Yesterday’s win on Sunday Night Baseball notwithstanding, it’s been a tough road for the Mets since the big selloff at and near the trade deadline. It’s made following the minor league system more interesting than following the MLB club. We should always keep an eye on how the farm system is doing. But with the trades emphasizing prospects – and plenty of them – it seems more important than ever to do so now.

Let’s focus today on the top three prospects received from trading the old pitchers. Before we go any further, let me state for the record that it’s my belief that these are not future impact players. On last night’s broadcast, ESPN analyst David Cone was gushing about how the Mets got the top prospects from an organization in the deal. That’s great. It would be even better if they got them from a strong farm system. Instead, it feels like the Mets received the tallest dwarf.

My opinion on these players goes against most of the mainstream. That’s okay – you can’t be afraid to be wrong. So, here’s how ranks these three new Mets prospects in their midseason top 100 list:

40. Luisangel Acuna
56. Drew Gilbert
NR. Ryan Clifford

FanGragphs’ The Board has 89 ranked and then a bunch listed – maybe? – in order after that
49. Gilbert
56. Acuna
150+ Clifford

Prospects Live has the following:
43. Gilbert
77. Acuna
NR. Clifford

Bleacher Report
60. Acuna
86. Gilbert
HM Clifford – listed in a group of 101-150

Furthermore, Gilbert is listed in Baseball Prospectus’ alphabetical listing of the top 50 prospects, while Acuna was 58th on Keith Law’s top 60 list.

So, we have six different sites here and five of them ranked both Acuna and Gilbert. Acuna’s average mark from these five sources was 58.2 and we have to hypothesize with Gilbert. As the free BP listing doesn’t give a specific position. We’ll give him a 43 there, which is the top rating he has from the other four sources. So, Gilbert’s average is 55.4 with our BP guess. And we have to remember that their average is lower than that, as Acuna didn’t make BP’s list and Gilbert didn’t make Law’s list.

And my opinion is that Acuna and Gilbert aren’t as good as those combined averages.

To be clear, that opinion comes not from watching dozens of games nor pouring over hours of video. Instead, it comes mostly from the much-maligned scouting the stat line. Is that ideal? Absolutely not. Is it as bad as the experts make it out to be? No, that’s not the case, either. Regardless, my take also includes what FanGraphs and Law write on the prospects, along with incorporating age and the specific home park and league in which the players perform.

In the Mets’ system, Brooklyn is a good spot for pitchers. In the Astros’ system, Asheville is a good spot for hitters. Just like you can’t expect every pitcher who has a sub-3.00 ERA in Brooklyn to be a star, you can’t expect every hitter who has a .300 or better AVG in Asheville to be great, ether. You have to make adjustments to the stat lines you see based on the park and league. Mets’ hitters didn’t magically get better when they played in Las Vegas. Instead, they were playing in a hitter’s park in a hitter’s league.

With that out of the way, here’s how our three prospects have performed in their professional career:


2019 TEX R 17 51 240 2 61 29 17 14.20% 10.80% .114 .381 .342 .438 .455 .437 151
2021 TEX A 19 111 473 12 77 74 44 10.40% 23.30% .138 .329 .266 .345 .404 .348 105
2022 TEX A+ 20 54 240 8 45 29 28 14.20% 25.00% .166 .416 .317 .417 .483 .411 149
2022 TEX AA 20 37 169 3 21 18 12 10.10% 21.30% .125 .274 .224 .302 .349 .299 68
2023 TEX AA 21 84 402 7 68 51 42 9.20% 18.90% .138 .381 .315 .377 .453 .376 120
2023 NYM AA 21 11 48 0 5 1 6 8.30% 14.60% .023 .194 .163 .250 .186 .218 27

What I see: Someone young for their level with great speed. But 10 HR in 619 PA in the hitter-friendly Texas League is not indicative of someone with great power. It’s fine for a speed guy but you have to do an awful lot of dreaming to think of him as a five-tool player. And those BABIPs are really elevated. We should expect a fast guy to run elevated marks. But the numbers crater when he doesn’t post a super-high BABIP.


