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Bruce breaks out, hits game-winning HR in 10th

MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

ST. LOUIS -- About five hours before Tuesday's scheduled first pitch at Busch Stadium, a gaggle of Mets hitters crowded around the cage for early batting practice. Among them were Jay Bruce, whom manager Mickey Callaway admitted was struggling to fix his problems at the plate, and Yoenis Cespedes, an idiosyncratic individual who often eschews on-field batting practice in favor of the privacy of the cage.

As hitting coach Pat Roessler looked on, Callaway personally threw to the struggling hitters, laughing afterward at the soreness in his shoulder. He certainly considered it worth the pain. Hours later, Bruce hit a go-ahead homer in the 10th inning of the Mets' 6-5 win over the Cardinals, after Cespedes had belted a three-run shot, which entered the record books as the longest homer by a Mets player since Statcast™ began tracking in 2015.

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ST. LOUIS -- About five hours before Tuesday's scheduled first pitch at Busch Stadium, a gaggle of Mets hitters crowded around the cage for early batting practice. Among them were Jay Bruce, whom manager Mickey Callaway admitted was struggling to fix his problems at the plate, and Yoenis Cespedes, an idiosyncratic individual who often eschews on-field batting practice in favor of the privacy of the cage.

As hitting coach Pat Roessler looked on, Callaway personally threw to the struggling hitters, laughing afterward at the soreness in his shoulder. He certainly considered it worth the pain. Hours later, Bruce hit a go-ahead homer in the 10th inning of the Mets' 6-5 win over the Cardinals, after Cespedes had belted a three-run shot, which entered the record books as the longest homer by a Mets player since Statcast™ began tracking in 2015.

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"That's the day that we've been waiting on to get those guys going," Callaway said.

Video: NYM@STL: Callaway talks Cespedes and Bruce in win

For most of April, the Mets received little production from their starting outfield trio of Cespedes, Bruce and Michael Conforto, relying instead on Asdrubal Cabrera and Todd Frazier to carry the offense. Bruce in particular was struggling not only at the plate, but with his health; a case of plantar fasciitis cost him time earlier in the month, and whether it was related or not, he entered Tuesday in a 3-for-32 (.094) slump.

That began to change in the second inning, when Bruce hit a sharp ball to left that Marcell Ozuna misplayed into an RBI triple. In the eighth, Bruce singled, allowing Adrian Gonzalez to follow with a game-tying sacrifice fly. Things stayed that way until the 10th, when Bruce came up with the bases empty and two outs.

Video: NYM@STL: Bruce lines an RBI triple to left

When Cardinals reliever Matt Bowman offered an 82-mph splitter down in the zone, Bruce pounced, crushing it 405 feet to straightaway center field.

"I haven't really felt in sync for an extended period of time yet," Bruce said. "But I'm working at it every day. It's something that's going to come and go, but when I feel good and feel normal, it's pretty consistent."

Even Bruce's shot, however, paled in comparison to Cespedes' 463-foot, three-run homer in the fifth, which tied the game after Zack Wheeler allowed four runs -- half of them on a Tommy Pham homer -- in four innings.

Video: NYM@STL: Statcast™ tracks Cespedes' 463-ft home run

From there, the Mets turned to a new bullpen face, Matt Harvey, who allowed one run in two innings in his relief debut, then to a trio of familiar ones. Paul Sewald retired six of the seven batters he faced, before Robert Gsellman wriggled out of a two-on, no-outs jam in the ninth to set the stage for Bruce. Finally, Jeurys Familia delivered a perfect 10th for the save.

"We haven't really been clicking on all cylinders overall, but we've had guys pick us up, and we've been playing really good baseball," Bruce said. "And I think that's an ode to the depth and the talent on the team."

Video: NYM@STL: Familia strikes out DeJong to seal the win

SOUND SMART
At 463 feet, Cespedes' home run was his longest since joining the Mets in 2015. According to Cardinals records, it was also the third longest by a visiting player at Busch Stadium.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
For the first time, Harvey appeared as a reliever in the fifth inning, allowing a run on back-to-back hits by Dexter Fowler and Paul DeJong. Harvey, who has made his displeasure with his new role known, recovered to throw a scoreless sixth.

Video: NYM@STL: Harvey strikes out Molina looking in relief

HE SAID IT
"He's taking it like a man. He wasn't excited about it. He's going to go out there and do the job." -- Callaway, on Harvey

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Puzzlement infiltrated the Mets' dugout when the Cardinals challenged Bruce's home run in the 10th, contending that he did not step on first base. In the dugout, Bruce received a phone call from Mets replay coordinator Jim Kelly, who confirmed that Bruce stepped squarely on the bag. The umpires' review yielded a similar result.

"I did not expect that to happen," Bruce said. "But everyone has their reasons, I guess, and they felt like they needed to challenge it. ... I've hit a few home runs in my career, and I've never even come close to missing a base."

Video: NYM@STL: Bruce drives go-ahead homer, umpires review

UP NEXT
Yet to last more than 5 1/3 innings in a start this season, Steven Matz will look to go deep for the first time when he pitches Wednesday against the Cardinals. Last time out, the Mets lifted Matz for a pinch-hitter after just four innings and 74 pitches, in a game they went on to win. Matz will oppose right-hander Michael Wacha in an 8:15 p.m. ET game at Busch Stadium.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets, Jay Bruce, Yoenis Cespedes

Cespedes hits incredible 463-foot tying HR

Three-run homer marks longest by Mets player tracked by Statcast
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

ST. LOUIS -- Yoenis Cespedes sauntered a step or two toward first base, bat in hand, eyes transfixed on his handiwork. Upward the ball went on a sharp arc to left field, crashing down about a third of the way up Busch Stadium's second deck.

As Cespedes rounded the bases, chain jangling against his chest, he did not yet know that he had hit the longest, hardest home run of his Mets career, contributing half of the club's offense in Tuesday's 6-5 win over the Cardinals. But he did realize this could be the spark he needs to emerge from a season-long slump.

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ST. LOUIS -- Yoenis Cespedes sauntered a step or two toward first base, bat in hand, eyes transfixed on his handiwork. Upward the ball went on a sharp arc to left field, crashing down about a third of the way up Busch Stadium's second deck.

As Cespedes rounded the bases, chain jangling against his chest, he did not yet know that he had hit the longest, hardest home run of his Mets career, contributing half of the club's offense in Tuesday's 6-5 win over the Cardinals. But he did realize this could be the spark he needs to emerge from a season-long slump.

