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Mets Minor League Players of the Week: Week Three

What minor league players put up the best numbers this past week, April 22nd to April 28th?

MLB: Spring Training-New York Mets at Atlanta Braves
Peter Alonso
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Pitcher of the Week

Chris Viall

2018 Season: 3 G (3 GS), 14.1 IP, 12 H, 5 R, 4 ER (2.51 ERA), 8 BB, 29 K, 0 HR, 2 HBP

Week: 1 G (1 GS), 5.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 12 K, 1 HBP

Tony Dibrell

2018 Season: 4 G (4 GS), 19.2 IP, 21 H, 15 R, 14 ER (6.41 ERA), 11 BB, 31 K, 2 HR, 1 HBP

Week: 1 G (1 GS), 5.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 11 K

Chris Viall and Tony Dibrell both had excellent games last week, and because the two posted identical game scores with only minor differences separating their actual pitching lines, both are pitcher of the week.

Chris Viall 4/24/18, MiLBTV

Viall was pitcher of the week last week, and nothing has changed in regards to his outlook. In a quirk due to the fact that he is recording most of his outs via strikeout and is scattering only a few hits, his BABIP is an extremely high .462 despite the fact that opposing batters are hitting .222/.338/.259 against him.

In four starts, Tony Dibrell has thrown the same amount of innings he pitched last season with the Brooklyn Cyclones, and the results are very similar. In 2017, he posted a 5.03 ERA in 19.2 innings, all in relief. He allowed 19 hits- four of which were home runs- walked 8, and struck out 28 batters. While his ERA is a bit bloated, his FIP is a much more tolerable 3.48 and his xFIP 3.03.

Dibrell has the upside of a mid- or back-of-the-rotation starter, and I personally believe that he will be a Top 10 prospect next season; as it is, I consider him to be the Mets’ 19th best prospect. Dibrell has a fastball that sits in the low-to-mid 90s and can top out as high as 96 miles per hour. When thrown down in the zone, the pitch shows sink, but it otherwise does not have much movement. At times, his fastball velocity backs up into the high-80s and low-90s. While it would be easy to think that this was due to his heavy pitching load last season- he threw a career high 115.1 innings between his time at Kennesaw State and Brooklyn, and threw 99 or more pitches in ten of his fourteen collegiate starts- this is not necessarily the case. His fastball velocity often backed up while he was pitching in the Cape Cod League in 2016, following a much lighter pitching load that spring.

Tony Dibrell 4/26/18, MiLBTV

The more likely culprit to his suddenly diminishing velocity are his mechanics. His delivery is a bit violent, with a live-but-stiff arm action and some extra moving parts and effort. He does not always repeat his mechanics consistently, generating control issues and affecting his pitches as well.

He complements his fastball with a full complement of pitches: a slider, a changeup, and a curveball. His slider is generally considered his best breaking ball, grading out by scouts as being above-average. It sits in the low-80s and features hard, biting two-plane action. His changeup is also a very good pitch, and is considered by other evaluators to be his best pitch. It also sits in the low-80s, and features good fade and tumble to his arm side. Rounding out his arsenal is his curve, which sits in the mid-to-high 70s and features soft, 11-5 break that is especially effective thrown down in the zone and out of the strike zone. He uses his fastball and his changeup to start off batters, throwing them both for strikes, and reserves his slider and curveball for attacking batters.

Key to Dibrell fulfilling his potential will be his ability to adjust his mechanics to eliminate as many inefficiencies as possible while maintaining the bite on his pitches and not sacrificing their effectiveness.

Hitter of the Week

Peter Alonso

2018 Season: 19 G, 67 AB, .388/.494/.746, 26 H, 6 2B, 0 3B, 6 HR, 16 RBI, 14 BB, 15 K, 0/2 SB

Week: 6 G, 21 AB, .571/.690/1.095, 12 H, 2 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 8 BB, 4 K, 0/0 SB

Peter Alonso 4/28/18, MiLBTV

Alonso had a great week, but he has been killing the ball for months now. After starting out the 2017 season slow, the first baseman made a few adjustments and has been on fire ever since. In June 2017, Alonso hit .275/.352/.500 in 22 games, slugging 3 home runs. In July, he hit .336/.394/.603 in 29 games, slugging 8 home runs. In August, he hit a combined .312/.395/.569 in 29 games with the St. Lucie Mets and the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, slugging 5 home runs.

What exactly did Alonso change? He credits work with St. Lucie manager Chad Kreuter and hitting coach Luis Natera in June on helping him make physical changes to swing and approach at the plate- shortening up on two strike counts and adjusting his launch angle to make consistently hard contact- and perhaps even bigger, making mental changes.

“I definitely put pressure on myself being my first full year. It’s a new environment, and then you add in some adversity with the injury and performance. I call it my ‘Figure It Out’ Year.’ I had to compartmentalize to get my mind off the struggles. I could stand people maybe thinking, ‘Dammit, Pete’s up.’ When things are going that bad, people are going to get frustrated, and it can be tough to get out there. I’ve never been known to dip below .200, like ever. I wanted to hit the panic button, but I’m proud of myself for getting out. Mentally, I’m a tough son of a bitch. After I hurt my hand, I was hitting .150-something at one point, and that was incredibly difficult on me, but I finished at .286. It was rough. Not only was it the injury, but I was struggling even after coming back. After the All-Star break, I had to claw my way back one step at a time. Whether I did well or poorly, I had to flush it. Make each game its own thing. Isolate it. I can’t think about .300 when I have a game that day, but once I got rolling, there was a kind of desperation to show all that was past me.”

If Alonso’s defense were as good as his offense, he might’ve gotten consideration as one of the top prospects in baseball. In most lists focusing only on just first basemen, he found himself on the back end of different evaluators’ lists, but Alonso was not included in a single Top 100 list despite hitting .289/.359/.524 in 93 games in High- and Double-A. “I was terrible,” he said of his defense. “Not a lot of people want to say that about themselves, but I will because I was. I was terrible.” His range was below-average, he was slow getting into proper fielding position once plays started, his footwork around the bag was poor, and he regularly had trouble completing even routine plays, such as catching routine pop-ups or fielding throws. In short, for some reason, the slugger had problems doing things that should come naturally to a first baseman.

Alonso made it a point to work on his defense during the instructional league last season. Given that we are only a month into the season, we won’t be able to see the fruits of that work until a larger portion of the season has passed.

For what it’s worth, Will Craig is hitting .190/.314/.362 for the Altoona Curve, the Pirates’ Double-A affiliate.