Mets Minor League Position Breakdown: First Base

By Mets Daddy

October 4, 2017 13 Comments

Las Vegas 51s

Dominic Smith
MiLB Stats:
114 G, 500 PA, 457 AB, 77 R, 151 H, 34 2B, 2 3B, 16 HR, 76 RBI, SB, CS, .330/.386/.519
MLB Stats:
46 G, 169 PA, 157 AB, 16 R, 32 H, 6 2B, 8 HR, 25 RBI, .204/.254/.395
MMN Rank: 2

Even with a hot second half to end the season in Binghamton last year, there were still questions about Smith’s power.  Those questions were quieted by and large when Smith hit .385/.437/.725 with 13 doubles, eight homers, and 26 RBI.  Between players like Lucas Duda and Jay Bruce being traded and this hot stretch, Smith finally got called up to the majors in August where it’s been a mixed bag with him as is usually the case for young players in their first exposure to the majors.

So far, we have seen Smith continue to hit for homers at the Major League level, but we have also seen him uncharacteristically struggle on defense.  Even with these struggles, he should be better for the experience.  At least that’s the hope with him being penciled in as the Mets 2018 Opening Day first baseman.

(Photo Credit: Helene Haessler/MILB.com)

Binghamton Rumble Ponies

Matt Oberste
MiLB Stats:
129 G, 516 PA, 455 AB, 59 R, 129 H, 27 3B, 3 3B, 5 HR, 62 RBI, 3 SB, CS, .284/.360/.389

By and large, Oberste’s second season in Binghamton was more of the same for him with him going from a 107 wRC+ to a 109 wRC+.  This made for a disappointing season for Oberste.  Mostly, the reason his season was disappointing was because his power still has not developed even with him repeating a level and finally getting an opportunity to play first base instead of bouncing between the corners and DH.

Defensively, Oberste has shown himself to be a good defender at first.  However, without him improving his power numbers, he’s likely going to have to move off the position even if it is for him improving his chances of becoming a utility player at the major league level.

(Ed Delany/Mets Minors)

St. Lucie Mets

Peter Alonso
MiLB Stats:
93 G, 393 PA, 353 AB, 52 R, 102 H, 27 2B, 3B, 18 HR, 63 RBI, 3 SB, 4 CS, .289/.359/.524

Jhoan Urena
MiLB Stats:
135 G, 570 PA, 502 AB, 77 R, 139 H, 34 2B, 3 3B, 14 HR, 70 RBI, 18 SB, 3 CS, .277/.358/.440

In his second season with the Mets, Alonso has continued to exhibit the power that led the Mets to make him their second round pick in last year’s draft.  No matter the level or the situation, Alonso slugs.  The problem is Alonso has shown himself to be a bit injury prone and a poor first baseman.  For the second straight year, Alonso has spent time on the disabled list with an injury, and he has not improved defensively.

Similar to Alonso, Urena has suffered from health and defensive issues in his minor league career.  For him, the health issues have resolved, and he shined offensively.  However, he still had issues at his natural position – third base.  This has led the Mets to try to find the best place for him, and at this time, the Mets appear to have given up on him as a third baseman.  He’s reported to the Instructional Leagues as an outfielder, but it should be noted he has played first base more than any position other than third.

Columbia Fireflies

Dash Winningham
MiLB Stats:
114 G, 474 PA, 426 AB, 42 R, 101 H, 15 2B, 3B, 13 HR, 70 RBI, 3 SB, 2 CS, .237/.304/.369

Much like Oberste, Winningham repeated his level, and his power did not develop the way the Mets had hoped.  In fact, Winningham’s slugging percentage has gone done in each of the past two seasons.  Part of the reason why Winningham did not have the breakout season the Mets had hoped was his dealing with an injury this season landing him on the disabled list for 15 days.

Certainly, there is a reason to believe with him being healthy next year he could take the next step.  In the Month of May, Winningham hit .289/.326/.590 with seven doubles, six homers, and 23 RBI in 23 games.  On the strength of that month, Winningham would be named an All Star where he would win MVP honors.

(Jacob Resnick/Mets Minors)

Short Season First Basemen

Jeremy Vasquez
MiLB Stats:
67 G, 280 PA, 237 AB, 29 R, 63 H, 15 2B, 8 HR, 38 RBI, .266/.368/.430

Matt Winaker
MiLB Stats: 
21 G, 87 PA, 71 AB, 10 R, 19 H, 2B, 3 RBI, 2 SB, .268/.402/.282

Gavin Garay
MiLB Stats:
36 G, 143 PA, 130 AB, 22 R, 32 H, 5 2B, 3 HR, 13 RBI, SB, .246/.308/.354

In Vasquez (28th), Winaker (5th), and Garay (26th), the Mets have three draft picks from the 2017 draft.  The trio have power potential even if we may not see true power from them for another year or so as they all mature physically.  So far, Vazquez has been the standout of the group.  In both Kingsport and Brooklyn, he would get the bulk of the starts at first base over his fellow draftees.  A large part of that was his hot start in Kingsport where he hit .296/.394/.511.