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Cespedes crushed his 115.1-mph, 463-foot homer off Luke Weaver in the fifth inning for the hardest and longest home run any Mets player has hit since Statcast™ began tracking in 2015. The game-tying three-run shot was the third longest by a visiting player in Busch history, according to Cardinals records, and the second longest hit in St. Louis over the past four seasons.

Cespedes' previous long was a 457-foot homer in San Francisco in 2016. The Mets' previous longest homer tracked by Statcast™ was Justin Ruggiano's 461-foot shot in 2016, also at Busch Stadium. Although Cespedes' Tuesday blast was projected just two feet longer, its combination of speed, distance and trajectory had several teammates in the Mets' dugout mouthing, "Wow."

"I thought it maybe was going to clear the left-field fence, just barely," manager Mickey Callaway said, laughing.

Longest home runs for every MLB team

For Cespedes, the Statcast™ accolades were a bonus. The home run's importance in a game the Mets won was paramount.

Perhaps even more critical was what it could mean for Cespedes' future.

Entering the night in a 10-for-61 (.164) slump with 28 strikeouts, Cespedes lined into a double play and struck out in his first two at-bats against Weaver. Despite contributing game-winning RBIs on three separate occasions in April, Cespedes also rose to the top of the Major League strikeout leaderboard, bemoaning often that he couldn't find his timing at the plate.

Things grew grim enough that Cespedes, an avid golfer who gave up the game in an attempt to keep his legs healthy during the season, said last weekend that he is considering playing again as a way to streamline his swing mechanics. The only reason he didn't do so on Monday's off-day, Cespedes indicated, was because all eight sets of clubs that he owns are at his home in Florida.

No matter. Working ahead in the count, 3-1, against Weaver, Cespedes dropped his bat head to meet a changeup that broke in toward him, low in the zone. Five-and-a-half seconds later, the ball landed, perhaps carrying a bit of Cespedes' slump with it.

"In that at-bat, he was losing the strike zone with the fastball, so I was hoping to catch a changeup," Cespedes said through an interpreter. "Then, I caught it. And I hit it."

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets, Yoenis Cespedes

'He's manned up': Mets like Harvey's relief debut

MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

ST. LOUIS -- In the days following Matt Harvey's announced move to the bullpen, the Mets right-hander made his displeasure with the decision known. He admitted to being angry. He referred to himself as "a starting pitcher," and vowed to earn back that title. In the bullpen, Harvey wore a hood over his head, rarely offering any expression other than a glower.

Behind closed doors, Harvey and manager Mickey Callaway "had a lot of conversations, just he and I about the whole thing," according to the manager.

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ST. LOUIS -- In the days following Matt Harvey's announced move to the bullpen, the Mets right-hander made his displeasure with the decision known. He admitted to being angry. He referred to himself as "a starting pitcher," and vowed to earn back that title. In the bullpen, Harvey wore a hood over his head, rarely offering any expression other than a glower.

Behind closed doors, Harvey and manager Mickey Callaway "had a lot of conversations, just he and I about the whole thing," according to the manager.

View Full Game Coverage

"And you know what?" Callaway said. "He's taking it like a man. He wasn't excited about it. He's going to go out there and do the job."

Harvey did so semi-effectively Tuesday in the Mets' 6-5 win over the Cardinals, allowing St. Louis' go-ahead run in the fifth inning, but recovering to pitch a scoreless sixth. Harvey gave up one run on two hits and a walk, striking out two.

Afterward, Harvey refused to speak to media members, leaving his manager and rookie catcher Tomas Nido, who had never before worked with Harvey in a regular-season game, to talk for him.

Video: Harvey struggles in first relief appearance for Mets

"He threw the ball well," Callaway said. "The stuff was crisp. He kept the ball down. And it looked like, to me, he was out there challenging hitters and attacking."

One of the Mets' hopes in moving Harvey to the bullpen was that he might reclaim some of his lost velocity, after he averaged 93 mph on his four-seam fastball in four starts and topped out at 95.1. But Harvey fell right in line with those numbers Tuesday, throwing his hardest pitch at 94.7 mph.

Perhaps more important for Harvey was command, which was a mixed bag. While Harvey painted the bottom of the zone with a called third strike to Yadier Molina in the fifth, he also threw fastballs down the middle to Dexter Fowler, who doubled, and Paul DeJong, who doubled home a run. Half of the batters to face Harvey put balls in play of at least 92 mph, according to Statcast™, while half of those came screaming off bats at 107 mph or greater.

And yet, the Mets did their best to take the positives out of Harvey's outing.

"I thought he looked really good," Nido said. "We went after the guys, not getting cute. We just attacked them."

"There's no doubt that tonight, he went out and just attacked, and was trying to help the team," Callaway added. "He's manned up, and he's going to do the job."

The Mets moved Harvey to the bullpen last weekend to make room for Jason Vargas, who is set to return from the disabled list on Saturday. Although Zack Wheeler, whom the Mets chose over Harvey to remain in the rotation, struggled, giving up four runs in four innings, Wheeler is in no imminent danger of losing his job.

If an injury strikes, things may change. For now, the Mets simply want to see Harvey get better.

"I want him to feel like he's getting better and improving," outfielder Jay Bruce said. "I know he wants the opportunity to start, and I know he knows he can be an asset to this team. That's what everyone wants"

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets, Matt Harvey

Keith Hernandez has plans for Cespedes gnome

The Mets are giving out a very stylish Yoenis Cespedes gnome during their May 5 game. Here's the Major League-esque commercial promoting the giveaway that the team dropped on Monday.

And during the Mets' 6-5 win over the Cardinals on Tuesday night, Mets broadcaster Keith Hernandez did another little promo for the figurine. While most fans might just put their gnome up on their mantle so it stares at them longingly every day and night, Hernandez claimed he'd actually be putting it in his garden. 

Vargas to be activated, set to make Mets debut

Veteran left-hander will start against the Padres on Saturday
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

ST. LOUIS -- Satisfied that Jason Vargas has passed every test necessary to return from the disabled list, the Mets will activate the left-hander to make his season debut Saturday against the Padres in San Diego. On Tuesday, Vargas flew from Las Vegas to St. Louis, where he met the team in advance of his assignment.

In Vegas, Vargas made his lone Minor League rehab start, pitching without an L-screen for the first time since undergoing surgery to remove a broken bone from his right hand in late March. Vargas fielded his position and caught throws back from the catcher, which the Mets considered far more important than the three runs he allowed in four innings.

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ST. LOUIS -- Satisfied that Jason Vargas has passed every test necessary to return from the disabled list, the Mets will activate the left-hander to make his season debut Saturday against the Padres in San Diego. On Tuesday, Vargas flew from Las Vegas to St. Louis, where he met the team in advance of his assignment.

