Pete Alonso has the talent and the persona to take the baton from David Wright as the new face of the New York Metropolitans.
The 2016, 2nd round draft pick had an exceptional 2nd season in professional baseball garnering the Joe Bauman Home Run Award, given to the minor leaguer with the most home runs. Those 36 home runs between Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Las Vegas, put Alonso on the map for Mets fans. The Mets were underperforming at first base, with a failed experiment with Adrian Gonzalez, and spreading at-bats across Wilmer Flores, Jay Bruce, Kevin Pawlecki, Jose Bautista, Phillip Evans, and Dominic Smith. The jury is still out on 1st round pick Dominic Smith, as he has come into camp in excellent physical shape, but Alonso’s numbers compared to the assortment of players used at the position last year is eye-opening.
2018 Mets 1B
Let’s begin with just the statistics. Alonso’s power potential is something the Mets lineup will need, as the lineup doesn’t have a valid, standout power source without Yoenis Cespedes’s bat missing for a large portion of the year. Across 574 plate appearances in 2018, Alonso had 68 extra base hits. The closest a 2018 Met came to that power outage was Michael Conforto who slugged 54 extra base hits. Alonso led all of the Minor Leagues in Home runs, RBIs, was 6th in OPS, and 8th in OBP. His bat has brought eyes to the baseball Twittersphere with creating alarming statcast numbers. In late October, Alonso ripped a double in the Arizona Fall league that measured to be 116.3mph according to Statcast™ which was the hardest hit ever tracked by a Mets hitter since its creation in 2015.
Defense is the question with Pete Alonso, John Eshleman of 2080 Baseball rates Alonso as having an average ability in his fielding and throwing, giving him a rating of 50 out of 80 in the scouting scale. Eshleman explains that Alonso “Compensates for below-average lateral mobility and stiff fielding actions with plus hands. Will cost outs on dirt, save outs with scooping ability at the bag. With age, good enough to stick at fringe-average.” He also explains that Alonso’s arm has the “Accuracy and strength to make solid DP throw to 2nd; makes throw across the diamond on line.” Alonso has heard the critics and has worked tirelessly over the offseason and early in spring training to bring his glove up.
Pete Alonso is not afraid of the big moments; in fact, he has relished in them. Alonso played in a variety of intriguing games throughout the 2018 season, and he was always sure to put on the show. During the Futures game that is held every all-star break, featuring some of the highest rated up and coming prospects in the minor leagues, Alonso rose to the occasion. Batting in the bottom of the 7th, against Phillies top Prospect Adonis Medina, Alonso hit a mammoth home run traveling 415 feet, at 113.6 mph. What was impressive about this shot, was that it elevated to a 46-degree angle, which usually results in high fly balls. Alonso was able to hit it with an exit velocity that it still was able to carry out of the stadium with the angle trajectory it took. This home run was the second hardest hit home run behind Yoenis Cespedes at 155.1mph tracked by Statcast™.
2018 AFL All Star Game
In the 2018 Arizona Fall League All-Star Game, Alonso’s power was on display yet again. This time, facing Blue Jays Prospect Nate Pearson. Alonso took an 0-1 fastball deep to right center over the wall, traveling over 400 feet. Again being seen on an MLB Network broadcast, Alonso delivered. What was most impressive with this homerun was that it came off a 103mph fastball. According to William Boor of MLB.com, Statcast™ technology wasn’t being used in Surprise Stadium, but with the radar gun regestering 103mph on the Pearson pitch, it would have been the fastest pitch that was hit for a homerun, over Rafael Devers homerun off Aroldis Champman’s 102.8mph fastball in August 2017.
Peter Alonso capped his power-filled 2018 season by closing Cashman Field with a walk-off 2-run homerun to end the season. What made it more significant was that Cashman field, The Las Vegas 51’s home stadium would be closing its partnership with the Mets, the nickname 51’s, and would be closing its doors after 36 minor-league seasons for a new ballpark. Following the game Alonso said “Coming here, this is the last game here, I mean there’s been a lot of baseball played here and to hit the last home run here, it’s super special.” Alonso again, playing in a meaningful game, took the plate and let his bat create a special moment.
Most recently, with the beginning of spring training, Mets media has been covering Alonso extensively. With Brodie Van Wagenen keeping the possibility of taking Alonso up north open (waiving the extra year of control if he was to open the season for two weeks to begin the season at triple-a) the pressure is on Alonso to show his abilities. Alonso took his first at-bat against the young and talented right-hander Touki Toussant of the Atlanta Braves. On the first pitch he saw in spring, on an SNY telecast, Alonso crushed the offering over the centerfield wall.
Alonso has taken every opportunity when he has been put forth on national broadcasts to show what his potential can be in the big leagues, creating a ton of buzz within the team’s front office and fans. Reminicent of what David Wright accomplished when he was up and coming with the Mets, more specifically with Wright’s preformance in the 2006 All-Star Game Homerun Derby and Game. Wright was always had the confidence and the ability to be clutch in big moments. Alonso is showing similar character traits and play on the field to follow in Wrights foot-steps.
Peter Alonso has the talent, he shows the ability to perform in big moments, and he has the mindset and determination to take his baseball talent to the next level. Alonso wants to win the first base job, and he is working on every angle of his game to impress the higher-ups in the organization. So far this spring training, he asked to face Jacob Degrom in Live batting practice, when DeGrom was only scheduled to face minor leaguers. Alonso made this decision by explaining with SNY’s Steve Gelbs “he’s got unbelievable stuff, and I want to get as ready as I can for the games coming up…If I want to be on time and ready to go, why not face the CY Young winner.”
Following the first game of spring training, Alonso’s skills at the plate showed, but he did drop a throw to first base on a routine play. The next day, he went to the back fields of First Data Field an hour earlier than any of his teammates taking ground balls and throws to first to work on refining his defensive abilities.
So far this spring, Alonso is hitting .417 with 1HR and 4 RBI across 12 at-bats. He has already opened eyes with coaches, the front office, and fans. He may not make the team out of camp, although some speculate he might due to Brodie Van Wagenen clamoring that he will take the best 25 guys up north. If Alonso is sent down to triple-a for two weeks to begin the season, the Mets gain another year of service time, it would almost be malpractice to carry Alonso on the opening day roster of a 6-month long season. When those two weeks pass, expect Alonso’s number to make his debut in Flushing, Queens.
Pete Alonso is a prospect that will transition into a successful above-average major league caliber player because of the work ethic in which he presents in a way that he will do anything to achieve greatness. Similar to what the last face of the franchise, David Wright, accomplished.
Photo Courtesy: Anthony J. Causi/ NY Post Videos Courtesy: MLB, MILB