Feb 28, 2017

2015 N.L. Champion Mets Italian / American Outfielder: Michael Conforto (2015-207)

Michael Conforto was born on March 1st, 1993 in Woodlinville, Washington. He comes from a family of Athletes as his mother; Tracie Conforto was a two time Olympic Gold medalist (1984 & 1988) in synchronized swimming & his father; Mike played linebacker at Penn. State. His sister Jacqueline was a college soccer player.

In 2004 he played in the Little League World Series for the NorthWest Region. In high school the honor roll student played short stop on the baseball team & was a stand out saftey in football. He was recruited by several Ivy League schools for football  & was also sought after for baseball. He chose to stick with baseball & play at Oregon State.

In his first year he was voted Freshman Hitter of the Year batting .349 with 13 HRs & setting a school record with 76 RBIs. In his sophmore year he was named All American, leading his Oregon Beavers to the College World Series, where he went 7-14, getting named to the All Tournament Team. In his off seasons he played for USA Collegiate National teams.

In 2013 he batted .345, named the Pac 12 Player of the Year & was named a first-team All-American. He went into 2014 as the pre season, Sporting News College Player of the Year. 

The six foot one, left hand hitting outfielder, throws right handed. He attended Oregon State University getting drafted by the New York Mets in the first round in 2014 (the #10 pick overall).  

Conforto's pro career began that same year with the Brooklyn Cyclones. That year he led his club in batting (.331) & in HRs (3) while playing in 42 games. He started 2015 with the St. Lucie Mets where he hit .283 with 7 HRs & 28 RBIs in 46 games.

He got promoted to the AA Binghamton Mets in late May where he continued his hot hitting. He batted .312 with 5 HRs & 26 RBIs in 45 games, getting named to play in the 2015 Futures Game.

With the New York Mets struggeling to score runs & an injury to Michael Cuddyer, the team decided to promote Conforto right up to the big league level. At this point in time he was the organizations best hitting prospect. He made his debut in the big leagues on July 24th, 2015 starting in left field and going 0-3 in a loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The young man said he got chills as the Citi Field crowd of 36,666 greeted him with a nice ovation. The next night, in his second game he collected four hits, including back to back doubles, two singles & a walk. This made his the fastest Met ever to have a four hit game.

On July 31st when the Mets traded for Yoenis Cespedes, Conforto was sent back down to the minor leagues to develop his young career. Four days later on August 3rd he was back in the big leagues when Kirk Nieuwenhuis went on the DL. By this time the Mets had now taken over first place. That night he hit his first career HR, in a 12-1 Mets win in Florida as the team took over sole possesion of first place.

Conforto drove in runs the next two nights, including game tying single in the top of the 9th inning at Tampa, as New York came from behind to beat the Rays 4-3. Conforto scored the game winner on Wilmer Flores RBI hit.

He hit his second HR on August 15th & another six days later in a Mets win at Colorado. On August 31st, he brought his average up over .290 and hit his fourth HR helping the Mets in a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field.

In a hot September he was a big contributor to the Mets offense & run at the NL East title. Along with the newly acquired Yoenis Cespedes the Mets outfield all of a sudden had pop & lots of hits out of their spots in the lineup. Conforto, Cespedes and veteran new comers Kelly Johnson & Juan Uribe turned around a Mets team that struggled for hits & runs earlier in the year.

In the first seven days of September he hit two HRs & drove in five runs in five games he played in. On September 13th toward the end of the Mets eight game win streak, he hit a two run HR in a 10-7 win & sweep of a series against the Braves in Atlanta.
On September 21st, he hit another HR against the Braves helping Jon Niese & the bullpen in a 4-0 shut out at Citi.

Since his arrival in August Conforto would have 13 multi hit games, hit 9 HRs with 23 RBIs. In a total of 56 games, he had 47 hits batting .270 with 9 HRs 14 doubles & 26 RBIs. He played primarily in left field making six assists with a 1.000 fielding %.

