Let’s start this list off with the player every Mets fan is looking forward to seeing make his debut in the majors next season.
Last year, Alonso tore the cover off the ball in his time playing for the Mets AA and AAA affiliates. In 132 total games last season in the Mets minor league systems, Alonso batted .285 with a .395 OBP over 478 at-bats.
As impressive as this is on its own, the part that has fans the most excited is his potential power output, as he slugged 36 total home runs with 119 RBI last season. Just for comparison, Mets first baseman last season collectively hit .242 with 24 home runs and 84 RBI.
While that may not seem terrible, bare in mind that 7 different players appeared at that position to compile that stat line.
Alonso’s performance last season earned himself a spot in last year’s MLB Futures Game. In the seventh inning of the game, he hit a 415 ft moon shot two-run homer, helping to solidify as one the Mets top prospects and the First Baseman of the future.
As exciting a prospect as Alonso is, I have serious doubts that he will be the 2019 opening day first baseman for New York. This is because of two big reasons.
Firstly, despite his impressive statistics last season and his clear natural hitting ability, he only spent a total of 67 games in Triple-A in 2018. While he played very well there, it’s important to remember that just because a player produces efficiently in the minors, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are major league ready.
A good recent example of this is young Mets shortstop Amed Rosario, who played very well and rose quickly through the minor leagues but was rushed up due to the opening at shortstop, and failed to produce the way the Mets had hoped during the first half of 2018.
This is an important lesson to remember not to rush a player up to the majors, as just because the team is ready for them, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the player is ready to join the big leagues, especially one who is only 24 years old.
The other reason and the main reason why I don’t believe Alonso will not break camp with the team is to retain an extra year of control of him by calling him up later on in the season. Many teams do this when calling up top prospects because it limits their service time in the majors and would give the Mets a seventh year of control of him, whereas they would only have six years if he played opening day.
Despite GM Van Wagenen’s “Win Now” approach, I think that the extra year of control of one of their top prospects will be the deciding factor in Alonso starting the year in the minors. While the new Mets leadership may surprise us, I think its unlikely, although I do think we will see Alonso take the reigns at first sooner rather than later.