With the MLB Draft scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, a timely reminder: The Mets are pretty good at this.
Much of the minor-league frenzy among fans and media revolves around prospect and farm system rankings, and it is true that the Mets are rarely among the top teams in those. But the lists are merely approximations of future major-league impact. More important than the educated guesses is actual major-league impact — and the Mets have gotten plenty of that.
The Mets have a chance to extend that track record this week. A dramatically shortened five-round draft — down from 40 rounds because team owners want to spend less money amid the COVID-19 pandemic — starts at 7 p.m. Wednesday on ESPN and MLB Network. The second through fifth rounds begin at 5 p.m. Thursday on ESPN2 and MLB Network.
General manager Brodie Van Wagenen is slated to appear on the broadcasts remotely as he, amateur scouting bosses Tommy Tanous and Marc Tramuta and their staff make selections.
With six picks, including the 19th choice in the first round and No. 69 overall as compensation for losing Zack Wheeler in free agency, the Mets will be looking for their next homegrown All-Star or Rookie of the Year or Cy Young Award winner.
If you are skeptical of the Mets’ strong draft-and-develop abilities — grooming them in the minors being just as important as picking them as amateurs — consider the roster.
Jacob deGrom was a ninth-round find in 2010. Pete Alonso came in the second round in 2016, Jeff McNeil in the 12th round in 2013. Michael Conforto (2014) and Brandon Nimmo (2011) were both first-rounders, as was Dominic Smith (2013). Steven Matz was a second-rounder in 2009. Robert Gsellman was a long shot in the 13th round in 2011, Seth Lugo a much longer shot in the 34th round the same year. Tomas Nido and Luis Guillorme are among the backups who were Mets draftees.
And then there are key Mets acquired via trade in part or entirely for minor-leaguers the team drafted. Prospects, remember, can be valuable to their organization either by impacting the major-league club or being trade chips.
Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz came over from the Mariners in a deal headlined — from Seattle’s perspective — by outfielder Jarred Kelenic, the last first-rounder of the Sandy Alderson era. Marcus Stroman and Yoenis Cespedes also joined the Mets in exchange for drafted prospects.
Which of this week’s draftees might join the Mets’ club is anybody’s guess. Unlike its NFL and NBA — and even NHL — counterparts, the MLB Draft does not directly affect the big-league club. It is normal for a successful first-round pick not to make it to the majors for several years. As such, teams don’t draft based on their current needs.
Here are a few names linked to the Mets in outlets’ latest mock drafts.
* Baseball America: Mississippi State 2B/3B Justin Foscue. Described by BA as “one of the most consistent college bats available,” Foscue had a breakout sophomore season in 2019, when he hit .331 with a .564 slugging percentage. Baseball America also mentions that the Mets might be “crossing their fingers” that Garrett Crochet, a lefthander for Tennessee, falls to them.
* MLB Pipeline: Pennsylvania high school RHP Nick Bitsko. Listed at 6 foot 4 and 225 pounds, Bitsko has a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and a hard breaking ball. This pick would be similar to the Mets last year taking Matthew Allan, another built hard-throwing high schooler who was the linchpin of the bold draft strategy deployed by Van Wagenen & Co.
* FanGraphs: California high school C Tyler Soderstrom. He is likely to get picked before the Mets have a chance to take him, but FanGraphs notes that high school catchers sometimes fall because they are risky. On the outside chance that he goes very early, Soderstrom might get family bragging rights. His father, Steve Soderstrom, went to the Giants as the No. 6 overall pick in the 1993 draft. Three years before that, the Mets picked him in the 15th round, but he opted for college.
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