The minor league season is over for all affiliates except AAA Syracuse, meaning that there is time to reflect on the years that the top prospects of the New York Mets put together. One player who has flown under the radar until recently is Carlos Cortes, who has an intriguing offensive profile that has earned him the status of the Mets’ tenth-best prospect according to MLB.com. Cortes will be the focus of the final regular-season edition of Minor League Mondays.
The Mets have liked Cortes for a long time, drafting him out of high school in the 20th round in 2016, but Cortes opted to play collegiately at South Carolina. Cortes was picked again by the Mets in 2018 as a draft-eligible sophomore in the third round, at which point they assigned him to Low-A Brooklyn to begin his professional career. Stops with the Cyclones and High-A St. Lucie in 2019 didn’t establish overpowering numbers for Cortes but advanced stats profiled that he was still an above-average hitter.
After a year off due to the pandemic, Cortes was assigned to AA Binghamton for this season. Cortes did well for the Rumble Ponies, hitting .257 with 14 home runs and 57 RBI’s and an .819 OPS in 79 games. Those numbers are solid for the number of games Cortes played and the encouraging factor is that he has always made excellent contact, striking out less than 17 percent of the time at every level.
The hit tools are what will define Cortes’ ability to produce at the next level since he has above-average hit and power tools for his position. Cortes is also a unique prospect since he is ambidextrous and can throw with either hand, but the Mets thus far have had Cortes work as a lefty outfielder in Binghamton. There is some defensive versatility to be had if the Mets want to consider it since Cortes has a background as a second baseman in college and it will be interesting to see if the Mets start playing him again there next season.
2022 will be a big year for Cortes, who will likely start next season with AAA Syracuse, just one step away from the major leagues. Cortes will have a chance to compete for a bench job in spring training but his optimal path forward will be to start every day with Syracuse where he can continue to get regular at-bats against advanced pitching. The Mets have made a commitment to develop their own depth so they can have options for the inevitable outcome of injuries. Cortes can make himself a factor in those conversations with another strong performance next year.