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Mets right-handed pitching prospect Michael Fulmer is currently experiencing the best run of success in his five-year professional career. The reason is simple: he's healthy for the first time since 2012.

Fulmer joined the Mets organization after being selected with the No. 44 overall pick of the 2011 draft as an 18-year-old from Deer Creek High School in Edmond, Oklahoma. He made a few starts with the Mets Gulf Coast League affiliate to finish the 2011 campaign before spending all of 2012 in Savannah, where he was fantastic, going 7-6 with a 2.74 era in 21 starts. Unfortunately, it's at that point when?a series of injuries began to plague his career. It started with a torn meniscus during Spring Training in 2013, followed by bone spurs and bone chips in his elbow and eventually a re-tear of the same meniscus in 2014.

Tags: Interview, Rob Brender
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Triple-A infielder Matt Reynolds is one of the more talked about minors leaguers in the Mets farm system as the big-league team struggles with injuries. Reynolds, who is hitting .270 with a .328 OBP and .303 SLG in Las Vegas, has 22 doubles, two triples, four home runs and 43 RBI. He's played mostly shortstop for the 51s, but has also played 11 games at second base.

SNY.tv's Rob Brender caught up with Reynolds recently to discuss his season so far, not being promoted yet and sharing his bat with former teammate Steven Matz...

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The 24-year-old Darrell Ceciliani has been in the Mets organization since 2009, when he was drafted in the 4th round out of Columbia Basin College in Washington. He's progressed steadily through the affiliate chain, starting with Short-A Kingsport in '09 and stopping at every subsequent higher level until reaching Triple-A for the first time in his career in 2015. He's a strong defensive player, who gets fantastic jumps on the ball in center field. He also has tremendous speed, stealing as many as 31 bases in a season in 2013 with Binghamton.

This season, he's also showing a bit of power, homering four times in his first 72 at-bats. If the Mets find themselves in need of another outfielder, Ceciliani might be the player they call upon. In this Q&A, Ceciliani tells me what he does to stay prepared defensively, if power is an important part of his game and why he chooses not to wear batting gloves at the plate...


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In his first major league Spring Training with the Mets this year, 26-year-old Zack Thornton posted a 1.38 ERA?and 1.08 WHIP?in 13 innings on the mound. The former Oregon Ducks standout was acquired by the Mets from the Pittsburgh Pirates as part of the trade for Ike Davis in the middle of April 2014. It's the second time Thornton has been traded since becoming a professional in 2010. Although he's changed teams and leagues multiple times, he continues to be the same sinker-ball pitcher that has gotten him to the brink of his major league debut. Now in his second season with the Mets Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas, the 6'3, 220 pound right-hander feels like his stuff is as good as it has ever been. He hopes that having the big league staff see him at his best at Spring Training has brought him one step closer to reaching his ultimate goal of taking the hill at Citi Field in the near future.

In this Q&A, Thornton talks about mechanical adjustments he made working with Dan Warthen at Spring Training, throwing his sinker, the difference between the Mets organization and the Pirates and his current team in Las Vegas:

Brender: You have thrown two innings in two of your first three starts. Is there a reason they?re using you multiple innings often this early in the season?

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The 2014 season could not have gone much better for 22-year-old Virgin Islands native Akeel Morris. The righty, who was the Mets 10th -ound draft pick in 2010,?spent the full campaign with the Savannah Sand Gnats in the South Atlantic League, posting a 0.63 ERA?in 57 innings (41 games), with 16 saves. He allowed four earned runs all year.

That followed a 2013 season where he gave up just five earned runs in 45 innings with Brooklyn. Thanks to such a fantastic streak of performances, the Mets awarded Morris with an invitation to big league Spring Training in 2015, an opportunity that he has relished.

Morris was recently cut from major league camp and will likely start 2015 with Double-A Binghamton.

Tags: Interview, Rob Brender
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The 2014 season was a difficult?year for 25-year-old right-hander Cory Mazzoni. The Mets second-round draft choice in 2011, Mazzoni?strained his lat muscle at the end of Spring Training and wasn't able to take the mound until the end of June. After making five rehab?appearances at three levels, he was sent to Triple-A Las Vegas where he finished the season, going 5-1 with a 4.67 ERA?in nine starts. Most importantly, he finished the season healthy. Now, Mazzoni is back at big league camp and is primed to again join a loaded 51s rotation to start the 2015 campaign. In this Q&A, Cory talks about the difficulties of 2014, his willingness to be a reliever if necessary?and his expectations for this year:

Brender: You were invited to big league Spring Training last year and wound up getting hurt at the tail end of camp. Talk about how difficult that experience was.

