In their last season as the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate, the Las Vegas 51s had a solid season. Following two consecutive losing seasons and an ugly 56-86 record in 2017, the 51s squeaked out an above-.500 record, finishing 71-69, and came in third place in the Pacific Coast League Pacific Southern Division. Despite the record, what made this final season in Las Vegas a real success was the players.
Despite beginning the year in Binghamton, Peter Alonso and Jeff McNeil both made strong statements with their play in Vegas. After putting up a 1.012 OPS in Binghamton, Alonso came up to Triple-A and struggled initially before eventually finding his groove and tearing the cover off the ball, finishing his Vegas stint with a powerful .260/.355/.585 line. McNeil absolutely raked in both Binghamton and Las Vegas, breaking out with an unexpected power surge that earned him a call-up to the Mets.
While both were great, the top performer on the team was Zach Borenstein. He was the team leader in most of the counting stats and was really the only regular position player on the 51s who played the entire season without any promotions, demotions, or injuries. Borenstein produced a solid .248/.357/.477 slash line while also performing adequately at all three outfield positions.
Patrick Kivlehan was a big surprise for the 51s. In 98 games, he hit .314/.372/.588. Due to his performance, the Arizona Diamondbacks traded for him in September to help bolster their bench as they pushed for a spot on the postseason roster.
As previously alluded to, there was much upheaval with the Las Vegas roster this season due to call-ups, injuries, and more. Notably, Gavin Cecchini and David Thompson would suffer season ending injuries. The team would also see Dominic Smith and Luis Guillorme were called up to the majors on multiple occasions, and they were not utilized when they were called-up to the majors. This could be part of the reason why both struggled in Las Vegas and the majors. Certainly, Smith’s switch to the outfield to accommodate Alonso could have been a factor in his struggles.
On the pitching front, the most pleasant surprise was Drew Gagnon. The 28 year old career minor leaguer emerged as a staff ace leading not just the 51s but also the Pacific Coast League in strikeouts. This would lead to his getting called up to the majors where he impressed out of the bullpen.
Gagnon was not the only 51s starter to get called up to the majors. At times, the Mets would call-up P.J. Conlon, Chris Flexen, and Corey Oswalt to the majors. Of that trio, Flexen was the most impressive with Las Vegas with a solid 4.40 ERA before suffering a season ending knee injury.
Like most of the Mets farm system, the real strength of the 51s pitching staff was their bullpen. Drew Smith maintained a 2.76 ERA in 23 games. Bobby Wahl, who came over in the Jeurys Familia trade, had absolutely dominant numbers, the majority of which came during his time pitching for Nashville. He had a 1.69 ERA in four games with the 51s before a season-ending right hamstring strain. Between Nashville and Las Vegas, he had a 2.20 ERA with 73 strikeouts in 45 innings. Kevin McGowan had a solid year out of the bullpen, even making a few spot starts and finding some success in that role.
Jacob Rhame was bounced between the majors and Triple-A more than anyone this year. Despite all the red eye flights, he was very effective out of the bullpen leading the team in saves while posting a 3.03 ERA, 0.928 WHIP, and an 11.4 K/9.
The last game of the season and of the Mets’ affiliation with the franchise could not have been scripted much better. With the 51s down 3-2 in the ninth, Alonso blasted a walk-off two-run homer all the way to Syracuse. It was a fitting end to a dominant stretch by Alonso as well as the last baseball game ever played at Cashman Field.
MMN Top 30 Prospects
G: Zach Borenstein (133)
PA: Zach Borenstein (572)
AB: Zach Borenstein (484)
R: Zach Borenstein (92)
H: Zach Borenstein (120)
2B: Zach Borenstein (32)
3B: Ty Kelly/Matt den Dekker (5)
HR: Zach Borenstein (25)
RBI: Zach Borenstein (90)
SB: Patrick Biondi (12)
BA: Patrick Kivlehan (.314)
OBP: Patrick Kivlehan (.372)
SLG Patrick Kivlehan (.588)
OPS Patrick Kivlehan (.959)
W: Chris Flexen, Drew Gagnon, Kevin McGowan (6)
ERA: Drew Gagnon (4.57)
G: Kyle Regnault (48)
GS: Drew Gagnon (27)
CG: Drew Gagnon (2)
SHO: Drew Gagnon (1)
SV: Jacob Rhame (11)
IP: Drew Gagnon (157.2)
K: Drew Gagnon (167) – 1st in PCL
WHIP: Drew Gagnon (1.230)