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.

Remembering Former Bronx Born Italian / American Player: Frank Malzone (1955-1966)

Frank James Malzone was born on February 28, 1930 in the Bronx, New York. He attended to Samuel Gompers High School on Southern Blvd. off 149th St in the 1940’s. Malzone planned to be an electrician if his baseball career didn't work out.

In 1947 the five foot ten, third baseman was spotted & signed, for $150 a month by the Boston Red Sox. He married his wife Amy while playing the minors at Oneonta, NY in 1949. They remained married until her death in 2006.

served two years of Military service, during the Korean War in the early fifties before getting to the major leagues. 

He was already 25 years old when he arrived in Boston for a 1955 cup of coffee with the Red Sox. Two years later, he was the Red Sox regular third baseman, and had a fantastic rookie season. He batted .292 (10th in the AL) while driving in a career high 103 runs (3rd in the AL). Malzone hit 15 HRs with 31 doubles five triples & posted a .323 on base % playing in 153 games. He made the All Star team, came in second to Tony Kubek in the Rookie of the Year voting & was seventh in the MVP voting as well. 

He won his first Gold Glove at third base, the first year the Award was issued. He also became the first player in modern baseball history, to lead his position in games played (153), putouts (151), assists (370), errors (25) fielding & double plays. On September 24th, 1957 he tied an MLB record making ten assists. 

In 1958 he followed up with another All Star season, batting .295 coming in second in the league with 185 hits. He hit 15 HRs with 30 doubles 87 RBIs while leading the league in games (154) & at bats (627). At third base he won his second Gold Glove, posting a .954 fielding %, leading the league in assists (378) games (154) & errors (27). 

 In 1959 he hit .280 having another All Star year, hitting a career high 19 HRs with 34 doubles (2nd in the AL) 169 hits (6th in the AL) & 92 RBIs (10th in the AL). Malzone won another Gold Glove in 1959, & was the last third baseman to win the award before Brooks Robinsons’ won an incredible 16 straight. 

Trivia: In the first of two All Star games of that year, he batted 7th & drove in a run with a double off the Dodgers, Don Drysdale.

Malzone also set another defensive record at the time for third baseman, as he led the league in double plays five straight seasons. As he entered the sixties he dropped in numbers the first two years of the decade. He helped a young Carl Yastrzemski make a transition in left field replacing Ted Williams.

Quotes: Carl Yaz- “When I first came to the big leagues in 1961, Frank was the guy who took me under his wing. I struggled when I first came up, and he took care of me and stayed with me. He was a real class guy, a very caring guy, and I owe him a lot. You aren’t going to find too many people like him.”

In 1962 had a career high 21 HRs with 95 RBIs & 20 doubles while batting .283. 
He returned to have a good 1963 season as well, batting .291 with 15 HRs & 71 RBIs. Malzone spent eleven seasons as the Red Sox third baseman, winning three Gold Gloves making six All Star teams. After the 1965 season Malzone was released, he would be replaced by future Met & another Bronx born player; Joe Foy. 

In his eleven seasons with the Red Sox the club never finished above third place & would finish seventh or worse in his final four years.

Malzone signed with the Los Angeles Angels in what would be his final season as a player. In 82 games he batted just .206 & retired at age 35. In his 12 year career Malzone hit .274 with 1486 hits 133 HRs, 239 doubles, 21 triples, 337 walks 728 RBIs & a .315 on base % in 1441 games. 

He posted a .955 career fielding average, making 196 errors in 4388 chances. He ranks in the top twenty in Red Sox history in hits, HRs, games played, doubles, runs, and RBIs. 

Retirement: After his playing days, Malzone was a scout for the Red Sox for 35 years, and a long time consultant for player development. He was elected to the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 1995. Malzone & his wife resided in Needham just outside of the city of Boston. 

 "As far as my personal achievements with the game I would say when you play ten full years and make the All-Star team eight times that is quite an accomplishment for myself. The only thing that I regret is that I never got to play in the post-season."

Malzone passed away, due to natural causes on December 30th 2015 at the age of 85.

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 Backup Catcher: Mike Nickeas (2010-2012)

Michael James Nickeas was Born on February 13, 1983 in Vancouver, British Columbia. He is the son of British professional soccer player, Mark Nickeas.

Nickeas grew up in West Lake California & then attended Georgia Tech. University playing on their baseball team for three years. The six foot right handed hitting catcher was originally drafted by the Texas Rangers in 2004. In August of 2006 he was traded to the New York Mets in exchange for Victor Diaz. 

After having success early in his career, especially during the Pan Am games & low levels of the minors, he struggled at both A ball St. Lucie & AA Binghamton. He was at Mets Spring Training as early as 2007, but didn't get near making the team. That year he played for Great Britain in European Baseball Championship making it's All Star team & winning a silver medal. 

In 2008 he hit just .210 in the minors, in 2009 he fell to .164 playing in just twenty games as he suffered a broken finger. In 2010 he hit .283 at AA Binghamton with 15 doubles 5 HRs & 33 RBIs as the clubs main catcher. He was promoted to AAA Buffalo& after seven games got a September call up to the Mets ho still had faith in him. 

Nickeas made his MLB debut on September 4th in Chicago at Wrigley Field, getting the start behind the plate catching Jenrry Mejia. He went 0-2 that day, getting his first hit in his third game at Citi Field against Milwaukee. He played in five games going 2-10.

