Top prospect lists are not an easy thing to compile and they are an even harder thing to get right. I’ve done these for the past few years and while they provide interesting discourse, they are more often breeding grounds for second guessing oneself.
Should I have ranked so-and-so higher? Should I have ranked you-know-who lower? Should I have mentioned he-who-should-not-be-named?
Two things that I do not second guess are the players I ranked first and second. When I began my list I listed them and didn’t look back. The Mets top prospects aren’t elite Top 10 MLB prospects as we’ve seen in the years of Amed Rosario and Noah Syndergaard but I feel strongly that they both appear on course to be elite Major League Players.
One is a young player looking to make the most of an impressive South Atlantic League season. The other is a power hitting college groomed first baseman who hit his way from Port St. Lucie into Binghamton. One is looking to someday shift Rosario out of his position and the other is trapped behind Dominic Smith and Adrian Gonzalez.
2. Peter Alonso, 1B (Bats: R Throws: R Age: 23) – This big righty has the bat to go places and is held back by only his position from reaching the majors in short order. Consider that Alonso has only played two years in the minors and has impressed in both a difficult hitting league and two leagues that are reasonable good barometers for major league success. The big question with him is not if he will hit, it’s now if he will hit more than Dominic Smith.
The reason for this is that Alonso has no other natural position other than first and the Mets don’t want to put the next Lucas Duda into the outfield to botch easy fly balls and that means there isn’t room for both. The rub is that Smith is actually a year younger than Alonso and while Smith wasn’t good in his MLB debut there are reasons to believe that Smith will be the better player. Alonso is more prone to swing and miss and has worse defensive scouting than Smith.
However, where Smith is still a capable hitter and (allegedly) good defensively, Alonso’s power is quite promising. In 2016 he hit 5 home runs in only 30 games of NYP baseball. In 2017 he followed that up by hitting 16 home runs in Advanced A and 2 more in his brief 11 games at AA. It is almost enough for the Mets to conceive of testing Alonso at AAA if Smith were not there. The Mets are not likely to do that either way but we have reason to expect Alonso to finish his 2018 campaign ready for the majors. It’s entirely possible that Smith and he are battling for the starting job next Spring.
Andres Gimenez, SS (Bats: L Throws: R Age: 19) – When a player this young plays at a Full Season A level he’s worth paying attention to. When he manages to nearly lead the team offensively, he’s worth getting excited about. Gimenez combines strong defensive scouting with both speed and some power.
If this scouting sounds familiar, it should. Rosario had a fairly similar outlook at one point. Gimenez is likely to headline the Port St. Lucie Mets where Desmond Lindsay, Justin Dunn and (eventually) Thomas Szapucki will also be playing. That puts him only 2-4 seasons from the majors with a lot to prove.
On a team with a highly ranked farm system a player like Gimenez would not be your top prospect. He’s too strongly reliant on his ceiling of talent. That’s why I talk about how differently the scouts and major league pundits would view the Mets if Dunn and Lindsay didn’t have poor years. It’s hard to get too overly optimistic about a team whose best prospect is only 19 years of age and only has one year on the state side minor league teams. Far better to have a few top picks to hang your hat on.
Still, you gotta love a player who has the potential that Gimenez has. If he has a good year in Advanced A the Mets will have another Top shortstop on the Best Prospect lists throughout the league.