Our own Alex Rosen took a quick look at the Binghamton Rumble Ponies on Saturday, just days into the 2018 season. It’s a one-game look but the Double-A squad has some interesting names on the roster.
1B Peter Alonso
A former 2nd round pick in the 2016 draft, Alonso had a terrific 2017 at the dish but failed to answer lingering questions about his defense and conditioning. Alonso hit .289/.359/.524 across two levels last year, spending 82 games with High-A Port St. Lucie before finishing the season with Double-A Binghamton for 11 games. In our own Jeffrey Paternostro’s and the BP prospect staff’s ranking of the organizations top 10 prospects, Alonso found himself ranked seventh due to the combination of hit and power potential he possesses.
After a bad first inning strikeout in which he swung and missed at two consecutive 89 mph fastballs up in the zone, Alonso reached base in all three of his remaining at-bats. The hit tool was as advertised, as I saw Alonso take a two-strike fastball down and away over the right fielder’s head for an RBI double in his third at-bat. I was impressed with Alonso’s bat-to-ball skills; he gets his bat to the ball quickly, which allows him an extra sliver of a second to see the incoming pitch. In the field, Alonso did little to answer the defensive questions that have surrounded him since college. On one hand, he made an impressive play looking a runner back to third on a hard hit grounder with the infield in. On the other, he had a lot of trouble with a routine pop out in foul territory, taking a bad route to it and almost dropping it. I don’t think the defense was bad enough that he can’t field his position adequately, but there’s no denying it’s below league average. With his approach and power potential, Alonso looks like he fits the everyday first basemen profile at the dish.
C Tomas Nido
Nido is a former 8th rounder who was added to the 40-man roster after the 2016 season. A defense-first catcher, he struggled with the bat in 2017, hitting a paltry .232/.287/.354 in 102 games for Double-A Binghamton. He was a September call-up for the Mets and collected three hits in 10 at-bats. Nido ranked sixth, one spot ahead of Alonso in the organizations top 10 over at our main site.
Nido was in the lineup at DH Saturday, so I wasn’t able to get a look at his oft-raved about defense. He fell behind 1-2 in his first at-bat but took an 81 mph slider down and away to right field for a leadoff double. The bat control was impressive, and the pitch recognition he showed throughout the game was a welcome sign considering his .287 OBP last season. Nido made a swing change last season, using a leg kick in an effort to more effectively get to his raw power. The leg kick wasn’t as pronounced on Saturday as it was last season, which could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on who you ask. I would rather see him try to sell out for power than hit an empty .265 in the majors, but it appears the Mets feel otherwise. With the bases loaded in the 5th, Nido took the first pitch he saw to right center for a three-run double. If Nido can get to his 60 raw power in games, he’s going to develop into an easy top 100 prospect in all of baseball.
RHP Andrew Church
Church is another former 2nd rounder and has shown signs of developing into useful rotation depth for the Mets. 2017 was his best season as a pro as he threw 152 innings with a 4.62 ERA for High-A Port St. Lucie, but he only struck out 95 batters resulting in a 6.25 K/9. Church was sitting 88-90 mph with his fastball for me, it’s straight and lacks movement, but his late release point causes it to come inside to lefties and away from righties. The delivery isn’t great, it’s max effort and doesn’t do his control any favors. His best weapon was a slider that had significant right to left movement and is a weapon against lefties. I saw a couple of 45/50 sliders and he was sitting 82-85 with it on the afternoon. The slider is Church’s go-to with two strikes and it generates a significant amount of swings and misses.
Church also showed a below average curveball that was 70-72 and is only thrown with two strikes. He did throw a couple 40 curves though, striking out Mike Olt with one to end the 3rd inning. Developing a third pitch is necessary for Church, as he works quickly and pitches to contact, which limits his pitch count but explains the low K/9. Church did have six strikeouts on the afternoon, and if he can elevate the K/9 to somewhere in the 8.0 range, his outlook immediately improves. The right-hander currently projects as Quad-A rotation depth, with a small chance for more if he can find a useful third pitch.
RHP Eric Hanhold
Hanhold was the PTBNL acquired from the Brewers in last year’s Neil Walker trade. Formerly a starter, the Mets have elected to move Hanhold to the bullpen, and he looked great in his 2018 debut outing Saturday. The flame-throwing right-hander was the most impressive player I saw on the afternoon, as he was sitting 94-96 with his fastball, even hitting 99 mph out of the pen. The fastball, a four-seamer that sometimes shows two-seam run, has great sinking action and induces a ton of ground balls. It’s already comfortably plus and even flashed plus-plus for me on the afternoon. The pitch is currently at least a 60 with the potential for a lot more at peak. Hanhold posted a groundball rate around 60% last season, which is fantastic for a potential high leverage reliever.
Unsurprisingly for a pitcher in the Mets organization, Hanhold also throws a slider, but it’s a well-developed pitch that sits 87-89 mph. The slider showed tight break and flashed plus for me, and Hanhold is comfortable throwing it in any count. I saw a 55 slider in a 3-0 count to Conrad Gregor in the 6th inning, and Hanhold eventually got Gregor to ground out to second. With a potential plus-plus fastball and plus slider, Hanhold projects as a high leverage reliever that could reach Triple-A Las Vegas by the end of the season. I really like Hanhold and think he’s a got a shot as a potential 55 closer down the road.
RHP Tyler Bashlor
Bashlor struck out 61 batters in only 34 innings last season at High-A Port St. Lucie. He threw two scoreless innings on Saturday, striking out two. The fastball was sitting 91-93, it topped out at 94 mph, and he threw it almost exclusively. That’s a large step down from the 94-98 mph he was reportedly sitting at last season. It could be due to the cold temperatures and I’m not ready to write the velocity off completely until I get a couple more looks, but it’s interesting to say the least. When he wasn’t throwing his fastball, Bashlor was using his 82 mph slurve to keep hitters off balance. The slurve has a ton of right to left movement and drop, although it’s easy to spot coming out of his hand. I saw at least one 55 slurve and it has potential to be a real weapon for Bashlor. Bashlor is definitely someone to keep an eye on this season and he has 7th inning potential at peak.
LF Tim Tebow
After going yard in his first at-bat of the season, on the first pitch he saw, Tebow is 0-6 and failed to generate any hard contact Saturday. The swing is max effort and it seems as if Tebow is trying to hit a home run every single time he steps up to the plate. His bat speed isn’t great either, as he was behind on 88-89 mph fastballs all throughout the afternoon. Tebow looked uncomfortable facing left-handers and is looking for strictly fastballs he can hit out of the park. I don’t think Tebow looked all that different from last season, but it’s only been two games and he has the whole season to prove us wrong. I would be shocked to see Tebow reach Triple-A Las Vegas in 2018.
— Alex Rosen (@asros213) April 7, 2018
Photo credit: Gregory Fisher – USA Today Sports