1. Peter Alonso, 1B
Height: 6’3”, Weight: 245 lbs.
DOB: 12/07/94 (24)
Acquired: 2016 Draft, Round 2 (University of Florida, Florida)
65 G, 220 AB, .314/.440/.573, 69 H, 12 2B, 0 3B, 15 HR, 43 BB, 50 K, 0/2 SB, .344 BABIP (Double-A)
67 AB, 258 AB, .260/.355/.585, 67 H, 19 2B, 1 3B, 21 HR, 33 BB, 78 K, 0/1 SB, .284 BABIP (Triple-A)
Born in Tampa, Florida, Peter Alonso began his high school career at Jesuit High School, a school that has seen its fair share of MLB alumni, both in the past and in the present. After playing freshman baseball in his first year there, Alonso suited up for the sophomore varsity team for the 2010-2011 school year and was utterly dominant. In 34 games during his sophomore season, he hit .495/.545/.770, setting new school records for most hits in a single season (54) and most RBI in a single season (53). He transferred to Henry B. Plant High School as a junior, trading in the blue & white of the Tigers for the black & gold of the Panthers but his bat became no less potent. In 22 games his first year there, he hit .485/.556/.912 and in 23 as a senior, he hit .387/.440/.786, giving him a cumulative high school varsity batting line of .460/.517.813. Primarily a third baseman, Alonso as ranked one of the best third basemen not only in the state of Florida, but nationally. During his senior year, with the 2013 MLB Draft looming, he had to make a decision: honor his commitment to the University of Florida or make himself available to Major League Baseball teams during the draft. He ended up making it known that he was going to attend college, and as such, went undrafted.
In 2014, his first year with the Gators, Alonso was solid-if-unspectacular. Playing in 60 games for Coach O’Sullivan as the team’s first baseman, third baseman, and designated hitter, he hit .264/.344/.376 with four home runs, doing his part to help the Gators go 40–23, winning the SEC regular-season title but getting eliminated in regionals after consecutive losses to the College of Charleston and North Carolina. That summer, he played for the Madison Mallards of the Northwoods League. In 59 games with them, he hit .354/.419/.624, belting a team-record 18 home runs and winning the Northwoods League MVP Award. Alonso seemed poised to have a breakout year in 2015 with the Gators, but broke his foot in practice a week before the season started, causing him to miss the team’s first 30 games. He returned in early April but was hit by the injury bug yet again, this time breaking his nose after getting hit by a ball that ricocheted off the cage during batting practice. He missed minimal time from the broken nose, wearing a facemask over his batting helmet, and ended up hitting .301/.398/.503 in 39 games, all at first base. With their 52–18 record, the Gators made it to the College World Series but were eliminated after losing twice to the University of Virginia, placing third in the tournament.
That summer, he elected to play at the prestigious Cape Cod Collegiate Baseball League in order to make up for playing time he missed during the season, playing for the Bourne Braves. Alonso didn’t exactly impress in his time there, hitting .257/.353/.267 in 30 games, but when he returned to Florida for the 2016 season, he put those struggles behind him. He began the season on a tear and let nothing slow him down. On May 13, in the bottom of the seventh in a tight 2-1 game against Vanderbilt, he was hit in the hand by a 96 MPH Jordan Sheffield fastball, breaking the fifth metacarpal in his left hand, the bone that connects the pinky finger to the wrist. The Gators took the lead to batters later and won the game 4-2, but Alonso was unsure if he would be able to get back on the field and play again for the season. He had a ton of draft helium and was undoubtedly going to be selected in the 2016 MLB Draft, but Alonso’s first priority was the Gators. Instead of calling it a college career and rehabbing until whatever MLB team felt he was ready, the slugger pushed to return to the lineup despite the risk of doing more damage to his hand and his draft stock so that his bat would be available for Coach O’Sullivan. The 2016 Gators were an extremely talented team, with a rotation that included Dane Dunning, A.J. Puk, Jackson Kowar, Alex Faedo, and Brady Singer, but Alonso was the team’s primary power bat. O’Sullivan acquiesced to his request, and on June 3rd, against Bethune-Cookman during regionals, the slugger returned to the lineup. He homered in his first at-bat and hit a second dinger later in the game. In his seven final games with the Gators, he went 13-28 with 4 doubles and 3 homers, giving him a .374/.469/.659 batting line in 58 games, with 14 home runs, 31 walks, and 31 strikeouts.
The Gators finished seventh at the 2016 College World Series after losses to eventual national champion Coastal Carolina and Texas Tech sent them home, meaning he would never get to hoist the College World Series trophy, but Alonso had nothing to be disappointed about. In his three years at the University of Florida, he hit .316/.407/.517, slugging 23 home runs, drawing 68 walks, and striking out 88 times. In addition, the Mets selected Alonso with their second-round selection, making him the 64th player drafted overall in the 2016 MLB Draft. The two sides came to an agreement in late June, with the slugger signing with the team in exchange for a $909,200 signing bonus, slightly below the slot value of $1,009,200.
