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2016 Mets minor league preview: Las Vegas 51s (Triple-A)

Three of the most major league ready position players in the Mets' system will start the year at Triple-A.

Chris McShane

Triple-A is often a mix of major league ready top prospects and older veterans hanging around as depth, and the current iteration of the Las Vegas 51s is no different. The pitching will probably be brutal, but there are several players of interest on the offensive side of the ball.

The manager

Wally Backman returns for another season managing the 51s. A year after consistently benching better prospects behind veteran retreads and using Jack Leathersich for 57 pitches in one outing, Backman started the season by batting Brandon Nimmo ninth and Johnny Monell cleanup, so it looks like we're getting more of the same.

Backman is joined by pitching coach Frank Viola, who will return to Vegas for a third consecutive season. He won't have a new ace to groom this year, but Viola is a well-regarded pitching instructor who should have plenty of insights for all prospects moving through Triple-A. Given the notoriously hitter-friendly nature of the league and Cashman Field in particular, Viola will certainly have his work cut out for him. Jack Voigt will serve as the hitting coach

Player to watch

The pitchers

Rafael Montero is the most interesting part of the Vegas rotation, as he attempts to rebuild his prospect status after a mysterious shoulder injury ruined his 2015 season. He'll be joined by Sean Gilmartin, who will transition back to starting to supply the Mets with rotation depth. Gabriel Ynoa and Seth Lugo will also have rotation slots. As mentioned before, Vegas is never good for pitchers, but this particular group could be in for a particularly rough time given their collective lack of strikeout stuff.

In the bullpen, Josh Smoker and Erik Goeddel are next in line for MLB bullpen jobs. Hopefully Goeddel can stay healthy. Dario Alvarez and his mysteriously effective slider will be tested further in the thin air of Vegas, where pitchers struggle to make breaking balls move. He has flashed some potential—his strikeout of Bryce Harper last season, for instance—but there are still plenty of questions about his potential even as a lefty specialist down the line.

The hitters

The Vegas lineup will feature the Mets' third- and fourth-best prospects in shortstop Gavin Cecchini and outfielder Brandon Nimmo. The friendly conditions of the PCL should help both of them improve on fairly mediocre offensive numbers, but their development is more important than posting big minor league stats. They'll be joined by Dilson Herrera, who will get another chance to torch Triple-A despite not actually qualifying as a prospect anymore.

Beyond that trio, things drop off pretty fast. KOST Travis Taijeron will return to Triple-A, as will third string middle infielder Matt Reynolds. Fan favorite and Bronx native T. J. Rivera will also be in the infield picture. Johnny Monell and Rene Rivera will get the lions share of catching duties, with both a phone call away from the majors should injury strike Travis d'Arnaud or Kevin Plawecki.

From the team's website, here is the full roster:

Pitchers

# Name Pos Bat Thw Ht Wt DOB
58 Dario Alvarez P L L 6' 1" 170 01-17-1989
29 Chasen Bradford P R R 6' 1" 230 08-05-1989
36 Sean Gilmartin P L L 6' 2" 205 05-08-1990
62 Erik Goeddel P R R 6' 3" 190 12-20-1988
32 Chase Huchingson P L L 6' 5" 200 04-14-1989
27 Seth Lugo P R R 6' 4" 225 11-17-1980
50 Rafael Montero P R R 6' 0" 185 10-17-1990
54 Stolmy Pimentel P R R 6' 3" 230 02-01-1990
17 Paul Sewald P R R 6' 3" 210 05-26-1990
49 Josh Smoker P L L 6' 2" 255 11-26-1988
46 Zach Thornton P R R 6' 3" 220 05-19-1988
56 Jeff Walters P R R 6' 3" 190 11-06-1987
57 Gabriel Ynoa P R R 6' 2" 160 05-26-1993

Catchers

# Name Pos Bat Thw Ht Wt DOB
25 Nevin Ashley C R R 6' 1" 215 08-14-1984
30 Jeff Glenn C R R 6' 3" 185 09-22-1991
19 Johnny Monell C L R 6' 1" 220 03-27-1986
44 Rene Rivera C R R 5' 10" 215 07-31-1983

Infielders

# Name Pos Bat Thw Ht Wt DOB
1 Gavin Cecchini SS R R 6' 2" 200 12-22-1993
2 Dilson Herrera 2B R R 5' 10" 150 03-03-1994
34 Marc Krauss 1B L R 6' 2" 245 10-05-1987
12 Danny Muno 3B S R 6' 1" 195 02-09-1989
5 Matt Reynolds SS R R 6' 1" 205 12-03-1990
3 T.J. Rivera SS R R 6' 1" 190 10-27-1988

Outfielders

# Name Pos Bat Thw Ht Wt DOB
9 Roger Bernadina LF L L 6' 2" 200 06-12-1984
11 Ty Kelly OF S R 6' 0" 185 07-20-1988
7 Brandon Nimmo CF L R 6' 3" 205 03-27-1993
18 Travis Taijeron RF R R 6' 2" 225 01-20-1989