In Vegas, Vargas made his lone Minor League rehab start, pitching without an L-screen for the first time since undergoing surgery to remove a broken bone from his right hand in late March. Vargas fielded his position and caught throws back from the catcher, which the Mets considered far more important than the three runs he allowed in four innings.

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"He said he felt great," manager Mickey Callaway said. "He had one little tough inning where he left a few pitches over the middle and gave up a few runs, but reports were great from the Triple-A staff. The report was really positive from Vargas himself, and he's ready to go."

A February acquisition to the Mets' pitching staff, Vargas fractured his hand in March and took about a month to recover from the resulting surgery. He went 18-11 with a 4.16 ERA in 32 starts last season for the Royals.

New blue
In their 21st game, the Mets wore their blue road alternate jerseys Tuesday for the first time this season. A popular pick in past years, the Mets often wore their blue jerseys when Matt Harvey took the mound. But Harvey did not choose them in any of his four April starts; it was Zack Wheeler, Tuesday's starter, who finally selected them.

Umpire auction
The Mets are taking part in Major League Baseball's 10th annual "UMPS CARE" auction, selling a baseball that is signed by the umpiring crew from their Opening Day win over the Cardinals -- Fieldin Culbreth, Brian O'Nora, CB Bucknor and Chris Conroy.

MLB umpires will offer up more than 300 items that include autographed sports memorabilia, one-of-a-kind VIP experiences and upgraded ticket packages. The auction is live at www.mlb.com/UmpsCare, and it closes at 10 p.m. EDT on Monday. Some of the items up for bid include signed bats, cleats, jerseys, photos and baseballs from some of the biggest stars in baseball.

There are also opportunities to watch batting practice up close on the field at many MLB ballparks, hotel stays with game tickets, opportunities to have lunch with an MLB umpire, suites and tickets from Minor League Baseball clubs, golf foursomes and more.

All proceeds from the online auction support UMPS CARE Charities youth programs to provide Major League Baseball experiences for children awaiting adoption, Build-A-Bear Workshop experiences for hospitalized children coping with serious illnesses, college scholarships for deserving young adults who were adopted as children and financial assistance for families in need.

"Each year, thanks to the support from our friends in Major League Baseball and throughout the sports world, we get some fantastic items for our auction, and this year is no exception," said Gary Darling, former MLB umpire and Board President for UMPS CARE Charities. "This is the biggest fundraising initiative that we have to help so many children in need, and we can't thank everyone enough for all of the support. Please tell all of your friends, bid early and bid often to help this great cause."

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets, Jason Vargas

Inbox: Plawecki the long-term answer for Mets?

Beat reporter Anthony DiComo answers questions from fans
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

A rainout and a team off-day have converged at a convenient time for the Mets, who can catch their collective breath following a week that saw them go 2-4. The Mets will return to play Tuesday in St. Louis, with Zack Wheeler looking to build upon his strong start to the season. While we wait, it's time to dip again into the Inbox:

At what point do the Mets address the catching situation? Let's be honest, we talk about Kevin Plawecki returning like he's Gary Carter in his prime.
-- @VinceGagliardi via Twitter

A rainout and a team off-day have converged at a convenient time for the Mets, who can catch their collective breath following a week that saw them go 2-4. The Mets will return to play Tuesday in St. Louis, with Zack Wheeler looking to build upon his strong start to the season. While we wait, it's time to dip again into the Inbox:

At what point do the Mets address the catching situation? Let's be honest, we talk about Kevin Plawecki returning like he's Gary Carter in his prime.
-- @VinceGagliardi via Twitter

And we talk about J.T. Realmuto like he's the second coming of Johnny Bench. Not to knock Realmuto -- he's one of the best catchers in the game today and would certainly be an upgrade over the Mets' in-house options. But is he such an upgrade that he's worth giving up a blue-chip prospect or a current Major League contributor? Realmuto won't come free, if he's even available at all. I've heard fans ask about the possibility of the Mets trading Amed Rosario or Wheeler for Realmuto. How does that make the team better?

:: Submit a question to the Mets Inbox ::

All that said, the Mets may eventually make a move -- just not now. They're clearly content to use Jose Lobaton and Tomas Nido at catcher until Plawecki heals from a fractured left hand, likely in mid-May. And they're clearly happy to give Plawecki a chance to prove himself once he returns. If the Mets are uncomfortable with their catching situation in, say, late June, I suspect they'll start looking more seriously into options at that time.

For now, patience. Folks were excited about what Plawecki might be able to do as recently as late March. One freak injury shouldn't change that.

Why aren't Juan Lagares and Brandon Nimmo playing every day while the other three outfielders struggle?
-- @JayZammie via Twitter

I thought manager Mickey Callaway said something interesting the other day when asked why Jay Bruce played instead of Lagares against a left-handed pitcher in Atlanta.

"Bruce is our starting right fielder," Callaway said. "I think he deserves to start the majority of the time."

It's a simple concept, but that means if everyone is healthy, Bruce, Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes are going to sit only infrequently. Yes, the Mets will still play the platoon advantages; Lagares will start most days against a lefty, usually for Conforto and sometimes for Bruce. But as we discussed in this space early in April, Nimmo is not a starting position player right now. He's here because the Mets feel he is more valuable on their bench than he would be in Triple-A. But until someone gets hurt, Nimmo is not going to spend much time in the starting lineup.

If Jose Reyes continues to struggle, would the Mets release him and try to acquire an alternate backup shortstop?
-- @Panic_Citi via Twitter

The Mets guaranteed Reyes $2 million this past offseason in part because of his on-field performance and in part because of his clubhouse presence. They're not going to dump him after three bad weeks -- particularly considering he began last season 2-for-37 before hitting .261/.332/.440 with 15 home runs and 24 stolen bases the rest of the way. Reyes is 3-for-24 right now, so he's already ahead of that pace. If the Mets thought he was worth signing in February, then he deserves the benefit of the doubt in April.

Do you think Callaway is a little too quick pulling the starters? Jacob deGrom has had back-to-back games he should have won. Plus Steven Matz only went four innings on Wednesday. I'm worried about him with this bullpen.
-- @Starchild1328 via Twitter

I'm not sure why Callaway's pitcher usage is surprising anyone, considering he and Mets officials talked openly all offseason about their plan to limit starters and lean on relievers. No one complained when the bullpen was baseball's best over the season's first three weeks. Week 4 was rocky, so now people question the usage patterns.

