New York Mets: Rhiner Cruz

Series preview: Mets vs. Astros

August, 24, 2012

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Tony DeFrancesco (left) was named interim manager by first-year GM Jeff Luhnow (center), replacing fired Brad Mills (right).
METS (57-68, fourth place/NL East) vs. HOUSTON ASTROS (39-86, sixth place/NL West)

Friday: LHP Jon Niese (10-6, 3.82) vs. RHP Jordan Lyles (2-10, 5.70), 7:10 p.m. ET

Saturday: RHP R.A. Dickey (15-4, 2.82) vs. TBA, 1:10 p.m. ET

Sunday: RHP Jeremy Hefner (2-5, 5.11) vs. RHP Lucas Harrell (10-9, 4.04), 1:10 p.m. ET

Astros short hops

Tony DeFrancesco became interim manager Sunday, replacing fired Brad Mills. DeFrancesco had been managing Triple-A Oklahoma City. First-year GM Jeff Luhnow also replaced hitting coach Mike Barnett with Ty Van Burkleo and first base coach Bobby Meacham with Dan Radison.

• This series marks the last meeting before the Astros move to the American League West in 2013. Houston is 307-256 against the Mets all time in the regular season.

The Mets beat the Astros, 4-2, in the 1986 NLCS -- taking the clinching Game 6 in 16 innings. The Mets trailed, 3-0, entering the ninth, with the prospect of facing ace Mike Scott in Game 7 looming. But the Amazin’s scored three runs in the ninth on RBIs from Mookie Wilson, Keith Hernandez and Ray Knight. After trading runs in the 14th, the Mets produced three runs in the 16th and held on, 7-6, when Jesse Orosco struck out Kevin Bass.

Bob Levey/Getty Images
All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve remains on an otherwise dismantled Astros roster.

• The Mets and Astros own the two worst second-half records in the National League. Houston is 6-33 since the All-Star break. The Mets are 11-28. Next: The Cubs are 14-24, followed by the Marlins at 16-25 and the Rockies and Brewers, each at 17-21.

• The Astros’ pre-trading deadline dismantling included:

July 4: Sent first baseman Carlos Lee to Miami for third baseman Matt Dominguez and left-hander Rob Rasmussen.

July 20: Traded right-handers Brandon Lyon and David Carpenter and left-hander J.A. Happ to Toronto for right-hander Francisco Cordero, outfielder Ben Francisco, right-hander Joe Musgrove, right-hander Asher Wojciechowski, left-hander David Rollins, catcher Carlos Perez and a player to be named.

July 21: Traded Brett Myers to the Chicago White Sox for right-hander Matt Heidenreich and left-hander Blair Walters.

July 24: Traded left-hander Wandy Rodriguez to Pittsburgh for left-hander Rudy Owens, outfielder Robbie Grossman and left-hander Colton Cain.

July 27: Claimed right-hander Chuckie Fick off waivers from St. Louis.

July 28: Claimed outfielder/first baseman Steve Pearce off waivers from Baltimore.

July 29: Sent third baseman Chris Johnson to Arizona for infielder Bobby Borchering and outfielder Marc Krauss.

• All-Star Jose Altuve leads NL second baseman in average at .304, two points ahead of Arizona’s Aaron Hill.

• Outfielder Fernando Martinez, who was claimed off waivers from the Mets on Jan. 11, was promoted from Triple-A on Aug. 10. During a June stint with the major league club, he landed on the disabled list for 18 days with a concussion. Martinez is 7-for-44 with the Astros this season, but he produced a .314 average with 13 homers and 62 RBIs in 341 at-bats for Oklahoma City.

Jordan Lyles is the youngest active starting pitcher in the majors. He was born Oct. 19, 1990. Toronto’s Henderson Alvarez (April 18, 1990) ranks second. Miami’s Nate Eovaldi (Feb.13, 1990) is third. The Astros have the youngest active roster overall, at an average age of 26.4. Kansas City (26.5) and Colorado (26.8) are next.

Lucas Harrell (10-9) has logged more innings than any NL rookie and ranks second in wins to Arizona’s Wade Miley (14-8).

• With 50-year-old Roger Clemens pitching for the independent Sugar Land Skeeters on Saturday, there is speculation he could appear with the Astros before the end of the season.

• Reliever Rhiner Cruz (1-1, 6.90 ERA), a Rule 5 selection from the Mets, appears poised to last the season with the Astros and become Houston’s property.

Last series results

Houston won, 3-0, at Minute Maid Park, April 30-May 2 (AP game recaps)

Astros 4, Mets 3: Jordan Schafer had two hits and scored twice, including the go-ahead run on a single by Jed Lowie in the eighth inning. More

Astros 6, Mets 3: Chris Snyder hit a three-run home run and Jed Lowrie had a two-run shot. Lowrie's homer, off Jon Niese, which hit the inside of the foul pole in left field in the first inning, got things going for the Astros. More

Astros 8, Mets 1:Chris Johnson homered in consecutive at-bats among his four hits and drove in a career-high six runs to back up another solid outing by Wandy Rodriguez. Johnson's first homer of the season, off Chris Schwinden (0-1), was a three-run shot to the Crawford Boxes in left field that put Houston up 3-0 in the second inning. More

Series preview: Mets at Astros

April, 30, 2012

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The Mets face (l to r) Bud Norris, J.A. Happ and Wandy Rodriguez during the final trip to Houston with the Astros an NL member.
METS (13-9, third place/NL East) vs. HOUSTON ASTROS (8-14, fifth place/NL Central)

Monday: RHP R.A. Dickey (3-1, 4.44) vs. RHP Bud Norris (1-1, 5.84), 8:05 p.m. ET

Tuesday: LHP Jon Niese (2-0, 2.81) vs. LHP J.A. Happ (1-1, 4.70), 8:05 p.m. ET

Wednesday: RHP Chris Schwinden (0-0, 11.25) vs. LHP Wandy Rodriguez (2-2, 1.72), 2:05 p.m. ET

Astros short hops

• The Astros, who debuted as a member of the National League alongside the Mets in 1962, originally as the Colt .45s, move to the American League West next season as part of the conditions of Jim Crane's purchase of the team from Drayton McLane. Crane received a $65 million purchase credit to balance the leagues at 15 teams apiece.

As for Astros fans’ negative reaction to the AL move, Crane told The Houston Chronicle: “I think it's calmed down considerably once people understand that was our destiny. That's the way baseball had decided -- whoever owned the Astros was going to be in the American League. You can argue anything I guess, but what they did does make some sense for baseball. When you look at the two Texas teams, it evens out that, keeps the Rangers from traveling more. Our TV partner Comcast feels it's a stronger deal for us with the East Coast teams like Detroit and Cleveland and some of the old traditional teams -- the Yankees and Boston. And we're going to do better on the network because of that.

“The downside that we'll see is the DH and a little more travel. And we'll try to get games scheduled so that when we get getaway games they'll be in the afternoon, so you're not going to see that many late-night games.”

Brad Barr/US Presswire
Rhiner Cruz, a Rule 5 pick from the Mets, is off to a solid start in Houston's bullpen.

• The Astros have lost six straight series, the latest secured with a 6-5 loss at Cincinnati in Sunday’s rubber game.

• Diminutive second baseman Jose Altuve is among the league’s hottest hitters. The 5-foot-5 Altuve went 3-for-5 Sunday to lift his average to .373. That trails only Matt Kemp (.425) and David Wright (.397) in the National League. Altuve, who turns 22 next Sunday, is the shortest player in the majors this season. He has runner-up Alexi Amarista of the Los Angeles Angels beat by two inches. Altuve had been the second-youngest too, behind Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Drew Hutchison. But 19-year-old Bryce Harper and 20-year-old Mike Trout just made their major league debut/return. Altuve began last season at Class A Lancaster, but made his major league debut July 20 after jumping from Double-A.

• The Astros acquired shortstop Jed Lowrie and right-hander Kyle Weiland from the Boston Red Sox on Dec. 14 for right-handed reliever Mark Melancon, Houston’s 2011 saves leader with 20. Lowrie opened the season the disabled list with a sprained right thumb. He made his Astros debut April 13. Weiland (0-3, 6.62 ERA) landed on the DL with shoulder bursitis, and Jordan Lyles was promoted for a spot start Sunday. Lyles was returned to the minors postgame.

• Catcher Jason Castro, the 10th overall pick in the 2008 draft, out of Stanford, missed last season while recovering from right knee surgery to repair a torn ACL. He also missed two games last week with a neck issue after a plate collision with Milwaukee’s Mat Gamel. Castro returned Friday. Opponents have been successful in all 13 steal attempts against Castro this season.

Carlos Lee left Friday’s game in the first inning with a left ankle sprain, which he suffered pursuing a low throw from third baseman Chris Johnson that eluded him at first base. X-rays were negative, but Lee (.273, 2 HR, 13 RBIs) likely will remain sidelined at least early in the Mets series. Lee exclusively has played first base this season, after splitting time evenly between that position and left field a season ago. Matt Downs has filled in at first base in Lee’s absence. J.D. Martinez is now the full-time left fielder.

• Backup infielder Marwin Gonzalez spent the weekend on paternity leave, but was activated for Monday’s series opener in the roster spot Lyles held for a day.

