In this first installment, Inside Pitch looks back at its preseason predictions for individual…
Binghamton Mets Season in Review
Eastern League Northern Division – Last Place
PITCHER OF THE YEAR:
Ryan Coultas: 4-3, 2.78 ERA, 11 GS, 64 2/3 IP, 33 K, 19 BB, .249 OBA
This was the toughest choice of any category for any of the affiliate as the B-Mets pitching staff was routinely roughed up throughout the season. The right-hander was shut down in early June because of a torn labrum, but nonetheless, he was the rotation's ERA leader and provided a more consistent number of quality starts than any other B-Mets starter. His best stretch came in May when he went 3-1 with a 2.23 ERA in five starts with a .202 opponent's batting average.
The injury was a significant blow for one of the organization's best storylines. Coultas, two years removed from his job as a utility infielder, took off with his new opportunity and showed an impressive blend of three pitches including a strong changeup that rivaled many in the system. Now the 27-year-old's future is much in doubt following labrum surgery but his mark on the B-Mets staff was felt early and often in 2009.
Eric Niesen: 4-7, 4.66 ERA 16 GS, 83 IP, 85 K, 41 BB, .246 OBA [with Binghamton]
Niesen's contributions stretched across two levels this season. He got off to a very rough start in Double-A, taking a loss in all four outings in June with a 7.64 ERA. His results were not much more positive in July when he went 1-2 with a 6.38 ERA in five starts, but the left-hander found his rhythm in August and September as he went 3-1 with a 2.37 ERA in five starts capped by a 3-to-1 K/BB ratio and sub-.200 opponent's batting average.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR:
Ike Davis: .309, 13 HR, 43 RBI, 30 R, 14 2B, 26 BB, .386 OBP, .951 OPS
Davis' 2009 campaign got off to a very positive start when he hit .288 with seven home runs and 28 RBI in 59 games in St. Lucie before his promotion, but his season really took off upon his arrival in Binghamton. He struggled some at the start as he hit just .256 with three home runs and 15 RBI in his first 21 games, but following the Eastern League All-Star Break, Davis could not be stopped. In 34 games, he hit .341 with ten home runs and 28 RBI with a .401 on-base percentage. Ultimately, his 20 home runs and 71 RBI led the organization.
Josh Thole: .328, 1 HR, 46 RBI, 48 R, 29 2B, 42 BB, .395 OBP, .816 OPS
The power production was limited for the B-Mets backstop, but his .328 average ranked second in the Eastern League and 38 points higher than any other catcher in the league. A cool August during which he hit .259 dropped the mark as he was hitting .346 and leading the league heading into the month. Impressively, the left-handed hitting catcher split his average right down the middle, hitting .328 against both left-handed (38-for-116) and right-handed (88-for-268) pitchers. It is also the third consecutive season in which Thole walked more than he struck out.
Ruben Tejada: .289, 5 HR, 46 RBI, 59 R, 24 2B, 37 BB, 19 SB, .351 OBP, .732 OPS
The B-Mets shortstop got off to a slow start as he hit .222 in April with nine RBI and questions arose as to whether or not he was ready for the level. Tejada answered those questions by hitting .298 for the rest of the season including a .306 mark after the All-Star Break. He saved his best for last by hitting .313 over his final 33 games with his highest OPS of the season.
ARRIVED ON THE SCENE:
Ike Davis: Following a poor showing in 2008, Davis got things headed in the right direction during his time in St. Lucie but it was not until his summer in Binghamton did he start receiving national recognition. His 2009 effort has vaulted him near the top of the organization's best prospects and possibly moved up his big league ETA by a full year. Now observers want to see if he can continue his momentum next spring and whether it will turn into a big league promotion.
Ruben Tejada: Tejada's name was already known for the Mets willingness to push him into A-ball and above as a teenager, but the shortstop has made believers out of many due to his growth and success in Double-A this season. His greater strike zone recognition, added power and improved defense makes him a very viable big league candidate who could arrive sooner than expected.
Josh Thole: As expected for the would-be Rule 5 draft eligible catcher, Thole cracked the 40-man roster this September. His strong showing thus far only adds to the expectations that Thole could break camp with the big league club next season. He will be direct competition for a job on the 25-man roster, but if he does not end up in New York in April, he will go Triple-A and be only one phone call away.
