What To Expect From The Binghamton Rumble Ponies 2019 SeasonPosted: Updated:
Binghamton, N.Y. - Out with the old and in with the new. New is good right? Maybe good, maybe bad, but either way, new always brings excitement. The Binghamton Rumble Ponies can officially put their 2018 5th place, 64-76 record in the rearview mirroe and welcome a brand new season with open arms.
The 2019 season brings fourteen new players to Binghamton, an entirely new coaching staff, a newly renovated stadium and a major league team led by a brand new general manger with an aggressive and competitive win now mentality. Sounds pretty exciting right?
"I mean yeah" said Top Prospect, Will Toffey. "There's a lot of new faces. But, all in all, everyone here are really good baseball players. I'm excited to see how this line up produces every day."
The Binghamton Rumble Ponies will open the 2019 season on Thursday, April 4th at Northeast Delta Denta Stadium against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Double-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. This year's Opening Day roster brings a lot of strengths that the team lacked when opening their 2018 season. The team lacked strong position players and pitchers in the beginning of last season and you know how Double-A baseball works. Players are traded, promoted, demoted or even cut. That's how the story goes.
However, this teams position players are highlighted by shortstop Andres Gimenez (Top Prospect #2) and third baseman Will Toffey (Top Prospect #21). Gimenez is twenty years old and looks like a veteran at shortstop with his quick and smooth defensive skills.The Venezuelan native played shortstop for Binghamton in 37 games and it looks like he'll start where he left off in 2019.
"He's very talented" said Rumble Ponies manager Kevin Boles. "Quality defender. Possibly a guy we can move around the infield but he's going to be at shortstop for us. He's a very exciting young talent and I can see why people are high on him."
The question marks surrounding Gimenez's name have primarily been focused on his power at the plate. His thin and small frame limits his potential at being a powerful hitter, hitting only 6 home-runs in Single-A last year and none in Double-A. He uses a compact, simple swing, and seems to be more of a gap hitter, and even with additional growth, that profile is unlikely to change very much.
"I learned a lot playing in Double-A last year" said Gimenez. "I matured more. The game is faster, I learned a lot every day."
On what he thinks is standing in the way of making it to the majors:
"I just need to keep doing what I know. Give 100% on the field. I need to get stronger. I need to get bigger and improve every aspect of my game."
On being named the New York Mets No. 2 Top Prospect:
"That feels great. All the work I did before. It payed off. It's something to motivate me everyday. Hard work, keep going, playing with my teammates and all that I can do."
As for pitching, Binghamton was near the bottom in almost every pitching category last season, however, that should not be the case for 2019. Four pitchers will step on the hill in a Rumble Ponies jersey for the first time in their career. Two of those new faces are Opening Day pitcher, Anthony Kay (Top Prospect #8) and David Peterson (Top Prospect #6).
Kay was a 2019 Spring Training non-roster invitee and before that made his pro-debut in 2019 with the Columbia Fireflies (A-). The twenty-four year old went 7-11 with .426 ERA in twenty-three starts between Columbia (A-) and St. Lucie (A+).
"I love how he competes" said Kevin Boles. "He's aggressive to the zone, fastball to both sides of the plate, he's got a good feel for a change-up and a breaking ball. He pitches with a pretty good tempo. There is a lot to like there. I got to see him at major league camp and he fit right in. No fear against major-league hitters."
"I just want to go out there and pitch the best I can" said Kay. "Just go out there and dominate.
On being named Opening Day starting pitcher:
"It's cool. It's really special. I'm excited about it. It should be a lot of fun to pitch against some of the best players in minor leagues."
Returning pitchers include Harol Gonzalez and Mickey Jannis. Binghamton's bullpen looks rather experienced and talented, highlighted by Stephen Villines and Ryder Ryan.
The bullpen isn't the only experienced group on this team. First year skipper Kevin Boles will lead a highly experienced coaching staff, all who are new to Rumble Town. Boles, 43 will take the reigns of the Rumble Ponies following a five-year stint managing the Pawtucket Red Sox (AAA). Baseball America recognized him in 2018 as the International League’s Best Managerial Prospect. Double-A baseball is still a familiar place for him, Boles managed in the Eastern League with the Portland Sea Dogs from 2011 through 2013.
.@RumblePoniesBB first-year manager Kevin Boles spent over a decade managing in the Boston Red Sox organization. He stepped down after the 2018 season. Here's his answer to why he left Boston and why he felt the New York Mets organization is a great fit for him. pic.twitter.com/y2RSLytnMv— Kiley Farrell (@KileyFarrellTV) April 2, 2019
"Double-A is a different challenge" said Boles. "With Triple-A they've been there before. They have more experience. Where in Double-A ,most of them have not seen the Major Leagues yet. Each player is unique. Learn your audience and know how to speak to each one of them individually. Again, a great opportunity and I'm excited to be here."
On why he left the Boston Red Sox organization after managing in their farm system for over a decade:
"I needed a new challenge. My time with Boston was great. Ended on a winner and I have another World Series ring coming. That's an honor. I was looking for a new challenge and to develop a winner here. Again, looking to develop World Series Caliber players."
"When Allard Baird [Mets third assistant GM] suggested I come here, I ran with it. It's terrific. This is just a different challenge. The last five years has been about managing inventory. Here, there is more teaching in Double-A. I've done it before. I'm excited to do it again. We'll see. I'm excited for the opportunity and being with the National League."
When you look at the National League what do you see? Baseball's most interesting and competitive division with four teams expected to be in contention until the bitter end? Yeah, that sounds about right. In between those lines are the New York Mets. A compelling and exciting team mixed with young talent and veterans. The Mets have jumped out to a 5-1 record where former Rumble Ponie Pete Alonso has taken full advantage of his very first opportunity in the majors. The twenty-four year old has collected 7 hits, including a home-run, averaging .389 in his 18 AB. That excitement has trickled down to Binghamton, becoming contagious throughout the locker room.
"I mean, I think you saw Brodie Van Wagenen bring in a lot of new players, even at the minor league level too" said Will Toffey. "Probably six or seven kids in that locker room are from different organizations. That's definitely translating down to the minors as well."
They're trying to win now" said Kevin Boles. "They're going for it. What Brodie [Van Wagenen] has done is terrific. We're going to do the best we can to make sure we give them the pieces they need to make it to Citi Field sooner rather than later."
"Seeing what guys like [Alonso] and [McNeil] are doing in the majors certainly fires us all up" said Rumble Ponies outfielder Kevin Kaczmarski. " I mean they both started off in this league last year and they tore it up. Tore it up all year, continued that in Triple-A and took it to the big leagues. I think it inspires a lot of guys, absolutely."
The Rumble Ponies open their season Thursday, April 3 at 6:35 p.m. in New Hampshire against the Fisher Cats.