2017 Mets Non-Roster Invitee Preview: Chasen “Chase” Bradford

Fun Fact: If you search for Chasen Bradford, how Chasen’s name is listed on the Mets official website and on his twitter, no results turn up. However, if you search for Chase, you’ll be led to the page of Chasen David Bradford.

Chasen is returning to Mets camp as a non-roster invitee as a 27-year old pitcher from Las Vegas who has been pitching in Las Vegas. The Mets drafted him in 2011 out of the University of Central Florida.

Chasen’s run numbers have gotten consistently worse the longer he’s been in Vegas going from a 3.52 ERA in 2014, to a 4.10 to a 4.80 last year. But it’s also Vegas? Maybe. His WHIP has gone from a 1.26 to a 1.57 and then back down last year to a 1.477. His best year in Vegas, 2014, was his worst year for HR9 (1.2, now a 0.7) and his K/9 rebounded last year from a 6.5 to 7.4.

Important to note, his first year in Vegas was by far his best K/W at 10.25, it then rocketed downward in 2015 to 3.29 and now its 4.15.

On the plus side for Chase, he’s become more consistent over the last couple of years. Not blowing away the competition in the Minors like he was doing 2012 to 2014 (prior to Vegas) but not completely imploding in Vegas like we’ve seen pitchers do as well (Pimentel, Thornton for example).

Reviewing the 2016 Mets Spring Training Non-Roster Invitees

Finally we are knocking on the door to Spring Training, which is great since winter in the North East decided to show up this past week. Before we jump into and look at who got a special invitation to camp this year, I was curious as to how the players who came as a non-roster invitee performed during the 2016 season and where they ended up. Last year the Mets invited 18 players to Port St. Lucie:

  1. Dominic Smith
  2. Gavin Cecchini
  3. Johnny Monell
  4. Xorge Carrillo
  5. T.J. Rivera
  6. Travis Taijeron
  7. Paul Sewald
  8. Zack Thornton
  9. Chase Bradford
  10. Nevin Ashley
  11. Jim Henderson
  12. Stolmy Pimentel
  13. Ty Kelly
  14. Danny Muno
  15. Raywilly Gomez
  16. Buddy Carlyle
  17. Duane Below
  18. Marc Krauss

Out of the 18 players listed above, 4 players made it to the big leagues in the 2016 season (Cecchini, Rivera, Kelly and Henderson). Out of those four, only T.J. Rivera has a possible place on the 2017 squad (Henderson is now with the Cubs). Kelly has an outside chance, but he has to fight back to get on the 40-man, that is if he actually makes it though his current DFA period. Also out of the 18 players listed above, 5 players are back as NRI’s this year (Smith, Carrillo, Taijeron, Sewald, Bradford). (This becomes 6 if Ty Kelly makes it through the DFA process and the Mets give him an invite). Out of those 5/6 players, Smith is the main prospect coming back. Read more about the 2016 journey’s of the NRI’s below:

Dominic Smith went from Spring Training to the Mets up to Binghamton. I was lucky enough to see him on a cold, April night game against Giolito who was heads and shoulder’s above most of the Binghamton Mets roster. Dom finally had a season where he developed more into what has generally been projected for him and finds himself somewhere on most Top 100 prospect lists for the 2017 season.  He is a non-roster invitee again for the 2017 season

Gavin Cecchini made his way to the 40-man over the course of the 2016 season as he made his major debut playing in 4 games, getting 7 PA’s and two hits, both doubles. I’m not sure what the Mets do with Gavin. Defensively he doesn’t make sense long term at shortstop although he can play second. The Mets have a log jam all over the infield though with Cabrera/Walker/TJ Rivera/Reyes/Flores who all can play some combination of 2nd, 3rd and short. Plus there’s Wright and the eventual arrival of Rosario.

Johnny Monell, the catcher from the Bronx. A hometown hero in the 2015 season, he never made it back to the majors in 2016, thanks to Rene Rivera. He played 113 games in Las Vegas and became a Free Agent in October.

Xorge Carillo played for both the Binghamton Mets and Las Vegas over the 2016 season. In 80 games for Binghamton he hit .269/.347/.364 and in 5 games in AAA he collected 5 singles in 15 AB’s. He has a 2017 non-roster invite to Spring Training and will also play for Mexico in the WBC.

