Cory Vaughn is raking in Brooklyn
Mid to late June presents a time for the minor league system to reset. It is during that when the short-season leagues get underway. For Mets prospects, that means seasons in Brooklyn, Kingsport and the Gulf Coast League begin. Those playing for in short-season ball do not garner as much attention as their long-season brethren, but there is still plenty going on worthy of attention.
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Wally Backman’s Cyclones raced to a 27-13 start on the heels of good pitching and offense. As usual, the Cyclones roster is loaded with members of the Mets’ 2010 draft class including third round pick Blake Forsythe, fourth round pick Cory Vaughn and large contingent of mid-round prospects. 2010 top pick Matt Harvey would have gone to Brooklyn, but has not signed as of this writing. Here is a look at some of the standouts from this year’s Brooklyn roster:
Cory Vaughn (OF): Vaughn, the son of former big league outfielder Greg Vaughn, slipped into a Brooklyn Cyclones uniform and never missed a beat in his professional debut. Vaughn hit .305 with nine home runs, 36 RBI, .399 on-base percentage and a.962 OPS through his first 40 professional games. Like his father, Cory has plus home power with the ability to send it over the fence in any direction.
Vaughn has good bat speed and has made New York-Penn League pitchers pay for coming after him with a fastball. He still has work to do executing against breaking pitches and making adjustments mid at-bat, but Vaughn’s offensive prowess is all about his raw power. The move to a full-season league will be a significant test for Vaughn, but the early returns are positive.
Darrell Ceciliani (OF): Ceciliani was selected by the Mets in the fourth round of the 2009 draft out of Columbia Basin Community College in Oregon. Coming out of community college is advantage for both Ceciliani and the Mets as the centerfielder turned only 20 years old at the start of the Cyclones season. After a summer spent in relative anonymity in Kingsport, Ceciliani showed that the Mets have a bona fide rising star in Brooklyn.
Through 40 games, Ceciliani hit .386 with 19 RBI, 10 doubles and a NYPL leading eight triples. He stole 14 bases while reaching base at a .440 clip with a .991 OPS. At 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, he is not a power hitter like Vaughn. Instead, he is the perfect compliment. Ceciliani has strong hands and bat control which allow him to put the ball in play with ease and use his plus speed to his advantage. Top that off with great center field defense and Ceciliani should be a household name in another season or two.
Ryan Fraser (RHP): Fraser’s name slipped under the radar in the draft, but the organization may have scored very good value in the 16th round of this year’s draft. Fraser, a 6-foot-3 right-hander out of the University of Memphis, came out of the Cyclones bullpen firing a fastball that reaches 95 miles an hour with a curveball he can use inside to right handed hitters. The curveball still needs some work but Fraser has the look of a power right-hander that could move quickly.
The start to the season has not been as kind to Mike DiFelice’s rookie ball K-Mets. However, their 17-20 record is still solid for a young team with only rookies from the 2010 draft class but a number of young, international free agent signings with some getting their first taste of the game in the States.
Aderlin Rodriguez (3B): The prize of the Mets’ 2008 international free agent class is simply raking in his second season. Rodriguez was limited to just 10 games in the Gulf Coast League last season due to a wrist injury, but he’s back playing every day and impressing coaches around every turn. Rodriguez does not turn 19 until November and is already 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds with a professional build.
He has excellent bad speed, strong hands and plus raw power which has translated to a .301 average with nine home runs, 29 RBI and 13 doubles in 35 games. He is a guy who could very easily be on the Wilmer Flores track.
Javier Rodriguez (OF): Rodriguez, the Mets’ second round pick in 2008, is finally having the kind of year expected of him when he was drafted out of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy. Now 20, Rodriguez is showing power and ability with the bat to go with his good outfield speed and plus glove. He hit .331 with three home, 22 RBI and 13 doubles through 33 games. He still requires greater patience at the plate and a more discerning eye, but there is hope that a resurgent year that can get him moving quickly. At 20 years old, now is the time to make it happen.
GULF COAST LEAGUE
Sandy Alomar and his staff have the responsibility of guiding the youngest club in the organization. The GCL roster is home to a small sampling of recent draft picks, but the clubhouse is chock-full of international free agent signings who are pitching in Florida for the first time after training at the Mets’ complex in the Dominican Republic in previous seasons.
Pitching rules the depth chart in the GCL where pitching coach Hector Berrios oversees the development of a number of young arms. Here is a look at a few of them.
Juan Urbina (LHP): Urbina was the organization’s big international free agent signing in 2009. His starts have been up and down to the tune of a 3-2 record and 5.47 ERA in six outings, but in the GCL it’s all about development not numbers. The 17-year-old is already opening eyes with an 88-92 MPH fastball and the feel for his curveball and changeup, as Berrios explained.
“Not only is his fastball command good, but his comfort with throwing the changeup is really keeping hitters off balance. He’s working slowly but surely on the curveball. It’s a good one. He’s pretty advanced when it comes to being able to teach and apply to the game. He’s come a long way in a short period of time.”
Zachary Dotson (LHP): The Mets drafted Dotson overslot and out of high school in the 13th round of the 2009 Draft. The 19-year-old southpaw didn’t register an inning in 2009 but came out looking good this summer before an arm injury which he suffered last winter popped up after four starts. Dotson is a four-pitch pitcher with a 90-93 MPH fastball that should advance quickly when healthy. Dotson has been out of the rotation in July as he battles through some of the shoulder issues that sidelined him over the winter and early spring.
Akeel Morris (RHP): The 17-year-old selected in the 10th round of the 2010 Draft out of the U.S. Virgin Islands is opening eyes and popping mitts in the GCL. He is on the slim side, but the 6-foot-1, 170-pound right-hander is already on the gun in the low-90s to 94 MPH with his fastball. He’s a candidate to repeat rookie ball, but he is a continuation of the organization’s increase in power arms over the last two seasons.
Steven Matz (LHP): The Mets’ 2009 top pick was sidelined by Tommy John surgery last summer and has yet to return to the mound as of this writing. The 19-year-old southpaw could see a few rehab innings before the end of the year, but is expected to restart in 2011.
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