The New York Mets had 12 players make their major league debuts during the 2018 season.
Most of those players were bullpen arms, but the rookie that made the biggest impact was infielder Jeff McNeil.
McNeil broke out offensively in 2018 and hit .329/.381/.471 with 11 doubles, six triples, and three home runs in his first taste of the big leagues.
Here’s five players I believe will make their debut in 2019:
1. Pete Alonso, 1B – Might as well get the most obvious one out of the way. Alonso is a top 100 prospects and No. 1 or No. 2 for the Mets depending on the publication. He hit .285/.395/.479 with 31 doubles, 36 home runs, and 119 RBI in 574 plate appearances combined between Double-A and Triple-A.
Alonso has continued to show off elite power this spring with three doubles and three home runs in 29 at-bats. Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen has been adamant that the team will go north with the best 25 players despite that they can gain an extra year of control by holding back a couple of weeks.
Alonso has shown he’s certainly the Mets best option at first base so I expect to see him make his debut early on in 2019.
2. Ryder Ryan, RHP – The 23-year-old reliever was acquired by the Mets in 2017 when traded Jay Bruce to the Indians. He has pitched 66 innings in the Mets organization, in that time he has a 3.00 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 9.82 K/9, and has held opponents to a .195 average.
The former college infielder throws a four-seamer in the mid 90’s that he compliments with a swing-and-miss slider. He’s done a better job of commanding both pitches since coming to the Mets organization. The Mets are certainly going to use a number of relievers this year and Ryan was in big league camp to begin the spring.
3. Steve Villines, RHP – The sidearmer has been a strikeout machine since the Mets took him in the 10th round of the 2017 out of the University of Kansas. In 66.2 innings last season combined between Single-A Columbia Fireflies, Advanced-A St. Lucie Mets, and Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies, Villines struck out 96 batters.
In those 66.2 innings, Villines had a 3.11 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 7.38 SO/W, and allowed only three home runs. He works with a mid-to-high 80’s fastball and a sweeping slider that he uses in any count.
Villines earned himself a big league spring invite, though he allowed two runs in three innings. He’s one of the Mets best relievers not currently on the 40-man roster.
4. David Peterson, LHP – It’s no secret that one of the Mets weaknesses going into the 2019 season is their rotation depth. After Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Zack Wheeler they have question marks in Steven Matz and Jason Vargas to round out the rotation. After that they have the likes of Corey Oswalt, Chris Flexen, Hector Santiago, and Walker Lockett.
Next on that list could be Peterson. The Mets had 12 pitchers make a start in 2016, 13 in 2017, and 10 last season. The 23-year-old was in big league camp this spring and is likely going to start the year in Double-A Binghamton.
The Mets 2017 first round pick had a 3.16 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 3.83 SO/W, and gave up only two home runs in 128 innings last year in 128 innings between Columbia and St. Lucie. The lefty sinkerballer ranked third among 509 pitchers (100 IP min.) with his 64.5 ground ball percentage as his 0.14 HR/9 ranked fourth.
5. Matt Blackham, RHP – Here’s my dark horse candidate to make his MLB debut in 2019. The reliever was selected by the Mets in the 29th round of the 2014 draft from Middle Tennessee State University.
The 26-year-old had a 2.70 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 5.2 H/9, and 11.7 K/9 in 50 innings between St. Lucie and Binghamton last season. The glaring issue for Blackham last year was his control, he walked 30 batters and has a career 4.0 BB/9.
Blackham features a mid-90’s fastball and a knuckle-curve. Reports from early in minor league camp have been that he’s controlling his fastball better and that has earned him a chance to travel with big league team on multiple occasions.