Welcome back to the Baseball Prospectus Mets Prospect Watch! This weekly column will take a look at one pitcher and one hitter from each level of the Mets organization and offer thoughts on their performance thus far, as well as a brief scouting report with a future outlook.
Las Vegas 51s (Triple-A)
Hitter: Peter Alonso
When I last wrote about Peter Alonso, he was running a .475 OBP and crushing everything in Binghamton. He, along with Jeff McNeil, looked big league ready and primed to skip Triple-A and the Pacific Coast League.
Fast forward three months and Alonso has taken his talents to Las Vegas, posting similarly gaudy numbers in a league he’s too good for while he awaits an opportunity in the majors.
A similar situation occurred down the stretch in 2017 as well with Dom Smith only playing in 49 games in what was a completely lost season for the Mets. That wasn’t enough of a sample size for New York to hand him the starting job in 2018, so they went bargain shopping and questionably signed Adrian Gonzalez. The rest is history as they say, but more importantly, the Mets seem to be making this costly mistake again.
They selected Alonso as a 22-year-old 1B/DH in the second round of the 2016 draft, a curious choice if they weren’t intent on fast-tracking him to the majors. He’s hit his way through every level of the minors and looks like a future regular at worst, but the Mets have – through unnamed sources – stated they won’t call him up in September as to avoid a 40-man roster crunch.
There’s really no other way to put it: this is an incredibly bad baseball decision, likely influenced by service time.
By keeping Alonso down and off the 40-man roster, the Mets can gain an extra year of control by waiting until the Super Two deadline passes in 2019. No one other than the people signing the paychecks likes this sort of roster manipulation, but it doesn’t even make much sense in this case. If the Mets follow through with this, Alonso won’t hit free agency until his age-31 season. Who is paying any significant amount of money to a 1B/DH on the wrong side of 30 anyway? (Angels fans if you’re reading this – it’s too late).
Due to the current situation, the Mets are likely going to bring in a veteran first baseman and trade one of Smith or Alonso. It’s a ridiculous conclusion to a problem that can so easily be solved, but being bearish on Smith’s future – here’s hoping Peter Alonso is manning first base in Flushing next season.
Pitcher: Nabil Crismatt
Crismatt had a rough go of it in his first stop at Vegas, allowing 38 earned runs in 38.2 innings of work. He made it to the fifth inning only twice in nine starts and allowed two or more earned runs in eight of nine. This was always likely to happen and anything but an unexpected outcome considering his stuff, but he’s now one step further from a September call-up. He was still striking hitters out in Vegas, but his walk numbers ballooned and his WHIP went over 2.00.
I mentioned this wasn’t an unexpected outcome because this is what happens to guys that throw 88 in the hitter’s paradise that is the PCL. The results were, uh, not good, but they don’t change the future expectation here. Crismatt still projects as a backend starter, and even though he’s not going to be Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard, he’s not going to be Jason Vargas either.
Port St. Lucie Mets (Single-A)
Hitter: Blake Tiberi
The University of Louisville has a nice track record of developing hitters that succeed at the next level (and they have another one coming in 2019 in Logan Wyatt), but that hasn’t been the case for Tiberi thus far. A third-rounder two years ago, time is already running thin for Tiberi to prove he can develop into a major league contributor.
The 23-year-old battled injuries in 2017 that limited him to just five games, and his .735 OPS with Columbia wasn’t exactly inspiring this season. Regardless, the Mets moved him up a level to St. Lucie, where he figures to begin the 2019 season. He’s off to a .145/.193/.229 start in his first 22 games – and if the early returns are any indications, he’s going to struggle next year too.
Columbia Fireflies (Low-A)
Hitter: Hansel Moreno
Moreno is a long and lean 6’4,” 180-pound utility infielder who’s held his own in his first taste of full-season ball. His numbers won’t jump off the page, but the Sally is a historically pitcher-friendly league and Moreno hit in 2016 and 2017. He’s very athletic and already has a nice mix of defensive versatility, as he’s seen time at four different positions this year alone. He won’t be on any top prospect lists and shouldn’t be treated as one, but he’s a nice piece in an improving farm system.
Hitter: Zach Rheams
Rheams was a 27th round senior sign this year and the first 2018 draft pick to reach full-season ball. The 22-year-old is holding his own despite a .221 batting average as he’s avoiding strikeouts while still hitting for power. Rheams broke out in a big way for Texas Tech this past spring, hitting .341/.461/.713 with 17 long balls and as a Day Three senior sign, anything he gives the Mets is a bonus. So far, so good.
Brooklyn Cyclones (Short Season-A)
Hitter: Ross Adolph
Adolph, the Mets 12th round selection this year, won the MVP award in the NYPL All-Star Game after a 2-for-3 night that included a homer and triple. Despite being a Day Three pick, Adolph has major league tools and projects as a fourth outfielder. He’s shown well in Brooklyn and looks primed to begin 2019 with a full season affiliate (likely Columbia in the Sally). The Mets are always in need of outfield depth and Adolph will give them that as he climbs the minor league ladder. Like Hansel Moreno, Adolph isn’t a top prospect and you won’t hear his name often, but he does have major league potential.
Photo credit: Brad Penner – USA Today Sports