The final Mets minor league affiliate gets their season underway tonight. With no team in the Gulf Coast League this year the Kingsport Mets of the Appalachian League are lowest level domestic-based team the Mets have. Let’s take a look at their opening day roster, which will be led by manager Jose Leger.
Taking the mound on opening night will be Akeel Morris, a 10th round pick in 2010 from the U.S. Virgin Islands. Morris spent last season in Kingsport and is listed in the teens or low 20’s on a lot of top prospects list. He has an electric arm but has struggled with his control, which means he will start back in Kingsport this year, but whether he has better control this year or not expect a lot of strikeouts. Another starting pitcher returning to the K-Mets rotation is Jacob Lugo, who was 5-2 with 44 strikeouts in 46 innings last year. Like Lugo, there are several 2011 draft picks on the K-Mets pitching staff including Matthew Budgell, John Gant, Robert Gsellman, and Christian Montgomery. A couple of this year’s draft picks Corey Oswalt (7th round) and Andrew Massie (24th round) will make their professional debut for the K-Mets. Several promising young pitchers making the move from the Dominican to the states for the first time include Andres Perez, Persio Reyes, Flabio Ortega, Carlos Valdez, Luis Rengel, Ramon Estevez, and Cristian Chivilli. Pay particular attention to Perez, Reyes, and Ortega. Also notable members of the Kingsport pitching staff are Zach Dotson and Steven Matz. Dotson was an over-slot signing in 2009 with plenty of promise but has had injuries and a suspension since that have held him back. Matz was the first player the Mets drafted in 2009 and he is finally ready to make his professional debut after a longer than expected recovery from Tommy John surgery.
The K-Mets core of catchers this year is Tyler Carpenter, Jeyckol De Leon, Alex Machillanada, and Tomas Nido. Carpenter and De Leon don’t appear to be anything special but Machillanada and Nido are. Machillanada is a 20-year old from Venezuela who spent the last 2 years in the DSL and is now moving to the U.S. Nido was the Mets 8th round pick out of high school in Florida.
Just like Brooklyn the K-Mets have plenty of middle infields. The headliner is first-round pick Gavin Cecchini, who should the bulk of the playing time at shortstop. At second base keep an eye on Yeixon Ruiz, a 21-year old from the Dominican who drew almost as many walks as strikeouts last year in the DSL and also stole 20 bases in 65 games. Another guy to watch in the middle infielder is 4th round pick Branden Kaupe. At first base time will be split between Jeffrey Diehl, a still 18-year old that the Mets took in the 23rd round of last year’s draft, and Kevin Weijgertse, a 21-year old from the Netherlands who spent the last two seasons in the DSL. At the hot corner will be 17-year old switch-hitter Pedro Perez, a big-time international signing from Colombia who hit .262/.350/.343 in the DSL last year.
Even with Cecchini, Kaupe, and Perez in the infield the Kingsport outfield may be the most intriguing part of this team. Headlining the group is 2011 draft picks Joe Tuschak (6th round) and Bradley Marquez (16th round). Marquez played college football at Texas Tech last fall and should be back there this fall, but he’ll spend the summer in Kingsport; he is probably the best pure athlete the Mets have in their organization, trumping even Jordany Valdespin and Juan Lagares. Those two guys are intriguing enough, but it gets better with a trio of guys from the Dominican in Michael Bernal, Maikis De La Cruz, and Eris Peguero. Bernal is just 20 years old and in the DSL last year as a 19-year old hit 11 homeruns, 5 triples, and 7 doubles for a .507 slugging percentage. De La Cruz is a small speedster that hit .321/.389/.400 with 33 stolen bases as a 20-year old in the DSL last year. Peguero is a little older but put together a .308/.376/.392 season in the FSL last year.
All in all, this is a pretty interesting roster. There are 5 outfielders and 5 infielders that are all worth keeping an eye on, as well as a couple guys behind the plate. Then throw in the pitchers, who are always curious to take a look at. As far as wins and losses go, it’s difficult to predict this low in the minors, but I have a good feeling about this Kingsport team, especially if they can get some decent pitching performances.
Kingsport Mets Roster
|35||Martires Arias||P||R||R||6' 7"||207||Active||No|
|25||Alberto Baldonado||P||L||L||6' 2"||160||Active||No|
|31||Shane Bay||P||L||L||6' 2"||225||Active||No|
|51||Matthew Budgell||P||R||R||6' 2"||150||Active||No|
|38||Cristian Chivilli||P||R||R||6' 2"||200||Active||No|
|18||Miller Diaz||P||R||R||6' 1"||209||Active||No|
|16||Zachary Dotson||P||L||L||6' 1"||180||Active||No|
|34||Ramon Estevez||P||R||R||6' 0"||165||Active||No|
|9||John Gant||P||R||R||6' 3"||175||Active||No|
|36||Robert Gsellman||P||R||R||6' 4"||200||Active||No|
|Andrew Massie||P||R||R||6' 1"||170||Active||No|
|28||Steven Matz||P||R||L||6' 2"||192||Active||No|
|29||Christian Montgomery||P||R||R||6' 1"||230||Active||No|
|23||Akeel Morris||P||R||R||6' 1"||170||Active||No|
|19||Flabio Ortega||P||R||R||6' 1"||170||Active||No|
|47||Corey Oswalt||P||R||R||6' 4"||200||Active||No|
|39||Andres E. Perez||P||R||R||6' 2"||184||Active||No|
|46||Luis Rengel||P||R||R||6' 2"||165||Active||No|
|17||Persio Reyes||P||R||R||6' 2"||151||Active||No|
|43||Carlos Valdez||P||L||L||6' 0"||170||Active||No|
|44||Edioglis Villasmil||P||R||R||6' 2"||164||Active||No|
|12||Tyler Carpenter||C||R||R||5' 10"||190||Active||No|
|26||Jeyckol De Leon||C||R||R||6' 2"||185||Active||No|
|22||Alex Machillanada||C||R||R||5' 11"||177||Active||No|
|7||Tomas Nido||C||R||R||6' 0"||200||Active||No|
|Gavin Cecchini||SS||R||R||6' 1"||180||Active||No|
|3||Anthony Chavez||SS||R||R||6' 2"||185||Active||No|
|24||Jeffrey Diehl||1B||R||R||6' 4"||195||Active||No|
|20||Branden Kaupe||SS||S||R||5' 7"||175||Active||No|
|21||Pedro Perez||3B||S||R||6' 1"||190||Active||No|
|1||Yeixon Ruiz||2B||S||R||6' 0"||155||Active||No|
|5||Kevin Weijgertse||1B||R||R||6' 4"||176||Active||N|
|27||Michael Bernal||OF||R||R||6' 1"||195||Active||No|
|11||Maikis De La Cruz||OF||R||R||5' 11"||174||Active||No|
|Jonathan Leroux||OF||R||R||6' 1"||205||Active||No|
|4||Bradley Marquez||OF||R||R||6' 1"||185||Active||No|
|15||Eris Peguero||OF||L||R||6' 1"||175||Active||No|
|10||Joe Tuschak||OF||L||R||6' 0"||185||Active||No|