Results tagged ‘ New York Mets ’
Last week, I wrote a feature that focused on Courtney Hawkins, Brandon Nimmo and Trevor Bauer and how, in different ways, they were all bouncing back from either up-and-down or subpar seasons in 2013 to have solid-to-outstanding 2014 campaigns to date.
As is often the case, I had way too much information from the conversations I had with players and farm directors. Rather than send them into the vitrual trashbin, never to be seen again, I figured I’d post them here for your perusal. Some of it was used partially, but most of it didn’t make it into the final version of the story.
“The numbers weren’t horrible, but they weren’t where I’d like them to be. This year, one of the biggest things was in the offseason, I got to some warmer weather sooner. I was little more focused on bringing the baseball aspect of it into my workouts instead of just focusing on strength and speed. Going to IMG for seven weeks really helped. We worked on everything from mental to vision to strength and speed and flexibility. We also would go on the field and work on the swing, get out there, hit with guys like Andrew McCutchen, Pedro Alvarez, Starlin Castro. To hit with those kinds of guys, I really benifitted from picking their brains a little bit. I’m stronger, more control of my body, which is going to happen as I mature.”
“I put the work in this offseason, lets see the results. So far, so good. There will be some bad times, but I’m trying to be more consistent and iron out those down times more.”
“You can’t let one bad game spiral into a week or two of bad games. Or maybe you had a good game, or got some cheap hits, you need to realize that’s not what you’re trying to do. You’re trying to hit the ball on the barrel all the time. You’re picking up small things that might help you not fall into those long droughts. When you’re in the droughts, you try to [remind yourself] it takes a little bit of time. Maybe you created a bad habit and it’s not going to take one swing to get out of it. [Learning to deal with success and failure are] both essential in developing for a Major League career.”
“I had my times where what I was capable of would pop out. I’d start feeling good and say, ok time to breakout. You really do have to take things pitch by pitch, day by day. If you let one at-bat get to you, you’re going to be screwed that whole game. I can tell you from personal experience.”
“I don’t worry about the media stuff this year. Last year, I’d read stuff and say, ‘I’m going to prove them wrong.’ I just go out and play ball now.”
“At instructs, I was hitting well again. It didn’t really click until this offseason. My second offseason, I knew how to go about stuff. I didn’t take much time off. I stayed in the groove and kept going at it. When I came into the hitting camp in January,they could tell the difference. I felt good in Spring Training. Toward the end of Spring Training, they lowered my hands more. Since then, I’ve been putting my bat on the ball more.”
“Last year, whenever they told me to do something, I did it. That’s why you saw so many different stances. I kept tyring to find something that was clicking. You ‘d be back to square one every time. Lowering my hands clicked fast for me. But it doesn’t always work that way. You have to work on it.”
“I was tyring to get that callup, but you can’t think that way. It’s so much easier to play when you’re not worrying about the other stuff. That first summer, I had the mentality, all I worried about was just playing ball. My whole mindset changed. Now I’m back to that, just go out and play ball and not worry about anything else.”
White Sox farm director Nick Capra (on Hawkins):
“This last year, experience of first full year of baseball, maturity has a lot to do with it, him learning he didn’t have to be in a hurry to get in the big leagues. In his mind, he thought he was on a fast track. He got ahead of himself.”
“We moved him from CF to LF this year. He’s responded tremendously. His defense has improved. He looks like an OF with a passion to [play defense].”
“There are different personalities, different kids. They have to find themselves somehow, rather than look at what other people are doing. They have to focus on what they are capable of doing and how they’re doing.”
On whether in hindsight they feel they rushed him:
“I don’t think so. When he signed, he progressed rapidly. We got him to Kannapolis and he really stood out in the SAL. We got him to the Carolina League for the playoffs and he excelled. We thought he’d settle in during his first full year and grow on the success he had before. It’s easy to look back, but no I don’t think so.”
On his progress:
“I think it was more of a gradual thing. He worked on things in instructs that he brought into Spring Training. Then we worked on other things in Spring Training. A lot of it was the mental things that figure into how you play. He’s adjusted to things rather well. You have to have confidence and it plays a big factor in how you compete. This kid had never failed before. He failed a little bit last year. Now it’s about how he responds to failure. He is definitely a more confident player last year.”
Indians farm director Ross Atkins (on Trevor Bauer):
“I can tell you I haven’t met many pitchers that are as passionate about delivery mechanics, about pitching philosophically and mechanically, as Trevor. It’s been great for us to learn with and from him about him and about pitching. He has incredible toughts about pitching.”
“Even last year, when he wasn’t at his ‘best,’ we were still extremely encouraged. His results and velocity weren’t where they were. We didn’t see him back off from trying to master his skills and craft. Obviously, this year in Spring Training, you see the spike in velocity and strikeouts, how he’s pitched this year, we’ve been extremely encouraged. Although the results have varied, we’ve never been disappointed with his commitment. I know he had a hard time with last year. He was extremely frustrated. The fact he was coming close to making such a significant adjustment to his approach and still was competing, it gave us faith he’d find that comfort level eventually.”
