Name: Robert Dominguez
Weight: 195 lbs.
Acquired: IFA, November 20, 2019 (Irapa, Venezuela)
Born on November 30, 2001, Robert Dominguez was eligible to sign as an international free agent over the 2018-2019 international free agent signing period but flew under the radar and went unsigned as his stuff generally did not draw much attention from scouts and evaluators. The additional year of growth and development did wonders for the right-hander, as he grew, added more muscle to his frame, and added a few more miles per hour to his fastball. He received a handful of offers throughout the rest of the signing period, primarily in the low-five-figures territory, but turned them all down. Training in the Dominican Republic in the summer of 2019, he made mechanical changes to his delivery that unlocked some additional velocity in his. By the end of the summer, he had transformed his 93 MPH fastball into a pitch that flirted with triple digits. Impressed by the velocity, the Mets signed him shortly thereafter, making the right-hander a $95,000 offer in November 2019, just a few days before his 17th birthday. Dominguez would have started his professional career in the Dominican Summer League in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic and the cancellation of the 2020 minor league season delayed his debut. Instead, he was forced to wait until 2021, when the team assigned him to the FCL Mets. Managing his workload extremely carefully, the right-hander appeared in 10 games and pitched a total of 12.0 innings, posting an 8.25 ERA. He allowed 15 hits in total, walked 9, and struck out 10.
At 6’5”, 195-pounds, Dominguez has an ideal frame for pitching. The Venezuelan right-hander throws from a three-quarter arm slot, with a moderate leg lift and a long arm action through the back. He stays on top of the ball well and leverages his height well, throwing with downward plane.
His fastball sits in the low-to-mid-90s, with the right-hander reportedly possessing the ability to ramp the pitch up to 99 MPH. Complementing his impressive fastball is a slider and a developing changeup. The slider, which had been categorized as a curveball as an amateur, flashes being an average or better pitch thanks to its late break. The changeup, as is the case with most young pitches, lags well behind the rest of his arsenal and is still far from being an effective pitch during in-game situations but shows promise because of its movement and velocity differential. He struggled throwing all three in 2021, but as a young player with very few innings under his belt, most scouts and evaluators believe his command will improve as he gains more professional experience.
Name: Levi David
Weight: 220 lbs.
Acquired: 2021 MLB Draft, 9th Round (Northwestern State University of Louisiana)
A champion swimmer in addition to playing baseball, Levi David won state championships in the 50-meter freestyle and won district and regional championships in the 100-meter freestyle in addition to being a two-year baseball letter winner while attending Waxahachie High School. He was named Texas District 10-5A MVP as a senior after hitting .410 and posting a 1.33 ERA on the mound but went undrafted in the 2018 MLB Draft. After graduating high school, David spent two years at McLennan Community College, a junior college in Waco, Texas. He only pitched in one of those years, 2018, and posted an 8.35 ERA in 18.1, allowing 13 hits, walking 26, and striking out 25. After his sophomore year, David transferred to Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. He had moderate success out of the Demons’ bullpen in 2020 prior to the NCAA cancelling the season because of COVID-19, posting a 2.57 ERA in 7.0 innings with 6 hits allowed, 8 walks, and 10 strikeouts. After playing for the Acadiana Cane Cutters in the Texas Collegiate League that summer, he returned to Northwestern in 2021 and had his best season as a collegiate baseball player, posting a 4.43 ERA in 61.0 innings split over 13 starts and 1 relief appearance, allowing 34 hits, walking 46, and striking out 104. His 15.3 strikeouts per nine was not just third on his team, or even in the entire Southland Conference but rather in all of NCAA Division I baseball itself. The Mets selected him in the 9th round of the 2021 MLB Draft and signed him to a $120,000 signing bonus, roughly $35,000 below the MLB-assigned $157,200 slot value for his pick.
The 6’5”, 220-pound right-hander throws from a three-quarters arm slot with whippy, cross firing delivery. His arm action is long through the back, and many scouts and evaluators believe that this is where David’s biggest weakness- his control- stems from. His long arm struggles to get in sync with his lower half, making it hard for him to repeat his delivery consistently and maintain his release point. He sets up on the far first base side of the rubber as well, making it difficult for him to pitch east-west and exacerbating his control issues. His lack of control is a major weakness that has held him back from his potential, because the right-hander has one of the best individual pitches in the 2021 draft class.
