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Mets Prospect Primer: Gimenez atop next wave

Teenager leads New York talent pool, Ponies taking step forward
Andres Gimenez batted .265/.346/.349 as an 18-year-old with Class A Columbia last season. (Lianna Holub/
March 28, 2018

Some players are on the verge of stardom, others are entering a crucial phase of their development and still others are getting their first tastes of full-season ball. With the 2018 season approaching, takes a look at the most intriguing prospects from each MLB organization.Shining star: Andrés Giménez, SSFollowing

Some players are on the verge of stardom, others are entering a crucial phase of their development and still others are getting their first tastes of full-season ball. With the 2018 season approaching, takes a look at the most intriguing prospects from each MLB organization.
Shining star: Andrés Giménez, SS
Following the graduation of Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith last year, the Mets were left without a prospect in's Top 100. As the team moves forward, Gimenez is at the forefront of their next wave of talent.

Signed out of Venezuela for $1.2 million in 2015, Gimenez was a huge success in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League in 2016 and played his way onto his first full-season roster with Class A Columbia last summer. As an 18-year-old, he batted .265/.346/.349 while drawing 28 walks with 17 extra-base hits -- including four homers -- 31 RBIs and 14 stolen bases in 92 games.
"He's an excellent prospect with a well-rounded skill set ... both at the plate and in the field," Mets director of player development Ian Levin said. "He has a chance to be an impact player on both sides of the ball and play up the middle and be a quality piece for us moving forward."
New York's top prospect played exclusively at shortstop with the Fireflies last year and has the tools to stick at the position. He is still a few years away from the Majors and it is too early to determine whether he will compete with Rosario for the spot at the highest level. If a move to second base is in the cards, Gimenez gained some experience playing the position in the DSL.
The club brought the 5-foot-11, 176-pound left-handed hitter to the Grapefruit League for the second time this spring. Gimenez appeared in five games and collected three hits in five at-bats, including an RBI double.

Major League-ready: Corey Oswalt, RHP
While most of the teams in the Mets' Minor League system struggled mightily last year, Double-A Binghamton followed a steady roster to an 85-win season. With a 12-5 record and a 2.28 ERA in 24 starts, Oswalt -- the Mets' 16th-ranked prospect -- was the anchor of the Rumble Ponies pitching staff.
"He knows how to pitch and his chances of being … a good Major League pitcher are high, especially coming off of the year he had last year," Levin said. "I'm looking forward to having him serve as a nice starting pitching option for the team."
The Mets' seventh-round pick in the 2012 Draft amassed 119 strikeouts in 134 1/3 innings last summer. He stumbled a bit out of the gate, but finished with a 1.51 ERA over 14 starts in the last four months of the season. The 24-year-old was the Eastern League's Pitcher of the Year and the Mets' Sterling Minor League Award winner as the organization's top pitcher in his first year at the level.
"He uses a four-pitch mix very effectively," Levin said. "Above-average fastball with quality secondary pitches and commands it well."
When a bevy of injuries hit the Mets' Major League rotation last year, the club was forced to use 12 different starters, including ninth-ranked prospect Chris Flexen. Now that the staff is seemingly healthy -- except for Rafael Montero -- Oswalt sits on a very long list of Mets starters.
"You can just focus on yourself, taking advantage of the opportunity, learning, getting there because of it and I believe he's doing just that," Levin said.
The 6-foot-5, 250-pound righty debuted in the Grapefruit League this spring. He allowed two runs in 6 1/3 innings over four games.
Full-season debutant: Mark Vientos, SS/3B
Selected in the second round of last June's Draft, Vientos played 51 games in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and Appalachian League. The club's sixth-ranked prospect batted a combined .262/.318/.398 with four homers, 14 doubles and 26 RBIs as a 17-year-old.
"He had a nice first year in pro ball," Levin said. "He certainly has the ability to hit and he projects to have above-average power down the road as he matures physically and learn to swing."
At 6-foot-4 and 185 pounds, it is difficult to project where he will best fit in the infield. He played 14 games at third base -- exclusively in the GCL -- and 23 total games at shortstop. Levin said Vientos' immediate defensive focus will be on making overall improvements before settling into permanent position.
"Defensively, he's got good hands and will stay on the infield, and he'll be able to take advantage of his offensive skill set and take advantage of his quality defensive position," Levin said.

