Mets Spring Training Watch: Which Players Are on Fire and Which Are Slumping?

Shale BriskinContributor IIIMarch 5, 2013

As the Mets' spring training continues, the month of March becomes a time for certain players to battle for roster positions, whether it be to start every day or to just simply have a roster spot on the bench.

The Mets' most notable position battles are in the outfield, where virtually every spot is open. Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mike Baxter seem to be the three favorites to start, but Marlon Byrd, Collin Cowgill, Andrew Brown and Matt Den Dekker are all trying to get on the roster as well. 

Behind the plate, John Buck will very likely be the starting catcher on Opening Day and will continue to do so until Travis D'Arnaud is deemed ready for the major leagues. As for the Opening Day backup catcher, Anthony Recker and Landon Powell are competing for that position.

Backup infielders Brian Bixler, Brandon Hicks, Omar Quintanilla and Zach Lutz are competing for bench spots as well.

On the pitching side, the Mets' starting rotation looks set, but the bullpen has a few openings. Among those in competition for a spot in the bullpen include Scott Atchison, Greg Burke, Robert Carson, Jeurys Familia, Pedro Feliciano, LaTroy Hawkins, Aaron Laffey and Elvin Ramirez.

With 11 spring training games in for the Mets' Grapefruit League schedule, here are some players that are doing particularly well, as well as a few Mets that are playing rather poorly.


Mets That Are on Fire

1. Travis D'Arnaud

Top offensive prospect Travis D'Arnaud has made a great first impression on the Mets and their fans in spring training. 

In six games and 14 at-bats, D'Arnaud has had six hits, including two doubles. He has driven in two RBI, scored three runs and has posted a .429/.400/.571 line thus far. 

D'Arnaud's hot start could give him a possible chance to be the Opening Day catcher, but more than likely, he will begin the season in the minor leagues and get called up by May or June.


2. Collin Cowgill

In an attempt to start in the Mets' outfield, or at least platoon with Kirk Nieuwenhuis in center field, Collin Cowgill has had a great start of his own.

In eight games and 20 at-bats, Cowgill has recorded nine hits, including three doubles and a home run. He has also driven in three RBI, scored three runs, drawn two walks and stolen two bases. He has posted a .450/.500/.750 line during this time.

This hot start for Cowgill could certainly help him get in a platoon role with Nieuwenhuis in center field. They would compliment each other well, with Nieuwenhuis having more power, but Cowgill being a better contact hitter.


3. Cory Mazzoni

One minor league pitcher that has had a great start to his spring training campaign has been Cory Mazzoni. 

A starting pitcher, Mazzoni was in Double-A Binghamton in 2012. During spring training this year, he is 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA in three appearances and 7.0 innings pitched. Opposing hitters are batting just .192 against him.

While Mazzoni will probably not get to the major leagues this year, his performance could help him potentially crack the Triple-A rotation.


Mets That Have Slumped

1. Lucas Duda

Projected as the Mets' Opening Day left fielder, Lucas Duda has gotten off to a slow start during spring training. 

In five games and 17 at-bats, Duda has only three hits, with one of them being a double and another being a home run. He has struck out eight times already, with a .176/.176/.412 slash line. 

Duda's slow start will not cost him a chance to be the Opening Day left fielder, but it is not a good sign for someone who struggled at times in 2012.

2. Matt Den Dekker

Another outfielder that has struggled is Matt Den Dekker. Den Dekker has played very well defensively, but it has been his hitting that has limited his progress more than anything.

In six games and 16 at-bats, Den Dekker has just three hits and two stolen bases. However, he has six strikeouts and a .188/.188/.188 slash line.

If Den Dekker wants to get on the major league roster, he will have to continue to play well defensively and hit a lot better than he has so far.


3. Greg Burke

The right-handed submarine pitcher Greg Burke has had a rough start of his own in spring training. He is competing for a bullpen spot on the Opening Day roster. 

In three appearances and 4.0 innings pitched, Burke has a 6.75 ERA. He has allowed three earned runs and five hits so far, and opponents have batted .294 against him.

With veteran presences such as Scott Atchison, Pedro Feliciano and LaTroy Hawkins in camp, Burke will need to pitch better this month in order to ensure himself of an Opening Day roster spot.


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