David’s fastball generally sits in the low-90s, but can occasionally hit the high-90s. The pitch does not have much life to it, but the right-hander is able to throw the pitch downhill, giving his fastball some sink, especially when thrown down in the zone. He complements the pitch with a curveball that is an absolutely filthy pitch. In 2021, hitters in the Southland Conference went 5-98 against it with 80 strikeouts, a 72% swing-and-miss rate. The pitch, which sits in the mid-80s, is easily a plus pitch and arguably a plus-plus pitch. The right-hander doubled its usage to nearly 40% this past season and was a major reason why his strikeout numbers spiked. David can also manipulate its shape, giving it more horizontal movement and making it act like a mid-80s slider. He also occasionally throws a changeup, but the pitch lags far behind his fastball and curveball and will likely be pocketed as his future seems more viable in the bullpen than as a starter, where a consistent third pitch is unnecessary.
Name: Carlos Cortes
Weight: 200 lbs.
Acquired: 2018 MLB Draft, 3rd Round (University of South Carolina)
The diminutive Carlos Cortes had a long track record of hitting in high school, both on the showcase circuit and for Lake Howell High School in Winter Park, Florida. In his senior year, he hit an impressive .380/.533/.632, and having done their due diligence on the youngster, the Mets drafted him with their 20th round selection in the 2016 MLB Draft. Having already committed to South Carolina University, Cortes elected to attend college instead of turning pro. In 50 games as a freshman, Cortes hit .286/.368/.565 with 12 home run, 5 stolen bases in 7 attempts, and 22 walks to 27 strikeouts. He played in the Cape Cod Collegiate League that summer and returned to South Carolina to hit .265/.385/.500 in his second year, slugging 15 home runs, stealing 8 bases in 9 attempts, and walking 43 times to 32 strikeouts. The Mets remained interested in the draft-eligible sophomore and picked him once again, this time selecting him in the 3rd round of the 2018 MLB Draft. This time around, he signed with the club, agreeing to a $1,000,038 signing bonus, roughly $300,000 over slot value. He made his professional debut with the Brooklyn Cyclones and posted a .264/.338/.382 batting line in 47 games, hitting 4 homers, walking 17 times and striking out 34. He was promoted to St. Lucie in 2019 and hit .255/.336/.397 in 127 games, hitting 11 homers, stealing 6 bases in 11 attempts, and walking 52 times to 77 strikeouts.
Like everybody else, he missed the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic but was able to get into some competitive baseball action late in the year in the Australian Baseball League. Appearing in 14 games for the Sydney Blue Sox, a team particularly hurt by COVID protocols, Cortes hit .392/.429/.706. Returning to the U.S. and playing for the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, Cortes was able to keep the momentum going early in the 2021 season but the gains faded as the year progressed. In the first two months of the season, he hit .287/.353/.551 with 9 home runs and a 20:45 walk:strikeout ratio, but in the last two months, he hit .236/.314/.423 with 5 home runs and a 14:37 walk:strikeout ratio, good for a .257/.332/.487 batting line in 79 games with 14 home runs, 35 walks, and 85 strikeouts.
Cortes stands open at the plate an uppercutty swing, a stark difference from his earlier high school and collegiate days, when his bat path was much more level. His swing mechanics are fluid and Cortes swings at most pitches with intent. As such, there is some swing and miss in it, particularly against breaking balls out of the strike zone and versus left-handers. Pitches that he is able to make solid contact with jump off the bat despite his small stature; his load, coil, bat speed, barrel accuracy, and swing plane all magnify the power that you might expect from a guy that stands just 5’7”. He displays above-average raw power, so key in his continued baseball development will be improving his hit tool so that his raw power will translate more into in-game power.
Defensively, Cortes does not have a true home. The 24-year-old is able to do a lot of things and play multiple positions, but he does not stand out at any. Naturally a left-hander, Cortes taught himself to throw with his right hand and is fully ambidextrous. When he is playing in the infield, he throws right-handed. When he plays the outfield, he throws left-handed. Because his arm strength is fringy from both sides and because he is a slightly below-average runner, he profiles better in the infield, at second base. Being an outfielder makes him a bit more valuable as a player, and as such, the Mets primarily used him in the outfield in 2021.