MMN 2019 Top 5 Prospects: First Base

By Joseph Hill

December 17, 2018 No comments

Photo by Jennifer Nieves, MMN

When talking about the Mets first base prospects, there is one guy who is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. However, with him likely playing in the Majors this season, he will soon graduate from prospect status leaving us with an interesting crop of first base prospects whose main calling card is their ability to get on base:

No. 5 Anderson Bohorquez

Age: October 3, 1997 (21)     Bats/Throws: R/R     2018 Level: GCL
Acquired: 2015 International Signee (Colombia)
2018 Stats: .250/.325/.357, 4 2B, 0 HR, 12 RBI

With respect to Bohorquez, the main thing that sticks out with him is his ability to put the ball in play. Over his career, he has only struck out in 15.5 percent of his plate appearances. In addition to being able to make contact, he his a batter who is able to hit the ball to all fields. However, Bohorquez’s ceiling is going to continue to be limited if he does not start learning how to hit the ball with more authority and begin turning some of those singles into extra base hits.

No. 4 Gavin Garay

Age: June 18, 1997 (21)     Bats/Throws: R/R     2018 Level: Kingsport
Acquired: 2017 26th Round Draft Pick (St. Petersburg College)
2018 Stats: .329/.364/.586, 3 2B, 5 HR, 20 RBI

The athletic, 6’2″, 205-lb Garay used his short swing more efficiently in 2018, albeit in a very small sample size of just 77 plate appearances. Improvement is still improvement, as he posted a weak .246/.308/.354 line in Kingsport last year.

Garay should get a chance to continue his progress into Brooklyn and possibly Columbia next year. He may never have a ton of home run power, but he has a chance to be successful if he can keep barreling extra-base hits. However, for that to work, he is going to have to improve his plate discipline. His defense at first base should be fine, as he is reported to have below-average speed but possess smooth footwork and glove work.

No. 3 Chase Chambers

Age: August 22, 1995 (23)     Bats/Throws: L/L     2018 Level: Brooklyn
Acquired: 2018 18th Round Draft Pick (Tennessee Technological University)
2018 Stats: .281/.350/.392, 13 2B, 3 HR, 30 RBI

Drafted earlier this year in the 18th round, Chambers has large frame. Standing at 6’1″, 250 lbs, he can generate a lot of power, but we have not seen it quite yet. Reports have said that Chambers may struggle to find his power stroke due to his long and inconsistent swing path, but when he barrels it up, he can hit it really hard. Defensively, while he is a very slow runner, he has good footwork around the base, and he generally rates well at the position. Ultimately, he is going to have to hone all of his skills to take the next step forward.

No. 2 Jeremy Vasquez

Age: July 17, 1996 (22)     Bats/Throws: L/L     2018 Level: Columbia/St. Lucie
Acquired: 2017 28th Round Draft Pick (Nova Southeastern University)
2018 Stats: .280/.369/.421, 25 2B, 10 HR, 58 RBI

Vasquez has shown a nice offensive profile in his two-year minor league career so far, thus he’s progressed much faster than the typical late-round draft pick. Mainly, he has shown a very strong on-base ability while also managing an acceptable strikeout rate. He has a nice smooth swing that has also allowed him to hit for a solid average, but his power stroke is still developing and improving.

In each of his first two seasons, he has hit very well at one level and then regressed upon receiving a promotion. However, it’s to be expected for a prospect to have to make adjustments when they get bumped up a level, and the fact that a 28th-round draft pick has progressed all the way from Kingsport to St. Lucie is impressive in its own right. Overall, he has been a pleasant surprise for the Mets.

No. 1 Peter Alonso

Age: December 7, 1994 (24)     Bats/Throws: R/R     2018 Level: Binghamton/Las Vegas
Acquired: 2016 2nd Round Draft Pick (University of Florida)
2018 Stats: .285/.395/.579, 31 2B, 36 HR, 119 RBI

Alonso is far-and-away the best first base prospect in the Mets farm system. Alonso has done nothing but mash since being drafted, in fact he’s up there with Aaron Judge with one of the hardest exit velocities of any hitter at any level of professional baseball.

Alonso has serious power, but he’s more than just a slugger as evidenced by his strong 13.2% walk rate this year. After destroying Double-A pitching with a .314/.440/.573, he was promoted to Las Vegas and struggled early on but ended up going on a late tear to even out his numbers to a very good .260/.355/.585. The ISO is especially impressive, as he smashed 21 homers in 67 games in Vegas.

Alonso is not without his flaws, however. His increased walk rater make it easier to deal with, but he struck out 128 times in 2018, and for a decent period of time in Las Vegas, he seemed lost in a deep slump that he eventually broke out of in grand fashion. Even taking all of that into account, he has still shown an ability to hit for average and get on base.

With Alonso, while many don’t question if he will hit, they do question if he can field. On this front, Alonso has made significant strides. His footwork has improved considerably, and even his biggest detractors will note Alonso has shown the ability to scoop the ball at first base.

Mainly, the biggest attributes Alonso has is his drive and work ethic. He made considerable strides forward in his development over the past season because he put the time in during the offseason to improve his walk rate and his defense. That showed last year, and it is a big reason why you should not bet against him making an impact on the Mets during the 2019 season.

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