MMN Top 5 Shortstop Prospects: Gimenez Leads Young Group

By Joseph Hill

January 4, 2018 16 Comments

Photo by Ed Delany

We have voted on our top five prospects at each position in the Mets minor league system. To start off, we will be looking at who we believe to be the Mets’ five best shortstop prospects.

The Mets’ class of up-and-coming shortstops is a little weaker this year, mostly due to the graduation of top prospect Amed Rosario. Still, they have signed multiple international infielders with similar offensive and defensive profiles as Rosario in the past few years, so there are still plenty of young shortstops to keep an eye on as they progress. In fact, all five of these shortstops were signed as international free agents, just as Rosario was.

Even with Rosario penciled in as the Mets’ starting shortstop for years to come, any one of these guys could still become a Major Leaguer as an everyday second or third baseman, utility infielder, or even a starting shortstop if Rosario doesn’t pan out.

Assuming that Rosario does become a franchise shortstop, a move to second or third base may be likely for these prospects as they progress to the higher minors. With that in mind we have shifted Luis Guillorme to second base just like the Mets did in 2017 (72 games at 2B, 58 at SS.)

The bottom line, this a young talented group that has a good amount of upside and it will be interesting to see how they develop in 2018.

5. Sebastian Espino

Ht: 6’2″    Wt: 176 lbs.    Born: 5/29/00 (17)

Bats: R    Throws: R

2017 Level: DSL Mets 1/GCL Mets

2017 Stats: 68 G, 287 PA, 37 R, 67 H, 18 2B, 10 3B, 2 HR, 37 RBI, 6 SB, 5 CS, 23 BB, 66 SO, .261/.331/.432

Espino was signed by the Mets in July 2016 as an international free agent with a signing bonus of $300,000. Born in the Dominican Republic, Espino is still just 17-years-old and is coming off his first season of Rookie ball. He did not appear on the Baseball America Top 50 International Prospects list of 2016, but he did receive the largest signing bonus out of the ten international prospects the Mets signed that year.

Espino has very good offensive upside, with above average power for a shortstop. However, he still has some ironing out to do defensively, as shown by his 26 errors in 67 games at shortstop this year. Still, he’s very young and has a lot of time to develop. And the Mets are confident that he has the tools to get there, as evidenced by the decent signing bonus he received only a year ago.

The youngster received an extremely rare mid-season promotion from the DSL to the stateside Gulf Coast League to end the season. He’s shown off a strong arm at shortstop and pop at the plate.

4. Shervyen Newton

Ht: 6’4″    Wt: 180 lbs.    Born: 4/24/99 (18)

Bats: S    Throws: R

2017 Level: DSL Mets 2

2017 Stats: 66 G, 303 PA, 51 R, 75 H, 11 2B, 9 3B, 1 HR, 31 RBI, 10 SB, 4 CS, 50 BB, 57 SO, .311/.433/.444

Newton is a Dutch shortstop who the Mets signed in 2015 for a smaller signing bonus of $50,000. He has played shortstop and third base in the past, but a move to third base is likely considering his size. He’s a switch-hitter with good power that he generates from his large frame. He may not have quite the power potential of Espino, but he has tremendous plate discipline, as he has shown an exceptional ability to walk a lot while limiting strikeouts so far in the low Minors.

In 2016 Newton had a very poor offensive year for the DSL Mets 2, hitting just .169 with a .229 SLG, but his good eye at the plate still managed him a healthy .347 OBP. What makes us more excited about his future potential is his offensive output this recent season, when he put decent power numbers with a tremendous .433 OBP. He also had a 16.5% walk rate vs. just an 18.8% strikeout rate, walking almost as much as he struck out.

His game power could still use some work and that might come as he continues to fill out. He also possesses a strong arm as a former pitcher that plays defensively at shortstop. I’d expect him to start next year on the Rookie GCL Mets.

