It was opening night for the St. Lucie Mets, playing at home against the Bradenton Marauders, and a night that belonged to Mets top 10 prospect Justin Dunn. It was Dunn, coming off a rough 2017 season, who lead the way tossing five scoreless innings and most importantly recording seven strikeouts against zero walks on the night.
Dunn struck out the first batter he faced, swinging at an off speed pitch which would be the theme of the night. After giving up back-to-back singles and throwing a wild pitch, a quick mound visit was conducted. Dunn was then able to induce a grounder to Michael Paez at third base for an out, and ending the first inning with another strikeout, this time looking.
In the bottom of the first, Jacob Zanon lead things off with a single, but was later caught stealing on a called third strike against Mets top prospect 19-year-old Andres Gimenez. Desmond Lindsay then flew out to end the frame.
Back on the mound, Justin Dunn induced a fly out to left fielder Jacob Zanon, gave up a line drive single and allowed a stolen base before then shutting down the inning with another line out and a swinging strikeout, his third of the night through two innings.
After a quite and hitless inning from St. Lucie in their half of the second, Dunn again found himself in trouble giving up back to back singles to start the third. However on the second single of the frame, a runner attempted to advance to third but was thrown out by right fielder Gene Cone on a strong accurate throw with third baseman Michael Paez laying down the tag. After another mound visit, Justin Dunn recorded his 4th strikeout of the game, again swinging, and then a pop out.
The Lucie squad then again went down quietly in the third after a fly out by Paez, a Gene Cone Walk followed by fly outs from catcher José Garcia (Whom I was told hands down is the best defensive catcher in the Mets system right now) and OF Jacob Zanon.
Justin Dunn then pitched his first perfect inning in the fourth, inducing to fly outs and his fifth strikeout of the night on a called third strike. However the home team again went hitless for the third consecutive inning to keep the game tied 0-0.
In his final inning of work, Dunn recorded two more strikeouts and a groundout, with a double mixed into his scoreless frame and outing. He was rewarded for his efforts and given the immediate opportunity to have a chance at the win after Dash Winningham, following a Luis Carpio Strikeout to start the bottom of the fifth, drove a fastball over the wall in right field and into the berm at First Data Field to score the games first run. Gene Cone would record a hit in the inning but Paez and Garcia recorded the second and third outs of the inning.
In relief of Dunn was right hander Ryder Ryan, the 22-year-old was acquired from the Cleveland Indians in the Jay Bruce trade last summer. Ryder was dominant in the sixth, recording two strikeouts and one fly out to end the inning.
After a scoreless bottom half the home team, Ryder was back on the mound for the seventh and continued to overwhelm the hitters with a fastball sitting 95-96 MPH and a very impressive breaking pitch in the low 80s. He appeared to rely more on his off speed pitches in his second inning of work, as I did notice his velocity was down a tick in his follow up inning.
St. Lucie put another run on the board in their half of the seventh, staring with a leadoff double by Luis Carpio, who would later come around to score on a Michael Paez high chopper that went over the head of the opposing third baseman to make it 2-0 Mets.
In the eight, it was another flamethrower, right hander Stephen Nogosek who Mets acquired in the Addison Reed trade with Red Sox. After inducing two ground ouths he then had a sequence of throwing 96, 97 and ending with an 81 MPH breaker for a swinging strikeout.
In the bottom of the eighth, after a Garcia strikeout, Jacob Zanon his positive night with a double, and would score the teams 3rd run when Andres Gimenez hit a hard line drive double to right field. Desmond Lindsay then got in the mix and singled home Gimenez on a grounder through the hole into center field to make it 4-0.
Nogosek came back out for the ninth, striking out the first batter before then giving up a single and a run scoring double. He then closed out the game inducing a ground out and pop out. Of note, there was a concern in the inning that Nogosek may have been tipping his pitches. Nonetheless the night was over and the St. Lucie Mets won their first game of the year 4-1.
Box: AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG
Jacob Zanon 3 1 2 1 0 0 0 1 0 .667
Andres Gimenez 4 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 2 .250
Desmond Lindsay 4 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 .250
Brandon Brother 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000
Luis Carpio 3 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 .333
Dash Winningham 4 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 .250
Michael Paez 3 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 .333
Gene Cone 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 .500
José Garcia 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .000
Justin Dunn 5 IP 6 H 0 R 0 ER 0 BB 7 K
Ryder Ryan 2 IP 0 H 0 R 0 ER 0 BB 4 K
Stephen Nogosek 2 IP 2 H 1 R 1 ER 0 BB 2 K
Some additional thoughts:
Justin Dunn, while his fastball (94/95) at times appeared up in the zone, showed dominant off speed pitches and used it all night as a go to when recording his strikeouts. Overall a very positive outing from him, and despite the high pitch count there’s no denying the 0 walks allowed and the ability he showed to shut things down with runners on base.
This was a really good night for Jacob Zanon, showing a compact line drive type swing.
Gene Cone did a little bit of everything tonight, with a hit, a walk, a stolen base and what amounts to a very important outfield assist throwing out a runner trying to advance to third.
It was exciting for me to also get to see Mets top prospect Andres Gimenez who didn’t disappoint. He made the plays in the field, and recorded a big double to help ensure victory.
Desmond Lindsay was struggling at the plate prior to that big run scoring single.
The St. Lucie Mets outfield is talented, fast and strong. With the Florida State League being filled with some pretty big ball parks, its comforting to know, as witnessed tonight, that this group can and will prevent some extra base hits and make outs that might normally being doubles or even triples especially at First Data Field.
If you make a mistake on a fastball while falling behind on the count, there’s a good chance Dash Winningham, owner of an 80 grade name, will deposit that pitch into the berm often.
Thank you for reading. I hope to be back at another game really soon.