by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Prior to the season this is how our Top 5 first base prospects looked (you can see our full Top 10 by clicking here):
- Yordan Alvarez – Houston Astros
- Pavin Smith – Arizona Diamondbacks
- Peter Alonso – New York Mets
- Ryan McMahon – Colorado Rockies
- Bobby Bradley – Cleveland Indians
We’ve already documented the struggles of Smith, while McMahon has been mishandled over the first few weeks (though he’s finally getting regular playing time in the Majors, albeit at second base). Bradley, hitting .176 at Double-A, has also taken his name out of the discussion. That leaves Alvarez and Alonso (since we aren’t going to include Ronald Guzman, who is slugging his way to a full-time role in Texas), but Alvarez no longer belongs on this list. He’s only played 1.0 inning at first base this season, when healthy (he’s currently on the DL), instead spending his time in LF.
So is there a challenger for Alonso at the top of these rankings? Maybe the Giants’ Chris Shaw would be considered, but like Alvarez he’s spent 2018 manning the outfield. Perhaps it’s the rising Matt Thaiss, who has slugged his way to Triple-A.
The fact is, first base is generally a shallow position for prospects and Alonso appears to be emerging as the top option (and it may not be close). That’s not to say that Smith or Bradley will not recover and challenge him by year’s end, or the finally healthy Edwin Rios won’t take the leap, but when you look at what Alonso has done at Double-A this is crystal clear:
2018 Statistics – .333 (57-171), 14 HR, 42 RBI, 37 R, 0 SB
Playing in the same league as Vladimir Guerrero Jr. it’s easy to overlook the production, but Alonso leads the Eastern League in home runs, is second in RBI (behind only Guerrero) and fifth in R. Those numbers are impressive, and the power is great to see, but it’s this type of approach that really separates him for the pack (entering the day on Tuesday):
- Strikeouts – 19.1%
- Walks – 16.3%
- SwStr% – 7.9%
You can argue that there’s no way he maintains the .365 BABIP or .333 AVG, but it’s clear he has the approach to be a .280+ hitter with the power to hit the ball out of any ballpark. The Mets, who have a long-term need at first base, have started testing Dominic Smith in the outfield. That should mean a promotion to Triple-A isn’t far off, and it’s not impossible that he gets tested in the Majors by year’s end.
A potential middle of the order thumper who brings everything but speed, there’s a lot to love about the upside and production. As of today he’d be the top prospect at his position, yet no one is talking about him. Don’t make that mistake.
Sources – MILB.com, Fangraphs
Missed our Top 100 prospect rankings? Make sure to check it out by clicking here. Also don’t miss all of our 2018 Preseason Positional Prospect Lists: