The New York Mets drafted slugging first baseman Peter Alonso in the second round of the 2016 draft from the University of Florida.
During the 2016 season with Florida he mashed 32 extra base hits, knocked in 60 and had a 1.128 OPS in only 58 games as a junior. He also walked 31 times compared to 31 strikeouts and his overall offensive ability was a big reason why the Mets took him with the 64th overall pick.
The right-handed hitter didn’t disappoint in his pro debut slashing .321/.382/.587 with 12 doubles, five home runs and 21 RBI for the Brooklyn Cyclones in 2016.
It was more of the same in 2017 when Alonso he started the season in the Florida State League for the St. Lucie Mets and finished off in Double-A with the Binghamton Rumble Ponies. He hit .289/.359/.524 combined between the two with 27 doubles and 18 home runs including a .918 OPS in 11 games for the Rumble Ponies.
The problem for Alonso in 2017 was his defense which was bad all-around. The Mets and Pete took notice with him going to the Instructional League to work on his defense at first base.
It worked, in my look at him (sub-40 degree weather in Portland) he was improved defensively and scouts I’ve talked to have echoed that as well. Part of the reason for his better defense is the fantastic shape he worked himself into this offseason. He showed off a little more range, looked more comfortable moving around the bag and you could sense a confidence boost as well.
There’s still work to do defensively (pop-ups are a struggle, footwork around the base) though the Mets front office and national prospect gurus have started taking notice of his improvements. Keith Law said he’s likely a Top 100 MLB prospect right now.
The calling card is obviously his offense which has been elite in almost every area this season. He’s dominating Double-A as he leads the Eastern League in almost every category this year for the Binghamton Rumble Ponies. His numbers are outrageous and here are his rankings in all of the minor leagues thus far; .395 AVG (6th), .505 OBP (3rd), .756 SLG (3rd), .544 wOBA (2nd), 253 wRC+ (1st).
That’s right, he’s leading minor league baseball in weighted runs created plus. It’s also impressive to see that he as 16 walks (BB% up to 15 this year after 6.9% in 2017) and only 18 strikeouts (16.8%).
Alonso was recently named Eastern League Player of the Month for April. He’s certainly put himself into the conversation as the Mets top prospect alongside Andres Gimenez and David Peterson, and has moved into the Top 100 national prospect consideration.
MMO – What is it like playing in the current conditions of Binghamton, New Hampshire and Maine after playing college in Florida and last year for St. Lucie? What are some of the challenges of playing in sub 40 degree weather and snow?
Peter – It’s mostly mental right now I think, I had my agent send me some cold stuff and Binghamton does a really nice job of providing cold weather gear. In order to hit here it’s more of a mental task than physical. Growing up a huge baseball fan in general most of the teams in the playoffs are playing in the cold and how I’m attacking this right now is, if you can’t play in this than you can’t play in October.
MMO – Speaking of growing up, who were you favorite teams/players when you were a kid?
Peter – Mike Piazza, I used to catch way back in the day so Piazza had a huge influence on my career. Tampa Bay Rays were right there so I watched them. Also the Yankees had some great teams in the late 90s so I watched them some too. I was just such a huge baseball fan growing up, I love everything about the game. Later on when I turned into a power hitting first baseman, Paul Konerko was a guy I’ve tried to emulate.
MMO – What’s it like to have a former Florida teammate Eric Hanhold back here with you in Binghamton?
Peter – It’s awesome, it established chemistry because we played together for two years at Florida. We used to grind together, conditioning and in the weight room. We had some pretty good success together winning a 2014 regular season championship and going to Omaha the next season.
MMO – Sticking with the Florida theme, what’s it like playing along side Tim Tebow? What does he bring to the team?
Peter – It’s fun, I like having Tim on the team and he’s a great guy to have as a teammate. He comes out and works hard every day, he sets a good precedent. He also helps draw people to the ballpark, that’s no secret, it’s nice being able to play in front of a lot of people.
Last year in the Florida State League you could probably count how many people are in the stands on both hands then when he showed up it was like someone put an adrenaline shot in your leg. It was really nice because the fans started coming out to create a really fun environment.
MMO – To being your pro career you were less successful against righties than lefties, can you talk about any adjustments you’ve made vs righties because you been better this year and at the end of last year.
Peter – It’s all plate discipline, because I’d rather look bad on a slider than look bad on a fastball. I feel like now it’s more of a vocal point because I have seen lefties better. I don’t want to just hit lefties, I want to hit righties as well and dominated all pitching that I see.
MMO – Keeping in line with improvements, tell me about going to the Instructional League last year to work on your defense.
Peter – It was basically going back to the drawing board and creating a more simpler set up for myself at first base. It turned out that a couple of things were necessarily the cleanest, and also it was a mindset. People talk about slumping at the plate, but you can slump it the field and it was a huge lack of confidence.
I played really good defense in college, I played really good defense in Brooklyn, then it was a bad year last season. I hold myself to a high standard and I tried to figure it out, but I struggled and I struggled bad. It was about going back to the drawing board, building confidence and working on minor adjustments.
I’m really happy that Tim Teufel, our infield coordinator, spent loads of time with me and without him I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now. I think I’ve come a really long way defensively, I’m going to continue to get better and keep my confidence up. Hopefully at the end of the 142 game season I will show that I can pick, I know that I can and now I’m going to show it.
MMO – Awesome, thanks for your time and good luck this year.
Peter – Thank you, I appreciate your time.