Brad Holt: The right-hander was inconsistent during his 11 starts in Double-A this summer. His struggles were the first of his career and now he must show resiliency in bouncing back next season when he could rejoin the B-Mets. Observers and fans alike want to see if Holt will be ready to contribute in some fashion in New York next season. As one of the organization's leading pitching prospects, the magnifying glass will certainly be focused on Holt.
Jenrry Mejia: The 19-year-old made it all the way to Binghamton just one summer after pitching in the Gulf Coast League and has become the organization's top arm in some circles. A finger injury disrupted his time with the B-Mets and he was used in limited time upon his return. Nonetheless, 22 earned runs allowed in 44 1/3 innings was a rude welcoming to the Eastern League where Mejia figures to start next season.
Keep Tabs On…
Shawn Bowman: Bowman, who is Rule 5 eligible this season, is the corner infielder closest to the big leagues. He missed time in the middle of the season due to a back strain and left the club early to play in the World Cup, but the third baseman showed, when healthy, he is a capable contact hitter with solid game power (though his power never returned to levels before his initial back injury). His high strikeout ratio (4/1 K/BB in '09) is a scar on an otherwise advanced game, but his makeup and glove (one of the best in the system) could carry if he makes it through the Rule 5 Draft.
Eric Niesen: Backed up by his own recent history in the organization, the left-hander struggled early following his promotion, but eventually settled in and pitched well once he adapted. When on, Niesen's fastball velocity and slider make him very effective from the left side but the lack of a truly reliable third pitch could create another period of adversity as he moves up to Triple-A.
Roy Merritt: The left-hander's season was marked by inconsistency. After a sharp April in which he allowed three earned runs in 13 2/3 innings and picked up nine saves, he endured peaks and valleys in his ERA (6.35 in May, 0.77 in June, 8.68 in July, 2.03 in August). But Merritt's unique, low-sidearm delivery and slider, that when working has frisbee like movement, makes him an candidate to keep advancing where he could ultimately become a LOOGY for the Mets. After struggling in just 7 2/3 innings with St. Lucie in 2008, Merritt jumped all the way to Binghamton where his full body of work was enough to maintain an eye on him, simply to see where he goes from here.
Lucas Duda: Duda was forced out of his first base position when Ike Davis arrived in Binghamton, but a move to the outfield was inevitable for the 2007 7th round pick. Duda possesses good raw power but it has yet to wholly translate to game action as his batted balls retain a lot of topspin which elevates his doubles total and decreases his home run numbers. Strike zone awareness and patience have always been a big positive for Duda, but his continued disparity against left-handed (.192) and right-handed (.320) pitching is a hole that needs to be closed up.
Jose Coronado: The emergence of young, talented middle infielders will spell the end of Coronado who, after three years in Binghamton, will turn 24 early into the 2010 season. Before the season, it was feasible that Coronado—who started the year in Buffalo—could be used in a pinch to relieve an injured Jose Reyes but it never materialized. After five years in the system, he could be in a fight for a job.
D.J. Wabick: Never an outfielder to hit for power, Wabick was provided enough that he should retain a job next season coming off a 2009 season in which he hit .296 in 120 games. Patience and on-base percentage have never been a virtue for Wabick, but in a system short on higher-level outfield candidates, he could receive a spot in Buffalo if the organization decides to look within the system for roster spots.
Dylan Owen: Owen struggled mightily early, went down to St. Lucie where he rediscovered his game and was sharp upon his return to Binghamton. But struggles down the stretch (1-4, 7.88 ERA in August) and have brought to the light what scouts had expected is a Double-A ceiling for Owen. His breaking pitches were plenty strong for the Eastern League, but lack of fastball command and velocity have made it very tough for Owen to weather the storm.
Michael Antonini: Antonini left the lower levels in his wake in 2008 when he started in Savannah and finished in Binghamton in cumulative effort that saw him go 9-7 with a 2.77 ERA. The big question for Antonini heading into 2009 was whether his slider could catch up to his fastball and changeup to give him the necessary depth to stay ahead of advanced hitters.
The results were emphatic. After a reasonably successful April (3-0, 4.35), the left-hander was all over the map the rest of the season, including two shellings in Triple-A, and even spent time in the bullpen to rediscover his command. His still remains a prospect of value, but he needs to quickly rebound from a disappointing 2009 season.
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