T.J. Rivera finally did it last year. He turned heads all spring with his hitting ability and finally got the call when the Mets continued to fall apart due to injuries throughout the 2016 season. He put together an impressive 2016 campaign, and was another hometown hero for the Mets. He now finds himself on the 40 man roster and will be battling for a bench role this year.

Travis Taijeron just keeps hitting homers in the minor leagues knocking 25 in 2015 and 19 last year. He was intriguing to watch in spring last year and we’ll get another chance to do it this year as he comes back as a non-roster invitee as a 28 year old.

Paul Sewald left camp last year and went to one of the toughest places for any pitcher: Las Vegas. He still put up an impressive 3.29 ERA and struck out 80 over 65.2 innings. He’ll be back in camp as a non-roster invitee this year.

Zack Thornton, who came to the Mets as part of the Ike Davis trade, was granted free agency after last season (at least, as far as I can tell). He pitched in 35 games in Vegas with a 7.03 ERA and is currently, possibly going to be a pitcher for Israel in the World Baseball Classic.

Chase Bradford didn’t have the best year at Vegas last year, watching his ERA climb from 4.95 to 5.35, but his strikeouts did climb from 46 to 54 in only an additional 2 innings of work. He’ll be joining the Mets again as a non-roster invitee in 2017.

Nevin Ashley was granted Free Agency in November. He was purchased by the Rangers before at the August 31st deadline last season.

Jim Henderson saw himself thrust into a critical role last year with the Mets bullpen/pitching staff falling apart on a regular basis (read: injury bug not inadequacy). Henderson posted a 4.11 ERA over 35.0 innings and signed a contract this off-season with the Chicago Cubs.

I had high hopes when the Mets brought Stolmy Pimentel to camp last year. That didn’t pan out though. He posted a 10.45 ERA over 14 games in Las Vegas and then posted a 4.65 ERA in Mexico. The Mets released him in the middle of the season.

The Mets had two hitting stars that finally made the majors. You already heard about T.J. Rivera, now it’s Ty Kelly’s turn. He played in 39 games for the Mets with a .241/.352/.345 line. He finally cracked the 40 man! And then the Mets resigned Jerry Blevins and DFA’d Kelly two days ago. Jury is still out if he lands back in the Mets system, and he does, I’m sure the Mets give him a NRI to camp.

The Mets had a parade of infielders who could hit in AAA last year (Rivera/Kelly/others) so Danny Muno lost his spot. If it wasn’t for Rivera/Kelly, Muno probably gets called up, despite only hitting .239 in Vegas. Anyway, the Mets released him in late June, he then signed a few days later with the White Sox who released him in mid-August and then he signed with the Marlins two days later who gave him free agency in November.

Raywilly Gomez, a catching prospect on a team that seems flushed with catching prospects, almost catching prospects, and slightly/severely damaged former catching prospects just didn’t have a spot on this club. After a season campaign in Binghamton he became a free agent.

My favorite pitcher in the Mets organization, Buddy Carlyle, was released in March of last year. Two months later, he was hired as a coach and and has been with the Braves organization.

Duane Below‘s one year stint in the Mets organization ended in November with Below become a free agent. The former big league pitcher couldn’t crack his way into Queens and posted a 5.27 ERA over 24 games in Vegas.

If Marc Krauss had a better time in Vegas (.214/.327/.437) he almost certainly would have been called up as the Mets were fumbling though 1B/OF types before signing Loney mid-season. Alas, Marc struggled where several other Mets did well and he was granted Free Agency at the end of the season.

 

Minor League Roadtrip: Savannah Sand Gnats (Now Bananas)

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In 2015 I started going on baseball road trips with my vacation time, and I chose to go on a southern tour down to Georgia and back to New Jersey because summer 2015 was the last summer that the Savannah Sand Gnats would be home to a Mets affiliated team. (I also cannot overstate how much I want to go back to Savannah to watch the Savannah Bananas play there, but more on that later).

For those following my trip, I went to this game two days after watching the Drive play at Greenville (read about that here). Savannah is a beautiful city. Unbelievably pretty, green, etc. Also on my road trip that included southeastern TN, Columbia SC, Charleston SC, Raleigh NC, north western NC, Norfolk VA and Richmond VA, Savannah was the only city I went to that didn’t feel like it was still fighting the Civil War. If you’re reading this from the South, I grew up in Baltimore, MD and it’s still jarring, and culturally distant experience to travel through towns with an overwhelming amount of Civil War monuments. If you love American Revolution history, there’s a lot to see and learn in the more touristy parts of the city. The stadium itself is not in the tourist area of Savannah. If you are road tripping, this provides a great opportunity to you: go to the tourist stuff during the day and stay at a hotel near the stadium at night. You’ll get to see all of the historic Savannah sites during the ay and pay a much cheaper hotel rate at night. I went a few museums in town but the best recommendation I can make is to visit all of the town squares. They’re phenomenal.

