Late last week the New York Mets released which non-roster players would be attending Spring Training with the big league club. Some names were surprising and others should be exciting to watch. Springtime is always a good time to see what is in store for the club’s future. While none of these players are expected to make the big league club, watching their talents against Major League competition is a fun part of the preseason. Pitchers and catchers report on February 12, baseball season is right around the corner. Here is a break down of a few of the most intriguing non-roster invitees.
Tim Tebow OF
And for the most surprising news of the week… Tim Tebow has been invited to Spring Training with the New York Mets. Yes, you read that right, the former college and pro football star is still playing baseball. It is going to be Tebowmania in Port St. Lucie for the second spring in a row as the 30-year-old is going to attend his first full big league camp.
According to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, Tebow is receiving rave reviews about his plate discipline and power, but in the end, he is hardly a prospect. The former Heisman Trophy winner held his own last season. He hit eight home runs and drove in 52 RBI’s while hitting .226/.309/.347. Tebow split time between the Mets full and advanced Single-A affiliates. Who knows, maybe the Mets will sell a few extra seats? Maybe his presence will affect the team positively?
Peter Alonso 1B
23-year-old Peter Alonso is the most intriguing of the group. The young slugger has flown up prospects lists, he now finds himself sitting at number seven on MLB.com’s “Top 10 First Basemen”. According to Johnathon Mayo, Alonso is the highest riser on this year’s list.
The first baseman spent most of last season at High Single-A in Port St. Lucie. He slugged 16 home runs and drove in 58 RBI’s while hitting .286/.361/.561 before getting called up to Double-A Binghamton at the end of last season.
Scouts rave about his raw power potential. According to MLB.com’s “2017 Prospect Watch”, some scouts rate his power at a 70/80. Metsblog’s Matthew Cerrone has reported that many teams have contacted the Mets about their prospect as they continue to look for possible trade partners to improve their Major League roster. Alonso’s current ETA is 2019, he is certainly a prospect worth paying attention to as the 2018 season approaches.
Drew Smith RHP
The spoils from the Lucas Duda trade are set to make their first appearance this March. The 24-year-old right-handed reliever made a statement during his 2017 campaign. Drew Smith spent time at five different levels in two team’s organizations, throwing 42 games and posting a minuscule ERA of 1.65.
He was a part of the number of Mets’ deals last summer that brought back a few young bullpen arms, Smith and his fellow tradees can all light up the radar gun. Smith offers a fastball that sits in the mid 90’s as well as a solid curveball. He was able to pitch more in the strike zone last season (only walking 14 batters in 60 innings), as well as recording seven saves in 12 attempts.
Smith was seen as being a possible future closer while he was in the Rays’ organization. While he is a lesser prospect, it will certainly be interesting to see how he performs against Major League competition.