MVP: Peter Alonso
Tyler Oringer: Well, this one is obvious. If you’ve been following any of my coverage throughout the season, you know how much I love the future first baseman for the Mets. The fact that the 23-year old was not called up this season in order to manipulate service time for his age 31 season is beyond belief – but hey, let’s stick to the good part. Alonso finished his 2019 minor league campaign (65 games at Double-A, 67 in Triple-A) with 36 home runs, 119 RBIs and a triple slash of .285/.395/.579. The changes to his swing from 2017 were real, and allowed him to drive the ball to more fields with major league power, while also advancing his plate discipline to another level. The former Gator saw his OBP jump from .355 to the aforementioned .395. Alonso finished a full minor league season between Double-A and Triple-A at 23 years old with an OPS of .975. Yes, his defense is not good, but the bat makes him the clear MVP of the Mets’ system in 2018.
Breakout prospect of the year: Jeff McNeil
Alex Rosen: Jeffrey, Jarrett and I were all on McNeil as a future major league contributor before July (and as early as 2014 in Jeffrey’s case) but we’d all be lying if we said we saw this coming. Injuries limited him to just 21 games above A-ball in 2016 and 2017 but McNeil rode a vastly improved frame and a new stomp and pull approach all the way to Queens before the end of July. He’s been the Mets’ best position player since the day he arrived in Flushing – not to mention one of the best players across all of baseball – and gives the organization another cost-controlled above-average regular to build around.
“Cy Young”: Um… Justin Dunn and David Peterson… I guess
TO: DISCLAIMER: I don’t feel comfortable giving either of these guys a Cy Young vote here, but the Mets didn’t really have any impressive season showings from any of their developing starting arms. Dunn, a 2016 first round pick out of Boston College, was okay this season but did improve greatly from 2017. He did struggle a bit in Double-A but flashed some of the potential the Mets have seen, striking out 156 batters in 135.1 innings. Control has continued to be an issue for the 22-year-old, but next season should be a massive stepping stone in his development. I’ve always felt his relief potential was immense and he could be extremely valuable there, but it would be quite the stretch to move him to the bullpen any time soon. Like Dunn, Peterson was good, not great. The 2017 first rounder dominated full-season A-ball, but was knocked around by Advanced-A hitting, surrendering 74 hits in 68.2 innings pitched. The southpaw already has the control and movement to be a legitimate prospect, he just needs to serve up fewer hittable pitches as he goes on.
Platinum Glove: Luis Guillorme
TO: A favorite of mine who was handled as poorly as he could have been in 2018. Regardless, Guillorme is already an elite defender. If given the chance to start at shortstop or second base in a full major league season, the 23-year-old would challenge for a Gold Glove. Guillorme flashes some of the smoothest actions and fluidness that any middle infielder in the minors has shown over the past few years. There is a lot to love about Guillorme, if the Mets could just figure out a way to best utilize his talents.
Comeback prospect of the year: Justin Dunn
AR: Dunn’s full-season debut couldn’t have gone much worse, but he rebounded nicely and took care of business in 2018, tossing about 90 innings in Binghamton en route to winning the organizations minor league pitcher of the year award. It was more of “meh” season by top pitching prospect standards, but even that was markedly better than Dunn’s 2017 in the Florida State League. There’s still a ton of room for improvement, especially with the change-up, but 2018 was without a doubt a step in the right direction. The stuff came back, the command improved and Dunn’s now one step closer to the big leagues.
Most likely to have their service time manipulated:
Peter Alonso Andres Gimenez
AR: Oh, this is for the future? (looks at personal pref list…) Andres Gimenez it is! Until the rules change in the next CBA, teams are going to hold down top prospects to gain that extra year of control. It’s going to happen to Gimenez too, unless the Mets find themselves in a pennant race in 2019 with a hole to fill. Nevertheless, Gimenez had a tremendous 2018 season across Port St. Lucie and Binghamton, solidifying himself as one of the best prospects in the game.
The Ty Kelly Memorial Roster Spot: Gavin Cecchini
AR: Cecchini was off to a solid start in Las Vegas before a foot injury sidelined him for the rest of the season. He’s seemingly been around for forever, though he somehow won’t turn 25 ‘till December, but his spot on the 40-man is hanging by a thread. The former first rounder has never really received an extended stay with the big league club, but seems like a prime candidate to hang around as organizational depth for a number of years.