The fact of the matter is it's not actually extreme -- the Mets rank 20th in the Majors in bullpen innings -- and it's not going to change. The Mets feel they can keep their relievers fresh by shuttling them back and forth between Triple-A and the Majors. (To a man, the relievers say they're not tired, only struggling.) You're just not going to see Matz, Wheeler or others go three full trips through an opposing order very often this season. You may hate the philosophy, but in today's game, it's here to stay.

What's the talk around Noah Syndergaard? He seems to be having some shining moments, but I feel like batters are making contact on him way better than previous seasons.
-- @atomk89 via Twitter

Syndergaard bemoaned recently that, "I feel like I've had some pretty dominant stuff, but haven't done much dominating." Statcast™ data backs that up: although his average fastball velocity is a tick down from last season, it's right in line with where he's been previous years. Syndergaard's spin rates are also comparable to the norm. Generating swinging strikes on 15.71 percent of his total pitches, he has posted the best mark of his career in that department. Syndergaard's strikeout and walk rates are both off the charts, so it's no surprise that his FIP -- a metric that attempts to determine how lucky or unlucky a pitcher has been -- is almost a full run lower than his ERA.

Translation: Syndergaard should be the least of your worries. If he continues pitching this way, he could actually be in for the best year of his career.

Do you think the Mets will demote Matt Harvey to Triple-A Las Vegas anytime this season?
-- @SpriggsyFresh

I don't see it. If the Mets were going to ask Harvey to accept a Minor League assignment, they would have done it last weekend. There's little incentive for them to do so, knowing there's even less incentive for Harvey, who can refuse any Minor League assignment based on his five-plus years of big league service time, to accept. Why would he? If Harvey refuses, the Mets would either have to keep a malcontent in the big league clubhouse -- awkward for everyone -- or release him, allowing him to sign with a team who will let him start.

Maybe, ultimately, the latter scenario unfolds at some point. More likely, Harvey spends a brief spell in the Mets' bullpen, then re-enters the rotation.

Pat Roessler replaced Kevin Long as the Mets' hitting coach this year -- is his philosophy/approach different than that of Long? If so, how much of that can be attributed to the difficulties that many players are having at the plate?
-- @_TurnipTheBest via Twitter

Roessler is very much a Long disciple in that they preach identical philosophies. Slumping hitters such as Bruce, Conforto and Cespedes are doing nothing markedly different under Roessler than they did under Long. They're just slumping. Sometimes, it's that simple.

Yes, we're 14-6, and I feel like we're 6-14. Why?
-- @JohnArchbold7 via Twitter

Probably because you're a pessimist! The Mets are one of the best teams in the Majors right now, with a record most fans would have signed up for in a heartbeat before the start of the season. Stop harping on the bad stuff and enjoy the ride.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets

Harvey's 'pen move could be game-changer

MLB.com

Ultimately no one -- not the Mets, not manager Mickey Callaway, not pitching coach Dave Eiland and not Matt Harvey himself -- knows how this new chapter in Harvey's career will turn out.

That Harvey has ended up in the bullpen in New York is somewhat surprising, and it's arguable he deserved a shot at one more start given that he finished strong in his last outing against Atlanta and looked good when he toed the rubber against Philadelphia in his first start of the year, pitching with much more conviction than we saw last season.

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Ultimately no one -- not the Mets, not manager Mickey Callaway, not pitching coach Dave Eiland and not Matt Harvey himself -- knows how this new chapter in Harvey's career will turn out.

That Harvey has ended up in the bullpen in New York is somewhat surprising, and it's arguable he deserved a shot at one more start given that he finished strong in his last outing against Atlanta and looked good when he toed the rubber against Philadelphia in his first start of the year, pitching with much more conviction than we saw last season.

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With that said, Harvey has a 6.57 ERA over the past two seasons, so the decision is certainly defensible, and he will be available out of the bullpen tonight against St. Louis for the first time. And if he embraces his new role, I see him helping the club in relief and pitching his way back into the starting rotation.

It's almost certain the Mets prefer that outcome has well. The health of their staff is still a question mark, especially with Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz, who haven't yet shown they can stay healthy and pitch effectively for a whole season. That uncertainty leaves a window open for Harvey, but he needs to find some of the stuff that made him so dominant in the past.

How relief could help Harvey
Harvey's average fastball velocity has fallen from 96.5 mph in 2015 to a career-low 92.6 mph so far in 2018. His slider has lacked consistency, and his changeup has lacked finish -- he's allowed a .385 batting average and a .692 slugging percentage on that pitch this year.

Pitching out of the bullpen should help Harvey's stuff "play up." We should see an increase in his fastball velocity -- which is typical when guys move to the 'pen -- and a better, harder slider in these shorter relief stints. Harvey's changeup might pose more of a challenge, as it's a tougher pitch to find the feel for over a brief relief outing.

But most importantly, Harvey needs to use this time as a reliever to find his command within the zone. His walk rate is low (4.5 percent), which is encouraging, but without elite velocity, he needs to hit the corners more, and this has been an issue for him since he had surgery to alleviate Thoracic outlet syndrome in June 2016. Returning from that condition is still an uneven proposition, and pitchers who have made successful returns to the rotation after pitching in the bullpen -- specifically, the Royals' Danny Duffy and the Indians' Danny Salazar, Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer -- haven't had the same type of injuries that Harvey has.

Those four test cases are relevant here, though, as Callaway worked with Salazar, Carrasco and Bauer in Cleveland, and Eiland with Duffy in K.C. Those guys know how the bullpen can help starters revive their careers, and Callaway and Eiland are presumably selling Harvey on that fact. He's set for free agency this winter, and he would certainly like to hit the market being able to sell himself as a starter.

Of course, the Mets' bullpen isn't just a place for Harvey to work on regaining his old form. He'll be having an actual impact on whether the team wins games.

Video: NYM@ATL: Mets TV booth on Harvey's move to bullpen

Harvey's bullpen role
So what exactly will Harvey's relief role be? The Mets do seem to have need for a right-handed bridge to closer Jeurys Familia, with AJ Ramos struggling of late and free-agent setup-man signing Anthony Swarzak likely still out at least a few more weeks with a sore left oblique. But it's not clear that those high-leverage innings would go to Harvey.

For one thing, even though Ramos has a 4.00 ERA this season (and has had a poor 2018 by some advanced metrics, like his 6.44 xFIP), he has a track record of success as a closer, which allows him more rope in a late-inning role. He's held lefties to a .196 batting average in his career, and righties to a .198 batting average, consistency that should convince Callaway to give Ramos more full innings of work.

