Champ at bat at Tradition Field

  Well, I wanted to follow up my LIVE FROM LUCIE post last week by starting a series of prospect watch postings to allow for singling out the prospects I've seen LIVE this year, some of whom I've seen over two years now (like Champ) and put effort into given them a little individualized attention and see what we have here :)

  First up is Jervis Harvin (Champ) Stuart, the resident speedy Gonzalez currently in the Mets farm system right now.  Champ will play out the entire year as a 23 year old.  He is a 2013 6th round pick of the Mets, a college guy, from the Bahamas. I assume we all know two things at this point, Champ can run, and we have concerns for Champ hitting.

  I've now seen Champ over two different years, both at the High A level with the St. Lucie Mets.  In 2015 I definitely saw the speed, but had serious concerns about the hitting tool.  My biggest concern was not only the strikeout rate, but simply being able to hit what the Tradition Field gun had at 89-91 MPH fastballs.

  Now in his 4th season of professional baseball, spanning 241 games, Champ is hitting a career .220 with an OBP hovering around the .320 mark.  Due to the low average, the speedy Champ only has 69 career stolen bases. 

  In 2016 my ray sunshine for Champ has been his ability, only through my one game eyeball test, to make contact on the ball this year.  Regarding his actual stats this year, it's also important to note that his BB/K ratio seems to be at its best as a professional, currently with 12 BBs against 25 Ks this year.  last year, Champ had 40 BBs and a whopping 141 Ks, so there is improvement here.  Of course, I have to always remain objective and not get too excited.  Champ is a college guy.  He's 23 years old.  This is his SECOND year at the level, and as my buddy Scot pointed out, we really need Champ to dominate this level this year.  Maybe not quite like Jeff Mcneil (yup, I heart Jeff) who destroyed the level in his second year with one of the highest batting averages, but there HAS to be marked improvement.  And from my eyes, there has been.

  Also of note: my eyeball test tells me that Champ plays a very solid CF, covering the area extremely well, using his speed and eyes to make good jumps on the ball in the air, and it's my personal opinion that he does have a pretty strong arm, especially considering his slight build.  In my second year seeing him, I really don't see any kind of weight gain or building of muscle.

  So, as always, the concern is the old school stat of the batting average.  It's nice to see the K and BB rates look improved, and a .337 OBP is good starting point for a centerfielder, but I'm wondering what the outlook and projects can truly be for him at this time.  Again, we're talking about the guy who is probably the fastest in the entire farm system (I've heard good things about youngster Lindsay but have never seen em play).

  I guess maybe I can pretend to play the game of comps, and maybe try to project him out as an E.Y. Jr. type.  Both guys are looking at 'later in life' arrival at the major league level.  I believe Champ's arm could play in the corners in a pinch as a 5th OFer type, like what de Aza is currently doing for the Mets.  But then also the question is Champ and his power. E.Y. Jr and de Aza have shown some power at the major league level.  Champ has 10 homers in his minor league career. 

 NOT to compare, but the Reds Billy Hamilton is still now a career .240 hitter in the MLB, with an OBP under .300. Billy also though is a gold glove CFer, with a solid approach to his infield hits/bunts.  I've actually seen Jeff McNeil bunt more for hits in Lucie than Champ at this point. Champ has technically shown more power at the minor league level than Billy did, but Billy was a career .280 minor league hitter. 

  All in all, the jury is out on Champ.  a yearly track of improvement would still put him in the majors by age 26, which is not old, and considering his glaring one tool, it's still good to have him at that age.  In fact, I'm one of the crazy guys who thought out loud last year about wishing he could have been put onto the roster in September, but I'm sure that Mets just didn't want to risk losing the guys at the time on the 40 man, and also take into account the strategies for guys based on when they are 'forced' to be put onto it to avoid rule 5 status.  I don't believe Champ would have any chance of making it onto the 40 man by September this year either.  There's simply too many arms on it right now that the team values, along with hitters they don't want to give up on like Nimmo and Matt Reynolds.  But trades always happen.  And if the Mets unload prospects again to include any 40 man guys, I guess anything is possible.  But either way, if Champ doesn't start consistently hitting for average, it will be a tough decision for Mets to make in regards to actually keeping him for a third year back in the High A level.

