With MLB announcing Shohei Ohtani and Ronald Acuna as the Rookies of the Year in their respective leagues, MLB Pipeline has compiled a list of the top 10 candidates for the 2019 award. Right atop the list of candidates in the National League is Mets first base prospect Peter Alonso. The main reason for picking him is his power:
After Alonso tied for the Minor League lead in home runs (36) and ran away with the RBI title (119), there’s no question his power right-handed bat is ready for Citi Field. Hitting five more balls out in the AFL certainly doesn’t hurt, and the Mets have said they’re open to having him start the year in the big leagues.
With Alonso, the power is very real. On more than one occasion, he has set Statcast records, and he has hit the ball harder than anyone in the Mets organization this season. He was the first Mets prospect to ever lead the minors in homers, and he has power which has come quite rare for Mets first baseman.
The other candidates for the award include Keston Hiura, Victor Robles, Brendan Rodgers, and Touki Toussaint. However, it may not be any of these players who will present Alonso with the biggest obstacle to winning the award. No, the biggest obstacle for Alonso could be the Mets.
While the team has very publicly stated they are willing to give Alonso a chance to win the first base job in Spring Training, he may still be squeezed out from the Opening Day roster. It is difficult to imagine the Mets putting either Jay Bruce or Todd Frazier on the bench, and given the Mets stated interest in improving defense, it is difficult to see Bruce starting in right field. That would require the Mets to play Brandon Nimmo in center over Juan Lagares.
Of course, this situation could be further complicated by whatever moves the Mets make in free agency. Moreover, if the first base job is really up for grabs in Spring Training, even as unrealistic as some may believe it to be, there is a possibility Dominic Smith does win the job over Alonso.
Overall, the biggest takeaway here is Alonso is seen as a Major League ready prospect who could outperform some of the top prospects in all of baseball. This should have Mets fans excited about the future of both Alonso and the New York Mets.