Mets’ No. 1 prospect wants to be baseball’s next phenom
Andres Gimenez sees it, too.
Juan Soto is 19. Ronald Acuna Jr. is 20. Ozzie Albies, 21.
More and more, teams are not letting age be a barrier that prevents a call-up. In what has become the year of the young star, the Mets’ 19-year-old infielder has witnessed what — and when — is possible.
“Those players motivate me,” Gimenez said in Spanish this weekend about the prospects who did not waste time in the minors. “I would like to be one of them in the big leagues.
“But I don’t have control of that — only God and the Mets have control of that. Just got to keep practicing hard.”
The Mets’ No. 1 prospect has lived up to that billing this year, hitting his way through High-A St. Lucie and only upping his game since being promoted to Double-A Binghamton in late July. In 30 games with Binghamton, Gimenez is batting .297 with eight doubles and nine steals — giving him 37 on the year.
Gimenez does not resemble those filled-out, powerful youngsters — at 5-foot-11 and 161 pounds, he looks like he’s 19, and his six home runs this year are a career high. But his short, compact swing, his blinding speed and hailed defense at shortstop make an expedited promotion next year more than a fantasy.
As does the work he’s putting in at second base.
“I’ve been playing short all my career, but I’ve been practicing at second base,” Gimenez said through translator Luis Rivera, Binghamton’s bench coach. “You never know which position I’m going to be in the big leagues if I make it. I’ve been practicing hard at second.”
The Venezuelan, whom the Mets signed in 2015, has only played only 14 games at second in his minor league career, but the Mets are beginning to give him work there with Amed Rosario the potential future at short. Gimenez said he feels comfortable at second, and his defense is not what’s holding him back.
The Mets would like the left-handed hitter’s strikeout-to-walk ratio (86-29) to improve.
“I need to get better discipline at the plate,” Gimenez said. “I need to refine my approach to get more consistent. All the little details to get more solid and consistent.”
Gimenez said he is “surprised” to already be at Double-A, but the youngest player in the league is more than holding his own. It makes him Beating The Bushes’ Mets prospect of the year, and one whose day is coming sooner rather than later.
Revelation of the year: Jeff McNeil
Peter Alonso and his 32 home runs have been the most impressive performance for a Mets prospect this year. But McNeil, who played in just 51 combined games in 2016 and ’17, has been the most stunning.
Before injuries robbed him of those two seasons, he was a spray hitter without much power. But he went from a 165-pound 2013 draft pick to a 200-pound slugger, and he rocketed from nowhere to make a splash in Queens.
Comeback player of the year: Justin Dunn
Last year at this time, the Mets’ 2016 draft looked in trouble. Dunn, a first-rounder, was struggling with Single-A competition, and another first-rounder that year, Anthony Kay, was sidelined with Tommy John surgery. With Dunn having a big bounce-back season, Kay returning to the mound and second-round pick Alonso thriving, the draft is shaping up much better.
Dunn, who couldn’t do anything right last year, putting up a 5.00 ERA in High-A St. Lucie, earned a promotion to Binghamton this year and positioned himself to be a possible 2019 call-up. The right-hander has a mid-90s fastball, multiple breaking pitches and a changeup that needs work. He has struck out 90 in 78 ²/₃ Double-A innings, to go with a 3.89 ERA.
Biggest stock drop: Desmond Lindsay
The 2015 second-round draft pick still has not been able to climb out of St. Lucie. Hamstring issues cost him time the past few years, and he’s missed more time due to injury this year, too.
And when he’s been on the field, the center fielder has not hit. In 87 games, he has posted a .223/.320/.329 slash line with just three home runs, another tough season for a player the Mets hyped as an “offensive machine” when they drafted him.
Best Tebow: Tim
Every teammate and coach of Tebow’s has been uniformly positive when asked about a player and person many see as polarizing.
Tebow emerged as a legitimately not-awful prospect this year, reaching the Eastern League All-Star Game before injuring his hand and missing what likely would have been a call-up to the Mets. It is unknown if the 31-year-old will brave the minor league buses again, but the Mets — and their minor league ticket sales offices — have appreciated him.
“Some guys show emotions. We want to show guys to control it. Some guys get trapped in the emotional game, I’ve seen it a couple times,” Double-A Binghamton manager Luis Rojas said earlier this year. “[Tebow will] pull them aside and talk to them about it. I see him talk also to a few guys about their conditioning, work habits at the gym from personal experience. He brings a lot to the team.”
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