Reese Kaplan -- Live Report on the Las Vegas 51s


The Las Vegas 51s opened their series with my hometown El Paso Chihuahuas in impressive fashion, demolishing the Ankle Biters by a score of 7-1.  On a very windy night that made it feel significantly colder than the 57 degree temperature, there were quite a few solid contributors to make a statement against the reigning cream of the Pacific Coast League crop. 

I had obtained my tickets at a charity's silent auction which included two box seats and a parking pass.  This morning I thought to look at the seating chart to see where I would be and was shocked to find out I was in seciton 109 towards the right side of home plate, in the very first row, immediately adjacent to the 51s' dugout.  Surprisingly there was a cluster of autograph seekers on the railing before the game began who were knowledgeable enough to be contributors here, recognizing the 51s by face as many of them were wearing high tech fleece which covered the names on their uniforms. 

As the game began, Corey Oswalt demonstrated a deceptive motion that made it appear he was throwing much harder than he actually was.  The radar gun showed him in the high 70s to mid 80s, yet from the sound of the ball thwacking catcher Colton Plaia's glove and the number of swings that were behind, it appeared he was fooling the hitters into thinking his pitches had more mustard than they actually did.

Or course, when you live in the lower echelon of velocity, control becomes paramount and there were times Oswalt seemed to lose his focus.  However, each time the Chihuahuas threatened to score, he was able to bear down and get out of it.  You can't argue with results -- 5 IP, 7 Ks, 3 BBs and a single hit with no runs allowed.  He lowered his ERA to a very acceptable PCL number of 3.00.

On the hitting side of the agenda, 3rd baseman David Thompson had a nice night with a couple of well stroked hits and a bullet caught on the fence by the right fielder.  He executived every play in the field successfully, making it look easy. 

The newly svelte Dom Smith did not have a particularly good day at bat with a few strikeouts and nothing postiive to show for it, but he indeed showed why he had the reputation for his defensive play at 1B.  He stretched, scooped and charged with confidence.  He's definitely looking like the real deal. 

With Ty Kelly on fire with the bat (starting the day at .464 with 4 HRs and 9 RBIs already), it becomes a challenge to manager Tony DeFrancesco to keep him in the lineup.  Today it came at the expense of gloveman extraordinaire Luis Guillorme who is off to a slow start with the bat.  That meant Gavin Cecchini was shifted over to his old position of shortstop and looked surprisingly slick there.

There were probably three to four prospects in the lineup -- Smith, Cecchini, Thompson and Oswalt.  The balance was filled out by veteran minor leaguers Kelly, Bryce Brentz, Matt den Dekker, Zach Borenstein and Colton Plaia. 

I did find one surprise on the Chihuahuas roster -- former MLB hitter Allen Craig playing 1st base.  He and manager Rod Barajas should be familiar to Mets fans. 
Colton Plaia catching with Allen Craig at bat

Managers Rod Barajas and Tony DeFrancesco exchanging lineup cards

Ty Kelly on deck with Matt den Dekker at bat

David Thompson

Zach Borenstein on deck with Dom Smith at bat

Corey Oswalt

Tomorrow night and for the rest of the series I will be watching the games from the press box and hopefully following the media contingent down to the locker rooms to interview some of the players and coaches.  If you have specific questions you'd like asked, please let me know in the comments below.  


Thomas Brennan said...

Great pictures by our intrepid reporter.

Nice to attend a win, for sure.

What, if I may ask and if you noticed, was Oswalt's top radar gun velocity?

Ty Kelly is unconscious.

Gavin and Thompson impressing also - nice.

Good to see the Mets re-signed Johnny Monell - could be a useful call up in a pinch.

Smith did walk twice, so that was good to see. Get on base. Adrian Gonzalez may still turn into our next James Loney, so Smith could still get up here down the road in 2018 - but Pete Alonso homered again last night. The Power Monster seems to be coming up fast behind Dom. Maybe one of them goes in a catcher trade.

Thomas Brennan said...

Meanwhile, the Mets are SIX GAMES AHEAD of Washington - it's really early, but that is so much better than being 6 games behind.

Reese Kaplan said...

Corey Oswalt topped out at about 86. Soft tossers don't often due well though there are exceptions. A pair of Braves named Maddux and Glavine had pretty good success despite not hurting their catchers' hands.

Anonymous said...

Something is going on with Oswalt. Last year he threw low 90s.

bill metsiac said...

Nice report, with some promising reports. Thompson's rep was "good hit,no D, but it seems he's making strides in the right direction.

I'm confused about Oswalt, though. You said the hitters thought he was throwing harder than he actually was, but the ball was popping loudly into the glove and the hitters were swinging behind the ball. That sounds like he WAS throwing harder than the radar indicated, not fooling the hitters into thinking he was.

Hobie said...

I'm a little skeptical about the MiLB radar. Was at a Fireflies game last year where Harol Gonzales was consistently at 92. I mean every pitch. Then Uceta came in, visibly faster & distinct pop at the catcher's mit. Velo? 92.

Stranger, at a Richmond AA game the gun kept getting on for the return toss, registering "32" well after the pitch.

Reese Kaplan said...

That may will be, Hobie, but the Chihuahuas had a pitcher come in throwing 93, 94, 95 and 96. Hometown velocity adjustments? :)

Anonymous said...

The odd, the strange, and the ridiculous...

That's the lifetime assumptions of most people to someone who thinks out of the box, but accurately. So, here goes, anyway...

2018 NYM Pitching Staff:

The Mets have solidified their four top starters, Syndergaard, deGrom, Matz, and Wheeler. I would not trade a single one of these starters, or even entertain the notion of so doing that. All four are legitimate top-end starters. I don't see a better four man starting combo than this out there in MLB.

After that, it gets a little bit tricky. Matt Harvey. He is not the same Matt Harvey we saw his rookie season. His fastball has been lessened (barely drops) and now he has to count on his other pitches a lot more. The Dark Knight has left the building. There have been no more 97-99 fastballs from his arsenal so far in 2018.

So what to do?

Until Matt recreates himself by adding two other out-pitches, he will have a tougher time than usually. But this is not to say here that he cannot master two secondary pitches and make them work for him as outpitches. I think he can and will do this. It would greatly help to set-up his 91-94 current fastball.

In the meantime, I might take three game starting looks here for each of the PJ Conlon, Corey Oswalt, and Tim Peterson minor league starters. And this is precisely why I wouldn't risk ruining PJ Conlon by relegating him to the bullpen quite yet. If you want to also see Geron Bautista up here in this idea too, then fine.

The only other thing these 2018 NY Mets might need is a legit lefty set-up man. Other than these two above mentioned ideas, this is one heck of a great pitching staff right now and it is more than ready to stay dominant.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget to give rest to the rest needed. Slumps are good indications that someone may be tired.

Thomas Brennan said...

Only slumper I can see that could use rest is Cespedes - and he won't sit this series out - the warrior in him will want to start each game.

Hopefully the wet field won't lead to any injuries, assuming they do in fact play tonight. Without Scherzer and Strasburg this series, we don't need any of these rained out.

Mack's Mets © 2012