Certainly, it will be interesting to see how the Mets handle these three promising players.  All three of them have the athleticism to handle other positions, but ultimately, they are all best suited for first base.

  • LongTimeFan1

    Peter Alonso is on the path to the majors with impact bat potential once he resolves his defensive issues. He’s in the Instructional League right now working on that.

    I don’t think Dash Winningham will succeed at the upper levels and then reach the majors unless he has major swing overhaul and thereafter success.

    He has a slow Kirk Nieuwenhuis tennis player swing, but unlike Kirk doesn’t have the speed and defensive chops to make it to the majors on the basis of that. Dash’s wrist and arm action during his swing and follow through is wrong. First step would be assessing whether he’s lining up his hands correctly on the bat. Don’t be surprised if he isn’t. Give an F to the Mets development staff for letting Dash’s swing remain as is for this long.

  • Rae

    Alonso will be the Mets 1B man after July 2018. The Mets will grow weary of the out-of-shape, 22 year old, Dom Smith who has alarmed the club by playing really poor defense while in the big leagues. Once Alonso quells some of his defensive shortcomings which I believe can be addressed with very adept 1B coaching he will be called up.

  • Nessim Toledano

    Thats quite an overreach – on both players. The Mets aren’t going to abandon Smith so quickly. They might send him to AAA for more seasoning (in which case Flores or Rivera will take over at 1st). But they won’t just give up on him. And Alonso’s defensive shortcomings are pretty extensive – they won’t be quelled in one off season, and probably not in a year. In essence, you’re contradicting yourself – suggesting that the Mets will abanadon Smith because of his defense, and will instead turn to an even weaker (much weaker) defender in Alonso.

  • Nessim Toledano

    Its going to take more than three weeks in instructional league (against mostly lower level players) for Alonso to bring his defense up to (or even close to) par. His path to the majors may be longer than you expect (or would like).
    I’m not a fan of the Mets developmental staff. But grading them based on Dash Winningham is a waste of time. Okay, so he’s not a real prospect. The fact is, MOST prospects are not real prospects. Only 17% of the players who reach single-A ever make it to the majors. And that 17% includes all the journeymen, 4A types, and one-time call-ups we see every year. Dash won’t make it. But neither will 5 out of every 6 of his team mates.

  • Nessim Toledano

    Not buying into Urena’s position change being full-time. Binghamton will have a shortage of starting-caliber infielders next season. My guess is Urena will still play a lot of 3B as a result.
    It may all be a moot point, anyway. He’s also a free agent a year from now if he’s not added to the 40-man. With Mazeika, Thompson, Kaczmarski, and Drew Smith all coming eligible for Rule 5 at the same time, it doesn’t seem likely that the Mets will have/make room for Urena.

  • Jason Mercado

    Alonso’s power was really nice to see but his defense at 1B is pretty atrocious. Make you think his best position is likely DH. Unless they go Kyle Schwarber Route with him defensively I think his future is as part of a Trade to AL team if Dom Smith turns out to be the guy at 1B. Alonso still has AA-AAA levels to improve.

  • LongTimeFan1

    I wasn’t making judgement on Mets development staff on a one-player basis.There are too many young Mets who reach the majors weak on fundamentals and nuance.

    I’ve been a die hard baseball fan for almost 50 years. I’m well aware very few players reach the majors.

    However, I have little doubt Alonso will. He’s hungry, driven, and has impact power. Some scouts say 70/80. Hit a 482 foot bomb this season at pitcher friendly St. Lucie, The ball jumps off his bat. With hard work, he’ll develop major league serviceable defense or better. Daniel Murphy was in similar shoes.

    He can also improve his rather slow foot speed through proper instruction and training. His running style is mechanically unsound. Mets will bend over backwards and do everything they can to help him succeed. That type of power and mental make up give them strong reason to heavily invest in his development. That he was asked to go to the instructional league is one indication.