  Either way, you simply cant teach speed like he has.  I look forward to seeing him play again in the coming month or two ahead. I'm really hoping his BA is at least above .260 when I do.

 
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Mack’s Morning Report – 4-29-16 – Matt Harvey, Jeurys Familia, Addison Reed, Cory Mazzoni, Vinnie Siena, Brandon Nimmo

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Good morning.


You all know how and when I write my morning report. Most of the work is done in the daytime well before the night game of the same day. Example: Today is Thursday and, right now, I’m writing this Matt Harvey piece at around 10:30am.

In a perfect world, I should have written this is yesterday’s post which posted up the morning after he pitched his last game, but this just doesn’t fit my time clock anymore. So, I have to keep a check on the results of each game, just in case something I wrote doesn’t make sense when it posted up.
A good example of that would have been what I said last post about Jeurys Familia. It was written before ‘’last night’s’ (Wednesday) game. What if he pitched and game up six runs? You see what I mean.

So today… Thursday… I’m writing about Harvey’s last game on Wednesday… which will post up on Friday.

Sorry about that.

Everybody, including Harvey, has been concerned with his slow start, inconsistent mechanics, and decreased velocity this year. No one thought he was hurt; they just (frankly) considered this more mental than anything else. Harvey is a very emotional person and demands perfection when he reaches the mound. His game always seems to fall apart when he begins to not achieve that perfection.

The return of The Dark Knight seemed to begin on April 22nd when Harvey won his first game of the season, struck out five in five innings, and gave up only two runs. He followed that up on Wednesday with his second win of the season, increasing his innings pitched to six, and striking out seven which giving up only two runs. That’s now 4 runs and 12 strikeouts in 13 innings…

Even more impressive was his last and 102nd pitch… a 97 mile per hour strikeout to Jordan Pacheco.

There’s a way to go here, but I still truly feel that the secret to this guy’s game is in his head and don’t be surprised his next start doesn’t get even better.



From Brice Toth -

Hey Mack, I've been watching a lot of the games so far this season or at least have them on in the background while doing other things. One thing I've noticed so far about Familia recently is he's giving up hits but most of them are little dribblers or dinks that if we had infielders with more range they would be outs. Long way of saying, I think he has better than his numbers, at least recently. I feel like he has had a few close pitches not go his way either. Just my two cents.

Mack – Interesting observation. I live in South Carolina so I don’t get many Mets games so I don’t see him pitch player to player.


 Rotographs on Addison Reed

Addison Reed is back in the SV column. However, don’t go running out to pick up the righty just yet, as he was merely vulturing a save from Jeurys Familia after the Mets closer had pitched the last three (and four of the last five) days. The former White Sox farmhand was solid, tossing a clean ninth with a lone punchout of Adam Duvall. While Reed’s 2015 was the worst (peripherally) of his big league career, there have been some positive signs through a few weeks of 2016. His SwStr% is well up, although there isn’t a significant change in pitch mix or velocity. Reed is also attacking the strike zone and getting ahead of hitters — his 70% F-Strike% would easily be the best mark of his career. It’s somewhat tenuous whether these small gains will persist as the calendar pages turn, but a hot start and his usage patterns show that Reed is (for now) the handcuff to own in Queens.

Mack – The Mets bullpen seems to be clicking on all their cylinders right now. I especially like what’s going on with Jim Henderson (1.17), Hansel Robles (1.80), and Logan Verrett (0.55). I’m not exactly sure what kind of move will be made when Josh Edgin is named healthy and ready to return.



From Reese Kaplan

Last year the Mets made a rather unsuccessful trade when they sent Cory Mazzoni and a PTBNL to the San Diego Padres for Alex Torres (and his cap).  The Mets in August of 2015 DFA'd Torres and he finished up the year in the minors for Las Vegas.

This week what goes around comes around as Cory Mazzoni was DFA'd by the El Paso Chihuahuas (AAA affiliate of the San Diego Padres).  Sometimes you hear people talk about the trades that work out for both sides.  Here's a case of one that worked for neither.

Mack – Look… the Mets have traded an awful lot of young pitchers away lately, but, so far, none have come back to bite the team in the ass while, at the same time, the team is one-for-one in becoming the NL Champs by benefiting from players received in those trades.


I have no problems with what the Mets have done here.



