Ladies and gentlemen you’re 2012 Binghamton Mets. For much of the 2011 season the Binghamton Mets were the laughing stock of the Eastern League. With some mid-season call-ups the B-Mets made a late push under Wally Backman. Now with the Mets better prospects slowly working their way toward the upper levels of the farm system Binghamton is hoping for a bounce back season under new manager Pedro Lopez. On the mound, it will be Collin McHugh taking the ball on opening day, but Zack Wheeler and Darin Gorski highlight the starting rotation. Wheeler will enter his first full season in the Mets organization after being acquired for Carlos Beltran last July. He is a member of the Mets big 4 pitching prospects, although he is the furthest from reaching the big leagues of the group. There will likely be no need to rush Wheeler, so he should stay in Binghamton all season. Gorski was the Florida State League pitcher of the year last at St. Lucie transforming him from no name pitcher to legitimate prospect. The lefty has one of the best changeups in the organization, which goes well with the increase in velocity he had last year. Wheeler and Gorski should give the B-Mets a great 1-2 punch at the top of their rotation. As for McHugh, he should provide a steady and reliable starter for the B-Mets, just as he did last year. McHugh got on the Mets radar last year, not because of great stuff but because of great results, finishing 8-2 with a 2.89 ERA and 100 strikeouts at AA. If McHugh can put up those types of numbers, he could be in line for a promotion to AAA at some point and may even have an outside shot of getting to the big leagues this season if everything breaks right for him. Rounding out the rotation will be Mark Cohoon and Greg Peavey. Cohoon earned a promotion to AAA last year and looked like a guy who could get to the majors, but he struggled mightily once he got there, so this year he will get a do over as he will once again start the season in AA in hopes of earning a promotion. In 9 starts for Binghamton last year Cohoon was 1-3 with a 3.81 ERA. Peavey split last season between Savannah and St. Lucie and now he’ll get a shot at AA. This level will be a challenge for Peavey, who struggled to miss bats the second half of last season, but has showed signs of being able to get hitters out even without having overpowering stuff. It’s a nice looking rotation with plenty of potential. The B-Mets will need McHugh and Cohoon to be reliable starters, as they have the most experience, and if Wheeler and Gorski can adjust to a new level quickly Bingo could have one of the better rotations in the Eastern League. The Binghamton bullpen will have some familiar names to it. Brad Holt is one of them, as he is back in AA after two and a half mediocre seasons at that level. Holt is no longer a highly regarded prospect and the former first round pick is unlikely to make it to the big leagues unless he can recapture his form from a few years ago. Robert Carson is moving from the B-Mets rotation to the B-Mets bullpen this year. Carson is a big lefty that the Mets put on the 40-man roster during the offseason with the hope that he will be able to translate his good fastball and slider into results out of the bullpen, a transition he started in the Arizona Fall League last year. Another member of the 40-man roster should be in Binghamton’s bullpen in Armando Rodriguez. Rodriguez has been a starter throughout his career, but his future is likely in the bullpen where he has the stuff to be a major league contributor. Closing out games for the B-Mets will be lefty Josh Edgin, who was fantastic last season in Savannah and St. Lucie and even made a push in major league camp this spring. Edgin has never pitched above A-ball, so starting any higher than AA would have been aggressive, but he has a plus fastball and slider so he has a chance to rise through the system fast and get to the majors at some point this season. Rounding out the Binghamton bullpen will be Edgar Ramirez, Elvin Ramirez, Erik Turgeon, and old friend Kevin Mulvey. Altogether there’s more known entities in this group than you usually expect to see in a AA bullpen, including two guys on the 40-man roster. Everyone except Edgin and Rodriguez have experience at this level, so most of the guys should be well prepared for success, and considering Edgin and Rodriguez are the most talented bullpen arms this unit should help the team win a lot more often than they hurt the team. The B-Mets outfield is looking pretty strong for 2012. Playing centerfield will be Matt Den Dekker, who played the second half of last season in Binghamton and hit 11 homeruns. However, his average, OBP, and slugging all declined from what he put up the first half of the season in St. Lucie. So, despite being a great defensive outfielder, Den Dekker has some improvements to make at the plate before he’s ready to advance to the next level. Joining him in the outfield will be Juan Lagares, Raul Reyes, and Pedro Zapata. Lagares had a career year swinging the bat in 2011 hitting .349/.383/.500 between St. Lucie and Binghamton. If he can keep that up he will be a huge part of the B-Mets lineup and will give him a chance to get to the big leagues this year because Lagares has plenty of tools, as well as defensive versatility. Zapata is tall and fast, and was a key to St. Lucie’s on-field success last year while Reyes is a solid organizational player that had a nice season for Binghamton last year. Neither look like future big leaguers but they’re definitely players that can help the B-Mets win games, especially as supporting players to Den Dekker and Lagares, two guys that could have big years with the bat. Starting out on the Binghamton disabled list is Sean Ratliff, who is still recovering from a horrific eye injury suffered last spring training, but he may be able to get himself on the field at some point this year. The infield is a less settled situation for Binghamton. Reese Havens should be the headliner of the infield, but the injury-plagued second baseman struggled to get on the field again this spring, so there’s no guarantee that he will be able to play everyday, but if he can play expect him to hit, a lot. Havens will start the year on the disabled list and as long as he’s there the B-Mets will have to rely on veteran minor leaguers Scott Kazmar and Josh Rodriguez to man the middle infield if Havens can’t stay on the field. At first base, Allan Dykstra is back for another year in Binghamton after blasting 19 homeruns for the B-Mets last year. Dykstra could be ready for AAA soon, but he appears blocked by the resigning of Val Pascucci, so instead he will provide Binghamton with a power bat in the middle of the lineup. At third base, the B-Mets will have Jefry Marte. Marte had a strong first half in St. Lucie last year then struggled in the second half before bouncing back in the Arizona Fall League. Marte has plenty of talent but has yet to take off as a prospect, but he’s still young and considering his bat speed he’s someone to keep an eye on, especially now that he’s in the upper levels of the minors. Eric Campbell and Travis Ozga will also see time at the corner infield spots and possibly the outfield as well. Campbell has done some good things throughout his career, but had a disastrous 2011 campaign despite finishing strong, so it’ll be interesting to see if he’s capable of bouncing back. It’s not a great looking infield, especially without Havens. How good this unit is depends on his health as well as Marte’s ability to hit at the upper levels. Behind the plate Binghamton will have Kai Gronauer and Juan Centeno, two guys that could be a year away from giving the Mets homegrown depth at the catcher position. Gronauer, a German native, had a breakout year with the bat in 2010 but played a shortened season last year due to injuries. If he can hit for a decent average and play good defense he could be third or fourth on the major league depth chart at catcher this time next year. The same goes for Centeno, who is small but hit .318 in St. Lucie last year showcasing his ability to put the ball in play. This is a solid catching tandem and should be an asset for Binghamton this year. So that is your 2012 Binghamton Mets. This year’s team is looking a lot better than they did a year ago, so finishing at the bottom of the Eastern League is unlikely to happen again. If pitchers Wheeler, Gorski, and McHugh can repeat their performances from last year the B-Mets could make a run at the playoffs this year, especially if enough guys have a good year swinging the bat.