Val Pascucci and the most obscure Mets of the past 20 years

Generally, the less we say about Sunday’s extra-inning loss the better. However, I was glad that Val Pascucci got into the game, even if he did not come particularly close to making contact. Pascucci is a guy you cannot help but to root for, despite Wilt Chamberlain’s famous quote that “No one roots for Goliath.”

Pascucci is certainly Goliath in stature, as Baseball-Reference lists him at 6’6 and 270 pounds. I guess the camera really does add weight, but in this case it seems more in the neighborhood of 25 pounds. And if you go by minor league numbers, Pascucci has had a Goliath-like career, too. He has cracked 234 HR in the minors, despite spending two seasons of his prime in Japan.

An 11th-round pick of the Brewers back in 1996, Pascucci did not sign and went to the University of Oklahoma instead. In 1999 he was selected by the Expos in the 15th round, which perhaps was a bit of foreshadowing on how his career would go. He advanced through Montreal’s farm system and finally made it to the majors in 2004, where he fanned 22 times in 62 ABs and posted a meager .588 OPS in 74 PA.

Pascucci played the next two years in Japan before coming back in 2007 with the Marlins. He hit 34 HR that year in Triple-A and posted a .967 OPS but did not make it back to the majors. In fact, Pascucci did not appear in the majors again until the Mets called him up this year. He played 613 games in the minors between stints in the big leagues. While that may not be a record, it’s still an impressive feat and speaks to Pascucci’s love of the game.

During the current season, it’s frequently hard to determine what you will remember and what will slip from your mind from the current campaign. I’m pretty sure I will remember that Pascucci played for the 2011 Mets, because his story is so unique. But undoubtedly, there will be players I forget from this team as the years go by.

That got me thinking – who are the most obscure Mets? For this idea I think the player should have gotten a minimum level of playing time. After all, it’s easy to forget a guy who played in just two games. So, let’s set the floor at 50 PA or 20 IP. You have to meet or exceed those to qualify for the following list. Also, the guys on this list should become more forgettable as you go backwards. You should remember the guy from 2010 but the guy from 1993 should be a whole lot less familiar.

2010 – Either Mike Hessman or Jesus Feliciano. Hessman has fewer PA – 65 to 119 – but Feliciano seems so much more forgettable.
2009 – Ken Takahashi would be the pick if the Mets didn’t use another Takahasi the following year. So, I’ll go with Wilson Valdez, who logged 95 PA.
2008 – Someone who didn’t live through it might pick Argenis Reyes, but I expect I’ll remember Heinous Reyes for quite some time. That makes it Carlos Muniz as I’ve already forgotten his 23.1 IP and 5.40 ERA.
2007 – David Newhan had 83 PA and a .573 OPS
2006 – There’s no obvious choice here but we’ll take David Williams because of his forgettable name and 5.59 ERA in 29 IP.
2005 – Juan Padilla was done in by fate. He had a good year in ’05, with a 1.49 ERA in 36.1 IP. But he underwent Tommy John surgery the next spring and was out of baseball for two years. Now he’s bouncing back between Independent ball and the Mexican League.
2004 – Ricky Gutierrez had 70 PA and a .463 OPS
2003 – Several good candidates this year but most of them played multiple seasons, which makes them slightly more memorable. Jeremy Griffiths is notable now because we remember he was a high draft pick, but soon that will fade and we’ll have to recall his 7.02 ERA in 41 IP.
2002 – John Thomson made nine starts for the team which I only vaguely remember. He’ll always be a Rockie to me.
2001 – The parents of Donne Wall forgot to give him an “i” so I don’t feel bad about forgetting his 42.2 IP.
2000 – I like Jon Nunnally so I’ll have to go with Rich Rodriguez and his 37 IP, although at the time I’m sure his 7.78 ERA was memorable.

1999 – Another year without an obvious pick. It would probably be Mike Kinkade but he’s memorable for his attempt to make it as a catcher. Jermaine Allensworth’s name keeps him from serious consideration. By default it’s Luis Lopez, who notched 121 PA.
1998 – I have no recollection of Jim Tatum even being in the majors, much less on the Mets. But he played 173 games in his career, including 35 this year with the Mets and had 57 PA.
1997 – Did Tatum change his name from Steve Bieser? Mr. Bieser had 81 PA in his only season with the Mets.
1996 – If you want your son to grow up to pitch in the majors, please don’t give him a similar sounding name to a guy synonymous with losing his control. That was the fate of poor Blas Minor, who actually came up with Steve Blass’ Pirates before pitching 25.2 IP with the Mets this year.
1995 – I remember Mike Birkbeck on the Brewers but he spent four years with the Mets, mostly in the minors. But he made four starts in 1995 (27.2 IP) and pitched pretty well. But this was his last season in pro ball, which seems somewhat odd.
1994 – Another year with no obvious choice. By default it’s Jim Lindeman, who logged 145 PA.
1993 – Mike Draper pitched 42.1 forgettable innings.
1992 – Our first tie! Mark Dewey and Tom Filer were both yawnstipating. Filer pitched better but Dewey had more innings.
1991 – Tony Castillo spent 10 years in the majors, including this year when he compiled 23.2 IP.
1990 – The hardest year yet. All of the players who met the minimum requirements are pretty well-known. Tommy Herr and Mike Marshall did not distinguish themselves with the Mets but they’re hardly obscure. By default it’s Orlando Mercado, again not obscure, but a .612 OPS in 100 PA is the best we can do.

