Tentatively, Mondays will be a day to report on the Mets minor leagues, and perhaps some notes from around the farm systems of other teams as well.
- If you were impressed by youngster Jonathan Niese during spring training, you’re not alone. Niese was solid during the spring – not ready, but showing certain promise – and his first start of the minor league season for AA Binghamton was 5 shutout innings of 1-hit, 5 strikeout ball. Baseball Prospectus notes that “While working on this pre-season’s Mets Top 11, two separate people inside the game pointed at Niese as having breakout potential.” Certainly bears watching.
- Top prospect Fernando Martinez started the year 2 for 13 at Binghamton. He’s just one of a bunch of top prospects around the minors who started in a rut (we’ll get to some later).
- I mocked the signing of Fernando Tatis, and still maintain that position. But his line the first week is pretty funny: .200 AVG, 800 SLG, 1.000 OPS. He’s 3 for 15…all three hits are homers.
- I liked what I saw out of 3B Dan Murphy during his spring stay with the big club. Obviously, he’s blocked by Wright, and he’s not thought to have enough power to play a corner, but he bears watching. Nice start, 5-13, 2 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI.
Outside the Mets:
- Jay Bruce had a rough start down at AAA Louisville, going 2 for 14. Corey Patterson’s inevitable slide hasn’t begun yet, but it will, so here’s hoping Bruce gets righted quickly.
- Evan Longoria is 0 for 14 with 5 strikeouts.
- Switch-hitting catcher Matt Wieters was given a record signing bonus by the Orioles ($6 million), and responded by slamming two homers in his debut.
- Remember Jeff Allison? Top Marlins pitching prospect, focus of a Sports Illustrated report on his drug addiction and legal problems (he’s on probation for felonies, including grand theft auto and heroin possession). Hasn’t pitched since 2005…until the other night. Struck out 4, gave up 2 hits in 3 innings for High-A Jupiter with the Marlins. Long way to go, but he is only 23. Would be a great story if he makes it back.
- Sticking with the Marlins, remember Dallas McPherson? The former standout Angels prospect and presumed Troy Glaus replacement until years of back injuries wiped out his prospect status. He homered in his first 3 games at AAA Albuquerque. I doubt he’ll ever be an impact player, but I’d love to just see him stay healthy a full year and see what he does.
- Browsing AAA rosters is always good fun, because you find guys you didn’t even know were still around. Great things were expected for John Ford Griffin, the Yankees first-round pick in 2001. They never happened, and after being the key to the disasterous Jeff Weaver trade and years of assorted injuries, he’s now in AAA for the Dodgers.
Got an e-mail from a reader yesterday asking me if I am the same GForce who created popular rosters for baseball video games. Yes, I am THAT GForce (or GForce22, depending where you found me).
For those wondering what the heck I’m talking about, I used to create the leading roster modifications for several baseball video games. I first brought my roster project, called TotalMinors, to High Heat Baseball, because the game came out with a AAA and AA minor league system, a first in the non-text video game category. But those guys would all have fake names, so what was the point. But as a baseball fanatic, stathead and passionate researcher, I developed my own ratings system to project minor leaguers (and reevaluate major leaguers), and what resulted was a full baseball universe that came to be known as TotalMinors.
I moved on to become the official roster developer for Out of the Park Baseball, a stat-based text simulator that basically lets you run an entire franchise, league or baseball universe. The game is simply outstanding, and I encourage any real baseball fan who wants to go beyond the button mashing of standard XBox/Playstation baseball games to give this one a look.
I went from there to bring TotalMinors to EA Sports’ MVP Baseball series, and was credited by many with making the game for them because of my project, as well as deciphering workarounds for several glitches in the ratings/performance mechanism of the game.
Now, married with 3 kids, I don’t have the time to handle rosters for Opening Day, at least not without being paid. So now I do Alltime roster projects such as my Franchise Stars project, which will be released for OOTP sometime in the next month. Its previous versions have been received very well, as fans love getting to play with MLB, AAA and AA rosters of their respective franchise’s alltime best players.
With the regular season upon us, I am going to try and get a blog schedule going here, with daily Mets game reports, but also different items each day, be it minor leagues, baseball history, sabermetrics, and even a baseball fiction story I’ve been working on.
More on this to come this week when I figure out my schedule. Hopefully, you’ll stick around. I love the writing, and the interaction. It’s a beautiful game…so let’s share it.
Kevin Goldstein over at Baseball Prospectus has turned out his organizational rankings, and the Mets have fallen from 8th last season to 28th this season.
"Why They’re Down: Top prospect Fernando Martinez continued to struggle to stay healthy and/or produce consistently; top pitchers like Mike Pelfrey went backwards; the heart of system beyond Martinez was sent to Minnesota in the Johan Santana deal.
Strengths: The ’07 draft added some high-upside arms; their Latin American pipeline seems to be flowing nicely.
Weaknesses: Very little talent at upper levels; almost nothing up the middle.
Outlook for 2009 Ranking: Much improved. Unlike many teams at the bottom, the Mets do have a significant number of young players capable of making a leap forward; a plethora of early picks in June should also bolster things."
Low minors guys like Jonathan Niese could come quickly, so we could see a big shift here. The problem, of course, is lack of major league ready talent currently available. AA is usually where your future horses reside, and there’s nothing there for the Mets at this point other than Martinez. So for 2010, the Mets could be in fine shape, but the next couple of years offer little other than Martinez for the Shea/Citi Field confines.
I strongly encourage in-depth baseball fans to join Baseball Prospectus’ web site. Great writing, fun reads and a truckload of information. $39.95 for the year or $4.95 a month is a small price, in my opinion, for what you get.