Robert Gsellman will also see more action in the high-leveraged innings if he continues his early-season success -- Gsellman has a 2.19 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings over his 10 relief outings.

That would leave Harvey to pitch in the lower-leverage innings for the time being, in a long man or swingman-type role, something more akin to the way the club has been using Seth Lugo and Paul Sewald. Figuring out how to warm up and establish his pitches from the beginning might take an outing or two, but once he gets used to that, if Harvey can throw his pitches with conviction in his relief outings, that will be a good sign for the Mets.

How will this play out?
Pitching out of the bullpen temporarily should give Harvey the opportunity he needs to get back on track, even though he's never pitched in relief as a professional other than one unique outing last September when he piggybacked Noah Syndergaard in Thor's return from a right lat injury. Harvey is capable of adapting to the role and taking advantage of it.

Right now, the Mets have Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom locked into the top two spots of their rotation, followed by Matz, Wheeler and Jason Vargas, who is set to return vs. the Padres from an injury to his non-pitching hand on Saturday. Those final three spots are from sure things, and Harvey could easily make his way back into the rotation if he can gain some confidence in the 'pen, especially if he thrives in multi-inning stints.

Ultimately, I expect Harvey's move to the bullpen to be a temporary one. He should eventually return to the Mets' rotation -- and not only that, pitch effectively, even if not as an ace anymore, at least as a back-end starter.

Jim Duquette is a columnist for MLB.com.

New York Mets, Matt Harvey

Mets, Braves postponed; makeup May 28

Two teams to play day-night doubleheader on Memorial Day
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

ATLANTA -- Sunday's game between the Mets and Braves has been postponed due to rain. The teams will make the game up as part of a split-admission doubleheader on Memorial Day, May 28.

Rain began falling Sunday at SunTrust Park even before the game's 1:35 p.m. ET scheduled first pitch. It did not stop, and with more rain forecast throughout the day, the postponement became official about 50 minutes later.

ATLANTA -- Sunday's game between the Mets and Braves has been postponed due to rain. The teams will make the game up as part of a split-admission doubleheader on Memorial Day, May 28.

Rain began falling Sunday at SunTrust Park even before the game's 1:35 p.m. ET scheduled first pitch. It did not stop, and with more rain forecast throughout the day, the postponement became official about 50 minutes later.

The rain caused no major revisions to the Mets' pitching schedule. The team pushed Sunday's starter, Zack Wheeler, back to pitch its next game Tuesday in St. Louis. Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard will each also push back a day, starting the final two games of that series. Jacob deGrom will pitch Friday in San Diego, followed by Jason Vargas, who will come off the disabled list to make his Mets debut Saturday against the Padres.

Vargas, who has spent the past month recovering from surgery to remove a broken bone from his right non-pitching hand, will throw approximately 75 pitches in a rehab start Monday for Triple-A Las Vegas. Assuming he comes out of that with no issues, Vargas will take the rotation spot of Matt Harvey, whom the Mets recently demoted to the bullpen.

Wheeler's ability to adapt to his rain-altered schedule will be critical as he tries to vindicate the Mets' decision to keep him, and not Harvey, in the rotation. Over his first two starts, Wheeler is 1-1 with a 2.77 ERA.

"Wheeler's throwing the ball really well," Mets manager Mickey Callaway said. "I think he deserves to stay in the rotation at this point. That's fairly obvious to me. That's why we made the decision we did. He's been solid. He's just got to keep it going."

The rainout turns the Mets' Memorial Day series into a four-game affair, with a doubleheader on May 28 followed by night games May 29 and 30.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets

These are the Top 30 international prospects

MLB.com @JesseSanchezMLB

Long before Louis Eljaua rose to special assistant to the president and general manager of the Cubs, he was the young and energetic top international scout for the Marlins. Back then, his boss was Al Avila, now the general manager for the Tigers.

Eljaua vividly recalls a conversation with Avila in 1998 like it happened yesterday. Each time he tells the story of that famous call, he puts his right thumb to his ear and talks into his right pinkie like it's the old hotel phone he used.

Long before Louis Eljaua rose to special assistant to the president and general manager of the Cubs, he was the young and energetic top international scout for the Marlins. Back then, his boss was Al Avila, now the general manager for the Tigers.

Eljaua vividly recalls a conversation with Avila in 1998 like it happened yesterday. Each time he tells the story of that famous call, he puts his right thumb to his ear and talks into his right pinkie like it's the old hotel phone he used.

Top 30 International Prospects list

"I found the guy, Al! I found the guy our owner was looking for. He's 15. Come to Venezuela," Eljaua shrieked through the phone.

Avila, who was in Miami at the time, was not pleased to hear the news. The Marlins had never spent more than $30,000 on an international teen.

Top International Prospects

"Are you crazy, Louis? [Owner] John Henry gives us money and you are going to spend it all on your first trip and the first kid you see? Are you trying to get us all fired? What is wrong with you?"

"I know, I know," Eljaua answered. "Just come see the kid. He's good. You won't be sorry."

That kid was Miguel Cabrera. And less than a year later, the teenager signed with the Marlins for $1.8 million to launch his future Hall of Fame career and forever set the standard for international teenage prospects.

The hunt for the next Cabrera continues, and each year an increasing number of prospects sign when the international signing period begins on July 2; hundreds more will join Major League organizations later this summer.

Led by catcher Diego Cartaya -- who like Cabrera is from Maracay, Venezuela -- the players on MLB Pipeline's 2018 Top 30 International Prospects list represent the greatest young talent from across the globe eligible to sign on July 2.

The ultimate goal is nabbing a baseball unicorn like Cabrera. But signing a horse like Cartaya, a hard-hitting catcher with advanced skills, or other emerging international prospects also offer teams options.

Video: Top International Prospects: Diego Cartaya, C

Remember, the Cubs traded top teen Gleyber Torres of Venezuela to the Yankees as part of a deal for Aroldis Chapman in 2016, and the rest is World Series history. Last year, they traded the Dominican Republic's Eloy Jimenez to the White Sox in a deal for Jose Quintana. Both are the top prospects in their organizations. Back in '16, the Red Sox traded Yoan Moncada in a package to the White Sox for pitcher Chris Sale. The A's acquired Franklin Barreto from the Blue Jays in a deal for third baseman Josh Donaldson in '14.

"If you are not investing time and money and effort to sign international players, you are missing out on making your organization one of the best in the game," Eljaua said. "Why would you ignore a market and just focus on one or two ways to acquire talent when these guys are going to play in your system, hopefully in the big leagues, or be a part of a package that helps you fill a missing piece? And it's not all about the money and paying the most money. It's about scouting and working and finding out about makeup and helping your entire system."

