Saturday, February 23, 2019


By Michael Wong

Port St. Luice, Fla.--The New York Mets kicked off their exhibition schedule on Saturday versus the Atlanta Braves and already the Pete Alonso hype is getting gargantuan as the hulking slugger swatted a home run on the first pitch he saw.  New arriving second baseman Robinson Cano contributed an RBI single and potential sixth starter Hector Santiago tossed a scoreless frame with a walk and a hit batter which failed to quiet the Gio Gonzalez talk.  So with the 4-3 Mets win in the rearview mirror, let's discuss some of the more pressing issues in the team's camp.

1.  We might as well start with Alonso who wants to be called "Pete" now but no matter what he is called, there is no denying the massive power the prospective first baseman brings to the table.  Alonso went nuts to the tune of 36 total home runs at Double and Triple-A last season and he has the inside track to the starter's gig over Dominic Smith and Todd Frazier.  Obviously, power is the name of the game here and Alonso can be an easy 30 homer guy right out of the gate if he does make the team.  The concerns center on a high strikeout tendency which could hurt the average and also a shaky glove which we also saw Saturday as Alonso committed an error.  The bottom line here is that Alonso is still a work in progress as a hitter which will cap his potential fantasy baseball value but he is also one of the top sleeper rookie adds this spring in drafts given the awesome power.

2.  So what can Mets ace Jacob DeGrom do for an encore?  Wow was the 2018 NL Cy Young winner beyond tremendous last season as he posted a ridiculous 1.70 ERA and monstrous 11.16 K/9 rate despite getting brutal run support.  With an average fastball velocity that is right there at the top of major league baseball, DeGrom is a slam-dunk top-tier fantasy baseball ace who you can argue sits right behind Max Scherzer in 2019 drafts.  Now obviously DeGrom is not going to post a 1.70 ERA again but a mid-2.00 ERA with another 220 strikeouts are almost a lock.

3.  We would be remiss if we didn't mention new Mets catcher Wilson Ramos who has been a favorite of this site for years given his terrific hitting ability for the position but also for annually affordable draft costs due to pronounced injury history.  Yes the injuries are a major concern but Ramos is right there as the best hitter among all catchers.  Ramos has now hit over .300 in two of the last three seasons and he is fully capable of 15-20 homers as well.  The problem is that Ramos no longer has the DH option to rest his body and at the age of 31, more injuries are likely.  So in essence, you are drafting trouble which is almost guaranteed but still Ramos may be worth the risk given the brutal state of catching these days.

4.  Boy does Michael Conforto have a beautiful swing and that skill is what enabled him to reach the Mets in such a rapid fashion after being drafted.  The power is easy as well as we have seen when Conforto hit 27 and 28 home runs the last two seasons.  There was a very serious shoulder dislocation in between those campaigns but Conforto finally went into spring training healthy and 30 home runs with a career-best average are certainly within play.

5.  While Jacob DeGrom rightfully gets the majority of pitching pub, it needs to be said that it wasn't so long ago when Noah Syndergaard was the hype machine arm in the Mets rotation.  After lighting baseball on fire with his 100-mph missiles in a truly dominant 2016 breakout, Thor has had significant injury woes in each of the last two seasons to dull the upward trajectory.  Be that as it may, Syndergaard retains the nuclear arsenal that is capable of a Cy Young in any given season and so he should still be drafted by the end of Round 4 given the vast upside. 

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