In a late-June impromptu press conference, Mets owner Steve Cohen claimed he was preparing his management staff for all possible trade deadline scenarios. He seemed to be using this media conference to inspire players to turn around a losing season.
Unfortunately, that turnaround failed, and the contingencies were activated when the Mets dealt David Robertson to the Marlins during a July 27 rain delay. This meant the Mets sold, but how much? Most expected Tommy Pham and Mark Canha rentals to relocate. What the Mets would do with their $43 million Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander was uncertain.
In addition to Scherzer's compensation, possible buyers wanted him to waive a no-trade provision and an opt-out. The Mets would need to absorb a lot to earn a substantial return. Scherzer was rumored to be dealt to the Rangers two days following Robertson's transaction.
I and many others checked Rangers minor league affiliate Twitter/X feeds to see who was out that day. With Sebastian Walcott out for disciplinary reasons and Brock Porter allegedly scratched from his start and then not, In Double-A Frisco, the absence of 21-year-old infielder Luisangel Acuña led to rumors that he would return to the Mets in exchange for Scherzer. One day later, Scherzer released his no-trade clause and opt-out, becoming a Ranger and Acuña a Met.
Before joining the Mets, Acuña had a good campaign with Frisco, slashing.315/.377/.453 (.830 OPS). His.381 BABIP suggests luck helped him get those figures. His.243/.317/.304 slash line at Double-A Binghamton was less impressive, but his.288 BABIP was lower. Although he just played a month with Binghamton, his first half was significantly better.
When comparing his time in Frisco and Binghamton, his walk rate was practically same, but his strikeout rate was about one percent lower. His hit ball profile showed a considerable increase in fly balls and a reduced groundball percentage with Binghamton. While these are positives, Acuña's line-drive % decreased, which is a concern given his abilities. He successfully reduced his groundball rate in 2023 using swing changes.
That skillset? Luisangel is distinct from his older brother Ronald Acuña of the Braves. We can eliminate it. He is still an enticing possibility. Over the last year, Acuña has improved in both contact and plate discipline, but still struggles with breaking balls. I think he could hit.270-.280 with a decent on-base % and 30+ doubles.
A scout told me, “I’d really have him focus on trying to spray line drives gap to gap so he can use his speed to his advantage.” Home run power is not projected to be a huge part of his game. I think there are 10-12 home runs right now.
His plus-athleticism and excellent baseball IQ come from a baseball-rich background, which shows on the field and on the bases. He works largely at shortstop and second base and occasionally plays center field. Second base is his long-term best option, according to most evaluators. He runs fast and has stolen at least 40 bases every complete minor league season, including 57 in 2023. He should also steal bases in the next level.
While on the Mets 40-man roster, Acuña will likely start the 2024 season at Triple-A Syracuse. As I wrote last week in my Drew Gilbert predictions, the Mets plan to compete for a playoff spot and give their top young players a chance to shine in 2024. Acuña, a top 100 prospect in the Mets system, is in the same tier as Jett Williams and Gilbert, who may make their big-league debut in 2024.