Who is signing whom
More than 950 prospects have signed during the international signing period that started July 2, 2017, and that number could increase during the 2018-19 period, because there are thousands who have registered to become eligible.

In addition to prospects from traditional baseball hot spots like the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil and the Bahamas, there are also prospects from places like Europe, the Caribbean islands and Asia who have also registered.

Video: Top International Prospects: Marco Luciano, OF

As far as the list is concerned, the Dodgers are the favorites to sign Cartaya. Marco Luciano, a power-hitting outfielder from the Dominican Republic, a close second behind Cartaya in the rankings, is linked to the Giants. Outfielder Misael Urbina of Venezuela, who is ranked No. 3, is an advanced hitter expected to have an above-average hit tool and plus speed. He is linked to the Twins. Rounding out the top five is Venezuelan right-handed pitcher Richard Gallardo, linked to the Cubs, and Orelvis Martinez, a power-hitting shortstop from the D.R. sometimes compared to a young Adrian Beltre. The Blue Jays are the favorite to sign Martinez.

Video: Richard Gallardo named top int'l pitching prospect

Breakdown
This year's Top 30 International Prospects list includes 10 players from Venezuela, 16 from the Dominican Republic, three from Cuba and one from Colombia. The positions break down like this: 11 outfielders, eight infielders, seven pitchers and four catchers.

The best athletes at premium positions are the most appealing to international scouts. Three of the top 13 are catchers and three of the top 10 are pitchers. Shortstops and center fielders are also highly coveted in this year's class.

International signing rules, spending
There are specific guidelines for signing prospects like Cartaya: An international player is eligible to sign with a Major League team between July 2 through June 15 of the next year if he is 17 or will turn 17 by the end of the first season of his contract.

Video: Cartaya tops MLB's international prospects list

The rules for signing international prospects are these: Clubs that receive a Competitive Balance Pick in Round B of the Rule 4 Draft receive a pool of $6,025,400, while clubs that receive a Competitive Balance Pick in Round A of the Rule 4 Draft receive $5,504,500. All other clubs receive $4,983,500.

International amateur free agency & bonus pool money explained

Teams are allowed to trade as much of their international pool money as they would like, but can only acquire 75 percent of a team's initial pool amount. Additionally, signing bonuses of $10,000 or less do not count toward a club's bonus pool, and foreign professional players who are at least 25 years of age and have played in a foreign league for at least six seasons are also exempt.

In terms of spending, the Blue Jays, Brewers, D-backs, Mariners, Phillies, Rangers, Red Sox, Rockies, Tigers, Twins and Yankees are expected to be aggressive in the upcoming signing period. The Cubs, Dodgers, Giants and Royals -- teams that will no longer be in the penalty for exceeding their past international bonus pool spending -- are also expected to be very active.

The A's, Astros, Braves, Cardinals, Nationals, Padres, Reds and White Sox are in the maximum penalty, so they cannot sign players for more than $300,000 during the upcoming period.

"We are all looking for the next Miguel Cabrera, but I think it's unfair to compare anybody to him because he was just on another level," Eljaua said. "But the reality is, my old team already paid me for that sign. I'm getting paid to find another one. That's what the job is."

Jesse Sanchez, who has been writing for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.

Bullpen spoils big nights from Reyes, deGrom

MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

ATLANTA -- When the Mets drew up their bullpen blueprint this winter, everything centered on four names. One was Jeurys Familia, their closer for most of the last three seasons. One was AJ Ramos, a former ninth-inning man whom the team acquired last July. One was Jerry Blevins, one of the steadiest lefty specialists in the Majors. One was Anthony Swarzak, the Mets' key free-agent addition.

Yet the Mets' early bullpen successes have revolved less around those pitchers than Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, Paul Sewald and other ancillary arms. Swarzak has spent all of April on the disabled list. And Familia, Ramos and Blevins each saw their struggles deepen Saturday night in the Mets' 4-3, walk-off loss to the Braves at SunTrust Park.

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ATLANTA -- When the Mets drew up their bullpen blueprint this winter, everything centered on four names. One was Jeurys Familia, their closer for most of the last three seasons. One was AJ Ramos, a former ninth-inning man whom the team acquired last July. One was Jerry Blevins, one of the steadiest lefty specialists in the Majors. One was Anthony Swarzak, the Mets' key free-agent addition.

Yet the Mets' early bullpen successes have revolved less around those pitchers than Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman, Paul Sewald and other ancillary arms. Swarzak has spent all of April on the disabled list. And Familia, Ramos and Blevins each saw their struggles deepen Saturday night in the Mets' 4-3, walk-off loss to the Braves at SunTrust Park.

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Beginning with the Mets' bullpen meltdown on Monday against the Nationals, those three pitchers have faced 33 batters over 5 2/3 innings this week, allowing 10 hits, six walks and 11 runs. Before the first of those games, the Mets owned the Majors' best bullpen ERA.

"It's a rollercoaster, but you don't want it to be so high and so low," Ramos said. "You want to be more consistent. With it being early, we're working on that. I think we're going to be more consistent as we go."

Video: NYM@ATL: Mets on falling to Braves in the 9th inning

Staked to a three-run lead in the eighth, Ramos took the first steps toward giving it back when he walked two of the three batters he faced. In came Blevins, who served up a two-run double to Freddie Freeman. Although Blevins recovered to strike out Nick Markakis in a one-run game, he has let 10 of the 20 batters to face him this season to reach base.

"If they're getting hit, they're not that good of pitches, I guess," Blevins said. "That's a tough one. I feel like that loss is definitely on me."

Video: NYM@ATL: Freeman drives a two-run double to center

Familia, though, staked his own claim in the ninth, walking the leadoff batter and allowing a game-tying triple to Johan Camargo. A Kurt Suzuki line-drive single that was knocked down by third baseman Todd Frazier then put runners on the corners with one out for Ender Inciarte, who dropped down the type of squeeze bunt Mets manager Mickey Callaway called "a really tough play to defend." No infielder had much of a chance to throw out Camargo as he dashed home with the winning run.

"He made a good adjustment, a good bunt," Familia said. "That's what he was looking for."

Video: NYM@ATL: Inciarte drags a bunt for a walk-off hit

The late rallies stuck Jacob deGrom with a no-decision despite 10 strikeouts in seven shutout innings, while also removing some of the luster from Jose Reyes' three-hit game. Given a chance at his third victory when Asdrubal Cabrera singled home two runs in the eighth, deGrom could only watch from the dugout as the Mets almost immediately gave it back.

