Although the Major League Baseball season is over, there is still plenty of baseball being played as we enter the week of Thanksgiving. Not only is the Arizona Fall League going on, Winter Leagues in the Dominican and Venezuela are in full swing, while the World Baseball Classic qualifiers are coming to a close today.
The offensive star thus far has been Wilmer Flores, who hit .300/.349/.479 with 18 homers and 75 RBI between Port St. Lucie and Binghamton this season. He’s been spending his winter in Venezuela playing for Bravos de Margarita, and in 101 at-bats (27 games played), the third baseman has hit .307/.386/.465 with 3 homers, 8 RBI, 14 runs scored, and 7 doubles. The 21-year-old prospect continues to impress, and it looks like he’ll continue to play third base next season, while mixing in some first and second base as well. Although some people feel Flores won’t be able to adjust to second base, I would still like to see how he does with the position, as he could find a home there in Flushing within the next few years if all goes well.
After having a shorted season in Port St. Lucie (81 games played) thanks to a 50-game PED suspension, second base prospect Daniel Muno is playing for the Surprise Sagauros of the Arizona Fall League to get some extra playing time. The switch-hitting infielder hit .280/.387/.412 during the 2012 season, but is only hitting .226/.368/.290 in 31 at-bats this fall. This is a very small sample size when it comes time to analyze how he’s progressing, but he’s only collected two extra base-hits and has struck out (7) more than he’s walked (6).
Justin Turner decided to head to the Dominican Republic this winter to get some more at-bats since he’s saw a significant drop off in playing time in 2012; Turner walked to the plate 171 times this season, compared to 435 in 2011. He took some time off before he hopped on a plane to the Dominican, but he’s also struggled in limited playing time, hitting .184/.220/.211 in 38 at-bats, including 4 RBI, 1 extra base-hit, 6 strikeouts, and 1 walk.
Jordany Valdespin is in the Dominican, and after a hot start for Tigres del Licey, he’s cooled off a bit with the bat, hitting .277/.404/.426 with 2 homers, 3 RBI, and 11 runs scored. He’s only hitting .185 in his last ten games played, but is continuing to get on base at a high rate, and has twice as many walks (10) as strikeouts (5). He’s doing exactly what the Mets organization wants to see, as he’s increasing his patience at the plate, making him a more productive offensive player overall.
On the mound, there are three pitchers still marching to the hill as they prepare for 2013. Elvin Ramirez is playing for Gigantes del Cibao, and has compiled a 2-0 record in 10.1 innings pitched, but has put together a 5.23 ERA and .325 opponent batting average. He has struck out 13 hitters, but has handed out 4 more free passes, which was his single biggest problem in 2012. Hopefully he’s working the kinks out now before he reports to Port St Lucie for Spring Training.
Meanwhile, newly-acquired reliever Greg Burke continues to impress, as he owns a 1-0 record, 2.16 ERA, and 4 saves in 16.2 innings pitched. Opponents are hitting .254 off him this winter, and he’s only walked 1 hitter, while striking out 15. This signing went under the radar because it was a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him win a spot in the Mets bullpen for 2013, especially if he continues to pitch the way he is currently.
Jenrry Mejia has been contributing for Licey so far this winter, but not in the role most Mets fans would like to see him in. Projected by most to be a reliever at the Major League level, Mejia has pitched solely as a starter, going 1-0 with a 2.65 ERA, allowing 6 walks and striking out 13 in 17 innings pitched, holding opponents to a .197 batting average. All I have to ask is…why???? This doesn’t make any sense to me, especially if the organization plans on throwing him back in the bullpen in Spring Training. His name hasn’t come up in any rumors, but I’m convinced he’s continuing to start because he’s going to be used as trade bait this winter, and starting in the Dominican keeps his value up.
Ruben Tejada and Manny Acosta have also been spending some time playing for the Panama National Team in the World Baseball Classic qualifiers; Tejada ripped 3 doubles and drove in 2 runs over the weekend after kicking off the tournament going 0-for-4 with 2 strikeouts, while Acosta struck out one in a scoreless inning of work. Acosta didn’t take the mound in last night’s win, but Tejada put together two more hits and an RBI to aid in Panama’s 9-7 victory over Colombia.