GM Sandy Alderson has placed an emphasis on developing hard-throwing pitchers and powerful hitters. Currently, the two most high-profile prospects in the farm system, Zack Wheeler and Travis d’Arnaud, exemplify this principle.
In the past two seasons, the Mets have been very erratic in terms of positional drafting. They used first-round picks on an outfielder, pitcher, shortstop and catcher.
Thus, the Mets will likely continue to restock the farm system with the best talent available for their beliefs, rather than fill a certain positional need. In 2013, the draft is heavy on pitchers and outfielders.
But there are also no clear phenoms in this year’s draft, such as Bryce Harper or Stephen Strasburg. Many players may be a top-5 pick in one mock draft and a late first-round pick in another.
With this in mind, here are six potential first-round picks for the Mets in the 2013 MLB draft.
Braden Shipley, cousin of Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Jordan Shipley, has been phenomenal for the Wolfpack.
In 2012, Shipley went 9-4 with a 2.20 ERA and 88 strikeouts in 98.1 innings. Shipley only let up three home runs all year and finished with a stellar 1.15 WHIP, despite an uncomfortable 40 walks allowed.
That year, Shipley was named the WAC Pitcher of the Year. He led the conference in ERA, opposing batting average (.212) and wins. Shipley was also second in the conference in innings and third in strikeouts. He boasted 12 quality starts in 15 outings.
In 2011, as a freshman, Shipley also showed off his natural skill and athleticism as he hit .287 in 44 games and earned second-team All-WAC as a shortstop. Shipley also struck out 13 batters in 10.1 innings.
At 6’2” and 180 pounds, Shipley utilizes his lean frame with a high three-quarters motion.
He effortlessly hits mid-90s on his fastball and can easily get it up to 97. Shipley also has a plus changeup and sharp curveball, but he must learn to develop consistency with both pitches.
This season, Shipley is already 5-1 with a 2.60 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 65.1 innings. His BB/9 ratio is also down from 3.66 in 2012 to 2.88.
Shipley is a very high-ceiling prospect and the type of power pitcher that Alderson loves to develop. He would be a wise choice at No. 11.
Justin Williams, who has committed to LSU if he does not sign a pro contract, is one of the best raw power hitters in the draft.
Williams won the Home Run Derby at both the Perfect Game Classic and Under Armour All-American game.
In a prospect video of Williams taking batting practice, you can see just how much natural power the lefty has. His swing is very quick, smooth and compact, but he has a tendency to stand up tall as he swings and loses a lot of his natural power. Williams must refine his swing and develop the discipline to lay off bad pitches, even at batting practice.
Despite the subtle problems in his swing, Williams can absolutely crush the ball.
Williams is also 6’3” and 215 pounds. For a prospect who is not even 18 yet, he is quite a physical specimen.
Williams also has decent speed, especially for someone his size. As long as he does not grow too much over time, Williams has plenty of arm strength to play a corner outfield position. He has the athleticism to play shortstop and third base in high school, but his future lies in the outfield.
But since he is such a raw prospect, Williams’ pre-draft rankings range from a lottery pick to the mid-second round.
He would have to work hard over the years to develop consistency at the plate. But Williams has the potential to hit 25-30 home runs in the middle of the Mets lineup for years, and that cannot be ignored.
While Justin Williams is a raw prospect with endless power potential, Colin Moran is the complete opposite.
In fact, Moran is one of the most complete hitters in the draft.
As a freshman at UNC in 2011, Moran was voted by Baseball America as a First-Team All-America and Freshman Player of the Year. Moran hit .335 in 66 games with 46 runs and an ACC-best 71 RBI. Moran also slugged 20 doubles, two triples and nine home runs en route to a .540 slugging percentage.
But Moran’s best tool is his plate discipline. In 248 at-bats as a freshman, Moran drew 47 walks while striking out only 33 times.
However, 2012 was a huge setback for Moran.
Moran managed to hit a strong .365 in 41 games. But many questions arose of his true extra-base power. He only hit three home runs all year. Despite the superb batting average, Moran’s slugging percentage was only .494.
Even worse, Moran missed a month after he punched a bathroom door and broke his hand in anger after a loss to bitter rival, NC State. Moran committed a key error as the Tar Heels lost, 3-1.
While that incident may bring up character questions about Moran, I believe it shows his passion for winning and how personally he takes every single game. In fact, that is the exact type of attitude I would want with my players (minus the broken hand, of course).
Moreover, the 6’3”, 215-pound Moran has come back with a vengeance this season and put to rest any questions about his power.
Through 36 games, Moran is hitting an unbelievable .401 with eight doubles, nine home runs, 56 RBI and a superb .648 slugging percentage. He is second in the nation in RBI and first in the nation in runs, with 51.
Yet that is not even the most impressive stat this season for Moran; in 142 at-bats, Moran has 35 walks and just eight strikeouts. That equates to an unbelievable 17.75 at-bats per strikeout. Moran already has better poise and discipline than most, if not all, major leaguers.
The 2013 draft, as mentioned earlier, is short the shoo-in for the top picks. Unfortunately, due to Moran’s monstrous junior season, he stands a good chance of going in the top five.
But if Moran does drop to the Mets at No. 11, they must draft him. David Wright is the third baseman for the next decade, but Moran is a great defender and could play a number of other positions.
Moran may not make it out of the top five, but if he falls to the Mets in this year’s unpredictable draft, he is the best pure hitter in the draft.
Like Moran, Ryne Stanek is one of the more high-profile prospects in this year’s draft.
At 6’4”, 190 pounds, Stanek has a long and lean body, ideal for starting pitchers.
Stanek has a solid fastball with plenty of movement, ranging anywhere from 91-96 mph. His slider is mid-to-high 80’s and can be a superb pitch at times. Stanek also has an improving changeup and curve in his repertoire.
Last season, Stanek earned All-SEC honors, going 8-4 in 17 starts with a 2.82 ERA. In 92.2 innings, Stanek recorded 83 strikeouts and 36 walks.
At 22-years-old, Stanek is a tall and mature pitcher with improving mechanics. He does not have the ceiling of an ace, but Stanek is already a lock to become a stellar No. 2 or No. 3 starter.
Considering the Mets already have elite pitching talent in Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and Jon Niese, Stanek would be an excellent mid-rotation addition. He should fly through the minors within a couple of years, as well.
But Stanek also has a chance to be the first pitcher taken in this year’s draft. This year is that unpredictable.
In 2010, though, Stanek was projected as a first-round talent out of high school. He fell all the way to the third round before committing to Arkansas.
If Stanek’s name falls again to the Mets at No. 11 this year, he is a near-guarantee to contribute to a major league team within a few years.
If Austin Meadows can reach his full potential, he can become a five-tool player.
Meadows is already a mature 6’3” and has been weighed anywhere from 200-215 pounds. Even scarier, Meadows is still growing and getting stronger. Meadows can put on plenty of muscle with time, but that may hinder his speed a bit.
And Meadows already has dangerous speed. He ran a 6.31 60-yard-dash and shows great instincts already as a baserunner.
As a hitter, Meadows has an explosive swing. He already generates huge power through his hips, and with more muscle, he will put up big power numbers. Meadows has a long swing at times, but he makes up for it with his quick bat speed and ability to hit to both fields.
Meadows hit .390 as a junior last season with 10 doubles, four home runs and 19 stolen bases.
In the field, Meadows has a strong arm and unbelievable range in center field. He already has the arm strength to play center field professionally and could easily play there if he reaches the majors.
Meadows still needs work on his swing, as he doesn’t square up to the ball as often as you would like and get solid contact. But he is still a teenager, and there is plenty of time to improve.
Meadows is the definition of a raw prospect. He is very athletic with a combination of power and speed.
He will not reach the majors as quickly as a college prospect would. But a first rounder with great defense and 30-30 potential is too good to pass up.
Meadows arguably has the highest ceiling of any prospect in this draft, and he could be a perennial All-Star once he reaches the majors.
Phillip Ervin may quietly be the best prospect in this draft.
Ervin is a five-tool player with incredible plate discipline.
In 2011, Ervin hit .371 in 244 plate appearances with four home runs, seven stolen bases, 25 walks and 28 strikeouts. In 2012, with only 54 extra plate appearances, Ervin hit .327 with 10 home runs, 16 stolen bases, 23 walks and 39 strikeouts.
The 20-year-old was seen as a solid talent for a long time, but he became an elite talent after an outstanding 2012 season in the Cape Cod League.
In just 154 at-bats, Ervin hit .323 with 11 home runs, 10 stolen bases, 17 walks and 29 strikeouts.
The most impressive aspect of these stats is that Ervin put up higher power numbers with wooden bats in Cape Cod League than with metal bats in college. Most players get beat on the inside corner transitioning to wooden bats, but these numbers suggest Ervin will have no problem getting his hands in and turning on inside pitches when he transitions to a professional career.
Indeed, Ervin has a quick, effortless swing and excellent hand speed.
He is not projected as high as the other athletes on this list, but Ervin’s hitting ability and patience follow perfectly with Sandy Alderson’s strong belief in taking a patient approach to hitting. Ervin is the prototypical player that Alderson is looking for.
Defensively, Ervin is a smart outfielder with a strong arm and above average speed. If he maintains his speed while continuing to bulk up, Ervin can hold his own in center field.
Ervin is not as well-known as some of the high schoolers and players at big-name colleges. But he is an excellent all-around player with a stellar approach at the plate.
Ervin erupted in the Cape Cod League and showed the kind of potential he has. It may have been a small sample size against the major league-level talent, but it is enough to convince me that he is worth a No. 11 pick.
Scouting reports via: coast2coastprospects.com, minorleagueball.com, perfectgame.org, baseballprospectnation.com, bigleaguefutures.net
Stats via school websites