Hitter of the Week
2019 Season: 85 G, 272 AB, .287/.362/.489, 78 H, 16 2B, 3 3B, 11 HR, 33 BB, 75 K, 12/14 SB, .354 BABIP
Week: 6 G, 18 AB, .333/.400/.722, 6 H, 0 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 2 BB, 3 K, 0/0 SB, .417 BABIP
Arismendy Alcantara was signed as a 17-year-old international free agent by the Chicago Cubs out of the Dominican Republic in 2008. A young, switch-hitting shortstop, he was solid in his first couple of years in their system, but he really burst on the scene in 2012, when he hit .302/.339/.447 in 85 games with the Daytona Cubs, Chicago’s High-A affiliate, launching 7 home runs, and stealing 25 bases. Promoted to Double-A the next season, Alcantara hit an equally impressive .271/.352/.451 in 133 games for the Tennessee Smokies, hitting 15 home runs and stealing 31 bases. His performance in those years put in on the back end of most national prospect lists around this time and near the top of most Cubs prospects lists.
He began the 2014 season with the Iowa Cubs, Chicago’s Triple-A affiliate, and after hitting .307/.353/.537 in 89 games with 10 home runs and 21 stolen bases. On July 9th, 2014, he was promoted to the majors, with the Cubs selecting his contract. He played out the rest of the 2014 season with them, hitting an underwhelming .205/.254/.367 in 70 games.
His initial experience in the majors left a lasting impression on the 22-year-old infielder, as his 2015 season was a complete disaster. He started the season with the Cubs, but was sent back down to Triple-A after just a handful of games in which he hit .077/.226/.077. He spent the majority of his season with Iowa, but his batting line fell to .231/.285/.399 with 12 homers and 16 stolen bases in 120 games. He started the 2016 season with Iowa, and hit a slightly improved .263/.313/.434 for them, hitting 5 home runs and stealing 21 bases. On June 9th, he was traded to the Oakland A’s in exchange for Chris Coghlan. Alcantara was assigned to Oakland’s Triple-A affiliate, the Nashville Sound, where he hit .290/.336/.480 with 6 home runs and 11 stolen bases between a couple of call-ups to Oakland and a rehab assignment with the Stockton Ports.
The Cincinnati Reds claimed him off waivers after the 2016 season ended, and he played there for the 2017 season but nothing really changed. He spent the majority of the season with the big league club, being used mostly as a back-up infielder, defensive replacement, and pinch hitter/runner, and hit .171/.187/.248 in 105 at-bats. He became a free agent at the end of the year and went unsigned. He spent the 2018 season bouncing around in the Mexican League, spending time with the Guerreros de Oaxaca, the Diablos Rojos del Mexico, and the Toros de Tijuana. When the Mexican League ended, he played for the Navegantes del Magallanes in the Venezuelan Winter League and the Tigres del Licey in the Dominican Winter League. All in all, he hit .278/.345/.512 for the five teams combined. He impressed Mets scouts enough to sign him to a contract in late February. The 27-year-old started the season with the Binghamton Rumble Ponies and hit .263/.342/.394 in 27 games for them, hitting 2 home runs and stealing 5 bases. He was promoted to the Syracuse Mets in late May, and through 58 games is hitting .301/.374/.543 with 9 home runs and 7 stolen bases.
In his Cubs top prospect days, Alcantara was free-swinger, but he generally was able to draw enough walks to get on base at a decent rate and augment the strikeout rate. When he was called up to the major leagues, Cubs management cited a lack of confidence as the major reason for his complete devolution as a player. He was always a solid fastball hitter, but the MLB-caliber off-speed pitches that he started seeing got in his head. As a result, he started swinging defensively in every at-bat, whiffing on breaking pitches and being caught off-guard against fastballs. In addition, he didn’t adjust well to being moved all over the field as a utility player. He took his struggles on the field to the plate, and his struggles at the plate to the field.
Alcantara has logged time at second base, third base, shortstop, left field, right field, and center field this season, primarily playing second base and left. Because of the positional versatility that the Mets’ 25-man roster has, Alcantara could be competing with playing time with multiple players, most of whom have a more impressive track record at the major league level than him. The 27-year-old has more speed than anyone on the 25-man roster other than Amed Rosario, and if the Mets were to promote him to the majors, Alcantara would be able to add a sorely missing dynamic to the team.