2015 NLDS: Conforto got the start in left field at Dodger Stadium, in the Mets first post season game in nine years, batting 7th as the Mets faced the Dodgers in Game #1 of the NLDS.

In the 2nd inning, three batters after Yoenis Cespedes hit a HR, Conforto followed with a HR of his own, both coming off Zack Greinke. Conforto did not get any more hits in the NLDS or in the NLCS sweep of the Chicago Cubs.

2015 World Series: Michael Conforto was thrilled to be playing the World Series, having been in the minor leagues just two months before & playing College ball just a year earlier.

On October 27th, in Game #1 of the World Series, Conforto hit a 6th inning sac fly off Edinson Volquez driving in Yoenis Cespedes for the Mets second run.

In Game #3 at Citi Field, the game in which the Mets won 9-3 behind Noah Syndergaard, Conforto hit a 4th inning double driving in Lucas Duda with the Mets fifth run. In the Mets Game #4 heartbreaking loss, the game was highlighted by Confoto's two HRs, in the 3rd & 5th innings. Conforto also had two hits in the final 5th Game at Citi Field.   

Overall in the World Series, Conforto led the Mets in batting .333 (for batters with more than two at bats) and was one of four Mets to have five hits. He was second in HRs (2) & RBIs (4) in the Series for the Mets as well. Overall in 12 post season games, he had two six hits (6-30) batting .200 with 3 HRs & 6 RBIs.

Trivia: Conforto  became the third player in MLB history to have played in the Little League World Series, College World Series & MLB World Series.

2016 started out well for Conforto as he finished April batting .365 4 HRs & 18 RBIs. On April 8th he had a three RBI day on a 7-2 Mets win over the Phillies at Citi Field. In mid April he drove in three runs with a HR as the Mets took two of three  in Cleveland against the eventual AL Champions.

On April 24th he drove in two runs in the Mets 3-2 win at Atlanta over the Braves. In a six game stretch from April 24th to April 30th he drove in ten runs during an eight game hit streak where he collected 15 hits. His average fell to below .300 by mid May until he had another hot streak. He would hit a HR on May7th, then hit safely in nine of eleven games. On May 17th, he hit a solo HR off Max Scherzer, in a 2-0 Mets win over the Washington Nats. On May 20th, he hit another solo HR, this one against the Milwaukee Brewers in a 3-2 Mets win.

Things weren't going well at the plate for Conforto, but there were a few highlights. On June 4th, his 8th inning hit off David Phelps in Miami put the Mets ahead in a 6-4 win. On June 8th in Pittsburgh, he drove in three runs including a game tying HR to help the Mets in a 6-5 win over the Pirates. At Citi Field he would hit another HR against the Pirates a week later.

From May 24th to June 24th, he had just eight hits in 84 plate appearances in 25 games, as his average plummeted to .222. On June 24th & he was sent down to AA Las Vegas as the Mets called up Brandon Nimmo, one of the teams top prospects. He returned in mid July & began to play in right & center field as well as his usual left. He was used mostly as a reserve than as a starter, without the Mets giving him an everyday chance it may have affected his play even more so.

On August 7th, he hit his first HR in nearly two months in a 3-1 win at Detroit. During the September pennant stretch, he had a two RBI game on September 18th against the Milwaukee Brewers in a 3-2 win. On September 23rd he hit a HR with three RBIs & two hits  in a 10-5 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. Overall in a disappointing 2016 season, he hit .220 with 12 HRs 21 doubles & 42 RBIs.

In his two year career he played in 165 games, with 114 hits 21 HRs 35 doubles 26 RBIs & a .335 on base %.

In the off season , the Mets resigned Yoenis Cespedes & could not shop Jay Bruce in the trade market as expected. That leaves Confoto's future uncertain. Will he be able to overtake the veterans in an outfield spot, will there be a trade or will he accept a back up role or even end up in the minor leagues.

Michael Conforto's Olympic Gold Medal Winning Mom: Tracie Ruiz Conforto

Tracie Lehuanani Ruiz Conforto was born February 4th 1963 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

She started swimming from the start & soon became a champion. She won the 1979 Team Gold championship at the Pan American Games. Then went on to solo & duet golds at the 1983 Pan American Games. She later won a 1987 Gold there as well.

