Binghamton and the Mets began their partnership twenty-one years ago when Mets ownership originally purchased their affiliate in Williamsport, Pennsylvania in 1992, and moved them into upstate New York. Success came quickly. Binghamton won the Eastern League title in 1992, albeit with some of the most nondescript players who never made it to Flushing. Bobby Jones pitched on that team, and as we know, became a winning pitcher for the Mets. The offense however, was led by guys like Brook Fordyce, Alan Zinter, and Chris Butterfield. The B-Mets won a second title in 1994, this time led by more notable names such as Jason Isringhausen, Bill Pulsipher, Edgardo Alfonzo, Jay Payton and Rey Ordonez. A few of these players helped the Mets become 2000 National League champions. While the big club was winning the N.L. pennant, the B-Mets captured one more division flag in 2000, but nothing since.
Lately, baseball in Binghamton has become an endangered enterprise. After reports circulated last year the B-Mets would be sold and moved to Ottawa, and possibly joined with the Toronto Blue Jays, the Mets stepped in to ensure baseball would continue in Binghamton at least through 2016, by signing a new four year player development contract with their long time AA affiliate.
Over the last four seasons, the B-Mets have posted consecutive sub .500 records. In 2011, Wally Backman piloted them to a 65-76 record. Last year, in his first season as manager, Pedro Lopez guided the team to a 68-74 record. Pedro Lopez and his entire coaching staff will return in tact for a second season.
This evening, the Binghamton Mets open the 2013 regular season in Ohio against the 2012 Eastern League defending champions, Akron Aeros. The Eastern League is a twelve team circuit. The Mets play in the Eastern Division along with the New Britain Rock Cats (MIN), New Hampshire Fisher Cats (TOR), Portland Sea Dogs (BOS), Reading Fightin’ Phils (PHI), and the Trenton Thunder (NYY).
Binghamton’s starting pitchers should be familiar to Mets fans. Fresh off promising Grapefruit League efforts, Cory Mazzoni and Rafael Montero will lead the B-Mets staff. Darin Gorski was exposed to waivers last Friday and cleared. They will be joined by Tyler Pill, Logan Verrett, and Erik Goeddel.
Cory Mazzoni, 23, didn’t fare in Binghamton last season, as well as he did during 2011 stints in Brooklyn and Port St. Lucie, where he posted a double digit strikeout average. With four Grapefruit League appearances, he was the rage of early Spring Training striking out seven batters in eight innings pitched. Rafael Montero, 22, spent the last two seasons making the leap from Dominican Republic, through rookie ball, and up to Port St. Lucie. In 2010 he posted a 2.15 ERA, an 8.4 K/9 average, and a 1.6 BB/9 average. In 2012, Montero struck out 110 batters in 122 innings pitched, and posted a 2.36 ERA. He made three Grapefruit League appearances, and had a 2.08 ERA.
Darin Gorski, 25, was waived to make room on the 40-man roster, and has since cleared. He is entering his fifth season of minor league service. Last year at Binghamton, Gorski made twenty-four starts and posted an even 4.00 ERA in 139.2 innings. His 2.08 ERA in 2011 was his best, and the only time he came in below the 4.00 mark.
Tyler Pill, 22, was the Mets 2011 fourth round selection. He split 2012 between Savannah and St. Lucie, posting a 2.31 ERA for the season. In twenty appearances, he struck out 105 batters in 113 innings. Logan Verrett, 22, was the Mets 2011 third round selection. He split his first season as a pro between Savannah and St. Lucie. Logan went a combined 5-2, with a 2.70 ERA. In 103.1 innings he struck out ninety-three, allowed eighty-seven hits, and only walked thirteen batters for a stellar 0.968 WHiP. Lastly, Erik Goeddel, 24, spent all of 2012 at St. Lucie, where he made twenty starts, and posted a 3.41 ERA. He struck out ninety-eight batters in 108.1 innings, but walked forty-three for a 3.6 BB/9 average.
