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2018 Mets Minor League Review: St. Lucie Mets

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Reviewing the 2018 St. Lucie Mets season

stlucie_BRYANGREEN
First Data Field
Bryan Green

Season Record

27-40/27-36 (Florida State League South Division, 6th place)

The 2017 season was a forgettable one for the St. Lucie Mets and the 2018 season wasn’t much better. Unlike last year, when the team was at or near the top in many offensive categories, the team this year was at or near the bottom in those same stats. The team that hit .252/.330/.365 in 2017 hit .233/.303/.341 in 2018. The team that hit 78 home runs in 2017 slugged 60 in 2017. The St. Lucie Mets did steal 125 bases, most in the Florida State League, up from 112 in 2017.

There were a handful of standouts and players that had solid seasons, but it was Mother Nature that had the biggest impact on the 2018 season. Numerous games were delayed by rain and many outright cancelled. Ten of their games, including six in the last week of the season, were cancelled because of rain or unplayable field conditions due to rain.

All in all, the St. Lucie Mets’ 30th anniversary season was one to forget.

MONTH-BY-MONTH BREAKDOWN

  • April, 10-14
  • May, 11-12
  • June, 8-17
  • July, 11-17
  • August, 12-14
  • September, 1-0

TOP HITTER

Andres Gimenez

85 G, 308 AB, .282/.348/.432, 20 2B, 4 3B, 6 HR, 22 BB, 70 K, 11 HBP, 28/39 SB, .343 BABIP

Andres Gimenez came into 2018 considered the Mets’ top prospect, and the 19-year-old did not disappoint, having an excellent season to cement his place as the Mets’ top prospect for 2019. Considered one of the best international rookies in the 2015-2016 class, Gimenez was signed and given a signing bonus just north of $1 million. After impressing Mets brass during extended spring training in 2017, the typically conservative Mets assigned the 18-year-old to the Columbia Fireflies, where he hit .265/.346/.349 in 92 games. Unlike 2017, when he more or less held his own, the young shortstop excelled in 2018. He led the team in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, and stolen bases.

Gimenez is still blooming as a hitter. He has a simple, short swing, and at present, much of his power is gap power. Because he has a thin frame but broad shoulders, it is easy to imagine Gimenez putting on more weight and adding more power but he will likely never be a major power contributor. He has an advanced eye at the plate, but his walks and strikeouts both have trended in the wrong direction in St. Lucie, dropping from a 7.0 % walk rate in 2017 to a 6.3% in 2018 and jumping from a 15.3% strikeout rate in 2017 to a 19.9% strikeout rate in 2018. His defensive game did not change, and Gimenez is still considered to be a near lock to be a shortstop, with good instincts, fluid actions, above-average range, soft hands, and an above-average arm.

RUNNER UP

Michael Paez

121 G, 408 AB, .270/.340/.404, 20 2B, 1 3B, 11 HR, 41 BB, 79 K, 7 HBP, 4/12 SB, .303 BABIP

After graduating Miami Sunset Senior High School undrafted and without scholarships, Michael Paez attended Coastal Carolina University and played with a chip on his shoulder. There, the undersized 5’7”, 170-pound infielder excelled, blooming not only into one of the best players on the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, but one of the better hitters in the entire NCAA Big South conference. After hitting a cumulative .283/.385/.462, he signed with the Mets, who selected him with their 5th round selection in the 2016 MLB Draft. Paez did not exactly impress with the Brooklyn Cyclones in 2016 or the Columbia Fireflies and St. Lucie Mets in 2017, but he stepped up his game in 2018 in his second season with St. Lucie and was among one of their best contributors.

Despite his smaller stature, Paez hits like a slugger, with an open stance and big leg kick. He is unlikely to ever hit for a very high average without refining his swing, but he does have sneaky power. He has a good approach at the plate, drawing a fair number of walks to mitigate his strikeouts. Originally drafted as a shortstop, Paez is not able to play shortstop effectively as a full time professional because of a weak arm. The Mets initially tried him out as a second baseman, but have since shifted him to third base. His arm is still a bit stretched for the position, but his quick reaction times and range make up for it.

TOP PITCHER

Justin Dunn

9 G (9 GS), 45.2 IP, 43 H, 17 R, 12 ER (2.36 ERA), 15 BB, 51 K, 3 HBP, 0 BLK, 2 WP, .325 BABIP

The first selection the Mets made in the 2016 draft, Justin Dunn had a rough 2017 after shooting up the draft boards while pitching for Boston College and having a solid debut for the Brooklyn Cyclones. In 95.1 innings, the right-hander posted a 5.00 ERA, allowing 101 hits, walking 48, and striking out 75. Despite the poor numbers, the there were no reports that the stuff had taken a hit, and as such, Dunn was ranked the Mets 8th top prospect. Dunn began the 2018 with the St. Lucie Mets for a second year in a row, and the 22-year-old was a much-improved pitcher. The right-hander was St. Lucie’s best pitcher in the first half, and was even better when he was promoted to Binghamton.

Dunn’s fastball sits in the low-to-mid-90s, topping out as high as 95 MPH, and has some arm-side run. He complements it with a low-to-mid-80s slider with tight spin and vertical drop that flashes average-to-above-average. He rounds out his repertoire with a curveball and changeup, but neither pitch is used very much, and both are developing. The changeup is the better of the two, flashing average, while the curve is still very much a get-me-over pitch. As has been the case since he was drafted, Dunn has below-average command.

RUNNER UP

Harol Gonzalez

13 G (12 GS), 73.1 IP, 62 H, 27 R, 23 ER (2.83 ERA), 19 BB, 59 K, 5 HBP, 0 BLK, 7 WP, .262 BABIP

Signed out of the Dominican Republic in March 2014, Harol Gonzalez was not a top international rookie nor did he post ridiculous numbers in the Dominican Summer League or his first taste of professional ball stateside in Kingsport. All of that changed in 2016, when he would go on to have one of the best pitching seasons in Brooklyn Cyclones history. He was not as dominant in 2017, when he pitched for the Columbia Fireflies and the St. Lucie Mets, but he was still a solid pitcher, and was named the Mets’ 16th top prospect for the 2018 season.

Harol is easy to root for, but his scouting report leaves a lot to be desired. His fastball barely scrapes 90 MPH, but that itself is an improvement from the high-80s that he used to throw. The pitch plays up a bit thanks to the life that it has and the flawless command that Harol has of it. He complements it with a 11-5 curveball, a slider, and a changeup, but none project to be better than average pitches.