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.
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
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 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:
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|