The great sell-off will begin in the near future and players like Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilmer Flores, Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce may find themselves joining teams in the playoff hunt while the Mets continue to dive in the standings. While all of that chaos continues at the major league level there is a player, now with AAA, who deserves a shot at the majors. His name (surprisingly) is not Peter Alonso.
Drafted in the 12th round of the 2013 draft Jeff McNeil was never thought of as more than a bench option of the future. The utility style player hit for contact but didn’t have enough speed or power to make a bid for a starting position on a good team. He posted a .822 OPS in 2013, a .761 OPS (between two levels) in 2014 and a solid .755 OPS in 2015 (in Advanced A Port St. Lucie) but nobody saw 2018 coming.
That’s partially because McNeil was injured for almost all of 2016 playing only 3 games for the Binghamton Mets. Then, in 2017, he began his rehab in Port St. Lucie and then put out a pedestrian .665 OPS in AAA. In the last two seasons combined, though, he only managed 51 games played. What was he working on during that time?
Power, power and power. In 2018 the Mets began McNeil’s season in AA Binghamton with the Rumble Ponies. Take a look at these two players:
G AVG OBP SLG 2B 3B HR
Player A 65 .314 .440 .573 12 0 15
Player B 57 .327 .402 .626 16 3 14
Player A is Peter Alonso, who scouts predict could be a great power hitter once he reaches the majors and the Player B is none other than McNeil who somehow hit for more power than the slugging first baseman.
Now that McNeil has reached the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League his numbers have done what we’d hope they would. Currently, McNeil has a .393/.453/.655 batting line in Las Vegas to go with 8 doubles, a triple and 4 home runs. He’s even managed to swipe a pair of bases in his 21 games so far.
McNeil is very much a left-handed utility player who has experience playing mostly second base with time at third, the outfield, shortstop and even first base during his minor league career. He is considerably better against right-handed pitcher than left-handed though those splits look better in AAA than AA. He also has shown an ability to get hits with two outs and steal a base on occasion.
Peter Alonso is struggling – Nothing to worry about but the calls for his promotion have rightfully dried up.
Justin Dunn has already had a great year – If he didn’t have another start in 2018 I would already be happy with the rebound that Dunn has seen.
Tim Tebow is hitting more – If you like wholesome thirty year olds with a propensity to strike out, Tebow has certainly gotten his batting average on the rise.
Andres Gimenez in the midst of a streak – He’s got a modest hitting streak going and has proven, I think, that he’s ready for AA.
David Peterson endures a rough one – His fourth game for Advanced A did not go as well as the first three.
Anthony Kay has a nice debut – 7.1 IP in your debut at a higher level of the minors is already impressive on its own.
Ali Sanchez earns a promotion – Out of the dog house and on the rise, the Met catching prospect has hit in his first taste of Port St. Lucie.
Hansel Moreno on a tear – The shortstop has hit .324 over his last 10 games while also stealing four bases and walking four times.
Jaison Vilera is certainly on the depth chart – He looks to be the best starter in Brooklyn and has earned a starting role for the 2019 Fireflies.
Mark Vientos still progressing well – His numbers aren’t flamboyant but his age is still so very low.
Shervyen Newton whiffs too much – He’s struck out 17 times in his past 10 games.
Anthony Dirocie swinging a power bat – He’s got a slugging percentage in the .700s which is outstanding.
Raul Beraciarta might be something – Kingsport has been good to hitters but it can’t make you have more walks than strikeouts.
Jarred Kelenic has done it all – He’s hit, shown power, shown speed and even proven he can take a walk on occaision.
Ronny Mauricio finally walks – It took him 16 games to manage the free pass.
Andres Regnault has mashed it all season – The catching prospect has hit, with power, and has even shown the ability to walk.
Cesar Loaiza masterful in his last start – 5.0 innings with 10 strikeouts is pretty darned impressive.