St. Lucie report: Humber back on the hill

Philip Humber's progress appears to be coming along nicely with the St. Lucie Mets. A first-round pick in the 2003 draft, Humber has returned from Tommy John surgery and made three starts with St. Lucie, including a season-high six innings on Sunday.

The 23-year-old Humber underwent reconstructive surgery on his right elbow last July after pitching in 14 games at St. Lucie and making just one four-inning appearance at Double-A Binghamton.

Working out this spring at the Mets' training facilities in Port St. Lucie, Fla., Humber was able to return to pitching in professional games in under 12 months.

He made his first and only appearance for the Gulf Coast Mets on June 22, allowing three runs and seven hits in four innings to the Gulf Coast Nationals, walking one and striking out seven while throwing a wild pitch.

With St. Lucie, Humber has started to show flashes of the front-line talent that prompted New York to take him with the third overall pick out of Rice University three years ago.

Humber picked up a victory in his first start for St. Lucie on June 28 vs. Jupiter, pitching five innings of three-run ball, and was handed a no-decision at Vero Beach on July 3 before pitching past the sixth inning on Sunday, the second game of a doubleheader against Jupiter at Tradition Field.

Looking to help the Mets bounce back from a loss in the first game of the twinbill, Humber instead suffered his first defeat of the year, though he did strike out seven and walked just two.

Humber allowed four runs and four hits, including a two-out homer to former Mets farmhand Grant Psomas – dealt to the Florida Marlins as the player-to-be-named in January's Carlos Delgado trade – as Humber tried to get through the sixth inning.

Overall with St. Lucie, Humber is 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in three starts, spanning 15 innings. He has allowed nine runs, all earned, and 13 hits while walking three and striking out 14.

For more on Humber, check out Inside Pitch contributor Bill Whitehead's story for the Treasure Coast Newspapers.

Double play: Doubleheaders are supposed to be fun, aren't they? They haven't been for St. Lucie.

The Mets went 0-4 in weather-necessitated twinbills this week, dropping dual decisions to Jupiter on July 9 (including the Humber start) and to Brevard County on Wednesday.

In Wednesday's action, the Mets fell 1-0 in the opener as Adam Heether doubled home an eighth-inning run against reliever Marcelo Perez, and again in the nightcap as Edgar Alfonzo allowed three runs (two earned) in two innings.

State of St. Lucie: With the second half off and rolling, St. Lucie has fared 10-8 (.556) since the break. They're currently in second place in the Florida State League East, 3 ½ games behind Daytona (13-4).

St. Lucie leaderboard, offense: Corey Coles ranks third in the organization with a .325 batting average (96-295), though the outfielder hasn't played since July 7. … Enrique Cruz, batting .288 (60-208), is ninth in the system and sixth among players with more than 100 at-bats … Jesus Flores' 12 home runs tie him with Binghamton's Jay Caligiuri for second in the system … Flores is second among Mets minor leaguers with 51 RBI, while Mike Carp ranks third with 48 RBI. Former St. Lucie Met Ambiorix Concepcion, who started the year in Florida before joining Binghamton on June 24, is tied for fourth with 42 RBI … Concepcion's 19 steals are tied with current Binghamton teammate Carlos Gomez to pace the organization, and all but one were notched with St. Lucie. Coles is second in the system with 16 steals.

St. Lucie leaderboard, pitching: Sal Aguilar's 3.04 ERA places him eighth among Mets farmhands and third behind Mike Devaney and Mike Pelfrey when excluding pitchers currently with short-season clubs … Devaney's nine victories hold strong as the organization lead, tied with Norfolk's Evan MacLane. Eight of those wins came with St. Lucie … Jose Sanchez is tied for third in the system with eight wins … Carlos Muniz's 18 saves pace the organization … Devaney's 93 strikeouts are third in the system. The right-hander fanned 86 of those batters with St. Lucie.


Right-hander Sal Aguilar joined St. Lucie in May and has gone 4-3 with a 3.25 ERA in the Florida State League, making 12 starts for the Mets.

In 69.1 innings, Aguilar – a 24-year-old who was a 29th round pick in the 2004 draft – has walked 18 and struck out 47. He hasn't been beaten in four starts and has pitched six innings or more in three of those efforts.


Rafael Cova, a hard-throwing prospect from Venezuela who merited a spring training invitation this spring, hasn't had much success at St. Lucie.

Though he's 2-0 with three saves, Cova has a 6.34 ERA in 32.2 innings and is allowing close to two walks or hits per inning, showing a 1.96 WHIP entering Thursday's action.

Opponents are batting .312 against Cova, though he has pitched better of late. He'll need to better control his walks; Cova has walked six batters in his July appearances spanning 4 2/3 innings.

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