Wandy Rodriguez has a 1.72 ERA in five starts.

Bud Norris allowed seven runs in his last start, including two-run homers to Milwaukee’s Travis Ishikawa and Corey Hart.

• Closer Brett Myers is 4-for-4 in save chances.

• Right-hander Rhiner Cruz (1-0, 2.08 ERA) is Rule 5 pick from Metsm who is drawing rave reviews from scouts because of his 98 mph fastball from a “weird,” low arm slot. Cruz, who was not protected on the Mets’ 40-man roster, opened eyes with Cibao in the Dominican Winter League, before the December draft. He posted a 1.47 ERA in 18 1/3 innings over 21 relief appearances in winter ball. Cruz has not appeared since last Monday because of a twisted an ankle. Cruz, 25, had control issues last season between Class A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton in the Mets organization. He walked 45 and hit seven batters in 71 2/3 innings.

Fernando Martinez, who was claimed off waivers by the Astros from the Mets during the offseason, is hitting .318 with four homers and 21 RBIs in 22 games for Triple-A Oklahoma City. He primarily has played left field, while being assigned to DH the past two games.

• Ex-Brave Jordan Schafer was ejected Sunday after disputing a caught-stealing call by ump Marvin Hudson in the second inning. Before that, the 25-year-old center fielder extended his streak of reaching base at least once to 22 games, the longest to open a season by an Astro since Ricky Gutierrez had a 23-game streak in 1998. Denis Menke owns the franchise record -- 25 games in 1969.

• Ex-Mets/Astros outfielder Richard Hidalgo is scheduled to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Monday’s series opener.


Dickey vs. Astros (career: 1-2, 3.82 ERA)
Travis Buck .667, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 3 PA
Jason Castro .667, 3 PA
Jed Lowrie .500, 1 RBI, 3 PA
Matt Downs .500, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 PA
Jordan Schafer .429, 1 K, 7 PA
Carlos Lee .381, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 2 K, 21 PA
Chris Johnson .286, 1 RBI, 14 PA
Brian Bixler .200, 1 K, 5 PA
Chris Snyder .000, 1 BB, 1 K, 6 PA

Niese vs. Astros (career: 1-1, 1.80 ERA)
Brian Bixler .333, 2 K, 6 PA
Chris Johnson .333, 1 RBI, 6 PA
Carlos Lee .250, 1 RBI,1 BB, 9 PA
Jordan Schafer .000, 2 K, 8 PA
Jason Castro .000, 3 PA
Chris Snyder .000, 1 K, 2 PA

Schwinden vs. Astros (career: never faced)

Norris vs. Mets (career: 1-1, 4.85 ERA)
Daniel Murphy .333, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 K, 6 PA
Justin Turner .333, 1 K, 3 PA
Josh Thole .250, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K, 10 PA
Ike Davis .250, 1 BB, 2 K, 9 PA
Scott Hairston .200, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 6 PA
David Wright .000, 3 BB, 4 K, 12 PA
Andres Torres .000, 1 K, 3 PA

Happ vs. Mets (career: 2-2, 4.82 ERA)
Mike Nickeas .500, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 PA
David Wright .462, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K, 15 PA
Andres Torres .333, 1 RBI, 1 K, 3 PA
Scott Hairston .333, 1 K, 3 PA
Daniel Murphy .286, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K, 7 PA
Justin Turner .200, 1 RBI, 5 PA
Ike Davis .000, 1 RBI, 2 PA

Rodriguez vs. Mets (career: 3-2, 2.91 ERA)
Scott Hairston .462, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K, 15 PA
Justin Turner .333, 3 PA
David Wright .316, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 5 K, 21 PA
Andres Torres .000, 1 BB, 1 K, 3 PA
Ike Davis .000, 1 BB, 1 K, 3 PA
Josh Thole .000, 1 BB, 3 PA

Last series results

Mets won, 2-1, at Minute Maid Park, May 13-15, 2011 (AP game recaps)

Mets 6, Astros 4: David Wright hit a go-ahead homer to cap a four-run eighth inning that rallied the Mets. Wright's two-run shot was the last of three late homers by the Mets that helped them overcome a 4-0 deficit for their sixth win in eight games. Jason Bay got New York going with a solo shot in the seventh and pinch-hitter Fernando Martinez cut it to 4-3 with a long, two-run drive in the eighth. Jose Reyes walked and, with two outs, Wright homered off reliever Jeff Fulchino (0-1) into the Crawford Boxes in left field to put New York on top. It was the sixth home run of the season for the slumping Wright, who had been given the previous day off in Colorado to rest a sore neck and back.

Astros 7, Mets 3: Carlos Lee delivered his 2,000th hit with an RBI single during a four-run first inning. Lee also hit one of three Astros homers. J.A. Happ (3-4) pitched six innings for the win, scattering five hits and three walks. Michael Bourn tripled to open the game against knuckleball pitcher R.A. Dickey (1-5) and scored on a groundout by Clint Barmes. Hunter Pence and Lee followed with singles, and three more runs scored on a double by Brett Wallace and singles by Chris Johnson and Bill Hall. Dickey allowed six hits in the first inning, then held the Astros in check until the sixth, when Hall and pinch hitter Matt Downs hit solo homers. Dickey pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowed 11 hits, didn't walk a batter and struck out two. Lee became the 17th active player to reach 2,000 hits, and he is the ninth active player to have at least that many hits while also belting 300 or more home runs. The Mets got one run in the third when Jose Reyes doubled and scored on a single to right field by Justin Turner, then added another in the fourth, when Daniel Murphy led off the inning with his third homer of the season. Reyes had an RBI single off reliever Mark Melancon in the ninth. Carlos Beltran sat out the game with swelling in his right eye.

Mets 7, Astros 4: Justin Turner homered and drove in a career-high five runs and Jason Pridie hit a go-ahead single and stole home for the Mets. Chris Capuano (3-4) allowed six hits and two runs in five innings. He struck out six. Aneury Rodriguez (0-2) didn't allow a hit until the fifth, but finished with five earned runs and four walks in his third major league start. Francisco Rodriguez pitched a perfect ninth for his 12th straight save. He has not allowed a run in 14 appearances since April 14.

Mets morning briefing 4.4.12

April, 4, 2012
Only hours remain in spring training for the Mets. The Amazin's complete their Grapefruit League schedule against Andy Pettitte and the Yankees at noon today in Tampa, then fly home. Next up: Johan Santana versus Tommy Hanson on Thursday afternoon at Citi Field.

Check back at later today for a revealing feature on Santana, ESPN Stats & Information's Mark Simon looking at upcoming Mets statistical milestones, scouts breaking down the Mets pitching staff and an in-depth series preview with Atlanta Braves info.

Wednesday's news reports:

• After all the talk about potential DL trips, it turns out the only players landing there apparently will be Pedro Beato (shoulder) and D.J. Carrasco (ankle). Closer Frank Francisco, lefty specialist Tim Byrdak and center fielder Andres Torres all are ready to break camp with the team. Francisco threw a bullpen session Tuesday, two days after receiving a cortisone shot in his ailing left knee. The closer said he is pain-free, despite some residual inflammation. Sandy Alderson acknowledged the issue could linger -- "especially for a guy who weighs 260 pounds," the GM told reporters.

Byrdak recorded three outs in Tuesday's Grapefruit League game, exactly three weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.

Torres, who had resumed game action during the weekend on the minor league side, had two plate appearances Tuesday in his first Grapefruit League game since March 20, when he suffered a strained left calf. He singled against Ivan Nova and was hit by a pitch. Read more on the positive health resolutions in the Star-Ledger, Record, Journal, Daily News, Post and Newsday.

• As a result of the trio's health, Vinny Rottino and Daniel Herrera have been dispatched to Buffalo. The Mets also had held back Kirk Nieuwenhuis in Port St. Lucie after the center-field prospect's Triple-A teammates had departed, but Nieuwenhuis was cleared by late Monday to head north to join the Mets' top minor league affiliate.

• Because the three players avoided the disabled list, the Mets will only need to clear two 40-man roster spots -- for backup lefty-hitting outfielder Mike Baxter and spot starter/long reliever Miguel Batista.

Ike Davis hit a walk-off homer and the Mets beat the Yankees, 7-6, Tuesday in the first spring-training meeting between the clubs in Port St. Lucie since 1995. Mike Pelfrey limited the Yankees to a Nick Swisher solo homer and one other hit while striking out five and walking none in four innings. Read more in Newsday, the Times, Post and Star-Ledger.

• Swisher reminisced to David Waldstein in the Times about growing up at the Mets' spring-training complex. Writes Waldstein:

From age 8, when his father, the former major leaguer Steve Swisher, was a minor league manager with the Mets and later a coach with the big-league club, Swisher was a fixture at the Mets’ spring training. There were the days when he won $100 off Todd Hundley, joked around with the eccentric Bill Pulsipher and took what he estimated were a million swings on the back fields. Returning here Tuesday as a 31-year-old Yankees right fielder brought back a stream of memories for Swisher, who celebrated his return by hitting a home run in a 7-6 loss to the Mets in the same park where he used to shag fly balls as a youngster.

