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Mets announce 2019 Sterling Award winners

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Mark Vientos, Kevin Smith, Andres Gimenez, Sam Haggerty, and others were recognized for their excellent seasons.

Steve Sypa

The Mets announced the winners of the organization’s 2019 Sterling Awards yesterday, honoring the best performances from the minor league system this season.

The winners:

  • Hitter of the Year: 3B Mark Vientos
  • Pitcher of the Year: LHP Kevin Smith
  • Defender of the Year: SS Andres Gimenez
  • Baserunner of the Year: 2B Sam Haggerty
  • DSL Hitter of the Year: OF Freddy Valdez
  • DSL Pitcher of the Year: RHP Ronny Rincones
  • Coach of the Year: GCL Manager David Davalillo

Mark Vientos quietly turned in a solid season to earn this season’s Sterling Award. One of the Met’s top prospects heading into the season, Vientos managed to work his way out of a big slump to start the year, and held his own against generally older competition this season in his first taste of full-season ball. He ended up hitting a roughly league average .255/300/.411 in 454 plate appearances for the Columbia Fireflies despite being around 2.5 years younger than the average South Atlantic League player. Vientos hit a career high 12 home runs this season, which led the team, and was tied for the thirteeth most in the league.

Kevin Smith posted extremely solid numbers in his first full season of professional baseball. Smith split the season between High-A and Double-A, and posted a 3.15 ERA with 130 strikeouts and 39 walks in 117.0 innings pitched between the two levels. The tall left-handed starter handled his promotion to the upper minors particularly well, posting a 3.45 ERA and 3.23 FIP in 31.1 innings pitched after being promoted to the Binghamton Rumble Ponies in July.

While he generally struggled on the offensive side of the ball, Andres Gimenez played characteristically terrific defense at shortstop all season for the Rumble Ponies. Gimenez made just 11 errors in 927.0 innings, and continued to demonstrate that he is more or less ready to play shortstop defensively at the big league level. This is the second Sterling Award that Gimenez has earned, having been named the St. Lucie (A+) Sterling Award winner last year.

Sam Haggerty was named the organization’s baserunner of the year, just a few weeks after he was promoted to the big leagues after the end of the minor league season largely on the strength of his baserunning. Haggerty stole 23 bases in 27 attempts this season between the Binghamton Rumble Ponies and the Syracuse Mets, and legged out an organization leading six triples.

Freddy Valdez and Ronny Rincones were named the DSL hitter and pitcher of the year respectively. Signed in the 2018 IFA signing period for $1.45 million out of the Dominican Republic, Valdez hit a well above-average .268/.358/.432 with five home runs in 257 plate appearances in the Dominican Summer League this season before making his stateside debut for the GCL Mets at the end of the season. Signed during the 2018 IFA signing period out of Venezuela, Rincones posted a 2.44 ERA with 53 strikeouts and 19 walks in 51.2 innings pitched in the Dominican Summer League this season.

David Davalillo was named the organization’s coach of the year, after leading the GCL Mets to a 30-24 record this season, which was tied for first place when the season was abruptly ended due to Hurricane Dorian.