Mazzoni: Yeah, just getting injured last year is tough, especially the timing. Getting ready to head out to Vegas and get hurt on the last day and get set back two months. But, I can?t really dwell on that. Still have to have a productive season and keep my mind straight. It was tough but I?m just glad to be back and just looking forward to having a healthy year.

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Mets?shortstop prospect Gavin Cecchini?is?currently participating in?big league?Spring Training?for the first time in his professional career. The 21-year-old former first-round draft pick is truly appreciative of the experience and is using the opportunity to "soak everything in like a sponge," learning as much as he can while playing with current members of the big league roster. In this Q&A he talks about what he's learned to this point, his 2014 season and expectations for 2015:

Brender: You had the chance to be with the B-Mets during their postseason run last year. How was that experience?

Cecchini: It was awesome. To be a part of a winning team and to obviously finish the last game on top, there?s not a better feeling. We had a great team, along with a great coach staff and we went out there and we won it all. It was a great feeling.

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Robert Brender of SNY.tv spoke to Mets catcher prospect Kevin Plawecki. Here?s what we learned?

1) Plawecki said that he and Travis d?Arnaud are good friends, and he learns as much as possible from the major league catcher.

2) He?s working on staying as consistent as possible with his hitting approach this spring.

Tags: Interview, Andrew Vazzano
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Mets infield prospect Matt Reynolds says he'd like to get to the big leagues in 2015, but he knows that is beyond his control, he told SNY.TV's Robert Brender.

Terry Collins has said Reynolds, Wilmer Flores and Ruben Tejada will equal time early in camp to earn a spot at shortstop on the Opening Day roster.

"I'm really not worried about it, I'm just trying to go out and play to the best of my ability, because whatever happens happens," Reynolds said, later discussing the difference between his poor 2013 and successful 2014. "I enjoy being around Flores and Tejada, they work hard and whomever comes away with the job will deserve it."

Tags: Interview, Andrew Vazzano
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Shortstop prospect Gavin Cecchini, who was the Mets first-round draft choice in 2012, had his best professional?campaign in 2014 and is primed to begin next season?with Double-A Binghamton.

The 20-year-old split the majority of 2014 between Single-A Savannah and advanced Single-A St. Lucie, driving 40 extra base hits, with 56 RBI?and 10 stolen bases. He was rewarded with a promotion to the B-Mets the final week of the season and?remained on the roster for their playoff run to an eventual?Eastern League championship. Although Cecchini was only given five at-bats (one in the postseason), he?viewed the experience as invaluable and believes it will better prepare him for what's to come.

Cecchini comes from a baseball family. His father is a high school baseball head coach and was recently named the Head Coach for the USA under-18 National Team. His brother, Garin, is an infielder in the Boston Red Sox chain and was?called up?to the major leagues for the first time in 2014. How much does Gavin rely on his brother and father for advice as he makes his way through the minor league chain? What has he been doing to prepare for 2015? He answers that and more in this week's Mets Minors Q&A.

Tags: Interview, Rob Brender
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Catching prospect Kevin Plawecki has needed just two and a half seasons?in the Mets minor league system to put himself on the brink of a major league promotion.

The 23-year-old began the 2014 campaign?with Double-A Binghamton, where he tore up the Eastern League to the tune of a .326 batting average, .378 on-base percentage and .487 slugging percentage in 58 games. That effort earned him a All-Star selection and a?move to Triple-A Las Vegas at the mid-way point. Although he got off to a bit of a slow start his first week?with the 51s (2-for-23 in his first seven games), his confidence at the plate kicked back in with a three-hit game on July 6 in Albuquerque and stayed with him the rest of the season. He batted .310 in July and?.305 in August and continued to get on base with regularity, which?is such a highly-regarded aspect of his offensive game. Thanks to a considerable amount of hard work, his defense has also steadily improved, making him more of a well-rounded backstop.

The Mets are one of the few organizations who have two young, major league-ready catchers. Now the question is, how do they find enough at-bats for both of them once Plawecki is promoted? Would Kevin mind occasionally playing first base or left field? Has the organization told him to prepare for that move? Also, how tough is it to keep performing at a high level?offensively?when he concentrates so heavily on his defense? He answers those questions and more in this week's Mets Minors Q&A...

Tags: Interview, Rob Brender
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It was a solid overall season for Mets 2011 first-round draft pick Brandon Nimmo.