Paul DePodesta, who oversees the Mets' farm system and amateur scouting, participated in a chat at Baseball Prospectus. DePodesta addressed the new collective bargaining agreement, which will restrict Mets spending on draft picks. He also discussed left-handed prospect Josh Edgin's future, 2011 first-round pick Brandon Nimmo (who will participate in extended spring training rather than break camp with full-season Savannah), the plan to give Jordany Valdespin limited exposure to center field while keeping him primarily in the middle infield, the elimination of the Mets' Gulf Coast League team, and under-the radar-prospects. On that last subject, DePodesta identified Domingo Tapia and Rafael Montero as legit prospects not getting hype. "Both guys have a chance to emerge as our next group of top-tier potential major league starting pitchers," DePodesta predicted. "They have power stuff. Tapia routinely touched 100 mph last summer. And both pound the strike zone."

DePodesta added that while the organization is committed to building from within, they also realize they need to strategically add capable free agents. "It's awfully difficult to build a championship-caliber club just with your own minor league players (though the Rockies basically did)," DePodesta said. "But if we can build up a core, and we absolutely believe we can and we will, then we will have plenty of capacity to make strategic free-agent or even trade decisions."

On top prospect Zack Wheeler, DePodesta said: "Like most young pitchers with big stuff, it's just a matter of consistency. He has a major league repertoire right now. In fact, it's better than most major league starters. The difference is simply how consistently he's able to make the ball go where he wants and do what he wants. He's making progress and isn't far off, and we'll see stretches this year when he's locked in and looking like a big leaguer."

DePodesta said his children have selected Lucas Duda as the player most likely to pick up the Linsanity mantle.

• Read's position-by-position analysis of the Mets, including scout comment.

Matt Harvey will start Buffalo's opener Thursday at Pawtucket. He will be followed in the Bisons' rotation by Jeurys Familia, Chris Schwinden, Jeremy Hefner and Garrett Olson. "It's a huge honor," Harvey told Mike Harrington at the Buffalo News' Bisons blog. "I wasn't sure going into spring training exactly where I was going to start [between Buffalo and Binghamton]. Wally [Backman] told me the whole time I had a good chance of going with him. As soon as they told me, I was extremely honored and happy."

Double-A Binghamton, which opens at home, will have Collin McHugh on the mound Thursday, in Game 1. Lynn Worthy profiles the B-Mets in the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin. Wheeler, Edgin, Juan Lagares, Matt den Dekker and Darin Gorski highlight the Double-A roster.

See the full minor league roster assignments here.

• The Mets will have a group seating/party area between the old and new left-field walls at Citi Field, with ticket prices ranging from $100 to $200 per person and including food and drink. Meanwhile, executive VP Dave Howard acknowledged Tuesday that Opening Day is not yet sold out. Read more in the Times, Post and Newsday.

Rhiner Cruz, the hard-throwing right-hander plucked from the Mets in the Rule 5 draft at the winter meetings, has made the Opening Day roster of the Astros. Cruz will need to stick with Houston at the major league level for the full season in order to officially become Houston property.

• Among Post baseball writers, Ken Davidoff and Mike Vaccaro predict the Mets finishing fourth in the NL East, ahead of the Braves. George King, Mike Puma, Joel Sherman, Kevin Kernan and Dan Martin pick the Mets for the basement.

Kernan has a National League preview. Kernan's Mets comment: "Offense will be fine if Wright is healthy because Ike Davis and Lucas Duda can crush, but this is a transitional season. Not enough pitching. Looking forward to seeing Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia join the rotation and watching Zack Wheeler grow."

Sherman has these Mets predictions in a 2012 crystal ball column:

Johan Santana needs two DL stints to survive just a 15-start season, but uses his savvy to go 8-5 with a 3.58 ERA when he does pitch. Jon Niese’s command and maturity catch up to his competitiveness and stuff, allowing him to become a 15-game winner with an ERA in the threes. Andres Torres tanks and the Mets turn to Matt den Dekker, who proves to be Devon White Lite: Long legs and a long swing leading to ace defense, bunches of strikeouts and some lefty pop. Ike Davis and Lucas Duda each top 30 homers, but Davis does it with Gold Glove contention defense while Duda is so troublesome in right the Mets are forced to consider whether he can play there long term. The same goes for Daniel Murphy as a definitely-can-hit, but-can’t-field second baseman.

Frank Francisco’s knee issues and inability to deal with the running game leads to Terry Collins going with a hot-hand approach at closer and no Met recording more than 18 saves. Ruben Tejada is not Jose Reyes, but he proves himself an everyday major league shortstop by making all the plays defensively while maintaining a good on-base percentage in the .350 range. David Wright is helped by the shortened Citi Field fences and rebounds to a .285, 24-homer season, but nothing helps Jason Bay, who finishes with just 10 homers.

Here's Puma's Mets preview. And here's Davidoff wondering if New York could become a Mets town again.

Andy Martino in the Daily News writes Jon Niese's deal will be close to the five-year, $28.5 million guarantee the Texas Rangers gave to left-hander Derek Holland, but "not necessarily quite that lucrative."

Omar Minaya, now a lieutenant to GM Josh Byrnes in San Diego, tells Christian Red in the Daily News that Ruben Tejada will be a capable alternative to Jose Reyes. “He’ll surprise you,” Minaya told Red. “Listen, you’re not going to replace Jose. But I don’t think Ruben is of that mindset. Ruben is a fine shortstop. He’s a young kid who can throw, catch, who is going to hit the ball into the gap. He’s a well-rounded baseball player.”

• Columnist John Harper writes in the Daily News the Mets really could use the Yankees' Brett Gardner. Meanwhile, he quotes Alderson on the lack of Yankees first-team players who attended the game in Port St. Lucie as saying: “That’s an issue for Major League Baseball, not for us. But I don’t know whether Yankees fans are happy to see a Yankee uniform or would prefer to see somebody recognizable in the uniform.”

TRIVIA: Who has been the only player other than Reyes to bat leadoff for the Mets on Opening Day since 2005?

Tuesday's answer: Schwinden led Buffalo in strikeouts last season with 134, in 145 2/3 innings.

Rule 5 pick makes Astros roster

April, 3, 2012

Brad Barr/US Presswire
Rhiner Cruz is sticking with the Astros ... at least for now.

Rhiner Cruz, the first overall pick in the Rule 5 draft, has made the Opening Day roster of the Houston Astros.

As was the case with Pedro Beato a year ago with the Mets, Cruz will need to go wire to wire at the major league level this season with Houston to become that organization's property. Otherwise, he must be exposed to waivers, then offered back to the Mets if he clears.

Cruz, 25, went a combined 5-3 with a 3.89 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 71 2/3 innings last season between Class A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton, then really opened eyes during the Dominican winter league.

"It was expected," Sandy Alderson said about the loss of Cruz right after the Rule 5 draft on Dec. 8. "I was in the Dominican Republic late in November. There was a certain amount of buzz about Cruz and we did expect that he probably would be taken. He's got a very good arm, hasn't had great command during his minor league career, probably similar to the selection Washington made last year with Elvin Ramirez. We got Ramirez back. We'll see whether Cruz can stick with Houston, but it wasn't unexpected.

"As a little bit of background, we had more first-time Rule 5 eligible players in our organization than any organization in baseball. Given our roster situation, we just couldn't protect everybody. And in some ways it's an indication of at least the depth of the talent that we have. From that standpoint it's unfortunate but anticipated."

Mets 8, Astros 2: 'Stros buckle to knuckle

March, 22, 2012

Brad Barr/US Presswire
Jason Bay bats during Thursday's game against the Astros. Bay went 1-for-3 with a walk, stolen base and run scored.
R.A. Dickey took a no-hit bid into the sixth inning and the Mets beat the Houston Astros, 8-2, Thursday at Digital Domain Park.

Dickey said he only became aware he had held Houston without a hit when the crowd began applauding once the knuckleballer allowed a single to the second batter he faced in the sixth inning, Justin Ruggiano. The no-hit bid had been preserved an inning earlier when third baseman Lucas May made a diving stop toward the line on Jason Castro’s grounder and threw to first base in time.

Dickey ultimately allowed one run while walking three, surrendering just the one hit, and striking out four in 6 1/3 innings.

The Mets -- who have had no in-season no-hitters -- tossed one in spring training in 1965, by Gary Kroll and Gordie Richardson. (Howie Rose notes that Richardson was the last player to wear No. 41 with the Mets before Tom Seaver.)

“I just wanted to feel good getting up and getting back down,” said Dickey, whose last outing was cut short a week earlier after two perfect innings because of a rain delay. “Part of the process of this is, ‘How do you feel after you’ve sat down and gotten back up to go out there after the fifth and sixth innings?’ I got to do that today and I’m glad about that.”

As for when he became aware of the no-hit bid, Dickey said: “I did once people were clapping [following the single]. I was like, ‘What are they doing?’ And then I saw. … Usually, like last year, after the sixth I knew it on a couple of occasions -- or maybe one occasion in particular late in the season. So I’m not saying I’m totally [unaware]. But it’s spring training and it’s just kind of a different atmosphere. I was executing what I wanted to do and that was most important to me, so I didn’t really think about it.”