Many Mets fans kept an early eye on Mark Cohoon, 25, but in the last two seasons, he has had trouble transitioning from AA to AAA. Primarily a starter over five minor league seasons, word is he’s headed for the bullpen this season. Adam Kolarek, 24, made six appearances in Binghamton last season and pitched in the Arizona Fall League. While at St. Lucie, he saved eighteen games and sported a 2.37 ERA. Jack Leathersich, 22, was a 2011 fifth round selection. Utilized as a middle reliever in 2012, he pitched well at Savannah, but struggled at St. Lucie. Over the last three seasons, Chase Huchingson, 23, undrafted out of high school, has taken the traditional route though the system spending a season each at Kingsport, Savannah, and St. Lucie. He posted a 1.82 ERA as a reliever in 2011 in Savannah. Last season he was converted to starter, and struggled some in Arizona Fall League play. Jeff Walters, 25, finished twenty-two of thirty-six games out of the bullpen last season for Savannah and St. Lucie. He posted an overall 2.30 ERA. The year prior, he started fourteen games for Brooklyn. John Church, 26, spent the last two full seasons at St.Lucie. In thirty-seven appearances and 57.2 innings pitched, he struck out fifty-three batters, and posted a 2.97 ERA. Adrian Rosario, 23, was sent over from Milwaukee to as part of the Francisco Rodriguez trade. Last year at St. Lucie, he was stellar in 28.2 innings, with an 0.94 ERA. He struggled however, in 29.1 innings pitching at Binghamton.
Shortstop Wilfredo Tovar, 21, still seems very young to have five years of minor league service. Perhaps a .270 batting average and a .345 OBP in a split season between St.Lucie and Binghamton last season is all the reason to keep him on the 40-man roster, and protect him from the Rule-V draft.
In 2012, second baseman Daniel Muno, 24, was suspended fifty games for getting mixed up with PED’s. In 2011 with the Brooklyn Cyclones, he was the New York-Penn League batting champion with a .355 average. To make up for the lack of playing time, Muno spent time in the 2012 Arizona Fall League
In 2011 with Binghamton, first baseman Allan Dykstra, 25, hit nineteen home runs, and drove in seventy-seven runs. He was the Padres first round selection (twenty-third overall) of the 2008 amateur draft.
Middle-infielder Josh Rodriguez, 28, is a seven season minor leaguer with a career .351 OBP. After six seasons of rookie and A ball, third baseman Richard Lucas, 24, will be getting his first taste of AA baseball this year. He has a career .336 OBP.
All three starting outfielders will be getting their first taste of AA-Eastern League baseball this season.
Mets fans have been patiently monitoring the progress of former Brooklyn Cyclones stand-out, Cory Vaughn. Even though Cory no longer ranks in the Mets top twenty prospects, he is only twenty-three years old, and I believe he is still among the top prospects in the organization. As a major Brooklyn Cyclones fan, I might be biased. In 2010 for the Cyclones, he was a season-long triple crown threat. Vaughn finished the season with a .307 batting average. His average dropped to .253 in 2011, and continued falling to .243 for St. Lucie last season. His low batting average was off-set by a .351 OBP. Power wise, he regained his stroke from Brooklyn. He hit twenty-three home runs in 456 at bats, and drove in sixty-nine runs.
Cesar Puello, 22, is currently rated the Mets #14 prospect. He is another who’s game is predicated on a high OBP. In five minor league seasons, he owns a career .346 mark. He also has speed. In 2010, Puello stole forty-five bases for Savannah. In 2011, he was Baseball America’s 77th rated prospect. He also recently spent time in the Arizona Fall League.
With a .351 average in Brooklyn, Darrell Ceciliani, 22, was the 2010 New York-Penn League batting champion. He was a 2009 fourth round pick. The center fielder batted .329 in eighty-five at-bats, and had a .402 OBP last season for St.Lucie before being sidelined with a hamstring injury. In 2011, he struggled to hit .259 in a full season at Savannah, but posted a .351 OBP.
The fourth outfielder, Alonzo Harris, 23, was drafted in the thirty-eighth round of the 2007 draft. He finally made his way to Port St. Lucie in 2012, after two full seasons at Savannah. In 443 at-bats, he batted a respectable .287 with a .354 OBP. He established a career high with forty stolen bases.
Juan Centeno, 22, a six year minor league veteran, arrived in Binghamton last season. In 281 at-bats, he batted a solid .285 with a .337 OBP. Francisco Pena, 23, is a light hitting catcher who also arrived in Binghamton for the first time last season. Blake Forsythe, 23, was the Mets 2010 third round pick. he threw out runners at a 32% clip last season. He can help with a few doubles and home runs at the bottom of the line-up.