After extended time with Class A Columbia and a spot start for Double-A Binghamton this season, Joe Cavallaro appeared to be right at home in his Florida State League debut Tuesday. He even had his mother in the stands.
The right-handed Mets prospect never became unhinged as he pitched around a pair of extra-base hits and a walk early to settle in and dominate for six shutout frames as Class A Advanced St. Lucie cruised past Charlotte, 5-1, at Charlotte Sports Park. Cavallaro struck out six.
Gameday box score
"He showed great poise from the start of the game," said St. Lucie pitching coach Marc Valdes. "Even though this was his first High-A ball start, he just kind of took it easy. He wasn't rushing too much. He came in with a good plan, stuck to it and made pitches all night."
Cavallaro opened the season with the Fireflies, posting an 8-2 record and a 2.09 ERA over 13 games. The 22-year-old allowed 54 hits and 26 walks while fanning 88 over 77 1/3 innings. He made one Eastern League start on July 5, getting tagged for five runs on nine hits with a walk and five punchouts over five innings in the Rumble Ponies' 12-9 loss to Erie.
"He was close to being promoted and [Binghamton] needed a starter, so he stepped in for a spot start," Valdes said. "I think he learned a lot of valuable lessons from that experience like the importance of keeping the ball down, making sure you're pitching to your strengths and knowing how to make adjustments as you go through the order again."
Against the Stone Crabs, the South Florida product began his outing with a seven-pitch walk to Miles Mastrobuoni. Cavallaro erased the third baseman by getting Christian Arroyo -- who is on a rehab assignment with the Rays -- to ground into a 6-4-3 double play and then induced a fly ball from No. 10 Rays prospect Josh Lowe.
"He's a sinker/slider guy, so he wanted to mix his pitches early and get his slider going on both sides the plate," Valdes said. "He had great command of his fastball, he expanded the zone when he had to and he kept them off balance all night. He had no stressful innings, he got double plays when he needed to and he worked quickly."
After recording two outs on five pitches to begin the next frame, the native of Venice, Florida, yielded a line-drive triple to right on his first pitch to Jake Fraley. But the left fielder was stranded there after Jermaine Palacios grounded out to third.
Tristan Gray led off the third by doubling to right, and he was the last hitter to reach against Cavallaro. He retired the final 12 batters he faced -- six via punchout -- and threw 47 of 72 pitches for strikes. The only inning he utilized more than 12 pitches was in the third, when he tossed 16.
"Charlotte is a very good hitting team and they even had a rehab guy in there tonight [Arroyo], and nothing was really hit terribly hard," Valdes said. "They really didn't have good swings off him at all. He just dominated."
Top Mets prospect Andres Gimenez finished a homer shy of the cycle as he singled in the third, doubled in the eighth and tripled in the ninth. He knocked in a pair of runs and scored in his second straight three-hit game. Baseball's 68th-ranked prospect collected three hits in five games this season, three times in his past six games. New York's No. 18 prospect Luis Carpio collected four hits -- including a double -- and scored a run.
Right-hander Matt Pobereyko threw only two pitches to record the final out of the game for his fifth save.