Dickey’s performance came a day after Johan Santana limited the St. Louis Cardinals to one run and six hits in six innings. The day before that, Dillon Gee did not allow a run in 5 2/3 innings against the Washington Nationals.

“I think having Johan kind of as the figurehead of the staff, it may take some pressure off some guys that don’t feel like they have to do more than they’re capable of doing,” Dickey said. “It allows people to slot where they maybe need to slot.”

(Read full post)

Mets lose Cruz in Rule 5

December, 8, 2011

Courtesy of New York Mets
Rhiner Cruz

The Mets lost hard-throwing right-handed reliever Rhiner Cruz in the Rule 5 draft on Thursday morning as the winter meetings draw to a close. The Houston Astros took Cruz with the first overall pick in the draft. Cruz went 4-2 with a 4.14 ERA in 36 relief appearances after a promotion to Double-A Binghamton. He struck out 51 and walked 39 in 58 2/3 innings.

The Mets did not make any selections in the major league phase of the draft. Last year the Mets selected Pedro Beato and second baseman Brad Emaus. The Mets also passed in the minor league phases.

Cruz will need to stick on the Astros' major league roster for the full season in order to become Houston property.

"It was expected," Sandy Alderson said of the loss of Cruz. "I was in the Dominican Republic late in November. There was a certain amount of buzz about Cruz and we did expect that he probably would be taken. He's got a very good arm, hasn't had great command during his minor league career, probably similar to the selection Washington made last year with Elvin Ramirez. We got Ramirez back. We'll see whether Cruz can stick with Houston, but it wasn't unexpected.

"As a little bit of background, we had more first-time Rule 5 eligible players in our organization than any organization in baseball. Given our roster situation, we just couldn't protect everybody. And in some ways it's an indication of at least the depth of the talent that we have. From that standpoint it's unfortunate but anticipated."

The Mets lost right-hander Luis Rojas, who pitched at low-A Savannah, to the San Francisco Giants and catcher Hector Alvarez from the Gulf Coast League team to the Toronto Blue Jays in the minor league phase.

The Mets planned to invite Cruz, who hits 98 mph, to spring training had he not been selected.

The Mets appear done for the winter meetings with no trades forthcoming. Alderson plans to depart the Hilton Anatole at 11:15 a.m. ET.

Farm report: Mound of praise for Edgin

August, 24, 2011
Mets VP Paul DePodesta said he hesitated to mention left-hander Josh Edgin’s name when the subject arose of minor leaguers who may have an impact with the Mets in 2012. But DePodesta went ahead and named the southpaw as a candidate, even though Edgin has not yet pitched above Class A St. Lucie.

Courtesy of New York Mets
Josh Edgin

“He’s got major league stuff and he’s left-handed,” DePodesta recently said. “Again, you just never know how quickly those guys can come. He’s in Port St. Lucie right now, which is why I’m squeamish about talking about 2012."

Asked if that praise had filtered back to him, Edgin -- a 30th-round pick out of Division II Francis Marion University in South Carolina in 2010 -- said: “Actually, I haven’t really seen it. I know my agent mentioned it.”

Edgin, 24, currently is 2-0 with a 1.55 ERA and six saves in 20 appearances for St. Lucie. That comes on the heels of opening the season at Savannah and posting a 0.87 ERA along with 16 saves in 31 innings.

He throws a fastball in the 92- to 95-mph range as well as an 82-85 mph slider. He also is trying to hone his changeup, which he does not use much now in games because it is a work in progress. He’s also trying to throw a slower version of his slider -- a curveball, he labeled it -- but that has been slow to progress as well.

Edgin grew up in rural Three Springs, Pa. Where’s that?

“To be honest with you, it’s in the middle of nowhere,” Edgin said. “It’s about 45 minutes from the nearest Walmart. Have you ever heard of Chambersburg? It’s like right in the middle of the state.”

Regardless of the remoteness, Edgin found his way to Ohio State University, where he served as a reliever. In December of his junior year, Edgin then transferred to Division II Francis Marion, where he had the opportunity to start.

“The Ohio State coach wanted to keep me in the bullpen,” Edgin said. “I thought that I needed to start to get drafted. When I was playing summer ball in the Coastal Plains League, I met a guy named David Walters, who is with the Orioles now. He was on my team. We talked. He said, ‘Hey, we’re one good pitcher away from a D-II World Series team.’ Basically I got hooked up with them through him. And it just so happened that one of my catchers from Legion ball when I was in high school actually went to Francis Marion as well. That kind of drew me, and playing baseball in the South.”

Edgin was drafted after his junior year in the 50th round by Atlanta but was not signed by the Braves. Then the Mets took him last year in the 30th round on the recommendation of amateur scout Marlin McPhail, who has repeatedly unearthed middle-round gems for the Mets from the Carolinas over the years. Edgin actually was working construction on draft day, not expecting much news.

“Since I went that late my junior year, and I had the same exact season my senior year, I really didn’t think I’d get signed,” Edgin said. “It kind of caught me off-guard I guess, especially on the second day (of the three-day draft). I was thinking if it did happen, it would be (rounds) 40 to 50.

“I still had the questionnaires from scouts to fill out and stuff, so I didn’t really put it in the back of my head. I still, I guess, hoped to be drafted. But I started trying to figure out what I was going to do if it didn’t happen.”

Organization leaders

Average: Juan Lagares, Binghamton, .349; Danny Muno, Brooklyn, .332; Josh Satin, Buffalo, .325; Greg Pron, Kingsport, .315; Julio Concepcion, Kingsport, .311; Cam Maron; Kingsport, .308; Pedro Zapata, St. Lucie, .308; Travis Taijeron, Brooklyn, .303; Luis Figueroa, Buffalo, .301; Richard Lucas, Brooklyn, .295.

Homers: Brahiam Maldonado, Binghamton, 24; Valentino Pascucci, Buffalo, 20; Allan Dykstra, Binghamton, 17; Jordany Valdespin, Buffalo, 16.

RBI: Valentino Pascucci, Buffalo, 90; Wilmer Flores, St. Lucie, 75; Josh Satin, Buffalo, 73; Aderlin Rodriguez, Savannah, 71; Allan Dykstra, Binghamton, 69.

Steals: Jordany Valdespin, Buffalo, 34; Pedro Zapata, St. Lucie, 31; Matt den Dekker, Binghamton, 22; Darrell Ceciliani, Savannah, 22; Rafael Fernandez, Savannah, 19.

ERA: Darin Gorski, St. Lucie, 2.26; Jeurys Familia, Binghamton, 2.81; Matt Harvey, Binghamton, 3.17; Gabriel Ynoa, Kingsport, 3.29; Marcos Camarena, Brooklyn, 3.30; Gonzalez Germen, Savannah, 3.40; Greg Peavey, St. Lucie, 3.41; Ryan Fraser, Savannah, 3.50; Angel Cuan, Savannah, 3.50; Chris Schwinden, Buffalo, 3.52.

Wins: Matt Harvey, Binghamton, 12; Greg Peavey, St. Lucie, 11; Darin Gorski, St. Lucie, 11; Angel Cuan, Savannah, 10; Brandon Moore, Binghamton, 10.

Saves: Josh Edgin, St. Lucie, 24; Dale Thayer, Buffalo, 18; Hamilton Bennett, Savannah, 13; Jeffrey Kaplan, St. Lucie, 10.

Strikeouts: Matt Harvey, Binghamton, 151; Darin Gorski, St. Lucie, 131; Chris Schwinden, Buffalo, 124; Collin McHugh, Binghamton, 120; Jeurys Familia, Binghamton, 120.

Short hops

• Left-hander Shawn Teufel, a 25th-round draft pick last year out of Liberty University, beat his father Tim Teufel’s Triple-A Buffalo squad by tossing six scoreless innings in a spot start Thursday. The 25-year-old Teufel had been promoted for the opportunity from Class A Lakeland. The Bisons loaded the bases with one out in the third, but Zach Lutz and Valentino Pascucci struck out and Buffalo’s best opportunity went for naught.

• Outfielder Juan Lagares has a 13-game hitting streak, the longest by a Binghamton player this season. In 26 Eastern League games since a promotion from St. Lucie, Lagares is hitting .381 with two homers and 16 RBIs in 113 at-bats.

Terry Collins indicated the Mets will need two starters during next week’s series against the Florida Marlins as the result of a doubleheader and Jon Niese headed to the disabled list. Collins identified the candidates as 40-year-old Miguel Batista, Chris Schwinden and Pat Misch. With DePodesta on hand for his latest start, Batista allowed fours on nine hits, including a pair of homers, and also hit and walked a batter in 5 1/3 innings Monday at Columbus. Batista is 3-0 with a 4.24 ERA in 10 appearances (eight starts) with Buffalo since being released by the St. Louis Cardinals. He actually had limited opponents to two runs or fewer in four of his previous five starts. Misch allowed four runs in 6 2/3 innings Tuesday and is 7-9 with a 4.37 ERA with the Bisons this season. Schwinden, a 22nd-round pick in 2008 out of Fresno Pacific, is 7-6 with a 3.60 ERA in 23 starts for Buffalo.

