St. Lucie Mets: 2017 Season In Review | Astromets Mind

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

St. Lucie Mets: 2017 Season In Review

Taking a closer look at how the St. Lucie Mets finished the season with one of the worst records in the FSL

What’s in this post:
-       Season Summary
-       Astro’s Awards
-       Coaches
-       Team Stats
-       Mets on the FSL Leaderboards
-       Promotions/Injuries
-       Links to Astromets GIF Recaps (4)

What Happened

            Of the Mets four full season teams, the St. Lucie Mets were arguably the one least stocked with top prospects when last season began. Yes, the Mets top-2 picks from the 2016 draft – Justin Dunn and Peter Alonso – were starting the season in the Florida State League, but there weren’t a lot of other top-25 guys on the squad. As the season wore on, a lot of players passed through St. Lucie, but while there was a lot of turnover, there was not a lot of help. The Mets expected a boost when three interesting prospects joined the team from Columbia at the start of the second half, but one got traded (Merandy Gonzalez), one got injured (Jordan Humpreys), and the third struggled to adjust (Michael Paez).
            Playing at the home of the New York Mets Spring Training facilities, the St. Lucie Mets get a lot of turnover every season. When Major Leaguer’s go on rehab, they often either start with the St. Lucie Mets, or join the team after a brief stint with the GCL Mets. As a result, the St. Lucie Mets roster count is always 50+, and they generally end up with 25-30 batters and 25-30 pitchers playing for them per season. Last year, that roster count reached 71, plus three position players were forced into action on the mound. That’s the most players to rotate through St. Lucie since 2010, when 82 players helped the team finish at 62-76. The constant turnover almost certainly played a role in the team’s struggles last year, but that doesn’t explain a 63-75 record, so what exactly happened?

            There were 11 rehabbers who played for St. Lucie last year, but minor league injuries were responsible for a lot of that turnover. Most notably, the rotation couldn’t stay healthy. Both Andrew Church and Nabil Crismatt made 25 starts, but St. Lucie needed 21 pitchers for the other 88 starts, and just 3 of those starts went to rehabbers. Church (4.62 ERA) led the team with 152 IP and walked just 25 batters all season, but he struggled at times because the FSL had a .297 average against him. Nabil Crismatt was one of the top starters in the league during a 14-start stretch from early May to mid-July – 86 IP, 82 H, 94 K: 18 BB, .641 OPS (358 BF) – but he allowed 12 ER in the two starts just before the streak started, and 26 R (20 ER) in the four starts just after the streak ended.
The other 4 starters from the initial rotation finished the year on the DL, with both Chase Ingram (4 IP) and Thomas McIlraith (12 IP) hitting the DL while pitching for Columbia. Joe Shaw lasted 18 starts (99.2 IP) before hitting the DL, and while many of them were good – 2 ER or less in half of those starts – a few stinkers left him with a 4.97 ERA for the year. That leaves Justin Dunn, who battled ups-and-downs and made a few long piggyback appearances midseason before hitting the DL in August. Dunn (5.00 ERA) struggled with command (11.1 BB%) and base stealers  – there were 36 stolen bases with Dunn on the mound – across 16 starts and 4 relief appearances (95.1 IP), and scouts who saw him were often left unimpressed.
            Of the remaining starters, the foursome of Chris Flexen, Marcos Molina, Justin Brantley, and Merandy Gonzalez combined for 15 starts before moving on – first two went up a level, Brantley went to Columbia, and Merandy G was traded to Miami in the A.J. Ramos deal. Two players finished the season in St. Lucie’s rotation after starting the year at a different full-season level: Scarlyn Reyes (5.76 ERA) joined the rotation from Binghamton’s pen, while Harol Gonzalez (3.18 ERA) made a 3-start cameo after a strong season in the SAL. Two starters passed through St. Lucie while bouncing around the system: Briam Campusano started one game (and finished another), while Yeizo Campos made three starts. One pitcher made three starts for St. Lucie while coming back from TJ surgery (Michael Gibbons), and another one made two starts before requiring TJ surgery (Jordan Humphreys).
            The remaining 13 starts were all effectively spot starts from the pen, with Kevin Canelon handling 10 of those. Canelon made 5 straight starts to end the season, so he was technically in the rotation, but he never went more than 4 IP in August (did so just once all season) and he would not have been making those starts if St. Lucie’s rotation was healthy. Canelon was the glue of the pitching staff, finishing with 78 K: 16 BB and a 2.97 ERA over 78.2 IP (fifth most on the team), while successfully bouncing between the rotation and the pen. The lefties’ upside is limited by a mid-80’s fastball, but his strike zone control (4.9 BB%) and success against righties (.673 OPS on a .320 BABIP) are notable qualities.

