Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Farm report: Muno gets Cyclone ride
By Adam Rubin
Danny Muno crossed paths with Ike Davis back in 2008, on the home turf of Davis’ Arizona State Sun Devils in an NCAA Regional.
“He was an awesome player,” Muno recalled. “Just to be on the field with all of those No. 1 draft picks, it was pretty intimidating. Then we beat them. It was a big thrill just to beat them in their own park.”
Danny Muno, who will be Brooklyn's shortstop, scores against Nebraska while playing for Fresno State on March 11.
The thrill did not end there. Fresno State, with Muno as its true freshman shortstop and leadoff hitter, won that regional, despite being the lowest-seeded team of the four programs assigned to that site. Fresno State eventually won the entire College World Series, too, and became national champs.
“That was the experience of a lifetime, definitely something I’m going to remember for the rest of my life,” said Munno, who was drafted in the eighth round by the Mets last week. “We were the lowest seed ever to win the College World Series.”
Now, Muno and Davis are on the same team -- or, at least they have the same employer. Muno will open the season Friday as the shortstop for Brooklyn, which opens the 2011 campaign at Staten Island, the New York-Penn League affiliate of the Yankees.
Muno, 22, also played second base, third base and in the outfield during college, but the Mets will let him try to prove himself as a shortstop before having him dabble elsewhere.
Muno -- a natural left-handed hitter -- picked up switch-hitting his sophomore year of college, after facing a ton of tough southpaws as a freshman when the program reached the College World Series.
“I faced [current Oriole] Brian Matusz and a couple of top draft picks my freshman year that were throwing lefty, and left-on-left,” Muno said. “It was a pretty tough battle. So I just decided to hit right-handed.”
One facet of Muno’s game certainly is compatible with the Mets’ new front office. By his junior season, Muno already had broken Fresno State’s career walk record. Muno was drafted in the 26th round by the Chicago Cubs after that junior season but decided to return to Fresno State for his senior year.
“Getting on base is a big part of my game, and scoring runs,” Muno said.
As for the College World Series, Muno and Fresno State never did return to Omaha his following three years. His sophomore year he ended up in a regional at Irvine, which was Baseball America’s No. 1 team. San Diego State, with Stephen Strasburg, also was assigned there.
“It was an upset,” Muno said about his freshman-year CWS title. “Going there as a freshman, you can’t really top that the next couple of years. Anything less than that is considered a disappointment, I guess, because you won it your first year and you want to win it all the rest of the years.”
Average: Juan Lagares, St. Lucie, .326; Pedro Zapata, St. Lucie, .319; Matt den Dekker, St. Lucie, .304; Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Buffalo, .298; Cory Vaughn, Savannah, .297; Josh Satin, Binghamton, .292; Jesus Feliciano, Buffalo, .281; Jefry Marte, St. Lucie, .277; Michael Fisher, Buffalo, .275; Robbie Shields, Savannah, .274.
Homers: Brahiam Maldonado, Binghamton, 12; Lucas Duda, Buffalo, 10; Aderlin Rodriguez, Savannah, 9; Josh Satin, Binghamton, 8; Stefan Welch, St. Lucie, 8.
RBI: Valentino Pascucci, Buffalo, 42; Wilmer Flores, St. Lucie, 41; Aderlin Rodriguez, Savannah, 38; Josh Satin, Binghamton, 37; Matt den Dekker, St. Lucie, 36.
Steals: Pedro Zapata, St. Lucie, 17; Jordany Valdespin, Binghamton, 15; Matt den Dekker, St. Lucie, 12; Darrell Ceciliani, Savannah, 11; Cesar Puello, St. Lucie, 11.
ERA: Darin Gorski, St. Lucie, 1.72; Matt Harvey, St. Lucie, 2.44; Jeurys Familia, Binghamton, 2.49; Ryan Fraser, Savannah, 2.96; Greg Peavey, Savannah, 3.13; Chris Schwinden, Buffalo, 3.18; Gonzalez Germen, Savannah, 3.34; Brandon Moore, Binghamton, 3.92; Robert Carson, Binghamton, 4.08; Brad Holt, Binghamton, 4.26.
Saves: Josh Edgin, Savannah, 16; Jeffrey Kaplan, St. Lucie, 10; Nick Carr, St. Lucie, 6; John Lujan, Buffalo, 5; Erik Turgeon, Binghamton, 5.
Strikeouts: Matt Harvey, St. Lucie, 88; Jeurys Familia, Binghamton, 77; Darin Gorski, St. Lucie, 76; Gonzalez Germen, Savannah, 67; Taylor Whitenton, Savannah, 65.
• The Mets’ two Class A full-season affiliates may both be headed to the postseason. Savannah clinched its first-half division title in the South Atlantic League on Tuesday night, freeing the organization to start making some promotions from that squad to St. Lucie within the next 24 hours -- even before Tuesday’s SAL All-Star game in Salisbury, Md. The All-Star Game had been scheduled to include right-handers Taylor Whitenton and Greg Peavey, left-handers Chase Huchingson and Josh Edgin, infielder Robbie Shields and right fielder Cory Vaughn, but is now expected to take at least a modest hit in terms of Mets representation. St. Lucie leads its Florida State League division by two games over Fort Myers and three over Jupiter with five to play in the half.
St. Lucie is not expected to make promotions to Double-A Binghamton before the completion of the half. As a result, 2010 first-round pick Matt Harvey is expected to make one more Florida State League start before joining the B-Mets. Center fielder Matt den Dekker’s promotion should wait a week, too. Harvey is 8-2 with a 2.44 ERA and 88 strikeouts in 70 innings with St. Lucie. The Florida State League has its All-Star game Saturday, before officially completing the first half with three more games next week. It is unlikely the Mets will allow Harvey to pitch in Saturday’s FSL All-Star Game and compromise his final St. Lucie start. Also selected with Harvey to represent the Mets in Clearwater, Fla., are fellow right-handers Scott Moviel and Jeffrey Kaplan, left-hander Darin Gorski and outfielders Pedro Zapata and den Dekker.