• After signing for $2.1 million last week at the deadline, first-round pick Brandon Nimmo -- a high school outfielder from Wyoming -- made his pro debut in the Gulf Coast League on Friday. Through four games, Nimmo is hitting .158 (3-for-19). He has struck out seven times in eight at-bats over his past two starts. After serving as DH in his debut, Nimmo has manned center field.

Phillip Evans, the Mets’ 15th-round pick, who signed for an over-slot $650,000, debuted Tuesday in the GCL. He went 1-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored. Evans’ preference is to remain at shortstop, so the Mets will let him work there for the time being. Evans, out of La Costa Canyon High School in California, received the largest signing bonus by the organization ever for any pick below the second round. With the Gulf Coast League ending Saturday and inclement weather expected in the interim, Evans is likely the last player from this year’s draft to make his debut before the fall instructional league that opens Sept. 18.

• Savannah right-hander Taylor Whitenton (4-3, 2.70 ERA) was named South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week after tossing 10 scoreless innings over a pair of starts.

• Before an approximate crowd of 14,500 at Fenway Park on Saturday, Binghamton beat Portland, the Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, in 11 innings. Right-hander Collin McHugh tossed six scoreless innings. Boston College product Eric Campbell had the tiebreaking RBI in the 11th. Catcher Kai Gronauer then added a three-run homer over the Green Monster. Campbell, who hails from Norwich, Conn., had played at the historic ballpark in high school and college, but with a fraction of Saturday’s fan presence.

• Fifth-round pick Jack Leathersich from UMass-Lowell has dominated New York-Penn League competition. Working no more than two innings every five to six days, Leathersich now has limited Brooklyn’s opponents to one run and five hits in 10 2/3 professional innings. He has struck out 22 and walked three.

• Buffalo’s Pascucci has 20 homers and leads the International League with 90 RBIs, four more than runner-up Stefan Gartrell of Gwinnett.

• Outfielder Raul Reyes earned a promotion to Buffalo on Thursday after hitting .292 with 12 homers and 50 RBIs in 367 at-bats with Binghamton.

• 2010 first-round pick Matt Harvey tossed seven scoreless innings, requiring only 85 pitches, with Jeff Wilpon in attendance Monday at Binghamton. Harvey is 4-3 with a 4.35 ERA and has 59 strikeouts in 51 2/3 innings in 10 starts with the B-Mets. Although the organization is monitoring Harvey’s innings count, he is expected to be allowed to complete the season uninterrupted. “He should be fine,” farm director Adam Wogan said. “He’s strong.”

• Binghamton reliever Rhiner Cruz has bounced back from a pair of rough performances by tossing eight scoreless innings during which he has allowed only one hit and two walks over four appearances.

• Middle infielder Jordany Valdespin has multi-hit games in three of his past six games with Buffalo, and is hitting .237 in 14 games in Triple-A.

• Buffalo infielder Josh Satin lost an eight-game hitting streak Sunday, but nonetheless has collected a hit in 26 of 31 games since a promotion from Binghamton. He is hitting .325 and has a .391 on-base percentage since joining the Bisons while seeing action at third base, second base and first base.

• Lutz had eight RBIs in a four-game span with Buffalo through Monday. He has driven in at least one run in eight of the Bisons’ past 11 games. Lutz is hitting .341 with runners in scoring position this season.

• Reliever John Lujan, a probable September call-up and former minor league Rule 5 pick from the Chicago White Sox, lost a 10 2/3-inning scoreless streak with Buffalo on Friday against Toledo.

• The Arizona Fall League contingent is expected to be announced next Tuesday. Revised rules allow for as many as four prospects who have yet to appear in Double-A. The Mets’ contingent is expected to include 2008 first-round pick Reese Havens.

Adam Rubin’s farm report appears Wednesdays during the regular season

Farm report: Harvey looks to Futures

July, 6, 2011
Right-hander Matt Harvey’s return to his home state of Connecticut this weekend will get cut short.

Double-A Binghamton opens a series Friday at New Britain, but the 2010 first-round pick from Fitch High School in Mystic -- about a 40-minute drive from the Eastern League stadium -- is departing after the opener. Harvey will represent the Mets in Sunday’s ESPN2-televised Futures Game at Chase Field in Phoenix, along with St. Lucie third baseman Jefry Marte.

Courtesy of New York Mets
Matt Harvey

Harvey, 22, makes his third Double-A start on Wednesday night, against Portland.

After allowing four runs on nine hits and two walks in his B-Mets debut on June 26 at Bowie, Harvey rebounded against the same opponent back in Binghamton last Friday while mostly ranging from 93-95 mph with his fastball -- “which is slightly below average for me,” Harvey said. He tossed five innings, allowing two runs, and was pulled before a callus that ripped off could become a blister.

“For some reason I went to a lot of offspeed the first game,” Harvey said about his Double-A debut. “When that happens, if you get behind using your offspeed, obviously they’re going to know the fastball is coming. (In the rematch) I just tried to keep it down and get ahead of the guys. My two-seamer was working good, and I was able to get some groundballs and just let the infielders do their jobs.”

Harvey bypassed attending the Florida State League All-Star Game so that he could pitch what turned out to be St. Lucie’s first-half division clincher two days later.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Harvey, who was charged with two runs (one earned) in six innings and received a no-decision in the 11th-inning walk-off win. “The celebration we had after the game was really cool. Being able throw and keep the team in a good place to win was something I was happy about.”

Harvey then was promoted to Double-A. He went 8-2 with a 2.37 ERA in 14 Class A starts to launch his career, striking out 92 while holding opponents to a .238 average in 76 innings.

Farm director Adam Wogan said the timing of Harvey’s promotion primarily was tied to his development -- that Harvey was moved to Double-A when he demonstrated improved proficiency with his changeup as well as a better rate of first-pitch strikes. He also throws a slider and a curveball. The Mets also left Harvey at that level to pitch the clinching game to experience the playoff-type atmosphere.

Harvey is highly unlikely to get a September call-up. In fact, his success may cut short his season.

He already has logged 85 2/3 innings this season. While the Mets can be slightly more liberal in how much Harvey will pitch because he was used heavily during his junior year in 2010 at the University of North Carolina, Harvey likely will be capped at about 130 innings to avoid ramping up too many innings this season.

The Mets will count the one-inning Futures Game appearance as a start -- with reasonably standard rest on both sides of the showcase appearance -- to space out Harvey’s outings. They also may pull him early from games soon and even cut short his season.

“We’re definitely on top of the inning total,” Wogan said.

Said Harvey: “I know it’s weird. A lot of people might not say it. But I feel a lot better throwing every fifth day than I did once a week (at UNC). My arm feels better. My body feels better. I’m right around 100 innings, and it feels great right now.”

Organization leaders

Average: Cam Maron, Kingsport, .375; Greg Pron, Kingsport, .372; Juan Carlos Gamboa, GCL Mets, .371; Juan Lagares, St. Lucie, .348; Nick Evans, Buffalo, .323; Julio Concepcion, Kingsport, .322; Pedro Zapata, St. Lucie, .320; Josh Satin, Binghamton, .319; Chad Zurcher, Kingsport, .316; Ismael Tijerina, Brooklyn, .306.

Homers: Brahiam Maldonado, Binghamton, 15.

RBI: Josh Satin, Binghamton, 52; Wilmer Flores, St. Lucie, 50; Valentino Pascucci, Buffalo, 50; Aderlin Rodriguez, Savannah, 46; Brahiam Maldonado, Binghamton, 43.

Steals: Jordany Valdespin, Binghamton, 27; Pedro Zapata, St. Lucie, 24; Matt den Dekker, Binghamton, 15; Darrell Ceciliani, Savannah, 13; Cesar Puello, St. Lucie, 12.

ERA: Jose De La Torre, GCL Mets, 1.23; Darin Gorski, St. Lucie, 1.56; Eduardo Aldama, Brooklyn, 2.33; Jeurys Familia, Binghamton, 2.38; Carlos Vazquez, Brooklyn, 2.41; Matt Harvey, Binghamton, 2.73; Chris Schwinden, Buffalo, 2.78; Taylor Whitenton, Savannah, 2.79; Jeff Walters, Brooklyn, 2.89; Greg Peavey, St. Lucie, 2.97.

Wins: Matt Harvey, Binghamton, 8; Greg Peavey, St. Lucie, 8; Darin Gorski, St. Lucie, 7.

Saves: Josh Edgin, St. Lucie, 18; Jeffrey Kaplan, St. Lucie, 10; Nick Carr, St. Lucie, 8; Hamilton Bennett, Savannah, 8; Ronny Morla, Savannah, 7.

Strikeouts: Matt Harvey, Binghamton, 101; Jeurys Familia, Binghamton, 93; Darin Gorski, St. Lucie, 92; Chris Schwinden, Buffalo, 80; Taylor Whitenton, Savannah, 76.

Short hops

• Left-hander Steve Matz, the organization’s top pick (second round) two years ago, is home on Long Island. Matz, who had Tommy John surgery in May 2010, has halted throwing for the time being. He is expected to return to the Mets’ Port St. Lucie, Fla., complex in a week to 10 days. After being examined by Mets doctor David Altchek following elbow discomfort, Matz sought a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews. Wogan suggested neither doctor has any concern. Instead, the farm director said, the throwing interruption is a reminder that despite some pitchers returning as quickly as 11 months after Tommy John surgery, the length of recovery can be as long as 18 months, and that Matz fits into the category of a longer recovery time.