"Unfortunately, it kind of comes in bunches," Blevins said. "We can't let it get to that point again. We've got to iron it out. Usually, we pick each other up. One guy has a rough game, you've got another guy coming in and saving his butt. We've just put them together in the wrong spots."

Video: NYM@ATL: deGrom K's 10, hurls seven scoreless innings

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
The mercurial nature of baseball surfaced early Saturday, after Reyes singled in the third inning to snap an 0-for-20 season-opening funk. Two innings later, Reyes singled again. Then he added a bunt hit in the eighth, finishing 3-for-4 with a stolen base and a run scored. All told, Reyes increased his batting average 125 percentage points on the night.

"I had three hits tonight, but that doesn't really mean anything because we lost the game after the unbelievable job Jacob deGrom did there," Reyes said. "It's good to get the first one out of the way, but at the same time, we want to win the game, too."

Video: NYM@ATL: Reyes singles for first hit of the year

SOUND SMART
Perhaps Reyes can offer some tips to Yoenis Cespedes, who remains mired in one of the deepest slumps of his career. Finishing 0-for-5 on Saturday, Cespedes fell to 1-for-12 this series, and 10-for-61 (.164) with a 46 percent strikeout rate over the past two weeks. Cespedes' lone hit in Atlanta was the decisive single in the 12th inning on Friday, but a day later, he flied out to shallow right with the bases loaded and no outs in the eighth. Although Cabrera bailed him out a batter later with his single, the Mets had a chance for even more offense in their three-run eighth.

Video: NYM@ATL: Cabrera smacks a go-ahead two-run single

HE SAID IT
"Everybody's out here giving 100 percent, trying to win games. Our guys just didn't have it tonight. Back at it tomorrow. Nobody likes to lose, whether I give up runs or they give up runs. It's part of it, though. We're not perfect. We go out there and give it our all."
-- deGrom, on the bullpen blowing a lead for him two starts in a row

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Mets' early-season inability to control the running game nearly cost them a run in the sixth inning, when Inciarte singled, stole second base and then attempted to steal third with no outs. Although third-base umpire Dan Iassogna initially ruled Inciarte safe, the Mets successfully challenged the call. That loomed large later in the inning, when Freeman hit a two-out double.

Video: NYM@ATL: Nido nabs Inciarte after call overturned

UP NEXT
That the Mets chose to move Matt Harvey to the bullpen is at least partially a testament to their faith in Zack Wheeler, who will start the team's series finale Sunday at SunTrust Park. Wheeler has delivered two consecutive quality starts since joining the rotation, most recently holding the Nationals to three runs in six innings. He'll oppose right-hander Mike Foltynewicz in a 1:35 p.m. ET matinee.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets, Jerry Blevins, Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos

Mets decide to shift Harvey to bullpen

MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

ATLANTA -- The Mets allowed Matt Harvey to state his case, but in the end, there was no changing their minds. Nothing Harvey could say would sway the Mets from demoting him from the rotation to the bullpen, a move the team announced before Saturday's 4-3 loss to the Braves.

Mets officials colored it as a way for Harvey to work on his craft until they need him to start games again in the future. Just as Harvey could say nothing to influence the team, however, no words or platitudes could soothe his emotion.

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ATLANTA -- The Mets allowed Matt Harvey to state his case, but in the end, there was no changing their minds. Nothing Harvey could say would sway the Mets from demoting him from the rotation to the bullpen, a move the team announced before Saturday's 4-3 loss to the Braves.

Mets officials colored it as a way for Harvey to work on his craft until they need him to start games again in the future. Just as Harvey could say nothing to influence the team, however, no words or platitudes could soothe his emotion.

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"On a scale of 1 to 10, obviously I'm at a 10 with being pissed off," Harvey said, clarifying that he's angry both at the Mets and at himself. "My performance hasn't been there, and I just have to do whatever I have to do to get back in the starting rotation. Right now, that's go to the bullpen and work on some things, get things back to where I need to be."

Exclusively a starting pitcher throughout his professional career, Harvey's rotation status came into question when, after the right-hander allowed six runs in six innings on Thursday in Atlanta, Callaway declined to guarantee him another start. With Jason Vargas set to come off the disabled list next Saturday in San Diego, the Mets needed to shift someone out of the rotation. Zack Wheeler and Steven Matz, Callaway indicated, have both pitched well enough to stay.

Video: NYM@ATL: Mets TV booth on Harvey's move to bullpen

That left Harvey, whom the Mets could either demote to the bullpen or to the Minors -- the latter of which he could contractually refuse. Rather than broach that option, the Mets decided to move him to the bullpen, hoping he can grow from the experience.

"I want to make it clear: This is less about making Matt a reliever and more about getting him back to being a productive starter," assistant general manager John Ricco said. "Honestly, one of the reasons we brought in Mickey and [pitching coach] Dave Eiland were for their knowledge and expertise in this area. We have a lot of faith and confidence in what they're able to do."

The Mets' twin pitching gurus are no strangers to bullpen conversions; Callaway was involved in similar decisions with Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer and Danny Salazar in Cleveland, while Eiland's resume includes Danny Duffy and Wade Davis in Kansas City. All but Davis, who went on to become one of the Majors' best closers, returned to their respective rotations in short order.

Harvey will be available for the first time on Tuesday in St. Louis, and at least initially, the team will try to give him advance warning of his relief assignments. In the bullpen, the Mets hope, Harvey's history of control -- even with his struggles this year, he holds a 17-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio -- will help him succeed. They anticipate his average fastball and slider velocities will increase from what are currently career-low levels.

Tweet from @AnthonyDiComo: Matt Harvey's fastball and slider velocities are both down more than a full mph from last year. His fastball is also more than 4 mph slower than its 2013 peak. #Mets pic.twitter.com/cyQe8xI9yu

But multiple Mets officials painted Harvey's struggles -- he is 0-2 with a 6.00 ERA in four starts, and 5-9 with a 6.57 ERA since last season -- as more mental than physical. Harvey said on Friday that he is suffering no ill effects from his 2016 surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome, nor from the resulting shoulder weakness that afflicted him last summer.

"We know he's healthy," Ricco said. "He's feeling good. Then you get to, is this a little bit of a mental thing, a confidence thing? One of the things we talk about is getting him into the 'pen, where he can have success in short spurts, get that confidence back and really let it go and get back to being a guy who can dominate the way he's shown in the past."

Added Harvey: "I know when things click that I can be one of the best in baseball, and that's as a starting pitcher. Obviously, I didn't show that. I have to do everything I can to get back to where I want to be and be as dominant as I have been."

