Monday, November 24, 2008

A Gun Slinger Named Holt:

Okay before I go into why I think Bradley Holt is the closest thing to a pitching sure shot in the Mets lower farm system, let me have a little fun with just his name. It holds no true value and certainly does not have a check box next to a player evaluator in any scouting system anywhere. But come on. “Now taking the mound Bradley Holt.” “The Holt 45.” “And the Braves playoff run has come to a screeching Holt.” I admit that last one was a stretch but you have to admit the guy has a good baseball name. This being said, I am still dumbfounded that a guy who’s name was (and to my knowledge still is)Butch Husky is not preparing his hall of fame speech right now. So we better play it safe and look at the player. Just in case the name doesn’t pan out.
Born: October 13, 1986. Sorry, that is the second time that October of 1986 has come up and it has been eating me alive trying to remember why that month and year are so important to me.

Drafted: 2008 Compensatory pick out of the University of North Carolina. Worthy of note, the draft pick the Mets got for not resigning Tom Glavine after he concluded his Mets career with “Just like any other game. Do I have enough sky miles to fly me and my family back to Atlanta?”

Vitals: Throws right handed (How rare…) Builds around his fast ball. Radar reports vary but most have his heater in the 91-94 range. Throws 3 pitches for strikes and this time next year it should be four.
Took a perfect game into the 6th inning of his second professional start.

Stats: 14 Starts all with the Brooklyn Cyclones. 5W 3L – 1.87 ERA – 96 K – 72.1 IP –
It should also be noted that as endearing as a 1.87 ERA is on July 29, 2008 he gave up 7 walks, 3 hits, 3 earned runs in 3.1 innings of work. His ERA for a day when he could not get out of the 4th inning was 8.10 he still managed 2 strikeouts. What I like to see here is: In the previous game he went 6 innings gave up no earned runs and struck out 14 on July 24. The lousy game happened. How did he respond? With pure heart. On August 3rd he went six strong innings giving up one run, 4 hits, 3 walks and struck out 5. This tells me? He had a bad start. Shook it off. Made adjustments i.e. he only struck out 5 and relied more on his brain than he did his arm. Without the game on July 24, his ERA would have been around 1.25.

Potential: I had to be careful when I did my first write up on Josh Thole because between the time I started to research him and the time I started to write, a buzz had begun to … well buzz. This time I am pulling no punches. I have seen Holt pitch in person he appears to have the heart of a lion and the brain of a UNC graduate.
X Factor: another thing you can’t research on the web, is this kid’s determination and ability to make adjustments. He already seems to have the on field demeanor of a big leaguer. In my opinion it is just a Question of when. I predict Citi Field in some capacity by 2010. You heard me. That is the season after next.

Up-Side: He did four years in college so is likely on the fast track. I don’t think he will need more than 75-85 innings in AA ball before people start to talk. He possesses tremendous control of his fastball to the point were I would almost say he throws 2 different fast balls as well as a change up. Very high ceiling. Just for comparison, I did not see as much potential in Pelfrey or Heilman after they were drafted. I won’t discuss the gentleman down in Tampa who I saw a lot of potential in as well.

Down-Side: Secondary pitches take time to develop, and even more time to master. At this stage in his career he seems to reach for the fastball a little to soon and often when the count does not necessarily call for an out pitch yet. Big leaguers will see that and make him pay in sums of great pride. He needs to spend next year mastering his secondary pitches. He does have the motion and build to throw a good cutter (that’s a cut fast ball to all of you non catchers out there, and a slider to anybody over the age of fifty. Maybe he can start to develop one of those.

The Mets Very Own Joe Maur? Or The Curse Of The Soutpaw?

