PORT ST LUCIE, FL - MARCH 4: Andres Gimenez #60 of the New York Mets hits the ball against the St Louis Cardinals during a spring training game at Clover Park on March 4, 2020 in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
(Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

If and when baseball returns this summer, Andres Gimenez, one of the New York Mets’ top prospects, could make a notable impact this season. 

Thomas Hall

While the New York Mets might not have one of the best minor-league systems in baseball, they do feature one of the more intriguing prospects throughout the entire league.

Heading into this season, Andres Gimenez was ranked as the No. 84 prospect in the minor leagues, according to MLB.com. Before the cancelation of spring training, the young shortstop had already been assigned to triple-A Syracuse and he wasn’t expected to make his major-league debut until September.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s a growing concern that the minor-league season will be canceled this summer. If that occurs, then major-league rosters will likely expand to 30 players and each team will be allowed to carry a “taxi squad” of 20 minor leaguers for the 2020 campaign.

In this scenario, the Mets could potentially include Gimenez on the team’s major-league roster once the season resumes. But, there would only be room for him if Jed Lowrie needs to start the regular season on the injured list.

At that point, New York would require someone to fill in as the team’s backup infielder and the competition for that role would likely come between Luis Guillorme and Gimenez. During spring training 2.0, these two players would be forced to battle against each other and the winner would serve as Lowrie’s injury replacement in 2020.

Regardless of Lowrie’s health status, both Gimenez and Guillorme are seemingly destined to battle against one another for playing time in the majors this season. Based on their versatility, it’d be foolish to have them in the majors at the same time, unless the Mets’ infield becomes riddled with injuries in 2020.

Despite Gimenez’s lack of major-league experience, the 21-year-old provides a little more upside over Guillorme. Furthermore, the top prospect’s performance from last season proves that he deserves to receive the lion’s share of playing time in 2020.

During the 2019 campaign, the 6-foot shortstop received 479 plate appearances at double-A Binghamton and he hit 22 doubles, five triples, nine home runs, 37 RBIs, .137 ISO, .306 BABIP, .316 wOBA, 5% walk rate, 21.3% strikeout rate, 105 wRC+ score and a slashing line of .250/.309/.387/.695.

In comparison, Guillorme produced 12 doubles, seven home runs, 32 RBIs, .145 ISO, .346 BABIP, .383 wOBA, 14% walk rate, 15.1% strikeout rate, 128 wRC+ score along with a slashing line of .307/.412/.452/.864 over his 278 plate appearances at triple-A Syracuse last season.

While Guillorme was able to generate more walks and hit for better contact, the 25-year-old failed to outperform Gimenez on the basepaths during the 2019 campaign. In fact, he couldn’t even come close to matching the youngster’s explosive speed as a base runner.

Overall, Gimenez finished tied with the 11th-most stolen bases (28) among all players in double-A last season. In addition, the Venezuela native led the Mets’ minor-league system with 38 swiped bags during the 2018 campaign.

As for Guillorme, the former 10th-round selection failed to record more than four stolen bases across two levels (triple-A and MLB) in 2019. To make matters worse, he’s struggled to generate much speed with his 5-foot-10, 195-pound frame throughout his career, failing to create more than four stolen bases in a single season since the 2015 campaign.

Despite Guillorme’s ability to play at three of the four positions in the infield, he’s never been considered more than just an average defender. In particular, the left-hander struggled to change this narrative during his time in the majors last season.

In total, Guillorme played 48.2 innings at shortstop and produced a 1 DRS, 0 OAA, 0.8 UZR and a 14.2 UZR/150. At second base, the Venezuela native earned 33 innings of work and recorded a 2 DRS, 0 OAA, 0 UZR and a -26.7 UZR/150. At the hot corner, he created a 0 DRS, 0 OAA, -0.1 UZR along with a -10.7 UZR/150.

As for Gimenez, he was able to take his defense to the next level last season. The talented shortstop was able to utilize his smooth hands and impressive first step to produce the best defensive performance of his career.

After committing 14 errors across two levels (high-A and double-A) over his 976.2 innings at shortstop in 2018, the speedy infielder allowed just 11 errors as Binghamton’s everyday shortstop during the 2019 campaign.

Here’s an example of Gimenez showcasing his outstanding range in the Arizona Fall League last season:

For the Mets, having a player who specializes in base stealing and defense would undoubtedly help improve their squad in 2020. After the team finished with the eighth-fewest number of stolen bases (56), the third-fewest DRS (-86) and the 12th-most errors (99) in the majors last season, they just can’t afford for these troubling metrics to continue into this season.

Since a universal designated hitter will likely be inserted for the 2020 campaign, Gimenez wouldn’t be able to serve as a pinch hitter for the pitcher during his rookie campaign. Nonetheless, he could earn opportunities in a different role this season.

While it’s nearly impossible for Gimenez to take starts away from Amed Rosario or Robinson Cano, he could make an impact during late-game situations in 2020. As a result of his impressive speed and defense, the left-handed batter could be utilized as a pinch-runner or a defensive replacement.

Despite his flaws at the plate, Gimenez is certainly ready for the majors and he should receive a chance to prove himself in 2020. If successful, then he might be able to secure a spot on the Mets’ roster beyond this season while also improving his chances of earning a starting role in the near future.