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