Anyway, about the game.

Historic Grayson Stadium is my favorite type of Minor League Ballpark (for Maryland readers – think Hagerstown Suns), it had tons of wood, an outfield shaped to fit the land the stadium fits, mostly bleacher seating and a focus on the game itself. I moved around quite about during the game (actually a double header). I might be biased to old stadiums which is why I fell in love with Grayson but this was the experience I have in my mind when I think minor league baseball. There wasn’t over the top merchandising, outfield advertisements, etc. The outfield opens up to trees in the surrounding neighborhood (the stadium is embedded in the neighborhood, not an exit off a highway). Another way to put this: the Sand Gnats and Bannanas franchises know they have something special with Historic Grayson Stadium. When you go, the stadium and the baseball on the field is the star, which is how it should be.

The Savannah Sand Gnats were just missing the zaney that usually comes with minor league baseball. The rest of the experience was a perfect, classic, americana feel to the game. This is why I want to come back to see the Savannah Bananas. The stadium already has that old-time feel and the name/look of the Savannah Bananas embodies that goofier side of minor league baseball / college / not major league. When we think about the endearing pull of going to a baseball game that doesn’t involve major league teams, we think about closeness to the field, traditional look and feel to the ballpark, attention to the game not to merchandising everything, and things that don’t take themselves to seriously.

I always enjoy a minor league games however Savannah was different. Savannah is on the level of “Must Visit” minor league stadiums.

Minor League Roadtrip: The Greenville Drive

gdwholeThe Greenville Drive were my first successful minor league stop on a baseball road trip in July 2015 (I was supposed to be at the Bristol Pirates the previous night, but the weather had another idea). While the weather wasn’t the greatest that night, I was stoked to see Yoan Moncado play.

Greenville is located in northwest South Carolina. I was coming from Bristol, VA/TN, and spent the day hiking in the Smokey Mountains before making the trip south Greenville. I spent so much time in the Smokey Mountains that I couldn’t do anything around the Greenville before game time. Next to the stadium is the Shoeless Joe Jackson Museum, only open on Saturdays, so keep that in mind when visiting. I wish I could tell you how the museum was, but I was in town during the week.

The Greenville Drive are a feeder to the Red Sox and their stadium boasts a “mini” Green Monster in the outfield (as shown in the picture above). As a stadium, it boasted several places to eat, including bbq (this being my first time in South Carolina, I got that) and a bar deck with TV’s. The stadium also had quite the selection of microbrews from SC and the Grenville area. In general, the team and the stadium are new, and it feels that way. There are areas to go when it rains and still watch the game as well.

The stadium is also embedded into the city of Greenville. If you are a baseball road tripper and are looking to walk to games, this was fantastic. I stayed at a hotel not too far away (about a half mile) and walked through a residential part of town. At the end of the game people were out in their yards and in normal southern hospitality expectations, talking to everyone walking by. The field opens up to new construction in the area that brought the feel of the “warehouse” at Camden Yards. It was nice looking but also felt like the outfield view was manufactured and not natural to the area. Compared to other minor league teams I’ve been too, Greenville is on the lower side in terms of advertisements everywhere in the outfield.

The only downside is, at least in 2015, they didn’t have as many of the goofy things that other minor league teams have (superfluous mascots, over-the-top food, ridiculous songs/traditions). However this didn’t take away from the night.

I had a fun time in Greenville watching the Drive and if you’re in the area, it’s a fun team to check out! The stadium is on the newer side and although I was there on a weeknight, the stadium was moderately filled (+ there was very bad weather in the forecast).

Do you know somewhere I should go this year? Let me know! Also check back each Monday as I post more of my journeys to watch minor league baseball across the nation.

Mets and the WBC Tracker 12/4 (And Crismatt Write-Up)

Whether you like it or not, the World Baseball Classic is back in what could be it’s final iteration (rumors have been flying around that unless it can get more profitable, this may be the last one, more on that on a later date).

The tournament is tough for players trying to get their stamina up for the season and stay healthy, while other players struggle to commit while they are in active position battles.

