MMN Top 5 First Base Prospects: Alonso Provides Powerful Hope

By Matt Mancuso

January 5, 2018 12 Comments

(Ed Delany/Mets Minors)

We have begun discussing our top prospects heading into the 2018 season and the first way we will bring them to you is by position. These rankings were voted on by all of the writers that make up MMN. We already covered our top five shortstops.

The first base position is one that is obviously looking pretty weak after the graduation of Dominic Smith and eventually the guy sitting at No. 1. However, The good news is that between those two guys the Mets very well could have a long-term answer at the position.

#1 Peter Alonso

Ht: 6’3″  Wt: 245 lbs.  Age: 12/7/94 (23)  B/T: R/R

2017 Level: St.Lucie Mets, Binghamton Rumble Ponies

Stats: 93 G, 353 AB, 52 R, 102 H, 27 2B, 1 3B, 18 HR, 63 RBI, 27 BB, .289/.359/.524

Alonso is without a doubt one of the Mets’ top position players in the system. The 23-year-old hit .289/.359/.524 while playing for both the Rumble Ponies and the St. Lucie Mets. His calling card is his booming power and he showed it off in 2017, smacking 16 homers and 39 extra-base hits, both which were among league leaders in the Florida State League. Alonso was rewarded for his big offensive season with a MiLB.com Organizational All-Star award at the end of the season.

Alonso did have stark splits in 2017, as he hit a passable .767 OPS against same-handed pitching while destroying lefties to a 1.132 OPS. He also struggled mightily defensively beyond the 16 errors total, with bad footwork and rough hands, which was the main reason for his attendance at this year’s instructional league. Nevertheless, Alonso demolished FSL pitching this season and looks to continue his success with the Rumble Ponies in 2018.

#2 Jhoan Urena

Ht: 6’1″  Wt: 220 lbs.  Age: 9/1/94 (23)  B/T: S/R

2017 Level: St.Lucie Mets, Las Vegas 51s

Stats: 135 G, 502 AB, 77 R, 139 H, 34 2B, 3 3B, 14 HR, 70 RBI, 64 BB, .277/.358/.440

The 2012 signee had a breakout season, hitting .282/.364/.437 in 67 games for St. Lucie. He finished tops in Florida State League with his 129 hits, 34 doubles, 72 runs and 200 total bases. Although he also played other positions in 2017 (including his natural third base) he mostly started at first base. Urena’s breakout was supported by an increase in his line-drive percentage and his .370 wOBA.

The 23-year-old concluded his outstanding season at Las Vegas and is on the short-list of close MLB-ready third baseman the Mets have their farm system. Although he had never produced this well before, he looks to maintain that production into 2018.

 

#3 Matt Winaker

Ht: 6’1″  Wt: 195 lbs.  Age: 11/29/95 (21)  B/T: L/L

2017 Level: Brooklyn Cyclones

Stats: 21 G, 71 AB, 10 R, 19 H, 1 2B, 3 RBI,  15 BB, .268/.402/.282

The 2017 draftee had an uneven start to his minor league career, hitting .268/.402/.282 in Brooklyn before succumbing to a right shoulder injury on July 19, ending his season. Winaker was drafted based on his excellent plate discipline, which he showcased during his time with the Cyclones. Although he didn’t hit for many extra bases, his knowledge of the strike zone led to a 17.2 BB% and he drew about as many walks as he did hits.

Although his on-base percentage is admirable for the lower minor leagues, he will need to improve his slugging percentage to have a major league future. The former high school quarterback has the speed to play both corner outfield spots and looked good defensively at first for the Cyclones.

(Jacob Resnick/Mets Minors)

 

#4 Jeremy Vasquez 

Ht: 6’1″  Wt: 205 lbs.  Age: 7/17/96 (21)  B/T: L/L

2017 Level: Kingsport Mets, Brooklyn Cyclones

Stats: 67 G, 237 AB, 29 R, 63 H, 15 2B, 8 HR, 38 RBI,  37 BB, .266/.368/.430

Vasquez came off of an impressive season at Nova Southeastern University, where he hit .317/.453/.614 with 15 home runs. The 21-year-old was the Mets 28th round pick in 2017 and has already proven himself against the Appalachian League’s pitching. His .295/.394/.511 slash line was very notable for a 2017 draftee.

Vasquez’s specialty is his advanced knowledge of the strike zone, which he showed off in his stint in Kingsport. He impressed so much he was promoted to the Brooklyn Cyclones by the end of the season. While he got off to a hot start there, Vasquez struggled to a .107 average over his final 18 games.

His power has yet to fully develop, as shown by his dramatic reduction in his ISO with Brooklyn. His .403 wOBA may have fueled his impressive production at the plate, however, it can not be denied that 2017 was a quality year for Vasquez. He can also play a passable corner outfield which gives him some versatility.

#5 Dash Winningham

Ht: 6’1″  Wt: 225 lbs.  Age: 11/11/95 (22)  B/T: L/L

2017 Level: Columbia Fireflies

Stats: 114 G, 426 AB, 42 R, 101 H, 15 2B, 1 3B, 13 HR, 70 RBI,  37 BB, .237/.304/.369

The owner of arguably the best name in the minor leagues, Winningham continued his struggles from 2016. His 21.9% strikeout percentage, 7.8% walk percentage and a team-leading 13 home runs certifies him as a true-three outcome players.

