I had the chance to catch up with Mike Harrington of http://www.buffalonews.com. He has a blog on the site where he does coverage of the Buffalo Bisons, the Triple-A team of the Mets. You can check out his blog at blogs.buffalonews.com/insidepitch. Mike was willing to answer a few questions about some of the Bisons players.
St Lucie to Flushing: To say Lucas Duda has been good for the Bisons would be an extreme understatement. He’s been tearing the cover off the ball all year, especially in Buffalo. What do you like about Duda offensively, and how much progress has he made defensively?
Mike Harrington: I like the fact he’s not going around thinking he’s a home run hitter. He’s not pull happy. And he’s showing the ability to adjust. After a few weeks of Triple-A, I was figuring, ‘Well, as soon as he sees the breaking balls, he’ll go into a slump.’ Wrong. He’s waited on balls and continued to hit after one tiny little dive for a few games. We have not had a player come through Buffalo in the middle of the season and have this kind of impact since Jeff Manto in 1997. Project Duda’s numbers out to a full Triple-A season and they’re eye-popping. Easily the biggest surprise of the entire minor-league system this year. He’s gotten better defensively too. He was below-average at first when he first got here, making some bad, bad reads on balls in LF. But I know he’s worked hard with Jack Voigt and we’ve seen improvement in that area. He will have to continue to work hard there.
St Lucie to Flushing: After putting up some very good numbers in AA, Kirk Nieuwenhuis got the call to Buffalo. You have also seen Fernando Martinez play .. There is debate as to who the top OF prospect in the system is. Which of the two would you give the edge to and why?
Mike Harrington: I never understood all this heaping praise about FMart. He was THE top prospect the Mets pushed upon Buffalo when they got here but I’ve seen 15 guys in the Cleveland years who were better. If this kid was the top prospect, they had a lean system and ’09 here sure showed that. He’s certainly got talent shouldn’t a great prospect not be languishing to hit .250 in Triple-A? Is he bored being here? He’s done very little to show he should be in the major leagues other than being on prospect lists. Nieuwenhuis I’ve seen very little of, to be honest. They’ve been on the road a lot and I missed a homestand on another assignment. But they’re high on him and he’s played a nice CF. Has to hit more. Right now, both guys are fringe at best.
St Lucie to Flushing: Chad Cordero was signed to Buffalo. From what you’ve seen do you think he’s someone that could help out a major league bullpen at this stage in his career?
Mike Harrington: So far, so good. Nice flier by the Mets. These shoulder things can take 2-3 years sometimes to feel better. Looks pretty free and easy and is getting results. The Mets’ big improvement has been spotting older talent this year to help Buffalo (think Dickey, Hessman, Cervenak, Padilla, House, Pascucci). This might be another to that list.
St Lucie to Flushing: Dillon Gee has had a solid year there, and will likely set the Bisons strikeout record tonight..could he be a back end started at the MLB level, and is this k rate a mirage? Or has their been improvements you’ve noticed throughout the year?
Mike Harrington: He could definitely be a No 4-5 starter in the big leagues. The K rate is no mirage when you’re talking this many starts. And his season looks a whole lot better when you take away June, when he just got hit hard and often. Seemed like he got mentally sidetracked when he took the loss against Strasburg, like he was disapppointed he didn’t put on a better show that day and it carried over. He’s been a workhorse in July and August. Sneaky fastball, better breaking pitches. He’ll get a couple September starts for the Mets.
St Lucie to Flushing: Nick Evans has been bounced around a bit. AA,MLB,AAA..some think he’s getting the shaft a bit by the big team..do you see him as someone who can contribute at the big league level even if only in a part time/platoon situation ?
Mike Harrington: Evans can contribute for sure in the big leagues at some point. I think it was VERY important for him to come to Buffalo and contribute this year. That 7 for 75 at the start of last year just hung over everything. Good idea by the Mets to stash him at Bingo, let him thrive there and maybe get a big-league callup before he came to Buffalo in ’10. He’s been very good here, the way we frankly expected him to be last April.
I’d like to thank Mike for his time, and if you are interested you can also follow on on Twitter @BNHarrington