Sterling Awards: Carlos Gomez

With power, speed and a strong throwing arm, Hagerstown Suns outfielder Carlos Gomez opened a number of eyes through the South Atlantic League in 2005. The 19-year-old Dominican Republic product hit .275 with eight home runs and 56 stolen bases, earning his selection as the Mets' Sterling Award winner for Hagerstown.

A non-drafted free agent who signed with the Mets in July 2002, Gomez led his Suns club with 75 runs scored and also raked 13 doubles and six triples.

But for us at Inside Pitch, one of our lasting impressions of Gomez's year will be the day in Lakewood, N.J., when Gomez – on a dare from his teammates – walked out of the third-base dugout, reared back and launched a throw well over the wall in right-center field, laughing loudly about it while flashing a mega-watt grin.

Some blinked when we ranked Gomez – a little-known prospect at the time – No. 8 in our February Top 50 prospects issue. No one questions it now; indeed, Gomez is one to watch on the Mets' charts.

Season Review

APRIL: The year starts slowly, as Gomez goes 18-for-75 (.240) in the season's first month, hitting two homers and seven RBI. He's on the run from the get-go, swiping 14 bases in 18 attempts, but is hitting as low as .195 on April 19. It won't last.

MAY: Gomez slowly shows signs of adjusting to South Atlantic League pitching, hitting .256 with two homers and 12 RBI in May as the Suns dominate the Northern Division. By month's end, Gomez already has 27 stolen bases in 32 attempts. Of note is a May 27 game at Delmarva, when Gomez goes 3-for-4 with three runs scored and two stolen bases; he scores a season-high four runs in a May 8 game at Asheville.

JUNE: Summer's heat begins to shine kindly upon Gomez, as he bats .297 with one home run and nine RBI. Even though this is the second-highest batting average Gomez will produce in a month, it's of note that Gomez's extra-base production has fallen off, as 22 of 27 hits are singles.

JULY: The skid continues, as Gomez suffers a mini-power outage in July – not only does his average for the month fall to .242, but just two of his 24 hits are for extra bases. Still, Gomez continues to try to turn his singles into doubles by running on SAL catchers, and by month's end he'll have 46 steals. Gomez drives in a season-high three runs on July 7 vs. West Virginia, going 3-for-3, homering and scoring two runs.

AUGUST: This is Gomez's hottest month, rebounding to bring his season average back up to .275 by Sept. 1. Gomez cracks two homers and drives in a season-high 15 RBI this month, and he's free-swinging (a season-high 22 strikeouts in 112 at-bats) and free-wheeling (season-high 16 steals in 21 attempts). He has a three-hit day on Aug. 12 at Greensboro and another five days later vs. Hickory, before setting a season-high with four hits on Aug. 21 vs. Asheville, a five-RBI day.

SEPTEMBER: Gomez finishes the regular season strong, going 6-for-20 (.300) in Hagerstown's final five games, but he's sidelined for the playoff series against Kannapolis with a season-ending groin problem. Without Gomez in the starting lineup, the Suns are defeated by the Intimidators, a White Sox farm club.

Splits and minutia: Hit better away from Hagerstown's Municipal Stadium (.279) than at home (.271) … stole the majority of his bases (40) on the road … best offensive month was August … batting average was slightly higher (.288) as a centerfielder than in right field (.270) … hit lefties (.271) and righties (.277) about equally … most of his at-bats came as a leadoff hitter (364) … hit .280 (35-for-125) with 37 RBI with runners in scoring position.

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