Mets Scouting Report: OF Carlos Gomez

Gomez plans on making the big leagues soon

The Mets signed Carlos Gomez as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic back in July of 2002. After skipping a minor league level to start the year, he finished his 2006 campaign strong, dominating the Double-A level before earning a spot on the 40-man roster this offseason. Here's a scouting report on Carlos Gomez.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Carlos Gomez
Position: Outfield
DOB: December 4, 1985
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 190
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

It was a meteoric rise to the top of the farm system for outfielder Carlos Gomez, whose immense raw tools, incredibly high ceiling and excellence in adjusting to the challenges of jumping a level made him a clear-cut choice as Inside Pitch's top Mets prospect of 2007.

A 21-year-old centerfielder who signed with the Mets as a non-drafted free agent in June 2002, Gomez has moved to the head of the organization's class with equal parts praise and reverence, responding to every challenge with confidence and poise.

Mets general manager Omar Minaya insists that speed tests conducted during the club's Spring Training in Port St. Lucie, Fla. have shown Gomez to be the fastest player in the organization – even more fleet than leadoff hitter Jose Reyes, who has led the National League in stolen bases for two consecutive years – while teammates and observers rave about Gomez's strong arm and developing power.

In one memorable New York Post article, a scout invoked the name Willie Mays while searching for comparisons to describe Gomez's talents.

For an organization that once saw Paul Wilson likened to Hall of Famer Tom Seaver minutes before the former threw his first big league pitch, the quote must have been unsettling, but Gomez simply laughed and enjoyed the expectations that New Yorkers are seeming to build.

Gomez said that he tries not to believe his own clippings anyway, and believes no outside pressure from the media or fans can change his approach on the field.

"Willie Mays? That guy is unbelievable," Gomez said. "To be compared to Willie Mays, I say, 'Damn.' I think the scouts and people say when I look like Willie Mays, they (are talking about) the passion for the game. I play hard all the time and all the time I'm running. It looks like I have a lot of energy like Willie Mays. That's probably why they say that."

A former teammate, Hagerstown shortstop Ryan Coultas, did little to dismiss the comparison when asked last summer.

"I don't know if he's Willie Mays, but he's the best damn athlete I've ever seen," Coultas said. "If he wanted to play football, he could be one of the best receivers in the NFL in six months."

Skipping the Florida State League after playing the 2005 campaign at Class-A Hagerstown of the South Atlantic League, Gomez finished the year at Double-A Binghamton batting .281 with 24 doubles, eight triples, seven home runs and 48 RBI in 120 Eastern League games.

For his efforts, Gomez was rewarded with a Sterling Award – indicative of selection as his club's Most Valuable Player – which he shared with first baseman Michel Abreu.

"You know, I'm 20 years old, and to come to Double-A with good numbers … probably next year, I'll be in the big leagues, you know?" Gomez said. "If I played [in the] Florida State [League] at 20 years and I [was] good, [the] next year I'd come to Double-A. I jumped Florida State and that's very good."

Gomez feels that his performance could spell a big league promotion shortly down the road, and by all indications, he may be correct – with Moises Alou signed to a one-year contract and Shawn Green's pact expiring after 2007, the Mets could potentially insert Gomez into either opening.

Internally, much of the Mets organization has shifted their thinking on to Gomez, having promoted former top prospect Lastings Milledge to the big league level last season to mixed reviews. Even during Spring Training 2006, some of the front office was splintered on whom truly was the system's top prospect; Milledge certainly had the refined tools and the age advantage, but Gomez's tantalizing package was too tempting for some to pass up.

Gomez is certain to receive face time up close with manager Willie Randolph during Spring Training 2007, and a big league call-up from Triple-A New Orleans – his expected destination - could follow at some point during the season.

"I haven't heard a lot, but people have been telling me," Gomez said. "I'm focused on playing the game and seeing what happens later. I'll be ready for next year when we come for the big league camp. The manager [Randolph] wants to see that you're ready. I want to be like that, play in [New Orleans] a couple of games and go to the big leagues.

"I'm ready. I can hit and I can steal. And defense? Don't worry about it."

Keeping in tune with his high-risk, high-reward tendencies, Gomez was often on the move, stealing 41 bases in 50 attempts – a nice follow-up to his Sally League-leading 64 swipes in 2005. But it was in a figurative sense where Gomez perhaps did his best acceleration.

Challenged by the Mets to try his hand at Double-A, Gomez skipped a natural progression and found himself in upstate New York to open April; a 20-year-old inserted as a starting centerfielder against much older competition.

