METS ANNOUNCE 2019 MINOR LEAGUE AWARDS
FLUSHING, N.Y., September 23, 2019 – The New York Mets today announced the winners of the 2019 Sterling Awards, emblematic of the top minor league performers in New York’s farm system. This season, the Mets recognized the top hitter, pitcher, defender, baserunner and coach in their minor league system. Additionally, a hitter and pitcher from the Dominican Summer League (DSL) were honored for their standout seasons.
Mark Vientos was the Hitter of the Year; LHP Kevin Smith was named Pitcher of the Year; Andrés Giménez was the Mets’ Defender of the Year; and Sam Haggerty was the system’s top baserunner. In the DSL, Freddy Valdez was named the top hitter and RHP Ronny Rincones the top pitcher. David Davalillo, the Gulf Coast League Mets’ manager, was named the Mets Minor League Coach of the Year.
The 2019 Sterling Award winners will be available in the Press Conference Room at Citi Field at 5:30 p.m. today.
STERLING METS MINOR LEAGUE HITTER OF THE YEAR: MARK VIENTOS (INF)
Obtained/Scout: Mets second-round pick in 2017/César Aranguren
Vientos, the Mets’ second-round pick in the 2017 First-Year Player Draft, spent his first full professional season this year with Columbia (A), batting .255/.300/.411 and setting career-highs in runs scored (48), hits (106), doubles (27), home runs (12) and RBI (62). At just 19 years old, the Miami native was one of the youngest hitters in the South Atlantic League this season; only seven of his 451 plate appearances this season came against pitchers younger than he was.
His .411 slugging percentage ranked 12th in the South Atlantic League, his 62 RBI were the 11th most in the league and his 27 doubles placed him 10th in the SAL. He was named one of the Mets’ prospects of the year by MLB Pipeline.
STERLING METS MINOR LEAGUE PITCHER OF THE YEAR: LHP KEVIN SMITH
Obtained/Scout: Mets seventh-round pick in 2018/Tommy Jackson
Smith, 22, led all Mets minor leaguers with 130 strikeouts during the 2019 campaign. The southpaw from Dunwoody, GA, made a career-high 23 appearances this season, all as a starter. He posted a 3.15 ERA (41 earned runs/117.0 innings), good for the third-best mark among all Mets minor league arms.
He averaged 10 strikeouts per 9.0 innings overall as he split his season between St. Lucie (A) and Binghamton (AA). He advanced to Double-A in July, where he posted a 3.45 ERA (12 earned runs/31.1 innings) in his final six starts of the year, allowing three runs or fewer in five of his six outings for the Rumble Ponies. Overall, he allowed more than three runs just three times in 23 starts.
STERLING METS MINOR LEAGUE DEFENDER OF THE YEAR: ANDRÉS GIMÉNEZ (INF)
Obtained/Scout: Signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2015/Hector Rincones and Robert Espejo
For the first time in his four-year career, Giménez appeared solely at shortstop, where he handled 402 of his 413 total chances this year, his best rate yet in four seasons in the Mets system. Giménez has shown improvement in his defense each of the last four years, rising from a .948 fielding percentage in his age-16 season to his .973 percentage this year in his age-20 campaign at Binghamton (AA).
Giménez also made strides in other aspects of his game, leading the organization in steals (28) for a second-consecutive season and setting a career-high mark with nine home runs. The infielder finished the year as the Mets’ third-ranked prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, as well as the No. 93 overall prospect in the majors.
STERLING METS MINOR LEAGUE BASERUNNER OF THE YEAR: SAM HAGGERTY (INF/OF)
Obtained/Scout: Acquired by the Mets from Cleveland along with RHP Walker Lockett on January 6, 2019 in exchange for C Kevin Plawecki/Jon Heuerman (Cleveland)
Acquired last offseason, Haggerty earned his first major league call-up at the conclusion of the minor league season, thanks in large part to his ability to create stress for opposing pitchers on the basepaths. He played the majority of his season with Binghamton (AA), but also saw time at Brooklyn (A) and Syracuse (AAA).
He legged out six triples, tied for the most by any Mets minor leaguer this year. The University of New Mexico product was successful in 23-of-27 stolen base attempts (85.2 percent). His 23 steals were the second-most in the organization this season. Over the last three years, he has produced 24 triples and stolen 98 bases while being caught stealing just 24 times.
At the major league level, Haggerty has primarily been used as a pinch-runner. He scored his first major-league run on September 6 vs. Philadelphia.
STERLING METS DSL HITTER OF THE YEAR: FREDDY VALDEZ (OF)
Obtained/Scout: Signed as a non-drafted free a gent in 2018/Fernando Encarnación
Valdez, a 17-year-old outfielder from Santo Domingo, put together a .268/.358/.432 slashline in the DSL in his first professional season after signing last year. With the DSL Mets1, he collected 36 RBI, 36 runs scored and 23 extra-base hits, including a team-high five home runs. At the tail end of the season, he earned a call-up to the GCL Mets (R), where he went 4-10 (.400) with a double and a homer in three games.
STERLING METS DSL PITCHER OF THE YEAR: RHP RONNY RINCONES
Obtained/Scout: Signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2018/Carlos Pérez
Rincones, a 17-year-old right-hander from Venezuela, signed with the Mets last year and instantly emerged as one of the top arms in the DSL for New York. He did not allow an earned run in his first four professional outings, scattering just three hits over 15.1 innings. Overall, Rincones struck out 53 batters in 51.2 innings of work and posted a 2.44 ERA (14 earned runs/51.2 innings) while holding opponents to a .651 OPS.
STERLING METS COACH OF THE YEAR: GCL MANAGER DAVID DAVALILLO
Davalillo, 44, guided the GCL Mets to a 30-24 season, finishing tied for first place in his second year as skipper. His squad won nine of their final 12 games and was in playoff position before the remainder of the GCL season was cancelled due to Hurricane Dorian.
Davalillo spent the 2012-2017 seasons managing the DSL Mets2 and began working with the Mets as an international scout from 2006-2008 before starting his coaching career.
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