Arizona Fall League Preview

Mike Carp looks to get his swing back on track

It may be an assignment not as sought after as Hawaii, but the Arizona Fall League certainly gives a select few the opportunity to work on shortcomings that plagued them during the season, or continue to work on strong points. The Arizona Fall League kicks off tonight as seven members of the Mets' system will join the Scottsdale Scorpions. Here is a rundown of who is heading west.

Eddie Kunz: Brooklyn Cyclones
Regular Season: 12 G, 12 IP, 0-1, 6.75 ERA, 5 saves, 9 K, 8 BB

The Mets' top overall draft pick joined the Cyclones late during the NY-Penn League season after signing in late July. Kunz was inconsistent at times, usually finding trouble as a result of walks. He gave up seven runs over three of his last ten appearances, walking six during in those three outings. Yet overall, Kunz displayed his natural talent, routinely inducing groundballs with his heavy 94-96 MPH sinker which led to a 6.50 groundball-to-flyball ratio. However, his focus during the fall season will be the further development of his changeup. It has been a pitch in the making for him all season as he mixed it on the corners, but it will be his top priority this fall.


Mike Nickeas: Binghamton Mets
Regular Season: 92 G, .214, HR, 19 RBI, 38 runs

The backstop bounced back and forth this year between Binghamton and St. Lucie with the majority of his time and production came with Binghamton, where he hit his home run and drove in 15 of his RBI. The 24-year-old catcher has been a light-hitter most of his career, but his mission in Arizona will be to further round out his defense. It should be no surprise in a system rather thin at catcher right now, that he, like Sean McCraw in Hawaii, both received winter invites to keep them hungry, playing and constantly developing.


Mike Carp: Binghamton Mets
Regular Season: 97 G, .251, 11 HR, 48 RBI, 55 runs, 2 SB

Carp, the Mets' Sterling Award winner in 2006 for his play in St. Lucie, really had a tough time finding his stride this season. He got off to a respectable start during his first month with the B-Mets, hitting .267 with two runs in his first 75 at-bats that were spread across numerous postponements. However, a broken ring finger suffered in early May sidelined him nearly six weeks, and when he did come back, he played the rest of the year through ticky-tack injuries. Now he is off to Arizona to regain the stroke that allowed him to hit .286 with 17 home runs and 87 RBI in 2006. Carp no doubt will look to this season as a way to kick off 2008, which appears to be ever more important with each passing month.


Caleb Stewart: Binghamton Mets
Regular Season: 125 G, .252, 16 HR, 69 RBI, 63 runs, 4 SB

The 25-year-old outfielder was one of the thumpers for the B-Mets all season long. He got off to a red hot start in the first half of the season, hitting .280 with 13 home runs. He was the Player of the Month for May, he earned an Eastern League All-Star selection, and was even the home run derby champion. However, he slipped in the second as he played through a left oblique strain, watching his second half average dip down below the Mendoza Line to .199. In part because of his sputtering to the finish line, Stewart will use this chance to recollect his swing and tools with eyes on raking opposing pitching at a new level in 2008.


Carlos Muniz: Binghamton Mets
Regular Season: 44 G, 58.2 IP, 2-4, 2.45 ERA, 23 saves, 62 K, 17 BB

Muniz was real solid as the Binghamton closer this season, his second consistent year after shutting down games for St. Lucie in 2006. His sinking two-seam fastball in the low 90s worked for him all season as he infrequently found himself in trouble. He allowed sixty baserunners in his 58.2 IP in Binghamton with a 9.51 K/9 innings pitched ratio. That sure-hand earned him a spot on New Orleans during the Triple-A stretch run where he pitched 5.2 scoreless innings in three appearances. His season finally ended with the big club at Shea where he threw 2.1 innings. He has shown solid progression over the last two seasons, and this slot in Arizona is a sure way to keep Muniz sharp and working on his secondary pitches—his slider and changeup.


Adam Bostick: New Orleans Zephyrs
Regular Season: 21 G, 97 IP, 6-7, 5.66 ERA, 91 K, 45 BB

The 24-year-old right-hander (the youngest member of the Zephyrs' rotation) had a rocky start during his first year in the system. His ERA was high and he lacked consistency as he was frequently unable to string together quality starts for the PCL runner-ups. However, there is promise for Bostick who has a good fastball, crisp slider, respectable changeup and curve. It is simply about making his game all come together. The fact that he remained on the Triple-A roster all season despite struggles speaks to his natural abilities which the organization hopes he will harness in Arizona.


Eddie Camacho: New Orleans Zephyrs
Regular Season: 46 G, 71.1 IP, 3-2, 3.41 ERA, 67 K, 21 BB

The southpaw's stay in Arizona should be his last work in the minor leagues barring any unforeseen circumstances. He arrived in New Orleans this season after short stays in St. Lucie and Binghamton where he gave up a combined four earned runs in 24.2 innings pitched. He posted a 4.44 ERA with New Orleans but was a reliable arm in the bullpen, appearing in 32 games as the team raced to the playoffs. Camacho already possesses a fairly lethal changeup and strong command of both his four-seam and two-seam fastballs, which although neither will overpower hitters, thanks to his changeup they can be deceptively fast. His work in Arizona will certainly be focused on two areas—the further maturation of his slider and his work against left-handers. Those two details will go hand-in-hand as he uses his sliders to effectively pitch away from lefties with break, rather than hitters sitting on his fastball or changeup.

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