The New York Mets seem to have found another homegrown star to join the likes of Jeff McNeil and Pete Alonso in young shortstop Andres Gimenez.
The New York Mets have turned their farm system into a talent pipeline. Unlike most teams who ship out prospects for established talent, the Mets have built their roster through the draft and international free agency.
The Mets have three everyday players who came from another organization—J.D. Davis, Wilson Ramos, and Robinson Cano. Even the pitching staff is almost all homegrown, if everyone was healthy only Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha would have come from outside.
The Mets currently have 17 homegrown players on their 28-man roster. That’s among the top five in MLB. Yet another homegrown player is making a name for himself. Andres Gimenez looks ready to join the likes of Jacob deGrom, Pete Alonso, and Jeff McNeil.
Gimenez was a shocking addition to the Opening Day roster, but he’s proved he earned the call. He’s quickly become a staple in the Mets lineup with his speed, defense, and contact ability.
If he can just make the proper adjustments Gimenez looks like a star in the making.
Speed And Defense
These are the hallmarks of Andres Gimenez’s game. Since he was a young player in the minors, all anyone could talk about was Gimenez’s slick glove at shortstop. He twice won Gold Gloves at his level in the minors.
It has been clear for a long time that he was going to be a strong defensive shortstop, but nobody excepted him to be this good this quick. Gimenez is playing Gold Glove level defense at the position in his rookie year. Despite that, the Mets continue to shift him around the infield. He’s played shortstop, second base, and third base so far in 2020.
He’s played every position well, but shortstop is by far his best defensive home. With Amed Rosario being one of the worst defensive shortstops in baseball it seems like an easy transition, but the Mets are adamant that Rosario plays shortstop.
It makes for a worse defensive lineup day in and day out. The Mets should commit to playing Gimenez at shortstop every day and move Rosario to second base. It’s an easy transition that simply makes the Mets better defensively.
As Gimenez grows as a defender, he could become one of the best in the game. Mets third base coach Gary Discarcina compared him to Omar Vizquel. The 11-time Gold Glover is one of the greatest defensive shortstops in MLB history.
Speed is Gimenez’s greatest weapon offensively. He’s hit two triples in 18 games so far in 2020. That’s on pace for 18 in 162 games. That would be good for third all-time for the Mets, behind only Jose Reyes in 2008 and Lance Johnson in 1996. Only four Mets have ever hit 10 triples in a full season, Reyes, Johnson, Mookie Wilson, and Angel Pagan.
Gimenez also leads the team and is tied for third in MLB with four stolen bases. That’s on pace for 36 stolen bases in 162 games. The last Met to steal 30 bases in a season was Eric Young Jr. in 2014.
To say Gimenez’s strengths are rare qualities for the Mets would be an understatement. The team has lacked defense and speed for years. With Gimenez in the fold, the team finally has a player who can provide elite production in both aspects.
Adjustments need to be made
Gimenez got off to a hot start with the bat. Over his first 11 games, Gimenez hit .333/.364/.429 with only two strikeouts. He looked like he was just a little more power away from being a superstar. As is the case for most rookies, that success hasn’t lasted.
Over the last week, Gimenez is hitting just .240/.269/.360 with six strikeouts. What changed? Pitchers started throwing more breaking stuff. Gimenez crushes fastballs, hitting .375 with a .500 SLG. The same is true for offspeed pitches, which he hits .333 with a .667 SLG. He just can’t hit breaking balls.
Gimenez is hitting a dreadful .091 with an .091 SLG against breaking stuff. Pitchers have begun to adjust to take advantage of that weakness. This has been a weakness of Gimenez’s for quite a while.
He’s a free swinger. Since moving to full season ball Gimenez has never walked more than 7% of the time, and that number has gone down every year. He’s only walked once in 48 plate appearances in 2020.
Gimenez’s offensive ceiling will ultimately be determined by his ability to develop patience and adjust to breaking balls. If he can adjust, he could look a lot like Elvis Andrus offensively, though the Mets are hoping for a little more power from Gimenez.
What the future holds
The question with Gimenez was always about his offense. His defense was always going to play at the next level and so was his speed and baserunning. Will he hit enough? We still don’t know, but early indications are that he can at least hang at the Major League level. At just 21-years-old that’s quite the accomplishment.
I compared Gimenez to Jose Iglesias as a prospect. The comparison still rings true. Iglesias, like Gimenez, burst onto the scene offensively before falling back in line with his the player he was in the minors. Elite defense is always going to be Gimenez’s calling card.
If he can just hit enough, he’ll be an everyday player. If he can find some power and patience at the plate, he could be a superstar. The Mets hope they’ve found their own version of Andrelton Simmons.