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Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Farm report: Zach slated for Triple-A

By Adam Rubin

Third baseman Zach Lutz had a chance to go home to Reading, Pa., and produce a decisive long ball. Now, he should get a chance to close the season in Triple-A.

Wednesday’s promotion of Lucas Duda to the majors is expected to have the ripple effect of having Lutz go from Double-A Binghamton to Buffalo for the International League team’s final seven regular-season games.

Lutz has hit .289 with 17 homers and 42 RBIs in 225 at-bats with the B-Mets. That production included a tie-breaking two-run homer in the ninth inning of Binghamton’s 4-2 victory Sunday at Reading.

Lutz, a fifth-round pick in 2007, had grown up in the Reading area and played a handful of high school playoff games on the same Double-A field. He played for his father Yogi Lutz at Alvernia University only 10 minutes from the Reading Phillies’ ballpark.

“It’s great,” Lutz said. “I always dreamed of playing here one day professionally, making my way to the big leagues.”

Lutz, 24, has been a gifted hitter since joining the organization. It’s his feet that have slowed him down, quite literally.

During his first season, he suffered a stress fracture in his right foot in his first professional game with the Brooklyn Cyclones and required surgery to insert screws that still remain in the foot. This year, he suffered a stress fracture in the other foot that cost him two months, although he avoided another operation.

Trying to combat the fragile bones, Lutz said he takes 3,000 units of calcium a day, drinks lots of milk and has yogurt and cheese for breakfast.

“It’s very frustrating,” Lutz said. “It’s a constant battle. Every day I come in here and get worked on, rehab it every day, do exercises. It’s frustrating, but it’s something I have to deal with. And I’ll find a way to deal with it.”

Lutz came back strong after returning to the B-Mets July 27 following the two-month hiatus. He had seven homers in his first seven games.

“I came back strong,” said Lutz, who is still working to avoid pulling off sliders. “My swing just felt great. Things started to click.”

Lutz missed another week in mid-August with a foot injury, but this time it was plantar fasciitis.

“It felt like I was running on nails,” he said.

A solid hitter, Lutz’s fielding is affected by the foot issues.

“I’m all right,” Lutz said about his defensive play. “I’m out there every day trying to get better. Moving laterally, I have some problems because of my feet.”

Organization leaders

Average: Darrell Ceciliani, Brooklyn, .347; Joe Bonfe, Brooklyn, .316; Josh Satin, Binghamton, .314; Eric Campbell, Binghamton, .306; Cory Vaughn, Brooklyn, .304; Lucas Duda, Buffalo, .304; J.B. Brown, Brooklyn, .303; Sean Ratliff, Binghamton, .301; Nick Evans, Buffalo, .300; Rylan Sandoval, Brooklyn, .295.

Homers: Lucas Duda, Buffalo, 23; Nick Evans, Buffalo, 23; Sean Ratliff, Binghamton, 21; Brahiam Maldonado, Binghamton, 19.

RBIs: Lucas Duda, Buffalo, 87; Wilmer Flores, St. Lucie, 81; Sean Ratliff, Binghamton, 79; Nick Evans, Buffalo, 79; Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Buffalo, 74.

Steals: Cesar Puello, Savannah, 45; Pedro Zapata, St. Lucie, 35; Juan Lagares, St. Lucie, 25; Darrell Ceciliani, Brooklyn, 21.

ERA: Yohan Almonte, Brooklyn, 2.00; Angel Cuan, Brooklyn, 2.03; Jimmy Fuller, St. Lucie, 2.21; A.J. Pinera, Brooklyn, 2.37 Mark Cohoon, Binghamton, 2.59; Wesley Wrenn, Brooklyn, 3.01; Brandon Moore, St. Lucie, 3.09; Edioglis Villasmil, GCL Mets, 3.11; Armando Rodriguez, Savannah, 3.19; Pat Misch, Buffalo, 3.23.

Wins: Dillon Gee, Buffalo, 13; Mark Cohoon, Binghamton, 12; Pat Misch, Buffalo, 11.

Saves: Manuel Alvarez, Binghamton, 16; Michael Powers, St. Lucie, 15; Ryan Fraser, Brooklyn, 12; Jose Bierd, St. Lucie, 8; Roy Merritt, Binghamton, 8.

Strikeouts: Dillon Gee, Buffalo, 161; Brandon Moore, St. Lucie, 159; Armando Rodriguez, Savannah, 146; Jeurys Familia, St. Lucie, 129; Mike Antonini, Buffalo, 129.