Alonso made his professional debut with the Brooklyn Cyclones. As an advanced college hitter coming from an elite 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. On August 9th, he broke his pinky trying to avoid being tagged at second base, forcing him to not only miss the NYPL All-Star Game that he had been selected to participate in, but the rest of the 2016 season. Fully healed, he was promoted to the St. Lucie Mets to begin the 2017 season, but was sent back to the disabled list on April 11th- just six games into the season- when he was hit in the hand by a pitch by Bradenton Marauders starter Dario Agrazal. Alonso missed just over a month of baseball due to the broken hand, and when he finally got back on the field, he spent the next few weeks working off the baseball rust. In early June, after working with St. Lucie manager Chad Kreuter and the other St. Lucie Mets coaches to refine his swing and mental approach, the big right-hander had a monster second half. He hit .275/.352/.500 with 3 home runs in 22 games in June, .336/.394/.603 with 8 home runs in 29 games in July, and .306/.419/.528 with 3 home runs in 20 games in August, earning a promotion to the Binghamton Rumble Ponies on August 24th. He hit .311/.340/.578 with 2 home runs in 11 games for them to wrap up the 2017 season and picked up right where he left off when the 2018 season began. Alonso ran roughshod over the Eastern League, hitting .314/.440/.573 with 15 home runs in 65 games, combining with teammate Jeff McNeil to form one of the most potent 1-2 punches in the league. In mid-June, he was promoted to the Las Vegas 51s, and while it took him a few weeks to get acclimated and he began striking out at a rate he had never before as a professional, Alonso hit a well-above average .260/.355/.585 with 21 home runs in 67 games. All in all, the slugger hit .285/.395/.579 between Double-A and Triple-A, and his 36 combined home runs were the most in all of affiliated minor league baseball. It was a season of highlights for Alonso, two of the most notable ones being home runs during All-Star exhibitions. At the 2018 All-Star Futures Game in July at Nationals Park, Alonso slugged a mammoth blast that travelled 415 feet, at 113.6 MPH, with a launch angle of 46 degrees, a combination of height and exit velocity never before captured by Statcast radar monitoring systems. A few months later, at the Arizona Fall League Fall Star’s Game at Surprise Stadium in Surprise, Arizona, Alonso slugged a home run off of a 103 MPH Nate Pearson fastball, the fastest pitch to be hit for a home run in the Statcast era since Rafael Devers hit a home run off of a 102.8 MPH Aroldis Chapman fastball.
At the plate, Alonso has a wide, even set-up, keeping his knees bent and his hands low. He has a slight leg kick and an average stride that allows him to generate plus power from his thick lower half. Magnifying that power is his above-average bat speed and the natural loft in his swing plane. He can be aggressive at the plate, looking to jump on fastballs, which makes him susceptible to off-speed stuff, especially when it is low in the zone. Despite that, he is far from a free swinger, with a strong understanding of the strike zone. In addition, his swing that is short enough and his wrists are strong enough to change plane midstride. When he makes square contact, he has power to all fields, and even when he makes poor contact, Alonso is strong enough to muscle balls for loopers.
For as much as a sure thing he is as a hitter, fielding is very much a different issue for Alonso. As a right-handed first baseman, he is not doing himself any favors. In addition, while his physical tools are generally adequate for the low bar that is first base defense- he has below average lateral movement, stiff fielding actions, solid scooping ability, and a strong and accurate arm- Alonso is prone to “defensive yips”. Despite having years of collegiate and professional experience at the position, he periodically makes basic fielding mistakes that should not happen to someone with his level of experience. Throughout 2017 and 2018, the first baseman has specifically worked on his fielding ability, and while it has improved, he still is a well below average defender. In addition, he has a body that will likely need maintenance, and additional weight that he puts on in the future may detract from his already low level of defensive ability.
Steve Sypa says:
Going back to the day he was drafted, I was a fan of Peter Alonso. He had a few more flaws back then, but I reasoned that he would be able to work those issues out with professional coaching. Sure enough, after coming back from a broken hand early in 2017, he had a monster second half after working with his coaches to work out some kinks in his swing and smooth over the mental aspects of the game. That, to me, is what separates Alonso from Gimenez in my mind, giving him a slight edge: he is coachable. That is not to say that Gimenez isn’t, but we have more documented proof of Alonso running into a wall and working out of it with the help of his coaches than we do Gimenez. I don’t know if he will be able to work out his defensive issues, but the bar for acceptable first base defense is so low that I’m willing to live with gaffes 10% of the time as long as he is making plays that other 90% and mashing- and there is no doubt in my mind that he will be able to work out the remaining issues in his offense and become a productive major league hitter.
Lukas Vlahos says:
I’m tempted to write this blurb as the word ‘DONGZ’ with enough Z’s to hit some arbitrary character count, but I don’t think that will fly. In lieu of that, Peter Alonso is a legitimate threat to be one of the best power hitters in baseball for the next decade. He’s got great bat speed, good patience, can handle velocity, and might have legitimate 80 grade power. The upside is huge. Unfortunately, if he doesn’t reach that upside, Alonso isn’t very valuable as a R/R 1B with a terrible body and bad defense. That’s a big range between the two most likely outcomes, but I’m buying in on Alonso as a potentially elite right-handed masher that’ll hold down first base in Queens for the next half-decade at least.
Kenneth Lavin says:
Peter Alonso had about as good a 2018 season as you can possibly have, as he was able to stay healthy enough to get most of his prodigious raw power into games. He ended up leading the minor leagues with 36 home runs between Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Las Vegas, and even added an additional six homers while playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions of the Arizona Fall League. Alonso projects to also hit for a decent average and draw his fair share of walks, having hit .314/.440/.573 in 273 PAs in Double-A and .260/.355/.585 in 301 PAs in Triple-A in 2018. A big, strong right-handed hitter who uses his powerful torso and long arms to generate elite bat speed and top of the scale raw power, Alonso has demonstrated a rare ability to hit baseballs ridiculous distances in games, which is important given his well-documented defensive issues. The few remaining question marks in Alonso’s game moving forward revolve around his ability to hit for a high enough average at the big league level, particularly against same-side pitching, to overcome the deficits in other aspects of his game. At this point Alonso has done everything he can do in the minor leagues, the only thing left to do is give him at bats against big league pitching and see what happens.