As we embark on a New Year, we will have the opportunity to see many exciting plays and games from Mets minor leaguers. Judging from what we saw last year, especially in Binghamton and Las Vegas, there is a fairly high bar set for top offensive performances. Here is a review of some of last year’s best:
August 11, 2018 (Box Score)
4-for-5, 2B, HR, 6 RBI
Former Red Sox farmhand Bryce Brents was brought in as outfield depth for the Mets prior to the 2018 season. Although injuries limited the outfielder to just 55 games in Vegas, Brentz made the most of his at bats posting an excellent .912 OPS in limited action. No night proved more impressive than August 11th against the Reno Aces.
Brentz batted 5th for Vegas that night, and led off the bottom of the second with a sharp single against ex-big leaguer Neftali Feliz. Brentz advanced on a wild pitch and then came around to score on a double by Jose Lobaton, opening the scoring for the night. Brentz, along with the 51s offense, went to sleep for the next few innings. Brentz would ground out in the fourth while his team went scoreless into the seventh.
In the seventh, with Las Vegas trailing 2-1. Brentz singled and found himself as the tying run on second base with two out, when pinch-hitter Kevin Kaczmarski singled to center to score him, tying the game. Ty Kelly followed with a go-ahead single to pull Las Vegas ahead.
Brentz and the 51s didn’t do any real damage until the following inning. In the eighth, Brentz, who was two-for-three to that point with two singles and two runs scored, doubled home Peter Alonso and Dominic Smith, who had led off with a double and a walk respectively. The following batter, Patrick Kivlehan, homered, scoring Brentz and widening the lead to a five-run margin.
Following the Kivlehan homer, the 51s were not finished in the eighth. Bases loaded walks to Kelly, reliever Kyle Regnault, and a bases loaded hit by pitch to Dom Smith scored three more, and set the table for Brentz once more. With Kristopher Negron, an infielder, on the mount, Brentz unloaded to left field. The grand slam was the exclamation point on an 11-run inning for Las Vegas, and a 14-2 win over Reno.
July 27, 2018 (Box Score)
3-for-5, 2 HR, 7 RBI
At just 19 years of age, Vientos is quickly moving up the ranks of the Mets’ top prospects list, and his performance for Kingsport on July 27th proves why fans should start excited about the youngster.
Vientos started at third and batted fifth against the Burlington Royals. When he came to bat with Shervyen Newton on second in the fourth inning, Vientos blasted a two-run home run to open the scoring. Vientos reached on a fielder’s choice in the sixth, but would put on a show in the later innings.
Three walks had loaded the bases with two out when Vientos came to bat in the seventh. With the K-Mets up 3-0, Vientos opened the lead even further with a clutch two-run single. Evidently, he wasn’t content with just four RBIs on the day. He came to bat with two runners on in the top of the ninth, and put his second homer of the game over the left field fence. Vientos was responsible for seven of the eight K-Mets runs. It was a mightily impressive game for the former second-round pick, and he turned a lot of heads with the showing.
June 23, 2018 (Box Score)
3-for-5, 3 HR, 7 RBI
Alonso had a monster season with 36 homers and 119 runs driven in across Double- and Triple-A. It was a season full of great nights for Pete, but few compare to June 23rd against Reno.
The game was a classic Pacific Coast League slug fest, ending with 25 total runs, 30 total hits, and six homers. Alonso had been with the 51s for only a week after his promotion from Binghamton. He had hit well in Vegas to that point, but had yet to send a ball over the fence. After striking out in his first inning at bat, Alonso flipped the switch. In the third, with his team down a run, Alonso jumped all over the first pitch he saw and drove his first Triple-A homer over the left-center wall.
Alonso again struck out in his next at bat, but came to bat in the sixth in a spot that would go a long way in determining the outcome of the game.
The bases were loaded with two out for Alonso in the sixth. Reliever Bradin Hagens was newly entered into the ballgame. The runners left on the full-count delivery, and Alonso crushed one to the opposite field. It was a grand slam for Alonso, his second homer of the game, and it cut the Reno lead from 11 to 6 to just 11 to 10. A true PCL game was brewing, and it was only the sixth inning.
Alonso’s job when he came to bat in the eighth inning was insurance. Las Vegas catcher Colton Plaia had already taken care of the lead with a go-ahead two-run shot in the previous inning. Not to be outdone, Alonso ripped a two-run shot of his own over the wall in left field for his third of the game. In what was a season of impressive feats, Alonso would set a career-high with seven RBI led the 51s to victory.
May 13, 2018 (Box Score)
4-for-6, 2B, 3B, HR, 2 RBI
There are few things in baseball rarer than the cycle. For Jeff McNeil, who’s impressive season began in Double-A, continued to Triple-A, and ended with a .329 batting average in 63 Major League games, a cycle was only the cherry on top of marvelous year.
Coming into the Rumble Ponies May 13th tumble with the Portland Sea Dogs, teammates McNeil and Pete Alonso were each OPSing well over 1.000. Both immediately contributed in the first, as Levi Michael doubled to begin the game, McNeil drove a triple over the Portland centerfielder’s head, and Alonso scored him with a groundout.
With the hardest part of the cycle out of the way, McNeil led off the third with a single to right. Alonso followed with a two-run bomb to score him, and extend Binghamton’s lead. In the fourth, McNeil came to bat following a Levi Michael home run, and ripped a double of his own, leaving just a big fly on his to-do list.
With his team up 8 to 4, McNeil came to bat with two out and none on in the 8th against Teddy Stankiewicz. McNeil dug in and blasted a solo shot over the right field wall to complete the cycle, finishing off an incredible night.
August 27, 2018 (Box Score)
3-for-5, 3 HR, 9 RBI
Since entering the organization as a 17-year-old in 2012, Jhoan Urena had a bat with some thump. On this fateful night near the end of the minor league season, the switch-hitter showed just how much power there was in that bat.
Urena came to bat with the bases juiced and two out in the top half of the first, and promptly unloaded them with a grand slam over the fence in deep right-center at Dunkin’ Donuts Park in Hartford. Urena followed it up with an even longer homer in his next at bat in the third, a solo shot into the second deck in right-center. In just two at bats, Urena had matched his previous career high with five RBIs.
Urena flew out in the fifth, but once again came to bat in a big spot in the sixth. The Ponies opened the margin to an 8 to 0 score before Urena stepped into the box against lefty Frank Duncan with the bases loaded once again. Urena, now batting right-handed, ripped an 0-2 pitch into the bleachers in left field. It was his second grand slam and third homer of the game, leaving him with a Binghamton record nine runs batted in. Urena got a chance to hit his fourth in the eighth inning, but struck out swinging. It was a historic night for Urena, one he likely won’t forget.
The performances from McNeil led to him being a late season call-up and a pleasant surprise for the Mets. For Alonso, all signs point towards him being the Mets first baseman in 2019. We will see what the big performances in 2019 will mean for a number of other Mets minor leaugers.