The 2018 Binghamton Rumble Ponies had one of the more anemic offenses in the Eastern League last season, hitting a combined a .250/.331/.385- and that includes 434 at-bats from breakout stars Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil. The offense, mostly composed of low upside farmhands and minor league veterans, was underwhelming to say the least. On July 23, the team got an infusion of youth in talent when Andrés Giménez was promoted from the St. Lucie Mets to the Rumble Ponies. Considered the Mets’ top prospect and a borderline top 100 prospect in all of baseball by most major baseball publications, the 19-year-old Giménez hit .282/.348/.432 in 85 games with St. Lucie. He ended up hitting a respectable .277/.344/.358 in 37 games with them, and came into the 2019 season considered the Mets’ second-best prospect, narrowly beaten out by Peter Alonso.
As was the case after Alonso and McNeil were promoted to the Las Vegas 51s last season, it’s been a lean year for marquee names in Binghamton. Giménez remained in Double-A following his 37 games there last year, but the results have been different. While young shortstop has not performed poorly, especially when age is considered, thee 2019 season is likely to end his least successful campaign in professional baseball.
After looking precocious in his first crack at Double-A last year, Giménez’ offensive output has taken a big step back. The season is long and there are numerous things that contributed to his struggles at the plate in 2019- being hit in the wrist by a pitch in June had a major impact on his numbers in the subsequent weeks- but changes to his swing made by coaches are likely the major culprit.
Prior to the 2019 season, the young shortstop used a simple, compact swing that allowed him to maximize his strong wrists, giving him the ability to keep the barrel of the bat in the strike zone for a long time and adjust his bat path mid-stride to react to pitches with movement. As first confirmed back in May, I reaffirmed that Giménez is still using a swing with a lot more upper cut. In his first at-bat of the day, his hands pre-swing settled behind his left ear, still high, but not as exaggerated as they had been earlier in the year. His toe tap was exaggerated into a leg kick when he strode, and the steeper angle of his swing clearly was made to create loft. With two strikes in particular, he seemed to lower his hands a bit, but still struck out swinging after being beaten by a high fastball. Intentionally or not, Giménez brought a slightly shorter swing to the table the rest of the day, and coincidentally or not, had a pair of opposite field doubles on the afternoon, along with a line out to center in which he made solid contact. Here he is in the 6th inning:
Both doubles landed within 10 feet of one another down the third base line, with the latter in the 8th inning decidedly in the “looping liner” category, but there was less noise and over-coiling from his hands pre-swing and a bit more of the gap-to-gap approach that made him so promising the past few seasons. I’m not sure anything else I saw moved the needle on Giménez- he used his plus speed to advance to from second to third on a deep fly ball to left, and got next to no action in the field thanks to a flurry of line drives and fly balls from the Binghamton pitchers.
Giménez does not turn 21 until September 4th, and as such, it would be foolhardy to write him off. The minor leagues are for player development, and Giménez’ 2019 season certainly qualifies as development. He will report to camp next February with another year of experience and learned lessons under his belt and will be armed with that knowledge for the 2020 season.