Kyle Schnitzer's biggest memory as a Mets fan is when Carlos Beltran went down on strike 3 against Adam Wainwright in game 7 of the NLCS. Since then, he hasn't expected much from the Mets. The new regime gives him hope. When he's not writing here, he's writing somewhere else, bussing tables, tweeting, or riding his bike. Follow him on Twitter: @dakyleschnitzer
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Mets Pitching Prospect: Steven Matz

steven-matz-2

Steven Matz has endured one of the most stressful and unexpected journeys of any player in the New York Mets farm system. Selected in the 2nd round in the 2009 MLB Draft, it’s taken Matz four years to pitch in full-season ball. But he’s finally here.

After Tommy John surgery and two years of rehab, Matz debuted with Kingsport in 2012. Matz impressed in 6 starts, striking out 34 in 29 innings of work, while keeping opponents hitting .158. On the bad side, he was prone to giving up the walk, walking 17 in his limited innings. Matz was temporarily shut down with arm troubles and understands that the 2013 season is important for him.

“I just want to play the whole season healthy,” said Matz. “And keep my walks down. Those are my two main goals.”

Walks were a concern while Matz was with Kingsport, but he seems to have fixed the issue at Savannah. Matz and the Mets decided recently that they wanted to scrap the curveball. “The [curveball] wasn’t consistent. I just wanted a breaking ball that I can throw more for a strike.”

Former Cy Young winner and current Savannah Sand Gnats pitching coach Frank Viola went more in-depth about the scraping of the curveball and how the “slurve” benefits Matz.

“The organization, him, and I. Basically what it is is like a slurve, a hard curveball, but we’re calling it a slider. It’s got late break, depth, but it goes according to his arm slot with a fastball and change-up. It’s the absolute perfect pitch to throw at the arm slot he is at,” said Viola. “And he can throw it two ways, as a strike pitch or a put away pitch. The more he throws it, the better he develops it, the more he can put two together and really make that a very advantageous pitch.”

Matz admits his best off-speed pitch is his change-up. In his outing on April 26 against West Virginia, Matz said he threw 17 changeups. “I don’t really have a true strikeout pitch,” said Matz. “I can get a lot of guys to chase on a high fastball.”

In that West Virginia start, Matz struggled to stay in the game. He was yanked after reaching his pitch count in 4.1 IP, allowing two earned runs on four hits, while talking two and striking out three. Frank Viola believes that start was the start of a new side to Matz.

“The other night was the first night I saw any resemblance of anger, feistiness, what have you. He had to leave, came out in the fifth inning, and had the no-decision because he didn’t complete the five innings because of the pitch count,” explained Viola. “And he threw the glove down, said a couple of choice words, but it was the first time I saw a little fire in his belly, which personally, is a great sign in my opinion.”

“I know it’s there and you have to realize, he’s played professional ball for 2 ½ years but he only has 10 professional starts. He’s had some experience but he doesn’t have a lot of experience from the mound itself. So every time on the mound is a learning experience and I think by the all-star break you are going to see a completely different Steven Matz.”

Viola hinted that Matz may not be around when the All-Star game comes around. Matz could be on the fast track to St. Lucie, but it all depends on whether the lefty can stay healthy. “I really believe he’s that close to really putting it together,” said Viola.

“Just to mentally keep it together with all the crap he’s gone through is pretty tough…You’re exactly right, many people wouldn’t be able to do that. He’s maintained it, he’s learned from it, and he’s using it to his advantage now.”

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Rounds 2-10: Stankiewicz, Reynolds, a Hawaiian, and College guys

Matt Reynolds

After the first ten rounds, the Mets philosophy is structured around saving money. The front office has not necessarily drafted the best players available, but after sleeping on last night’s decisions, I’m actually humming a different tune. The Mets seem to be drafting pieces, instead of players, which isn’t necessarily bad. By this, I mean that the team isn’t trying to find the next superstar. It’s a philosophy that the Tampa Bay Rays have mastered, which has fueled their success at the MLB level.

Here’s my best attempt to explain why they picked who they did and what those players bring to the table.

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First Round: Mets draft Cecchini, Plawecki

Gavin Cecchini, your future shortstop

If you haven’t heard yet, the 2012 MLB Rule 4 draft started on Monday. This year is much different from past years, as hard slotting has taken effect. Each team is assigned a certain amount of money, which can be used for bonuses. This prevents big-market teams from drafting players later in the draft who might have gone earlier, but fell due to bonus demands. The draft is modeled with the intent of the small teams getting the better players. It also forces the kids being drafted to decide if they really want to dedicate their lives to baseball professionally, if they aren’t getting first-round money.

Last year, the Mets went in a different direction from the past. After selecting Brandon Nimmo and Michael Fulmer, two high school players in the first round, the Mets flooded their draft board with college arms and toolsy high school players.

In the past, Mets fans were used to seeing college players drafted year after year. Some say it was used to save money, but at the time, the Mets were in contention or believed to be able to contend. The positives with drafting college kids is that a) they’re fairly well-developed, so you you have a good idea of what you’re getting; and b) they might not require as much time in the minors. The downsides: a) they usually don’t have as much “upside” or projectable talent as a high schooler; and b) you don’t get to develop them yourself.

After the jump, you can read my analysis by the New York Mets’ first two selections in this draft. Keep checking back for updates on each pick (until it’s a crapshoot).

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Johan Santana Teams Up with Mets for Tuesday’s Children

Johan Santana might have thrown a shutout against the Padres, but he made his best pitch to help those affected by 9/11/01. The Johan Santana Foundation and The Mets Foundation teamed up by donating $20,000 to Tuesday’s Children.

Tuesday’s Children announced a new effort to help Spanish-speaking families of the 9/11 community. They strike to help the families who lost loved ones in the attacks or had members that were first responders.

Terry Sears, executive director of Tuesday’s Children, was extremely thankful. “Thanks to the generosity of Johan Santana and the unwavering support of the New York Mets, Tuesday’s Children will be able to strengthen outreach to Spanish-speaking family members and first responders.”

“We are deeply indebted to Johan, the New York Mets and the Wilpon family for their continuing commitment to our families.”

Santana is known for focusing his charity efforts in his hometown of Venezuela. “It was important to do something here in New York and the community, especially for the Spanish community,” said Santana. “It is very important and it’s a pleasure.”

New York Mets COO Jeff Wilpon was on hand for event, congratulating Santana for his generosity.

Tuesday’s Children is a non-profit family service organization that aims to help those impacted by the events of Steptember 11, 2001. For more information, visit www.tuesdayschildren.org and www.johansantana.org.

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