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2019 Minor League Preview: St. Lucie Mets

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How will the St. Lucie Mets fare this season?

Tony Dibrell
Chris McShane

The St. Lucie Mets celebrated their 30th anniversary last year and it wasn’t exactly one for the record books. They went 27-40 in the first half and 27-36 in the second half, and as a team, were relevant for pretty much none of either the first or second halves. While the team itself didn’t exactly impress, top prospect Andres Gimenez and Justin Dunn took important steps forward. This upcoming season, player development will be important- as it always is- but the team seams poised to win quite a few more games.

The St. Lucie Mets will open the 2019 season on Thursday, April 4th at First Data Field against the Bradenton Marauders, High-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

THE MANAGERS

Chad Kreuter will be returning as coach of the St. Lucie Mets for his third consecutive season. He will have two new faces flanking him, with Bruce Fields taking over as hitting coach and Ricky Bones taking over as pitching coach. Fields, who will be replacing Joel Fuentes, has been in baseball for decades. After being drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the 1978 MLB Draft, he spent 14 years in the minors, logging 58 major league games over three seasons with the Tigers and the Seattle Mariners. After retiring as a player in 1991, he began coaching in the Tigers’ organization. He spent a decade coaching at virtually every level of their system before being named Detroit’s major league hitting coach in 2002. He served as the Tigers’ hitting coach until 2005. He joined the Cleveland Indians in 2006, and served in multiple capacities there until 2011, when he was named Cleveland Indians hitting coach. In 2013, he returned to the Tigers and served as their farm team batting consultant until the end of the 2018 season. Ricky Bones, who will be replacing Marc Valdes, had an eleven-year major league career before making the transition into coaching. Hired by the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals, he coached in their organization for two years, serving as pitching coach for the Savannah Sand Gnats in 2004 and the Potomac Nationals in 2005. He joined the Mets in 2006, and coached for the St. Lucie Mets, Binghamton Mets, and Buffalo Bisons. In 2012, he was brought up to the major league club, where he served as bullpen coach from 2012 until 2018.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

THE HITTERS

Most of St. Lucie’s starting infield played on the team last year and has experience against FSL pitching, as Jeremy Vasquez, Blake Tiberi, and Luis Carpio all played the majority of their 2018 seasons in St. Lucie. They will be joined by Carlos Cortes, Cody Bohanek and Manny Rodriguez, with Cortes projecting as the only starter in that group.

St. Lucie’s outfield will be made up of a combination of FSL veterans and newcomers as well. Quinn Brodey and Desmond Lindsay will both be returning to St. Lucie, while Hansel Moreno and Matt Winaker will be playing there for the first time.

Behind the plate, Nick Meyer and Mitch Ghelfi will be sharing catching duties.

THE PITCHERS

Tony Dibrell, one of the Mets’ top right-handed pitching prospects, will anchor the St. Lucie Mets rotation. He will be joined by Kevin Smith, Josh Walker, Kyle Wilson, and Josh Wilson. Jordan Humphreys, who is recovering from complications from Tommy John surgery, will begin the season on the Injured List and is expected to rejoin the team near the end of the Florida State League’s first half.

The bullpen, composed of Yeizo Campos, Briam Campusano, Joe Cavallaro, Ryley Gilliam, Conner O’Neil, Marcel Renteria and Blake Taylor, should be a strength, made of a blend of fringe prospects and dependable farmhands.