Early on in spring training, Peter Alonso mentioned he would like to be known as Pete Alonso going forward, and the Mets are hoping that a rose by any other name will still smell as sweet.
Offense has never been Alonso’s problem, and it’s helped him move up the prospect rankings over the years. Going into this season, we ranked him as the top Mets’ prospect, while Baseball Prospectus ranked him as the second-best prospect in the Mets’ system and the 40th-best in baseball. And he is the top-ranked first base prospect by MLB Pipeline. With this type of pedigree, Alonso should see action with the big league club this season.
Even with the Mets out of it last year, the team didn’t call up Alonso in September, which was quite a disappointment to the young slugger. An argument could certainly be made that a call-up was warranted. Between Double-A and Triple-A, he hit .285/.395/.579 while crushing 36 home runs and driving in 119. His OPS stood at an eye popping .975 at the end of the year, and he certainly had a flair for the dramatic.
Alonso hit an absolutely monstrous home run at the Futures Game that traveled over 400 feet, and he ended the Mets’ tenure in Las Vegas with a walk-off home run that tied him for the home run lead in the minors. Even with the 51s’ season ending in September, Alonso wasn’t done mashing for the year. He joined the Arizona Fall League and struck a double that was recorded leaving the bat at 116.3 miles per hour, the hardest-hit ball for the Mets since Statcast started tracking data in 2015. His talent shone through the AFL, as well, and he was selected to play in the Fall Stars game where, you guessed it, he hit another home run, this one coming off a 103 mph fastball.
Since becoming the Mets’ new GM, Brodie Van Wagenen has spoken highly of Alonso, and he seems willing to give him a shot at being the Opening Day first baseman despite the service time implications. For his part, Alonso is doing everything he can to force the Mets’ hand. Defense is what has held him back in the past, and so far it seems he is determined to improve that weakness. He has already impressed Mickey Callaway with the defensive strides he has made, but unfortunately Grapefruit League action has told a different tale thus far.
In the spring opener, Alonso dropped the ball at first which helped fuel an Atlanta rally. In the bottom of the inning, however, on the very first pitch he saw, he did what he does best and took Touki Toussaint deep to tie the game. Afterwards, the young righty said the Alonso home run was the hardest hit he has given up in his life. That sequence was basically a microcosm of what Alonso brings to the table: the occasional misplay and massive home runs.
Alonso has not slowed down since that initial blast, but Dominic Smith has also been impressive in camp so far. Smith has struggled in the majors, but he is the better defender of the two. Working against Smith is the fact that he is yet another lefty in an already lefty-heavy lineup.
Injuries to Jed Lowrie and Todd Frazier have opened up opportunities for the youngsters, too, but the Mets do have another option in J.D. Davis if they want to keep Alonso down for the start of the season.
Whether he is on the Opening Day roster or not, undoubtedly fans will see the slugger in a Mets uniform sooner rather than later barring any unforeseen circumstances. Finding playing time for him will be up to Callaway when the veterans are healthy enough to return. If Alonso is in the majors, he should be given the lion’s share of playing time since sitting on the bench does nothing for his development.
Overall, Alonso is a nice righty complement to the rest of the Mets’ lineup—with serious pop. Steamer is projecting a year twenty-three home runs and a .241/.319/.458 line for him this year. It’s not a matter of if, but when, he’ll join the big league club. While the defense remains a question mark, Alonso’s confidence and work ethic should win over fans quickly, as well as the massive dingers.