Josh Thole played most of the year behind the plate in Port St. Lucie and had been selected to the Florida State League Mid –Season and post season All Star team. Mr. Thole is presently playing in the winter leagues and from what I have read thus far, his numbers in winter ball are likely to improve before I am done typing. (7:56 a.m. November 14, 2008)
Born: October 28, 1986 – Now what do I remember most about October of ’86. I forget
Drafted: 2005 player draft. 13th round (389 overall).
Born: 10/28/1986
Vitals: Bats Left Throws Right. 82 point disparity between batting average and on base percentage. Struck out 38 times in 347 at bats. (Puts ball in play almost 90%)
Stats: St Lucie 2008: .300 avg. -111 games – 347 AB – 49 R – 104 H – 25 2b– 2 3b - 5 HR – 56 RBI – 45 BB – 2 SB. - .427 SLG.
AFL 2008: (up to the minute) .368 avg. – 16 g– 58 AB – 15 R – 21 H – 1 2b – 2 HR – 15 RBI – 1 SB for good measure. He only struck out 4 times in 58 at bats. Did I mention that he has plate discipline?

Potential: Difficult to predict as he has not played AA ball as of yet. With main focus on patience and pitch selection possible spring training invite, subsequent promotion to Binghamton. He could work his way north to Buffalo as soon as July 2009. Then its anybodies' guess. His numbers in the AFL are starting to create a little buzz. Trade bait? Could he be the future starting catcher at Citi Field? Back up catcher to big league club? We must keep in mind that the area behind the plate wherever the Mets play is the closest piece of real estate the Mets have to the coveted centerfield at Yankee Stadium. And we sure do have an affection for our own home grown talent.
I would need to see more at the higher levels to be definitive. I hope he gets an invite to spring training because I plan to make a few trips down there next year. I would need to see the way he calls a game against A-level big leaguers.
Up-Side: Patience and plate discipline (or didn't I mention that.Josh batted .667 in 12 at bats vs. left handed pitching in the AFL. Lefty against Lefty, advantage: Pitcher)
X-Factor Josh has only recently become a full (or most of the) time catcher. When it comes to defense behind the plate, I do not trust any other reports but my own. As a catcher myself, I need to be in the building to see his a) Footwork. b) Arm. More specifically how he gets his throws off. Are his throws merely academic? or does he have that look in his eyes that every good catcher should have? The look that sees the runner and says “Dead.”
A possible“Down Side” believe it or not is the fact that he bats left handed. I have never seen any organization with this problem, but the Mets have too many left handed everything. This may prove a short term disadvantage but when all is said and done if the player rises to the league and does not wait for the league to lower itself to the player (which seems to be the case in the early stages) there will be room for him. Hell we learned to live with a left handed batting catcher for a good chunk of the big club's season this year. But this could be an eventual...
Down Side He was drafted in 2005 and has not crossed A-ball. Again, in a world where lefties are rare, and even more rare in baseball players, the Mets have found a way to have too many. (The best example I can think of to elaborate on this point just in cas I haven't beat it to death and again back to life is, Ryan Church of the big club. The man went through hell to get back on the field, having began to prove his critics wrong by hitting left handed pitching at the beginning of the season, returns just in time to have to face southpaws in six of his first seven starts. The Transition may have been easier if they did not already have Delgado, Chavez, Schneider and often Daniel Murphy in the same lineup) Of course this is the kind of problem baseball teams generally wish for. And considering how patient he is at such a young age this should be no great obstacle.
Finally: Consider this, there were 2 catchers selected in the first round that year and by the 79th pick (all supplemental rounds included) 6 catchers had been selected. This was also the same draft that brought us such names as Ryan Braun, Jacoby Elsbury, Ryan Zimmerman, Troy Tulowiyski, Clay Bucholz and the Mets own Mike Pelfrey. Surely this could be a draft were a great talent was overlooked until the mid rounds. Anybody remember a Mets back stop who was drafted with the last pick of the last round (as a favor to Tommy Lasorda I might add.. well I did add) by the Dodgers in the early 90s? All told, I like the numbers this kid is putting up. I must admit to being (on ocasion) a little too optimistic when it comes to Mets farm hands because the first name I think of when I see a lefty hitting catcher is Joe Maur. I will conveniently overlook the offensive numbers of the Mets present (8:32 a.m. November 13, 2008) catcher, also a lefty.

Monday, November 10, 2008

F-Mart Update:

Fernando Martinez has been dominating the Dominican winter league. In 41 at bats, Martinez is hitting .341 with 2 home runs, 3 doubles, and a triple.