Posted by Mack Ade at 8:00 AM
Marc Edelman wrote a very good article on the Las Vegas 51s in Forbes Magazine earlier this month.
He pointed out the two reasons having this team as a AAA affiliate just doesn’t work. First, Las Vegas is 2,200 miles away from New York and a whole days is wasted getting someone up from Vegas to the parent team to fill in during an emergency situation. The other, as we all know is, the lack of the air that we breath, which can create a situation that hitters hit better than they really are and pitchers look like they pitch from hunger.
As Edelman points out -
By having your pitchers throw regularly under conditions so different from both Major League ballparks, it is difficult for the team to assess their performance. For example, two former Mets pitchers who absolutely dominated AA-ball and then were traded away after struggling in AAA are Collin McHugh and Matt Bowman. Once leaving the Pacific Coast League, both pitchers reverted to their AA form in the Major Leagues.
McHugh went 9-starts, 2.87 for Las Vegas in 2013, followed by 9-starts, 4.69 for Colorado Springs in the same year. In 2014, for Oklahoma City, he went 5-games, 3.79.
Bowman pitched in seven games for Vegas in 2014 (3.47) and then started 26 of 28 games for the 51s the following year (2015: 5.53). Last year, he relieved in 59 games for the parent St. Louis Cardinals (3.46).
We’ve discussed many times what Edelman touched on next -
If the Mets are serious about breaking their thirty-year World Series drought, moving their AAA affiliate back to a local city within the International League such as Norfolk or even Rochester would make a very reasonable step.
We know things aren’t this simple in the minor leagues world.
Keith Law recently ranked the Mets as the 7th top minor league systems in baseball. This was up from his 16th ranking a year ago. I assume this comes from a combination of recent signed talent, like Andres Gimenez and Justin Dunn, but also improved seasonal results from players like Amed Rosario and Tomas Nido.
I agree with Law that the Mets pipeline has improved in talent, but, in my opinion, seventh might be a little high. Hitting .350 in the DSL league isn’t the same as doing it in Flushing.
What both Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo did last season proves to all us pundits that you just don’t know what’s going to happen until it happens. No one predicted the increase of velocity Gsellman showed and I’m sure there are teams… cough… Nats… throughout the league asking for someone to test this guy.
I like what I see in Gimenez, Nido, P.J. Conlon, David Thompson, Wuilmer Beccera, and Desmond Lindsay, but, as of right now, only Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith can be considered A- to A type prospects.
Over time, Rosario and Lindsay will become stars.
Others might, but it simply is too early to predict.
Gsellman and Lugo have already proved there’s a place for them on future Mets teams.
I am sure Smith will hit .300+ in Vegas, but will his new 800-LB body produce more power without losing any defensive skills at first base.
I like Beccera, but he basically was a designated hitter last season. We need to see if he can play in the outfield at a major league level.
Thompson has the potential to lead the National League in runs batted in, but, right now, he’s a man without a position. I would bump him to Binghamton and play him every day at third to continue the process of growth there.
I also would promote Nido to AA and see how his bat holds up there.
I would continue the progress of Conlon and make him the SP1 in St. Lucie on opening day.
I’ll get heat here, but I would start both Dunn and Anthony Kay in the Columbia rotation. They are big boy college guys and they can handle it.
I would (sadly) make Thomas Szapucki the SP1 in Brooklyn due to the logjam of starters in Columbia.
And I would slow pace the Dominican shortstops (Gimenez and Gregory Guerrero).