The 21-year-old started the campaign in advanced Single-A St. Lucie, where he garnered a Florida State League?All-Star selection after batting .322, with an impressive .448 on-base percentage and .458 slugging percentage, in 62 games.?He received a well-deserved promotion?to Double-A Binghamton for the second half, where he struggled?to adjust to more talented and?experienced pitching but began to get comfortable?just in time to?bat over .300 in the B-Mets postseason?championship run.

He maintained the patient approach and pitch selectivity that has become one of his trademarks since joining the system straight from high school in Wyoming. The potential he's shown and?rapid growth in his game are so great that the Mets selected him to participate in the Arizona Fall League this year. It's a learning?experience that Nimmo has found invaluable. What is he working on to take the ultimate jump to the major leagues? Who does he turn to when he needs help with his swing? Would he be upset if the Mets added an outfielder on a long-term contract to their roster this offseason, blocking his path? He answers those questions and more in this week's Mets Minors Q&A...

Tags: Interview, Rob Brender
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The 2014 season was a challenging one?for Mets top prospect Noah Syndergaard.?Not just a dealing with the difficulty of trying to get hitters out at the Triple-A level every fifth day, but also in his ability to deal with adversity for the first time in his professional career.

Since arriving in the minor leagues in 2010 as?a first-round?draft pick by?the Blue Jays, the tall right-hander from Texas had overwhelmed the competition. In more that two years in the Jays system and a full season?in the Mets chain, his ERA?had never been above 3.11. Although that number skyrocketed to 4.60 in 26 starts for the 51s last season, it?s fair to assume the conditions of the Pacific Coast League and advanced hitters at that level had much to do with the poorer performance. Although Syndergaard?acknowledges those as factors for his?inconsistency, he thinks learning how to pitch and confidence were the overwhelming causes for his troubles.

Still, 145 strikeouts in 133 innings and stretches of dominating pitching scattered throughout the season should give Mets fans and the organization reason to believe the 22-year-old will be just fine. Is his confidence back to where it was prior to 2014? Does he think he's ready to take the next step to the major leagues? He tells us in this week?s Mets Minor Q&A...

Tags: Interview, Rob Brender
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In baseball, the minors are a land of constant churn, and prospects come and go. So, meet Jhoan Urena, a 19-year-old,?who falls solidly into the "coming" category, who with a very nice 2014 in the New York-Penn League claimed his spot as the top third base prospect in the Mets organization. Baseball is part of the plan for Jhoan (it's prnonounced Johan): five years ago, the day before his father passed away, young Jhoan promised his father that he would play professional baseball.

He's playing, and hitting. His .300 batting average was fifth in the New York-Penn League in 2014. His 20 doubles were tied for second. His 122 total bases were third. The counting stats overstate his case a little as he was the the NYP leader in games played (75) and at bats (283). Even that though is something Urena can be proud of: he played in all but one of the Cyclones' games and was the only player on the circuit to play in more than 71 games and pick up more than 283 at bats. Durability is a good thing, and at age 19, Urena played everyday for almost three months.

As Cyclones hitting coach Benny diStefano said, "The bottom line is, this kid has a lot of ability."

Tags: Analysis, Interview, Toby Hyde
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The Mets 2013 fourth-round draft pick, L.J. Mazzilli, had an outstanding overall season in his first full professional campaign in 2014.

The 24-year-old former UConn star was a first-half South Atlantic League All-Star, batting .292, with a .363?on-base percentage and .428 slugging percentage in 66 games with the Savannah Sand Gnats. He was promoted to advanced Single-A St. Lucie at the mid-way point of the season and proceeded to post even better numbers in the Florida State League, with a .312 batting average and 26 extra base hits in 64 games.

His impressive performance earned?him an opportunity?to get his feet wet in?Triple-A Las Vegas?for the final?two weeks of the season. Although he didn't play much for Wally Backman's squad, it was a valuable experience that Mazzilli feels will assist in preparing him for what's to come in 2015. In fact, L.J. believes that brief experience made him realize that he belongs at the higher levels.

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After struggling offensively his first two seasons in the Mets system, shortstop Matt Reynolds not only turned things around in 2014, he became one of the top performers in the organization.

The 23-year-old from Tulsa, Oklahoma split the season between Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Las Vegas, posting equally impressive numbers at both levels. So good was his output for the 51s in 2014 (.355 batting average and a?.430 on-base percentage) that he earned the Sterling Award for best Triple-A?player. Quite a change from one season?ago when he hit .226 in 433 at-bats?for High-A?St. Lucie. So, what made the transformation possible?

Reynolds told us in this weeks Minor League Q&A...