  • Nessim Toledano

    Okay, I’ll rephrase: Yes, the Mets developmental staff have done a bad job of preparing players for the majors. But Dash Winningham is hardly the example that proves the point. He’s a mediocre prospect. And average/mediocre prospects don’t go to the majors.
    There is no argument about Alonso’s offense being top notch. But his defense will slow his trajectory to the majors. We can’t put any emphasis on or read anything into his inclusion in the fall instructional league. More than half of the stateside prospects are going there with him. Anyone with the glaring deficiencies he has would be sent there. If they were really dedicated, they could have sent him to the longer and more extensive Arizona Fall League. But they didn’t. Which suggests that either they are not willing to push him too quickly, or that his deficiencies are too great for him to play in that league just yet.

  • LongTimeFan1

    I disagree. I think Urena will get a 40-man spot. I don’t think Mazeika stands a chance in the majors unless he too also does a swing overhaul. His is similar to Josh Thole, slap hitter. And his defense doesn’t appear to be a carrying tool to this point.

  • Nessim Toledano

    Not sure why everyone here is in such a rush to decide what to do with Alonso, and/or to trade him. He’s not eligible for Rule 5 until after 2019, and the Mets would then have three more years to develop him, if needed. They can go slow with him, hope his defense grows to be almost-adequate, and let him take over for Smith somewhere down the road when Smith gets too expensive either in arbitration or free agency. This is a perfect, almost dream scenario for any GM. Because he (the GM) has the options and flexibility to decide which of the two 1Bs to trade and when.
    And while I still think Smith will prove to be a keeper, lets keep in mind that – Oh! by the way – Smith hasn’t exactly established himself as The Man yet, anyway. So Alonso is still a potential option if Smith falters.

  • Nessim Toledano

    You make some interesting points, though a bit overstated, IMO. Mazeika drove 26 doubles in 370 ABs and added 7 HRs to that. and at 6’3, he still has a chance to add to his frame and develop more power. His defense has improved, and while there is still a way to go, he did throw out 32% of runners tryint tio steal which is above average (28%) these days. This year, he produced similarly to Urena offensively while they were both in advanced-A. But Mazeika’s strike out rate was much lower and he plays a position where offense his harder to come by. He’s a work in progress not a finished product and I’m interested in seeing how he does next year. They’re the same age, playing at the same level, producing similar offensive outputs. Let’s see how this plays out.

  • LongTimeFan1

    I was actually very excited about Mazeika earlier in the season when he was constantly on base, hitting in the clutch, and reduced but not eliminated slap resulting in some home runs at best rate of his career while retaining very impressive low K rate.

    But the the league apparently figured him out and the power ended while his K’s doubled, perhaps getting long ball happy. His last homer was June 20th.

    When promoted to Bingo, he hit some doubles but I was very disappointed to see increased slap. I suspect it’s only matter of time next season before the Eastern League figures him out and the home run drought continues.

    And so I really hope he makes the correction, maybe Mets get better development staff and they help him discard the slap. If so, his ceiling could soar. As you wisely say, he has size and isn’t finished project. If he can hit double digit homers and for good BA, contact, and clutch hitting, that’s very exciting especially if his defense development lends itself to major league average or better should he reach the majors. I have no complaints about a 31% CS rate.

    But right now his swing very much reminds me of Josh Thole with similar minor league results. It’s a lot tougher hitting in the majors and teams will surely exploit flawed mechanics like they did Thole.

    I also think he’s going to have to leap frog Tomas Nido who seems to have better tools and overall talent. The Mets view Nido as potential starter even though his 2017 offense regressed through poor mental approach he admits was there but will be corrected. I like the swing and defensive abilities.

    I think Urena is on the rise and is very different hitter than P.M. IMO, Urena’s bat could develop into 20-something power. It’s wait and see on the defense, OBP, batting average.

  • Nessim Toledano

    Regarding Mazeika: Yeah, the league figured him out. With very, very few exceptions, all leagues figure every hitter out at some point. Then its up to the hitter to make adjustments. In Mazeika’s case, his offense started to drop off the first week of June, and (finally) started to tick up again the last week of July. And that is too long – a decent or pretty good prospect typically gets going again within three to six weeks. He wasn’t in Lucie much longer than that so its hard to take anything away from those last couple of weeks. But he did hit a double every ten or so at bats in his last 13 games there.
    Playing time and fatigue is also a factor late in the season, particularly with young catchers, and its one whose effects we cannot fully quantify.
    2016: 70 games total with 45 (or 65% of his starts) at C, and 25 games at DH.
    2017: 100 games in St Lucie alone, 76 of those at C, 12 more at 1B, and just 12 at DH.
    Nido may not be much of a deterrent. Looking at service time, options, etc, if every Met catcher holds their own – no one excels and no one falls apart – Nido will be two to three years ahead of Mazeika come spring of 2020 after d’Arnaud has left for free agency. Meaning Mazeika could kept in AAA for two more years until Plawecki’s time is out and there is room on the big league rsoter for him.