Sandy Alderson's farm system has been criticized a lot during the past 12 months. That said, Alderson has some hitters worth watching, even if they're not yet getting a lot of attention.
Frankly, this may be the first time in a decade that I left St. Lucie more impressed with the team's young position players than their pitching.
These five caught my eye most...
1) 1B Peter Alonso (ETA: 2019, Age: 23)
He's a big dude with legit, raw power, so much so that your ears will tell you when he's at bat. Alonso, who was drafted in the second round two years ago, reached Double-A last season, which was hist first full year of professional baseball. However, he missed the first six weeks last year with a broken hand, so it wasn't until the second half that he really got in to a groove. Once stable, he reduced his strikeouts and finished second in the organization in home runs.
He can field at first base, but as a right-handed first baseman with a so-so arm, my hunch is he'll eventually need to move positions to find his way to the big leagues.
I assume Alonso will begin his 2018 season back with Double-A Binghamton, but he'll be with Triple-A Las Vegas sooner than later. And when he gets there, with his size and strength, and being already 23, he's going to hit a ton of home runs and end up rattling Dominic Smith's cage a bit...
2) SS Andres Gimenez (ETA: 2020, Age: 19)
He's small, skinny and just 19, yet he appears to have better pitch-selection than most hitters on the team's expected 25-man roster. He may never be a power hitter, but -- again, despite his age and because he only seems to swing at pitches in his wheelhouse -- he hits the ball square, super-hard and with a nice, compact, quick, left-handed, slap-style swing.
Gimenez played 12 games at second base in 2016, otherwise he's been a shortstop. He should probably stay there in 2018 to let him focus on his bat and remaining comfortable as a professional baseball player in his teens. However, if Amed Rosario develops as expected for the Mets this summer, the organization may want to consider again getting Gimenez time at second base, where his speed, glove and plate discipline could prove to be a nice asset.
3) Luis Guillorme (ETA: 2018, Age: 23)
I've written a lot about Guillorme's fielding, which is absolutely incredible. He has the quickest hands and best instincts of anyone I have seen up close in a long, long time. However, it turns out, he's also a much better hitter than I was giving him credit for in the past. He's got a very good eye, walking more often than he strikes out. He also makes strong contact and pulls the ball with authority.
In small talk with Mets insiders, I don't know if they are sold on him ever being an everyday infielder because he may always lack the punch needed to be more than just a singles hitter. That said, if he can continue to get work at second and third base, with his glove, instincts, personality and selective eye, he'd be a fabulous utility infielder. I can see him getting 450 at-bats, playing three positions, never hurting a team at bat, and instantly upgrading the infield's defense whenever in the lineup...
4) 3B David Thompson (ETA: 2018, Age: 24)
Team officials were very impressed with how Thompson rebounded after a terrible April last season. Instead of struggling in to the summer, he made a few adjustments, turned things around and didn't stop until the end of the Arizona Fall League. They also like how he's improved in the field, where he was a bit of butcher when drafted, but now profiles as a solid third baseman.
Thompson will eventually hit this season in Triple-A Las Vegas, where his swing and power will generate head-turning numbers. The Mets have no long-term answer at third base, so the road is open for him to keep grinding, growing and get himself to the hot corner in Citi Field sooner than later...
5) OF Zach Borenstein (ETA: Anytime, Age: 27)
Borenstein signed with the Mets as a minor-league free agent this past winter. He was invited to big-league camp because, I assume, he'll be the first guy they call on from Triple-A if needing an emergency outfielder. He's basically playing the role of Travis Taijeron, which is a guy with big-league power that strikes out way too much to be an everyday big-league player. Of course, things change, which is why I put him on this list. Because, despite his history for swings and misses, any time I saw him connect in St. Lucie last week, he crushed the ball. His power was noticeable.
I can totally see him getting a midseason promotion to the Mets and hitting a few key home runs, while getting fans and Mickey Callaway excited about his potential. Then, as quickly as he arrived, he goes hitless in 20 at-bats, is designated for assignment, and never heard from again...
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!