Lexington 6 – Columbia 5  -  The Fireflies never trailed in their three-game series with the Lexington Legends until the eighth inning on Thursday night - that's when the visitors used a three-run frame to take a 6-5 lead and down Columbia at Spirit Communications Park.

The Fireflies led, 5-3, to start the eight. Samir Duenez launched his second home run of the night off of Seth Davis (L, 1-1) to begin the frame. Ben Johnson and Cody Jones then followed with run-scoring hits to give the Legends the one-run edge.
Columbia (12-9) then went scoreless the final two innings. Manager Jose Leger's team has won six of its last eight heading into its four-game weekend series with the Kannapolis Intimidators.

The home team struck first, scoring runs in the first two innings. In the bottom of the first, Vinny Siena tripled - for the second straight night - and David Thompson drove him in after grounding out to the shortstop Marten Gasparini. Then in the second, J.C. Rodriguez doubled off of Legends starter Scott Blewett. Tyler Moore stepped to the plate three batters later and knocked home his teammate.

The Columbia lead expanded to three runs in the third inning. With two runners aboard, Joe Tuschak tripled for the second time this season. The Fireflies led 4-1 after three frames. Press release.

Lexington (9-12) responded with scores in the fourth and sixth innings to cut their opponent's lead to one run. In the bottom of the seventh, though, Thompson tattooed a fastball from reliever Kyle Kubat (W, 1-1) over the left-centerfield wall for his second dinger of the season.

Not to be forgotten, Columbia starter Thomas McIlraith pitched in effective six innings. He allowed just two earned runs and struck out a career-high nine batters. Team press release.


Las Vegas 8  -  Tacoma 1  (4.5 innings)  -  Las Vegas pounded out ten hits in four innings and beat Tacoma in a rain/wet ground shortened game.

CF Brandon Nimmo .242) broke out, going 3-3, 2-R, 1-double, and 3-RBIs… 3B Matt Reynolds was the only other player to produce multiple hits (.304, 1-R, 1-RBI).


Sean Gilmartin pitched the ‘complete’ five innings: 2-H, 1-ER, 5-K, 4-BB (?), 1.66.
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Charlotte 10 - St. Lucie 3

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The Charlotte Stone Crabs avoided being swept by beating the St. Lucie Mets 10-3 on Thursday at Charlotte Sports Park.

Stone Crabs starter Brent Honeywell limited a hot Mets offense to five hits and one run in 5.2 innings. He struck out five and walked two. Honeywell is Baseball America’s No. 3 Rays prospect.

The Crabs offense flexed some muscle by hitting four home runs. The Crabs went to work early against Mets starter Corey Oswalt, scoring two runs in the first, two more in the second and plating three runs with two outs in the third. Cade Gotta’s two-run homer in the inning made it 7-1.

Solo home runs by Bralin Jackson and Alec Sole in the fifth and sixth against Jimmy Duff put the Crabs up 9-1. Pat Blair’s solo shot in the eighth off of Tim Peterson made it 10-1.

Kevin Taylor went 2 for 4 with a double for the Mets. Wuilmer Becerra went 2 for 2 with a double and two walks.

Oswalt suffered his first loss. He was tagged for seven runs on 10 hits. He struck out five.

Notes: The Mets lost on the road for the first time. They are now 6-1 away from Tradition Field…The Mets took two of three in the series after Charlotte took two of three in St. Lucie last week…Coming into the night the Mets staff had only surrendered six home runs all year. The Stone Crabs offense had only hit six home runs all year…Amed Rosario went 1 for 5. He had seven RBI in the first two games…catcher Brandon Brosher and outfielder Raphael Ramirez made their St. Lucie debuts…Champ Stuart had his first off day.
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4/28/16

HOW ARE THOSE COLUMBIA FIREFLIES LOOKING - Tom Brennan

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HOW ARE THOSE COLUMBIA FIREFLIES LOOKING? by Tom Brennan

Having previously elaborated, joyfully mind you, on the 3 higher Mets’ full season farm teams in past weeks, here’s my not-so-dirty low down on the Columbia Fireflies, based in the great state of South Carolina.

