Down on the Farm: Wheeler, den Dekker, Flores impress
Here are four questions/statements that you might be asking yourself two months into the minor league season.
Is there a true ace in the Mets system?
One of the biggest weaknesses within the Mets organization is the lack of a bonafide #1 starting pitcher. Many fans believe that Matt Harvey is going to be that ace. But the rest of the league looks at him differently. Most see Harvey as a 2/3 starter. But that doesn’t mean there’s not a true ace down in Binghamton. There’s the case of Zack Wheeler, the lone piece acquired for Carlos Beltran at the deadline last season.
Wheeler has dealt with control issues throughout his career and he’s dealing with them again. However, the walks tend to get lost behind the blazing fastball, and strikeout totals he pumps out in each start. After a rocky debut, Wheeler has really shined in Binghamton. He’s K’d 29% of the batters faced, keeping hitters in the Eastern League at a .189 AVG. He has a WHIP of 1.17 and his BABIP is .279, a huge improvement from last season (BABIP .361).
The negative part of Wheeler’s game is his inability to control all pitches. He walks 4.54 per game, a 3-walk increase from last season. Keep this in mind when you try to explain that he deserves a promotion to Queens. It’s one thing to have the shiny numbers, but real success is when you can locate and control all pitches. He’s starting to come into his own and Mets fans should be excited. Wheeler has dominated Double-A hitters and looks destined for a call-up. Get ready for Wheeler in 2013.
What happened to that slick fielding centerfielder from Spring Training?
If you’re asking yourself this question, you’re thinking of Binghamton’s Matt Den Dekker. The 24-year-old Florida Gator has turned a corner and is starting to become an all-around hitter in Double-A.
Prior to the season, experts questioned his bat and his eye at the plate. As an older prospect, there’s not much room for error. With his talents, den Dekker is making the most of what he has. A combined slash of .310/.371/.523, den Dekker is starting to use his tools to the fullest extent, which he’ll need to master to extend to the next level. His success is impressive after he looked completely lost last season in Binghamton.
den Dekkker brings a nice package to the table. His glove in centerfield is highly touted. He has the bat that would strive in the alleys at Citi. But he doesn’t have the patience to be the leadoff hitter that most want him to be. Last season, den Dekker struck out 156 times and only walked 51 times. He’s singing a similar tune this season, striking out 44 times and walking 14 times.
His patience at the plate will determine if he becomes a regular. The stats are pretty good right now, but in reality, the Mets have a really nice 4th/5th outfielder in den Dekker.
Let me get what St. Lucie is drinking, sir!
The St. Lucie Mets are running away with the Florida St. League title. They are currently 34-11 and have a commanding 11.5 game lead over the Charlotte Stone Crabs. But more importantly, Wilmer Flores is becoming the Wilmer Flores we’ve been waiting for.
Flores, 20, is hitting .310 with 7 HRs and 25 RBI. He’s drawing walks and is finally showing fans that we should get excited. I applaud Sandy Alderson and company for not promoting Flores to Binghamton because he was not ready. In past years, Flores might have been promoted, but the Mets are now developing their prospects and it’s paying off.
This season, Flores has been moved to third base and has committed 5 errors thus far. It’s important to note that this is Flores’ first season at third. If he reaches the big leagues, I think the Mets will throw him in a corner outfield spot. If his bat develops like it’s supposed to, maybe he can play first (and the Mets can move Ike Davis to pitcher! :-)). At this point in the season, I find myself searching the St. Lucie box score nightly to see how Flores is doing. Yes, I am excited.
Is Erik Goeddel a steal from the 2010 draft?
Here’s a pitcher who has been under the radar for the Mets. Erik Goeddel was once a high-toutEd High school pitcher. He played in the AFLAC All-American game as a teenager, then took his talents to UCLA. There, he battled injuries constantly, which caused him to drop to the 24th round of the 2010 MLB Draft, where the Mets took a risk and threw him a nice bonus.
Money well spent, so far.
Goeddel has shined in St. Lucie this season. The 23-year-old is 2-1 with a 1.29 ERA, striking out 22 in 28 innings. I’d like to believe that Goeddel is healthy and can take on a starter’s workload. The decision the Mets will have to make at the end of this year is whether he will start or relieve at the big league level. Goeddel is known for possessing a mid-90s fastball, with a devastating upper-80s slider, which would make you think he’s destined to be a late-inning reliever.
I spoke to Jim Callis of Baseball America. Here’s what he said:
He’s a decent prospect but not a top guy, maybe a No. 4 starter or seventh-inning reliever.
Either way, he’s in line for a promotion and it will be well deserved.