2022 HOU CPX 21 4 17 1 5 4 3 17.60% 11.80% .364 .500 .455 .600 .818 .634 271
2022 HOU A 21 6 22 1 4 2 3 4.50% 0.00% .143 .200 .238 .273 .381 .302 80
2023 HOU A+ 22 21 95 6 21 18 4 6.30% 22.10% .326 .424 .360 .421 .686 .482 193
2023 NYM AA 22 9 37 0 3 5 1 5.40% 21.60% .059 .385 .294 .351 .353 .327 98
2023 HOU AA 22 60 264 6 36 20 6 12.50% 17.40% .129 .277 .241 .342 .371 .329 91

What I see: A guy who raked at a good hitter’s park in Asheville at a year older than ideal for the level. Once he was promoted, his production fell off significantly. A lot will depend on his ability to remain in CF. Usually, my complaint is that the Mets are too passive with their assignments. But barring a massive turnaround the rest of the season, Gilbert really needs to be back in Double-A in 2024.


2022 HOU CPX 18 13 50 1 8 5 2 24.00% 32.00% .167 .368 .222 .440 .389 .419 145
2022 HOU A 18 12 51 1 5 5 0 19.60% 29.40% .122 .400 .268 .412 .390 .390 133
2023 HOU A 19 25 121 2 22 15 3 20.70% 22.30% .120 .453 .337 .488 .457 .457 176
2023 HOU A+ 19 58 250 16 35 46 1 8.40% 24.80% .276 .298 .271 .356 .547 .395 139
2023 NYM A+ 19 9 38 2 4 6 0 10.50% 44.70% .242 .429 .242 .342 .485 .371 124

What I see: He was at the right age at the start of the season and then was promoted, making him young for his level. His AVG and OBP fell off after the promotion but his SLG took a massive leap forward in Asheville. He’s now in a pitcher’s park in Brooklyn and most of his numbers have been solid. But that K%!! My hope is the Mets get him to Double-A at the start of next year and let us look at his numbers in a more-neutral park. Scouts are worried about his defense being good enough to remain in the OF.

In the small sample sizes of the three players once they joined the Mets, no one is really knocking our socks off. But we should cut them some slack given the shock of leaving the organization that signed them. My hope is we see improvements the rest of the way, compared to what they posted the first dozen or so games as a Met.

Without a doubt, the farm system is better with these three players in it. My expectation is that all three will make it to the majors. But lots of players make it to the majors and the bar for these three needs to be higher than that. My crystal ball says that you’ll be able to count the combined MLB All-Star appearances of these three players on the fingers of one hand. And have fingers left over.

Nothing would make me happier than for that prediction to blow up in my face. My opinion is that the best way for that to happen is to get these players performing in the minors at the position they’ll be playing in the majors. Acuna isn’t going to be a shortstop with the Mets. Have him move to 2B or CF no later than Opening Day 2024. And Gilbert should be getting reps in outfield corners and Clifford at 1B, too.

12 comments on “A more-detailed look at Luisangel Acuna, Drew Gilbert and Ryan Clifford

  • ChrisF

    Interesting and insightful dig into these players, who we know you feel should not be in the Mets system today. I believe you are very accurate with the notion of the best of the teams they were dealing with – even if those teams were not carrying the best farm systems.

    The fact is you got what you got and with 40 yo used to be great pitchers with controlled, yet severely bloated, contracts the number of suitors must not have been great in order for both to waive no trade clauses. Like it or not, the team owner and FO clearly did not see that dumping more cash into a raging dumpster fire as worth the money. Some financials were recovered on sunk costs (that is a plus not a negative of “eating contract”) and the farm improved. From a reality based forecast of team success, this can only be considered a win from my perspective. I dont believe that keeping those that left (or replacing with similar) would have yielded anything other than the faintest glimmer of post season play in 24.