The Florida native did have a high strikeout total, compiling 46 whiffs in 191 at-bats, but showed plenty of upside. He struggled through July and batted just .209 through his first 24 games. He improved to .305 in August and finished the season with Kingsport, collecting five hits in 17 at-bats over the final four games.
Back and healthy: Anthony Kay, LHP
Barring any unforeseen setbacks, Kay will make his long-anticipated professional debut this season. The Mets drafted Kay with the 31st overall pick in 2016 and he was shut down after the Draft. He then was diagnosed with a tear in the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow and required Tommy John surgery in October that kept him out for the entire 2017 season.
"I've seen him throw recently and he looks healthy," Levin said. "I'm just looking forward to seeing him on the mound."
The Mets No. 14 prospect threw 119 innings with a 2.65 ERA and 111 strikeouts in his junior season at the University of Connecticut. The 23-year-old pitched in the instructional league this fall and showed he may be on the right track to return to form.
"I think it's going to be a big year for him. Any time you're injured, it's difficult because that takes away what the guys love to do the most, which is playing," Levin said. "But he took advantage of the opportunity, got in good physical shape, got his arm in shape and learned some of the nuances of pitching that will serve him better once he's back out there."
Kay is a native Long Islander and alumnus of Ward Melville High School, the same school that produced fellow New York southpaw Steven Matz. He was previously drafted by the Mets in the 29th round in 2013, but decided to attend college.
Loudest tool: Luis Guillorme, INF
One of the more entertaining prospect in the Mets system, Guillorme caught the baseball world's attention last spring by nonchalantlycatching a bat with one hand while standing atop the dugout steps after the batter lost his grip on the lumber. The event created a viral hit indicative of his defensive skill set.
"First of all, his hands and his instincts are as good as anybody," Levin said. "I'd stack him up against anybody in baseball."
The club's 10th-ranked prospect has since made highlight-reel plays at three different defensive positions. In 128 contests with Binghamton last season, he played 72 games at second base, 58 at shortstop and three at third.
"His actions are smooth and he has the ability to be ahead of the game, understand the situations and even anticipate where the ball is going to end up with his range," Levin said. "He combines that package to create an outstanding defensive skill set.
"He can be an elite defender at any position that he ends up at. Giving him the ability to start to learn some of the nuances of second base, of third base, will only enhance his value and his skill set long term."
Offensively, the 23-year-old saw a 20-point jump in his batting average from 2016, finishing the year with a .283/.376/.331 line. He doesn't provide much pop or steal a ton of bases, but he hit 20 doubles, scored 70 runs and drew 72 walks. He appeared in 20 games this spring after a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League, going 11-for-36 (.306) at the plate.

Others to keep an eye on: The Mets enter the season with a contingent of ranked prospects who have already debuted in the Majors but are likely to spend most of the season with Triple-A Las Vegas. In addition to Flexen, No. 18 Gavin Cecchini provides depth for an aging infield, No. 11 Tomás Nido will factor into the team's catching plans and No. 23 Jamie Callahan can be an effective bullpen option. No. 4 Peter Alonso and No. 22 David Thompson are two power bats likely to man the corners of the Las Vegas infield. 2017 first-rounder David Peterson (No. 2) will make his full season debut and third-ranked Justin Dunn, the Mets' top pick in 2016, moves on from a difficult season with Class A Advanced St. Lucie.
Most home runs in the system: Alonso
Most stolen bases: Champ Stuart
Most strikeouts: Nabil Crismatt
Current prospect to get most Major League playing time: Jacob Rhame
Non-Top 100 prospect to end 2018 in the Top 100: Gimenez

Gerard Gilberto is a contributor to Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @GerardGilberto4.