3. Gregory Guerrero

Ht: 6’0″    Wt: 186 lbs.    Born: 1/20/99 (18)

Bats: R    Throws: R

2017 Level: GCL Mets

2017 Stats: 38 G, 154 PA, 17 R, 31 H, 3 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 12 RBI, 1 SB, 3 CS, 7 BB, 27 SO, .217/.257/.252

Guerrero comes from a baseball family, as he is the nephew of former star outfielder Vladimir Guerrero. Signed in 2015 in the same draft as Newton, Guerrero was ranked by Baseball America as the #6 international free agent and received a signing bonus of $1.5 million out of the Dominican Republic. With his loose swing and above average bat speed, Guerrero has been seen by scouts as having above average future power for a shortstop or third baseman, which is where he’s expected to end up. In the minors, he has seen time at third, short, and second showing he can be versatile.

However, despite the hype Guerrero has received, he’s turned in two disappointing offensive seasons in the low minors. He doesn’t walk much and so far there’s hardly been any power to speak of. However, it’s way too early to call him a bust, as he is solid and versatile defensively, and the potential in the bat is still there. I expect him to play another season in the GCL to iron out his tools and hopefully have a breakout offensive year.

2. Ronny Mauricio

Ht: 6’3″    Wt: 166 lbs.    Born: 4/4/01 (16)

Bats: S    Throws: R

2017 Level: Did not play

2017 Stats: Did not play

Mauricio was signed as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic this past July, breaking Rosario’s previously held team record by signing for $2.1 million. Ranked by Baseball America as the #3 available international free agent, the switch-hitting Mauricio is a contact hitter with a knack for hitting line drives, a great quality to have in a hitter.

His main position is shortstop, but he is said by scouts to have the skills to play anywhere in the infield. He has quick, smooth hands and long arms, and while he is likely to stay at shortstop, some scouts think he will outgrow the position and possibly move to second or third.

Mauricio is still a bit of a wild card at this point, considering he’s just 16 years old and is yet to play a single game at the professional level. But based on his talent and tools that have been praised by scouts, as well as receiving the largest international signing bonus in Mets history, Mauricio will be a fun player to watch develop, and hopefully, we will see him on the Mets at some point. He came stateside to play in the Mets instructional league in September.

1. Andres Gimenez

Ht: 5’11”    Wt: 176 lbs.    Born: 9/4/98 (19)

Bats: L    Throws: R

2017 Level: Columbia Fireflies

2017 Stats: 92 G, 399 PA, 50 R, 92 H, 9 2B, 4 3B, 4 HR, 31 RBI, 14 SB, 8 CS, 28 BB, 61 SO, .265/.346/.349

The Venezuelan Gimenez was another part of the Mets’ big international splash of 2015, receiving a $1.2 million signing bonus and being ranked the second best international free agent that year by Baseball America.

He was described as one of the best pure hitters available in the signing period while playing an plus shortstop. With Rosario playing short, Gimenez could very well be the Mets’ second baseman of the future. He got off to a really quick start in the DSL in 2016, hitting .350/.469/.523 with 46 walks and 22 strikeouts. He showed unusually great plate discipline, with a BB/K over two, along with above-average power. His swing is geared more towards doubles than home runs, but as he matures and fills out there could be some power growth in the future.

This past season Gimenez made the leap to Class A Columbia, where the numbers looked pedestrian. His walk rate plummeted, his strikeout rate rose, and he had ten less extra-base hits in 124 more plate appearances. Though, it’s very important to point out that Gimenez was three and half years younger than the league average in the South Atlantic League and that his .695 OPS was actually higher than the league average.

With the addition of his speed and defense up the middle, there’s a lot to be excited for with Gimenez, who is ranked as the Mets #1 overall prospect now that Rosario is no longer a prospect, and is our pick for the #1 Mets shortstop prospect.

  • mpetr37349

    Interesting that Vientos is not on the list. Are they already considering him not a ss, or are these other kids really better?

  • MattyBunt

    Pretty sure they are considering him a 3B

  • Nessim Toledano

    Sometimes a player gets moved around because his defense is bad, not good. Gregory Guerrero made 11 errors at short in just 44 games in the DSL two years ago, and 5 errors in only 16 games last year. His range factor and error rate at both second and short are poor. The numbers look better at 3B in 2016. But its curious that he didn’t play any games there in 2017. So his defensive prowess is actually very questionable.

