AAA Norfolk Tides- Pat Strange, RHP
In two starts last week, Tides starter Pat Strange pitched nine innings, allowed eight hits, just two earned runs and issued no walks, while striking out four batters. While the nine innings in two starts may seem unimpressive, the quality of the innings he turned in for the team by the Harbor is of more significance. However, the context in which they came may be the most important thing.
A few years back, Pat Strange was the Mets’ brightest pitching prospect. Drafted in the second round out of a Massachusetts high school, Strange was on the fast pace to the Major Leagues, and he indeed had a cup of coffee in the Majors last season. Since that brief appearance in the big leagues, in which he was shelled by Philadelphia, Strange had been coming out of the bullpen, and the results were not pretty. Just 23 years old, the Mets finally put him back in the rotation, and, armed with the splitter they had forced him to shelve, Strange is once again flashing his potential.
He’s most likely third in line for a call up to the Majors, behind Aaron Heilman and Jeremy Griffiths, but with James Baldwin designated for assignment and the flip of Matt Ginter and Tyler Yates, Strange should have a spot in the Norfolk rotation for the rest of the season.
AA Binghamton Mets- Justin Huber, C
Huber busted out in a big way this week, hitting .529 (9/17) with a double and two RBI. While striking out only three times, he also worked two walks, showing the patience the Mets know he possesses. Although 3B David Wright had a better week in terms of power (1 homerun, 4 2Bs, 5 RBI along with 4 BB), Huber displayed a dramatic turnaround from his early season slump after returning from a strained pectoral muscle.
Huber will spend the majority, if not all, of the 2004 season at AA, where he finished last year. Just 22, Huber needs to work on his defense, as his raw ability needs to be refined into better catch-throw skills. Mike Jacobs, who is at AAA, gives the Mets a convenient roadblock for Huber, who will likely start in Norfolk next year. With Mike Piazza assuming mostly 1B duties now, the stage is set for either Huber or Jacobs to establish himself as the Mets’ catcher of the future. The smart money is on the more talented Aussie, Justin Huber.
A+ St. Lucie Mets- Kevin Deaton, RHP
While he made just one start this week, Mets righty Kevin Deaton made that one outing count. The 22-year old went six innings, giving up only four hits, one run (which was unearned), walking none and striking out eight batters.
Deaton, who is a bit old for the Florida State League, is second in line for a promotion to AA Binghamton, behind prized lefthander Scott Kazmir, who has been sidelined with a groin strain. He is a hard thrower, and should start next year at NYSEG Stadium. At that point, the Mets could have him in AAA by the middle of the year, depending on the development of Matt Peterson and Bob Keppel, more advanced righthanders.
A- Capital City Bombers- Matthew Lidstrom, RHP
Normally, 24-years old would be a bit more than advanced for the Sally League, but Lidstrom is an exception: he had no pitching coach in high school or college, and he spent two years away from baseball at a Mormon mission. Thus, his development is right on course, as shown in his numbers for the Bombers.
In two starts this week, Lidstrom threw 10 innings, giving up six runs (only three earned) on seven hits, walking none and striking out ten. Obviously, his command and stuff were much better than the defense behind him, which was responsible for three of the runs he allowed. In fact, when balls were put into play, the batters hit at a .266 clip; this while Lidstrom yielded no homeruns. For his unlucky yet strong efforts, he gets the nod as A- Capital City Player of the Week this week.
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