Tags: Interview, Rob Brender
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In his first full professional season, Mets 2013 first-round draft pick Dominic Smith posted a?.271 batting average, with a .334 on-base percentage an and 26 doubles in 461 at-bats. Although those were very solid numbers for a 19-year-old playing in the Single-A South Atlantic League, many fans are concerned that?their first baseman of the future?only managed to hit one home run (August 19 at Augusta).

Was it the big ballpark in Savannah that?diminished his power output? Was it a change in his approach at the plate?

In a?telephone?interview with Smith last week, he said?it was a little bit of both, but the lack of home runs?and the factors that led to the low total actually made him a better overall hitter.

Tags: Interview, Rob Brender
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Matt Reynolds hit .343 with six home runs and 61 RBI in 126 games for Double-A Binghamton of the Eastern League and Triple-A Las Vegas of the Pacific Coast League in 2014. The former second-round pick from Arkansas started the year with the B-Mets before making his debut with the 51?s on June 19. His .343 average was the second highest among all Mets minor leaguers.

Reynolds was named?the Sterling Award winner for a Triple-A player in the Mets organization.

MetsBlog's Michael Baron caught up with Reynolds before he received the award at Citi Field on September 15...

Tags: Interview, Andrew Vazzano
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Kevin Plawecki, who won the Sterling Organizational Co-Player of the Year last season, hit a combined .309 (116-376) with 11 home runs and 64 RBI for Double-A Binghamton of the Eastern League and Triple-A Las Vegas of the Pacific Coast League. He also started for Team USA in the Futures Game at All-Star weekend, going 0-2 with an RBI.

MetsBlog's Michael Baron caught up with the catching prospect at Citi Field this week...


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Steven Matz?started for the Double-A Binghamton Mets when they won the Eastern League championship on September 12, even carrying a no-hitter into the eighth inning. He allowed one run and struck out 11 in 7 1/3 innings.

At Citi Field on September 15, Matz accepted the Sterling Award Pitcher of the Year.

Matz finished the minor league regular season with a 10-9 record and a 2.24 ERA with 131 strikeouts in 24 games, all starts, over two levels. The former second-round pick out of Ward Melville (NY) High School started his season with St. Lucie (Single-A) of the Florida State League, going 4-4 with a 2.21 ERA and earning a selection to the FSL mid-season All-Star team.

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Michael Conforto, the Mets' first round pick, at No. 10 overall, in the 2014 amateur draft and I sat down in the dugout at MCU Park in Coney Island, Brooklyn on August 24, 2014. He answered questions deliberately and thoughtfully.

Hyde: You?ve been a professional baseball player for almost two months. What?s the biggest surprise about pro ball?

Conforto: There?s been a few things here and there, but for the most part, it?s the same game. It?s just baseball. We get to play it everyday, on a great field, on a team with great guys. I guess it is an adjustment to be playing everyday, and the travel at times can be tough, but it all comes with being a professional baseball player. It is what it is. You gotta keep moving forward, and keep bettering yourself to see what you can do.

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Binghamton Mets infielder T.J. Rivera is in his fourth season in the Mets organization and, just like the first three, is posting impressive offensive numbers.

The 25-year-old Bronx, N.Y. native has never hit below .289 at any stop as a professional and has climbed the system ladder, despite signing as an undrafted free agent from Troy University in Alabama. Initially, he was happy to just put on an affiliate?uniform, especially for a New York team,?but his motto of working harder than anyone else has led to annual success and an outside chance of playing at Citi Field sometime in the future.

Recently, Robert Brender caught up with him...

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The baseball diamond, to Eudor Garcia -- the Mets' fourth round pick in the 2014 draft -- is a special place.

"It's amazing out here. It's unreal," he told MetsMinorLeagueBlog before a game at Hunter Wright Stadium.

This is a young man who enjoys being a professional baseball player. His favorite part is still the very beginning of every game.

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In his first 10 games with Brooklyn, 2014 first-round draft pick Michael Conforto is hitting .395?with a .452 OBP.?He has a ten-game hitting streak that currently spans his entire professional career.

MetsBlog's Michael Baron recently caught up with Conforto at a Cyclones game...


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With the No. 84?pick in the 2013 draft the Mets selected 6 foot 7 inch right hander Casey Meisner out of Cypress Woods High School in Texas. Last year, in the Gulf Coast League, Meisner posted a 1-3 record with a 3.06 ERA in 35 1/3 innings.

Now 19 years old, the Mets were aggressive and decided to place Meisner in the more advanced New York-Penn League. He has a 6.75 ERA and a 1.800 WHIP over seven starts.

