Keeping Tabs on the 2009 Draftees: Part 2

Last time, I took a long look at the Mets' draftees from the first ten rounds. But thanks to the lack of a first-round draft pick, a couple guys the team couldn't get signed, and a few guys who signed too late to debut in 2009, there just wasn't a whole lot to look at. So, as promised, here's a glance at some of the guys who weren't drafted in the top ten rounds but who could work their way into the Mets' future plans. I'll stick to the most interesting position players right now, while saving the pitchers for my next post.

One guy who might be worth paying attention to is Sam Honeck, a big first baseman out of Tulane, where he hit .313/.458/.630 as a senior. No one will ever mistake him for an athlete, and, while he's fine at first, he'll never have the opportunity to play elsewhere. Thanks to an all-or-nothing type of left-handed swing, his contact skills are going to give him trouble wherever he goes—he struck out 48 times in 278 plate appearances for Brooklyn while hitting just .250. But he did display great patience and power in college, though the latter didn't show up in the New York-Penn League this year. Keep an eye on him; I think he can do better.

Seventeenth-round outfielder Alex Gregory hit decently in Brooklyn, having two good months and one terrible one. Gregory destroyed the baseball during his four years at Radford, capping off a brilliant career with a .407/.521/.655 senior campaign. He's got some patience at the plate, but I don't think he'll ever generate much in the way of power. Standing at just six feet, his mechanics at the plate are awkward—his balance isn't great, he has a backward hand load, and there's almost no weight transfer when he swings. And he's probably going to need to hit for power if he wants to make it as a corner outfielder.

Nelfi "Don't Call Me Neifi" Zapata's a genuine sleeper, a high school kid who could evolve into a solid receiver with some pop. He's already a favorite around these parts, thanks to his memorable name and stout-ish build. Unfortunately, we just won't know much for some time, as everything about the kid is raw—raw receiving skills, raw bat. But he'll be given every opportunity to fail and there are tools there. The Mets sent him to the GCL, where he hit .261/.341/.370 in 135 plate appearances. Nothing extraordinary, but not bad, either. Catchers are rarely consistent as they develop, so the Mets will have to be especially patient (read: no rushing!) in this case.

Hey! Here's somebody who actually performed legitimately well! JuCo third baseman Joe Bonfe was selected in the 21st round, and he's a big guy, standing 6' 4" and weighing in at 220 pounds. Bonfe started as a pitcher at Creighton before moving on to Sierra Junior College, where he was able to play third base full time. The Mets sent the 21-year-old to Kingsport, where he blew away the competition. He hit .327/.426/.462 with 12 doubles and 19 walks in 183 plate appearances. Right now, his approach at the plate is very hands-oriented, and he'll need to utilize his lower body more to generate homerun power, but his batspeed is better than I expected. I'm guardedly optimistic.

And here's another highlight: 27th round outfielder Kurt Steinhauer hit a surprising .328/.428/.525 across the two Rookie League teams. Steinhauer has a lean, athletic build and carried a strong reputation as a defender in center over from the NAIA. I am concerned that he might just have been beating up on younger competition—Steinhauer is already 23—but it's still preferable to another disaster at the plate. I'd move him up a level and see how he responds. You never know; the Mets have seen some results from 2008 draftee Kirk Nieuwenhuis, also an NAIA alumnus.

ZeErika Hall is another toolsy, small school outfielder who hit pretty well in his pro debut (.297/.418/.378 for the GCL Mets). Smaller than Steinhauer but faster, Hall doesn't figure to provide any power but could carve a niche out for himself with superior on-base ability. He displayed the willingness to take a walk at least, drawing 21 over 134 trips to the plate. The Mets had him chiefly playing the corners in the GCL, however; whether that was due to his own problems in center or the presence of Steinhauer for part of the season remains to be seen. His value will be severely limited if he proves unable to handle center.

With all due respect to the rest, that pretty much covers the position players of any interest. Well, infielder Ryan Mollica did hit .287 for Kingsport, but he's a 47th rounder. And backstop Cam Maron is a local kid trying to make good, posting a .408 OBA, but he only got 49 plate appearances in the GCL. Sorry, guys. Oh, and if you want to know anything about Stanford product and 20th-round pick Joey August, look here and here. August wound up having a rough season, hitting .208/.271/.285 across two levels.

In my next column: pitchers drafted after round ten.

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