Nick Evans’ hitting streak with Triple-A Buffalo ended at 19 games with an 0-for-4 performance last Thursday. The streak matched the fifth-longest in Bisons modern history, tied with Ben Francisco (2007), Franklin Gutierrez (2007) and Karim Garcia (2002). The Buffalo record was set by Alex Ramirez in 1998 at 28 games. The other longer streaks: Ben Francisco, 25 games in 2006; Jolbert Cabrera 21 in 1998; and Tommy Shields 20 in 1990. In 220 Triple-A at-bats this season, Evans has a .323 average, which ranks sixth in the International League. Either Evans gets a call-up later this season, perhaps when rosters expand in September, and is returned to the 40-man roster, or he will be a minor league free agent at season’s end.

• Right-hander Miguel Batista, who was released by the St. Louis Cardinals, was charged with four runs while recording only one out in his Bisons debut Tuesday. He faced six batters and allowed four hits and a walk. Batista is expected to be used as a starting pitcher after the Triple-A All-Star break, when his innings count has built further. He worked in relief for the Cardinals. John Lujan, who opened the season as Double-A Binghamton’s closer, returned to the B-Mets with Batista joining Buffalo. Lujan was 1-2 with a save and 2.96 ERA in 19 appearances (one start) with Buffalo.

• Right-hander Chris Schwinden will be the Bisons’ lone representative in next Wednesday’s Triple-A All-Star Game in Salt Lake City. Since a mid-April promotion from Binghamton, Schwinden is 5-3 with a 2.87 ERA in 15 starts. He has allowed 67 hits and 30 walks (two intentional) in 87 2/3 innings and has not lost a decision since May 31. Buffalo hosts the Triple-A game in 2012.

• Right-hander Jeurys Familia and infielders Josh Satin and Jordany Valdespin will represent Binghamton in the Double-A All-Star Game the same day at Manchester, N.H. Familia returned from a 15-day absence (as the Mets acted conservatively with soreness) to notch his first Double-A win Monday, against Portland. Familia tossed five scoreless innings to shave his Eastern League ERA to 3.02 in nine starts spanning 50 2/3 innings. Satin (.319) and Valdespin (.300, 27 steals) both notched their 10th homers Tuesday.

Zach Lutz (.313, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 96 at-bats) returned to Buffalo’s lineup Monday after missing nine days with a concussion, suffered when he was hit with a curveball. It’s been an unfortunate season injury-wise for the third baseman. On the DL earlier this season with a hamstring injury, Lutz was hit in the dugout by a foul ball while inactive and broke the ring finger on his non-throwing hand. Those injuries cost him a combined seven weeks.

• Buffalo center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis (.298, 6 HR, 14 RBI), already out a month with a strain of his left, non-throwing shoulder, is not making progress and may be forced to decide soon between rehab and surgery. Nieuwenhuis struggles to lift his shoulder during everyday activities and is unable to swing a bat.

• The organization is limiting the innings counts of certain June draft picks by having the college-groomed pitchers work every fifth day in relief, generally for an inning, and no more than two with Brooklyn. The plan applies to right-hander Cory Mazzoni (second round, N.C. State), left-hander Jack Leathersich (fifth round, UMass Lowell) and right-hander Randy Fontanez (27th round, South Florida). Leathersich is due to make his pro debut with the Cyclones on Thursday. Mazzoni’s outings will definitely be limited to one inning since he had a heavy workload this season with the Wolfpack, while the reins on Leathersich and Fontanez will be a little looser.

Fernando Martinez took advantage of a 72-hour window to report to Triple-A after a demotion and is expected to join Buffalo for Wednesday’s series opener at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Wogan said Martinez had a personal issue.

Ryota Igarashi’s 14 1/3 inning scoreless streak -- during which he allowed six hits in 10 appearances -- was snapped Friday. Igarashi allowed a run charged to himself, as well as a runner inherited from Mike O’Connor to score, in the ninth inning in a 2-0 loss to Lehigh Valley. Igarashi then allowed three runs in his next appearance before tossing two scoreless innings at Syracuse on Tuesday.

• Catcher Dusty Ryan, who underwent knee surgery for a meniscus tear earlier this year, was activated from Buffalo’s disabled list and assigned to Binghamton. The B-Mets have an extra game before their All-Star break compared with Buffalo, which partly fueled the temporary Double-A assignment. The B-Mets have been without catch Kai Gronaeur since he left a May 12 game with a hamstring injury.

• 2008 first-round pick Reese Havens landed on the DL with Binghamton with a lower-back strain.

• With Binghamton short available relievers last week, infielders Travis Ozga and Jose Coronado appeared in consecutive games on the mound. Neither surrendered a run. Coronado sports a Fernando Valenzuela-style delivery, turning his back completely to the plate before spinning and firing.

• Binghamton reliever Rhiner Cruz (2.70 ERA) registered 102 mph on the Bowie, Md., stadium gun. He recently has been throwing 96-97 mph with a solid slider.

• Right-handed relievers Michael Powers and Jeff Kaplan returned to St. Lucie from Binghamton. Powers had limited opponents to one run in 7 2/3 innings in four relief appearances during his latest Double-A stint. Kaplan, who has 10 saves in 15 chances with St. Lucie this season, allowed two runs in four Eastern League innings.

• Outfielder Raul Reyes has the RBIs in both of Binghamton’s walk-off wins this season.

• Brooklyn left fielder Javier Rodriguez, a second-round pick in 2008 from Puerto Rico, tied a Cyclones record with six RBIs last Thursday at Hudson Valley. Brian Harrison last year and Caleb Stewart in 2005 also drove in six.

• Third baseman Richard Lucas reached base in 13 straight games to open the season with Brooklyn before having the streak snapped Sunday.

• Brooklyn left-hander T.J. Chism has not allowed an earned run since Sept. 1, 2010. The former 32nd-round pick out of La Salle University in Philadelphia is 1-0 with three saves and has tossed 8 2/3 scoreless innings for the Cyclones this season.

• St. Lucie infielder Robbie Shields has been out since June 30 with back stiffness.

• Savannah has won 11 straight games, its longest streak since becoming a Mets affiliate in 2007. First baseman Sam Honeck is doing his part. After a torrid opening two weeks of the season, Honeck hit .161 in May and .194 last month. In five July games, he’s hitting .389.

Cam Maron, a product of Hicksville High School on Long Island, who was drafted in the 34th round in 2009, is off to a quick start with Kingsport. Through 12 games, the 20-year-old catcher is hitting .375 and has a .519 on-base percentage. Athletic, Maron also received some outfield exposure before signing, but the Mets are keeping him exclusively as a catcher. He sports an advanced approach at the plate for that level of Class A ball, although he is not known for power.

Farm report: Gorski still perfect in FSL

June, 29, 2011
Left-hander Darin Gorski’s 1.55 ERA not only is the best in the Florida State League, it leads by a wide margin. Former St. Lucie teammate Matt Harvey, already promoted to Double-A Binghamton, still qualifies innings-wise to rank No. 2 in the league, at 2.37. Palm Beach’s Joe Kelly ranks third at 2.59.

Courtesy of New York Mets
Darin Gorski

Gorski also is unbeaten at 6-0, while his 87 strikeouts rank third in the league, trailing only Clearwater’s Trevor May (108) and Harvey’s 92. The St. Lucie southpaw started the Florida State League’s All-Star game in Clearwater.

“It was a great honor,” Gorski said.

Not bad, especially considering the 23-year-old Gorski went 6-8 with a 4.58 ERA in 25 games (18 starts) at low-A Savannah in 2010.

“It’s great when you pitch with a little bit of confidence,” said Gorski, a seventh-round pick in 2009 out of Division II Kutztown University in Pennsylvania. “You get some good results and a little bit of confidence, it feels great. I’m very happy.”

As for the uptick in performance from last season in the South Atlantic League, Gorski said: “Consistency is the biggest thing. I’ve been working with the pitching coach here, Phil Regan, a lot. He helped me with some mechanical changes and just getting me more consistent with my off-speed pitches. It’s just translated into a lot of success from there.”

Gorski calls his slider “a work in progress.” As for the rest of his repertoire, he also likes to throw a changeup.

“The combination of those two have been progressing pretty well together,” said Gorski, whose fastball averages about 89 mph. “As far as the fastball goes, for me it was never really a big velocity thing. I’m not like one of those mid-90s guys. It’s more location when I’m throwing it. I’m not too worried about what the radar gun is reading, because it’s nowhere close to 95 mph. I just try to hit my spots and keep the ball down and pitch to contact basically.”

And yet, despite pitching to contact, Gorski does have the 87 strikeouts in 75 2/3 innings.

“Last year I had quite a few walks (43 in 114 innings), so one of the biggest things coming into this season for me was trying to not walk a lot of guys -- trying to induce contact and get ahead in the count,” said Gorski, who has walked 15 in 75 2/3 innings this season. “It’s a lot easier to pitch when you’re ahead in the count.”

