Draft Deadline Day

The deadline to sign draft picks is officially at midnight tonight, so I wanted to take a look at who the Mets still had left to sign. Any player who fails to sign by tonight—except for college seniors—cannot sign with their team and must re-enter the draft next year. Teams that fail to sign their first- or second-round selection will receive a compensatory pick one spot later in next year’s draft (for example, if the Mets fail to sign first-round selection Matt Harvey, they will receive the eighth overall pick in the 2011 draft). Any team that fails to sign a third-rounder will receive compensation in the form of a sandwich-round pick between rounds three and four. The Mets’ third-rounder was Blake Forsythe, who signed already, so that last point does not apply to them. In fact, the Mets have signed a staggering number of players, no doubt due to their college-heavy draft strategy. The Mets have signed 30 of their first 34 selections, though only two in the 16 following rounds.

On to the names:

Round 1: Matt Harvey, RHP, UNC

I’ve spoken about Harvey at length before, so I won’t rehash my thoughts here. While I’m not a fan of ground ball pitchers with shoddy command, he does have a high-upside arm, which the Mets could certainly use. Now, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if the Mets didn’t sign Harvey, since next year’s draft class looks like a banner year all-around. But if the Mets did wind up with a compensatory selection, it would almost certainly be used on a guy willing to agree to a pre-draft deal, and you’re not going to get true value for the pick. As to whether that player would be better than Harvey, I have no idea.

At last report, the two sides were distant, but Mets executives were confident that a deal would get done. Negotiations with Scott Boras clients often take until the last minute, so don’t expect any news until past midnight, similar to how things went with second-round choice Steven Matz last year.

Round 6: Greg Peavey, RHP, Oregon State

Another Scott Boras client, I kind of expected Peavey to sign by now. Though Peavey has been on scouts’ radars since he led his team to the Little League World Series, his arm really hasn’t evolved much since, adding just a couple miles-per-hour to his velocity. Like Harvey, I’ve spoken about Peavey before, so please refer to that for a more complete scouting report. Don’t be surprised if Peavey’s deal doesn’t get accomplished until Harvey’s does, but even if Harvey doesn’t sign, I expect Peavey to. He has a lot more to lose, and he’ll have no leverage as a senior. He can’t expect to have a monster senior year with his so-so stuff and poor college performance so far.

Round 21: D.J. Johnson, 2B, Cook H.S. (GA)

D.J. Johnson—his first name is Dabias—is an athletic prep school product who was a teammate of first rounder Kaleb Cowart. He was a two-way player at Cook (shortstop and pitcher) and was also a multi-sport athlete, playing on the basketball team, too. Only, 5-foot-10, Johnson is the rare two-way player who prefers to pitch. His fastball only sits 86-88 and touches 91, but there isn’t much projection on his frame. He could fill out some, but 5-foot-10 might even be generous. He complements his heater with a slider, curve, and changeup, and is seen as more of a command guy on the mound than a stuff guy. His future is more likely as a middle infielder, where he brings above average speed and a little bit of pop but needs to work on his overall approach. I find it somewhat curious that he’s listed as a second baseman and not a shortstop, considering he has the arm and foot speed for the position. It may be a statement as to the quality of his hands or footwork.

Johnson is an intriguing prospect, but one almost certainly destined for college. A good student, he was looking for sixth-round money or better before the draft, and he’s probably not worth that right now. He’s a player with a chance to climb up draft boards down the road, but he’ll first need to hone his skills in college to prove to teams that he’s worth a substantial financial commitment.

Round 23: Drew Martinez, OF, Memphis

Martinez is a draft-eligible sophomore, so he’s got some leverage over your average college draftee. And he’s kind of interesting right now, thanks to a very good Cape Cod League performance where he led the League in batting at .359, as well as steals. He’s shown very little in the way of power, but he gets high marks for his approach at the plate, and he can really run. He also has bloodlines in his favor: his father, Chito, was the first Belizean major leaguer, playing with the Orioles in the early 90’s. I’d like to see a little more patience in Martinez’s performance, however, though I do like that he rarely strikes out. As for his signability, he’s already turned down the Mets’ initial offer and has told coaches he expects to return for the chance at a better payday.