Short hops

The Mets have filled four spots on their Arizona Fall League roster. Left-hander Robert Carson, right-hander Josh Stinson, catcher Kai Gronauer and infielder Jordany Valdespin are scheduled to play for Mesa. Ricky Bones will serve as pitching coach. The Mets will share their team with the Angels, Cubs, Phillies and Pirates. Mets officials hoped to send 2008 first-round pick Reese Havens to the Arizona Fall League, but the second baseman continues to see doctors for persistent oblique injuries and is not expected to be ready to participate. … Valdespin has struggled since a promotion to Double-A Binghamton. He endured an 0-for-17 rut before singling in his final at-bat Sunday. He is hitting .233 in 21 games with the B-Mets. … Duda, an outfielder/first baseman who is due to join the Mets on Wednesday with Jenrry Mejia, is expected to play winter ball for Escogido in the Dominican Republic. Moises Alou is the GM and Ken Oberkfell is the manager. That team won the Caribbean Series title last season. Daniel Murphy also is scheduled to play in the Dominican Winter League. He is slated to primarily play second base for Aguilas. … Mejia’s scoreless-innings streak between Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Buffalo reached 22 2/3 innings before he lost a no-hit bid by allowing a sixth-inning solo homer Monday in his Bisons debut. Mejia limited Syracuse to one run in eight innings. He experienced fatigue later in the start, as evidenced by pitches creeping up in the zone. It was Mejia’s longest start since May 2, 2009 with Class A St. Lucie at Sarasota, when he also went eight innings. … The Mets and low-A Savannah extended their working agreement through 2012. … Buffalo is now four games out in the International League wild-card race with seven games to play. Brooklyn clinched the McNamara Division of the New York-Penn League. The Gulf Coast League Mets qualified for the postseason but were eliminated by the Phillies on Monday. Savannah won its first-half division title in the South Atlantic League. It will play at Greenville or Asheville next Wednesday in Game 1. The best-of-three first-round series then will move to Savannah on Sept. 10. The Gnats will play host to a winner-take-all third game the following day, if necessary. … Outfielder Jesus Feliciano will have a close call in the race for the International League batting title. Feliciano needs 27 plate appearances over the Bisons’ final seven games to qualify. After going 1-for-4 on Tuesday in a loss to Syracuse, Feliciano is hitting .339. The official International League leader is Gwinnett’s Barbaro Canizares at .338. … Outfielder Fernando Martinez remains on the Triple-A disabled list with what is being called right knee soreness. He underwent an MRI last Wednesday in New York. The opportunity for him to return this season is dwindling. Martinez is doing conditioning work but is not taking batting practice or doing other baseball-type activities. If his Triple-A season is over, he will have hit .253 with 12 homers and 33 RBIs in 257 at-bats for the Bisons. Martinez, still only 21, averaged 78 games a season from 2006-09 because of assorted injuries. … Outfield prospect Kirk Nieuwenhuis is having a slow close to the season with Buffalo as he adjusts from Double-A. Nieuwenhuis’ average has sagged to .185 in 23 games since a promotion from Binghamton. He’s currently in a 3-for-32 slump that includes 14 strikeouts. … Ex-Twins outfielder Jason Pridie, who has experienced recurring severe hamstring injuries this season, had a cameo with two plate appearances as a DH in the Gulf Coast League on Saturday. Pridie is on the 40-man roster and should remain Mets property heading into spring training. He’s expected to participate in winter ball after being limited to 164 at-bats with Buffalo this season, in his first year with the organization. ... Outfielder Jorge Padilla, who was acquired from the Blue Jays organization on July 31 for Mike Jacobs, is done for the season because of a facial bruise and mild concussion suffered Aug. 20. Padilla was hit in the face with a baseball and struck with a fielder’s fist during a follow-through of a sidearm throw to first base. Padilla was trying to break up a double play. He has experienced headaches. … When the Mets promote a third catcher in September, Mike Nickeas could be a feel-good story if he gets the nod over major league veterans J.R. House and Michael Barrett. A solid defensive catcher who was acquired from the Texas Rangers for Victor Diaz on Aug. 30, 2006, Nickeas had been a career .231 minor league hitter before this season. Nickeas, benefiting from injuries to catchers Omir Santos, Shawn Riggans and Luke Montz, hit .283 with five homers and 33 RBIs in 82 games with the B-Mets this season. He was promoted to Buffalo, made his first appearance last Wednesday and was tabbed as the Bisons’ No. 1 