One Guy Goes to Binghamton, the Other Guy Stays Home: SCOUTING REPORT on Leathersich, Mazzoni, Puello, & Dykstra.

Ten, fifteen years ago, most of us were in the dark when it came to minor league prospects. There was little coverage. That’s changed in a big way. Now we can read “game reports” about the Mets minor league teams at every level. Pick a game and four random blogs will report it. So-and-so was impressive on the mound, while Mr. X banged out 2 hits, etc.

The problem is, nobody was actually there. The overwhelming majority of the information is based on nothing more than some guy with a computer reading a box score. By my calculations, 95% of what we read on blogs about Mets prospects is based on folks sifting through pages of statistics. There’s very few eyes on the player.

So I was excited on Thursday morning to head out on I-88 to catch the Binghamton Mets in action for a special 10:30 AM game against the Trenton Yankees.

As Uncle Bill used to say, "Beer: It's not just for breakfast anymore."

As Uncle Bill used to say, “Beer: It’s not just for breakfast anymore.”

 

One advantage of a 10:30 game is that we walked right up, sprang for the $11 tickets, and got second row behind the Mets dugout. As there was no one in the first row, we boldly moved down shortly thereafter.

Cory Mazzoni struck out 11 in 6.2 IP.

Cory Mazzoni struck out 11 in 6.2 IP.

 

The photo credits for today’s post: Definitely NOT Michael Baron. This is mostly me with an iPhone, pointing and clicking artlessly. Mazzoni started out rough, walked a few batters and gave up 3 early runs, but settled down nicely. Mazzoni has a slim, lanky body and he looked polished on the mound. The gun was reading 94-95, but it didn’t feel that way to our untrained eyes. He didn’t overwhelm batters, but often got K’s on what looked like a splitter (?) in the dirt. My gut feeling was that the kid could pitch, had a big-league arm, though maybe was destined for the bullpen in Flushing. That’s not a bad thing, btw, we will need relievers too. In fact, I’m looking for that to become a team strength moving forward.

The young man I was most hoping to see was the legendary Jack Leathersich, he of the sick 2013 statistics: 28 IP, 53 K, 17 H.

Jack Leatherface: good looking ballplayer. Wait. What? Nevermind!

Jack Leatherface: good looking ballplayer. Wait. What? Nevermind!

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Leather entered the game in the 7th with 2 outs and a runner on 2nd (as I recall), the Mets leading 4-3. I said, “Ten bucks he strikes this guy out.” My pal took the bet; I took my pal’s money. Easy. Alas, I should have quit while I was ahead.

Leathersich helped me win $10 by fanning the first batter he faced.

Leathersich helped me win $10 by fanning the first batter he faced.

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We all know that there’s increasing hype about Leathersich, and even Paul DePodesta suggested he could end the year in Flushing. His strikeout totals have turned heads and raised hopes. Last season at High-A, Leathersich K’d 76 in 48 IP. That’s ridiculous, folks.

The question, the concern, is: How is he doing it? The gun at Binghamton read 93 MPH, possibly not a true reading. He isn’t a big guy, and didn’t appear to show much in the way of off-speed stuff. He appears to hide the ball well, almost short-arms it a little, so he’s hard to pick up.

In the eighth, I lost my ten-spot on a double-or-nothing bet. He walked the first batter, surrendered a soft opposite field single, and then walked the bases loaded. I joked that he was toying with the opposition, trying to find a way to make the contest interesting. Leathersich rebounded to strike out the next hitter, but then departed for Jeff Walters. I felt pretty confident he was going to K the next two, but we’ll never know.

In truth, I wish he blew me away, but that wasn’t the case. I asked my friends and we all kind of agreed: the appearance was inconclusive. We didn’t come away as true believers — pitchers with deceptive deliveries don’t always translate to the highest levels — but there’s no denying all the swings and misses Jack generates.

An interesting case, and obviously a player worth watching.

Walters looked fine, retired all 5 batters he faced, though two hit well-struck balls to deep places in the park. Shrug, I don’t know. I liked his look — scruffy blonde hair, 6′-3″ and skinny — and wish him well.

In terms of positional talent, there wasn’t much on the field. The guy I wanted to see, Cesar Puello, did not disappoint, blasting two HRs, including the game-winner in the bottom of the 8th, breaking a 4-4 tie. It’s hard not to like a guy who leads the team with 15 stolen bases . . . when he’s hitting the ball over the wall. Again, not a big guy, listed at 6′-2″ and 195 pounds. The PEDs were probably a good idea.

Leathersich warms up.

Leathersich warms up.

 

Random Notes:

* Allan Dykstra, former first-round pick for Sandy Alderson’s Padres, looked awkward out there, like a guy who struggled to get good grades on math quizzes in middle school. He fanned badly, back to back, on breaking balls in the dirt; it was like watching Ike Davis all over again. Worse, on an infield pop-up along the first base line, Dykstra failed to call off the catcher on the ball that clearly should have been Dykstra’s. He’s a big, lantern-jawed boy, putting up excellent numbers — .289/.439/.533 — and he just turned 26. My expectations are very low.

* Cory Vaughn did not play, maybe he isn’t a morning person, I don’t know.

* I’d seen Darrell Ceciliani before — and man, that’s a terrible haircut — and once again I came away unimpressed.

Cecilliani had a worse haircut than this guy. It's true.

Cecilliani had a worse haircut than this guy. It’s true.