In 1982 she was a World Champion in solo competition and would win six more from 1981-1986. She also won four titles in duet competition, dominating the sport.

In 1984 at the Summer Olympics held in the United States, at Los Angeles, Tracie was a two time gold medal winner in synchronized swimming, a new addition to Summer Olympics that year. She won the medals in both solo competition & in a duet with Candie Costie.

After a brief stint in body building she returned to swimming in the 1988 Olympics, only competing in solo competition, winning a Silver Medal for the US.

In 1985 she married Michael Anthony Conforto, who had helped her train for the Olympics. Conforto was a line backer at Penn State University in the late seventies. He was more of a back up player on two teams that finished in the Top Five. Conforto's teams played in Gator, Sugar & Fiesta Bowls.

After College he tried out for the Seattle Seahawks but did not make the team. He eventually went partners in opening a gym, where he met his future wife Tracie.

Their son Michael was born in 1993. He has a sister Jaqueline who played soccer at Azusa Pacific University.

Feb 27, 2017

The Last Mets Third Baseman Before the David Wright Era: Ty Wigginton (2002-2004)

Ty Allen Wigginton was born on October 11, 1977 in San Diego, California. The stocky six foot, 230 pound right hand hitting infielder attended UNC Ashville College where he still holds many hitting records. He became the first alumni to make the major leagues when he was drafted by the New York Mets in 1998 in the 17th round.

Wiggy hit over 20 HRs with 70 plus RBIs at A ball St. Lucie in 1999 & then did the same at AA Binghamton in 2000. In 2002 he was brought up to the Mets in May for just six games then was sent back down. He would hit .300 at AAA Norfolk although he only had six HRs & return to the Mets in August.

On August 4th he hit his first career HR with a big four hit day in Arizona in a loss to the diamond backs. In the first week og September he hit three HRs and got his average up over .300 to end the season. He showed promise hitting .302 with 6 HRs & 18 RBIs in only 46 games (116 at bats).

In 2003 he became the Mets primary third baseman, leading the team in games (156) RBIs (71) hits (146) doubles (36) triples (6) runs (73) & slugging percentage (.396).

He also led the team in strikeouts (124) and batted .255. At third base he led the league in put outs with 117, posting a .962 fielding % making 16 errors (5th in the NL).

Wigginton made the Topps Rookie team & came in eighth, one spot behind team mate Jose Reyes in the Rookie of the Year voting. On April 8th he hit his first HR of the year, driving in three runs leading the Mets to a 4-1 victory in Florida against the Marlins. In mid May he had back to back three RBI games in a series in Colorado. He had his first four hit game at Milwaukee in May against the Brewers with another at Texas against the Rangers the following month.

On June 5th he hit HRs in both ends of a double header against the Milwaukee Brewers at Shea Stadium. He drove in three runs in each game, totaling six overall in the twin bill, although the Mets lost both games. On July 6th he doubled in the top of the 8th inning, tying up a game against the Reds in Cincinnati which the Mets went on to win.

In the middle of the month he drove in runs in four of six games, on a six game hit streak. He hit pretty consistent over the next two months putting together a few more small hit streaks.

On August 21st he hit a three run HR in San Diego leading the Mets to a 5-1 win. The next day he hit another three run shot in Los Angeles. In August he drove in 15 runs before slumping to finish off the season in September.

Trivia: Over the course of the summer, the fans adopted the song “getting’ jiggy with it" changing the words to gettin wiggy with it” in his honor. By 2004 David Wright was on the scene as the third baseman of the future and Wiggy’s days were numbered.

On the Fourth of July he had one of his biggest days as a Met, hitting a pair of HRs driving in three runs, in the Mets 6-5 Subway series win.

On July 15th his 9th inning single off Roberto Hernandez drove in the winning run as the Mets beat the Phillies at Shea Stadium. On July 31st, after 86 games played, he was batting .284 with 12 HRs 23 doubles & 42 RBIs, when he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Jeff Kepplinger, as well as the team of Kris & Anna Benson.

