February 2013

Meet Zack Wheeler, and other scenes from live BP

After facing Zack Wheeler during live batting practice today, Justin Turner and John Buck both made Stephen Strasburg comparisons due to the late life on Wheeler’s fastball. That’s high praise for a pitcher who was cut from a dozen or so travel teams in his youth, rebounding to become one of the top prospects in all of baseball.

Here’s Wheeler during his live BP session today:

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And here’s the group of teammates that gathered to watch:

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A reminder that you can check out other scenes from spring training on Instagram.

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Mets invite 42 prospects to STEP camp

The Mets run an early camp for minor leaguers each year, typically inviting all of their elite prospects who are not in Major League camp. The program helps acclimate players to life as a professional on and off the field.

This year’s list (with ages in parentheses):

PITCHERS
Bowman, Matt (22)
Cessa, Luis (21)
Degrom, Jacob (24)
Diaz, Miller (20)
Fulmer, Michael (20)
Goeddel, Erik (24)
Huchingson, Chase (24)
Koch, Matt (22)
Kuebler, Jake (23)
Lara, Rainy (22)
Mateo, Luis (23)
Matz, Stephen (22)
Panteliodis, Alex (23)
Peavey, Greg (24)
Pill, Tyler (23)
Schwinden, Chris (26)
Syndergaard, Noah (20)
Tapia, Domingo (21)
Taylor, Logan (21)
Verrett, Logan (23)
Ynoa, Gabriel (20)

CATCHERS
Cordero, Albert (23)
Forsythe, Blake (23)
Glenn, Jeff (21)
Gronauer, Kai (26)
Maron, Cam (22)
Pena, Francisco (23)
Plawecki, Kevin (22)

INFIELDERS
Campbell, Eric (26)
Cecchini, Gavin (18)
Evans, Phillip (20)
Lucas, Richard (23)
Muno, Daniel (23)
Reynolds, Matt (22)
Rodriguez, Aderlin (21)

OUTFIELDERS
Ceciliani, Darrell (21)
Gomez, Gilbert (21)
Harris, Alonzo (23)
Lawley, Dustin (24)
Nimmo, Brandon (20)
Taijeron, Travis (24)
Vaughn, Cory (23)

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Projecting the Opening Day roster, 2/19

Some reorganization this week given Terry Collins’ recent proclamation that Marlon Byrd is the favorite in right field, and Frank Francisco’s injury. As for the rest of the bullpen, it’s still anyone’s guess at this point. Grapefruit League performances will be telling.

I’ve also reordered the starting rotation to what it should look like the first week of the season.

C : John Buck
1B: Ike Davis
2B: Daniel Murphy
SS: Ruben Tejada
3B: David Wright
OF: Lucas Duda
OF: Kirk Nieuwenhuis
OF: Marlon Byrd
Bench: Collin Cowgill
Bench: Mike Baxter
Bench: Justin Turner
Bench: Brandon Hicks
Bench: Anthony Recker

SP: Johan Santana
SP: Shaun Marcum
SP: Jon Niese
SP: Matt Harvey
SP: Dillon Gee
RP: Bobby Parnell (CL)
RP: Brandon Lyon
RP: Scott Atchison
RP: LaTroy Hawkins
RP: Pedro Feliciano
RP: Josh Edgin
RP: Greg Burke

DL: Frank Francisco

In the running: C Landon Powell, 1B Josh Satin, INF Zach Lutz, INF Brian Bixler, INF/OF Jordany Valdespin, OF Andrew Brown, OF Matt den Dekker, RHP Jenrry Mejia, RHP Jeurys Familia, RHP Jeremy Hefner, RHP Collin McHugh, RHP Elvin Ramirez, RHP Carlos Torres, LHP Aaron Laffey, LHP Robert Carson, LHP Darin Gorski.

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Scenes from the Mets’ first full-squad workout

The Mets held their first full-squad workout today in Port St. Lucie, Fla. The day in pictures:

Daniel Murphy, Jordany Valdespin and Ike Davis participate in fielding drills while manager Terry Collins looks on.

Daniel Murphy, Jordany Valdespin and Ike Davis participate in fielding drills while Terry Collins looks on.

