Improved Defense Puts Peter Alonso On Track
As remarkable as Peter Alonso's offensive numbers were at Double-A Binghamton, it's his defense that has Mets officials raving.
The 23-year-old first baseman was a defensive liability last season, when he committed 19 errors in 83 games, as the organization pondered whether he had a future in the infield. But by the time spring training concluded this year, it became clear that Alonso was improving dramatically.
"It's very noticeable—the kid is working his tail off," a Mets executive said. "Even talking to (him), his confidence is high. He's come a long way because he's worked real hard at it."
Alonso's defensive strides have come in multiple areas.
"His footwork has improved, and his recognition off the bat has gotten better. His backhand is good," a minor league talent evaluator said. "He has improved on popups and is working on glove-side grounders. His throwing is solid."
At the plate, Alonso hit .352/.466/.648 with eight home runs through 31 games, and his 1.114 OPS ranked eighth in the minors. The 2016 second-round pick out of Florida stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 230 pounds, and the righthanded batter must contend with another top prospect at his position.
Dominic Smith, who bats lefthanded and has big league experience, returned to Triple-A Las Vegas to begin this season after recovering from a spring quad injury.
Alonso, who led the Southeastern Conference with 14 homers and ranked fifth with a .374 average as a junior, is expected on the Mets' radar for a possible callup in 2019.
"We always knew he could hit, but his defense has really kicked in," the Mets executive said. "He is playable—more than playable—at first base. It's too early to think about (the major leagues), but I think he is on the right track."
Pete Alonso Wins 2019 National League Rookie of the Year
Alonso fell just short of unanimous selection. Mike Soroka received one first-place vote and 25 second-place votes.
>> Lefthander P.J. Conlon made his major league debut on May 7, allowing three earned runs on four hits and two walks over 3.2 innings. Conlon, a native Ireland who moved to Southern California as a youth, became the first Ireland-born player to appear in the majors since the Washington Senators' Joe Cleary in 1945.