Trivia: Wigginton is ninth on the Mets all time list for games played at third base (235).

He didn’t play much in Pittsburgh hitting .220 the rest of the year & .258 with just 7 HRs the following season. He was released in December 2005 & signed with the Tampa Devil Rays for 2006.

He rebounded to rejuvenate his career, hitting 24 HRs with 25 doubles & 79 RBIs while batting .279.

Family: In December his wife Angela, went into unexpected labor & while on the phone with the 911 operator, he helped deliver his son Cannon. The Wiggintons have three children.

In 2007 he was traded to the Houston Astros mid season for Dan Wheeler. He finished that season & the next with similar numbers, hitting over 20 HRs with 25 plus doubles & 65 or more RBIs, while raising his average to the best since his debut at .285. After the season the Astros let him go to free agency, upsetting some Astro fans due to his popularity.

In 2009 he signed as a free agent with the Baltimore Orioles, there he batted .273 with 11 HRs 19 doubles & 41 RBIs in 122 games. He missed some time on the DL battling injuries.

In 2010 he hit 22 HRs with 73 RBIs batting .248 playing in 154 games, making his first All Star team. The slow footed Wiggy grounded into 23 double plays on the year (4th in the AL).

In December he signed with the Colorado Rockies for 2011, he hit 15 HRs with 47 RBIs batting .242. On April 11th he got his 1000th career hit, a HR off the San Francisco Giants Matt Cain. It was also his first Rockies HR. 

In November 2011 he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies & got a lot of playing time as Ryan Howard was down with injury most of the early part of the season. Wiggy also got to play at third base & some games in the outfield. In 125 games he hit 11 HRs with 43 RBIs batting .235.

In 2013 he signed on as a free agent with the St. Louis Cardinals but only hit .158 & was released in July. The Miami Marlins also gave him a minor league deal in 2014 but he was released that March.

Retirement: In 2015 he became a high school baseball coach in North Carolina.

In his 12 year career the journeyman has hit .261 with 169 HRs 245 doubles 14 triples with 594 RBIs & a .323 on base % while striking out 891 times in 1362 games.

A Short Time Member of the 2000 NL Champion Mets Pitching Staff: Dennis Springer (2000)

Dennis Leroy Springer was born February 12th 1965 in Fresno California, the hometown of Tom Seaver. He was one in a long line of Major league players that attended California State University at Fresno. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 21st round of the 1987 draft.

The five foot ten, right hander's specialty was his knuckleball. He would spend seven years in the minors before making to the big leagues. By that time he was with the Philadelphia Phillies debuting in 1995 going 0-3 in just four games pitched.

He then signed on with the California Angels playing there for two years into the transition of the team being called the Anaheim Angles. In two seasons there he posted ERA's near six & went a combined 14-15. He allowed the second most HRs in 1997 (32) & was fourth in the AL in earned runs with 112. He did throw a shut out in each of his seasons in Anaheim.

In 1998 he was drafted by the new expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays as the 25th pick. Unfortunately he had a terrible 3-11 season inaugural season there. He moved down state to South Florida where he signed with the Florida Marlins getting a spot in their rotation.

In a career high 38 games (29 starts) & 196 innings, he went 6-16 (second most losses in the NL) with a 4.86 ERA.

In the winter of 2000 the 1999 NL Wild Card Champion Mets signed him & gave him a shot. Springer debuted with the Mets on April 22nd, starting the second game of a double header at Shea Stadium, against the Chicago Cubs. He went into the 6th inning, giving up three runs on seven hits earning no decision, as the Mets did go on to a 7-6 win thanks to a five run 6th inning. 

The knuckleballer got one more start, coming on April 26th but it was a debacle. He allowed eight runs on thirteen hits with four walks in just six innings of work, taking a 12-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.

He went 5-5 with the Mets AAA Norfolk Tides that season as well. Overall he spent 15 seasons in the minors going 24-48 with a 3.33 ERA.

