You might not know it because the team still hasn’t called him up, but the Mets have one of the best hitter in the minors in their organization right now. First baseman Peter Alonso destroyed Double-A pitching with Binghamton for 65 games and got himself promoted to Triple-A Las Vegas, where he’s continued to excel.
In total, Alonso has hit 30 home runs in 503 plate appearances with a .283/.400/.563 line. After finally giving up on the Adrian Gonzalez experiment, which went poorly, earlier in the season, the Mets have mostly played Wilmer Flores at first. Dominic Smith, who used to be touted and praised by the organization, seems to have fallen out of favor and has only gotten sporadic major league starts at the position—and has spent time playing in the outfield to achieve ever-elusive positional flexibility. Jose Bautista is starting at first tonight, and Kevin Plawecki made one start there earlier this season. Jay Bruce begrudgingly made three starts there earlier in the season, too.
Yet Alonso remains stuck in the minors. The Mets are giving a variety of excuses to reporters. They don’t want to add Alonso to the 40-man roster before to have to—which, taken to its logical conclusion, would mean leaving him in the minors for all of 2019, too, before having to add him before the Rule 5 draft between the 2019 and 2020 seasons. Or they’ll say they don’t like Alonso’s defense and think it needs work. They’re having Bruce play first base during his rehab assignment with an eye on getting him playing time there since he’s been clearly surpassed in the corner outfield spots on the major league roster—even with Yoenis Cespedes out with a long-term injury.
If the Mets are going to be good again in the short term—they’re saying as soon as next year—the team is going to need significant improvement in several areas. Wilmer Flores has been fine, but neither he nor Jay Bruce at the answer at first base for a team that wants to contend. Getting Alonso to the big leagues as soon as possible to get an idea of what he’s capable of right now and give him experience against the best pitchers in the game should be a top priority. And there are plenty of players on the current 40-man roster who could be cut to give him one of those precious spots.