    The other thing I’d add is that not only has this trio of trade pieces been in the system for barely more than lunch at Katz’ deli, I think its a bit short to convict them to today’s rankings as stuck. They will almost certainly change, even by next Spring training. That these folks rank so high in the Mets system now indicates what a sad state of affairs the minor leagues were/are in.

    • Brian Joura

      My hope with this piece is to have an honest discussion on the prospects received at the deadline. To that end, I showed the midseason prospect rankings from what I could find online, as well as their lifetime stats in pro ball. I gave these so people could come to their own conclusions on how good said players are.

      Tell me why Acuna is a five-tool prospect, because I don’t see it.
      Tell me why Gilbert is some great offensive prospect, because I don’t see it.

      Most think Clifford is a cut or two below Acuna and Gilbert. Again, I don’t see it. I think they have different shapes but are fairly close in future MLB value. It’s not like I see Acuna as a 5-WAR player and Clifford a 2.5-WAR guy.

      Can we have a discussion on everyone’s perception of actual value of these three guys, with no thought to how they compare to the guys they were traded for or where they rank among other Met players? I think that’s an important discussion to have.

      • David Groveman

        I won’t tell you Acuna is a Five Tool Prospect but I do see a potential career where he begins as a pure speed player and develops more power as he gives up some of he speed. I do think he will be a plus defender at second base and I do think his bat will get him on base to use his legs.

        • Brian Joura

          Well, the power part at this point is aspirational. In 348 games in the minors, Acuna has a .133 ISO. He’s young and he could grow into some power. But Luis Castillo and Dee Strange Gordon never did and it’s my view that this is how Mets fans should view him.

          Jose Altuve didn’t have a much better ISO in the minors than Acuna. But he was in the Texas League at a year younger and had a .208 ISO there
          Alex Bregman was a year older in Double-A but had a .262 ISO there.

          Just trying to think of young, short guys with power who played in the Texas League

  • T.J.

    I agree with Brian’s assessment. I guess that’s rather boring. This is and will continue to be one of the most depressing Met seasons on record. Time will tell, as it always does. I did have occasion to see Binghamton first hand this weekend. I can’t offer anything close to a professional assessment, but for one game, neither of the new kids stood out in any way. While we can debate their ranking and value, the reality is that at this stage there is an ocean between where they are now and being above average MLB contributors.

  • TexasGusCC

    I disagree with your assessment Brian. We see players with great stats not do well in the majors and see players with less than great stats do well. The reason is the tools. If a player has the tools and they are pushed along, the stats may not be there but the evaluators believe that hey have caught up to the pace of their level and need to be challenged in a higher level. As Exhibit A, I point to Gimenez or Nimmo. Nimmo never had the gaudiest stats but has been borderline all-star most years so far. Gimenez has been solid. As for the players that have done well in the minors but haven’t in the majors, those are called AAAA types and we don’t need to explain them. Gilbert was promoted aggressively and that needs to be considered. Acuna has the tools, and it’s the tools the Mets traded for, not the stats. As for Clifford, I would suspect that his hit tool will depend very much on his contact level. If he hits it, it will go far.

    • Brian Joura

      Show me a perennial All-Star in the majors who had less than great stats in the minors.

      As for Nimmo, he battled injuries in the minors and played in pitcher’s parks when he was in the lower level of the minors. Still, he put up a .372 wOBA and a 135 wRC+ with a .328 BABIP in 321 PA at Brooklyn in 2012. That’s better than Acuna’s season with a .329 BABIP and it’s better than what Clifford has done so far at the same park with a … checks notes … .429 BABIP.

      As for Gilbert, he really doesn’t have a season with a BABIP like that. I agree he was promoted aggressively by the Astros and said he needs to go back to Double-A next year. But if the Astros didn’t aggressively promote him both this year and last, he’d have the stigma of being an older prospect succeeding at levels he should have already passed. And the one spot where he had success was at Asheville, which is a hitter’s park.