The Mets let him go & he appeared with the Los Angeles Dodgers pitching five games over the 2001 & 2002 seasons. In his big league career he was 24-48 with a 5.18 ERA, 296 strike outs & 258 walks in 130 games (98 starts).

Trivia: In 2001 he served up the San Francisco Giants Barry Bonds his 73rd HR of the season.

Feb 26, 2017

Mets Catcher: Rene Rivera (2016)

Rene Rivera was born July 31st 1983, in Bayamon Puerto Rico. The five foot ten right hand hitting catcher was signed out of high school as a second round pick of the Seattle Mariners in 2001. Rivera is not known for his hitting but is known as a solid veteran defensive backstop.

He spent four seasons in the minor leagues getting a cup of coffee in 2004 in two games for the Mariners. After spending 2005 at AA San Antonio & AAA Tacoma he played 16 games at the big league level for the Mariners. He spent all of 2006 with the Mariners as Kenji Johjima's back up getting into 35 games but hitting just .152 with 2 HRs & 4 RBIs in 99 at bats.

In 2007 the Mariners kept him in the minors to learn better defensive skills & hoping he would hit. At the end of the season he was granted free agency & signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers getting back to the AAA level at Las Vegas. But once again he was granted free agency & signed with the New York Mets.

He spent 2009 with the Mets AAA Buffalo Bisons under manager Ken Oberkfell, as back up to Robinson Cancel, catching 74 games batting .234 with 9 HRs 34 RBIs & throwing out 27% of would be base stealers. Again he was granted free agency signed with the A.L. New York club then Minnesota Twins all in 2010. That year he also played Independent Baseball at Camden New Jersey.

He saw some action behind Joe Mauer in Minnesota (44 games) throwing out 40% of would be base stealers with a .988 fielding % but hit just .211. He again was let go to free agency & was signed by the San Diego Padres.

In limited action he threw out 56% of would be base stealers & posted a perfect 1.000 field %earning him the chance to get noticed & remain in the big leagues. In 2014 he was the Padres Opening Day catcher, getting that honor for the first time in his career. On April 28th he blasted a three run HR & drove in a career high five runs helping beat the San Francisco Giants 6-4. In August he tied up a game in the 9th inning with a HR & then won the game with a walk off single.

That year was the Padres main catcher (103 games) sharing time with Yasmani Grandal who also played at first base. Rivera hit 11 HRs with 18 doubles & 44 RBIs while batting .252. He threw out 36.3% of base stealers (4th best in the NL) had 66 assists (5th best in the NL) & turned seven double plays (5th most) while committing 8 errors (5th most).

But at the end of the season the Padres went a different ways & traded both Rivera & Grandal in a three team deal, landing Rivera in Tampa with the Rays. He won over the main catchers spot but hit just .178 with 5 HRs & 26 RBIs in 110 games played. He was also the personal catcher for Chris Archer.

His defense was still solid throwing out 37% of base stealers making 60 assists turning 5 double plays & making 11 errors with a .987 fielding %. He even played seven games at first base. In two games against the Mets last season he was 1-5 with a walk.

He got to play the Cuban National team with Tampa in March but was released in Spring Training & signed again by the New York Mets with a minor league deal, for veteran insurance. That came to be a good signing as he was called up to replace Travis d'Arnaud who went on the 15 day DL with a rotator cuff strain.

Rivera debuted with the Mets on April 30th in a 6-5 win against the San Francisco Giants. In his second start a rainy matinee that centerfieldmaz attended, he contributed with his first Mets HR, in a four HR, 8-0 Steven Matz Mets shutout. That month he had RBI's in two Mets games, a 3-2 win over Milwaukee & a 2-0 shutout against the Washington Nats. In June he had RBI's in six of 12 games, with two multi RBI games, but was struggling batting just .182. He handled the pitching staff well & became Noah Syndergaard's favorite backstop.