“With Trevor, we really have been, from the start, extremely impressed and encouraged by his process and how committed he is to being great. He’s never tried or focused on , ‘I’m going to show or prove to someone,’ it’s not about how he was traded. It’s always about how can I be great. That’s why we’ve always been so encouraged. Now that he’s having more productive results, obviously we’re encouraged by that. I can honestly say , there were never levels of discouragement. He’s always been in a very good place.”
“All pitchers have ebb and flow. He’s now higher than we’ve every seen him, consistently in the mid to high 90s. His curve, slider and changeup are all average to slightly above-average weapons. They vary which one is most effective; that makes him more interesting.”
Now the fun really begins.
Over the course of March, we will be unveiling all of our team Top 20 lists. Today, we will have three (Mondays will be stacked like that as we wanted to avoid going live with these over the weekend): The Atlanta Braves, New York Mets and Miami Marlins.
Along with the Top 20s, we will have reports from Spring Training camps for each team. I’ve been running around Florida for the past week, Teddy Cahill will take the baton from me to finish off Florida and Jim Callis will handle the bulk of Arizona.
With each camp visit, I invariably ended up with way too much information, so I’m going to use this space to share some of the conversations I had with prospects and team executives.
I’m also going to include “One More Guy” — a prospect who didn’t crack the Top 20, but would likely be in the next group, say Nos. 21-25, and could be an in-season replacement when the need arises.
OK, ready for more? Here’s some more from my conversation with Brandon Nimmo:
Were you surprised you got the call to attend big league camp?
Nimmo: It came as a little bit of a surprise, but I knew I was ready for it. I was ready for this opportunity. I’m just trying to take advantage of every opportunity that I get and enjoy this experience. I plan to be here a lot more often, so hopefully this isn’t the only big league Spring Training I go to and I don’t think that’s what they’re planning on, either. They’re just trying to get me around these guys and obviously, I can contribute to the team, too. I have everything I bring to the table, and I’m confident in that, but I’m very humbled to be here.
What’s the biggest thing you’ve been able to glean so far, where you can say, “Clearly, I’m not there yet.” What do you really need to work on to move yourself closer?
Nimmo: They’re very consistent in what they do. That has to do with the routine they get into to get ready for the days. They have specific things they need to do to get ready for the day. They know how to do them and do them very well. I think that’s the biggest difference between Major Leaguers and Minor Leaguers, is that consistency, an ability to perform on a consistent basis. I think that’s the biggest thing I have to improve on just from watching these guys right now.
I also spoke to catcher Anthony Recker about some of the young arms he’s been able to catch in camp. Here’s what he had to say:
Recker: I thought last year when I caught Rafael Montero, he was ready to make the next step. He looked really good. I really liked Jake DeGrom, his ability to spot up, ability to make adjustments. I’d say the same thing for Montero, his ability to make adjustments on the fly. You miss in a certain spot, or you miss up, to be able to make the adjustment and get it down with the very next pitch is really big, especially in Major League Baseball. We have several young guys who have shown the ability to do that. There are a good handful that seem ready to compete for a job, whether its now or later in the season. They look really good.
I spoke at length with Dick Scott, the farm director, and he compared to the Mets system now to a few years ago.
Scott: Before, we had Matt Harvey here, so as far as specific players, we had guys here, guys going to the big leagues and contributing. Lucas Duda was in the minor leagues, you had Harvey in the minor leagues. Now, it’s the volume, it’s Montero, it’s Syndergaard, picking those two guys up in the trade. Plus we got Buccera here as well, a 20 year old who was in the GCL who’s athletic. I thnk our sheer volume has increased. We also have guys down through the younger levels. We have Nimmo, we have Amed Rosario, Ceccchini. We feel we have a long way to go. The other part of that is you do’t know how many of these guys are going to be able to perform at the Major League level.
On the cyclical nature of farm system strength:
Scott: I think that happens in every organization at some point. There are organizations that trade Minor League players to make a run at a big league playoff and you’re going to be thin at some point. You ‘re not going to have as deep a list as maybe you had three years ago. I think ours is getting deeper. It’s a work in progress, but compared to a couple of years ago, [we’re improved].
And he had more to say about our breakout candidate, Gabriel Ynoa:
Scott: He’s a strike throwing machine. What’s amazing with him and Montero, they just pound the zone. Sometimes those guys come in and they just have it. He won a lot of games for us last year, so it’s not like nobody’s heard of him, but his stuff is improving. He has a great feel for pitching, he’s athletic, probably 93-94 mph fastball, very good feel for a changeup. He just throws strikes. He’s always in the bottom of the zone, pitches to both sides of the plate. He’s one of those guys, the people who were in the SAL league last year know about him. He’s always thrown strikes, but his stuff has just gotten tighter, his breaking ball is a little tighter, the feel on his changeup. He throws a 2 and 4 seam fastball. He has great poise.
