Coleman’s Corner: Mets’ Position Players Shining In Arizona Sun

By Ed Coleman
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As the 2011 World Series winds down to its conclusion, let’s take a look out west and see how some of the Mets’ prospects are faring in the Arizona Fall League. They’re about half-way through the AFL season, and the Mets have 8 players on the Peoria Javelinas team, managed by St. Lucie skipper Pedro Lopez.

Thus far, the position players have performed very well, the pitchers – not so much.

We’ll start with Juan Lagares, a gap hitter and likely corner outfielder. Lagares split time between Single A St. Lucie and Double AA Binghamton this past season. At St. Lucie he hit .338 – which led the Florida State League when he was promoted – with 7 HR and 49 RBI in 82 games, but at Binghamton he performed even better – in 38 games, Lagares batted .370 with 2 HR and 22 RBI while also stealing 10 bases.

His combined average of .349 was the 4th best overall in the entire minor leagues. And Lagares has not disappointed thus far in Arizona. He’s hitting .393 with 2 HR and 9 RBI and an OPS of 1.128. Last Saturday, he went 3-5 with a HR, triple and 4 RBI. That extended his hitting streak to 6 games and his RBI streak to 4 games. Lagares also has 4 multi-hit games out of 6 games and ironically, a righty hitter, he’s batting .500 (11-22) vs. righthanders and is 0-6 vs. lefties.

The other three position players are all hitting over .300 as well. 3B Jefry Marte has been impressive. He’s homered in 3 straight games, and went 2-4 with an RBI and 2 runs on Monday. Marte is hitting .333 with an OPS of 1.046 and has been very productive – 13 RBI in 13 games.

Second baseman Wilfredo Tovar is batting .311 and had his second 3-hit game on Monday, going 2-4 with an RBI.

And lefty-hitting catcher Juan Centeno has two straight multi-hit games, going 3-4 with 2 runs in the latest, and is hitting .318 overall.

Meanwhile, the pitching has not stacked up quite as well. Right-handed starter Collin McHugh is the arm to watch. He surprised many people in the organization this year after a slow start. He has a low 90’s fastball, a good slider, as well as a curve, cutter and a changeup which is not great.

At St. Lucie, McHugh pitched in 9 games, making 6 starts. He went 1-2 with a 6.31 ERA while the league hit .318 against him. Not great. He was then bumped to Double AA Binghamton and again started slow.

At the All-Star break, he was again 1-2 with a 5.06 ERA, giving up 39 hits in 37 innings with a 2:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. But manager Wally Backman saw something he liked in McHugh, worked with him, and he took off from there. After the Double AA All-Star break, McHugh was undefeated – 7-0 with a 1.53 ERA – yielding just 34 hits over 47 innings, with a 5:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (54K’s-11BB). But McHugh has had his problems in Arizona. He’s 1-2 again in 3 starts and 1 relief appearance – but this time with a hefty 8.18 ERA, surrendering 18 hits in 11 innings.

Then there’s left-hander Robert Carson. Or as he refers to himself on his Facebook page – Robert “I’mdestinedforgreatness” Carson. Whoa, big fella, dial that one back just a little bit. At Double AA Binghamton this season, Carson went 4-11 with a 5.05 ERA in 24 starts and one relief appearance.

He gave up a whopping 154 hits in 128 innings, striking out 91 but walking 55. Not pretty. In Arizona, he’s still giving up too many hits – 10 in 9 1/3 innings – but the numbers are better – a 2.89 ERA in 5 relief appearances.

The other two pitchers are righthanders Erik Turgeon and Taylor Whitenton. Turgeon was at Binghamton this year and has a 3.00 ERA in 7 relief appearances thus far in the AFL. Whitenton pitched at Savannah in 2011 and is 1-1 with a 4.00 ERA in 5 relief appearances in Arizona. He has 12 strikeouts but 7 walks in 9 innings of work.

A couple of World Series notes as we leave:

Josh Hamilton may be the best player on the Texas roster, Mike Napoli may very well be the MVP if the Rangers go on to win, and Nelson Cruz can bomb the ball out of any park in baseball, but the truly indispensable Ranger is Michael Young. There’s heart and soul. Texas doesn’t win without Young, numbers be damned.

And we go back to St. Louis for games 6 and maybe 7. A wild card team – a team which failed to win one of 3 divisions in its league – holds home-field advantage because its league won the All-Star game back in July? Are you kidding? Good thinking, Bud. Nice job.

That’s baseball, Suzyn. What a screwed up, messed up sport.

C U soon
Eddie C.

Which prospect in the AFL has the best chance for success in Flushing? Sound off in the comments below…

  • luckyal

    Clark! You hate to see Reyes go because he will demand over $100Mil and he sees $$$ signs ahead of him? In a Market the size of NYC,you retain your special and most valuable assets. Its understandable if you project his $$$ demands will significantly outweigh his shelf life. Its unacceptible,however if you lose him because you don’t have enough financial strength to keep him. Should that be the case,you are financially ill equipped to own and operate a functional and competitive major league franchise in a Market the size of NYC.

  • luckyal

    Lou! You are confusing a honeymoon period with a successful one. Truth be told,Lagares,Marte,Flores,Harvey,Familia,Mejia and all others excluding Zach Wheeler were found and or drafted by the Minaya regime. I’m not about to commend Omar Minaya for a job well done. Overall his tenure here was underwhelming loaded with incompetence. No doubt Sandy and his assistants look to be more qualified as the executive types. Make no mistake however,they have yet to impact the Franchise in any way. The next three months will begin to test the worth of Sandy Alderson and indicate the direction he is taking this Franchise.

  • Lou

    Except for Marte, I can’t remember ever hearing about any of these guys. Mets’ farm system is getting better though, all thanks to Sandy. They have a ton of young arms between St. Lucie and Binghampton. Hopefully we’ll be seeing Harvey and Familia some time in the year coming up, and then Wheeler sometime in ’13. Plus there are some other prospects like these kids, Cohoon, some others that might turn into something. Mets could have a real decent rotation in a few years.

    • luckyal

      Keep an eye on LHP Darin Gorski,another Minaya draftee. Mark Cohoon seemed to reach his level of incompetence once graduating to higher levels of competition,topping out at Brooklyn. I’m surprised as a Mets fan you haven’t heard of Juan Lagares. The kid was an international signing when joining the Mets Organization as a 17 year old SS. Now 22 he had an enormous combined season at St Lucie(.338) and Binghamton(.375) with nearly 500 atbats and made a smooth transition to the OF over the last few years. He may turn out to be the sleeper of the entire Organization.

  • Clark Kentt

    Glad to see there’s some prospects in the minors that are opening eyes. Let Reyes go, he’s going to demand over $100 mill. I hate to see him leave but he sees $$$$ signs ahead of him.

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