It isn't typical for a college draftee to attend instructional league play after finishing a first full season, especially if he's had a successful and healthy one. So it was a little surprising to see Peter Alonso on the Mets' instructs roster as the fall program opened up after a one-week delay due to Hurricane Irma.
By all accounts, Alonso, the Mets' second-round pick from the 2016 Draft had a strong first full professional year. The University of Florida product, ranked No. 7 on the Mets' Top 30 Prospects list, spent most of the year in the Class A Advanced Florida State League, a circuit rightfully known as a pitching-friendly league, and eventually hit his way up to Double-A. Combined, the first baseman finished with a .289/.359/.524 line to go along with 18 homers. That came in 93 games as a broken hand forced him out early for six weeks.
But Alonso isn't at instructs, which runs to October 14 for the Mets and will not include any games against other organizations this fall, to make up for lost at-bats. The Mets wanted Alonso to come to St. Lucie to focus specifically on one side of his game.
"Instructional league is a time for continued exposure of specific refined work," Mets farm director Ian Levin said. "He has some work to do with his defense. We brought him in to make some strides in that area."
Alonso, who played third in high school but was a first baseman for the Gators over the course of his career, played 83 games at first in 2017. He made 19 errors in that span. While that rarely tells the whole story about a prospect's defensive ability, it's clear there is room for improvement. The hope is the extra work Alonso is getting now will help make sure that his glove doesn't keep his bat from continuing a quick path to the big leagues.
"He realizes that's an area he needs to continue to improve at," Levin said. "He's put in a good amount of effort and he's totally on board. His bat has the chance to be impactful, and we want to make sure he's ready for that so he can live up to that."
Those looking at Dominic Smith getting settled in at first base in the big leagues might be wondering how that will play out, given that neither player is capable of playing elsewhere. Levin definitely has a "cross that bridge when we get there" approach to the subject.
"Guys will always find a way to play," Levin said. "You'd rather have more than less."