Mets Invite Five Minor Leaguers to Spring Training; Plenty of Interest in Javier Vazquez


With pitchers and catchers set to report to Port St. Lucie in less than a month, we’re starting to see who from the Mets’ minor league system will be making an appearance at Big League camp. Five farmhands will get to make some pitches and take some hacks with the big boys, and they include: Rafael Montero, Cory Mazzoni, Juan Centeno, Josh Satin, and Matt den Dekker.

There are already a number of minor leaguers going to Big League Spring Training next month, as those currently on the 40-man roster get an automatic invite. So, that means we’ll be able to watch prospects like the newly-acquired Travis d’Arnaud, Zack Wheeler, Wilmer Flores, and Hansel Robles, among others while the Mets prepare for the start of 2013.

March 14, 2012; Lakeland, FL, USA; New York Mets center fielder Matt den Dekker (68) flies out during the top of the sixth inning of a spring training game at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Montero seems to be a surprise move by most, as the 22-year-old Dominican split his 20 starts from 2012 with Class-A St. Lucie and Savannah. The righty had a tremendous season, putting together an 11-5 record, 2.36 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, and 110 strikeouts in 122 innings pitched. Although it seems it’s a bit soon to have Montero in Big League camp, this could be the type of experience that will help him grow even more as he continues to progress through the minors. However, it could also be an experience that sets back his development, but that’s a chance New York is willing to take. Mazzoni is the only other pitcher out of the five, as he’s entering his third year of professional baseball. The righty split his time with St. Lucie and Binghamton in 2012, making 26 starts and compiling a 10-6 record, 3.93 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, and 104 strikeouts in 144.1 innings pitched.

Juan Centeno is coming off his first full season of Double-A ball, which he should consider a success, especially after spending the previous five years between Rookie and A-ball. He’s now 23-years-old, and put together a .285/.337/.342 line with no homers and 35 RBI in 313 plate appearances. The 23 walks he drew and 79 games played are both career highs for him, and the front office likely invited him to Big League camp so they can see what kind of catching depth the organization has in the lower levels of the minors.

Josh Satin struck out in his only at-bat with the Mets at the Major League level in 2012, and looked to be snubbed from getting a September call-up after having a good season with Triple-A Buffalo, posting a .286/.391/.442 with 14 homers and 60 RBI in 527 plate appearances. It will be interesting to see what Satin does in camp because if other backup infield options don’t go as planned (i.e. Brian Bixler and Omar Quintanilla) and Justin Turner is forced to spend more time in the outfield, he could find his way onto the Big League roster. However, that doesn’t look likely right now.

Last, but certainly not least, the Mets are hoping den Dekker can cut down on his strikeouts with Triple-A Las Vegas this season, as they’ll be looking to him to provide the organization some depth in the outfield, one that is already thin at the Major League level. The 25-year-old tore up Double-A pitching in 2012, sporting a healthy .340/.397/.563 line in 58 games played, but came back down to Earth after his promotion to Triple-A, hitting just .220/.256/.373 with 90 strikeouts against only 14 walks in 295 at-bats. He’ll certainly have to harness his strikeouts and patience at the plate before he gets the call to the Big Leagues, but it will be nice to see one of a handful of promising prospects showcase their talents during Spring Training.

In other news, there has been more talk and no action regarding the Mets’ search for starting pitchers and relievers. They remain intersted in the same names we’ve been mentioning all winter, but Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports the Rangers, Padres, and Pirates are also in pursuit of free agent starter Shaun Marcum, one of the few the New York seemed most interested in.

Lastly, the Amazins remain to have at least a little bit of interest in pitcher Javier Vazquez, who last pitched for the Marlins in 2011, going 13-11 with a 3.69 ERA in 32 starts. The Mets have scouted the righty during the Puerto Rican winter league, and there is a long list of teams that have taken a look at him, including every team that occupies the NL East. Although his fastball has reportedly reached 93 mph this winter, Vazquez is still not 100% and hasn’t received any official contract offers. I wouldn’t want Vazquez to join the Mets because he hasn’t pitched in a year, and they need someone that can be close to a guarantee to eat up some innings, and Javy is far from that.

Again, we continue to wait and see what Sandy decides to do for the rotation. It’s a long and boring process for us, but good things come to those who wait..we hope.