Here is a scouting report on Meisner as provided by MLB.com from draft time last year:

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For minor league baseball players chasing the bright lights and big paydays of the big leagues, baseball season usually means moving away from family and friends. Or, you can just bring your family and friends with you, just as Dominic Smith, the Mets first-round pick in the 2013 amateur draft has done.

Smith, who turned 19 in June, entertains either his mother or his father, or friends from home, nearly every time the Savannah Sand Gnats play at home. After he signed with the Mets, Smith's mother and brother moved from California to Florida, and make the roughly four-hour drive up I-95 when the Gnats are home for the "majority" of his games, Smith says. His buddies fly from California around their own work and school schedules.

"Just coming home to a family is a lot easier when you have a bad game to roommates, or nobody," Smith said to?MMiLB.com. "We normally have a full house."

Tags: Interview, Toby Hyde
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The 2014 season has?been an up-and-down season for Mets outfield prospect Cory Vaughn.

After starting the?year batting below .200?in 50 games in?Double-A, the organization moved the 25-year-old to Las Vegas?with the hope?he could?rediscover his offensive game.?There has never been any question that the ability is there.

In 2012, Vaughn hit 23 home runs and had?48 extra base hits playing for?High-A St. Lucie. He hit 10 bombs and had a .346 OBP last season in Binghamton. After a hot start following his call-up?to the 51s the results have been mixed.

Tags: Interview, Rob Brender
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With five starts in Double-A to his credit, is lefthanded pitching prospect Seven Matz just one pitch away from the big leagues? Yes, or, sort of. That pitch? His curveball. In a larger sense, it will take more than one throw to improve the offering.

Just how close is Matz?

"We pushed him to Double-A because we feel like he's within striking distance probably at some point next year if he gets on a roll," Mets Farm Director Dick Scott said. "I think he's right on time."

Tags: Analysis, Interview, Toby Hyde
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Champ Stuart is fast. Very fast. Thursday night in Savannah, Stuart scored from second on a sacrifice fly to center field, turning the routine into the extraordinary.

The 21-year-old Stuart -- hitting .295 with a .411 OBP this season -- who had missed the previous four games with a strained hip flexor, walked to lead off the fourth inning, later stealing second. With Stuart on second, Savannah's first baseman Dominic Smith lifted a flyball to the front of the warning track in nearly straight-away center.

At the catch, Stuart took off toward third. The Charleston RiverDogs' centerfielder, Dustin Fowler, did not make a strong throw back to the infield. In shallow centerfield, 'Dogs second baseman Gosuke Katoh tried to play Fowler's throw on the shorthop. He did not pick it cleanly. Stuart?made the turn at third and headed home. By the time Katoh?retrieved the ball off the grass, he had no chance to make a throw on Stuart, who scored standing up.

Tags: Analysis, Interview, Toby Hyde
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Two years apart, the July 4 weekend has been dangerous for young Mets' prospect Wuilmer Becerra.

Becerra, acquired by the Mets from the Blue Jays in the R.A. Dickey/Travis d'Arnaud/Noah Syndergaard trade, is playing for the Kingsport Mets in the rookie-level Appalachian League. On the Friday of July 4, 2014, the 19-year-old Becerra and his Kingsport teammate Vincente Lupo were arrested for drag-racing in Kingsport. Becerra was clocked at 107 miles an hour.

The Mets declined comment on Becerra's arrest and whether any more discipline from the team would be forthcoming.

Tags: Interview, Toby Hyde
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Sports fans are not good at waiting. And yet, Mets fans will have to wait for Blake Taylor.

On April 18, 2014, the Mets traded former first-round pick Ike Davis to Pittsburgh for minor league reliever Zack Thornton and a player to be named later.

Fans waited one month and 28 days to learn that the player to be named later was left-handed pitcher Taylor, the Pirates' second-round pick in the 2013 draft. The Mets and Pirates had to delay announcing that Taylor was part of the trade because players cannot be traded until one year after they sign their first professional contract. One year to the day after Taylor signed, he became a Met.

Tags: Interview, Toby Hyde
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Cesar Puello has had a weird start to his 2014 baseball season. When he's played everyday, he has not hit much. When he has been shuffled in and out of the lineup, he's hit a little better.

Just a year ago, at age 22, Puello won the Eastern League batting title and slugging title in a breakout season in which he hit .326/.403/.547 for the Double-A Binghamton Mets with 16 home runs and 24 stolen bases in 91 games. He was a consensus Top 11 prospect in the Mets system (No.?4 here, No. 9 at ESPN.com, No. 7 at Baseball Prospectus, No. 11 at Baseball America, and No. 7 at MLB.com). However, his season ended early with a 50-game suspension for his connection to Biogenesis, which he claims was for a substance obtained in 2012.

