Continuing our look at the Mets’ options with the seventh overall pick in June’s amateur draft, today we’ll take a look at college slugger Michael Choice.
Weight: 215 lbs.
What He Brings
Along with Bryce Brentz and Brett Eibner, Choice represents the class of the college outfield crop. He’s put up a couple of monster years for Texas-Arlington, with this year in particular being rather awe-inspiring. He’s got a powerful, thick build, which, combined with outstanding bat speed, gives him as much raw power as anyone in this draft. His swing is a real, wind-it-up-and-release type of swing, one that produces great leverage, extension, and loft. It certainly has the capacity to produce power at the next level. Otherwise, he’s upped his walk rate tremendously in 2010, which could mean something of a Eureka moment for the young center fielder.
Otherwise, Choice also has solid average foot speed, which helps him both on the basepaths and in center field. Above average arm strength means he could stick in either center or right.Finally, he has a strong work ethic. When he first came to Texas-Arlington, he wasn’t recruited. He pretty much made the team as a walk-on and has worked hard despite rather modest tools to become an elite college hitter.
What He Doesn’t Bring
The biggest problem are his swing mechanics. They’re a little unorthodox, and while his bat speed makes up for some of their deficiencies, it can only do so much. His swing is very complicated below the waist, his legs very busy. As the pitch arrives, he taps his lead toe into the ground and pivots his knee inward before swinging it around with the rest of his body. He appears to be using this as a timing mechanism, but it’s also leading him to rotate his hips earlier than he should. When you add in a deep backwards hand load, you get some legitimate questions over whether Choice will hit for enough contact to be a major league star.
Of course, he’s been plenty effective thus far in college, and that counts for something. But Texas-Arlington doesn’t face an extraordinarily difficult schedule, and Choice has mostly been beating up on inferior competition. This is especially frustrating when you look at his walk totals. Is he walking that much because he’s really learned the strike zone? Or is he walking because opposing pitchers don’t want to give him anything to drive out of the park? Looking at his strikeout rate, still rather high, I’m going to guess the latter.
Last but not least, there’s his position. Choice currently plays center, but scouts just don’t think he’s fast enough to stick there. His speed’s a tick above average, but it still projects more as good corner outfield range than adequate center field range. His bat and arm should play in right, so it’s not a huge deal.
I have Choice a little ahead of both Brentz and Eibner and behind high school outfielder Josh Sale, which seems to be emerging as the consensus opinion among scouts. The power is inspiring, but there are enough questions about his bat and the overall rawness of his game to prevent him from jumping to the head of the class. The contact ability is what will ultimately make or break him. If he learns to hit for enough contact to consistently hit .280-.300, he can be an elite power hitter. Failing that, say if he’s just a .240-.260 hitter, he could still be sort of a Pat Burrell-type. And if he can’t even do that, he’s more of a fringe major leaguer or Triple-A slugger.
This will be the last full-length profile I do. But I will include some capsule-sized profiles for (what at least now appear to be) more dark horse candidates on Monday. These will include guys like Nick Castellanos, Asher Wojciechowski, Drew Pomeranz, Brandon Workman, and Michael Kvasnicka. If there's anyone else people want, please request him in the comments below.