Much of this job is figuring out which sorting bucket to drop a prospect. I often half-jokingly gripe about having to write up another athletic shortstop or potential third starter, but those are the easy guys. The prospect-ranking industrial complex has moved away from this in recent years, as we are all in a word count arms race now (Thanks, Kiley), but in a more perfect world, we’d be conveying the same information simply and pithily. And when guys “look the part,” whatever it may be, it takes care of the “simple” part. A few examples:
The toolsy young outfielder
Usually a prep pick or IFA, still can’t legally drink, quick-twitch, plus or better run, questions about the ultimate offensive profile, some projection left, a good bet to stick up the middle. Mickey Moniak or Victor Robles or Leody Taveras.
The college first baseman
Beer-league softball power from a keg-shaped body (or—in a couple years—literally Seth Beer). Not much defensive value, too many strikeouts, you are really just evaluating how much you think the hit tool will allow those majestic home runs to show up in games. A guy Ben Carsley will comp to
C.J. Cron Trey Mancini in the fantasy advice portion of the Top Ten lists. Chris Shaw or Will Craig or Casey Gillaspie.
The 95 and a slider guy
Really 91-94, T95 and a slider guy, but the above sounds better. Two-pitch guy, might still be starting, a reliever long term, how good is the slider really? The slider could be a curve, it doesn’t actually matter. A tier below the third starter with command and change questions, but functionally the same dude. Every Double-A reliever with a chance. A lot of Double-A starters too.
The right field profile
The more athletic version of the college first baseman. Might have been a center fielder at one point. More likely to have been a prep pick or IFA. Tall and lean, plus power, plus arm, looks the part, we’ll figure the rest out as we go. Eloy Jimenez or Juan Soto or Aristides Aquino.
There’s plenty of other stereotypes to consider as well, but it’s a prospect that doesn’t exactly fit neatly into one of these tools/demographic buckets that I want to write a bit about this week. And hey, some of the best prospects in baseball right now elude easy sorting. Rafael Devers, Gleyber Torres, and Yoan Moncada don’t have many comps for their skill set. I suppose you could capture them well enough with a “Just pick the guy who can hit” hopper. And the elite talents can defy easy categorization, but they also aren’t tricky evals in general. You don’t really need me to tell you that they have all-star potential.
Andres Gimenez should fit into The Shortstop Profile. Even if you aren’t positive he is a shortstop long term, that concern in and of itself can be part of The Shortstop Profile (see Willy Adames or Franklin Barreto or Ryan Mountcastle or Carter Kieboom).
But he looks like a shortstop—and he’s been Columbia’s everyday shortstop since he was plucked out of XST.
Well, he sort of looks like a shortstop.
Okay, let me zoom out for a moment.
Andres Gimenez was ranked No. 2 by Baseball America in the 2015 IFA class. The Mets paid him a 1.2 million dollar signing bonus as a 16-year-old shortstop. You have a picture of that player in your head, a physical type. Gimenez is not exactly that. He’s listed at 6-foot, 165, which is in the vicinity of what you might expect, but he’s likely a bit shorter than that. He already has a bit of a thick lower half. You can see him adding more size/strength in the upper body—and he’ll need to—but he sort of looks like a guy who is a second baseman at 21 and not just in a Mets system that boasts a “positively a shortstop long term” at the top of its prospect list. On the other hand, you don’t give 1.2 million to a guy who looks like that unless the baseball skills are quite advanced.
And they look about right in the field. Gimenez’s arm is above-average, accurate with clothesline carry. It’s not a howitzer, but it’s sufficient. He reads the game well, the infield actions are fine—if a tick behind his similarly polished, but more experienced double play partner, Luis Carpio. He posted run times all over the place in my three-game look, but I think he’s an above-average runner at present. I am less confident that is still the case in his twenties—the butt rarely lies. The foibles in the field are what you would expect from an 18-year-old with some polish, but little pro experience—none outside the Mets two complexes. His definition of plays he can make is far more expansive than what he can actually handle at a much faster game speed.
At the plate, Gimenez has a simple swing that is short to the point of contact while also doing a good job of keeping the bat in the zone for a while. He has an advanced knowledge of the strike zone and already tracks spin well. It’s a potential plus hit tool, but the Δ here is huge. We will occasionally say of a fielder that he can get to more plays then he can make. Gimenez is that guy at the plate. He makes contact with more balls than he can drive at present. This isn’t “bad contact” as we normally would define it. These are balls in the zone that he just isn’t quite physical enough to do damage with right now. You look at Gimenez’s upper body, and you suspect that will come eventually, but again, nothing here fits neatly into a bucket.