            While the rotation struggled with consistency and often left the Mets in a hole, the pen was more effective and, at times, St. Lucie’s biggest strength. Including Canelon, there were a dozen relievers who made more than 5 appearances with St. Lucie last year. The pen got a boost around the trade deadline, when Adonis Uceta was promoted from Columbia (although he was promoted again after just 8 games), and both Stephen Nogosek (profile) and Gerson Bautista (profile) were acquired from Boston.
            Of all the relievers to pass through St. Lucie last year, Tyler Bashlor is arguably the highest upside arm. Bashlor did allow a 4.89 ERA with St. Lucie, but he struck out 61 in 35 IP, and then posted a 0.00 ERA with 23 K: 4 BB in 14.2 IP with Binghamton during the Double-A regular season (.391 OPS allowed).
Bashlor’s heat makes him stand out, but he wasn’t the only righty hitting upper-90’s from the St. Lucie pen last year. Adonis Uceta struck out 15 in 10.2 IP before his promotion and regularly hit the upper-90’s per broadcaster Adam MacDonald. Gerson Bautista also hits the upper-90’s with some regularity from the pen, and he finished with 20 K: 3 BB over 14.1 IP (.470 OPS allowed).
Moving a step down the heat-ladder, Stephen Nogosek and Alex Palsha can hit mid-90’s with regularity, and Nogosek has a well-rated slider. Palsha (3.77 ERA overall) finished the year with a dominating two months: 27.2 IP, 25 K: 7 BB, .505 OPS allowed in July and August. Nogosek was really good earlier in the year with both Greenville (Full-season A ball) and Salem (Advanced-A ball), but he allowed multiple runs in four straight outings with St. Lucie, and he made just 8 appearances overall.
Moving further down the heat-ladder, Austin McGeorge joined the team at the start of May and was very effective in St. Lucie with a fastball that maxes around 91 MPH. His delivery and stuff remind me of Paul Sewald, and McGeorge was very effective against both righties (.527 OPS) and lefties (.466 OPS) all season.
Two pitchers made their Mets affiliation debut out of St. Lucie’s pen last year: Joshua Torres (3.14 ERA, 77 K: 22 BB in 63 IP) and Justin Brantley. I don’t have much on them, but apparently Torres was up to mid-90’s, and I’ve seen reports of Brantley touching 95 MPH too.
The other two relievers to make big contributions for St. Lucie last year were key cogs in the Cola pen in 2016: Johnny Magliozzi (3.19 ERA) and Craig Missigman (5.13 ERA). For what it’s worth, since I gave Canelon the Cy, my Fireman award came down to Magliozzi and Torres, and while Torres had more impressive K numbers (28.6 K%), I thought Magliozzi had the edge because he was a little more likely to have a scoreless outing (70+% of Mags outings were scoreless), a little less likely to allow a base runner (1.108 WHIP for Mags), and because he was pitching at the end of games more often than Torres (20 games finished for Mags). Missigman had two-plus very good months in the middle of the season, but struggled over his final dozen appearances.
Finally, the remaining relief appearances were made by: 3 rehabbers, 3 rookie ball players around as backup, 3 position players, and Cameron Griffin (5.94 ERA), before he was sent back to Columbia.

