We’ve reached the final installment in our series of ranking the top 50 prospects in the Mets system heading into the 2018 season. The output is a reflection of the tremendous work put in by our entire group of writers, and we all thank you for coming along for the ride. As always, links to the previous rankings can be found at the bottom of this article.
#1 SS Andres Gimenez
Ht: 5’11” Wt: 176 lbs. Age: 9/4/98 (19) B/T: L/R
2017 Level: Columbia Fireflies Age Dif: -3.5
Stats: 92 G, 347 AB, 50 R, 92 H, 9 2B, 4 3B, 4 HR, 31 RBI, 61/28 K/BB, .265/.346/.349
Andres Gimenez has never been one to shy away from the limelight. In 2016, fresh off a $1.2 million signing bonus the previous July, the then 17-year-old kicked off his professional career in the Dominican Summer League by belting a grand slam in his debut. Only one year later, Gimenez was summoned all the way up to the South Atlantic League at the end of April, where he joined the Columbia Fireflies and did what else but homer in his first at-bat with his new club.
Gimenez wasn’t supposed to be in Columbia last season, but following an outstanding year in the DSL, a clearly impressive showing in extended spring training, and multiple injuries to Fireflies infielders, the Mets felt they had nothing to lose by letting him loose. The leash was short—it was expected that Gimenez would be sent down to Brooklyn when the Cyclones’ season began in June—but Gimenez seized his opportunity and ran with it. Through his first 17 games, Gimenez hit safely in 14 of them, striking out at a respectable 15% clip and driving in seven runs.
June 20 was notable for two reasons. It was the date of the SAL All-Star Game, hosted by the Fireflies at Spirit Communications Park, at which point Gimenez had cemented himself as the near-everyday shortstop in Columbia. June 20 was also the date of the Cyclones’ season opener, and by that point, there was no thought of a demotion. When it was all said and done, he had become the first 18-year-old Mets minor leaguer at the organization’s Low-A classification to receive significant playing time since Wilmer Flores for the 2010 Savannah Sand Gnats.
Gimenez has earned high praise for his baseball instincts, plate vision, and quick bat, which all led to an unintentional-walk rate (11.2%) and wOBA (.332) that rated above the league average. And as long as we’re mentioning league-average, the mean of the pitcher ages in the SAL was 22, so Gimenez was going up against hurlers that were almost four years his elder every night.
Back to that bat, watch his leadoff home run against Rome on August 20.
How many 18-year-olds possess the instincts and bat speed to turn on an inside pitch and take it over the fence like that? I’d venture to say not many. It would also be fascinating to see the exit velocity on that home run, by my unofficial count it got out of the park in about four and a half seconds.
The bat is one of Gimenez’s best tools, but the glove is nothing to scoff at either. Baseball America certainly thinks so, as the publication deemed him to be the best defensive shortstop in the South Atlantic League. His range is solid, his hands are adept, and I’m going to bring up the maturity again, as it shows in the field too. As of now, there isn’t any concern about sticking at shortstop, although it’s likely he gets more reps at second or third to widen his versatility. On the basepaths, Gimenez is one of the quicker runners in the system. I would rate him as one of the five best (stateside) baserunners the Mets have, a group that would include Jacob Zanon, Hansel Moreno, Champ Stuart, and of course Amed Rosario.
Some detractors worry about Gimenez’s size, but at 19, there should be little doubt that his body will mature. He has spent the past few weeks with Rosario, Juan Lagares, and others at the Barwis camp in Port St. Lucie, and he appears to have added substantial muscle mass. In addition, he’s been working on conditioning and agility, and I’m sure he’s itching to translate his hard work into game action.
By all accounts, Gimenez is a good-natured kid, and there’s certainly reason to be excited about his future. He’s still so young that it would be foolish to pencil him in as the second or third baseman of the future for the Mets, but at the very least his progress will be scrutinized by many a watchful eye. I don’t think he’ll have to travel very far after spring training (where he might again earn call-ups to big league camp) as he could very well likely end up opening the season with the St. Lucie Mets.
A Mets system that was once rich in shortstop prospects has seen the unfortunate downfalls of Gavin Cecchini and Milton Ramos, a position change for Luis Guillorme, and a promotion to the major leagues for Rosario, paving the way for Gimenez to establish himself as the next big thing on his way to Queens.
11-9 Led by Ronny Mauricio