catcher. … Cuban defector Yuneski Maya, whom the Nationals signed to a four-year, $6 million deal recently, did not draw rave reviews after facing the Bisons in his Triple-A debut Friday -- despite allowing one run on two hits in 4 2/3 innings. Maya required 90 pitches for that wokload. And while he threw several variations of breaking balls, his fastball sat between 89-92 mph with little life. … Middle infielder Justin Turner returned to the Bisons on Monday after missing nine games with a knee injury. With Luis Hernandez now at the major league level, Turner is being pressed into duty as a shortstop. He’s a better option for the Bisons at that position than Andy Green or Russ Adams, but is more of a second baseman. … Left-hander Mark Cohoon is 4-0 with a 1.60 ERA in five August starts for Binghamton. The 2008 12th-round pick tossed eight scoreless innings Sunday at Reading. … B-Mets outfielder D.J. Wabick had knee surgery to repair torn meniscus cartilage that had nagged him for multiple seasons. … Southpaw Robert Carson allowed seven runs in five innings Monday against Portland. Through nine Double-A starts, Carson is 1-6 with an 8.74 ERA. … Eric Niesen produced his finest relief appearance of the season Monday. The southpaw tossed three scoreless innings in relief of Carson and also displayed a slide step, which he had not previously utilized with the B-Mets this season. … Right-hander Eric Beaulac, who is from Troy, N.Y., made his Double-A debut Thursday against Reading and suffered the loss. Beaulac had been 5-5 with a 3.59 ERA in 21 games (19 starts) for Class A St. Lucie. … Infielder Jose Coronado has excelled since moving into a leadoff role with the B-Mets. In 27 games in the No. 1 slot, Coronado is hitting .324 and has scored 20 runs. … Josh Satin, a natural second baseman, is making progress getting acclimated to first base with the B-Mets. The Cal-Berkeley product is hitting .312 with six homers and 38 RBIs in 72 games with the B-Mets. … Savannah right-hander Armando Rodriguez earned South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week honors. Rodriguez went 1-0 with a 0.82 ERA in 11 innings. He struck out 21, walked two and allowed nine hits. He leads the league in strikeouts with 146 and ranks fifth in ERA at 3.19. Teammate Jimmy Fuller leads the league in ERA at 1.93. Rodriguez is the second Gnat to receive the honor this season. Cohoon won consecutive weeks in early June, as he rattled off four straight scoreless outings and then jumped two levels to Binghamton. … Third base prospect Aderlin Rodriguez joined Savannah this week after hitting .312 with 13 homers and 48 RBIs in 61 games with Kingsport. Already possessing a 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame at age 18, he has bat speed and natural loft. Rodriguez could outgrow third base and move to first base. He has kept his strikeout totals in check (43 in 250 at-bats with the K-Mets) despite the gaudy power numbers. … Chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon touted Savannah right fielder Cesar Puello in brief comments during a visit to Atlanta on Monday. Two days later, Puello (.292, 1 HR, 34 RBIs, 45 steals) landed on the Savannah DL with a lower-back strain. (He had been out since Aug. 14.) Arguably the Mets’ top outfield prospect, Puello has rebuilt his swing as the season has progressed. Early in season he crouched and was getting beat in. He since has moved his hands backward, stands more upright and puts his front foot down earlier, affording better balance. After hitting .192 in May, he hit .303 in June, .356 in July and .347 in August. The Mets believe the 6-foot-2, 195-pound Puello’s power will come. Already, he has elite-level speed and a plus arm. … Outfielder Nick Santomauro suffered a partially dislocated left shoulder. … Catcher Francisco Pena, the son of Tony Pena, who missed nearly the entire season with a stress fracture in a foot, has finally joined the St. Lucie Mets. The 20-year-old Pena is 7-for-19 in five games with the Florida State League club. … Brooklyn left-hander Chris Hilliard improved to 9-1 with the Cyclones by tossing eight scoreless innings Friday against Aberdeen. Hilliard matched Brooklyn’s single-season wins record, also held by Ross Peeples (2001), Harold Eckert (2001) and Dylan Owen (2007). … Cory Vaughn and Jeff Flagg have 50 RBIs apiece for the Cyclones. They share the Brooklyn single-season record for runs driven in. … Because so few teams are on the Atlantic side of Florida, the Mets will hold their instructional league for minor leaguers across the state in Fort Myers rather than in Port St. Lucie. … The argument that got Gulf Coast League manager Sandy Alomar Sr. and pitching coach Hector Berrios suspended by the organization was only verbal, a team official said.

Adam Rubin’s farm report appears Wednesdays during the season. This is the final installment for 2010.