Carlos Cortes, 2B/OF, NYM

24-year-old Carlos Cortes is having a fine Arizona Fall League start. Does he have what it takes to be more than a role player in the majors?

Video courtesy of Ernest Dove
  • Born: June 30, 1997
  • B/T: Left/Right
  • 5’7″, 197-lbs
  • Drafted by the New York Mets in the 2018 June Amateur Draft from University of South Carolina

The Numbers

His raw numbers are listed above courtesy of baseball-reference.com. Let’s aggregate by year then focus on the important numbers for minor leaguers:

Not shown is how well he has done in the Arizona Fall League where in 17 plate appearances as I write this he has a .385/.471/.538 batting line.

We see him climb a level a season since he was drafted. At age 24, he was one of those guys who was really hurt by a lost 2020 season. Still, he’s been age appropriate at every level, so how has he done?

The guy can hit, with an OBP that stays at his spot no matter the league like a cork bobbing on rough water. If you squint, his OBP is sloowly leaking air each year, but still, it’s like a metronome: he will get on base about a third of the time no matter where he is. He probably falls out of bed and lands on a base once out of three tries.

Part of that is his walk rate that has edged up and now is in elite range. Yes, I know, one 10% is blue and one is green, that’s just rounding in a spreadsheet for ya.

The strikeouts were elite, but this past year moved up into not-as-good, but still not bad, territory. But that’s because he went for power in a big way. Now, if we had a 2020 season, would his ISO have been, oh, .180 or so? Then we’d see a linear progression instead of the big jump. But a .230 ISO is hard to come by but honestly, and he did just that. Not bad for 5’7″.

Ah, here’s a major warning sign: lefties wiped him out. He did his damage against RHP. That’s something to worry about, if he moves into a platoon.

This spray chart only has 2018 and 2019 data, and there we see clear pull power for the left-handed hitting Cortes. The 2021 data, no doubt, showed a more balanced approach.

The bottom line is no matter how well he did at college (walking more than he struck out), his pro career has looked boring until this season. Did this year’s power move him up in the scout’s estimations?

The Scouts

Warnings

The scouts are not that impressed, with only Rotowire putting him within the top 300. PARS has him nearing the 25th-man territory, and that’s how scout’s figured him.

Conclusion

On the other hand, he survived Double-A while putting up big time power numbers, and it’s not like he did it in Albuquerque or something. But lefties ate him alive, so even that power might only lead to a depth role.

Then there is his defense. He’s listed as a 2B, but he didn’t play there at all in 2021, roaming LF and RF (or DH) exclusively. That tells you what the Mets think of his keystone defense in 2018 and 2019 which was poor. He had a good fielding percentage this year in the outfield. And if that power is real, he could be hidden away in a corner outfield spot.

As a starting batter, however, I’m not sure where he cracks the Mets’ lineup, but as a bench player, or maybe a utility bat against RHP, I could see him up late in 2022 or more likely 2023, but by then he’ll be 25 or 26, so the clock is ticking.

If he keeps his power gains in Triple-A next year, and if he can do better against LHP, his prospects will improve. Until then, think of him as depth piece.

He’s eligible for the Rule 5 draft this offseason for the first time. This is the kind of player a team might speculate on for some late inning pop, and who could at least be passable at either 2B or either corner outfield spot. If so, he might get a chance sooner.

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