Savannah, which is a league-best 38-26 despite a slow start, has the SAL’s top ERA at 3.09. The Gnats clinched the division despite a .241 batting average, which is one point ahead of Augusta for worst in the 14-team league.
• The SAL All-Star Edgin, Savannah’s closer, has the league’s second-lowest batting average against among relievers at .135, trailing only Hagerstown’s Chris Manno (.117). Edgin, who is 16-for-17 in save opportunities, has converted 12 straight chances since his lone blemish April 26 at Delmarva. A 30th-round pick last year out of Francis Marion University by one of the Mets’ most accomplished scouts, Marlin McPhail, Edgin has not allowed an earned run since that blown save. In 16 straight scoreless appearances, he has tossed 20 2/3 run-free innings. Edgin began his college career at Ohio State before transferring to Francis Marion. He had fastball command and walk issues as a starter in college, but his control and velocity have improved as a professional while working exclusively in relief.
• Gorski, a seventh-round pick in 2009 out of Kutztown University, leads the Florida State League with a 1.72 ERA. Harvey ranks fifth.
• Brooklyn, managed by organization newcomer Rich Donnelly, opens its season Friday at Staten Island. Frank Viola is the pitching coach and ex-Mets farmhand Bobby Malek is the hitting coach. Donnelly coached third base for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2006 and 2007, and had the same role with the Milwaukee Brewers the previous three seasons.
Four 2011 draftees will open with Brooklyn: outfielders Jonathan Clark (17th round, Lee University), Travis Taijeron (18th, Cal Poly Pomona) and Charley Thurber (39th, Tennessee) as well as Munno. Farm director Adam Wogan and then-minor league field coordinator Terry Collins a year ago resolved to now have most of the draftees begin in the Gulf Coast League rather than Brooklyn. That way, they could be monitored more closely at the team’s complex after having erratic workouts since their college seasons ended. Aside from the four Brooklyn assignments, Wogan said 21 draftees already are at the Florida complex and available for GCL duty when that season opens Monday, including second-round pick Cory Mazzoni, a right-hander from N.C. State.
• 2009 top pick Steve Matz, a left-hander from Long Island, will open his professional career in the Gulf Coast League but is not going to be ready for Monday’s Opening Day. Matz backed off throwing off a mound recently because of discomfort, possibly related to scar tissue, in his surgically repaired elbow. Matz underwent Tommy John surgery on May 18, 2010.
• Eduardo Aldama, 21, is scheduled to start Friday’s Brooklyn opener against the Yankees. The Venezuelan right-hander went 2-3 with a 4.95 ERA in eight starts last season at rookie-level Kingsport. Other players assigned to the Cyclones include outfielder Javier Rodriguez, infielders Brian Harrison and Luke Stewart, right-handers Marco Camarena and Jeff Walters and left-handers Chris Hilliard and Carlos Vazquez.
• Buffalo right-hander Jose De La Torre, who had not appeared in a game since May 3 because of a shoulder strain, is scheduled to work in a rehab game on Monday for the first time since the injury.
• Savannah middle infielder Wilfredo Tovar lost a 12-game hitting streak in Tuesday’s clincher. It matched Shields’ streak from May 10-22 for the longest by a Gnat this season.
• Buffalo center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who had missed 10 days with a right shoulder injury suffered in a diving catch, returned for six games but is now out with a left shoulder strain. Nieuwenhuis (.298 BA, .403 OBP, 6 HR, 5 SB, 188 at-bats) suffered the more-recent injury on a swing. He also had an issue with the same shoulder last season, although this may be rotator-cuff related. Still, the Mets are hopeful Nieuwenhuis will return to the lineup soon.
• Buffalo’s Zach Lutz, a member of the 40-man roster, returned to the Bisons on Friday after missing seven weeks -- first with a hamstring injury, then because he was struck with a foul ball and broke the ring finger on his non-throwing hand while watching a game from the dugout while on the DL. Lutz primarily is playing third base, but also will DH and get some first-base time.
• St. Lucie third baseman Jefry Marte (.277, 5 HR, 30 RBI) was pulled from Tuesday’s game after getting hit in the hand by a pitch, but preliminary indications are the injury is not serious.
• Nick Evans, who could have opted for free agency, instead will rejoin Buffalo on Thursday in Norfolk after a team off-day. Evans will get regular playing time between first base and corner outfield spots, and occasionally at third base.
• Binghamton manager Wally Backman was ejected from consecutive games Friday and Saturday, although he appeared to have legitimate beefs with the umpiring crew. In the latter instance, Trenton took the lead on what was ruled a double, although the shot appeared to be a foot foul. The same crew has tossed pitching coach Marc Valdes, slugger Brahiam Maldonado and infielder Jordany Valdespin this season.
• Second baseman Reese Havens is hitting .259 with two homers in 15 games since joining the B-Mets. Observers say his swing looks smoother than last season, which may make it easier on his previously troublesome oblique.
• Binghamton left-hander Robert Carson had experienced forearm stiffness, but has been throwing on the side and shoulder reenter the rotation this weekend at home against Trenton. That may bump Collin McHugh to the B-Mets’ bullpen. Carson (1-7, 4.08 ERA) last appeared May 31. Also on the injury front, Savannah hard-throwing reliever Luis Rojas, who has been out since May 25, is nearing a return from a shoulder strain.
Adam Rubin’s farm report appears Wednesdays during the season