            On the position player side of the roster, there was more stability as far as who was available, but less stability as far as how players were used. J.C. Rodriguez was the biggest exception, as the makeup of the roster forced him into 118 games at shortstop. Otherwise, only Jhoan Urena (89 games at third base) and John Mora (93 games in center field) played in more than 2/3 of St. Lucie’s games at any one position. Peter Alonso (78 games at first base) and Patrick Mazeika (76 games behind the plate) also had a majority share of the starts at their primary position, but second base and both corner outfield spots were effectively revolving doors. Unfortunately, none of those guys have great defensive reputations, and, as you can see in Table 3, the Mets defense was bottom of the pack by traditional stats.
            John Mora is a speedy outfielder who probably didn’t hurt St. Lucie in center field, but he hasn’t always received good reviews for his defense. J.C. Rodriguez is a solid infielder with a nice arm, and he is capable of making flashy plays, but he is stretched as an everyday shortstop, hence the 31 errors. Some scouts liked Jhoan Urena’s defense at third base when he played for Brooklyn in 2014, but after filling out and suffering multiple injuries to both hands/wrists, a switch off the position is almost guaranteed – he looked better at first base with Las Vegas and could see time in LF moving forward. Mazeika threw out 31% of potential base stealers, which isn’t terrible, but he was behind the plate for 96 of the 162 stolen bases St. Lucie allowed last year. As for Alonso, he somehow made 18 errors at first base and got a lot of negative reviews for his defense – Mets fans might want to petition the NL to adopt the DH ASAP. Alonso was sent to Instructs to work on his defense when the season ended.
Shortstop might’ve been Colby Woodmansee’s job last year, but he required a surgery after just two starts, and then spent 6 weeks with Columbia during his comeback (basically a second Spring Training). When he finally made it back to St. Lucie, Woodmansee spent more time at third base and first base than shortstop, making him 1 of 11 players to appear at multiple infield spots for St. Lucie. Haven’t seen much of Woody at shortstop, but he made a number of good plays at third for Columbia.
Second base was Vinny Siena’s position to lose last year, and he lost it because his bat never got going. Michael Paez didn’t hit as much with St. Lucie as he had with Columbia, but his defense at second base was probably the most reliable on the infield for St. Lucie, and he made a few starts at shortstop and third base too.
St. Lucie had a pair of utility players who played games at multiple infield positions and the outfield, and both were among the Mets top producers at the plate. Nick Sergakis was the T.J. Rivera of the 2017 St. Lucie Mets, forcing his way into the lineup by hitting when given the chance. Sergakis played 27 games on the infield between second base and third base, and he played 25 games in the outfield, mostly in left field. Lefty swinging Anthony Dimino also hit his way into extra playing time, and he proved even more versatile in the field, playing games at: catcher (18), first base (11), second base (2), third base (1), and left field (5).
Left field should’ve been Jeff Diehl’s position to lose, but he went down with an injury in May and never made it back – he’s reportedly switching to pitcher after hitting 94 MPH (at least) in a spot relief outing. Diehl went down as Wuilmer Becerra was working his way back into the outfield rotation – shoulder surgery cut WB’s 2016 season short – and Becerra ended up playing 40 games in left field and 47 games in right field (and some first base). Becerra was essentially forced to right field when Tim Tebow joined the squad, as Tebow spent most of his time in left field after his promotion.
Of the remaining outfielders to play for St. Lucie last year, only Enmanuel Zabala (62 games between right field and center field) spent the whole year with the team.

            Finally, let’s review the offense. Table 1 shows St. Lucie’s offense ranked middle of the pack or better by most traditional metrics. Like any good Mets affiliate, St. Lucie excelled at wearing the opposing pitcher out for walks and avoiding strikeouts. Surprisingly though, the lineup led the FSL with 239 doubles and ranked fourth with 78 homers, which was more homers than any St. Lucie lineup had hit since 2012. There were 11 players who made at least 200 PA with St. Lucie last year: 5 finished with a wRC+ of 128 or better, 3 were in the 96-98 wRC+ range, Michael Paez was at 82 after his promotion, J.C. Rodriguez at 70, and Enmanuel Zabala brought up the caboose with a 52 wRC+.
            Peter Alonso is the big name here and he discussed his season in a great interview with MMO, so check there for more info, but in a nutshell: a HBP to the hand knocked him out for 6 weeks (same thing happened last year with Florida), he came back out of rhythm and struggled for 3 weeks, and then he exploded for 21 doubles, 14 homers, a 195 wRC+, and 52 RBI’s over a 60 game stretch before his promotion to Double-A.
            Alonso went insane for two months, but while he was out and then briefly struggling, two St. Lucie regulars really stepped up and had huge years at the plate: Jhoan Urena and Patrick Mazeika. Finally healthy for a full season of full-season ball, Urena (135 wRC+) had a power surge, stroking 11 homers and tying for the FSL lead with 34 doubles. I went with Urena over Alonso for the MVP because while his peak wasn’t as good as Alonso’s, Urena was a key part of the lineup for the entire season – Alonso had a .469 OPS through St. Lucie’s game one loss in a double-header on 6/19 – and playing time matters. Mazeika (139 wRC+) showed elite contact ability, drew walks at an above average rate, and posted an above average ISO.
            The other two top-hitters were utility prospects Nick Sergakis (aka, Blaise) and Anthony Dimino. Sergakis (Mets 23rd round pick from 2016) skipped a level last year, so he needed a few games to adjust: started 2-21, but then stroked 16 doubles, 1 triple, and 6 homers over his final 226 PA (151 wRC+). When healthy, Dimino (128 wRC+) was more of an everyday utility player than Sergakis, but Dimino missed two months with a weird hand injury.
            Three regulars put up less than appealing overall lines, but they were actually about league average performances. Tim Tebow went on a tear after his promotion before slumping hard in August – he did still have a few Tebow-moments™ down the stretch. John Mora had a red-hot two-month stretch midseason – 18 XBH and a 149 wRC+ over 216 PA – but slumped for a month before and after that stretch. As for Wuilmer Becerra, he started and finished the year with a pair of good-20-game stretches, he just wasn’t very good in the 86 games between those stretches (.593 OPS).
            That leaves the three regulars who struggled. Given his first half with Columbia, I was surprised Paez struggled as much as he did, but if his .236 BABIP was more bad luck than bad contact, then he’ll be fine next year. Both J.C. and Zabala were below average hitters in the SAL last year (by wRC+), so their struggles were more predictable. Like Paez, J.C. was an average BABIP away from a good final line. Unlike Paez, J.C. doesn’t have a history of loud contact, so a two-month stretch with a sub-.210 BABIP isn’t as surprising.
            There were 23 other players who took AB’s with St. Lucie last year, including 9 Major League rehabbers and 3 rookie baller’s providing backup. Jeff Diehl’s performance over 109 PA earned him an All-Star bid. Ian Strom and Jacob Zanon earned late-season promotions from Columbia. Arnaldo Berrios and Dan Rizzie filled in before moving down to Columbia, while Dale Burdick filled in before moving up to Binghamton. Jeff McNeil finally got healthy again and posted an .864 OPS over 116 PA. Jose Garcia provided some reliable defense behind the plate as a backup catcher when healthy. That leaves just one player not mentioned so far in this post: Eudor Garcia, who was released midseason.

