The Mets raised eyebrows Monday night by selecting Brandon Nimmo, a high school outfielder from Wyoming, with the 13th overall pick in the amateur draft. The team's new front office also made a statement, showing an outside-the-box mentality and perhaps a willingness to spend "over slot" to sign him.
That continued later in the night when the Mets picked Michael Fulmer, a righthander from Deer Creek (Okla.) High School, at No. 44, the supplemental pick they received when the Yankees signed Pedro Feliciano.
"We're looking for impact," said Paul DePodesta, the Mets' vice president for player development and scouting. "We are looking for guys -- not ones who can just get here but who can get there and make a difference. That's the way we're going to win 95 games, 100 games.
"We're not necessarily looking for quick fixes. We hopefully plan on being here for a while and really trying to do this right. We're not going to take a guy just because he might be the quickest mover to the big leagues."
Drafting prep players is not unusual. But Nimmo's high school, Cheyenne East, doesn't even field a team, which forced him to play for his local American Legion Post. Nimmo is 6-3, 190, and the Mets are impressed with his physical skills. He is a lefthanded hitter (throws right) with speed who hits for average and projects to hit with power.
His high ceiling could be his most attractive quality. The Mets passed on more developed college pitchers -- UConn's Matt Barnes and Vanderbilt's Sonny Gray still were on the board -- because they thought offensive players of Nimmo's caliber were rare in this draft.
"It's weird," Nimmo said. "This isn't supposed to happen. I'm not supposed to be picked here. So it gives you a little bit of something to feed off of. No one expects anything from me, so I'm just going to do my best and try and prove that I've got something to offer."
He reportedly is seeking a $3-million signing bonus to skip college. He's already committed to the University of Arkansas, so he has the leverage to force the Mets to go over slot, something they have not done in the past.
"We know this -- he's passionate about playing," Mets scouting director Chad MacDonald said. "He told us he wanted to play and start his career. We'll let the negotiations play out and we're confident he'll be a New York Met."
Fulmer went 10-2 with a 0.72 ERA and 127 strikeouts in 68 innings for Deer Creek. Like Nimmo, he's committed to Arkansas and is likely to command an over-slot signing bonus. The Mets like Fulmer's attitude, and at 6-3, 205 pounds, he could be an intimidator with a 92-to-97-mph fastball, a plus sinker and a plus breaking ball, MacDonald said. "This guy doesn't like hitters," DePodesta said. "He pitches mean."