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The 10 best Mets minor league hitters I saw this year: 1, Peter Alonso

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Counting down the best minor league hitters I saw in 2018.

Peter Alonso
Steve Sypa

Disclaimer: This is a ranking of the best players that I saw during the 2018 season. I saw a wide cross-section of teams in 2018, seeing the Kingsport Mets, Brooklyn Cyclones, Columbia Fireflies, and Binghamton Rumble Ponies, but I did not see the GCL Mets, St. Lucie Mets, or Las Vegas 51s, nor did I attend every single game of the teams that I did see. As such, this is not a comprehensive Mets prospect list. If a player is not on the list, I either did not see him, or considered the listed ten players better.

Name: Peter Alonso

Team: Binghamton Rumble Ponies

Position: 1B

Born: 12/07/94 (23)

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 245 lbs.

Bats/Throws: R/R

Acquired: 2016 Draft, Round 2 (University of Florida)

2018 Season: 132 G, 478 AB, .285/.395/.579, 136 H, 31 2B, 1 3B, 36 HR, 76 BB, 128 K, 0/3 SB, .313 BABIP (Double-A/Triple-A)

Date(s) Seen: June 9 @ Trenton (1-4, 2 K), June 10 @ Trenton (1-5, RBI, K)

The Man

With their second-round pick in the 2016 Draft, the Mets selected Peter Alonso, the starting first baseman for the University of Florida Gators and one of the preeminent power threats in the NCAA. As a freshman, he just hit .264/.344/.376, but as a sophomore, he hit .301/.398/.503 and as a junior hit .374/.469/.659. When the Gators’ run in the College World Series ended, Alonso was assigned to the Brooklyn Cyclones. As an advanced college hitter coming from an NCAA division where he regularly faced competition equal to or better than what he saw in the NY-Penn League, Peter Alonso looked like a man among boys, hitting .321/.382/.587 in 30 games before having his season end in early August thanks to a broken pinky. That winter, Amazin’ Avenue ranked him the Mets’ 16th best prospect.

His 2017 season started out slowly as he dealt with another broken hand and the baseball rust recovering from it in April, May, and early June, but after working with Chad Kreuter and the other St. Lucie Mets coaches to refine his approach and swing, the big right-hander had a monster second half, hitting .275/.352/.500 in June, .336/.394/.603 in July, and .312/.395/.569 in August. Amazin’ Avenue ranked Alonso the Mets’ 7th best prospect over the winter, and the slugger picked up right where he left off when the 2018 season began. Assigned to the Binghamton Rumble Ponies to start the year, Alonso hit .314/.440/.573 in 65 games. He was promoted to the Las Vegas 51s midyear and hit .260/.355/.585 in 67 games there. Alonso was the subject of a great deal of speculation as to whether or not he would receive a September call-up, but in the end, the Mets elected not to do so, sending him to the Arizona Fall League instead, where he has crushed the ball to the surprise of no one.

The Hitter

Alonso’s calling card is his power, and he has that in spades. It grades out as plus-plus raw, and thanks to average bat speed and good strike zone awareness, there’s a very good chance that he will be able to continue tapping into it during games and remain a middle-of-the-order power threat. Alonso’s swing is still a bit long, but the swings of most sluggers are. He refined his approach and made adjustments in 2017, which contributed to his success that year and in 2018, and that bodes well for his future, as it shows he can be coached and can make adjustments. The slugger has a solid eye at the plate, drawing a fair share of walks and not striking out at an excessive rate- for much of the 2018 season, he had nearly a 1:1 strikeout to walk ratio.

Alonso’s defense is another story. As a right-handed first baseman, he is at a natural disadvantage to begin with, but defense has never been Alonso’s forte. First base is generally considered the least difficult fielding position to play, but at times, he has looked lost, bungling routine plays and failing to make plays that should be intuitive to even little leaguers. As the season progressed and Alonso got more reps under his belt, the first baseman reportedly improved, but even with some improvements, he still is a well below average fielder.

Looking To 2019

Alonso demonstrated that he is capable of maintaining a high average and on-base percentage against elite pitching prospects and pitchers that have MLB-caliber stuff. Coupled with his above-average in-game power, Alonso is an offensive difference maker. Defensively, he is a well-below average fielder that still shows periodic trouble making routine and even intuitive plays. Despite that, his bat is well-worth the occasional defensive hiccup and miscue, and Alonso should be the starting first baseman for the major league club once spring training camp breaks north.

The Countdown

2. Jeff McNeil

3. Mark Vientos

4. Jarred Kelenic

5. Shervyen Newton

6. Luis Santana

7. Matt Winaker

8. Ross Adolph

9. Zach Rheams

10. Juan Uriarte