Pitcher of the Week
2019 Season: 17 G (17 GS), 91.0 IP, 79 H, 41 R, 35 ER (3.46 ERA), 24 BB, 79 K, .273
Week: 2 G (2 GS), 13.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER (0.69 ERA), 0 BB, 11 K, .133 BABIP
Given the reputation that Brooklyn has as a pitching haven and the fact that Tommy Wilson wasn’t very heralded, it was very easy to discount the success that he had in 2018. A 22-year-old college kid posting a 1.23 ERA in limited innings with excellent peripherals in the New York-Penn League is nothing to get excited about. The 2019 season, when he would be promoted to A-ball, would be the test. With August upon us and the season only having a month left, Wilson has not only passed the test, but he did so with flying colors.
He began the season with the St. Lucie Mets and was excellent in his time there, posting a 2.01 ERA in 44.2 innings over eight starts. His strikeout rate dropped a bit, as compared to his time at Cal State Fullerton and Brooklyn, but a 7.3 K/9 rate is still acceptable, and even with it, he still maintained a 2.6 K:BB ratio. Much of his success came from his ability to keep the ball in the ballpark- in those 44.2 innings, he allowed a single home run. In late May, he was promoted to the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, and while the numbers on the surface aren’t as shiny, Wilson has been every bit as good. His 4.86 ERA is inflated thanks to eight home runs that he allowed in his first four starts. He’s kept the ball in the ballpark since then, and has a 3.14 ERA during that five-game span.
With his combination of decent stuff and results, there is a strong possibility that Wilson gets called up to the majors leagues. Most likely not this season, but in the near future. He’s been primarily used as a starter, but were he to be called up to the majors, being used out of the bullpen would likely be his best fit. His fastball, which ranges from 88-94 and generally sits in the low-90s, would likely be pushed to the upper reaches of his velocity band. His slider gives him an effective second pitch, and changeup would give him an occasional third pitch to go to when needed. The funk in his delivery- performing his hand-glove separation early, keeping his glove in front of his knee lift and hiding the ball behind it- would be exposed to fewer batters, allowing him to maintain the element of deception for longer.
If Wilson is called up to the Mets at some point in the near future, he would be the first nineteenth round draft selection in Mets history to be promoted to the major league club. In the fifty-year plus history of the Mets, they’ve drafted a handful of players in the nineteenth round that did make it to the show, but played for different teams. In 1966, the Mets drafted Ron Cey, but he did not sign and was eventually redrafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the third round of the 1968 MLB June Draft. In 1977, the Mets drafted Greg Chamberlain, but he did not sign and was eventually redrafted by the Kansas City Royals in the first round of the 1978 MLB June Draft. In 1981, the Mets drafted Lou Thornton, but he was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1984 Rule 5 Draft. In 1982, the Mets drafted Jeff Richardson, but he did not sign and was eventually redrafted by the Chicago White Sox in the first round of the 1984 January Draft. In 1993, the Mets drafted Ryan Rupe, but he did not sign and was eventually redrafted by the Kansas City Royals in the thirty-sixth round of the 1996 MLB Draft, the Chicago Cubs in the twenty-ninth round of the 1997 MLB Draft, and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the sixth round of the 1998 MLB Draft. In 1995, the Mets drafted Damon Miller, but he did not sign and was eventually redrafted by the San Francisco Giants in the twelfth round of the 1996 MLB Draft.
Past Players of the Week
Week One (April 4-April 13): Travis Taijeron/Chris Flexen
Week Two (April 14-April 20): Ronny Mauricio/Harol Gonzalez
Week Three (April 21-April 27): Danny Espinosa/Anthony Kay
Week Four (April 28-May 4): Will Toffey/Tommy Wilson
Week Five (May 5-May 11): Carlos Gomez/Harol Gonzalez
Week Six (May 12-May 18): Patrick Mazeika/Anthony Kay
Week Seven (May 19-May 25): Mark Vientos/Anthony Kay
Week Eight (May 26-June 1): Travis Taijeron/Harol Gonzalez
Week Nine (June 2-June 8): N/A
Week Ten (June 9-June 15): Ronny Mauricio/Chris Mazza
Week Eleven (June 16-June 22): Dilson Herrera/Michel Otanez
Week Twelve:(June 23-June 29): Luke Ritter/Thomas Szapucki
Week Thirteen (June 30-July 6): Joe Genord/Kevin Smith
Week Fourteen (July 7-July 13): Hansel Moreno/Frank Valentino
Week Fifteen (July 14-July 20): Travis Taijeron/Daison Acosta