Why Carlos Cortes could be the next Jeff McNeil

New York Mets v Atlanta Braves
New York Mets v Atlanta Braves / Todd Kirkland/GettyImages

While the MLB canceled the major league portion of December’s Rule 5 Draft, the minor league portion will still be taking place. For the New York Mets, notable prospects Josh Walker (LHP), Carlos Rincon (OF), and more will be available for other teams to select.

Among the Mets prospects who could be on his way out is utility-man Carlos Cortes. Capable of playing second base and in the outfield, Cortes’ low strikeout numbers and high contact rate certainly stand out. So much so that the Mets might be risking losing their next Jeff McNeil when the Rule 5 Draft takes place.

Never flashy in Mets minor leagues

Think back to when the Mets called up Jeff McNeil in 2018.  New York needed a spark on offense, and despite McNeil not being a top prospect, the fact of the matter is the then 26-year-old was the hottest hitter in the Mets minor league system.

Little did the Mets know they had caught lightning in a bottle with Jeff McNeil. Even coming off of an underwhelming 2021 campaign, McNeil is still a .299 career-hitter in four seasons, with a career .824 OPS to his name.

Meanwhile, Carlos Cortes is a 5’7” and 197-pound prospect who has a career .257 hitter in the minors. As these numbers are lower than McNeil’s in the minors, Cortes’ bat-to-ball skills align with the Mets’ All-Star fielder.

Not to mention, Cortes brings a solid glove in the field too. Since 2020, Cortes only has eight errors from playing games at first base, second base, and each corner outfield spot. So, if Cortes is so valuable, why is he going to be made available in the Rule 5 Draft?

Work to be done

Carlos Cortes is not a finished prospect. Only playing as high as Double-A Binghamton, Cortes may follow McNeil’s lead of not hitting the majors until well after the age of 24 (his current age).

Taken in the third round of the 2018 MLB Draft, Cortes has slowly worked his way up the minors. Thus, leaving his Mets future up to whether or not an MLB team is willing to add him to their 40-man roster. If not, he returns to the Mets minor league system.

Carlos Cortes’ Mets future

Like the other Mets Rule 5 Draft eligible prospects, Carlos Cortes awaits the end of the lockout to find out if his future still lies in Queens. Until then, one can only speculate about how he can impact the team in the future.

Should Carlos Cortes follow his current Mets path, he could find himself in the majors sooner than later. At the very least, Cortes could bring a versatile bench piece to the Mets. With his ability to play both corner outfield positions, as well as multiple spots on the infield, Cortes will quickly come a fan favorite.

Will Carlos Cortes be a future All-Star utility man like Jeff McNeil? Only time will tell. Yet, should he not be taken in the Rule 5 Draft, Cortes has himself a future as the next Mets go-to utility man.  

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