Moved up to Triple-A Las Vegas to start the season, Puello got off to a slow start, hitting .240/.283/.280 with two walks and 13 strikeouts through April 17. This is part one: when he was playing, but not hitting. He started in 14 of the Las Vegas 51s first 15 games. Then a funny thing happened. He stopped playing everyday. He started in just eight of the 51s next 20 games, through May 8 and 17 of their next 34 games, through May 23.

Tags: Interview, Toby Hyde
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It?s easy to see how Binghamton Mets reliever Jack Leathersich got the nickname "Leather Rocket." Armed with a mid-90?s fastball and devastating slider, the southpaw continues to strike out opposing batters at an incredible rate. The key for the 23-year-old, however, is finding a way to harness the power and throw strikes consistently.

Following a promotion to Triple-A in 2013, Leathersich issued 29 walks in 29 innings, overshadowing his 47 strikeouts in that same period. The Massachusetts native was then invited to major league Spring Training in 2014, but instead of making the big league roster or returning to Las Vegas when camp was complete, he was sent to Double-A Binghamton to regain the form that warranted his two-year ascension from fifth-round draft pick in 2011 to Triple-A. As has been the case since he started in the organization, the strikeouts are again piling up this season at an amazing rate, making most fans drool at the possibility of seeing him work out of the New York bullpen sometime soon.

Robert Brender: After your promotion to Las Vegas last season you walked 29 batters in 29 innings. This season, you?ve trimmed that rate slightly. What are you working on to cut down on issuing walks?

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St. Lucie Mets outfielder Brandon Nimmo is in the midst of his best season as a professional, leading the advanced Single-A Florida State League in a number of offensive categories.

Despite being just 21-years-old, it seems the Mets' top pick from the 2011 draft is mature beyond his years,?on and off the field. Thanks to a tremendous work ethic and dedication, including adding a great amount of muscle this offseason, Nimmo has been able sustain his?wonderful play on a daily basis and should have the strength to participate at a high level throughout the long minor league campaign.

Part of the reason for his success can also be attributed to his approach at the plate, which, not so coincidentally, is a spot-on match for the Mets organizational philosophy.?In this Q&A, Nimmo discusses how adding muscle has helped his play, his great start and hitting approach:

Tags: Interview, Rob Brender
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Second base prospect L.J. Mazzilli credits a recent hot streak to Yogi Berra's advice. Really.

After getting off to a slow start in April (.232/.279/.305 over 25 games), Mazzilli has found his stroke in May (.290/.416/.435 in 18 games). Even better, since May 7, the Mets' fourth-round pick in 2013 is?hitting .341/.473/.477 with three doubles, a home run and, crucially, 11 walks against nine strikeouts in his last 13 games. That's helped the Savannah Sand Gnats to a four-game lead for first place in the South Atlantic League Southern Division.

L.J.'s father, former Met and Yankee Lee Mazzilli, recently visited Yogi Berra in his nursing home. Yogi asked about?L.J., who Lee reported was going through some "bumps in the road."

Tags: Interview, Toby Hyde
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When the Mets traded first baseman Ike Davis to the Pittsburgh Pirates in April, one of the two players they received in return?was right-handed reliever Zack Thornton.

The 26-year-old?was originally signed by Oakland after?they drafted him in the 23rd round in?2010. He played two years in their farm system, advancing as far as double-A,?before?being?part of another deal when?the A's?moved him to the Bucs following the 2012 campaign. After joining the Pirates, the Los Angeles native demonstrated the control and command that has become his trademark since his collegiate career at the University of Oregon.?In 2013, Thornton was outstanding at three levels, issuing only 12 walks in 75.1 combined?innings from A+?Bradenton to 3A Indianapolis,?with a 2.63 era.

Now, as a member of the Mets chain?in triple-A, he continues to demonstrate a marksman's control and hopes an expanding repertoire?will help get him a big league opportunity.

Tags: Interview, Rob Brender
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Single-A pitcher Steven Matz departed 2014 big league Spring Training having thoroughly impressed the Mets coaching staff.?Pitching Coach Dan Warthen recently compared the 22-year-old's ability to that of Clayton Kershaw,?widely considered the best left-handed hurler in the game.?Armed with a mid-90s fastball and improving secondary pitches, the Stony Brook, New York native is trying not to let the hype get to his head as he continues his trek through the Minor League system.

