The MLB First Year Player Draft is a beast unlike any other compared to the drafts in the other major pro sports.
You won’t see the New York Jets or the Chicago Bulls drafting any player without the intent of seeing that guy play right away as a rookie.
Yet in baseball, teams are drafting guys who they know they won’t see for at least a year or two, and usually a lot longer than that.
The Mets have the seventh overall pick in tomorrow’s draft, the first time since 2004 that the Amazin’s are drafting so early in the first-round. Actually, the Mets didn’t even have a first-round pick in 2009, 2007 and 2006, as they had to give up those picks as compensation for signing Type A free agents those years.
Ike Davis was the last first-round pick the Mets had, back in 2008. (They actually had two first rounders that year, the second of which was 2B Reese Havens, who’s tearing it up in AA ball right now.) Needless to say, if the Mets can hit the jackpot on a pick like they did in 2005 (Big Pelf) or 2008, the Mets would be thrilled.
From what I can gather, the 2010 draft will be headlined by a “big three” that is led by 17-year-old phenom Bryce Harper, a catcher/outfielder from the College of Southern Nevada who appears to be a lock to go number one overall to Washington.
The Pirates will likely choose between two high school stars with the second pick, either pitcher Jameson Taillon of The Woodlands High School in Texas, or shortstop Manny Machado of Brito High School in Miami. The Orioles will likely take the guy the Pirates pass on.
The Royals reportedly have reached an agreement with University of Miami catcher Yasmani Grandal with the fourth pick, but everything after that is up in the air.
In a piece for MLB.com , Peter Gammons quotes a National League general manager as saying that “there’s virtually no difference between the fourth and 44th picks. So in many ways, it’s really a scouts’ Draft. If your scouts are really good, you will be fine, except that it will be expensive.”
The Mets sure hope their scouts are really good, because in recent years baseball has been transformed by the influx of young talent that has teams relying more on pitching and defense again as opposed to all-bat-no-glove power threats.
Let’s look at a couple guys the Mets could target in the first-round tomorrow just to get it started.
Matt Harvey, Right-hander, UNC
Harvey is an interesting name that’s been floated out there recently. He walked a ton of batters in his first two years at North Carolina but is having a tremendous junior season in 2009 that has restored his draft value, albeit not as high as it was back in 2007, when he was considered of the better prep pitching prospects in the country. (Interestingly, Harvey and Rick Porcello were considered the two best high school hurlers that year, both committed to UNC, but Porcello signed with the Tigers instead.)
Harvey has a fastball that tops out at 96-97, according to MLB.com’s scouting report , as well as a slider and change-up. He threw a curveball in high school but it looks like the slider is his new favorite weapon. Both Baseball America and ESPN.com’s Keith Law rank him as the 20th best player available, and it’s looking more and more that the Mets will go in a different direction at seven.
Justin O’Conner, Shortstop/Catcher, Cowan High School (Indiana)
O’Conner is an intriguing guy, and has been linked to the Mets a lot recently. He’s been a shortstop and a pitcher most of his prep career, but his strong throwing arm and good footwork have led many to believe that he’s destined to be a catcher at the next level.
You have to remember that when evaluating amateur athletes, you don’t really draft for positions of need at the major league level, considering the time it takes for prospects to pan out. So it’s not far-fetched that O’Conner would be a top target of the Mets, who looks like he’s got the tools to be a serious bat in pro ball.
MLB.com’s scouting reports say that O’Conner is a very good hitter who “stays inside the ball well and is short to the ball,” who also has raw power to all fields. He’s even got enough talent on the mound to warrant consideration from some teams as a pitcher, but if the Mets take him, he’s likely to find a home behind the plate, in my opinion.
To put it frankly, this is the guy I think will be hearing his name called on draft day by the Metropolitans. But until then, it’s all a guessing game.
Zach Cox , Third Baseman, Arkansas
Cox is a good college bat, but rumor has it that his asking price is going to cause him to fall. The Mets don’t really go overslot very often, so don’t expect the Mets to go for him.
He’s got a lot of leverage as a draft-eligible sophomore, (he can return to school if he doesn’t get a suitable offer) so it’ll be interesting to see who takes the bait. He may be a good player someday, but he’s likely too risky for the Mets to roll the dice on.
Chris Sale, Lefthander, Florida Gulf Coast University
To be honest, Chris Sale (not to be confused with Josh Sale, a prep outfielder who also may be a top ten pick) is likely to be gone by the time the Mets pick, as the Indians or Diamondbacks (fifth and sixth, respectively) probably won’t let him fall to seventh.
But, in the off-chance that he slips to the Mets, they’ll likely snap him up ahead of O’Conner. Sale is a 6’6" lefty who has scouts divided on his future. Some see him as a starter, some see him as a reliever. At any rate, MLB.com’s trusty scouting report says that he’s got a fastball that sits around 92 and has sink on it, along with a big slurve that eats up lefties and a solid change-up.
His mound presence is notable, as MLB.com rates him as perhaps the most poised pitcher in the draft, and he’s also got impeccable control. Again, he’s likely going one or two picks before the Mets get a chance to draft him, otherwise he’d be a good target. If I was a betting man, I’d say Justin O’Conner is the pick.