Mets won't call up slugger Alonso in September

Club's No. 2 prospect disappointed he will finish season at Triple-A

August 28th, 2018

CHICAGO -- Throughout this summer, Peter Alonso believed as long as he continued crushing baseballs as well as just about anyone in professional baseball, his year would end with a trip to the Majors.
Earlier this week, Alonso received a phone call from Mets executive Omar Minaya, who told him that will not happen. Although tempted to reward the standout season of the organization's second-ranked prospect by MLB Pipeline, the club on Tuesday made official what many around the team have suspected for weeks: it will not call up Alonso when rosters expand in September.
For the Mets, it is a business decision that allows them to allot playing time elsewhere, and to keep an extra 40-man roster spot free this offseason. For Alonso, it is an emotional blow at the tail end of a year that has seen him hit 18 home runs in 60 games at Triple-A Las Vegas.
"I'm not going to lie, it's really disheartening and disappointing, because one of the things that people tell you is as long as you are successful, you're going to be in the big leagues," Alonso said during a phone interview. "It's just one of those things where I understand it's an organizational decision, and at the end of the day, I have to respect that. But it's really disheartening because I feel like I've performed, and am deserving of a reward.
"At the end of the day when you look up, it's like, what else can you do? I guess the answer is nothing."
Alonso's regular season will end when Las Vegas plays its final game on Monday. He will then travel to the Arizona Fall League for more work at first base, which the Mets were unwilling to give him in New York.
"He's had an unbelievable season," assistant general manager John Ricco said. "He's done everything we asked. He had a great year in Double-A. We moved him up to Triple-A. He's having a really good year. But the way we see it, the lack of playing time is a big factor."
In 125 games split between those levels, Alonso is hitting .277 with 33 home runs, 111 RBIs and a .953 OPS. Mets officials in the past have pointed to Alonso's defensive struggles as a reason for his extended stay in the Minors, though he was recently named Las Vegas' Defensive Player of the Month.
"I know people say I stink at defense," Alonso said. "I'm going to let all those people know that I figured a lot of things out. Yes, there's always room to improve, but one day I'm going to win a Gold Glove [Award]. I know a lot of people are going to be surprised that I'm saying that, but in my heart, I know that's going to happen. I know I'm going to keep working. I want this more than anybody.
"There are so many people in the baseball world that are striving to become big leaguers or get back to the big leagues. But I guarantee you none of them want it more badly than I want it."
With , and all requiring first-base reps in September, Ricco said, there was not enough playing time available to make an Alonso promotion worthwhile. Alonso disagreed, recalling how much he benefited from being around the varsity team in high school when he did not play as a freshman. This week, he plans to pick rehabbing All-Star 's brain in Las Vegas about what it takes to be a big leaguer.
"If I were to get three at-bats in September, I would be over the moon because I would be there," Alonso said. "The one thing I would do even if I don't play, or if I don't get much of an opportunity to play, would be to watch and learn. ... They said there's not going to be enough playing time up there, but I don't need much."
For the Mets, there are also roster considerations at play. By waiting to call up Alonso, the organization can delay putting him on its 40-man roster until next year. The club can also potentially keep him in the Minors long enough next season to prevent him from becoming a Super Two arbitration-eligible player.
Keeping Alonso in the Minors, however, is in many corners an unpopular decision. In a statement, Alonso's agents Adam Karon and Tripper Johnson called the Mets' decision "disheartening for Peter after producing an historically great season," and "equally disheartening for Mets fans who would enjoy watching and getting to know one of the more talented and entertaining players they've developed in years."
Since learning of the team's decision, Alonso has tried to stay as positive as possible, leaning on his late grandfather's life mantra: "Just keep on swinging."
"It hurts because I play with passion," Alonso said. "The amount of success I've had this year, I look up and I'm like, 'Man, I can do this. I can play. I'm doing it this year.' To not get called up, to me, it's heartbreaking because I put everything I have into making the big leagues."