When Callaway and Eiland informed Harvey of their decision, he argued that point, reiterating that something clicked for him in retiring 11 of the final 12 batters he faced on Thursday. The Mets don't doubt that. Nor are they concerned that their decision left him, in Callaway's words, "pissed off right now, and motivated to show everybody that he can be a starter."

"It's a big decision," Callaway said. "Matt Harvey has pitched in meaningful games for the Mets in his career, and he's done some special things. I knew it wasn't going to be the most comfortable conversation. It's a tough message, but it sounds like he's going to embrace it, and go out there and get the job done."

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets, Matt Harvey

Kay among top prospect performers

Rockies' No. 1 racks up five hits, goes deep
MLB.com @GoldenSombrero

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Sunday.

It was a perfect end to the week for Brendan Rodgers, as the Rockies' No. 1 prospect hit a two-run homer and a double while going 5-for-5 in Double-A Hartford's 11-9 win over Harrisburg.

Here's MLB Pipeline's roundup of the top prospect performances in the Minor Leagues on Sunday.

It was a perfect end to the week for Brendan Rodgers, as the Rockies' No. 1 prospect hit a two-run homer and a double while going 5-for-5 in Double-A Hartford's 11-9 win over Harrisburg.

Rodgers, MLB Pipeline's No. 14 overall prospect, singled in his first two at-bats before connecting on a home run to left field, his third homer this season, in the bottom of the fourth inning. He added his third single of the contest in his next at-bat and then capped his big game with an RBI double as part of Hartford's four-run eighth inning.

The five-hit game was the third in Rodgers' career. The 21-year-old shortstop previously accomplished the feat with Class A Advanced Lancaster (June 9, 2017) and Rookie-level Grand Junction (July 12, 2015). It also extended Rodgers' hitting streak to six games, during which he's lifted his batting average from .143 to .300.

Rodgers homers on five-hit day

Fellow Rockies prospects Garrett Hampson (No. 7) and Yonathan Daza (No. 20) also collected multiple hits and plated a run in the Yard Goats' victory, while Brain Mundell (No. 18) connected on his first home run in a 2-for-5 performance.

The rest of the best performances from top prospects Sunday

No. 2 overall prospect Ronald Acuna (Braves' No. 1) extended his hitting streak to five games with a 3-for-6 effort for Triple-A Gwinnett. The three hits were a season high for the 20-year-old phenom, who has lifted his average from .139 to .217, while also scoring five runs, during his current streak.

Video: Top Prospects: Ronald Acuna, OF, Braves

No. 22 overall prospect Willy Adames' (Rays' No. 2) first home run of the season was a big one, as the 22-year-old shortstop connected on a second-inning grand slam in Triple-A Durham's rout of Lehigh Valley. It was the fourth straight game in which Adames tallied at least one hit and one RBI.

Adames' grand slam

No. 26 overall prospect Sixto Sanchez (Phillies' No. 1) was a tough-luck loser for Class A Advanced Clearwater despite tossing six innings of two-run ball. The 19-year-old right-hander, making his second start this season, scattered six hits, walked one and struck out five in the performance, throwing 63 of his 83 pitches for strikes.

No. 36 overall prospect Luis Urias (Padres' No. 3) filled out the stat sheet, tallying two hits, three runs, two RBIs and two walks in Triple-A El Paso's win over Las Vegas. The 20-year-old second baseman began his day with a two-run home run, his second this season, and went on to reach base three more times to finish 2-for-3. It was the second straight two-hit game for Urias.

Video: Top Prospects: Luis Urias, 2B, Padres

No. 68 overall prospect Fernando Romero (Twins' No. 2) was dominant for Triple-A Rochester, tossing 6 2/3 innings of one-run, two-hit ball with 10 strikeouts in a loss against Columbus. A 23-year-old right-hander, Romero is still in search of his first 2018 win but owns a 1.69 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 16 innings across his three starts.

Romero fans his 10th batter

Dodgers No. 15 prospect Connor Wong capped his week just as he did the last one -- by hitting a pair of home runs for Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga. The 2017 third-rounder connected on a two-run shot in the first inning and added a solo shot in the sixth, giving Wong eight home runs (as well as eight multi-hit performances) in his first 12 games. He also had an RBI single in the ninth for a total of four RBIs on the day.

Mets No. 14 prospect Anthony Kay -- a first-round Draft pick in 2016 who missed all of '17 while recovering from Tommy John surgery -- picked up his first professional win behind six scoreless innings for Class A Columbia. The 23-year-old lefty threw 59 of his 92 pitches for strikes, as he allowed three hits, walked one and struck out five to lead the Fireflies past Hickory, 5-0. Kay has pitched well to begin the season, logging a 1.69 ERA across his first 16 innings (three starts) as a pro.

Kay picks up his fifth strikeout

Nationals No. 9 prospect Daniel Johnson enjoyed his best offensive performance of the season, going 3-for-5 with a homer, a double and three runs as Double-A Harrisburg fell to Hartford, 11-9. The home run, a solo shot in the second inning, was the first this season for the Senators' leadoff man. In 2017, Johnson, 22, was one of 10 Minor Leaguers to finish with at least 20 homers and 20 stolen bases, tallying 22 in each category.

Video: Top Prospects: Daniel Johnson, OF, Nationals

Orioles No. 17 prospect Zac Lowther recorded double-digit strikeouts for the second time in three starts for Class A Delmarva. After striking out 13 and seven batters in his first two starts, respectively, the 21-year-old lefty fanned 11 batters in five innings Sunday while allowing one earned run on two hits and one walk. All together, Lowther has punched out 31 batters and allowed just five hits in 16 innings this season.

Reds No. 6 prospect Tony Santillan allowed his first earned run of the season in his fourth start for Class A Advanced Daytona, a 5-1 win against Dunedin. Working 6 2/3 frames, the 21-year-old right-hander yielded six hits and a walk while striking out six. He also induced eight ground-ball outs in the outing while throwing 57 of 87 pitches for strikes. He's 3-0 with a 0.40 ERA and a 24-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 22 2/3 innings on the season.

Red Sox No. 12 prospect Bobby Dalbec belted a go-ahead two-run homer in the top of the 10th inning that powered Class A Advanced Salem to a 6-4 win over Winston-Salem. The home run, Dalbec's fifth this season, capped a two-hit, four-RBI game for the 22-year-old third baseman, who had doubled earlier in the contest. He's produced a .923 OPS with 10 extra-base hits and 16 RBIs in 17 games.

Dalbec's extra-inning homer

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.