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November 18, 2018

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Las Vegas 51s roster: These players expected to make an impact

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Steve Marcus

Las Vegas 51s outfielders wait for balls in center field during batting practice at Cashman Field Tuesday, April 4, 2017.

The track record speaks for itself.

In recent years, the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s have developed plenty of players who have graduated to the big leagues with the New York Mets and are making an impact.

In 2015, Noah Syndergaard was called up to New York after a 3-0 start in Las Vegas, and wound up striking out six batters in Game 3 of the World Series to earn the Mets their lone win of the series. Other notables who flourished here include Jacob deGrom, Wilmer Flores and Travis d’Arnaud.

There are a few players on this season’s 51s roster who could find their way to New York. For some, the stay in Las Vegas may be brief.

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Las Vegas 51s short stop Amed Rosario bats during practice at Cashman Field Tuesday, April 4, 2017.

Amed Rosario

The bearded shortstop from the Dominican Republic often draws comparisons to Mets infielder Jose Reyes.

Reyes also happens to be Amed Rosario’s favorite player, and he said the two chat nearly every day. If Rosario turns out to be as good as Reyes, the Mets will be thrilled, and it might not take him long to reach his potential. The 21-year-old is one of the organization’s top prospects — and also one of the game’s top prospects.

“He’s a guy with a lot of talent and he’s an electric player,” 51s manager Pedro Lopez said. “He’s an exciting ball player and I think the fans are going to love watching him play.”

Lopez said the comparisons to Reyes are valid. Rosario is a long, lanky infielder with an outstanding glove and athleticism that is second-to-none.

“He is a five-tool player,” Lopez said. “He’s got speed and he’s got power even though his numbers might not show it now. But it’s a different sound when the ball comes off his bat.”

The Mets are currently set at shortstop with Asdrubal Cabrera, but Rosario could replace him as the full-time starter in 2018.

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Las Vegas 51s first baseman Dominic Smith bats during practice at Cashman Field Tuesday, April 4, 2017.

Dominic Smith

When the Mets drafted Dominic Smith with the 11th overall pick in 2013, he was touted as one of the most natural hitters in the draft.

Smith struggled out of the gates, hitting .271 and only one home run in his debut at Class A Savannah in 2014. But the 21-year-old hit 14 home runs last year with Double-A Binghamton and enters this season in the best shape of his career.

“This offseason I worked a lot at getting into better shape,” Smith said. “I lost like 24 pounds and I feel way lighter, way more athletic and I just want to show everybody what I can do. I’ve seen some of the numbers guys have been putting up here. The last few years we’ve played in more pitcher-friendly environments, so I’m excited to hit in some hitter-friendly ballparks.”

Smith is considered the No. 2 prospect in the Mets organization, but more for his glove than his bat.

“I’ve said he could go to the big leagues right now and be an everyday first baseman with his glove only,” Lopez said. “I think he could be one of the top first basemen in the league.”

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Las Vegas 51s shortstop Gavin Cecchini bats during practice at Cashman Field Tuesday, April 4, 2017.

Gavin Cecchini

Last season, Gavin Cecchini was one of the toughest outs for opposing pitchers in the Pacific Coast League. The 23-year-old second baseman hit .325 to rank third in the league and fifth with a .390 on-base percentage.

In 2015, Cecchini hit seven homers and drove in 51 runs in Binghamton, where Lopez was the manager.

“He had a great year for me in Binghamton,” Lopez said. “Now he’s transitioning to second base with Rosario at short but he did a great job in spring training and I’m excited to see those guys playing up the middle.”

Cecchini was called up to the Mets last year and went 2-of-6 with two RBIs in four games.

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Las Vegas 51's Erik Goeddel pitches during the 51's season opener against the Fresno Grizzlies Thursday, April 3, 2014.

Erik Goeddel

The 6-foot-3 right-hander has been called up to the Mets each of the last three seasons, and this year should be no different.

Goeddel appeared in 36 games with the Mets last season, throwing 35.2 innings with a 4.54 earned runs average and 36 strikeouts.

“He has some big league experience,” Lopez said. “Last year he had a tough time with some injuries, but he’s healthy now and I expect him to do what he did for me a couple years ago.”

In 2013, Goeddel went 9-7 with Binghamton and struck out 125 batters.

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Las Vegas 51s catcher Kevin Plawecki prepares to bat during practice at Cashman Field Tuesday, April 4, 2017.

Kevin Plawecki

Behind the plate for the 51s — at least for the beginning of the season — is Kevin Plawecki.

The 26-year-old catcher has played 121 games with the Mets over the last two seasons, which means he may not be in Las Vegas for long.

“This is a big year for Kevin,” Lopez said. “I have always said that he’s going to be an offensive catcher with the defense being solid, too. He’s got some things to work on behind the plate this year, but his bat is going to help us out a lot.”

Plawecki has hit .211 with four home runs and 32 RBIs for the Mets in his 365 plate appearances. Last season, he hit .300 with eight home runs and 40 RBIs with the 51s.

“When he gets to the big leagues for good, I think he will be a front-line catcher who is able to hit,” Lopez said.

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