Mets 1B prospect Pete Alonso hit his fourth home run of the spring on Sunday.
"I felt like last year I had a pretty solid year and I feel like this year I'm composing myself to have an even better year," Alonso recently told reporters in St. Lucie.
Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen and manager Mickey Callaway have repeatedly said they want to leave Florida with the best 25 guys on the Opening Day roster.
Alonso entered Monday leading the Mets in home runs (4) and RBI (9) this spring and tied for the team lead in doubles (4), yet it is widely believed that he may begin the year in Triple-A in an effort to delay when he can become a free agent.
The majority of Mets fans - myself included - want Alonso starting at first base on Opening Day. In fact, in a poll recently run on Twitter by The7Line, 83 percent of nearly 5,000 voters want Alonso at first on Day One.
The top projection systems, including ZIPs, PECOTA and Steamer, have Alonso hitting close to 30 home runs, 100 RBI and roughly 3.0 WAR. Obviously, he produces less for every day he spends in the minor leagues.
In either case, whether he's on the Opening Day roster or gets called up in May, it's hard to imagine how Alonso doesn't at least contend for NL Rookie of the Year - let alone win it.
That said, I see these six prospects giving Alonso a run for his money.
Victor Robles (OF, Nationals, 21 years old)
Despite appearing each of the past two seasons for the Nationals, because he only has 83 at bats during that time, Robles still qualifies as a rookie.
As such, based on conversations I've had with MLB insiders, he is clearly the early favorite to win NL Rookie of the Year in 2019.
Robles hit .288 with a .348 OBP, three home runs and three stolen bases in 21 games last season, exciting Washington and proving why he's a favorite to win Rookie of the Year this coming year.
Robles is likely one of many reasons why the Nationals felt they could survive by letting Bryce Harper sign with the Phillies. Robles can also hide behind the popularity of last season's rookie sensation, Juan Soto, who will start in left field next to Robles.
He is viewed across baseball as potential superstar in Washington, where the major projection systems predict he'll hit .270 with 10-15 homers and close to 30 doubles and 30 stolen bases, while producing between 2.0-4.0 WAR.
Fernando Tatis Jr. (SS, Padres, 20 years old)
Tatis Jr. is widely expected to join the trend of 19-and-20-year-old rookie phenoms, such as Soto and Atlanta's Ronald Acuna.
He is known for his raw power, but he'll also strike out a lot. As a result, he's not projected to have a high batting average, but could very easily hit 30 home runs and swipe roughly 25 bases during his first full season.
Like Alonso, though, it's expected that San Diego will hold Tatis Jr. down to start the season and protect against beginning his service time. But once promoted in May, if he lives up to expectations, he'll quickly be in the running for Rookie of the Year.
"He (has) all the ingredients to become an offensive force in the Majors, as his bat speed, leveraged swing and overall capacity to make adjustments all portend a future plus hitter with plus power," MLB.com wrote last summer. "Tatis Jr.'s bat gives him the ceiling of a perennial All-Star, possibly even an MVP candidate in his prime."
Luis Urias (2B, Padres, 21 years old)
Urias made his MLB debut last season and is currently ranked as their third-best prospect, according to MLB.com. He performed well in the field and at the plate in late 2018, but quickly suffered a groin injury that ended his season after just 12 games.
He also missed five days this spring due to fatigue in both hamstrings, but was 6-for-18 with one home run before the absence.
Urias is been expected to be on San Diego's Opening Day roster. He'll start at shortstop and hit daily at the top of their order, which includes Eric Hosmer and now Manny Machado. He will likely shift to second base when the Padres call up Tatis.
"Urias has the ingredients to hit atop a lineup while manning a middle-infield position for a long, long time," the team from MLB.com wrote last summer.
The six main projection systems have him producing anywhere from a 1.5 to 3.0 WAR player, hitting around .260 with just under 30 doubles and 10 home runs, while playing a 130 or so games.
Keston Hiura (2B, Brewers, 22 years old)
Milwaukee's top prospect, Hiura is currently ranked the No. 1 second base prospect in baseball, according to MLB.com,
He has just 165 games - including 73 in Double-A - under his professional belt having been drafted with the organization's top pick in 2017.
"Hiura has a short, impactful right-handed stroke with a ton of bat speed and outstanding feel for the barrel," MLB.com wrote this past summer. "He projects to hit for a high average and shows at least average in-game power, with the ball coming off of his bat differently than most to all fields."
He is again expected to begin the season in the minor leagues, but could see a promotion to the big leagues if Milwaukee suffers an injury in their everyday lineup. If he's promoted, it's quite possible he takes hold of his opportunity and never looks back...
Touki Toussaint (SP, Braves, 22 years old)
The Braves have multiple young pitchers that could contend for NL Rookie of the Year, but Toussaint is likely to get the most starts over the course of the full season. In addition, his swing-and-miss repertoire landed him on Atlanta's postseason roster in 2019, which is why he's expected to break camp in their Opening Day rotation.
He featured a four-seam, low-90s fastball, a split-finger, sinker and a curve ball. According to FanGraphs.com, the sinker is his most effective pitch.
Touissant put up a 1.43 ERA in Triple-A prior to his promotion last season, which was an improvement over his previous numbers making his way up their system. He is expected to be produce sliughtly more than 1.0 WAR, close to 10 strikeouts per nine innings and a FIP and WAR in the mid-4.00s.
In addition to Touissant, Braves rookie Kyle Wright could also factor in to the NL Rookie of the Year race. He was initially expected to begin the season at Triple-A, but a recent injury to Atlanta's ace, Mike Foltynewicz, could mean Wright getting a start or two during April. If he pitches well, maybe he sticks? If not, he'll go down and be charged with continuing to improve the command of his four-pitch arsenal.
Alex Verdugo (OF, Dodgers, 22 years old)
Similar to Robles, despite being called up to the Dodgers each of the past two years, during which he got just 100 at bats, Verdugo still qualifies for Rookie of the Year.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts recently told The Athletic that he expects Verdugo to be on the Opening Day roster, though it's possible he doesn't get regular playing time until a spot opens up due to someone's struggles or injuries. Thankfully for him, Verdugo can play all three outfield positions and has a terrific arm, so it will not be long before he's getting consistent at bats.
He is not known for being a power hitter. Instead he's more of a contact guy that puts the ball in play, which should mean plenty of opportunities to score runs and steal bases.
If able to play 130 or so games, the top projection systems have him hitting around .270 with just over 10 homers, close to 30 doubles, fewer than 70 strikeouts and producing around 1.5 WAR.
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Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. His new book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime. To check it out, click here!