On July 3rd he homered & drove in three runs in the Mets 14-2 romp over the Chicago Cubs at Citi Field. On July 19th as the Mets went to Wrigley Field, Rivera's base hit RBI in the top of the 9th inning off Hector Rondon proved to be the game winning run. In August he had two d

was With the Mets catching woes of 2016, Rivera was a great pickup for New York.

Through July 2016 he is a lifetime .263 hitter, with 24 HRs 48 doubles & 109 RBIs in 364 career games. He has thrown out 38% of would be base stealers & posted a .989 fieling % in 343 games behind the plate.

Former Mets Catcher: Alberto Castillo (1995-1998)

Alberto Terrero Castillo was Born on February 10, 1970 in the Dominican Republic. The tall six foot catcher was signed out of high school by the New York Mets as an amatuer free agent in 1987.

Catillo would spend eleven years in the Mets minor leagues, making brief appearances in the big leagues with New York four different seasons. 

He debuted in the big leagues on May 28th, 1995 catching Dave Mlicki at Shea Stadium going 0-3 against the Giants. He hit just .103 in 13 games with the Mets that season but showed good abilities behind the plate, even throwing out 4 of 5 base stealers. He saw action in six MLB games the next year & 35 games in 1997.

In 1998 he was with the club out of Spring Training & had his shining Mets moment on Opening Day. In the bottom of the 14th inning with the bases loaded he singled home the walk off winning run to beat the Philadelphia Phillies 1-0. That season he hit his first career HR in San Francisco & another in Boston in early June. By the end of the month he was sent back down after batting just .205 at the big league level.

He signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Phillies after the 1998 season. He soon got traded to the St. Louis Cardinals where he played as a back up to Eli Marerro. Castillo had career highs that season in games (93) hits (67) HRs (4) RBIs (31) & batting average (.263). He led all NL catchers throwing out 51% of would be base stealers & posted a .991 fielding %.

He would become a journey man backup & third string catcher through the years playingwith the Toronto Blue Jays, A.l. New York team, San Francisco Giants, Kansas City Royals & Baltimore Orioles. In his 12 season career he threw out 41% of would be base stealers posting a .991 fielding % & batted .220 with 12 HRs & 101 RBIs.

Castillo was a catcher for the first Dominican team in the inaugural 2006 World Baseball Classic. In 2008 he played for the Newark Bears of the Independent League & eventually got traded to the Long Island Ducks.

Feb 25, 2017

Short Time Mets Catcher: Taylor Teagarden (2014)

Taylor Hill Teagarden was born December 21st 1983 in Dallas, Texas. The six foot right hand hitting catcher attended the University of Texas at Austin, where he was a star player. He was named Bug Twelve Conference Freshman of the Year & helped the 2005 Longhorns win the College World Series, making the All Tournament team as catcher. He was soon signed by his home town Texas Rangers in the 3rd round of the 2005 draft.

 2005 was a rough year for him as he needed back surgery as well as Tommy John surgery. In 2008 he played on the US Olympic Team that won a Bronze medal. That year he also made his debut with the Rangers for two quick games in July & playing in 14 more games that September, batting .316.

 In 2009 he played in a career high 60 games backing up Jarrod Saltalamacchia for the second place Rangers. He threw out 38% of would be base runners, while batting .217 with 6 HRs & 24 RBIs. Teagarden would spend four years in Texas as a part time player. He would then go to the Baltimore Orioles as a player to be named later.

He spent parts of 2012 & 2013 with the Orioles batting under .200 both seasons playing 22 & 23 games respectively. In 2014 he signed as a free agent with the New York Mets. He played with the Gulf Coast Mets (4 games) St. Lucie Mets (2 games) & AAA Las Vegas for 55 games.

On June 10th Teagarden was brought up to catch in a game with the Milwaukee Brewers at Citi Field. That night he also got the biggest hit of his career, a grand slam HR off Marco Estrada in the bottom of the 6th inning. He put the Mets ahead 6-1 on their way to a 6-2 victory. He got seven starts with New York that June over a two week period. He hit just .43 in 28 at bats in nine games.

At the end of the year he was granted free agency. In a seven year career he is batting .202 with 100 hits 21 HRs 26 doubles & 68 RBIs.