Mets infielders line up for fielding drills.

Mets infielders line up for fielding drills.

Travis d’Arnaud warms up his arm:

 

Sandy Alderson, Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz watch the day's proceedings.

Sandy Alderson, Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz watch the day’s proceedings.

Josh Edgin throws a bullpen session:

 

Dillon Gee and Matt Harvey throwing in tandem.

Dillon Gee and Matt Harvey throwing in tandem.

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Santana returns to mound; all is well in Port St. Lucie (except for the weather)

It’s actually quite pleasant here today, with temperatures hovering in the low- to mid-50s. But plenty of players and reporters were griping about the cold in Port St. Lucie, where the Mets pushed their workout back two hours on account of the temperature.

When the Mets finally did don their uniforms, Johan Santana took the mound for his first bullpen session since last August. He threw approximately 20 pitches, (of which I managed to capture one on my new Instagram account), and expressed — what else? — optimism afterward.

Some additional photographs from Santana’s session are below:

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

An infielder again, Valdespin looks to make club

Jordany Valdespin spent most of his time at Dominican Winter Ball plying his trade in the outfield, where the Mets asked him to train around this time last year. But unconvinced of his future out there, they are again looking at him as an infielder.

Either way, Valdespin will have an uphill climb to make the Opening Day roster, despite his success in spurts in 2012.

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Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Rain, rain go away, Mets will practice another day

Rain interfered with the Mets’ plans today, forcing them to limit their workouts to indoor conditioning activities. Pitchers threw off portable mounds while position players ran drills under cover.

I had a chance this week to catch up with top prospect Travis d’Arnaud, who provided some insight into his guitar-strumming, videogame-playing life. Read the full profile here.

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Meet Bobby Parnell, new Mets closer

The Mets installed Bobby Parnell as their closer last night, assuming Frank Francisco begins the season on the disabled list. Despite his fantastic season in 2012, Parnell struggled in a few of his save opportunities when Francisco was injured, leading to the perception that he’s not closer material.

IMG_2066The numbers, however, say that he is. Parnell can still throw over 100 miles per hour when he wants to. He has found a trusted secondary pitch in the knuckle-curve that Jason Isringhausen taught him two years ago. He wants badly to be a closer.

But perhaps most importantly, Parnell took an enormous step forward with his control in 2012, walking 2.6 batters per nine innings. He issued 4.1 free passes per nine in 2011, in line with his career rate of 4.0. As long as Parnell can hold steady with his control as a closer in 2013, there is no rational reason to believe he will struggle.

As for Francisco, who knows? If Parnell seizes this opportunity and Francisco remains sidelined for any significant period of time, the closer’s job may be in new hands for good. Certainly, the Mets are excited to see what Parnell can do in the role.

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Roster battles begin to take shape at Mets camp

Some new minutiae from manager Terry Collins’ State of the Mets press conference this afternoon:

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  • Lucas Duda is the starting left fielder. He won’t have to compete for the job.
  • Collins would like to carry multiple left-handers in his bullpen. Josh Edgin is close to a lock, with Pedro Feliciano, Robert Carson and Aaron Laffey all possibilities behind him.
  • Mike Baxter could lead off against right-handed pitchers. Collin Cowgill could lead off against lefties. Or Ruben Tejada could lead off against everyone. It’s all still up in the air, though it doesn’t appear that Daniel Murphy is a leadoff consideration at this point.
  • Matt Harvey will not be on any sort of innings limit. Collins expects him to approach or exceed 200 innings this season.

Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

Healthy and optimistic, Johan reports to camp

Here are some shots of a healthy Johan Santana, who threw off flat ground today in what he considers a normal, healthy progression for this time of year:

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Santana later met with the media, saying his 2012 season “ended up in a way that I didn’t want it to.” The Mets shut Santana down in August as he battled a number of physical maladies, including the aftereffects of an ankle sprain, a bout of lower back inflammation and some general fatigue in his first season back from left shoulder surgery.

This summer, Santana hopes, will be different.

“What’s important right now is to stay healthy,” the left-hander said. “Being able to go there every five games, that’s what I want to do. And I’m hoping to do it throughout the whole season.”

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Follow me on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.

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