After First Week of Spring Games, Alonso and Smith Impressing

By Jacob Resnick

March 4, 2019 No comments

Photo by Ed Delany, MMN

The Mets have completed their first week of Spring Training games in 2019. Here are some of the more notable performances amongst the fringe roster players thus far. Included in the stat lines is opponent quality, an important contextual measure that aggregates the levels that the player’s opponents played at in the previous season (10 is a major leaguer, 8 is a AAA player, 7 at AA, and so on — no one in camp as a figure greater than 9.0).

Pete Alonso — 16 PA, .357/.438/.643, 2 BB, 2 SO, 7.5 OppQual

Alonso only added more fuel to his prospect hype by destroying the first pitch he saw this spring.

He’s also done a good job of avoiding the strikeout so far, which is a welcome sign considering he fanned in over a quarter of his Triple-A plate appearances last season. Alonso has occasionally shown why his defensive abilities have raised questions in the past, but you can’t say he isn’t working on it.

Dominic Smith — 19 PA, .500/.579/.688, 3 BB, 3 SO, 7.3 OppQual

With Alonso more than breathing down his neck, Smith is looking more comfortable at the plate than he ever has in a Mets uniform. His hot start culminated with a towering home run on Sunday.

Whether Smith is finally coming into his own as a major leaguer or not, it’s hard not to root for him. He looks he’s playing in his own body and not someone else’s, and if the Mets want to prioritize defense at first base, he’s the top internal option. If the bat comes around, Smith shouldn’t be spending any more time toiling away in Triple-A.

Hector Santiago — 3 G, 21 BF, 1 BB, 8 SO, 4 H, 1 ER, 8.3 OppQual

The early leader in Mets camp in strikeouts? That would be Santiago, whose eight punchouts is five more than any other reliever. His stuff hasn’t been overpowering, topping out at 93 and 94 mph, but he has shown why he has been able to stick around in the majors for as long as he has.

Santiago’s splits out of the bullpen have been markedly better than in the rotation, so it’s possible the Mets take the veteran on the Opening Day bullpen as a second lefty to Justin Wilson or a long man in addition to Luis Avilan. More likely, Santiago will accept an assignment to Syracuse and be on call for a promotion.

Tyler Bashlor — 3 G, 20 BF, 4 BB, 1 SO, 4 H, 0 ER, 6.6 OppQual

With Bashlor, what excites me is less about the results and more about the pitches he’s made. He hasn’t thrown in a game in Port St. Lucie yet, so there haven’t been any velocity readings. However, he showed off good command of his slider, which induced a 33.9% whiff rate in his major league time last season.

If I had to choose a dark horse to make an impact for the Mets this season, Bashlor would have a good shot at earning the nod. He throws hard but purposeful, gets top-rate spin on both his fastball and slider, and seems like he only needs to tighten up his control to become a factor in the major league bullpen.

Photo by Ed Delany, MMN

Odds and ends

The Mets vowed to take a long look at Rule 5 pick Kyle Dowdy, and they’ve done just that so far, affording him three outings. He looked strong in his debut, but has struggled with his release point consistency since, allowing five hits and four walks. If I had to take a stab at his prospects, Dowdy likely makes the Opening Day roster but his chances of sticking with the team the entire year are slim.

With injuries holding Jed Lowrie and Todd Frazier out of action, David Thompson has seen solid playing time at third base. He’s only managed one hit so far, but it was a big one, going deep against the Astros.

One of the storylines I was watching closely heading into spring games was how left-handers Anthony Kay and David Peterson would fare in their first big league camp. The pair have seen virtually mirrored results, with Kay impressing in his first outing and struggling in his second and Peterson doing the opposite. Spring games do not provide the best environments for minor league starters to stand out, so I would be more interested in how Kay and Peterson look in their side sessions than in games.

Minor leaguers Sebastian Espino and Dario Pizzano both homered this week off camera. Espino’s round-tripper was of the inside-the-park variety, after the center fielder overran the ball off the 18-year-old’s bat. Pizzano was signed as a free agent in November, and as of now looks penciled into Binghamton’s lineup.

Ali Sanchez has gotten significant run behind the plate and has put his defensive reputation on display.