Finally, here’s One More Guy from the Mets system:
Jack Leathersich: It’s a sign of just how much deeper this system is that this lefty didn’t make the cut. He was No. 17 at season’s end last year. A one-time starter, he’s taken well to relief work as a pro. His strikeout rates are insane (15.2 K/9 in his Minor League career), using stuff and deception to miss bats. His command is just so-so, but he should impact the big league bullpen at some point this year.
The video report features Brentz, Michael Almanzar and Brock Huntziger.
Got two Stars of the Day for you, one from Wednesday and one — witnessed in person! — from Thursday.
For Wednesday, I’m going to go with T.J. House of the Indians. This is the second Star of the Day nod for the lefty and for good reason. He’s been solid this fall. On Wednesday, he went four shutout innings, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out four. For the fall, he has a 1.59 ERA and .175 BAA over 17 IP. It’s been a pretty good way for House to cap off a successful 2012 season that saw him spend much of the year in Double-A.
For Thursday’s Star, I have to go with a guy I saw. Kevin Jensen has been mentioned here before, too, named the Star of the Day for last Thursday. I threw out some fun stuff from our friends at Trackman about how Jensen was among the leaders in hardest, and farthest, balls hit in the AFL. Well, he was at it again on Thursday at Salt River Fields. The Marlins’ outfielder went 3-for-3 in the game, driving in driving in a pair and scoring twice. His second hit was a laser triple to center field that hit the batter’s eye (without knowing the ground rules of the place, I thought at first it was gone). In his next at-bat, he crushed a ball out the opposite way. Not sure what Trackman would have to say about either, but they’d have to register somewhere on the hard hit balls list, I’d wager. I’m told that Jensen is more of a mistake hitter than anything else (he did strike out over 160 times in 2012 and his Double-A numbers weren’t great), but boy, he’s not missing any mistakes here so far this fall. He currently stands second in RBIs and SLG and he’s third in OPS.
As if the newly bargained agreement wasn’t confusing enough, we had to have one team sign two free agents at about the same time. And with one of those free agents a “modified Type A” in the one-year rule adjustment before Type A and Type B ratings go the way of the dinosaur, it gets even more complicated.
The Marlins have made quite the splash in signing Heath Bell (the aforementioned modified Type A) and Jose Reyes (a good, old-fashioned Type A). Because Florida picks No. 9 overall, they will not be giving up their first-round pick. And because they signed Bell first, they won’t be giving up their second-round selection either.
When Bell was modified, it was decided that a team signing him would not have to sacrifice a pick at all to get him. Instead, the Padres will get a compensation pick (sandwich A, we can still call it) after the first round is over. They will also get a second-round pick right in front of the Marlins’ second-round selection.
Here’s the kicker. Even though the Marlins did not have to give up that second-round pick to the Padres, it’s not available to the Mets as compensation for the Reyes signing. Because Bell signed first, that pick in effect is a part of that signing, even though its part is that it didn’t have to be forfeited. Instead, the Mets will get a Comp A pick and the Marlins’ selection in the third round.
Had the Marlins officially signed Reyes first, the Mets would have received that second-round pick. In other words, they get penalized a round because of the Bell signing. That might be something that doesn’t bother the Marlins, given they are in the same division as the Mets. But it’s probably likely that Bell himself will love it. He’s not exactly a fan of the Mets from his time in their system and the fact that his signing cost them a round might give him a little chuckle.
Once upon a time, it was a difficult task to find 10 prospects in the Mets system worth talking about. And while the Mets still don’t have the best minor league organization in the game, it’s come a ways. So it wasn’t too hard to come up with a solid Top 10 prospects list, or even an OMG (One More Guy) from their system:
Sean Ratliff, OF: I’m not exactly sure why he doesn’t get more attention in this system. It’s not that he’s the most exciting prospect in the world, but he’s put up some solid numbers in his two full seasons. The Mets system has guys like this — not the “sexiest” prospects in the world. Maybe they don’t have the highest ceiling in the world, maybe their tools don’t jump out at you, but they keep advancing and they will be big leaguers. And hey, you never know… it’s not like Ike Davis was the biggest prospect in the world and that’s worked out OK so far, right?
Ratliff, 24, was a fourth-round pick of the Mets out of Stanford in 2008. In his first full season, he was a South Atlantic League All-Star, finishing the year with 15 homers, 74 RBIs and 11 steals. Yes, he struck out 141 times and drew only 31 walks.
In 2010, he began the year in the Florida State League and was an All-Star there, too. He got bumped up to Double-A and hit better there. Overall, he finished with a .298/.353/.505 line. His 21 homers put him in a tie for third in the system as did his 80 RBIs. There were the 138 K’s and 40 walks — there’s always going to be some swing and miss to his game. But there’s legitimate power from the left side. Even if he ends up part of a platoon — though he hit lefties well — he could be a good 4th outfielder, at the very least, in the next year or so.