  • Nessim Toledano

    Once again, its hard for me to agree with the Urena assessment.
    1st baseman, breakout season, outstanding year, major league ready…. All of those references seem like stretches to me.
    He played 90 games at 3rd last year and 35 at 1st (35). And after playing 1st base in 10 of his last 12 games, the Mets opted to send have him work as an outfielder in fall instructional league, not a 1st baseman. (And BTW, you, yourself referred to him as a third baseman at the end of your review).
    His “breakout” year is a bit of a mirage because it lasted only five to six weeks. After May 15th, he hit .251/.330/.387 in 326 ABs in Port St. Lucie (compared with just 132 ABs during his hot stretch). Nothing wrong with it, but its not outstanding. Especially for a guy making his third pass through the FSL.
    And he followed that up by hitting .227 in Vegas, which is not major league ready.
    He also has only one year left before reaching minor league free agency.
    There are probably 10 or 12 players (including a lot of pitchers) competing for what would appear to be about 5 or 7 roster openings. And since most of the Mets free agency departures will be relievers, Uceta, Drew Smith, and some other pitchers could have an edge. Urena will need to have a very big year in order to dodge minor league free agency.

  • Ernest Dove Jr.

    I remain a big Urena fan but I’m a st Lucie Mets homer so that comes with a bias on my part lol.
    Through my rose colored glasses I choose to believe Urena simply got tired since he’d never played as much as a pro as he did last year.
    And I say he’d perhaps have been easily still a top 10 prospect in organization had he not broken his hands.
    For two years I’ve stated my concerns of his decision making at the hot corner but I really like his glove.
    I hope he dominates through 2018 but if his natural power I’ve seen doesn’t show I have no idea what position he could play. He doesn’t seem like a utility guy type.

  • Nessim Toledano

    Yeah, those are rose colored glasses. He played only seven more games in ’17 than he did in ’16. Granted, he started 25 more games in the field in ’17. It might explain why he dropped off the second time in August. But that doesn’t explain his first major dip starting in mid-May, or why that slump lasted for seven full weeks. More likely explanation is that the league started to figured him out. He eventually adjusted and started to get back on track. But the legitimately good prospects don’t usually need seven weeks to do that.

  • TexasGusCC

    As first base (outside of DH) is probably the easiest position to fill, first base prospects better be impressive, or they have no shot. If they had range and athleticism, they’d be at another position; and when I say athleticism, I compare it to MLB players.

    Too, first base is a masher’s position. Of the five names above, Alonso obviously deserves attention and Vazquez to a degree. That’s it! To tell me a guy repeating A Ball who was two years older than the average player impressed you, or that a kid that can stand at the plate and just take walks from minor league pitchers (I can do that) or an all or nothing A Ball player with no speed or average impresses you, then you need to stop being a homer and as a writer, be objective.

    The only five names I can even think of putting on this list – and it’s stretching the term “prospects” – are Alonso, Vazquez, Oberste, Boyd, and Winningham.

  • Bill Rosenberg

    Having watched him for the past 3 years at StLucie, I must admit, I had hoped for more. He swings at a lot of bad pitches, strikes out too much, and seems to dog it at times when running out ground balls. He has made questionable choices in the field, letting short fly balls fall between third and home and his throws to first are not totally accurate. In left field, he is a step slow. I don’t see him as more that a possibly capable AA player, but surely not a potential major leaguer.

  • Nessim Toledano

    While Boyd(IMO) may spend some time at 1B this year, he hasn’t played there for three years now. So I understand his exclusion from this list.
    I’ll admit to having been an Oberste fan. But even I have to acknowledge that his lack of HR renders him a non-prospect.
    And while I wholeheartedly agree that Urena is getting too much love here, he’s still more deserving than Dash Winningham. There’s only a year difference between them, but Winningham produced a much weaker slash line in mid-A than Urena did at advanced-A.
    More importantly, Winningham showed absolutely zero improvement in what was his second year in the same level leaving little reason to expect success at the next level.

  • TexasGusCC

    Boyd was moved off the position to help him have a better chance of making the majors since the system is barren of outfielders, Smith was ahead of him, and to allow for the style of hitter Boyd is – in that he has a line-drive doubles approach – as opposed to a first baseman’s power approach.

    Oberste was moved off first to third to give him a better chance since he was always on Smith’s level and Smith was always getting the TLC. Seems that project hasn’t worked out.

  • BWine

    Being in Columbia and watching Dash all season we all had high hopes for him year 2, he’s quickly becoming a household name here and that’s never a good thing in AAA ball, he has the power but he clearly doesn’t have the consistency needed. Putting him at #5 was very generous.

  • Nessim Toledano

    I know their histories and I’m not sure what your point is.
    My point was that Boyd wouldn’t make a list of 1st basemen if he hasn’t played there in three years, regardless of the reason.
    Oberste wasn’t moved, per se. He split his time equally between 3rd, 1st, and DH. And he had played 3rd occasionally even prior to last season. But regardless of position, Oberste’s lack of power, lack of progress, and now his age have rendered him a non-prospect. Last year was his chance to have a breakout year. He was out from under Smith’s shadow, and was repeating AA for the second time. His slash numbers didn’t move, his strike out rate went up, HR rate went down and he was less consistent than in previous years.

  • TexasGusCC

    Nessim, I do not quarrel with a word you say but merely point out how hard it is to even find five names. I opened my original comment with Alonso and maybe Vazquez as the only names I would even write as prospects. One may ask, “So, how do we cover first base?” And my answer would be to be honest.

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  • Nessim Toledano

    I don’t disagree with your assessment either, except, perhaps, that i think Urena, even with his short-comings, is probably still more of a prospect than Oberste at this point. But that’s hair-splitting since both have seen thier stock and credibility slip.
    Injuries derailed Boyd shortly after his move to the OF. But if the Mets don’t make a move in the free agent market, Boyd starts off 2018 as hotly as he ended 2017, and Smith struggles, Boyd could be get a shot at that right-handed “1B/OF type” role that Sandy is allegedly pursuing.