Today marks the beginning of the 2017 minor league season with all four of the New York Mets full season affiliates playing tonight.
The Triple-A Las Vegas 51s begin the 2017 season against the El Paso Chihuahuas at 9:05 PM ET on the road. Lefty Adam Wilk gets the Opening Day start for the 51s in his Mets system debut.
Right-hander Tyler Pill will start for the newly named Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies at the New Hampshire Fisher Cats with a 6:35 PM ET first pitch.
The St. Lucie Mets open their season at First Data Field vs the Palm Beach Cardinals. Right-hander Andrew Church will start for the Mets at 6:30 PM ET.
The Columbia Fireflies begin their second season as the Mets Low-A affiliate at home against the Augusta GreenJackets. First pitch is 7:05 PM ET with right-handed prospect Harol Gonzalez making the start.
METS MINORS NEWS & BUZZ
Top left-handed pitching prospect Thomas Szapucki will begin the season the shelf with a shoulder impingement. The 20-year old will stay back in St. Lucie to rehab his shoulder and is expected to join the Columbia Fireflies rotation when healthy.
In Triple-A, the Las Vegas 51s infield will be among the best in the minors with Dominic Smith at first base, Gavin Cecchini at second base, Phillip Evans at third base and top prospect Amed Rosario manning shortstop.
Special thanks to Ethan Wilson and Melissa Rodriguez of Mets Media Relations for allowing us access to the team and complex at Port St. Lucie this Spring.
ORGANIZATIONAL LEADERS (2016)
STARTER ERA – P.J. Conlon 1.65 (Columbia, St. Lucie), Ricky Knapp 2.69 (St. Lucie, Binghamton, Las Vegas), Andrew Church 2.92 (St. Lucie, Columbia), Chris Flexen 3.56 (St. Lucie), Kevin Canelon 3.64 (Columbia).
I had to the opportunity to talk to Mets pitching prospect Thomas McIlraith, whom was part of the Columbia Fireflies first ever win and no-hitter last season, here are some of the best quotes from our conversation:
MMO – In your first start of the season you pitched the first six innings of a no-hitter, what was that experience like for you and your teammates?
Thomas – It was an unbelievable experience for us. Any time you’re part of a no-hitter it’s special and it’s even better that it was the first win for Columbia as a franchise.
MMO – When did the guys in the dugout start staying away from you or realize that you guys had a chance to make history?
Thomas – I think around the 5th inning is where everybody started to realize what was going on. I think I realized around then too, but I was just trying to act normal in the dugout and not think about it too much.
MMO – Who were a couple of teammates that impressed you this past season?
Thomas – Everybody really impressed me but obviously P.J. Conlon. He was so dominant every single start and just always gave us the confidence that we were going to win the game. And David Thompson and Vinny Siena, because they always played the game hard and got big hits when we needed them.
MMO – What current Major League pitcher would you compare yourself to?
Thomas – I’ve never really known who to compare myself to, but I would say Jeremy Hellickson. It’s fun watching him throw, it looks so effortless.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
When I talked to Mets Director of Player Development Ian Levin last week he said third baseman David Thompson was one of the standout players in minor league camp this spring.
Thompson also got the chance to play in four major league spring games and took advantage of his opportunity going 3 for 4 with a double and run scored. He also made a few nice plays defensively at third.
Levin also mentioned third baseman Blake Tiberi, the 2016 draft pick will start the season at the hot corner for the Columbia Fireflies.
We will have a live game thread to help follow the action tonight.