[Photo by Kate Kredo]
NEW ORLEANS ZEPHYRS:
It was a very long week for the Mets’ Triple-A club as the Zephyrs dropped their first five games of the week, including the last three games against the Sacramento River Cats—their opponent in last year’s PCL Championship series. They closed the week by dropping two of three to the Nashville Sounds The club is 5-11 in the month of May and currently sit at 21-21 good for third place in the PCL American South Division, two and a half games back of the leading Oklahoma RedHawks.
Val Pascucci: 6-24, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 3 R, 2 2B, 3 BB
The newly signed outfielder/first baseman is tearing the cover off the ball. In 17 games with the Zephyrs, he already ranks among Pacific Coast League leaders in home runs and is slugging a monster .734 with the team. He has hit home runs in consecutive games three times with New Orleans and is hitting .300 in the month of May. Right-handed pitching continues to be a test for Pascucci who is hitting only .206 against them, but rakes lefties at a .400 clip [12-for-30, five home runs].
Tony Armas: 1-1, 13 IP, 2 ER, 8 H, 13 K, 4 BB
The long-time veteran has been a boost to the Zephyrs staff, leading the club’s rotation with a 2.63 ERA in 54.2 innings pitched—numbers which do not back up his mere 2-4 record. In his first start on May 12, Armas went six innings, gave up two runs on six hits, struck out eight and took tough loss against Sacramento. He had better fortune on Saturday night when he threw seven shutout innings, walked just one and struck out five for his second victory of the season. That start continued his strong road trend. Away from Zephyr Field this season, Arms is 2-1 with a 2.10 ERA and a .170 opponent’s batting average.
Currently, the B-Mets are on their hottest streak of the season. They won six in a row heading into Sunday’s action, including a three-game sweep over the New Britain Rock Cats. Friday’s rainout did not slow them down as the captured the first two games against the Erie SeaWolves. The biggest factor in their streak has been clutch pitching. Each victory over the past week has been by no more than two runs. The B-Mets have won 9 of 10 and sit at 20-21, six and a half games back of the Trenton Thunder in the Eastern League Northern Division. The bad news for the B-Mets this week was the loss of Fernando Martinez for at least three weeks due to a hamstring pull.
Ambiorix Concepcion: 7-22, 3 R, RBI, 2 2B, 3 SB, BB
The B-Mets big bats continue to lead the way, but Concepcion aims to fill an important role in the sixth spot by doing the little things to keep the offense moving behind Daniel Murphy, Nick Evans and Mike Carp. Thanks to a strong May to date [13-for-39 in 12 games], Concepcion ‘s season looks to be on the rise and if he can continue to get the hits and make waves on the bases like he did this past week, it will make the B-Mets lineup that much deeper.
Jose Sanchez: 2-0, 12 IP, ER, 3 H, 8 K, 4 BB
Quietly, the 24-year-old right-hander has been stabilized the middle of the B-Mets rotation. His last two outings were the first in which he went six innings and in his May 17 start against Erie, he racked up a season-high in strikeouts with six. After a shaky April when he posted a 2-1 record with a 5.04 ERA, he has found his stride, posting a 2.49 ERA in May. Sanchez, not a hard thrower, has made large improvements in his second season in Binghamton by limiting the home runs he has given up and kept his opponent’s batting average to .233—down from .281 last year. His four wins to date match his win total from 2007.
ST. LUCIE METS:
Unlike their counterparts in the Eastern League, the St. Lucie Mets have regressed into their coldest spell of the season. After gaining some momentum at the end of April with back-to-back series wins, the club has since lost ten games in a row and 13 of 14. However, the onus has been on the St. Lucie offense which has plated more than five runs just twice in the last two weeks—one was their lone win on May 6. St. Lucie now sits at 8-34, 18 games behind the Palm Beach Cardinals in the Florida State League Eastern Division.
Tobi Stoner: 12 IP, 2 ER, 11 H, 12 K, BB
Stoner set the tone for the week of strong starting pitching when he threw six innings and allowed only one run last Sunday against the Fort Myers Miracle. It was the second straight start in which he went six innings. After starting the season a bit later than his peers in the rotation [five starts against nine starts for others], he has firmly set himself as a presence and a leader because of his experience. His 2.39 ERA leads all St. Lucie starters and he has not allowed more than two earned runs in any starts.
Dylan Owen: 12 IP, ER, 11 H, 9 K, 2 BB
Owen has been a trendsetter in his own right after experiencing a bump in the road in late April. Since giving up ten earned runs in two starts on April 20 and 25, he has surrendered just four earned runs over his last 22 innings, including his starts last week. On May 12, he threw six shutout innings against the Vero Beach Rays in which he struck out a season-high eight hitters. After getting off to a 1-3 start with a 4.39 ERA in April, Owen is 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA in four May starts. He leads the St. Lucie staff with 48.2 innings pitched which is also good for sixth in the entire Florida State League.
Dillon Gee: 7 IP, ER, 5 H, 8 K, BB
Gee wanted in on the action this week as well but came out the tough luck loser on May 13 when his earned run was the only run scored in a 1-0 loss to Vero Beach. Like Owen, Gee has become stronger since the calendar flipped to May. After posting a 1-2 record with a 5.04 ERA in five April starts, he owned a 2.75 ERA in three May starts entering Sunday despite mirroring his 1-2 record. One trend that has bit Gee is his earned run average with runners on base. With the bases empty, Gee possesses an ideal 0.34 ERA, but with runners on and then in scoring position, his earned run average inflates to 9.50 and 17.36 respectively. Those numbers are a sign that pitching from the stretch is still a learning point for the right-hander. His eight strikeouts last week were a season-high.
Though the Sandgnats posted just a 3-3 record for the week, the young club showed valuable wherewithal by maintaining a competitive edge in very close games. Atypical for their season, Savannah played in three one-run games this week and another two-run game, splitting the results of those contests. The three games they took from the Asheville Tourists this week was just their second three-game win streak of the season—their first since the opening three games of the year.
Michael Parker: 7-21, 4 RBI, 3 R, 3 2B, 3B
Parker began the season in Extended Spring Training but was added to the Savannah roster at the start of the month to give the Sandgnats roster a little bit more age and hopefully a booster of leadership. Though only in his second season, the 23-year-old infielder/outfielder can fill in a role when needed because of his strong athleticism and good contact swing. In 14 games so far with Savannah, Parker is hitting .260 with 10 RBI, including four multi-RBI games.
Maikel Cleto: 0-2, 11.2 IP, 3 ER, 10 H, 12 K, 3 BB
The 19-year-old right-hander continues to impress despite owning a 0-3 record. After starting the season in the bullpen where he made three appearances totaling nine innings [six earned runs], Cleto has a 4.26 ERA in six starts [31.2 innings]. In his first start of the week, Cleto took the loss even though did not give up an earned run as two errors behind him led directly to runs. Numbers aside, attention is building around the flame-throwing teenager who should remain in the Sandgnats rotation for the rest of the season.