Former Mets Catcher: Juan Centeno (2013-2014)

Juan Centeno was born on November 16th 1989 in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. In 2007 the Mets drafted him out of high School in the 32nd round. The five foot nine, catcher Centeno, bats left handed while throwing right handed.

He spent four years at the Mets A ball level between Brooklyn & St. Lucie, not hitting much but showing solid defense. After batting around or under .200 he hit .371 in 32 games (just 89 at bats) with the Cyclones in 2010. He then was pushed up to St. Lucie again even getting to AA Binghamton by the end of the season.

In 2011 he was back at St. Lucie hitting .318. In 2012 he hit .285 at AA Binghamton as the clubs main catcher catching guys like Zack Wheeler & Jenrry Mejia. The next year he was playing in Puerto Rico, Binghamton & at AAA Las Vegas as their main catcher. He hit .305 & tossed out 56% of would be base stealers. With not much power he did not hit any HRs in 67 games.

On September 18th he made his MLB debut catching & batting 8th in a 5-4 win at Citi Field over the San Francisco Giants. In the home 5th he collected his first career hit a single off Matt Cain. In the 9th inning the Mets were down 4-1, Centeno's RBI hit helped the Mets rally in which they won on a walk off hit by Josh Satin. He saw action in four games that year.

In 2014 he got a call up in May & got into six games starting in the subway series. He collected two hits against the Washington Nationals with another two RBI day. He would go back down & return in September where he got one hit in four games, ending the season batting an even .200.

In October 2014 he was placed on waivers & picked up by the Milwaukee Brewers. There he saw action in ten games getting granted free agency & was signed by the Minnesota Twins.

In 2016 he appeared in 55 games behind main backstop All Star Joe Mauer. Centeno batted .261 with 3 HRs & 25 RBIs. In the off season he was signed by the Houston Astros.

In a four year career he is batting.290 (56-237) with 3 HRs 13 doubles & 28 RBIs. In 73 games behind the plate he tossed out just 14% of would be base stealers.

Feb 24, 2017

Early Nineties Mets Reserve Catcher: Kelly Stinnett (1993-1994)

Kelly Lee Stinnett was born on February 14, 1970 in Lawton, Oklahoma. The five foot eleven right hand hitting Stinnett was a star baseball & football player in high school. He won the State Championship with team mates James Trapp and Will Shields who both went on to play in the NFL.

Stinnett attended Seminole Junior College winning All American & Jr. College Player of the Year batting .399. He was signed as a catcher by the Cleveland Indians in the 11th round of the 1989 amateur draft. He was drafted away by the New York Mets in December 1993 in the Rule V draft.

He made the club out of Spring Training & would spend two seasons in New York, as Todd Hundley’s backup catcher. He debuted in third game of the season at Wrigley Field, catching Pete Smith & hitting a double in the Mets 6-2 win. He would see action in 47 games for the Mets that year, making five errors behind the plate throwing out 32% of base stealers. He would hit his first career HR on May 5th in St. Louis in the Mets 8-1 victory . On the season he batted .253 with 19 extra base hits 2 HRs & 14 RBIs.

In 1994 his average would drop to .219 with 4 HRs & 18 RBIs playing in 77 games sharing time with Alberto Castillo as Todd Hundley’s back up. That off season he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for pitcher Corey Lidle who would go 7-2 for the 1997 Mets.

Stinnett would play for 14 seasons as backup catcher in Milwaukee (1996-1997) Arizona (1998-2000) Cincinnati (2001-2003) Philadelphia (2003), Kansas City (2004) New York (A.L.-2006) St. Louis (2007) & another brief stint with the Mets in 2006 for seven games. He saw the most playing time in Arizona where he backed up Damian Miller appearing in over 75 games each season (1998-2000).

In 1999 he had career highs with Arizona in HRs (14) RBIs (38) games (92). That year he played in his only post season series, the NLDS against his old Mets team mates. He went 2-14 with a run scored while playing in all four games. Stinnett was the catcher behind the plate calling the pitch Todd Pratt drilled for the walk off win in Game #4 in the bottom of the 9th inning.

