Mets prospect Carlos Cortes is heating up in St. Lucie, should open next season with Double-A Binghamton, and could reach the Mets by 2021...
Weight: 197 lbs
MLB Pipeline Mets Prospect Ranking: 21
2019 Statistics: .253 batting average, .331 on-base percentage with 24 doubles, 10 home runs and 60 RBI in 113 games
Carlos Cortes was born in Orlando, Florida and attended Lake Howell High School in Winter Park, Florida. He wasn't the only athletic child in his family, as his sister Sahrina played outfield for the University of Tampa in Florida.
Carlos was a standout player in high school, where he pitched while also playing catcher, second base and outfield for Lake Howell -- leading them to a state championship in 2015. Cortes was ambidextrous in high school -- throwing right-handed when he played catcher or second base and left-handed when he played the outfield. Both of his arms are strong and that was shown as he was clocked throwing 85 mph in the infield and up to 90 mph from the outfield.
He was not just a versatile defensive player, but was carried by a bat with big power and the consistent ability to barrel up balls. Cortes was named an All American by Perfect Game and participated in the Perfect Game All American game at Petco Park in San Diego, where he won the MVP of the very prestigious game. He was ranked inside of the top 30 high school prospects in the country and just outside of the top 100 overall prospects leading up to the 2016 MLB Draft.
The Mets drafted Cortes in the 20th round of the 2016 Draft, but due to a very strong commitment to the University of South Carolina he declined the Mets' offers to sign and went to college. He played two years at South Carolina and posted a .274 batting average, .378 on-base percentage and hit 27 home runs in 112 college games.
When the 2018 Draft came around, the Mets maintained their interest level in Cortes from high school and routinely scouted his games at South Carolina. The Mets decided to use their third round pick -- number 83 overall -- to take Cortes. They signed him to a signing bonus of $1,000,038, which was almost $300,000 over slot value.
With The Mets
After signing with the Mets, the team decided to move Cortes to second base full time after he played both second and left field for South Carolina. He was assigned to Brooklyn, where he appeared in 47 games where he hit .264 with a .338 on-base percentage with four home runs and 24 RBI. It was his first time playing over 100 games in a season and like with a lot of players out of college, there can be some tiring effect in their first taste of pro ball.
In 2019, Cortes was assigned to High-A St Lucie where he's had some consistency issues at the plate. He really struggled in April and July, posting OPS's of .606 and .549, but he had a big May where he hit .303 and posted an .860 OPS. Cortes has been on fire in August, with a .319 average, .418 on-base percentage and an OPS of 1.014 -- and scouts note he's done nothing but barrel up balls all month.
Cortes has a smaller build at only 5-foot-8 but possesses quick hands and great barrel control. He has above average raw power that is showing in games as he has 24 doubles and 10 home runs this year for St Lucie. His general approach at the plate is power over contact which likely limits his long-term potential.
Defensively, he shows average range at second base and still possesses his very strong throwing arm -- which has helped a lot in turning double plays and making some difficult throws.
The Mets drafted Cortes with the thought process of developing him as a potential second baseman of the future. I personally think that in 2020 they should bring back his left-handed glove and have him play some left field again and maybe throw him at third base as well to increase his versatility.
I don't expect Cortes' profile to lead to a future as an every day player, but I think he can be a valuable asset off the bench with his above average power if the Mets can increase his versatility defensively and he doesn't succumb to the highest levels of the minor leagues.
I would expect Cortes to head to Double-A Binghamton to start the 2020 season, which will be a real test for his approach. While he may not be the flashiest or the most exciting prospect in the system, Cortes was a high draft pick and I think if used properly he could potentially be a piece for the Mets in 2021.