Getting back to the original question of what happened to the St. Lucie Mets, I’d say while the offense and pen were good enough that St. Lucie should’ve been competitive most nights, inconsistent defense and starting pitching left the team in a hole too often to get any big winning streaks going. They put together 3 straight wins several times in 2017, but they only made to 4 straight once, and they never made it to a 5-game win streak. They basically had just two (short) dominant stretches, winning 5 of 6 in April and then 8 of 10 to finish May. That said, they did outperform their Pythagorean record by 5 wins, so there’s that.
One of the biggest problems for St. Lucie was one that appears to be organizational for the Mets: injuries. Still, the biggest disappointment came from the Mets 2016 first-round pick Justin Dunn. Apparently BP scouts saw ~15 of his starts – check out an eyewitness account – and the current consensus is that his stock is down. That may seem obvious when you look at Dunn’s final line, but it was an aggressive assignment given Dunn’s limited history as a starter, and one could hand-wave enough to put a positive spin on his performance.
            On the positive side, there were some interesting individual performances for players to build upon in 2018. Obviously Alonso’s surge stood out, but Urena’s resurgence at the plate in his age-22 season was another boost for the system. Patrick Mazeika will need to hit for more homer power if he can’t stick behind the plate, but his bat is interesting and he spent the summer surrounded by a former MLB catcher (his Manager) and plenty of catching instructors. Nabil Crismatt really stood out at times and has emerged as one of the better starting pitching prospects in the system. And several other arms show the potential to become bullpen depth for the Mets in a few years. It’s not necessarily the impact potential you want from your Advanced-A affiliate, but there are still players who could help the Mets at the major league level.

Astro’s Awards

MVP: Jhoan Urena
Cy: Kevin Canelon
Fireman: Johnny Magliozzi


Manager: Chad Kreuter
Pitching coach: Marc Valdez
Hitting coach: Luis Natera

Team Stats/Rankings

Overall: 63-75 (.457)

Home:            32-36 (.471)*
Road: 31-39 (.443)
*Attendance: 132,359 (2,005 average)

April: 10-14 (.417)
May: 17-12 (.586)
June: 7-16 (.304)
July: 14-16 (.467)
August: 13-16 (.448)
September: 2-1 (.667)

Tampa Bay: 2-6 (.250)
Dunedin: 5-5 (.500)
Clearwater: 7-3 (.700)
Lakeland: 6-8 (.429)
Daytona: 8-5 (.615)
Florida: 11-3 (.786)
Total: 39-30 (.565)
Fort Myers: 4-9 (.308
Palm Beach: 7-7 (.500)
Bradenton: 5-10 (.333)
Charlotte: 3-11 (.214)
Jupiter: 5-8 (.385)
Total: 24-45 (.348)

