2023 International Reviews: New York Mets

The Mets have already signed more than 35 international players this year, one of the bigger classes of any team so far. It’s a high volume of players with a group of high-end talent at the top, including a trio of position players and one of the best pitching prospects available this year.

Top Of The Class

The Mets signed three players for bonuses of at least $1 million this year. They spent $1.9 million to sign Daiverson Gutierrez, an offensive-minded catcher from Venezuela. Gutierrez has a strong build with an advanced hitting approach for 17. He has selective aggression at the plate, showing a good sense of the strike zone for his age while hunting pitches he can drive for damage. While his swing can get hitchy at times, the barrel comes through the hitting zone with good path and the hand-eye coordination that leads to a high contact rate. Gutierrez has a good mix of hitting ability and power, with the strength and bat speed that could allow him to develop into a 25-plus home run threat. The early returns from spring training were positive with Gutierrez offensively, though he will have to prove he can stick behind the plate. His blocking and receiving will need to improve, but scouts highest on him think he has the hands to catch. He does have plus raw arm strength and has worked to iron out an unconventional arm action to try to improve his throwing mechanics. 

Venezuelan shortstop Cristopher Larez, signed for $1.4 million, brings a good mix of tools and skills for a 17-year-old. At 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, Larez has a strong frame for a shortstop and is especially advanced at the plate. It’s a mature approach with a good sense of the strike zone and a knack for barreling balls at a high clip against live pitching. His strength helps him drive the ball for extra-base juice from right-center field over to his pull side. It’s mostly doubles power with occasional home runs that should turn into average power as he continues to get stronger and learns which pitches to turn on for pull-side damage. It’s an offensive skill set that should translate into early success in the Dominican Summer League, with a headsy, instinctive game that shows up at shortstop as well. He’s a high baseball IQ player with secure hands and makes the routine plays as a reliable defender at shortstop. Given his body type, there’s a chance he gets bigger and he ultimately outgrows shortstop to move to second or third base, but he has a chance to stick at short and should continue to develop there. He’s a solid-average runner with a plus arm that fits anywhere on the infield.

The Mets’ biggest bonus for a Dominican prospect this year went to Anthony Baptist, a speedy lefthanded outfielder who signed for $1.1 million. Baptist is an 80 runner on the 20-80 scouting scale, accelerating quickly and flying around center field with the range to be a high-end defender at a premium position. His arm strength has improved to a fringe-average tool as his throwing mechanics have gotten better. At 5-foot-11, 155 pounds, Baptist has impressed some scouts with his bat control, so he doesn’t strike out much. He’s not that big and he has a narrow frame, so he’s mostly a line-drive hitter now with occasional doubles and triples that stem from his speed, with power unlikely to ever be a big part of his game. 

Names To Know

Daviel Hurtado, LHP, Cuba: An 18-year-old lefty with Hurtado’s stuff would be a prime name if he were in the draft. The Mets signed Hurtado for $500,000, landing one of the best pitching prospects in the class. He’s a lean 6-foot-1, 170 pounds and a quick-twitch athlete who moves extremely well on the mound, with a starter look between his quality three-pitch mix and athletic operation. Hurtado’s fastball sits in the low 90s and has touched 96 mph. There could be more velocity to come once he fills out, and his fastball already has good life with the way it rides up in the zone. Hurtado has two secondary pitches that should be bat-missing weapons against lefties and righties, with a tight curveball that has good shape and could become a plus pitch and advanced feel for a changeup.

Heriberto Rincon, OF, Dominican Republic: Rincon is an exciting athlete the Mets signed for $150,000. He’s 6-foot-1, 160 pounds at 17, a lean, quick-twitch center fielder who lacks strength now but shows good bat control from the right side. It’s mostly singles and doubles right now, with a chance his stock could take off once he adds strength to be able to drive the ball with more authority. His plus-plus speed is an asset offensively and in center field. He’s a former shortstop who moves his feet well in the outfield and has a strong arm that plays up because of his quick release.

Wilmer Lugo, LHP, Venezuela: At 6 feet, 190 pounds, Lugo stands out for his athleticism and an arm angle that makes him a tough at-bat for lefties. Signed for $100,000, Lugo pitches from a lower slot with a fastball that has been up to 93 mph that carries up in the zone. He pairs it with a slider that plays well off his fastball with sweeping action across the zone. 

Sleeper Watch

Enderson Asencio, a corner outfielder signed for $75,000 out of the Dominican Republic, has a big frame (6-foot-4, 195 pounds) and the power to match. He has big strength and bat speed for a 17-year-old, producing plus raw power from the right side of the plate and enough feel for hitting to where he shows signs of being able to tap into that power against live pitching. Asencio runs well for his size with average speed underway, but he should slow down as he fills out and should fit as a right fielder with a strong arm that could be plus in the next few years.

At 5-foot-10, 145 pounds, Venezuelan shortstop Keiver Garcia doesn’t stand out for his size like Asencio does, but he’s an intriguing signing for $10,000. He’s young for the class—he turns 17 on Aug. 6—and he’s an advanced hitter for his age with a lot of contact from both sides of the plate, albeit without power. He’s also a plus-plus runner who should have a chance to stick at shortstop. 

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