Mets Players Who Are In:

  • Asdrubal Cabrera – Venezuela
  • Nabil Crismatt – Columbia

Mets Players Who Are Out:

  • Noah Syndergaard

 

Nabil Crismatt has been in the Mets system since he was 17 in 2012, he finished his 2016 season at 21 years old and reaching as high as Binghamton. 2014 was first time in US in the Gulf Coast league and he spent all of 2015 with Kingsport. This year he posted a 3.19 ERA over 8 games and 31.0 innings in Brooklyn, then a 1.88 ERA over 28.2 innings in Columbia before his 1 start, (1 ER over 6.0 innings) in AA.

Minor League Baseball Roadtrips: Any Suggestions?

A couple of years ago I decided to embrace the part of my life that follows “Fever Pitch” and fully own that I love baseball, I love traveling for baseball, and it doesn’t matter that most of my time outside of teaching involves thinking/watching/playing/analyzing/writing baseball.

Since then, I’ve gone on two baseball themed road trips. In summer 2015, I drove to Savannah, GA and back since it was the last summer that the Sand Gnats would be a Mets team. I was fortunate enough on that trip to also see the Greenville Drive, Durham Bulls, Carolina Mudcats, Norfolk Tide, Richmond Squirrels, and the Trenton Thunder (+the Baltimore Orioles, and there was one rainout: the Bristol Pirates).

Last spring I drove out to Cleveland when the Mets went there and I picked up a few more minor league games with the Wilmington Blue Rocks, Altoona Curve, Binghamton Mets and the Harrisburg Senators (+a rainout in Syracuse).

I’m currently planning a few more trips for this year including an April drive down to Miami and an early July drive to St. Louis.

Who should I see on the way? Why should I see them?

Wild Card Game Preview: Giants vs Mets

The Mets and Giants took very different paths to get to tonight’s Wild Card show down in Queens. The Mets, the current National League Champions, were hampered by injuries all season that decimated their pitching staff and sidelined a sizable portion the bats. The Giants were running away with the division and then went into a massive slump that led them here. However, they have one of the best pitchers in the game. The Mets can make the same claim and the Mets had to run through some of the best pitchers in the game last year, so let’s dive into tonight’s match-up!

Syndergaard is 14-9 over 31 games and 30 starts this year over 183.2 innings with a 2.60 ERA. His final start of the season was strong as he held the Marlins to 1 ER over 6.0 innings while allowing 5 hits and striking out 8. Way back in May he had a rough start against the Giants on a dreary Sunday allowing 4 ER over 5.2 innings. Near the end of August he dominated the Giants holding them scoreless and to 2 hits over 8.0 innings. The Giants have the following numbers against Noah:

  • Belt 0-6, 3 BB
  • Crawford 2-8
  • Pagan 0-5
  • Panik 2-6
  • Posey 3-6
  • Span 0-6
  • Pence 1-5, HR
  • Blanco 0-3

The Mets bats draw Madison Bumgarner who is 15-9 over 34 starts and 226.2 innings this year with a 2.74 ERA, his best season of his career in terms of ERA (he also finished as season with 4 complete games for the 3rd time in a row). In his last two starts hehas allowed 8 ER over 13.1 innings while walking 2 and striking out 10. In his first time against the Mets he allowed no runs and 3 walks over 6.0 innings and at the end of August he allowed 4 ER over 5.0 innings (so basically the reverse of Thor). The Mets have the following numbers against Bumgarner:

  • Bruce 3-23, HR
  • K Johnson 7-20
  • Loney 2-13, 2B
  • Cespedes 3-10, 2B
  • Lagares 1-9
  • Reyes 3-9
  • Cabrera 3-7
  • Rene Rivera 2-3, 2B, HR
  • T.J. Rivera 2-3

Let’s Go Mets!

Game Preview: Mets @ Phillies

The Mets did it!

By winning yesterday, the Mets locked up the top Wild Card spot giving them one game in the regular season of “meaningless” baseball. (For those wondering, a Mets loss and a Giants win today will put them with the same record, but the Mets won the season series this year). Anyway, as the Mets await to find out if they are facing the Giants or the Cardinals, they will play one last regular season game.