I spoke to Matz about his early season results, changing windup and aspirations...


Tags: Interview, Rob Brender
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Brandon Nimmo has had a dynamite start to the 2014 season.

Entering play on May 6, at age 21 in the Florida State League, the 2011 first round pick is hitting .363/.507/.478 in advanced Single-A. He leads all of minor league baseball with 33 walks in 31 games. His two home runs - not yet a quarter of the way through the season - already equal last year's total.

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Tags: Interview, Toby Hyde
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Its been an impressive start to the 2014 season for Las Vegas 51s right-hander Jacob deGrom, who is 3-0 with a 1.93 ERA?in his first five starts. The 25-year-old Floridian has ascended quickly through the Mets farm system, making his Triple-A debut June 18, 2013 and has become one of the top prospects in the chain (Baseball America #10, MMiLB #16).

Two injuries have impeded, or at least delayed, deGrom's rise: Tommy John Surgery kept him out all of 2011 and a broken ring finger on his left hand, suffered when a bull kicked him while he was helping a friend with an calf castration, ?just prior to the start of Spring Training 2013, altered his preparation and pitching mechanics. DeGrom added a?curveball?to?his repertoire in 2013 to go with a slider, change and heavy sinker which sits around 94 mph, which has been his bread and butter since he began pitching as a college junior at Stetson University. Now, armed with a full, four-pitch arsenal, ?the tall hurler with wavy locks is on the verge of a promotion to the major leagues.


Tags: Interview, Jacob deGrom, Rob Brender
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Kevin Plawecki, the Mets first round draft pick in 2012, has worked his way up to Double-A in his age 23 season. In the brief season so far,?the catcher is hitting .286 with a .359 OBP and .343 slugging percentage. Over three professional seasons, Plawecki had progressed from low Single-A in Brooklyn to Double-A Binghamton, hitting .287 with a .375 OBP.

Robert Brender recently had a chance to talk with Plawecki about his experience in major league camp in 2014 and his development behind the plate and at the dish...


Tags: Interview, Minor League Q&A, Rob Brender
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The Mets had been counting on RHP Vic Black?to be?key piece of their?bullpen in 2014. However, after walking 10 batters and allowing 13 hits in 9.1 innings during Spring Training, he was demoted and started his?season with Triple-A?Las Vegas.

The Mets acquired Black and?2B??prospect Dilson Herrera?from the Pirates for C?John Buck, OF Marlon Byrd and cash last summer.

Black spent a week on the disabled list with a pinched nerve in his neck?during early April. He?has struck out three, walked two and allowed one hit and no runs during three innings since returning from injury.

Tags: Interview, Minor League Q&A, Vic Black, Rob Brender
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Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com?recently named Mets 1B prospect Dominic Smith?the second-best first baseman in the minor leagues.

Smith was the No. 11 overall pick in the 2013 draft.

?He looks like the total package at first base, combining solid athleticism and defense with a sweet left-handed swing,? Mayo said of the 18 year old.

Tags: Interview, Matthew Cerrone
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In July, I interviewed SS Amed Rosario. The Mets signed Rosario to a $1.75 million as a 16-year-old in 2012. Fast-forward all the way to 2013, where the 17-year-old hit .241/.279/.358 in 226 PA over 58 games with Kingsport in the Appalachian League.

Rosario is very young - every single at bat he hand in 2013 came against an older pitcher. He's very raw with a swing that will need to be rebuilt before he reaches the big leagues. I'll spend more time on that, with video in later posts. For now, enjoy this conversation that we conducted post-game, translated by KMets Manager Jose Leger.

Baseball

Tags: German Ahmed Rosario, Interview, Toby Hyde
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Savannah Sand Gnats' centerfielder Brandon Nimmo missed a month with first a bruised hand and then a strained glute that kept him out of action from April 29 through May 29. He and I talked about his hand last Wednesday. In the 12 games since his return, the 20-year old has hit .304/.385/.413 with four extra-base knocks, five walks and 16 strikeouts in 12 games.

Nimmo remains one of my favorite interviews. He's honest, thoughtful and answers questions directly.

 

Tags: Brandon Nimmo, Interview, Toby Hyde
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Jack Leathersich, the Mets' fifth round pick out the University of Lowell in the fifth round has put up some eye-popping numbers in his brief professional carer. In Savannah, in 24 innings, he struck out 37 and walked eight, fanning 40% of the batters to face him while putting up a 0.75 ERA (2 ER/24 IP).