Best early return from the 2018 draft: Ross Adolph
TO: Adolph was drafted in the 12th round of the 2018 First Year Player Draft, but has already shown his value in his first year in Brooklyn. In my live look at Adolph, he did not get any hits or even take good routes to the ball in the field, but the athletically built outfielder owned a noticeably advanced approach at the plate and looked the part. The Toledo alum put up some nice number with the Cyclones, OPSing .857 with 14 stolen bases and an affinity for chasing down balls in the outfield.
Most likely to receive the Dominic Smith treatment: Mark Vientos
AR: Vientos still has a long ways to go before he’s a viable major league contributor, but he’s an early round pick who might find playing time hard to come by at the big league level. Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez look to be franchise cornerstones in the infield and Jeff McNeil’s not going anywhere anytime soon, leaving Vientos without a future home on the dirt as of now. Of course, these things tend to sort themselves out, but it hasn’t with Smith at the big league level for one reason or another. A similar fate could be awaiting Vientos, though we’re at least a couple of years away from having to even entertain the possibility.
Most likely to pitch too many high leverage innings: Kevin Smith
AR: The Mets went reliever heavy on Day Two of the 2018 MLB Draft, using a seventh rounder to grab Smith, a crafty SEC lefty with starting experience. There’s likely some internal hope that Smith can start, but having seen him this summer, I can tell you with confidence that that ain’t happening. He’s a future LOOGY in the Jerry Blevins/Daniel Zamora mold who’ll probably be overused like Blevins was in 2017. To be clear, a major league LOOGY is a fine outcome here, but the Mets have an affinity for Smith that I just personally don’t see.
The Reliever of the Carousel of Relievers Who Is Legit: Drew Smith
TO: Bad timing – I know. Anyway, Smith possesses true back-end relief talent which has come through in his every stop in the minors and more recently, the majors. I wrote about Smith back in Week 7 of the Prospect Watch, and stand by those previous comments. Smith’s fastball and slider combination poses the potential for some elite late-inning stuff which has already come to fruition in 2018. When Sandy Alderson traded a fading Lucas Duda for a relief arm, people were concerned, but it would not be crazy to me if Smith is closing with success for New York in the near future.
Biggest Disappointment: Desmond Lindsay
TO: When Lindsay was drafted in the second round of the 2015 draft, big things were expected. The centerfielder looked to have the tools, body, and pedigree to turn into a major league regular, but things have just not transpired that way. Lindsay is still stuck in Advanced-A ball, and has not shown any reason to get out of it. The right-handed hitting high school pick has OPSed .715 and .640 in consecutive seasons – and unless he makes the necessary adjustments to his approach, his athleticism may end up going to waste. Injuries have hampered the 21-year old throughout his short career, so there is still a bit of hope – but change must come fast.
Happiest Met to head to Syracuse: Nabil Crismatt
AR: If Crismatt pitched the entire season in Binghamton, he’d have been my choice for the Cy Young award. Unfortunately, we can’t erase those nine starts in Las Vegas and Crismatt will instead have to settle for the “Happiest Met to head to Syracuse” designation. His strong season in Double-A proved there’s a future major league contributor here, but the disaster in the desert muddied things. The Mets will need to protect Crismatt from the Rule-5 draft this offseason by adding him to the 40-man roster, which currently seems like a toss-up at best. He should absolutely be protected, but this is the Mets and they’ll let him go to Oakland, where he’ll suddenly become a No.3 starter.
Best trade deadline acquisition: Franklyn Kilome
TO: This is quite obvious, but not because the other acquisitions were bad – it’s because Kilome, the only player from the Asdrubal Cabrera deal with the Phillies, is that good. The 6’6,” 175-pound 23-year old, has shown to have an advanced upper-90s fastball along with an impressive curveball which has a swing-and-miss movement. In Double-A, Kilome struck out 125 batters in 140 innings, but did walk 61. Kilome needs to work on his control, but the young right-hander does flash the stuff to succeed as a major league starter – and should see time on the big league club at some point next year.
Most excited to see in 2019: Thomas Szapucki
AR: Szapucki missed the entire season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, but is set to return to the mound in 2019. He’s only thrown a total of 83.1 innings in his brief career and will turn 23 next June, but Szapucki has undeniable upside that enticed virtually everyone who saw him. He flashed three potential plus offerings from a tough slot prior to the injury, giving him top of the rotation upside if he could simply stay healthy. There’s no question he’s behind the developmental curve, but 2019 could be a make or break season for the left-hander.
Tim Tebow Award: Tim Tebow
TO: Sorry, I just had to.
Photo credit: Brad Penner – USA Today Sports