Farm director Adam Wogan said Gorski has added some fastball velocity since he joined the organization. And although averaging 89 mph is not eye-popping, it is now at a level to work well in contrast to his other pitches.

Organization leaders

Average: Gregory Pron, Kingsport, .423; Juan Carlos Gamboa, GCL Mets, .407; Julio Concepcion, Kingsport, .382; Juan Lagares, St. Lucie, .344; Carlos Leyva, GCL Mets, .333; Nestor Moreno, Kingsport, .320; Cam Maron, Kingsport, .316; Josh Satin, Binghamton, .314; Pedro Zapata, St. Lucie, .309; Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Buffalo, .298.

Homers: Brahiam Maldonado, Binghamton, 14; Lucas Duda, Buffalo, 10; Valentino Pascucci, Buffalo, 10.

RBI: Valentino Pascucci, Buffalo, 49; Josh Satin, Binghamton, 48; Wilmer Flores, St. Lucie, 47; Aderlin Rodriguez, Savannah, 42; Brahiam Maldonado, Binghamton, 40.

Steals: Jordany Valdespin, Binghamton, 22; Pedro Zapata, St. Lucie, 21; Matt den Dekker, Binghamton, 14; Darrell Ceciliani, Savannah, 12; Cesar Puello, St. Lucie, 12.

ERA: Miller Diaz, GCL Mets, 0.00; Ernesto Yanez, GCL Mets, 0.00; Hunter Carnevale, Brooklyn, 0.93; Jose De La Torre, GCL Mets, 1.42; Darin Gorski, St. Lucie, 1.55; Alberto Baldonado, GCL Mets, 1.80; Marcos Camarena, Brooklyn, 1.80; Edioglis Villasmil, GCL Mets, 1.80; Carlos Vazquez, Brooklyn, 1.88; Eduardo Aldama, Brooklyn, 2.45.

Wins: Matt Harvey, Binghamton, 8; Greg Peavey, St. Lucie, 7; Darin Gorski, St. Lucie, 6.

Saves: Josh Edgin, St. Lucie, 17; Jeffrey Kaplan, St. Lucie, 10; Nick Carr, St. Lucie, 8; Hamilton Bennett, Savannah, 6.

Strikeouts: Matt Harvey, Binghamton, 96; Jeurys Familia, Binghamton, 87; Darin Gorski, St. Lucie, 87; Taylor Whitenton, Savannah, 73.

Short hops

Nick Evans extended his hitting streak with Buffalo to 18 games Tuesday night. That is the longest active streak in the minors, matching Tony Abreu’s streak with Reno in the Pacific Coast League. Evans caught Abreu because Reno’s game was postponed Tuesday. In 13 games since returning to Triple-A after being designated for assignment, Evans has nine multi-hit games and is hitting .490 (24-for-49) with eight doubles, 12 RBIs and eight walks. In Bisons modern history, Evans’ 18-game hitting streak matches Brandon Phillips (2004), Jeromy Burnitz (1995) and Les Norman (1997) for eighth longest. The record is 28 straight games by Alex Ramirez in 1998.

• Right-hander Matt Harvey and third baseman Jefry Marte will represent the Mets at the Futures Game on July 10 at 6 p.m. ET at Chase Field in Arizona, two days before the All-Star Game. The event will be televised on ESPN2. Harvey, the organization’s 2010 first-round pick, struggled with his fastball command and was charged with four runs on nine hits and two walks while striking out four in 4 2/3 innings in his Double-A debut Sunday at Bowie. The 22-year-old UNC product went 8-2 with a 2.37 ERA in 14 Florida State League starts before the promotion. Marte, who turned 20 on June 21, is hitting .286 with five homers and 37 RBIs in 73 games with St. Lucie.

• Infielder Josh Satin became the first player in the Binghamton Mets’ 20-year history to hit for the cycle when he did so Friday at Bowie. Satin ranks seventh in the Eastern League with a .314 average and third in on-base percentage at .412.

• Buffalo outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis (.298, 6 HR) has been sidelined since June 9 because of an injury to his left, non-throwing shoulder. He was due to attempt dry swinging and may progress to light cage work.

Zach Lutz’s rough Triple-A season injury-wise continued when the corner infielder landed on the disabled list Tuesday with a concussion, four days after being struck in the head with a curveball. Lutz had returned to the Bisons on June 10 after missing seven weeks with a hamstring injury and then a broken left index finger. The fractured occurred when Lutz was struck with a foul ball in the dugout while already on the disabled list. Lutz’s concussion triggered the promotion of Jon Malo to the Bisons from Binghamton, and Travis Ozga from St. Lucie to Binghamton.

Ryota Igarashi has put together a stellar stretch of relief appearances for the Bisons. Since surrendering a walk-off homer at Gwinett on June 6, Igarashi has limited opponents to four hits and three walks while tossing 13 1/3 straight scoreless innings. He has struck out 11 during that span. The key for Igarashi has been fastball command. Igarashi has a tendency to get in trouble when the pitch drifts up in the zone.

• Buffalo middle infielder Luis Hernandez, whose average was sitting at .196 on June 5, is hitting .310 (22-for-71) with 15 RBIs in his past 19 games.

Rhiner Cruz has more or less settled into the closer’s role with Binghamton, succeeding Erik Turgeon. The B-Mets’ bullpen had struggled, particularly at the back end, since John Lujan had been promoted to Buffalo in early May. It has now somewhat stabilized with Cruz closing, and with Josh Stinson assigned to the pen from the Triple-A rotation and Brad Holt from the Double-A rotation. The B-Mets, in fact, have won three straight series for the first time this season. Roy Merritt, the lone lefty in the pen, had a spot start with Jeurys Familia missing a turn. Merritt allowed one run in five innings. Familia threw a side session and is scheduled to be reinserted into the rotation by early next week.

• B-Mets second baseman Reese Havens, who has been tormented by oblique problems, has been out since last Thursday with an unrelated injury that the organization has not disclosed, but which has been described as short term.

• Center fielder Matt den Dekker is hitting .212, with 14 strikeouts in 33 at-bats, in eight games since a promotion from St. Lucie to Binghamton. The defensively solid den Dekker’s promotion has allowed Raul Reyes to move to right field from center. That has diminished Eric Campbell’s playing time, with Brahiam Maldonado getting the majority of the starts in left field.

Joe Bonfe, a 21st-round pick in 2009, who has an advocate in Savannah hitting coach Benny Distefano, went 4-for-4 with three RBIs and three runs scored Monday as the Gnats put up a season-high 13 runs. Bonfe had only 77 at-bats in the first half, but is now seeing regular playing time in right field with teammates’ promotions to St. Lucie. A natural third baseman, he is boxed out there by the presence of Aderlin Rodriguez. Bonfe hit .326 with four homers and 28 RBIs in 270 at-bats with Brooklyn last season, also with Distefano as his hitting coach. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Bonfe can “run a little bit for is size,” according to Wogan.

Darrell Ceciliani returned from a three-day absence for an illness Tuesday in style with a ninth-inning two-run double in Savannah’s 5-3 win at Rome.

Rafael Fernandez, pushed off the St. Lucie roster because of outfield crowding, is seeing regular playing time with the Gnats and has hit safely in 12 of his last 13 games. Fernandez is hitting .337 in June.

• Brooklyn left-hander T.J. Chism, a 32nd-round pick in 2009 out of La Salle, is 1-0 and 3-for-3 in save conversions in 6 2/3 scoreless innings for the Cyclones. Born in Phillies country, Chism has been particularly tough on lefty hitters, despite an average fastball. He combined to allow three runs (two earned) in 25 2/3 innings last season between Kingsport and Brooklyn.

• Right-hander Jose De La Torre pitched an inning in the Gulf Coast League on Tuesday as he works back from shoulder discomfort that dates to winter-ball activity in Puerto Rico. He went 3-2 with a 2.98 ERA in 36 relief appearances for Buffalo last season.

• N.C. State right-hander Cory Mazzoni, the Mets’ second-round pick earlier this month, should appear in a game with Brooklyn within a week, although his innings counts will be severely restricted.

• UCLA product Erik Goeddel, a right-hander, is on a throwing program in Port St. Lucie. He was shut down after a May 23 appearance with Savannah with a shoulder strain.

Adam Rubin's farm report appears Wednesdays during the season

Farm report: Mid-90s plenty for Rhiner

June, 22, 2011
Rhiner Cruz has not quite reached 100 mph on a radar gun.

“Just 99,” Cruz said.

Courtesy of New York Mets
Rhiner Cruz

Still, the right-handed reliever has been plenty good enough for the Binghamton Mets of late. In his past four relief appearances, the 24-year-old Cruz has limited opponents to one hit and four walks while striking out nine in 10 2/3 scoreless innings. Since an early May promotion from Class A St. Lucie, Cruz is 1-1 with a 2.84 in 14 appearances spanning 25 1/3 innings in Double-A.

“He’s a guy who can command when he stays within himself,” B-Mets pitching coach Marc Valdes said. “When he gets out of whack, he’s trying to throw the ball 100 mph. And, believe me, he’s come close. But his 94 to 96 mph with movement down is just as effective as 99 and ball one, ball two.”

