Rainy Lara forced his way into the Brooklyn Cyclones rotation in 2012 by excelling in extended spring training and getting on the radar.
This season, the 6-foot-4 right-hander’s performance at low-A Savannah, which included two South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week awards, has resulted in a promotion to St. Lucie.Courtesy of New York Mets
The 22-year-old Lara has a combined 1.38 ERA in nine starts between the two Class A levels this season, best among Mets farmhands. The ERA ranks sixth in all of minor league baseball among qualifiers.
In his Florida State League debut last Thursday, Lara allowed three runs (one earned) on four hits and a hit batsman while striking out four in eight innings.
“I saw him a little bit this spring, and I only saw him one [regular-season] game so far,” St. Lucie pitching coach Phil Regan said. “It’s impressive in that he threw very few balls above the knees, kept everything down, went eight innings. I think after five innings he only had 50-something pitches, which is unusual for a young pitcher. He got every pitch over. I guess the thing that really impressed me, probably even more than that, was his composure. He wasn’t nervous. He seemed like he fit right in.”
Said Lara in Spanish, with teammate Gilbert Gomez translating: “The most important thing for me to be successful is getting ahead in the count and just pounding the strike zone as much as I can.”
Lara’s fastball registers 89-92 mph, with an occasional 93 mph. He also throws a slider and changeup. His biggest asset is the sink on his pitches.
He was born in Bani in the Dominican Republic. He said he started playing baseball at eight years old, mostly as a second baseman in the early years. He began pitching at 15 and his velocity shot up a year or two later.
“I started throwing with velocity when I was 16 or 17,” Lara said.
The Mets signed him in 2009 after watching him pitch in the Dominican Prospect League.
Average: Jayce Boyd, Savannah, .358; Kevin Plawecki, Savannah, .343; Cesar Puello, Binghamton, .312; Josh Satin, Vegas, .311; Josh Rodriguez, Binghamton, .310; Travia Taijeron, St. Lucie, .308; Jamie Hoffmann, Vegas, .299; Allan Dykstra, Binghamton, .299; T.J. Rivera, St. Lucie, .296.
Homers: Dustin Lawley, St. Lucie, 11; Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Vegas, 10; Aderlin Rodriguez, St. Lucie, 9; Josh Satin, Vegas, 9; Cesar Puello, Binghamton, 9; Travis Taijeron, St. Lucie, 9.
RBI: Dustin Lawley, St. Lucie, 40; Kevin Plawecki, Savannah, 40; Wilmer Flores, Vegas, 39; Aderlin Rodriguez, St. Lucie, 38; Jayce Boyd, Savannah, 37.
Steals: Cesar Puello, Binghamton, 15; Darrell Ceciliani, Binghamton, 14; Alonzo Harris, Binghamton, 13; Cory Vaughn, Binghamton, 8; Danny Muno, Binghamton, 7.
ERA: Rainy Lara, St. Lucie, 1.38; Rafael Montero, Binghamton, 2.71; Matt Bowman, St. Lucie, 2.73; Collin McHugh, Vegas, 2.74; Noah Syndergaard, St. Lucie, 2.81; Gabriel Ynoa, Savannah, 2.87; Luis Cessa, Savannah, 3.69; Logan Verrett, Binghamton, 3.86; Zack Wheeler, Vegas, 3.86; Carlos Torres, Vegas, 4.31.
Wins: Matt Bowman, St. Lucie, 7; Gabriel Ynoa, Savannah, 7; Rafael Montero, Binghamton, 6; Logan Verrett, Binghamton, 6.
Saves: Jeff Walters, Binghamton, 13; Bret Mitchell, Savannah, 9; Beck Wheeler, Savannah, 5; T.J. Chism, St. Lucie, 5.
Strikeouts: Rafael Montero, Binghamton, 71; Carlos Torres, Vegas, 63; Matt Bowman, St. Lucie, 61; Zack Wheeler, Vegas, 59; Noah Syndergaard, St. Lucie, 59.
• Right-hander Noah Syndergaard (2-3, 2.81 ERA), second baseman T.J. Rivera (.296, 0 HR, 25 RBIs) and outfielder Dustin Lawley (.242, 11 HR, 40 RBIs) have been selected to represent St. Lucie in the Florida State League All-Star Game on June 15 at Dunedin, Fla.
• Savannah placed five players in the South Atlantic League All-Star Game: catcher Kevin Plawecki (.343, 6 HR, 40 RBIs), first baseman Jayce Boyd (.348, 3 HR, 37 RBIs), outfielder Brandon Nimmo (.314, 1 HR, 16 RBIs), right-hander Gabriel Ynoa (7-2, 2.87 ERA) and closer Bret Mitchell (1.13 ERA, 9-for-9 in save conversions). The game will be played June 18 at Lakewood, N.J. Savannah manager Luis Rojas and pitching coach Frank Viola also will represent the Gnats. Plawecki and Boyd are expected to receive promotions after that event, which coincides with the end of the first half of the Gnats’ season.
• St. Lucie outfielder Travis Taijeron earned his second Florida State League Player of the Week award this season. Taijeron, an 18th-round pick in 2011 from Cal Poly Pomona, hit .500 for the week and had a three-homer doubleheader. He is hitting .308 with nine homers and 27 RBIs and has a .399 on-base percentage this season.
• Luis Cessa earned the South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week award. The 21-year-old right-hander combined to limit Augusta and Kannapolis to one run on nine hits and two walks while striking out 17 in 14 1/3 innings over his past two starts.
• Third baseman Josh Rodriguez, who was signed as a minor league free agent last year, has a 20-game hitting streak with Binghamton. That is the longest in Double-A this season. Rodriguez, 28, went 1-for-12 with a walk and hit by pitch with the Pirates in 2011 after being selected in the Rule 5 draft from Cleveland. He was returned to the Indians a month into the 2011 season, but then was purchased by Pittsburgh that June.
• The MLB draft takes place Thursday through Saturday in Secaucus, N.J. The Mets pick at Nos. 11, 48, 76, 84 and 116, then every 30 after that. Their total available signing bonus money is $6.99 million.