One-run Games: 28-19 (.596)
Shutouts: 6-13 (.316)

vs. AL:            20-39 (.339)
vs. NL:            43-36 (.544)


Table 1 - 12-team league, stats below per BB-Ref

Average Batter Age
Stolen Bases
Caught Stealing
On-base %
Slugging %
Sac bunts
Sac flies


Table 2 - 12-team league, stats below per BB-Ref

Average Pitcher Age
Batters Faced
Wild Pitches


Table 3 - 12-team league, stats below per BB-Ref

Fielding %
Passed balls
Stolen bases allowed
Runners caught stealing

Mets on the FSL Leaderboards


Top-10 among qualified hitters, per Fangraphs


Jhoan Urena, 72, 2nd
John Mora, 60, t-9th


John Mora, 133, 1st
Jhoan Urena, 129, 5th
Wuilmer Becerra, 125, 7th


Jhoan Urena, 34, t-1st
J.C. Rodriguez, 26, t-6th


J.C. Rodriguez, 6, t-7th


Peter Alonso, 16, t-2nd


Jhoan Urena, 62, t-4th
Peter Alonso, 58, t-10th

Stolen Bases (went to top-15)

John Mora, 19, t-11th
Jhoan Urena, 17, 13th


Patrick Mazeika, 11.6%, 8th
Jhoan Urena, 11.5%, 9th


Patrick Mazeika, 12.8%, 3rd


Patrick Mazeika, 0.91, 2nd
Jhoan Urena, 0.52, t-10th


Patrick Mazeika, .287, 6th
Jhoan Urena, .282, 9th


Patrick Mazeika, .389, 3rd
Jhoan Urena, .364, 7th


Jhoan Urena, .437, 4th


Jhoan Urena, .155, 7th
(Peter Alonso, .231, DNQ)


Wuilmer Becerra, .361, 4th
Jhoan Urena, .351, 7th


Patrick Mazeika, 139, 4th
Jhoan Urena, 135, 5th


Patrick Mazeika, 24.7%, 2nd

Swinging Strike%

Patrick Mazeika, 7.5%, 3rd
John Mora, 8.2%, 7th


Top-10 per Fangraphs, minimum 60 IP


Andrew Church, 12, 1st


Andrew Church, 152, 2nd
Nabil Crismatt, 145.2, 3rd


Joshua Torres, 2.52, 5th


Nabil Crismatt, 142, 1st


Joshua Torres, 28.6%, t-6th


Andrew Church, 3.8%, 3rd


Kevin Canelon, 4.88, 10th


(Initial promo date)

-       Chris Flexen (5/31)
-       Marcos Molina (6/16)
-       Tyler Bashlor (7/21)
-       Patrick Mazeika (8/14)
-       Jeff McNeil (8/17)*
-       Adonis Uceta (8/21)
-       Jhoan Urena (8/21)*
-       Peter Alonso (8/24)
-       John Mora (8/26)*

*Promoted to Las Vegas


(Guys who finished the year on the DL and the date they were placed there)

-       Josh Prevost (Missed entire season)
-       Chase Ingram (4/15) – Went down with a right elbow injury during his first start and re-injured himself on the comeback trail
-       Thomas McIlraith (4/26) – Went down with a strained left oblique and re-injured himself on the comeback trail
-       Jeff Diehl (5/16) – Got hurt and is apparently transitioning to RP
-       Jordan Humphreys (7/7) – TJS
-       Joseph Shaw (7/25)
-       Michael Gibbons (8/3) – Was coming back from TJS, so he had limitations last year
-       Justin Dunn (8/17)
-       Anthony Dimino (8/30)Missed nearly two months earlier in the year with a hand injury

Free Agents/Released

-       Daniel Bard (Retired 10/3)
-       Scarlyn Reyes (Released 10/12)
-       Miguel Gutierrez (Released 10/12)
-       Enmanuel Zabala (Released 10/12)
-       Kevin Canelon (Elected Free Agency 11/6) – Signed with Reds (11/13)
-       Craig Missigman (Elected Free Agency 11/6)
-       J.C. Rodriguez (Elected Free Agency 11/6)
-       Victor Moscote (Elected Free Agency 11/6)


(4 Games Covered. The feed was down for other 4 St. Lucie Mets games scheduled in Bradenton)

Date – Starting Pitcher




-       NBC2


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