PHOENIX — The Mets have a shiny new prospect toy to add to their farm system.
Outfielder Jarred Kelenic, the team’s top draft pick last week, has officially signed his first pro deal, the Mets announced Friday.
Kelenic, 18, will join the Mets’ rookie-league Gulf Coast League affiliate in Port St. Lucie, Florida. The Mets will formally introduce Kelenic at Citi Field on June 27, when he will also take batting practice with the team before its series finale with the Pirates.
The deal is worth $4.5 million, a source said, well below the $5.5252-million pick value. The Mets can use the $1 million-plus they saved on the Kelenic pact to woo picks who might require an above-slot deal. MLB rules limit the Mets to $9.5809 million in bonuses for picks from the first 10 rounds (plus anything above $125,000 for players chosen in rounds No. 11-40).
The Mets spent part of that surplus to ink second-round righty Simeon Woods-Richardson, who also signed Friday. His bonus was $1.85 million, about $400,000 above slot, according to MLB.com.
At No. 6 overall, Kelenic is the Mets’ highest draft choice since 2004 (Philip Humber, third overall) and first prep first-rounder since Dominic Smith in 2013. Baseball America rated Kelenic as the top high school hitter in the draft, and he is the highest-drafted player from Wisconsin ever.
The Mets said they targeted the 6-1, 196-pound Kelenic, a centerfielder who might move to a corner spot, because of his all-around athleticism, with a belief that he’ll provide “two-way value,” said Marc Tramuta, director of amateur scouting.
“Another attraction to this young man is his makeup,” Tramuta said last week. “We felt very comfortable selecting a player this high in the draft who has tremendous makeup, passion for the game, intensity for the game.”
Even as an amateur, baseball was Kelenic’s de facto career — a reality shared by most of his fellow first-rounders, few of whom have taken it to the extreme that he has.
Kelenic never played for his alma mater, Waukesha West High, instead choosing to play for high-end travel teams and Team USA squads. As a sophomore, Kelenic decided to pursue graduating a semester early. He spent the months before the draft — what would normally be the end of his senior year — working out and focusing on baseball.
“That’s been his sole goal, to play in the big leagues and get drafted as high as possible,” Tramuta said.
The Mets, including area scout Chris Hervey, have followed Kelenic since 2015. Among their connections to Kelenic: John Hendricks, a Mets cross-checker, coached him during Team USA activities during the summer. Also for Team USA, Kelenic played under Glenn Cecchini, father of Mets minor-league infielder Gavin Cecchini, the team’s first-rounder in 2012.
The Mets have announced signings of 19 of their 40 draft choices. Here is a list of those who have signed:
First round: OF Jarred Kelenic (Waukesha West (Wis.) High
Seventh round: LHP Kevin Smith (University of Georgia)
Eighth round: RHP Tylor Megill (University of Arizona)
Ninth round: RHP Bryce Montes de Oca (University of Missouri)
10th round: SS Manny Rodriguez (University of Cincinnati)
12th round: OF Ross Adolph (University of Toledo)
13th round: RHP Christian Tripp (University of New Mexico)
15th round: C Phil Capra (Wagner College)
16th round: SS L.A. Woodard (Middle Tennessee St. University)
17th round: RHP Allan Winans (Campbell University)
23rd round pick RHP Saul Gonzalez (Montverde Academy-Fla.)
24th round: C Hayden Senger (Miami, Ohio, University)
25th round: OF David Miranda (Florida Atlantic University)
26th round: 3B Brian Sharp (University of Missouri)
28th round: RHP Mitch Hickey (UC-San Diego)
29th round: C Nelson Mompierre (St. Thomas University, Fla.)
30th round: 2B Chandler Avant (University of Alabama)
31st round: RHP Brendan Hardy (Harrison Central High, Miss.)
40th round: RHP Brian Metoyer (LSU-Alexandria)
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