(This is starting to read too much like a straightforward scouting report, and while I was planning on getting there eventually, it feels disingenuous at this point. There’s an aside above: “little pro experience—none outside the Mets two complexes.” Gimenez isn’t the youngest player in the Sally, he’s a little bit older than both Leody Taveras and Juan Soto, but he has the least pro experience. He spent all of last Summer in the Dominican, while his fellow 17-year-olds were making Top 101 names for themselves stateside. He got jumped to full-season ball reportedly because he was obliterating XST to the point that they had no other option. It’s still an incredibly aggressive jump, though one Mets fans might be familiar with from the Omar Minaya era.)
So there’s an alternative lead for this piece:
“I don’t know how to use the makeup box on our eyewitness reports.”
And that might be the finger on the scale here. I don’t know if Gimenez is retreating to his apartment to watch Friends every night, like the Mets last big-money Venezuelan IFA shortstop of note. The best I can manage is some hand-waving along the lines of: “Appears to be adjusting well to aggressive assignment. Unflappable, goes about his business.”
But at least I have the luxury to be wishy washy for 1500 words or so. Most other people bothering to sit down and watch Andres Gimenez for a few days have a tenth of my word count and need to make a firm call. I have two BP sessions, three games—two in the field, eleven plate appearances. This is—per the Baseball Prospectus Prospect Team Bible—enough of a look to write an Eyewitness Report for Gimenez. If I was actually doing coverage on Columbia, I’d have seen them for a couple more days, grabbed another game or two in the field, another half dozenish PA. Would there have been an a-ha moment? Something that crystallized this interior monologue into five easy tool boxes, and OFP and a Likely? That is unrealistic.
I could do it of course. It’s the job in some ways. And if I had to submit him to my crosschecker it would be as a role 5 second baseman. Broad base of skills, some projection, plenty of polish, but no clear carrying tool. He was also an 18-year-old, two weeks into his first stateside assignment when I saw him. I don’t feel confident about that, but it is also unlikely to look bad come September. Or even come next September.
Here’s what I wrote in our preseason Mets Top Ten:
“The Good: Gimenez has a potential plus hit tool and is an advanced shortstop for his age. He’s a very good bet to stick at the position and is potentially above-average there. Already gets raves for his high baseball IQ. If all you know about a player is he has a chance to hit .280 and be a good glove at shortstop, well ignorance of everything else is bliss (and also fine for putting him on a Top 10 list).
The Bad: Gimenez isn’t your traditional tooled-up Latin shortstop (you’ll find mostly fives and sixes here), so the swing and approach will have to work all the way up the ladder, and the ladder still has a whole lot of rungs on it.”
I struggled with ranking Gimenez preseason. This is always going to be the case with prospects that haven’t come stateside and also don’t have loud, pre-signing tools reports. Live looks should provide clarity. They don’t always do. In the end, we write what we see, even if the lens is still a bit foggier than we’d like.
|Born: 09/04/1998 (Age: 18)|
|Bats: Left||Throws: Right|
|Height: 6' 0"||Weight: 165|
|Primary Position: SS|
|Big butt and legs, 6-foot might be a bit of a stretch, fireplug frame. Underdeveloped upper body, room to add strength.|
|Dates Seen||5/15 (DH), 5/16|
|Affiliate||Columbia Fireflies (Low A, Mets)|
|MLB ETA||Risk Factor||OFP||Realistic Role||Video|
|2020||High||55||50; Everyday middle infielder||No|
Appears to be adjusting well to aggressive assignment. Unflappable, goes about his business.
|Hit||60||Wide stance, simple load and toe tap, bat stays in the zone a long time, but isn't physically strong enough to drive the ball consistently yet. Good at-bats, doesn't get beat. Stays in well against spin and same-side pitching. Tracks breaking stuff well already.|
|Power||30||Gap-to-gap line drives at present. May add more doubles as he gets stronger, but not enough loft out of the swing to project significant pop.|
|Baserunning/Speed||50||Run times all over the place. A couple 4.1s in the mix, and looked like a present 55 or 60 runner underway. Suspect it plays more to average as the frame fills out.|
|Glove||50||Good actions/instincts, knows what he wants to do, but can try to do too much too quickly. Struggles with game speed at times. A step slower than you'd like coming in on balls. Tools are there to be an above-average shortstop, but this is a hedge based on uncertainty on what the body looks like in five years.|
|Arm||60||Above-average arm strength, can make all the throws. Accurate on the move and from the 5.5 hole.|
Gimenez is a very polished middle infielder for his age both at the plate and in the field. Needs to add strength for the offensive profile to play up, and may lack a carrying tool in the end. Being able to play everyday at shortstop would be a big boon for the profile. Check back on that in two years as the body matures.