Position Player of the Week: Peter Alonso
Acquired: 2nd round, 2016 MLB Draft
Weight: 225 lbs
Affiliation: St. Lucie Mets (Single-A)
Statistics from 7/10-7/16: 5 G, .389/.389/.722, 7 H, 3 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI
The New York Mets selected Peter Alonso in the second round of the 2016 MLB Draft out of the University of Florida. Alonso, who forewent his senior year of collegiate ball to enter the draft, had been ravaged with injuries during his three seasons as a Gator. He had suffered a fractured right foot twice, a broken nose, and a fractured left hand, but the Mets loved his raw power. During Alonso’s junior season, he slugged 12 home runs and 14 doubles, and impressed even more during the 2016 College Baseball World Series, hitting .500 (16-for-32) with five home runs, four doubles, 12 runs scored, and 13 RBI.
After signing with the Mets, Alonso was immediately assigned to the Brooklyn Cyclones roster. It did not take a long time for the Tampa native to make an impression, as he started his professional career off with a seven-game hit streak. Alonso quickly became a threat in the middle of the Cyclones lineup, but unfortunately his season was cut short after he broke his right pinkie finger while attempting to avoid a tag at second base. Nevertheless, Alonso’s rookie season was seen as a success, as he finished with a .321/.382/.587 slash line in 30 games.
New York gave the 22-year old a slight bump in 2017 by placing him in St. Lucie. While his overall numbers have dipped a considerable amount, the Mets believe that Alonso’s offensive ability will carry him through the minor league system. The tall slugger is still several years away from a potential MLB call-up, but a strong finish to the 2017 year could push his way on the Top 10 Mets Prospects List as soon as next year.
Position Player of the Week: Mickey Jannis
Acquired: Free Agent, July 2015
Weight: 195 lbs
Affiliation: Binghamton Rumble Ponies (Double-A)
Statistics from 7/10-7/16: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO
The last knuckle-ball pitcher that the Mets had before Mickey Jannis had been R.A. Dickey, who was ultimately dealt to Toronto after a miraculous 2012 season. A common theme amongst most knuckle-ballers, Jannis did not always throw the unorthodox pitch. As a 44th round draft pick by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2010 MLB Draft, the Nevada native was met with long odds in professional baseball. After two seasons in the lower levels of Tampa Bay’s minor league system, Jannis was released from his contract. It was that move, however, that may have saved his career, as he turned to the knuckle-ball for answers.
Jannis’ career path led to a variety of stints with Independent league teams, including the Lake Erie Crushers, Bristane Bandits, Bridgeport Bluefish, Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, and Long Island Ducks. It was with the Ducks that the hurler caught the eye of MLB scouts, as he produced a 1.18 ERA in 83.2 innings. Jannis signed a minor league deal with the Mets, but struggled mightily in his return. That year, he put up a dreadful 5-12 win/loss record with a 5.69 ERA in 27 games (23 starts), while splitting time between Binghamton and St. Lucie.
In 2017, the Mets elected to give Jannis another shot in the Binghamton rotation, and he has looked considerably better than previous seasons. As of July 17, the right-hander has a 4.02 ERA in 15 starts, which could be enough to allow for a late-season call-up to Triple-A. Right now, it is tough to project exactly what the Mets have in Jannis, but as history has shown with Dickey, Tim Wakefield, Phil Niekro, and Charlie Hough, among others, knuckleball pitchers could be late-bloomers. At 29 years old, Jannis is still very young in knuckleball-thrower terms, so it would be wise for New York to sit back and see how he develops. As we saw a few years ago, Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen has an excellent track record with knuckleball hurlers, so time will tell to see if the Mets plan on pushing Jannis forward in the minor league system.