St. Lucie report: Sanchez stringing success

Jose Sanchez's recent string of successful starts continued Tuesday for the St. Lucie Mets, as the 22-year-old right-hander limited the Lakeland Tigers to one unearned run over a seven inning performance.

Sanchez took a no-decision in the Mets' extra-inning affair at Tradition Field, which ended in 10 innings when the Tigers' Gilberto Mejia singled home the eventual winning run against St. Lucie's Rafael Cova.

But the loss can't place a damper on Sanchez's recent string of success in the Florida State League.

A non-drafted free agent who signed with the Mets in 2002, Sanchez first put his name on the organizational charts by quickly compiling nine victories in his first 10 starts last year at Class-A Hagerstown of the South Atlantic League.

Not a particularly hard thrower, Sanchez relied upon finesse and a well-located fastball to achieve solid results before tailing off his pace near the season's end, finishing 11-5 with a 4.20 ERA in 26 games (24 starts).

It was about this time last year that Sanchez's run was beginning to tail off, as he won his 11th and final game on July 9.

There appear to be no such troubles in 2006 with St. Lucie, as Sanchez was selected as a first-half All-Star, having emerged to become one of manager Gary Carter's more reliable staff pieces.

Over his last 26 2/3 innings, Sanchez has allowed just three earned runs, all of which came in a loss at Daytona on July 6.

In his last two starts, Sanchez has limited Brevard County and Lakeland, respectively, to one unearned run over seven innings.

It was a start at Tradition Field on June 30 against Jupiter, however, that Sanchez will likely look back and point to as his season highlight.

Facing the Hammerheads for the second time in a week, Sanchez followed a 8 2/3 inning shutout performance with his first professional complete game, limiting Jupiter to five hits in a shutout performance.

Overall this year, Sanchez is 9-5 with a 3.19 ERA, having made 19 starts for St. Lucie. In 115 2/3 innings, Sanchez has struck out 65 and walked 29, allowing 108 hits and 50 runs (41 earned).

State of St. Lucie: The first-half division winners in the Florida State League's East division, St. Lucie enters play Wednesday having fared 14-10 (.583) to open the second half. That places them second in the East, 3 ½ games behind Daytona (17-6).

St. Lucie leaderboard, offense: Corey Coles leads all Mets minor leaguers with a .334 average, having stroked 102 hits in 306 at-bats … Jesus Flores' 12 home runs rank him third in the system behind Hagerstown's Nick Evans (15) and Binghamton's Jay Caligiuri (14) … Mike Carp's 54 RBI are second in the system, barely trailing Evans' 55 at Hagerstown. Jesus Flores is a close third with 52 RBI … Coles has 17 stolen bases, third behind Binghamton's Carlos Gomez (20) and former St. Lucie teammate Ambiorix Concepcion (19) … As a team, St. Lucie is batting .260, tops in the organization. The Mets also lead all seven farm clubs in runs scored (424), hits (816) and stolen bases (69).

St. Lucie leaderboard, pitching: Sal Aguilar's 3.14 ERA qualifies him for seventh in the organization and third among pitchers currently pitching for long-season clubs. Jose Sanchez is close behind with a 3.19 mark … Sanchez's nine victories tie him with Binghamton's Mike Devaney for second in the organization, trailing Norfolk's Evan MacLane (10) … Carlos Muniz's 20 saves are nearly double his closest competitor in the system, Binghamton's Henry Owens (11) … As a club, St. Lucie's 3.24 ERA is best in the system. The Mets lead all seven farm clubs in wins (54) and saves (32), and are tied with Binghamton with three complete games and eight shutouts.


First baseman Mike Carp is swinging a hot bat at St. Lucie. Carp is hitting .310 through 58 at-bats in July, highlighted by his July 13 game vs. Brevard County when he went 2-for-4 with a home run, three RBI and two runs scored.

Overall, the 20-year-old Carp – highly regarded as one of the system's better first base prospects – is batting .277 with seven home runs and 54 RBI in 92 games for St. Lucie.

He hasn't been hitting the long ball with as much regularity this year, having hit 19 home runs at Hagerstown in 2005, but he has already surpassed last year's doubles totals with 19. He had 12 in 313 at-bats last year.


Jesus Flores, a top catching prospect who had been enjoying a resurgence that has seen him earn selection as a Florida State League All-Star, has had a rough go of it this month.

The 21-year-old Flores – an invitee to major league spring training this season – is batting just .156 in 64 July at-bats, with no home runs and four RBI. Free-swinging, he has struck out 22 times and walked just once.

By comparison, Flores batted .346 in June. Overall, he's hitting .252 with 12 home runs and 52 RBI in 83 games spanning 306 at-bats for St. Lucie.

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