Round 35: Josh Easley, RHP, Weatherford JC (TX)

This is the second consecutive year the Mets have drafted Easley. They drafted him in the 49th round last year, and at the time I thought he was kind of interesting but needed to go to college. His commitment to Arkansas fell through for one reason or another, and he wound up at a Texas junior college. He has a quick arm and a projectable frame (6-2, 165 lbs.) and throws 89-91, touching 93. He’s somewhat new to pitching—he was a catcher in high school—and the word is that his command is sharper and his mechanics cleaner than last year, where there was some length due to low hand separation and an arm grab. This might be the Mets’ best chance at a signing after Harvey and Peavey, though it does depend on what the freshman is looking for.

Quick Hits

Jesen Dygestile-Therrien, taken in the 36th round, is a Montreal prep school righty who has good size but not a whole lot of playing experience—Canadian players are often behind their American counterparts. The velocity isn’t there yet, but he’s very young—in fact, younger than anyone else taken in the draft—though I’m not sure he has much room to add muscle. Unsure how signable he is.

38th-round righty Peter Miller, from Tampa, can hit 93 on the gun but is otherwise raw and doesn’t have a ton of projection. Though his future is on the mound, he also plays shortstop. I fully expect him to fulfill his commitment to Florida State.

Brock Stewart, the Mets’ 40th round selection, is a high school shortstop from Normal, Illinois with a strong arm and some juice in his bat—poor competition and all, but he slugged .935 this season, and that’s still impressive. He’s already announced that he’ll be attending Illinois State in the fall.

Easley’s teammate, freshman Taylor Christian, was selected in the 41st round, and he’s a righty with a big frame but missed most of the season due to disciplinary problems. I wouldn’t be surprised if he signs, but he might also look for another JuCo to ply his trade at for a bigger payday.

J.J. Franco, John’s son, was the Mets’ 42nd round selection. I’m sure he was taken mostly as a favor to his dad—he’s a shortstop a little light on tools—and he’s already spoken his intention to attend Brown.

UC Santa Barbara lefty Kevin Gelinas redshirted this year due to elbow problems, his first season at UCSB. He can hit the mid-90s on the gun, which made him an intriguing selection at 44. But that also means he’ll be a tough sign: lefties with that kind of arm strength are pretty rare, and a healthy season next year could fit him into the top five rounds. One of those situations where even an appropriate overslot bonus won’t convince the player to sign.

Terrance Jackson, a lefty from Oklahoma City University, pitched and played center for the Stars as a junior last year. He really didn’t pitch well enough—he posted a 6.83 ERA, and control is a problem. And for a junior playing in the NAIA, you’d hope to see some domination in some aspect of his game. The fact that he hasn’t signed yet is telling, so I’m expecting him to return for a senior season.

Mike Jefferson, a lefty from Louisiana Tech, is a draft-eligible sophomore with projection, above-average velocity, a solid curve, and a history of subpar performance. He’d be crazy to sign this year, even overslot.

High schooler Sean O’Connor stands six-four and can touch 93 on the gun. But he’s without a solid breaking pitch and needs some mechanical work. If this were last year, the Mets would have made him a fifth-round pick. Instead, he’s where he should be and needs to go to college to refine his game.

Austen Smith is a power-hitting prospect from Pensacola with a commitment to Alabama. He’s got a big frame and the arm for right field, but I’d wager he ends up at first long-term. He needs a better approach at the plate, however, so college is his definite destination.

Dillon Newman has a projectable body and a 90-plus mile-per-hour fastball, but he also has a high price tag and a commitment to Baylor he plans on keeping. And, finally, 50th-round catcher Mark Eveld is a USF quarterback recruit. No chance of a sign there, either.

Finally, you might notice I didn’t say anything about prep shortstop Brian Cruz. I literally know nothing about him, other than the fact that he’s a teammate of the more recognizable John Barbato. Most players in his situation don’t sign, so don’t expect much.

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