In 2011 he began the year with the Mets out of Spring Training, finishing up Opening Day behind the plate in the last three innings. He got his first start in Philadelphia in the fourth game of the season, going 0-5. He then hit safely in five of six games and hit his first career HR on April 21st, coming at Citi Field. 

On April 27th he was sent back down to the minors at AAA Buffalo. There he played in 60 games behind Raul Chavez who played 78 games, hit just .199 but threw out 47% of would be base stealers. Nickeas hit .214 while throwing out 40% of would be base stealers. He returned to the Mets at the end of August and got to play in a dozen more games, finishing the year at .189 (10-53) with one HR one doubles & 6 RBIs. 

Behind the plate he posted a perfect .1000 fielding % making no errors in 124 chances, in twenty games. He threw out four of thirteen base runners trying to steal on him. 

In 2012 he caught the third game of the season, going 0-4 in the Mets 7-5 win over Atlanta. On May 5th his two run single off Patrick Corbin, led to a Johan Santana 4-2 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks. On May 26th, at Citi Field, he hit a grand slam HR off former Met Dale Thayer in a 9-0 Mets win over the San Diego Padres. Nickeas struggled, batting just .168 at the end of June & he was sent down to AAA Buffalo. He hit .364 there in 22 games. 

He was brought back up in September finishing the year batting .174 with one HR three doubles 13 RBIs & a .242 on base %. In the 2013 off season he was traded to Toronto in the R.A. Dickey / Travis d'Arnaud / John Buck deal.

He appeared in just one lone game with the Blue Jays, spending most of his time at AAA Buffalo where he batted just .166. In 2014 he hit .285 at AAA Buffalo in 49 games.

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.

Early Sixties Mets Reserve Catcher: Sammy Taylor (1962-1963)

Samuel Douglas Taylor was born on February 27, 1933 in Woodruff South Carolina. The six foot two, left hand hitting catcher was signed by the Milwaukee Braves in 1956. After two seasons in their minor leagues he was traded along with Taylor Phillips, to the Chicago Cubs for Eddie Haas, Don Kaiser and Bob Rush.

 Taylor became the Cubs regular catcher in 1959, batting .269 with a career high 13 HRs, 13 doubles & 43 RBIs. In June of the 1959 he was involved in a strange play while behind the plate.

The legendary Stan Musial walked on a ball four, wild pitch that got past Taylor. He argued the call, saying Musial had foul tipped the ball as it rolled to the backstop. Musial ran to second, Alvin Dark ran to the backstop to retrieve the ball. The ball wound up in the hands of the field announcer, a new ball was taken, and thrown into the outfield.

As Musial tried for third; the old ball was retrieved then thrown to third base where Ernie Banks tagged out Musial. Behind the plate that season, he caught 109 games and committed a league leading ten errors. 

In 1960, he was a second string catcher behind Ed Tappe, batting only .207 in 74 games. The next season, Dick Bertell took over as the Cubs main catcher, with Taylor as a aback up seeing action in 89 games; batting .238. On April 26, 1962 he got traded to the expansion New York Mets for Bobby Gene Smith. Taylor arrived at the Polo Grounds where the young Mets had played just 14 games in the team's history. At that point they were 2-12 already 8 1/2 games back. 

On April 28th he appeared as a pinch hitter drawing a walk in a 8-6 loss to the Phillies. In his second game as a Met, Taylor got a hit. driving in a run, in a rare '62 Mets 8-0 win, also over the Phillies. On May 19th, he helped spark an 8th inning, four run Mets rally, as he singled in a run, off Milwaukee's Lew Burdette. Hot Rod Kanehl came in to run for him & scored the winning run on a Jim Hickman sac fly. 

Eleven of his twenty RBIs came in the month of June, when he saw the most playing time (21 games) getting 13 hits, including a four game hit streak. On July 7th, Taylor had a big day, hitting HRs in both ends of a doubleheader at the Polo Grounds, in games against the St. Louis Cardinals. In the first game he hit a sixth inning solo shot off Larry Jackson, which was the first run in the Mets 4-3 win. In the second game he hit another solo shot, this one off Ray Washburn, although the Mets lost the game 3-2. It would be the last HR of Taylor's career & he would finish with just three on the season. 

In July he went down with injury missing over a month of time, returning at the end of September. He spent the season in a revolving door of New York Mets catchers who tried out for a regular job in that position.

Included in the cast were; Chris Cannizzaro, Choo Choo Coleman, Joe Pignatano, Hobie Landrith & Harry Chiti. Overall in 68 games Taylor hit .222 but led all the weak hitting catchers with three HRs & twenty RBIs. In 56 games behind the plate he threw out 33% of base runners attempting to steal & posted a .992 fielding %. 

In 1963 he didn't get to the Mets club until late May, & would see action in 22 games through June, batting .257 with six RBIs. On July 1st he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds along with Charlie Neal, for another catcher; Jesse Gonder.

After one month there, Taylor was sent to the Cleveland Indians for Gene Green. He played just four games in Cleveland & spent the next two seasons in the minor leagues before retiring from the game. 

Taylor finished his brief six season playing in 473 lifetime game, hitting .245 with 309 hits 33 HRs 47 doubles, 147 RBIs & a .313 on base %.