Gomez struggled with the move initially, batting just .205 in April and .219 in May. It was later revealed that Gomez strongly disagreed with an assessment concurred upon by Binghamton manager Juan Samuel and the Mets organization, recommending Gomez for leadoff duties – instead, just as he had at Hagerstown, Gomez fashioned himself a difference-maker and a power hitter for his club.

Batting a mediocre .250 in 52 June at-bats (and hindered by a back injury that required a trip to see medical staff in New York and cost him several games), Samuel eventually relented and moved Gomez down in Binghamton's order, simply hoping to jump-start the slumping centerfielder.

Batting mostly fifth and sixth, the results were sensational, as Gomez flourished once freed of his leadoff man duties.

"For leadoff, I have to put the ball in play, and I changed my swing," Gomez said. "When I moved down in the lineup - six, five - I [can] swing hard for a big guy in the lineup. That's what I like."

Changing his approach to more closely resemble the slugger Gomez hopes to develop into, he lit up Eastern League pitching to the tune of a .406 average in 27 July games and stayed hot through the remainder of the B-Mets' season, batting .284 in his final 116 at-bats of the year. He credited his Double-A coaches and staff for improving his confidence.

"That's why I don't feel problems on the field. I just play baseball," Gomez said. "They pushed me, and I did it. They know I work hard every day and I feel great. I feel excited for that."

33 of Gomez's 48 runs batted in of the season were compiled between July and August, a reflection of a player meeting the challenges of his surroundings and also growing more comfortable with his duties.

As the season neared completion, Gomez expressed satisfaction with his progress.

"Before, I thought I needed to be a little stronger," Gomez said. "Now, I feel ready – about hitting, playing baseball. Now, I only want to think and smile. That's when I [know I] feel ready for the big leagues."

After the season, Gomez appeared briefly for Leones del Escogido in the Dominican Winter League, assuming the duties of designated hitter or pinch-runner in four of the eight games he played in.

His campaign was capped by an addition to the club's 40-man roster in time for the Major League Baseball Winter Meetings in December, excluding him from selection in the Rule 5 draft.

In the hours before that process was to take place, one of Minaya's highest-ranking lieutenants, former big leaguer Tony Bernazard, was discussing the draft with a selection of reporters.

Though the Mets would lose top catching prospect Jesus Flores to the Washington Nationals in the Major League phase, Bernazard's thoughts were clearly with one prospect and one prospect only.

"Gomez is protected," Bernazard said. "That's the most important thing anyway."

Year

Team

AVG.

AB

Hits

HR

RBI

R

SB

BB

K

OBP

SLG

2006

Binghamton

.281

430

121

7

48

53

41

27

97

.350

.423

2005

Hagerstown

.275

487

134

8

48

75

64

32

88

.331

.376

2004

Kingsport

.287

150

43

1

20

24

8

5

29

.333

.427

2004

GCL Mets

.268

71

19

0

11

10

9

2

9

.303

.366



Batting and Power. It didn't come as a surprise to Gomez supporters that the Mets had their talented outfielder skip high-A entirely and begin the year in Double-A. And while he initially struggled to make adjustments, he showed his baseball aptitude and hitting ability by terrorizing the Eastern League in the second half of the season. He isn't patient at the plate at all but has an uncanny knack of making contact, kind of like Vladmir Guerrero in that regard. He has such raw natural power and he gets good loft on his swings at times. He hasn't hit for power yet but most scouts agree he will be a very good power hitter as he matures.

Base Running and Speed. As aggressive as he is at the plate, he is just as aggressive on the base paths. Possessing plus speed, Gomez can be a true game-changer in the running game. He learned to pick his spots better last season and not run when the situations didn't call for it, a sign that he's maturing as a player.

Defense. As excited as many people in baseball are about Gomez's power and speed potential, what makes Gomez a truly special player is his defense. He has been playing centerfield for the majority of his career, but with his terrific arm - one of the best in all of professional baseball - he profiles as an elite defensive right fielder. But for good measure, with his speed and range, he could also be a top-notch defensive centerfielder.

Projection. The Mets finally gave up trying to mold Gomez into a leadoff hitter last season, and ironically, that's exactly when Gomez started tearing up Double-A. While he has the world class speed to hit atop the lineup, he simply doesn't take enough pitches to get comfortable there. His power is coming around and he should develop into a very good power hitter. He projects to hit in the heart of a big league batting order someday and he possesses All-Star talent both offensively and defensively.

ETA. 2008. Now a member of the 40-man roster, Gomez is one step closer to the big leagues. While it remains a possibility he could return to Binghamton again to start the 2007 season, all bets are off with Gomez. He'll either start in Double-A or Triple-A next season, and depending on the how certain things break for him, there's a distinct possibility he could reach the big leagues at some point. He should however begin to have a significant impact with the Mets by 2008.

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