NEW DIGS: Before getting to the players, Spirit Communications Park (brand spankin’ new and located in downtown Columbia, SC) is the new home ballpark of the Fireflies, the Mets’ Class-A affiliate in the S. Atlantic League. Its dimensions are hitter-friendly; LF – 319 ft; CF – 400 ft; RF – 330 ft.   Players have to smile at those dimensions, quite a bit more than the “historic” (read ancient) Savannah ball park (cavern) they played in last year.  Whether the Flies produce many homers remains to be seen (9 so far in 20 games in 2016).

Savannah in 2015 was a great squad, winning roughly 40 more games than it lost.  With normally expected promotions and a few trades, this year’s bunch represents a huge # of newly promoted faces.

So, Dude, like who’s who?  Let’s take a peek.

PROGRESS NOTE: At time of publication, the Flies have gone a solid 12-8, so this is part preview, part progress update.  This team has had solid starting pitching, decent pen work, and a spectacular offensive 20 game start to 2016 by IFs Vinny Siena and David Thompson.  The team’s 112 runs in 20 games is tied for the league’s lead.  A team ERA of 3.75 and 9.5 K’s per 9 inning to boot.

PITCHERS – AN INTERESTING LOOKING SQUAD:

NAME
THW
AGE
COMMENTS
STARTERS
L
22
Impeccable career control (3 BB, 41 IP) and ERA (0.66).
R
21
Very solid in his 4 starts.
R
22
Ditto. Very solid in his 4 starts.
R
23
Decent Brooklyn stint in 2015, struggling in 2016.
R
22
Jumped a few levels. Stuggling in 2016.
L
22
Decent in Bklyn in 2015, good in three 2016 starts.
RELIEVERS
 
R
23
Out 2 years, great start to his 2016 with 9 IP, 2 R, 12 K.
R
23
Decent 2015, limited but good so far in 2016. Smallish at 5’9”.
L
22
29th Rd in 2015. Career 2.56 ERA so far in relief.
R
24
Career 3.55 in 37 games.  Did close out a no hitter this season.
R
23
1.53 ERA, 71 K in 53 IP, 25/28 SV career.  A for effort.
R
23
Lots of Ks & BBs. Last 3 outings, just 1 BB in 7 IP. Big, live arm.
R
22
37th Rd 2011, and slow out of gate in 2016. 
R
24
1.96 career ERA for the 37th founder. But on DL.
R
24
10th rounder in 2015 has struggled in limited outings.

CATCHERS – MAZELKA (ON DL) MAY BE ONE TO WATCH:

NAME 
BAT
AGE
COMMENTS
L
21
Barely playing.
L
22
6’3” 210 lb. Tore up Kingsport in 2015. Yet to play in 2016.
L
22
Hitting .175 in 76 games in 2015 and 2016.
R
22
Barely playing.

 
            VINNY SIENA
 
 DAVID THOMPSON
 



INFIELDERS – SOME DECENT PROSPECTS IN THE FOLD (see above):

NAME 
POS
BAT
AGE
COMMENTS
1B
R
22
213 games. 253 Ks, .263 career average, modest pop.
3B
L
21
Suspended. Hit well here last year. See you in 30 games
SS
R
20
3rd Rd 2014. Career .262. Hitting .200 so far in 2016.
3B
S
23
Hitting .169 after 16 games.
2B
R
22
.518 OBP after 20 games. Amazing.  Wow.
3B
R
22
Over .300, .520 with RISP, 23 RBI in 20 games. Wow.
1B
L
20
Making great contact. Real potential.

 

OUTFIELDERS: SOME HIGH K GUYS, AND A GUY WITH  KK INITIALS:

NAME 
BAT
THW
AGE
COMMENTS
L
R
24
Great 2015 in Kingsport, .180  2016 start. On DL
R
R
22
Just off DL. Good power, but needs to drastically cut Ks.
R
R
24
Poor prior to 2016, doing well so far part time.
L
R
23
Drafted in 2011. Career .230 hitter.
R
R
20
Great reduced Ks. Just 1 in last 3 games. Impressed.

 

Columbia’s predecessor, Savannah, in 2015 was awful in roughly its first 20 contests, but soared thereafter.  Columbia’s fine first 20 games this year may or may not be an accurate indicator of its future performance, but so far, so good.  

We'll have to see how the Fire Flies fly in 2016.  I think the Flies will fly high.

 
 
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