2016 Initial Affiliate Roster: Las Vegas 51s | Astromets Mind

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

2016 Initial Affiliate Roster: Las Vegas 51s

Plenty of returning faces on the 51s this year

Reviewing the initial roster expected to play in Las Vegas

UPDATE: It's been reported that the Mets have signed catcher Rene Rivera (@ReneRivera13), so he'll either be catching on with the 51s or taking over backup duties for Kevin Plawecki.

            The Las Vegas 51s released a preliminary roster Sunday evening, so let’s take a look at how things break down. The roster below has 26 players listed – included catcher Jeff Glenn on the DL – with an average age of just over 26 years old*. Gavin Cecchini, Dilson Herrera, and Brandon Nimmo should consistently hit at the top of this lineup and play up the middle, and the bullpen should be one of the clubs strengths. There are a couple of guys who may still be assigned here – Duane Below and Jayce Boyd are currently unassigned – but this mostly represents the roster Las Vegas will be fielding to start 2016. For fun, I’ve included the twitter account of each minor leaguer who has one if you’re interested in following these guys closer or letting them know they are appreciated.

*I’m just using the age listed on the roster, not considering actual birth date

Pitchers (13, Average age = 25.9)

Starters (5, 24.8)

Sean Gilmartin, LHP, 25, @GilmartinSean
Seth Lugo, RHP, 26, @seth_lugo
Rafael Montero, RHP, 25
Stolmy Pimentel, RHP, 26
Gabriel Ynoa, RHP, 22

            Let’s get started with the starting rotation, where there could be a lot of turnover this year. Of the pitchers listed, these were basically the only 5 starters possible – Pimentel has never started in the majors, but 162 of his 176 minor league appearances were starts, whereas Goeddel hasn’t started a game since 2013. Sean Gilmartin is expected to pitch in the 51s rotation, per Adam Rubin, so the only question to start the year is whether Duane Below will join the team. He’d almost certainly be used as a starter after his 2015 success with the 51s in that role, but it’s not clear what the accompanying move would be – here’s hoping it’s not Rafael Montero to the DL.
            Speaking of Montero, as of this writing the MiLB.com schedule has him listed as the 51s opening day starter, followed by Lugo and Ynoa, although we’ll see how that goes. Montero is an absolute question mark right now, but could quickly become one of the bright spots of the system again. I’ve read people suggest he hasn’t been the same pitcher since 2014, but personally, I think he hasn’t been right since 2013. He had control problems in 2014 that he hadn’t shown previously, and he wasn’t the same bulldog on the mound as the pitcher I saw with Las Vegas in 2013, when he wasn’t afraid to attack the zone at will.
After breaking out in 2015, Lugo has to prove that wasn’t a fluke with another strong campaign this year. He’ll be starting in Las Vegas, but he projects more as a reliever at the next level, although he’s currently one of the first arms in line for a call to either – I’d put him behind Gilmartin and Verrett as emergency starter, and behind Goeddel and Morris as right handed reliever, for now.
Sean Gilmartin had a great year in the Mets pen last year, but was left on the outside looking in at the end of Spring Training. He’s basically a lock to help the club in some capacity this year though, as it’s just a matter of time until injury or poor performance opens up a spot for him.
Gabriel Ynoa had a mixed year for the Binghamton Mets in 2015 and, as I went into during that review post, Las Vegas won’t be a great place for him to pitch. He’s got more leeway with his stuff than say a Tyler Pill, but Pill has had more consistent success at the AA level than Ynoa ever had. His prospect status dropped as he stagnated at AA, but he’s still young, and his fastball tops out around 95 MPH, so he could always become an interesting pen arm.
I don’t know much about Stolmy Pimentel yet, but he throws hard (89 MPH splitter, 93 MPH Two Seamer, 94 MPH Four Seamer per Brooks Baseball) and has pitched better than his 4.39 ERA at the major league level suggests, so he’s nice to have around in AAA.
Aside from Duane Below, the 51s rotation could also see Tyler Pill or Rainy Lara early in the season. Robert Gsellman is the top prospect in the B-Mets rotation, so the Mets are hoping he will force his way up at some point. Also, Mickey Jannis and Andrew Barbosa are expected to start in the B-Mets rotation, and both are older for AA, so either could end up with Las Vegas. The knuckleballing Jannis looked good in his brief chance in the Mets system last year, and is just fun to have around.

