Name: Andres Gimenez
Weight: 160 lbs.
Acquired: IFA, July 2, 2015 (Barquisimeto, Venezuela)
117 G, 432 AB, .250/.309/.387, 108 H, 22 2B, 5 3B, 9 HR, 24, 102, 28/44, .306 BABIP (Double-A)
Considered one of the best international rookies in the 2015-2016 class, the Mets added a highly regarded talent into their minor league system when they signed Venezuelan shortstop Andres Gimenez, giving him a signing bonus just north of $1 million. Gimenez looked like a man among boys in the Dominican Summer League in 2016, hitting a combined .350/.469/.523 in 62 games split among both of the Mets’ DSL teams. When the 2017 season began, Gimenez impressed Mets brass during extended spring training to the point that they gave the 18-year-old an extremely aggressive assignment, sending him to the Columbia Fireflies, their Low-A affiliate. In 92 games, he hit .265/.346/.349, more than holding his own against competition years older than himself as the second-youngest player in the league that year. After spending the winter working out at a Barwis strength and conditioning camp, Gimenez showed up to spring training lighter and more athletic.
He began the year with the St. Lucie Mets, the third-youngest player in the Florida State League, and hit an impressive .282/.348/.432 in 85 games. At the end of July, he was promoted to the Binghamton Mets, where he was the youngest player in the league. He did not hit as well in his final 37 games, but still posted a strong batting line, hitting .277/.344/.358. He was sent to the Arizona Fall League after the season ended and hit .125/.250/.292 in 19 games. He began the 2019 season with Binghamton and had a fairly disappointing season, hitting .250/.309/.387 in 117 games. After the season ended, the Mets sent Gimenez to the Arizona Fall League for a second time, where he hit .371/.413/.586 in 18 games, winning the AFL batting title.
Prior to the 2019 season, Gimenez used a compact, somewhat linear swing that was suited to spraying line drives all over the field. In 2019, he added a bit more loft to his swing, resulting in a spike in strikeouts as he swung over balls, and made a great deal of poor contact, resulting in the lowest batting average and on-base percentage that he’s posted as a professional. For what it’s worth, the changes to his swing did have their intended effect, as he hit a career-high nine home runs. Gimenez was able to make hard contact prior to these swing changes- especially when he pulling down and in balls- but even with the additional loft, he has fringe-average raw power, and even if he adds a bit more muscle to his frame, that profile is unlikely to change very much. He seemed to refine his swing a bit more in the Arizona Fall League, but whether or not those numbers changes are real or just small sample size and statistical noise remain to be seen.
Thank to workout sessions at Barwis training facilities over the 2018 offseason, Gimenez shed weight and became more athletic, turning what was above-average speed into a plus tool. In addition, he has become smarter on the base paths, learning how to read pitchers better and pick and choose his spots. That speed has also helped him in the field, Gimenez has the potential to be a plus defender at shortstop. He has quick reactions, good instincts and a fast first step. He is smooth around the bag and shows both plus range and a plus arm. In addition, he has all of the “intangibles” in spades. Gimenez is extremely mature for his age, is a hard worker, and is always looking to improve at the plate, in the field, and as a person in general.
I was never the biggest fan of Gimenez, going back a few years now, because his tools just aren’t flashy. When you think about top prospects, you usually think guys with unparalleled power, guys with incredible bat-on-ball skills, and things like that. Andres Gimenez was never flashy like that, and in a totally Mets move, the seeming intentional organizational attempt to make him flashier backfired, and for many, it wore off his luster. It’s easy to get lost in negativity regarding Gimenez’ 2019 season, but it wasn’t actually that bad when you think about it. Yeah, the swing changes hurt the batting average, but they did have their intended effects of adding a bit more home run power to his game, and his overall offensive contribution was still slightly higher than league average. Add to the mix his superb defense at shortstop and you have a high floor prospect with a variable ceiling. Not bad all things considered. Is it flashy? Not necessarily, but the current tools give him the chance to be a Major League contributor in some capacity, and any improvements from here on out only increase that chance. That’s the ultimate goal, and Gimenez is all but certain to realize it at some point in the near future.
Suffice it to say that whatever swing tweaks the Mets tried to make for Gimenez in 2019 didn’t work to well. Gimenez saw his batting average plummet, his strikeouts rise, and his ISO actually got worse. Why the Mets saw fit to tweak Gimenez’s swing is puzzling; power is good, but a one-size-fits-all approach is doomed to fail, and Gimenez’s profile is built around contact, speed, and defense rather than over-the-fence pop. The underlying physical tools that give Gimenez promise as a capable shortstop who can steal 20 or more bases remain. Hopefully he’ll be able to return to a swing and approach at the plate that works for his particular skillset in 2020.
By now we all know the story behind Giminez’s underwhelming 2019 season in the Eastern League. He spent most of the season experimenting with swing changes that were intended to help him tap into his power more frequently by trying to stomp and lift the ball. They generally did not work as intended. While his roughly league-average .250/.309/.387 batting line was a bit underwhelming for a player’s second extended look at the level, it’s worth keeping in mind that Gimenez is still extremely young relative to the average player in the Eastern League, and swing changes can sometimes take time to really click. The reports we got on his swing from our own John Trupin were better in the Arizona Fall League, where Gimenez won the batting title and posted a .999 OPS that was the third highest in the league among qualified hitters. While statistics from the Arizona Fall League are more or less meaningless, good performance is always better to see than bad performance, especially when they are corroborated by improving eye-witness reports. It’s unclear at present if Gimenez will improve upon his offensive performance from 2019 going forward, but he does possess a relatively high floor as a prospect even if the bat doesn’t come around, due to the blazing speed and excellent defense at a premium position that he brings with him to the field. Some of the shine may have worn off of Gimenez’s prospect status, but he’s still a very good prospect that has the potential to make an impact at the major league level in the relatively near future if things go well from here.
Gimenez is an interesting case. After being a highly touted prospect in the Mets system for a bit, and regularly living up to that billing, he had a pretty down year at Double A Binghamton in 2019, after debuting a brand new swing that did not have the intended effects. He hit a paltry .250/.309/.387 in 479 plate appearances at 20 years old at that level, after hitting .277/.344/.358 at the same level a year before. His 2019 was an objective disappointment, but his story is far from over.