  • Nessim Toledano

    I’d agree with you. The fact is he played more games at short than 3rd last year, and had more games at short than Guerrero. He also posted better slash lines than 4 of the 5 players on this list, and except for Gimenez, he’s the only one who made it past GCL last year (even if it was for only one week).

  • Adam Smith

    Yeah. Playing multiple positions doesn’t necessarily mean that his “defensive prowess and versatility is unquestioned.” It’s only unquestioned by those too un-curious to dig deeper. Or those who have never seen him play and are judging simply by the fact that he played a number of positions. I’ve never seen the guy play either, and I know you’re not getting paid to write these articles (and I actually appreciate that you and others do), but you need to do better than that. Neither his defense, nor his versatility are “unquestioned” other than in your piece.

  • Adam Smith

    Sad, sad farm system. And I’m a sad, sad Mets fan. Yeah, we have this 16 year-old who can play SS. Maybe. Or maybe Omar will help. Sell the team.

  • Mojo Hill

    You’re right, I should have worded that better and taken stronger note of those errors he made. I don’t think there’s much doubt that he has the physical tools to play a serviceable infield position, but you’re right that his defense profile is very much a work in progress, and there’s still a lot of development to be done in terms of what position he fits best at.

    I don’t want to use this as any kind of excuse or anything, but keep in mind that this is my first article on the site so I am still fairly new to evaluating prospects. I will watch out for things like these in the future and I appreciate the constructive feedback you both gave. I am committed to improving my writing in the future.

    Thank you for reading and commenting.

  • Mojo Hill

    Yes, we are considering Vientos a 3B due to the fact that he’s projected to move from shortstop to third base, a move which has already begun. In Baseball America’s scouting report of him, they say he lacks the glove actions and body control typically found at the shortstop position, but has plus arm strength, therefore making a move to third base seem logical.

  • Adam Smith

    I appreciate your work. And the work of everyone who puts time in to make this site interesting. But the phrase you used as shorthand (which I understand) was actually a key point in the piece. Is he really such a defensive whiz that his abilities and versatility are “unquestioned”? That says that he’s a big league defensive player. But I don’t think that we know that – and pretty sure (all due respect) that you don’t know that. And in fact, there’s evidence that he’s
    Moving around because the org is trying to figure that out. Congrats on your first piece. Keep at it. Just remember, words have meaning, and you need to be sure that YOU mean what they mean. I hope you tale this in the spirit it’s intended, (from an old writer, who wishes you well.)

  • Nessim Toledano

    If projection is the only reason, then I’d rethink that approach. Projections this early in their careers so seldom hold up that they are a flimsy basis on which to make that determination, IMO. The thing is, Guerrero was also projected to move off from SS. yet he still made the shortstop list. He is no more a shortstop than Vientos is. No reason for one to be labeled a shortstop and the other not:
    Guerrero played fewer games at short than at 2nd last year. He also played fewer games at short than Vientos did.
    Vientos, on the other hand, played more games at short than at 3rd for GCL. And he was still playing shosrt at the end of the season, and even played all of his games at short after being promoted to Kingsport at the tail end of the season.

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  • Michael Mayer

    He is absolutely being considered a 3B for this list.

  • Michael Mayer

    Guerrero has still played a majority of his minor games at SS and we feel has the better chance to stick there than Vientos. Also think that Vientos moves quickly and part of that is the Mets having him play mostly third next year in our assumption. As you know, projections are a huge part of evaluating prospects in many different ways.

  • Out of place Met fan

    Espino is going to the next Mets prospect to raise some eyebrows.

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  • Buddy3

    I had seen an article on skills that had him as the second best athlete in the system behind Desmond Lindsay. If that is true, why would he need to move off shortstop? I assume that it is because of his size, but can you reconcile these comments. Great athlete, but not a shortstop?