Relievers (8, 26.6)

Dario Alvarez, LHP, 27, @DarioAlvarez68
Chasen Bradford, RHP, 26, @cdBaseball29
Erik Goeddel, RHP, 27, @erikgoedy
Chase Huchingson, LHP, 26, @NaturalState89
Paul Sewald, RHP, 25, @ItsPaulSewald
Josh Smoker, LHP, 27, @Josh_Smoker
Zack Thornton, RHP, 27, @Thortythort30
Jeff Walters, RHP, 28, @jawalters11

            Four of these relievers finished 2015 with Las Vegas, Erik Goeddel called the 51s pen home in 2014, and Jeff Walters started 2014 in the 51s pen, so that leaves just two newbies to the group – Paul Sewald and Josh Smoker. I reviewed the Mets upper level lefties and righties recently, so you can see some 2015 GIF action for 7 of the 8 relievers between those two links – didn’t create any Erik Goeddel GIF’s in 2015 since he was in the majors, and don’t need to preview him for you anyway. Other than Smoker and a full-strength Walters, this group has middle-relief upside, but the unit should still be one of the 51s strengths this year.
Huchingson is the reliever I’m least confident in among the group, but he’ll likely be limited to a LOOGY role for Las Vegas. Alvarez could step into a LOOGY role for a major league team right now, but he’s fine against righties in the minors. Smoker’s mid-to-upper 90’s heat from the left side is the most exciting arm to watch in this pen, and he will be the lefty closer. I’ll be surprised if Smoker doesn’t finish the year in the Mets pen.
From the right side, Goeddel will be the first arm up when the Mets need some pen help. Bradford and Thornton will be playing with the 51s for a third season, so they have plenty of PCL experience, but they’re pretty far down the depth chart at this point. Walters was hitting mid-to-upper 90’s with his fastball just 2 years ago, but he was sitting around 92 MPH after coming back from TJS last year. If he’s back to his former self, Walters should be the righty closer, but the shell he was in Binghamton last year will struggle at the PCL. Finally, Paul Sewald could be a major league ROOGY down the line, and has had a sub-2.00 ERA and 28+ K% at every stop in the minors while holding batters to a sub-.200 batting average between A+ and AA.

Catchers (2 + 1, 28.3)

Nevin Ashley, 31, @nevin_ashley
Jeff Glenn, 24, @jglenn04 – on “DL”
Johnny Monell, 30, @JMoE220

            With both Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki on the Mets roster, their upper level catching depth is pretty thin – to be fair, they graduated both Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki the past two seasons. There were rumors that Plawecki would start the year in AAA – makes sense to let him play everyday to start the year – but the Mets had little confidence in these guys as backup catchers. That said, Ashley (120 wRC+ in the PCL in 2015) and Monell (130 wRC+) should give the 51s relatively great offensive production from behind the plate, and either could see time at DH. Monell has also seen time at 1B, if the 51s are looking to get both bats in the lineup. Glenn will probably spend most of the season going on and off the 51s DL, a la Neifi Zapata last year, and Kai Gronauer the year before. If so, he’s there to help the pitchers prepare, to be available as a bullpen catcher, and to fill out the roster when promotions or injuries leave the 51s short. Since it’s unlikely both Plawecki and d’Arnaud stay healthy all year, Xorge Carrillo and/or Raywilly Gomez will likely spend some time with the 51s at some point this year too.

