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Mets Minor League Preview: St. Lucie Mets

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How will the St. Lucie Mets fare this season?

Justin Dunn
Chris McShane

The 2017 season was a forgettable one for the St. Lucie Mets. The team ended the first half with a 33-35 record and the second half with a 30-40 record, making them 63-75 for the year. Both the offense and pitching were suspect to begin with, and injuries and ineffectiveness sapped both even further. While there were a handful of bright spots, such as Peter Alonso establishing himself as one of the Mets’ top hitting prospects, it was a poor year overall down in Florida.

The St. Lucie Mets will open the 2018 on Thursday, April 5th against the Bradenton Marauders, the Double-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

THE MANAGERS

Chad Kreuter will be returning as coach of the St. Lucie Mets for his second consecutive season. Flanking him will be Marc Valdes and Joel Fuentes, who will be serving as pitching and hitting coach, respectively. Valdes will be returning for his third season as pitching coach with St. Lucie. Prior, he served as a coach with the Kingsport in 2007 and 2008, Brooklyn Cyclones pitching coach in 2012 and 2013, and Savannah Sand Gnats pitching coach in 2014 and 2015. Joel Fuentes, who will be replacing Luis Natera, has prior experience as hitting coach with St. Lucie, as he served in the position in 2010, 2011, 2014, and 2015 as well. He has spent the last two seasons as hitting coach for the Columbia Fireflies, and has a total of 12 years within the organization as a coach.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Stephen Nogosek

THE HITTERS

The St. Lucie offense was near the top in the Florida State League in 2017, and if all goes well, will place near the top in 2018 as well. Dash Winningham and Andres Gimenez are the only players penciled in definitely to their positions, playing first and shortstop, respectively. Some combination of Dale Burdick, Luis Carpio, Michael Paez and J.J. Franco will cover second and third base, with Carpio and Paez being by far the closest of the group to being prospects. Anthony Dimino, Brandon Brosher, and Jose Garcia will combine to catch, with the first two being more offense-minded options and the latter being a more defense-oriented option.

In the outfield, Desmond Lindsay is the only player who might break out. He will be flanked by Gene Cone, Ian Strom and Jacob Zanon, none of whom are known for their offensive prowess, and Wilmer Becerra, who at this point in his professional career is no longer a prospect.

THE PITCHERS

The St. Lucie Mets will have numerous options to go with to start games, but many of them will be coming into the season with question marks. First-round draft pick Justin Dunn will be anchoring the staff, repeating the season at St. Lucie, and if he can be healthy and effective, will likely move on from the FSL quickly. Harol Gonzalez, who has steadily been improving as a pitcher since making his stateside debut in 2015, could establish himself as a top pitcher in the system with a good showing. Josh Prevost and Gary Cornish will both be returning from injury- the latter from Tommy John and the former from knee surgery- and will be wildcards, while Michael Gibbons, Gabriel Llanes, Blake Taylor, and Thomas McIlraith all remain starting options.

St. Lucie will have numerous options to go to out of the bullpen as well. Matt Pobereyko and Matt Blackham both closed out games at varying points last season and will compete with newcomers Ryder Ryan and Stephen Nogosek, who also have that same experience. Middle relief arms Adam Atkins, Johnny Maggliozi and Joseph Zhangi should lock down the middle innings.