NEW YORK -- New York Mets VP Paul DePodesta offers high praise for Double-A Binghamton outfielder Gilbert Gomez.
“Gilbert does a number of things well. He’s a solid defender in center field and can play all three outfield positions. Offensively, he has a good zone, and he is developing more and more strength,” DePodesta said. “He used to hit with a high leg kick to try to generate some power, but no longer has to do that. Additionally, and importantly, Gilbert is unusually smart and mature.”
Gomez, 23, already has been with the organization for seven years. He signed back in 2008, and made his professional debut the following season in the Dominican Summer League.
Thanks to a 1-for-26 slump in a 10-game stretch last August, Gomez hit only .217 with four homers and 27 RBIs in 313 at-bats last season with Class A St. Lucie. But he also had 65 walks, giving him a .353 on-base percentage.
Gomez’s career OBP (.345) actually exceeds his slugging percentage (.342).
“It’s a way for you to help the team, even though you’re not getting your base hits,” said Gomez, who is fluent in English and assists teammates who also hail from the Dominican Republic. “If you can work the count and have solid at-bats, even though you’re not getting the base hits, you’re going to have a chance to score runs. That’s what wins ballgames.”
Gomez comes from a sports-oriented family. One brother, Hector, is a sports journalist in the Dominican Republic. Another brother, Jose, is a sportscaster and the director of baseball operations for the Escogido winter-ball team. Brother Dariel recently signed with the St. Louis Cardinals and is playing first base in the Dominican Summer League.
“We’re always talking about sports -- either baseball or basketball,” Gomez said about the siblings. “Basketball is our favorite sport besides baseball. We watch a lot of basketball.”
Gomez is a natural center fielder, although he has experience playing both corners, too.
“I can play the two of them, but I’m more comfortable in center field,” he said. “I like to take charge and I have better angles on the baseball when I’m playing center.”
Average: Eric Campbell, Vegas, .550; T.J. Rivera, Binghamton, .450; Jon Leroux, Savannah, .400; John Mora, Savannah, .368; Champ Stuart, St. Lucie, .350; Alex Castellanos, Vegas, .333; Gavin Cecchini, Binghamton, .333; Luis Guillorme, Savannah, .333; Victor Cruzado, St. Lucie, .294; Maikis De La Cruz, St. Lucie, .294.
Homers: Eric Campbell, Vegas 2; Darrell Ceciliani, Vegas, 2; Brandon Nimmo, Binghamton, 2.
RBIs: Eric Campbell, Vegas, 6; Gavin Cecchini, Binghamton, 6; Alex Castellanos, Vegas, 5.
Steals: Champ Stuart, St. Lucie, 5; Wuilmer Becera, Savannah, 2; Kyle Johnson, Vegas, 2; Dustin Lawley, Binghamton, 2.
ERA: Luis Cessa, Binghamton, 0.00; Miller Diaz, St. Lucie, 0.00; Darin Gorski, Vegas, 0.00; Rainy Lara, Binghamton, 0.00; Seth Lugo, Binghamton, 0.00; Kevin McGowan, St. Lucie, 0.00; Gabriel Ynoa, Binghamton, 0.00; Robert Gsellman, St. Lucie, 1.69; Zack Thornton, Vegas, 1.93.
Wins: Darin Gorski, Vegas, 1; Hansel Robles, Vegas, 1; Zack Thornton, Vegas, 1; Luis Cessa, Binghamton, 1; Chase Huchingson, Binghamton, 1; Rainy Lara, Binghamton, 1; Gabriel Ynoa, Binghamton, 1; Robert Gsellman, St. Lucie, 1; Jake Kuebler, St. Lucie, 1; Kevin McGowan, St. Lucie, 1; Martires Arias, Savannah, 1; Casey Meisner, Savannah, 1.
Saves: Cody Satterwhite, Vegas, 2; Jon Velasquez, Binghamton, 2.
Noah Syndergaard was pulled after only 54 pitches in Monday’s season debut with Las Vegas. Mets officials insist that was part of the script, because Syndergaard is a start behind other pitchers in building up his innings capacity. Syndergaard dealt with forearm tightness in spring training, which resulted in him requiring an MRI. He did not miss a rotation turn with Las Vegas, but waited until the fifth game to appear.
Champ Stuart is off to a fast start with five steals already for St. Lucie. Stuart hails from the Bahamas, although he attended college at a small school in North Carolina and was drafted in the sixth round in 2013. A Mets official said Stuart “can fly.”
Jeff Walters, who is returning from Tommy John surgery, is throwing bullpen sessions and should face batters soon. Walters could be back in minor league games in June. The University of Georgia product set a Binghamton record with 38 saves in 2013.
Infielder Phillip Evans, who is ticketed for St. Lucie once healthy, opened the season on the DL with an intercostal strain.
Jayce Boyd, who has transitioned from first base to left field, is not the only B-Met who has changed positions this season. Brandon Nimmo has been playing right field for the first time in his career. And infielder Josh Rodriguez is handling first base for the first time.
Right-hander John Gant is making a rare jump from low-A to Double-A. One B-Mets observer believes Gant is the first player to do so since Mark Cohoon in 2010. Gant lived in Savannah for 11 years as a youth before moving to Tampa with his parents. When he pitched for the Gnats last season, he lived at his grandmother’s home.
St. Lucie plays Brevard County in Dodgertown in the second-annual Jackie Robinson Celebration Game on Wednesday. That’s the historic facility vacated by the Dodgers when they moved their spring training to Arizona.
2014 first-round pick Michael Conforto had a two-run homer on a 2-1 pitch in the eighth inning to give St. Lucie a 3-2 win at Bradenton on Saturday. His four-game hitting streak to begin the season ended Monday, when he went 0-for-3.