On August 24, 2006, Stinnett signed a minor league contract with the Mets. He made his return to Shea Stadium as a Met on September 9th, 2006 against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and went 1-3. He finished September with a .083 Batting Average, and was not included on the 2006 New York Mets postseason roster.

After 14 seasons he batted .234 with 476 hits, 65 HRs 91 doubles & 230 RBIs playing in 734 games. In his career behind the plate he threw out 28 % of base runners, made 67 errors in 4063 chances (leading the league with 12 in 2001) posting a .9834 fielding %.

Original 1962 Met Turned Police Officer & Senator: Sherman Jones (1962)

Sherman Jarvis Jones was born on February 10, 1935 in Winton, North Carolina. The six foot four right handed pitcher was originally signed by the New York Giants in 1953. He spent the rest of the fifties in the minor leagues winning ten games twice in that time period. There he earned the nickname "road block" when he helped stop a team losing streak.

In 1960 he won ten games going 10-0 in the Pacific Coast League with AAA Tacoma, getting him his chance to pitch in the big leagues. Jones debuted with the San Francisco Giants pitching in 16 games of relief going 1-0 with a save, finishing up eight games overall posting a 3.09 ERA. He got traded to the Cincinnati Reds in May of 1961 to complete an earlier deal that sent Don Blasingame and Bob Schmidt to Cincinnati for Ed Bailey.

Jones pitched in 24 games of relief for the ’61 NL Champion Reds, going 1-1 with two saves and a 4.42 ERA. He got to pitch two thirds of an inning in the 1961 World Series, retiring two batters.

Jones was then drafted by the New York Mets in the 1961 expansion draft (34th pick overall) becoming an original Met in the 1962 inagural season.

In Spring Training he took a line drive to the leg which put him on crutches for over a week. Manager Casey Stengel originally wanted Jones to pitch the clubs first game, so the so called ace of the staff, Roger Craig could start the home Opener at New York.
But in another of the many classic '62 Mets tales, Jones suffered a freak accident when a lit match flew off the cover & struck him in the eye. His start had to be moved ahead, & Craig pitched the Mets first historic game.

Jones started the third game in Mets history on April 13, 1962, which was the team's first ever home game, played at the Polo Grounds. He pitched well, against the Pittsburgh Pirates allowing two runs in five innings of work that day.

The first run (Smokey Burgess) scored on a Don Hoak double, Burgess had reached base on an infield hit, when Charlie Neal's throw pulled the first baseman off the bag. Hoak then scored when Bill Mazeroski's fly ball fell between Ritchie Ashburn & Gus Bell. Bell had waved off Ashburn but as it ended up couldn't make the play after all. Sherman Jones was the pitcher of record that day & took the loss in front of the 12,447 fans on the historic rainy afternoon in New York.

It was also Jones who got the first Mets hit at the Polo Grounds that day, when he singled in the third inning off Tom Sturdivant. In his next outing, the St. Louis Cards beat him up for six runs over four innings & it would be his last start as he was moved to the bull pen.

He lost two more games there & was sent back to the minors at the end of May, getting back as a September call up at the end of the season. He would go 12-6 for the Mets at A ball in Raleigh the following year posting a good 2.10 ERA but never got called up to the big leagues again. He played two more minor league seasons before he retired from baseball in 1965.

Jones had spent12 years in the minor leagues going 84-63 with a 3.96 ERA pitching 289 games. In the majors he pitched 48 games going 2-6 with three saves in 110 innings posting a 4.73 ERA.

Retirement: At age 30 Jones started a second career as a Police officer in Kansas City Missouri, and would stay on the KC Police force for twenty two years.

After that he was elected to the Kansas Legislature of Wyandotte County, serving in the House of Representatives from 1989 to 1992. He then served in the Senate from 1993-2001. Mr. Jones had quite a career going from an original Met to a policeman to a politician.

In 2007 he passed away at the University of Kansas Medical Center, at the age of 72.