During the course of the minor league season, we will periodically check-in and assess which Mets prospects have improved their games, and as a result, now see their stocks rising. There are a numbers of factors which will be assessed in deciding which prospects to highlight, including but not limited to on the field production.
Alonso is off to a fast start this season doing what we expect him to do – mash. Certainly, that is not surprising, but what is surprising is just how he is doing it.
Hidden in his great numbers last year was how much Alonso struggled with right-handed pitching. In 268 plate appearances, Alonso his just .254/.317/.467 off of right-handed pitching. That is a far cry from the .307/.397/.585 line he put up against left-handed pitching or even the .289/.359/.524 line he put up the whole season.
Through five games this season, Alonso is hitting a robust .333/.368/.778 with all of his homers and all but one of his doubles coming against right-handed pitching.
Another note with Alonso is he is showing signs of being more patient at the plate. Last year, he walked in just 6.9% of his plate appearance.While a small sample size, he has drawn three walks in 21 plate appearances, which is an improvement. Overall, Alonso is showing better plate discipline and a better approach against right-handed pitching.
Blake Tiberi, 2B/3B
Stats: .429/.467/.571 2B, HR, 4 RBI
MMN Rank: N/R
One of the reasons the Mets selected Tiberi in the third round of the 2016 draft was his good bat which had upside. During the his first two years in the Mets organization, his hitting never translated from college to the minor leagues.
After he was drafted and signed, Tiberi played 56 games for Brooklyn, and he only hit .235/.316/.316. He got off to a slow start with Columbia the following season hitting just .167/.318/.222 in five games.
At that point the root of Tiberi’s early season troubles might have been found. Tiberi was diagnosed with a torn UCL in his throwing arm, and he had Tommy John surgery which cost him basically all of his second second as a professional. Tiberi is now healthy, and he is finally showing the type of bat the Mets envisioned he would have when they drafted him.
Another important note for Tiberi is he is off to a great start at second base.When he was drafted, there were some questions about his defense. In an admittedly short sample size so far, he has displayed a very good 5.40 range factor at second base, has turned five double plays, and he has yet to make an error.
After an impressive first season with the Mets, Dunn’s named appeared on almost everyone’s Top 100 prospects lists. If you were to peruse those lists a year later, Dunn’s name would be nowhere near consideration.
The main reason was Dunn struggled in his first full season as a starter. In 16 starts, he was 3-6 with a 5.74 ERA and a 1.723 WHIP. He had trouble commanding the strike zone walking 4.8 batters per nine. When he did get a pitch in the strike zone, he was hit hard with opposing batters having a .294/.385/.421 batting line against him.
These results made you question if Dunn really belonged in the rotation. His brief dominating stint in the bullpen made those questions echo even louder.
Well, in the start to this season, Dunn is answering these questions emphatically. In his first two starts, he has yet to allow a run, and really, he has been practically unhittable. In addition to the return of a high strike out rate, Dunn has limited opposing batters to a .222/.282/.250 batting line. It’s crazy to think that is due for improvement because opposing batters have a .364 BABIP against him.
Right now, Dunn is not just finding the zone and limiting walks, he’s hitting his spots, and he’s getting outs. This is exactly the start he needed to this season, and it’s very possible he only improves from here.
Eric Hanhold, RHP
Stats: 1-0, 2.45 ERA, 0.818 WHIP, 2.5 BB/9, 9.8 K/9
MMN Rank: N/R
Remember the flurry of deals Sandy Alderson made last year to bring in six right-handed relief prospects? You’ve heard a good deal on a number of them including Jacob Rhame, who’s in the majors, and Ryder Ryan because the Mets now how both him and Jay Bruce.
The one not oft discussed is the pitcher the Mets got in return for Neil Walker – Hanhold. One of the reasons might be, Handhold had a 4.64 ERA and a 1.438 WHIP last year, and those were the best numbers he had posted in a three year minor league career. Well, based on the early returns this season, Hanhold is better than these numbers.
So far this year, Hanhold has been living in the mid 90s, and he has been hitting 99 MPH on the radar gun with a fastball that gets movement too. He’s using and better commanding that fastball not to just strike out four batters in 3.2 innings so far, but he is also keeping the ball on the ground with a 1.74 ground ball to fly ball ratio. Should also be noted Hanhold has been fantastic since moving to bullpen full-time last season, has 1.23 ERA in 44 innings.
Honorable Mention: In his first start of the season, Nabil Crismatt allowed just one hit with no walks and nine strikeouts in six scoreless innings. The raw Gerson Bautista, the crown jewel of the trade deadline last year, has struck out eight and walked none in three scoreless innings for Binghamton this year.