As for Cruz’s breaking pitch, Valdes adds: “When it’s good, it’s more of a nice, sharp little slurve. The other day he threw one to a tough left-handed hitter. The guy was just set up on 99, 98 mph. And he threw a sharp slider. Swing and miss. He had no chance.”

Cruz, a native of the Dominican Republic, originally signed as a 16-year-old with the Detroit Tigers. He pitched for two seasons in the Gulf Coast League with that organization, compiling a 4.65 ERA in 30 relief appearances, and was let go. After not pitching in 2006 with any organization while allowing an elbow issue to heal -- no surgery was performed -- then-Latin American scouting chief Ramon Pena signed Cruz for the Mets. Pena also had brought Cruz to the Tigers organization when he worked for Detroit.

“I was young,” Cruz said, reflecting on his brief Tigers days. “And when I signed, I didn’t know too much. I just knew to throw hard. And then I started to learn how to pitch.”

He added, referring to the elbow: “I pitched sore.”

Cruz actually represented Spain in the 2009 World Cup in Europe, the same tournament for which Ike Davis represented the United States. Cruz’s mother Lucia is Dominican, but she was working at the time as a caretaker for the elderly in Spain and was able to secure a passport for Cruz. She now is in Italy performing similar work.

Cruz had 22 saves with Savannah in 2009 under Valdes, then six with St. Lucie last season, and he could end up back in closing role at some point. Or, he even could be a starting pitcher, as his lengthier relief outings suggest.

“I’ll do whatever they want,” Cruz said.

Organization leaders

Average: Gregory Pron, Kingsport, .600; Julio Concepcion, Kingsport, .500; Jeyckol De Leon, GCL Mets, .500; Cam Maron, Kingsport, .500; Danny Muno, Brooklyn, .462; Juan Carlos Gamboa, GCL Mets, .400; Travis Taijeron, Brooklyn, .375; Juan Lagares, St. Lucie, .338.

Homers: Brahiam Maldonado, Binghamton, 13; Lucas Duda, Buffalo, 10; Aderlin Rodriguez, Savannah, 9; Stefan Welch, St. Lucie, 9.

RBI: Valentino Pascucci, Buffalo, 45; Wilmer Flores, St. Lucie, 44; Aderlin Rodriguez, Savannah, 39; Josh Satin, Binghamton, 39; Brahiam Maldonado, Binghamton, 37.

Steals: Jordany Valdespin, Binghamton, 19; Pedro Zapata, St. Lucie, 17; Matt den Dekker, St. Lucie, 12; Darrell Ceciliani, Savannah, 11; Cesar Puello, St. Lucie, 11.

ERA: Peter Birdwell, Kingsport, 0.00; T.J. Chism, Brooklyn, 0.00; Isaac Monrroy, GCL Mets, 0.00; Hansel Robles, Kingsport, 0.00; Tyson Seng, Brooklyn, 0.00; Jared West, GCL Mets, 0.00; Ernesto Yanez, Kingsport, 0.00; Darin Gorski, St. Lucie, 1.57; Matt Harvey, St. Lucie, 2.37; Jeurys Familia, Binghamton, 2.52.

Wins: Matt Harvey, St. Lucie, 8; Greg Peavey, Savannah, 6.

Saves: Josh Edgin, St. Lucie, 16; Jeffrey Kaplan, St. Lucie, 10; Nick Carr, St. Lucie, 7; John Lujan, Buffalo, 5; Erik Turgeon, Binghamton, 5.

Strikeouts: Matt Harvey, St. Lucie, 92; Jeurys Familia, Binghamton, 87; Darin Gorski, St. Lucie, 82; Taylor Whitenton, Savannah, 70; Greg Peavey, Savannah, 69.

Short hops

• With St. Lucie on Monday joining Savannah as a first-half division champion, promotions continued. 2010 first-round pick Matt Harvey, a right-hander from the University of North Carolina, and fifth-round pick Matt den Dekker, a center fielder from the University of Florida, have been promoted from St. Lucie to Binghamton (although den Dekker missed a connecting flight Wednesday in Philadelphia because of a mechanical-related delay on his first flight). Harvey’s first Double-A start is scheduled for Sunday at 2:05 p.m., on an extra day of rest, as the B-Mets play at Bowie, Md. Harvey’s promotion will push Brad Holt to the bullpen with the B-Mets. Since opening the season by limiting opponents to two runs (one earned) in 18 innings over his first three Binghamton starts, the 24-year-old Holt is 2-6 with a 6.96 ERA in 10 starts and has walked 37 and hit two batters in 42 2/3 innings.

• Binghamton also should get a jolt with Josh Stinson’s return from Triple-A Buffalo. Stinson went 3-7 with a 7.44 ERA in 13 starts in Triple-A. He had opened the season with two starts for the B-Mets. Stinson is expected to work in relief during this tour of duty in the Eastern League. Jack Egbert, who made five starts in the Florida State League after returning from Tommy John surgery, will take Stinson’s rotation spot with the Bisons.

• The promotions of Harvey and den Dekker will lead to outfielder Cory Vaughn (fourth-round pick in 2010/San Diego State) and right-hander Greg Peavey (sixth round/Oregon State) joining St. Lucie from low-A Savannah on Thursday. Vaughn was hitting .286 with four homers and 30 RBIs in 245 at-bats with the Sand Gnats. Peavey was 6-2 with a 3.12 ERA in 14 starts in the South Atlantic League. The Gnats already had sent closer Josh Edgin and infielder Robbie Shields to St. Lucie last week, after clinching their first-half title. Edgin had converted 12 straight saves and was tied for the South Atlantic League lead with 16 saves at the time of the promotion. He did not allow a run in his final 16 appearances with the Gnats.

• Vaughn started in center field and had a two-run homer in the South’s 6-3 win in Tuesday’s South Atlantic League All-Star Game. Taylor Whitenton started and allowed two runs (one earned) in one inning. Chase Huchingson tossed a scoreless relief inning with two strikeouts, while Peavey also had a scoreless frame, allowing one hit. Savannah skipper Ryan Ellis, who won a first-half title with the Gnats in his first full season managing, was on the South All-Star staff. Ellis, a former infielder for two seasons in the New York-Penn League for the Montreal Expos as a player, previously had been Savannah’s hitting coach. Ellis’ first managerial gig was in last fall’s instructional league.

Chin-lung Hu, who left Triple-A Buffalo for the Mets’ Port St. Lucie, Fla., complex suffering from the throwing yips, is picking up switch-hitting during the stay there. Farm director Adam Wogan said the primary intent of Hu going to the complex was to become a switch-hitter, not because of the throwing issues. Hu is working with minor league hitting coordinator Lamar Johnson. Hu has switch-hit in batting practice for several years, but has not taken it into games. As an exclusively right-handed hitter, Hu has had little success against any pitchers in the majors. He is hitting .157 against left-handers and .183 against right-handers.

Nick Evans is on a tear since clearing waivers and accepting an assignment to Buffalo rather than declaring free agency. In six games, Evans has hit .522 (12-for-23) with eight RBIs. He has alternated between left field and right field. Evans has an 11-game International League hitting streak dating to his last stint with the Bisons.

Fernando Martinez, who was forced from last Thursday’s game at Norfolk with a flare-up in his arthritic right knee, is back in Buffalo’s lineup at designated hitter Wednesday. Fellow Bisons outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis (left shoulder) is still regaining strength and is further from returning.

• Short-season Kingsport opened its season Tuesday. The Appalachian League club’s strength may be its starting pitching. The Opening Day starter was left-hander Juan Urbina, the son of former major league Ugueth Urbina. Right-hander Domingo Tapia, who had a 3.45 ERA in 10 starts in the Gulf Coast League last season, gets Wednesday’s staring nod, followed by highly regarded right-hander Akeel Morris from the U.S. Virgin Islands on Thursday. Jeff Glenn and Long Island native Cam Maron handle the staff behind the plate. Alexander Sanchez, who saw more duty at first base in the Gulf Coast League in 2010, will shift back to more of a third-base role this season while seeing action at both positions.

• St. Lucie middle infielder Matt Bouchard, an 11th-round pick in 2007 from Georgetown, will undergo hip surgery.

• Outfielder Travis Taijeron is off to a fast start with Brooklyn. The 18th-round pick from Cal Poly Pomona is 6-for-16 (.375) with three RBIs and four walks through five games. Described as a blue-collar player and mature hitter with a lot of strength and ability to drive the ball, Taijeron has looked adequate in center field. He also can man the corners in the outfield.

• With D.J. Carrasco promoted to the Mets, Dylan Owen (2-4, 4.71) has rejoined Buffalo’s rotation.

• Binghamton middle infielder Jordany Valdespin recently got in Wally Backman’s doghouse and did not appear in games for a few days.

• Buffalo infielder Michael Fisher has a 15-game hitting streak, longest active in the International League.

Adam Rubin’s farm report appears Wednesdays during the season



Daniel Murphy
.289 9 57 79
HRL. Duda 30
RBIL. Duda 92
RD. Murphy 79
OPSL. Duda .830
WB. Colon 15
ERAJ. Niese 3.40
SOZ. Wheeler 187