Mets hope Luisangel Acuna, Drew Gilbert can be pillars of future

One week after the trade deadline, the Mets introduced on Tuesday two players they hope can be the future of the organization.

In Luisangel Acuña, the Mets found pedigree.

In Drew Gilbert, the Mets found personality.

The two pillars of what might be the next great Mets team were on display in Bridgewater, N.J., where Double-A Binghamton beat the Yankees’ Somerset affiliate, 9-7.

Reporters descended upon TD Bank Ballpark to get a glimpse of the future after the Mets, in trading their co-aces, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, gave up on the present.

Let’s start with Acuña, who was acquired for Scherzer.

“I’m excited,” Acuña said, through interpreter Alan Suriel, in his first public comments since the swap. “This group’s got a lot of talent here. I’m just really excited to be here.”

Luisangel Acuña said he's "excited" to be a part of the Mets' organization.
Luisangel Acuña said he’s “excited” to be a part of the Mets’ organization.
Noah K. Murray / New York Post

Acuña is the younger brother of Braves superstar Ronald Acuña Jr., whom Luisangel said he speaks with daily (and battles often in games of “Call of Duty”).

Their father, Ronald Acuña Sr., is a former Mets prospect, and they have several cousins who have played in the majors.

The 21-year-old is a slick-fielding shortstop who said he is comfortable at second base, too, where he imagines he will end up because of Francisco Lindor’s presence in Queens.

The younger Acuña, whom MLB Pipeline already lists as the Mets’ No. 2 prospect, is not as hyped as his brother, who has become a four-time All-Star.

But yes, Luisangel wants to be as good as Ronald.

“I want to get to that level, the one that my brother’s at, just because everything that he does is super impressive,” said Acuña, who had a slash line of .315/.377/.453 with the Rangers’ Double-A affiliate and whose best skill might be his speed.

Binghamton manager Reid Brignac has not been around Acuña long, but his “explosiveness” has jumped out at him.

“He’s got a speed element to his game that’s very impressive to watch,” Brignac said.

Acuña stole 42 bases (on 47 attempts) with Texas this season and has good reason to run often.

A few weeks ago, he sent a WhatsApp message to Ronald that included a clip of Luisangel stealing a base.

His older brother suggested a competition to see who can swipe more this season.

Mets pitching prospect Blade Tidwell says Drew Gilbert (above) "plays with his hair on fire."
Mets pitching prospect Blade Tidwell says Drew Gilbert (above) “plays with his
hair on fire.”
Noah K. Murray / New York Post

Ronald entered play Tuesday with a majors-best 53. After he stole three bases Tuesday, Luisangel has 46 total.

What’s at stake?

“$5,000,” Luisangel said with a smile.

He is close with his brother and will get closer to another Venezuelan friend. Luisangel did not know Francisco Alvarez growing up, but they overlapped at tryouts and have kept in touch.

The Mets’ catcher of the present and future sent a message to Acuña after the trade that said, “We’ll see each other soon.”

Even as the Mets rebuild, it is difficult to imagine Acuña, a fourth-year minor leaguer, reaching Queens this season, though he might have other plans.

“I hope to be there pretty soon,” said Acuña, who can turn around as a middle infielder and possibly see his Mets’ future in center field.

The Mets acquired Gilbert and High-A outfielder Ryan Clifford from the Astros for Verlander.

“It’s been pretty crazy the last week, week-and-a-half or so,” said Gilbert, a lefty hitter with good speed and a pitcher’s arm who can play all three outfield positions, sometimes spectacularly.

Drew Gilbert
Drew Gilbert came to the Mets in the Justin Verlander trade with the Astros.
Noah K. Murray-NY Post

Brignac already has been impressed by the defensive highlights he has seen from the 22-year-old in four games.

Gilbert is a gamer who has the flair of a future fan favorite because of his willingness to sacrifice his body.

That backfired last year when, in his first season out of college, he dislocated his right elbow crashing into an outfield wall.

Luisangel Acuña fields a ground ball before a game against the Somerset Patriots.
Luisangel Acuña fields a ground ball before a game against the Somerset Patriots.
Noah K. Murray / New York Post

“He plays with his hair on fire. He’s like that everywhere he goes,” said top Mets pitching prospect Blade Tidwell, who played with Gilbert at the University of Tennessee. “He changes personalities I guess. He can be laid back, and then a lot of times you’ll be ready to punch him in the face.”

Gilbert is trying to change, to an extent at least.

After he played just six games with Class-A Fayetteville before the injury ended his 2022 season, he has been trying to remain healthy and stay on the field.

“I’ve learned along as I’ve gone,” said Gilbert, whom MLB Pipeline rates as the Mets’ No. 4 prospect. “I think that injury kind of just taught me how important it is to be out there every single day. 160 games is a lot. Let’s say you miss two weeks — that’s 12 games, that’s a lot of games.

“So now I try to take pride in being able to show up every day ready to go.”

He played in 81 games between High-A and Double-A with the Astros this season, posting an .822 OPS with 12 home runs and 10 steals before the trade that might make Gilbert the Mets’ future center fielder, pushing Brandon Nimmo to a corner.

Gilbert said he is learning to find a balance between playing hard and playing smart.

“I want to win, and I’ve always wanted to win no matter where I am — high school, college, pro ball, doesn’t change,” Gilbert said. “I want to do that with the Mets as well.”

Infielder Luisangel Acuna  and outfielder Drew Gilbert of the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, during the second inning against the Somerset Patriots in Bridgewater, N.J.  Wednesday, August 8, 2023.
Luisangel Acuna and Drew Gilbert during the second inning against the Somerset Patriots in Bridgewater, N.J. on August 8, 2023.
Noah K. Murray-NY Post

With Acuña and Gilbert, the Mets will have a better chance to win in the next several years, if not this season.

When asked about their future aspirations with the organization, both mentioned a World Series.

“It’s definitely exciting,” Gilbert said, “to know my teammates are going to be some of the people I’m hopefully playing with when the Mets really start to turn it around.”

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𝗖𝗿𝗲𝗱𝗶𝘁𝘀, 𝗖𝗼𝗽𝘆𝗿𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 & 𝗖𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘁𝗲𝘀𝘆:
𝗙𝗼𝗿 𝗮𝗻𝘆 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗶𝗻𝘁𝘀 𝗿𝗲𝗴𝗮𝗿𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗗𝗠𝗖𝗔,
𝗣𝗹𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗲 𝘀𝗲𝗻𝗱 𝘂𝘀 𝗮𝗻 𝗲𝗺𝗮𝗶𝗹 𝗮𝘁

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