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For a nice Q&A with Pascucci, check out Ted Berg’s interview.

Mets Minors: Gorski’s record-setting start comes to an end

Matt Harvey left Class A St. Lucie with an 8-2 record and a 2.37 ERA before heading to Class AA Binghamton. Darin Gorski has been even better than the 2010 first-rounder as the “ace” of the St. Lucie rotation.

Gorski set a club record with his 10th straight win July 18 against Clearwater, surpassing the nine straight wins by Pat Strange in 2000. Unfortunately, the lefthander’s streak ended Saturday when, despite a seven-inning complete game against Brevard County, he was beaten 3-2.

Gorski yielded three earned runs and six hits with a walk and four strikeouts, including a wind-aided homer in the seventh that cost him and the Mets the first of two seven-inning games.

“That’s how it goes sometimes,” Gorski told Bill Whitehead of the TCPalm.com. “I didn’t think it was that bad of a pitch. It was a changeup low and he got the bat on it. I didn’t think it was going to make it out.”

For the season, the 23-year-old is 10-1 with a Florida State League-best 2.15 ERA with 25 walks and 111 strikeouts in 104 2/3 innings.

“It’s so much easier pitching with some confidence,” the Kutztown (Pa.) University alum told Whitehead. “The first couple of seasons had some rocky moments, but I had a good spring this year. I came in and pitched with confidence and pounded the strike zone.

Primarily a reliever in the first month, Gorski used a spot start in the nightcap of a doubleheader at Brevard County two months ago to plant himself firmly in the rotation. He is 10-1 with a 2.03 ERA in 15 starts. In his first start on April 27 in Bradenton, he struck out nine Marauders in the first three innings, and had 10 strikeouts in the first 11 outs recorded.

St. Lucie manager Pedro Lopez had Gorski in Brooklyn in 2009 after he was drafted and also last season at Savannah.

“It’s impressive, and I’m happy for him because he’s a hard-working kid. You want to see stories like his, Lopez told TCPalm.com. “He’s a guy who has battled and kept grinding, outing after outing, day after day.”

Meanwhile, Harvey continues to struggle at Class AA.

In his latest outing Saturday against Reading, the Phillies rode a three-run first inning to a 3-2 victory. Of the 18 runs Harvey has allowed with the B-Mets, 10 have come in the first inning. Overall, the 6-4 righthander is 0-3 with a 7.15 ERA and 31 hits allowed in 22 2/3 innings.

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St. Lucie 3B Jefry Marte was the talk of the club in April. The then 19-year-old hit .321 with four homers and 16 RBI in 23 games. However, the third baseman has lost his power touch since, drilling just one in his last 70 games – none in June or July. He has a .553 OPS this month and hasn’t reached .700 since posting a .920 OPS in April.

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Class AAA Buffalo first baseman Val Pascucci leads the International League with 68 RBI in his quest to become just the third player in the franchise’s modern era to lead the league, joining American Association leaders Jeromy Burnitz (1995) and Nigel Wilson (1996). Buffalo has not had the winner of the IL RBI race since Pancho Herrera had 108 in 1962.

The 32-year-old was originally a 15th-round draft pick of the Montreal Expos in 1999. Pascucci is batting .268/.388/.498 with 14 homers and 24 doubles in 89 games. He’s batting .366 with four homers and 17 RBI in his last 10 games.

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Infielder Josh Satin was promoted from Binghamton to Buffalo this week. The 26-year-old was 2-for-13 in his first three games with the Herd after batting .325 with an Eastern League-leading 35 doubles, 11 homers and 60 RBI at Binghamton.

Satin hit a combined .311 last year with 12 homers and 74 RBI at Class A Savannah and Binghamton and then went 16-for-41 in the prospect-laden Arizona Fall League. He is a career .306 hitter in 412 minor league games.

“The goal for me coming into this season was to get here because once you’re here if you do well, you never know what can happen,” Satin told Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News. “I’m thrilled to be here. I’m going to work my butt off to do everything I can to succeed and help the team. If all goes well, there’s always that chance. It’s great to be here.”

AROUND THE MINORS: Binghamton 2B Reese Havens returned from his latest injury by going 3-for-5 on Wednesday at Portland. He went 1-for-9 in his next three games and is batting .257/.333/.398 in 26 games at Class AA. He had been out since late June. … Teammate CF Matt den Dekker continues his power surge, drilling four homers over three games last week. He has six homers in 33 games for Binghamton and has rebounded after a poor start to hit .234/.315/.461 with 15 extra-base hits (6 homers) in 128 at-bats. The 23-year-old defensive whiz hit .296/.362/.494 at St. Lucie. … Savannah C Albert Cordero snapped a 1-for-11 skid with six RBI, including a two-run homer and a game-tying RBI in the seventh. He had three more hits Sunday to raise his average to .257 – .315 in the second half. … OF Juan Lagares was promoted from High Class A St. Lucie to Binghamton and went 6-for-9 in his first two games. The 22-year-old was leading the Florida State League in hitting at .339/.381/.495 with seven homers and 49 RBI in 81 games.