New York Mets manager Luis Rojas just laughed when he was presented with the question of whether his young infielder, Andres Gimenez, was an early favorite to win the National League Rookie of the Year this season.
“It’s still really early, I think, for the season, but this kid is amazing,” Rojas said after Gimenez went 3-for-4 with three runs scored and a stolen base on Sunday against the Miami Marlins. “This kid is always on his toes, physically and mentally.”
The 21-year-old has certainly impressed upon his arrival to the Mets and Major League Baseball — adding a much-needed spark to a team that has struggled for consistency during the early portions of a shortened season.
Over his first 15 games as a pro prior to Monday night’s meeting with the Washington Nationals, the Venezuelan native was slashing .333/.371/.424 with three stolen bases and a run batted in.
What’s been even more impressive, though, is his smooth fielding at both second base and shortstop, as his range and arm are already getting elite comparisons from his coaches.
“I could watch that kid take ground balls all day long.” third-base coach Gary DiSarcina said, comparing Gimenez to Omar Vizquel — one of the greatest fielding shortstops of all-time.
Rojas only echoed those sentiments as he wasn’t afraid to inflating the youngster’s ego.
“This kid is amazing,” Rojas said. “You watch him play, all the ground he covers at second, his IQ… This kid is always on his toes physically and mentally and we saw those plays today.”
It’s that skillset that allowed him to rise through the ranks of the Mets’ minor-league system where he was touted as the organization’s No. 2 prospect.
But beneath the surface lies an analytical, inquisitive mind that shows the making of a highly intelligent and effective ballplayer.
“I’m always asking questions about the game just because I’m a curious person but it’s never been just one thing that I’ve learned the most,” Gimenez said. “I’m always paying attention to the game in total because I don’t know at what moment I’m going to be brought into the game.”
“A lot of it has to do with the thinking part of it, but when the moment comes my instincts take over.”
It’s why you’ll see Gimenez bound into shallow right field that skipped off Pete Alonso’s glove, make a sliding collection, and in one motion pop up and fire to second to hold Eddy Alvarez to a single like he did on Sunday.
It’s why he can pick and choose when to lay down a perfectly-executed drag bunt to get a Mets rally going, which he’s already done twice.
It’s why a 21-year-old shortstop has the wherewithal to pounce on a slow chopper by cutting across the second baseman to cut down what could have been an infield single under some of the Mets’ former defensive alignments.
Needless to say, it’s more than a promising start for Gimenez, who also has the team-first mentality that only further endears himself to Mets fans.
“The funnest part right now is that the team is winning,” he said after the Mets took their first series of the season against the Marlins. “That’s the most important thing that we have to get in our heads is win.”