 

Readers should know my bias: I like outfielders who can hit the ball far. And if they can’t hit home runs, they better be able to field great and run really, really fast. Cecilliani is a lefty with an inside-out swing. He’s produced some nice batting averages so far (.351 in Brooklyn; .329 in St. Lucie) but I just don’t believe in this kind of hitter. No slug. Alonzo Harris — a small, speedy outfielder — hit a double, and someday when I tell my grandkids about it, they’ll say, “Who?”

* Blake Forsythe rested, so I did not get to see our Double-A catcher with the .223 BA.

* Also did not see hot-hitting Josh Rodriguez, who is on a 20-game hitting streak. Josh plays 3B and his current line is .310/.436/.457. He is 28 years old and, really, has no business being in AA, since he played half a season of AAA last year and did okay. Maybe he’s blocked in Vegas. Just wait till Josh gets a look at the logjam in Flushing.

Hey: the Mets beat the Yanks, 5-4, and that’s always reason to smile. We had a terrific time, though one of our company maybe had too terrific a time . . . fondling the Mets mascot, Ballwinkle. There was a lot of clutching and grabbing. It got awkward. So I took a picture.

Grab

Of course, no trip to Binghamton would be complete without a quick stop at Lupo’s for Spiedies before hitting the highway.

char_pit

 

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14 comments

  1. Michael Geus says:

    The only two reasons to even slow down through Binghamton are the B-Mets, and Lupo’s. Good move picking up a Spiedie.

  2. So, a lot going on with the Mets these days . . . why does it feel like so little? Our GM takes what’s broke and replaces it with what can’t be fixed. Terrific. And around and around it goes. For a minute there I thought he might be sending a message, then I realized, oh wait, it is a message! “Move along, folks. Nothing to see here, nothing at all.”

  3. Tony Cicchetti says:

    10 bucks says Ceciliani turns into a pretty good ballplayer.

  4. [...] All these $10 bets lately, I’m starting to worry that you have a gambling problem. Get a grip, man. [...]

  5. Mack Ade says:

    there’s no reason to take shots at other minor league sites that try to give insight to fans from their home

    some of us aren’t healthy enough to attend games anymore

    try and respect the guys that started this minor league coverage

    • david dillon says:

      I dont think he was disrespecting anyone. I often have the same reaction to people who post comments about high school players on the other side of the country that they have never seen. It’s great to have info available online to try and form an opinion or expectation. on the other hand, who wants to read a 12 yr old’s bold predictions about the next babe ruth. any one can recycle the stories they read and declare themselves an authority. If its a scout who watches more than 1 game then there is more substance to it.

      • Thanks, David. Clearly there’s no way anyone can accurately read what I wrote as disrespect. I stated a fact and surely didn’t slam anyone I read those sites for info and enjoy following the players from afar — these compilers do a great job bringing together the information. It has value. I appreciate the effort.

        However, how does Dykstra look around the bag? What’s Mazzoni’s body language out there? Is Leathersich working on his breaking stuff, or just living on fastballs? What about bat speed? Or running speed? And on and on it goes. You can’t know what a horrendous outfielder Lucas Duda is unless you are at the park, in person, watching his jump, his break on the ball, the routes he runs. And moreover, you can’t judge Wheeler by box score, not while pitching in that environment.

        Anyway, this is stupid. Obviously it’s better when there are eyes on the game. And as I also tried to point out, it’s more fun too.

        • david dillon says:

          I am sure there’s a bumper sticker out there that says a day at the park watching bad baseball is better than a day at work.

  6. Oh, Mack, please, we give you a ton of respect here, time and again — and publicly. Way more than you’ve ever given us, in fact. The truth is that if you go read the daily minor league reports on any of 4-5 sites, you’ll see that those compilers were not at the games. If me pointing out that obvious fact is disrespect, well, my apologies to the color green, but the sky is blue. Toby Hyde who runs a very nice site that I frequently read has stated outright that he sees “very, very few” games. He’s open and clear about it. It doesn’t make his work useless, far from it, but it does make it limited in that way. Two hits in a box score is not being there, seeing that one was a jam shot barely over the second baseman’s head and the other was a ball that should have been caught in the outfield. Being there has value — and I was glad to be there. I’m just a guy, not a scout, but I wasn’t pretending to be one. Just a fan reporting on the game I watched live.

  7. stew says:

    any information regarding the minor leagues is better than nothing at all. living in Florida doesn’t help either because there is little info here as well. I read all the blogs to know the players better and keep up with the farm system. I am thankful that the info is as good as it is. keep up the good work…

  8. Jack Leathersich is such an interesting prospect, IMO. The results are amazing, despite some walks, but he’s striking all these guys out with a 92 MPH fastball. Can that translate? I don’t know, though I keep having flashes of Yusmeiro Petit, who tore up the Mets minors around 2003-04 until, well, he didn’t anymore. The stuff was never great, but the results were outstanding . . . at the lower levels. I don’t know if that’s a good comp for Leathersich or not.

  9. Eric says:

    Broad Point on the Bloggers: The Minor League guys who drop “scout talk” having 1)never seen the Player, and 2) Having NO IDEA what the terminology actually means are the most irritating.

    I’m a SICKO…I read the Minor League Box Scores every day. The missing stuff, especially at the low levels, is Seeing the Player, and also Knowing what the Player is trying to add (as a skill). I’d say that once a player gets to a point where he’s promoted to AA or AAA the Box Score and Production are a lesser factor than the progression of skills…..and THAT you don’t get from compiling box scores.

    I enjoy Macks Blog—- it’s Obviously a Compilation, and an amazingly complete one at that. His love and respect for the game and the players who are climbing their dream really shines through. Well done!

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