We have voted on our Top 5 prospects at each position in the Mets minor league system. For the fifth installment in the series we now analyze the Mets five best first base prospects. We have already covered shortstop, second base, catcher, and third base.
The Mets first base situation is intriguing. On the one hand, you have a developing young hitter who could step right in and be a plus defender at the position right now. On the other, the Mets have a prospect that projects to have plus power at the position but with question marks regarding his swing.
With this being Lucas Duda‘s last year before free agency, the Mets may need to tab one of these players as the first baseman of the future. With that said, a lot is riding on the 2017 season for the Mets first base prospects.
#5 Jeremy Wolf
Ht: 6’2″ Wt: 200 lbs. Age: 11/2/93 (23)
2016 Level: Kingsport Mets
Stats: 50 G, 183 AB, 31 R, 53 H, 12 2B, 3B, 5 HR, 33 RBI, CS, .290/.359/.448
Wolf was widely regarded as the best hitter in Division III, and as such, the Mets drafted him with their 31st round draft pick and assigned him to the Rookie Leagues. Despite the significant jump in competition from Division III to the Rookie League, Wolf was undaunted, and he showed he is a polished hitter.
Despite his being a collegiate outfielder, the Mets put the 6’2″ Wolf at first base, where he played reasonably well. Ultimately however, it will probably be best for him to move back to the outfield if he is going to have a shot to go through this farm system because he is behind two well regarded first base prospects.
Wolf projects to play for the Columbia Fireflies at some point next season if doesn’t start there.
#4 Matt Oberste
Ht: 6’2″ Wt: 240 lbs. Age: 8/9/91 (25)
2016 Level: Binghamton Mets
Stats: 124 G, 413 AB, 53 R, 117 H, 21 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 54 RBI, SB, 2 CS, .283/.340/.409
The 2016 season was a tough one for Oberste. With the emergence of Smith, and the fact that Smith is a better regarded prospect, Oberste found himself having to learn a new position. He would struggle at third base, and ultimately, he would find himself as a DH.
Unfortunately, he regressed at the plate. After what was a strong 2015 season, Oberste saw a dip in his walk rate, and he hit for less power. Despite this, he was given a chance to play with the top prospects in the Arizona Fall League where he struggled as well. It was not the best of seasons for Oberste, but he has shown the ability to hit in the past.
Oberste will likely open the 2017 as a member of the Binghamton Rumble Ponies as he waits for a spot on the Las Vegas 51s to open up.
Ht: 6’2″ Wt: 225 lbs. Age: 10/11/95 (21)
2016 Level: Columbia Fireflies
Stats: 125 G, 465 AB, 41 R, 109 H, 31 2B, 2 3B, 12 HR, 69 RBI, CS, .234/.284/.387
Like Oberste, Winningham had a difficult 2016 season after a strong 2015 campaign. At the plate, Winningham had the same issues as Oberste in that he saw a drop in his walk rate, and he hit for less power. Another issue for Winningham was he started the year well only to have pitchers figure him out, and he failed to make the necessary adjustments.
There is still power in Winningham’s bat, and it is too soon to give up on the 21-year old. He should benefit from repeating in Columbia to start the year, and if the makes the adjustments necessary, he should be in St. Lucie relatively quickly.
#2 Peter Alonso
Ht: 6’3″ Wt: 225 lbs. Age: 12/7/94 (21)
2016 Level: Brooklyn Cyclones
Stats: 30 G, 109 AB, 20 R, 35 H, 12 2B, 3B, 5 HR, 21 RBI, CS, .321/.382/.587
When the Mets drafted Alonso, they were hoping to get that classic slugging first baseman. In Alonso’s brief time with the Brooklyn Cyclones he certainly fit the bill.
In his 30 games, Alonso showed he was definitively the best hitter out of the Mets 2016 draft. He dominated the New York Penn League being named a mid-season and post-season All Star despite only playing 30 games. That’s how good a hitter Alonso was. Unfortunately, Alonso broke his pinky in August while sliding back into second base.
Given the terrific start to his career, and based upon the disappointing season by Winningham, it is possible Alonso leapfrogs him and starts the year playing for St. Lucie.
Ht: 6’0″ Wt: 250 lbs. Age: 6/15/95 (21)
2016 Level: Binghamton Mets
Stats: 130 G, 484 AB, 64 R, 146 H, 29 2B, 2 3B, 14 HR, 91 RBI, 2 SB, CS, .302/.367/.457
The one question mark for Smith entering the season was whether he would ever hit for power.In the second half of the season, Smith answered many of those questions hitting .345/.413/.492. His 14 home runs was also more than double the amount he had hit in any season in which he has been a professional.
These numbers are all the more impressive when you consider it took place in the Eastern League where you usually see players struggle to hit for power. For example, Duda, a player with significant power, never had double digit home runs in the Eastern League. Smith’s season was more impressive when you consider he was the youngest player to play a full season in the Eastern League.
As you can see, Smith’s bat is starting to catch up to his glove. Because of that, Smith not only played in the Future’s Game for Team USA, he was the only player to play the full game at his position. In many ways, this was a breakout season for someone who was already a well regarded prospect.
Next season, Smith will play for the Las Vegas 51s. Depending on how he performs there, and how the major league team fares from a health standpoint, Smith may very well find himself playing in the majors.
Players that we also talked about in this discussion included Carlos Sanchez (.317/.382/.444 in GCL), Anthony Dimino (.333/.445/.413 between Kingsports/Brooklyn), Kevin Taylor (.288/.386/.404 in St. Lucie) and Jose Maria (.306/.362/.478 for Kingsport). All of whom played other positions besides just first in the 2016 season.
Editors Note – I recently talked to Dominic Smith’s personal trainer and he has lost 20-25 pounds while adding some muscle as well. Smith looks fantastic and continue the work with the trainer until February.