      Not sure what point you think Gimenez is making. He’s had one season in four in the majors where he’s been a significant contributor and that came with a .353 BABIP. When he got lucky with the hits falling in, he was an All-Star. Otherwise, he’s a guy with a sub-3.0 fWAR. Which pretty much is what I’m saying these 3 new Mets are.

      It’s fine if you think these guys are going to be good. At this point, none of us know for sure one way or another. But your rationale for that thinking does absolutely nothing to convince me my opinion is wrong.

      • TexasGusCC

        Glad we are having this discussion, because you guys there have the luxury of having several different levels of minor league ball there and can evaluate younger and older prospects. I have gone to four AA games in the sisxteen years we have been here and two of them were on back to back days to see the Arkansas Travelers in 2019, that had a .700 win percentage. I only knew one player, Jared Kelenic, but by the time I left, I fell in love with another one. As I wrote back then, Kelenic couldn’t hit Whitley’s curve ball with a tennis racket and I wasn’t enamored with his play. Good player and a great athlete, very-very confident, but in my
        Mind Whitley was ready for the majors and Kelenic couldn’t touch him, and that’s what I went by.

        The player I fell in love with was Cal Raleigh. He looked like the Colossus of Rhodes at the plate, with throws down to second base that were faster than lightning and right on the bag. He batted cleanup and I wanted that guy on the Mets! When he hit the ball, the ball yelled ouch and you so it rocketing through the air. Was he ever a top prospect? No, but he is a good player.

        Another player, Kyle Lewis in right field I was told was a good prospect, but he loafed after a ball that went by him and he didn’t run out a ground ball to second base and so I was not too impressed. Another one was Mike Ahmed, little brother of Nick Ahmed, and he just didn’t look like the others.

        My point is that these evaluators see many players and can differentiate between them. I put weight on that, although I do like to see good stat lines. We can all have an opinion and yours may be on the money in a few years, but we cannot dismiss what so many filings that do this for a living are saying.

        • Brian Joura

          There absolutely is value in seeing players live or even on video. But there’s simply no way you can see a guy a handful of times and think you can peg him.

          If you can see Player X 20 times during various points of the year and he loafs 15 times – that means something. If you see him in a 3-game series and he loafs all three games, well, that may or may not mean anything. He may have just had a bad breakup with his girlfriend or something…

          I do think there is something to be learned from professional evaluators. But not all evaluators are created equally. I lean towards FanGraphs and Keith Law. Back when he used to do it, I was a big John Sickels fan, too. I take it very seriously when FG rates Gilbert at 49 and Acuna at 56 and Law has Acuna at 58 and Gilbert outside of his top 60.

          Without those view points, my opinion of those two players would be lower than it is currently.

        • TexasGusCC

          *filings?? Is that somehow close to *people? I hate this phone. Whoever changed the original iPhone from how Steve Jobs left it should get canned.

  • Dan Capwell

    Thanks for the dose of reality here. I can remember the hype around Generation K and Alex Ochoa back in the day. We know how that panned out. Gilbert reminds me of a pre-“vitamins” Lenny Dykstra; you know, the one who OPS’d in the mid 700’s for the Mets. At the end of the day, I think all three guys will be window dressing. There are some good things growing on the farm, guys like Tidwell, Scott, and Williams, for example. My sense is that these guys will come along for the ride and probably be moved for deadline help when the team is back in contention.

    • Brian Joura

      Nice to see you in these parts again, Dan!

      Dykstra is definitely a guy that people use as a comp for Gilbert and it probably works if we limit it to height, position and style of play. But at 22, Dykstra made his MLB debut. We’re looking at Gilbert repeating Double-A at age 23. And then there are those “vitamins.”

      I’m very bullish on Tidwell, ranking him #2 in the system in the update I did a few days ago. You can see that at –

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