Infielders (6, 25.2)

Gavin Cecchini, 22, @GavinCecchini2
Dilson Herrera, 22, @Dilson_H
Marc Krauss, 28, @MarcKrauss25
Danny Muno, 27, @Munz16
Matt Reynolds, 25, @ReyRey_5
T.J. Rivera, 27, @TJ_Rivera_

            Easily the most exciting group of the 51s initial roster, all 6 players offer at least bench upside, and half of them have major league experience. Cecchini and Krauss are the new guys in town, but it’s the double play combination of Cecchini and Dilson that’ll keep me glued to 51s games this year – quick aside, I think Dilson should officially drop the Jose (Garcia) Herrera after his name and just be known by the mononym Dilson.
After a breakout 2015 with Binghamton, Cecchini should get the bulk of the time at SS, but Reynolds is arguably the better SS defender right now, and the Mets probably want him getting at least one start per week there – Cheech can just DH during most of those games.
Similarly, Dilson should see the bulk of playing time at 2B, with Muno, Reynolds, and Rivera rotating through. This better be the last season of Dilson in the minors!
Krauss is the only player to spend most of his time at 1B among the group, but I could see Muno, Rivera, and possibly even Reynolds seeing time at 1B in 2016 just to increase their versatility. He’s basically Brandon Allen with more major league experience.
One from the trio of Reynolds, Muno, and Rivera will always be at 3B, and one could end up in LF as the Mets try to increase their versatility, but the specifics of how the playing time of those three breaks down is unclear. Reynolds had a down year in 2015 compared to his 2014, but he’s still the best player of the three – he’s the best defender, best hitter, and fastest of the three. T.J. Rivera has always hit in the minors, and I think he could help off the Mets bench, but I’d put him behind Reynolds and even with Muno. Muno was extremely underwhelming at the major league level last year, but he’s still a better infield defender and faster than Rivera, and neither is going to hit enough in the majors to start.
It never made sense, and it would only muddle things further right now, but Fangraphs reported that Jeff McNeil would be starting in Las Vegas this year, so it’s always possible he gets a promo once Amed Rosario gets promoted to Binghamton. L.J. Mazzilli seems like the more likely candidate to join the infield given he has more AA experience than McNeil, but it’s not like there’s room for either to join. There’s always the hope that Dominic Smith slugs his way to AAA, but it seems unlikely that any infield additions are coming to Las Vegas this year.

Outfielders (4, 27)

Ty Kelly, 27, @tykelly11
Brandon Nimmo, 23, @You_Found_Nimmo

            As I’ve already mentioned, the Mets have indicated they would like Reynolds, Rivera, and/or Muno to get some time in the OF this year to increase their versatility, so this group is really 4+ people. All 4 guys have at least some center field experience, but Brandon Nimmo is the only one who should be trusted there, so there should be no more experimenting with him in the corner OF. At the same time, not sure who plays CF when Nimmo needs a night off. Kyle Johnson spent last year with the club and is capable in CF, but he’s the B-Mets center fielder for now – CF is a weak spot in the Mets system right now, which is why Joe Benson spent a lot of time there for Binghamton last year.
After retooling his swing for the 2015 season, Nimmo might’ve done the same thing again for this year, although few got to see him in Spring Training since he spent most of the month rehabbing.
After a huge PCL debut last year playing RF for Las Vegas, Taijeron was named the best rookie at Spring Training camp this year, and enticed fans with his power. He hit exactly like he had all year with Las Vegas: plenty of hits, but plenty of whiffs. If the Mets decide to trade Alejandro De Aza, Taijeron could be an interesting bench bat, but understand that he’s basically a right-handed Kirk Nieuwenhuis.
Finally, Ty Kelly and Roger Bernadina are AAAA players I would prefer to see on the bench. As mentioned at the top, Jayce Boyd could be added to this group, but I think 2015 made it pretty clear that the Mets think he’s an org. guy at this point. Kyle Johnson will join this group at some point, and Jared King could, but there isn’t any other OF help at AA close to making the jump and being helpful in LF or as a backup CF for Las Vegas.

            Overall, this is the weakest starting roster for Las Vegas in the 3 years that I’ve covered the franchise, but they still have a chance to dominate in the PCL. The rotation is the biggest question mark, but manager Wally Backman’s liberal use of a good pen should help keep the 51s in most games. Offensively, this team could end up with above average PCL production from each position, so it should allow for plenty of late comebacks, which is always fun to watch. From a prospect perspective, 3 of the top position players in the system will be playing up the middle daily, which should keep us Mets fans interested everyday.

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