Triple-A Trickledown: Buffalo
Today marks the beginning of a new series where we’ll take a look at each opposing team’s roster and examine why they’re here – the “trickledown” effect of sorts from who’s in the major leagues. With the Chiefs in Buffalo, it’s time to examine the roster for the Bisons – the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Mets.
Catcher: Jean Luc Blaquiere, Lucas May
This group looked 50% different just a few days ago, with Rob Johnson starting two of the three games the last time the Bisons played Syracuse. But the veteran backstop’s been placed on the disabled list after suffering a left knee sprain. May’s a 27-year old with 37 big league at-bats in 2010, so he’d likely be the next catcher in line over Blaquiere, who hit just .229 with Double-A Binghamton last year and has all of two at-bats this season.
Up in the major leagues, Josh Thole’s got a firm grip on the starting job with a .317 average, and backup Mike Nickeas is the only other catcher on the 40-man roster. Outside of an injury, this isn’t likely to change much.
First Base: Valentino Pascucci, Josh Satin
Ike Davis had a solid 2010 and strong 37 games before an injury in 2011 – but with a .185 average through 22 games, there’s room for improvement for the Mets’ major league first baseman. It might not come from the Bisons’ primary first basemen, though. Satin’s been turned almost exclusively into a first baseman with Buffalo this year, but he’s hitting .275 with just a .294 on-base percentage through this season. Satin shot through the Mets’ system last year and got some experience with the big club at the end of the season, but he’s likely not enough of a power hitter to make the jump.
Pascucci, on the other hand, is more than enough of a power hitter. But the Triple-A veteran isn’t on the 40-man roster and doesn’t have much major league experience. He played with the Bisons throughout Buffalo’s entire season last year – heading to the majors after the Triple-A season ended – and seems likely to stay with the Herd for the duration of 2012.
Second Base: Bobby Scales, Michael Fisher
Daniel Murphy’s been playing a solid second base for the Mets, with Justin Turner providing versatility as his primary backup. There likely won’t be a change from Triple-A, since neither Scales nor Fisher is on the 40-man roster. Scales, a longtime minor leaguer with a few big league games sprinkled in, seems likely to provide Triple-A depth for the Mets. Fisher’s in his second Triple-A season after hitting .259 with four home runs in 65 games last year.
Shortstop: Omar Quintanilla
Quintanilla’s played 227 games in the major leagues between 2005 and 2011, but after a 1-for-22 output last year and a .172 average in 2009, he’s not on the 40-man roster for the Mets. If the mets needed a utility infielder in a pinch, Quintanilla could be an option, but he’d have to overtake 40-man players Satin and Zach Lutz. Quintanilla hasn’t been in Double-A since 2005, so expect to see a good chunk of the veteran with Buffalo.
Third Base: Zach Lutz, Brad Emaus
Lutz just returned from a brief trip to the Mets, where he was 1 for 8 with five strikeouts in five games in his first time on a major league roster. The third baseman played just 72 games in 2010 and 63 in 2011 due to a number of different injuries, but he’s provided pop when healthy – 47 home runs in 286 career minor league games. As a 40-man player, he could certainly see some time in the bigs again, though David Wright won’t ever be in trouble of losing his job this season.
Emaus started last season with the Mets after New York claimed him in the Rule V draft from Toronto. Since then, it’s been a rocky road. Emaus was designated for assignment after 18 days in the major leagues and sent back to the Blue Jays, who promptly traded him to Colorado the next day. This January, Emaus was traded to the Red Sox, who released him in early April. Two weeks later, Emaus signed with the Laredo Lemurs of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, which is apparently a real thing. And then a week later, the Mets re-signed him.
(Hang on, let’s pause for a moment to take a breath now…)
Emaus has posted great numbers in Triple-A in his career, and that’s likely where he’ll stay for the duration of 2012.
Outfield: Fred Lewis, Dustin Martin, Vinny Rottino, Matt Tuiasosopo
This is a relatively easy group to figure out for Buffalo. Outside of a few rehab games for Lewis, none of these four outfielders played in Double-A last season, and none of them are on the 40-man roster, either. With Scott Hairston, Andres Torres, Lucas Duda and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, the Mets are set in the outfield, with Mike Baxter and Jordany Valdespin, both up from Buffalo, as backups. Jason Bay’s on the disabled list, so either Baxter or Valdespin is likely to return to Triple-A at some point, and outfielders Adam Loewen and Corey Wimberly are sitting on the Bisons’ disabled list – meaning this is a Bisons group that could get very crowded very quickly. The only other two outfielders on the Mets’ 40 man roster are in Double-A (Juan Lagares) and Single-A (Cesar Puello), so don’t expect a ton of upward movement here.
Starting Pitchers: Jeurys Familia, Matt Harvey, Jeremy Hefner, Garrett Olson, Dylan Owen
Familia and Hefner are the two 40-man starters here, with Harvey – one of the Mets’ most prized prospects – not far behind. New York’s rotation so far has been mostly good, with four of the five spots in no danger of being replaced – Johan Santana, R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese and Mike Pelfrey. #5 starter Dillon Gee’s sporting a 4.85 ERA in four starts, but that’s mainly due to a single poor start. Unless there’s an injury, this staff is likely set.
As for the current Bisons hurlers, Hefner, Olsen and Owen have all posted strong numbers and have past Triple-A success. Harvey and Familia have been up and down, but both pitchers are prized prospects who should get every chance to prove their worth at this level. Owen will likely be bumped to the bullpen when Chris Schwinden returns from the major leagues. Schwinden, a 2011 IL All-Star, is currently up in the majors with Mike Pelfrey on the 15-day DL.
Relief Pitchers: Fernando Cabrera, Josh Edgin, Jack Egbert, Justin Hampson, Brad Holt, Chuck James, Jeff Stevens
The Mets’ bullpen certainly has some room for improvement, with Manny Acosta (9.00 ERA) and Miguel Batista (7.84) off to slow starts. But – as you might be able to guess by now – none of these seven Buffalo relievers are on the 40-man roster. But in case there’s a move to be made, the Bisons have a few strong options. Cabrera – the team’s closer – sports a Bisons-best 0.87 ERA in nine games, while former major leaguer James has a 1.17 mark in eight games. With a 3.04 team ERA, there are plenty of options in Buffalo for the Mets, should New York need them.
Check back tomorrow for a profile of new Chiefs infielder and Buffalo native Jim Negrych. And please send us your ideas for segments you’d like to see or players you’d like to hear about at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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