Originally Syndergaard was going to start today, then it the word was if the Mets clinch, Syndergaard would pitch only one inning (which raised a lot of eyebrows). Instead the Mets are going with Gabriel Ynoa today, which makes way more sense. He’s 1-0 on the season over 9 games and 2 starts totaling 13.2 innings with a 7.90 ERA. His last start was on the 23rd and it was a short one as he allowed 5 hits and 2 ER over 2.0 innings (which was also his first time facing the Phillies). Last time out he allowed no runs and 3 hits over 1.2 innings against the Marlins). The Phillies have the following numbers against Ynoa:

  • Hernandez 1-2
  • Herrera 1-2
  • Quinn 1-2
  • Asche 1-1
  • Galvis 1-1
  • Hellickson 0-1
  • Howard 0-1

Jerad Eickhoff will make his last start of the season today. He was 11-14 over 191.1 innings with a 3.72 ERA. He’s coming off of a short but effective outing against the Braves where he allowed on hit, a solo homer, over 4.0 innings while striking out 5. He hasn’t faced the Mets since mid-July where he allowed 2 ER over 5 hits in 6.0 innings. The Mets have the following numbers against Jerad:

  • Granderson 2-14, 2B, HR
  • Conforto 5-12, 2 2B, HR
  • Cespedes 2-12, 3B
  • K Johnson 4-9, 2B
  • Cabrera 4-8, 2B
  • d’Arnaud 1-6, 2B
  • Duda 2-5, 2 2B

(That being said, I’ll be surprised to Granderson, Cespedes, Cabrera, etc in the lineup today).

Let’s Go Mets!

Game Preview: Mets @ Phillies

The could clinch a play off spot today! If the Mets win, they are in! If the Cardinals lose, the Mets are in! If the Mets win, and both the Cardinals and the Giants lose, the Mets have the top spot. Last night the Mets got another strong start from Gsellman and Bruce continued his hot streak as the Mets beat the Phillies 5-1.

This afternoon, Colon will get things started for the Mets. He’s 14-8 over 33 games and 32 starts and 186.2 innings with a 3.42 ERA. He’s coming off of his first rough start in a whole against the Marlins where he allowed 7 ER over 2.1 innings. It also was an extremely emotional game. His last rough start before that though was against the Phillies where he allowed 4 ER over 7.0 innings. The Phillies have the following numbers against Colon:

  • Howard 6-30, 3 HR
  • Galvis 5-25, 2B, HR
  • Herrera 5-25
  • Hernandez 5-19, 2B
  • Asche 4-17, 2 2B
  • Rupp 5-17
  • Bourjos 5-15, 2B, 3B
  • Franco 0-14

Phil Klein is sort-of getting the start today as the Phillies have already announced today as a bullpen day. Between the Rangers and the Phillies he’s 0-1 this season over 11 games and 1 start with an 8.22 ERA over 15.1 innings. He made a start for the Phillies against the Giants back on August 3rd where he pitched 5.0 innings allowing 4 ER. He faced the Mets last week where he allowed 3 ER over 0.1 innings in the 17-0 drubbing. The Mets have the following numbers on Phil:

  • Loney 0-2
  • Bruce 1-1
  • Cespedes 0-0, BB
  • Granderson 0-1
  • TJ Rivera 1-1

Let’s Go Mets!

Game Preview: Mets @ Phillies

The Cardinals and Giants both won on the Mets off day, so the race for the Wild Card just got a little tighter. The Mets still control their destiny though as they head into Philly for the last series of the season.

Robert Gsellman gets the nod for the Amazin’s. He’s 3-2 over 7 games and 6 starts this year with a 2.56 ERA over 38.2 innings. The Mets needed him to log innings in his last start to save the bullpen and he did, holding the Phillies scoreless over 7.0 innings while striking out 8 for his best start of his career. In his previous start against the Phillies he allowed 4 ER over 6.0 innings. The Phillies have the following numbers against Robert:

  • Altherr 1-5
  • Franco 1-5
  • Hernandez 1-6, 2 K
  • Herrera 0-4, 2 K
  • Galvis 2-5, 2B
  • Alfaro 1-3
  • Howard 0-3, 2 K

The Mets will get another look at Alec Asher who is 2-0 over 4 starts and 21.2 innings in 2016 with an ERA of 1.66. His last start against against the Mets where he allowed 4 runs, all unearned, over 5.0 innings (to put that in perspective, he’s allowed only 4 earned runs in his previous 3 major league starts). The Mets have the following numbers against Asher:

  • Cespedes 1-2
  • Conforto 1-3, HR
  • d’Arnaud 1-3
  • Duda 0-3
  • Granderson 1-2, 2B
  • Caberba 0-2
  • Reyes 1-2

Let’s Go Mets!