His fastball sits in the low 90s, 91-93 mph on a given night. ?Hitters really do not seem to see it well out of his hand at all as he turns his back to the hitter in his motion. However, he believes that the key to his success has been an improved curveball born out of cleaner more repeatable mechanics.

He earned a promotion to advanced-A St. Lucie just one day after we sat down for this interview.

Tags: Interview, Jack Leathersich, Toby Hyde
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One of the most pleasant surprises for me in 2012 in the Mets' system has been the one start I saw from RHP Jacob DeGrom. In preparation for his second start tonight, enjoy this interview he and I did last week after his first start when he retired 20 of 21 batters to face him.

He missed the entire 2011 season recovering from Tommy John surgery performed in the fall of 2010. A shortstop for his first two years in Stetson, the coaches realized they were missing out on his good arm and tossed him on the hill in his junior year. The shock to the arm from playing a position, to the hefty demands of starting was too much for his UCL. He initially reported pain in the summer of 2010 with Kingsport and the Mets opted for a non-surgical rehab. When that failed to alleviate his pain, he had surgery in the fall.

You care because he already has a plus fastball. In his first start in Savannah, he was 93/94 mph with a little sink, and touched 97 and mixed in a few 91s as well. He has some feel for changing the shape of the slider and was not afraid to throw his changeup, which had good armspeed in the one outing I saw. ?He's got a nice pitcher's build at a lean 6'4" with long arms and legs.

Tags: Interview, Jacob deGrom, Toby Hyde
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Domingo Tapia took a no-hitter into the sixth inning last night. His performance in 2012 has been eye opening.

He uses his 6'4" frame and long arms to generate a special fastball. His heater has regularly been 95-98 mph, has touched 99, with plus sink. It alone can overpower South Atlantic League hitters.

A few weeks ago, I sat down with the 20-year old, for an interview, translated by Gnats' manager Luis Rojas. Due to the nature of translation, where Rojas was paraphrasing answers, presenting it as straight quotes did not seem not quite right.

Tags: Domingo Tapia, Interview, Toby Hyde
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I recently had the privilege to talk to Mets pitching prospect Eric Niesen. Niesen was drafted by the Mets in the 3rd round (99th overall) in the 2007 MLB Draft, out of Wake Forest University. In 2010, Niesen finished with a record of 4-6 with a 5.14 ERA for AA Binghamton. Niesen made 13 starts and 20 relief appearances.

On April 23, Niesen suffered a concussion after getting hit by a throw down to second by Luke Montz. Niesen would miss a month of action before returning on May 26. Here is the video of the scary incident.? Niesen would also go on to pitch for the Mesa Solar Sox of the AFL.? You can follow Eric on twitter @ericniesen

MD: Let's start with the freak injury that you suffered.? How are you feeling now, and talk about recovering from the concussion.

Tags: Eric Niesen, Get To Know, Interview
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I recently had the privilege in chatting with Mets pitching prospect Mark Cohoon.? Cohoon, the Mets Sterling Organizational Pitcher of the Year, finished 2010 with a record of 12-5 an ERA of 2.57 between Savannah (Low-A) and Binghamton (AA).? Cohoon was drafted by the Mets in the 12th round of the 2008 MLB Draft.

MD: How did it feel to be drafted by an organization like the New York Mets?

MC: It was awesome to be drafted by the New York Mets. To know I would have a chance to pitch in the greatest city in America is a major blessing. We have an amazing coaching staff and leaders who are serious about winning. The Mets are always competitive, and with the?grace of health will continue to fight for playoffs annually. I only hope to be a contributor to them in the future.

Tags: Get To Know, Interview, Mark Cohoon
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Today we will wrap the conversation I had with Mets pitching prospect, Collin McHugh.? McHugh was the Mets 18th round draft pick in 2008, out of Berry College.? Yesterday we got a chance to get to know Collin as a person a little bit, but today we talk to him about Collin the pitcher.

MD:? Considering you worked as a reliever and a starter, how would you asses your 2010 season as a whole?

CM: One word...Development! I learned a ton about myself as a pitcher this season. Having to work a bunch of different roles really stretches you in terms of preparation and focus. I feel like I am a natural starting pitcher. It's just the way God made me (personality and demeanor). However, you don't always get the choice in the minors, so it's your job to make the most of whatever position your in. I felt good about my year stats-wise. Other than a couple early inning meltdowns, I battled and succeeded in a bunch of different roles. I feel like that's the definition of Development...being able to keep a level head and keep pushing forward during a roller coaster season.

Tags: Collin McHugh, Get To Know, Interview
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