I just wanted to finish up covering the final 25 rounds of the draft. At this point, a team drafts very few players with any chance at becoming impact players; it's mostly organizational guys and raw high school players with price tags that don't measure up to their ability now. But every once in a while someone interesting does pop up in the draft's later rounds, so I'm going to hit on what I feel are the highlights over these 25 rounds. Just in case you missed our previous installments: Brandon Nimmo, Michael Fulmer, Cory Mazzoni, Logan Verrett and Tyler Pill, Rounds 5-10, Rounds 11-15, and Rounds 16-25.
26th Round: Casey Hauptman, RHP, Nebraska. Hauptman has a big body at 6-4, 205 pounds, but the senior pitched almost exclusively out of the bullpen during his college career. He's an extreme strike-thrower—he walked three batters in 62.1 innings this season, and that is not a typo—but the two-seamer sits in the mid-to-high 80s and the soft breaking ball is not going to fool many. He's a smart kid with a deceptive delivery, though, so he has a chance to fill in the back end of a bullpen, provided he can either sharpen his curve or add a little velocity. Hauptman's already signed.
27th Round: Randy Fontanez, RHP, South Florida. Another soft-tossing strike-thrower. He was a four-year producer at South Florida, and he sits 88-91, and both his curve and slider can be average pitches. He's on the small side, and the mechanics are a little rough around the edges, but he's a potential reliever. Like Hauptman, Fontanez signed quickly.
28th Round: Jharel Cotton, RHP, Miami-Dade CC. Cotton's a guy I was keeping my eye on this draft, because I really didn't have a clue where he'd fall. Talent-wise, it isn't hard to imagine the Virgin Island native going inside the first eight rounds, but he's committed to East Carolina and might be a difficult sign. He has a live arm that can hit 93 and sits 88-91, and he also throws a good changeup. The arm action is clean. But like Akeel Morris, he'll need some polish, and there's obvious effort in the delivery.
29th Round: Josh Ake, SS, Hunterdon Central Reg HS (NJ). Ake's a middle infield prospect with a commitment to UNC, so he's going to be a very difficult sign. In terms of toolset, there's no reason why he couldn't be a starting shortstop: he's not too slow, he has good hands, a great arm. But he has a tendency to rush plays, doesn't position himself as well as he could, and plays with a frenetic energy. Guys like that typically end up at third, but with a very short swing and little lower body involvement, he may have the bat of a middle infielder. Unless he signs cheaper than I expect, I'd let him walk.
31st Round: Chad Zurcher, SS, Memphis. Zurcher won Conference USA Player of the Year honors after hitting .443 as a redshirt junior, and there's no doubt he can hit for contact—he's extremely short to the ball and has a very smooth swing. Unfortunately, there's almost nothing in the way of secondary skills—he hit zero homers in 2011. Solid but unspectacular defensively, Zurcher profiles as more of a utility guy.
35th-rounder Chase Bradford and 38th-rounder Dustin Emmons are both strike-throwing sinkerballers who are very light on stuff. Both strike me more as org fodder than as guys with a chance at cracking a big-league roster, but if I had to bet on one, I'd pick Bradford, who at least has a decent change.
I find 37th-round righty Craig Missigman very interesting. At 6-3, 160 pounds, his body offers tons of projection, and his fastball right now sits in the mid-to-high 80s, so he'll need it. With a commitment only to Spartanburg Methodist College, he could be signable.
The Mets took Tennessee outfielder Charley Thurber in the 39th round, and he is a big outfielder with plenty of raw power, but he struggled mightily in 2010 due to an extremely long swing that leads to a plethora of contact issues. If I were him, I'd be looking to return to Tennessee, get more playing time, and hope to show enough to be selected in the top 15 rounds next year.
Alexis Mercado, a high school catcher from California taken in Round 40, is a big kid (6-3, 200 pounds) who's currently working behind the plate. Unfortunately, his feet are clumsy and slow, and his arm is below average, so I think there's zero chance he sticks. He's more intriguing at the plate due to raw power and a quick bat, but there's length to his swing and balance issues besides. In the long run, he looks more like a third baseman or corner outfielder to me, but his arm may even push him to left.
Righty Andrew Marra, out of a Canadian high school, is expected to attend the University of Toledo. He's an athletic but short guy with subpar velocity, but he could get by with his good fastball command. He flashes a decent curve but needs to be more consistent with it. He also shows a feel for a change, though he does slow his arm a bit when he throws it. Since he lacks projection, I think I'd rather let him attend college and see how he performs against better competition.
46th-round Cole Limbaugh is a projectable righty (6-5, 180 pounds) from Alabama who can hit the high-80s, but he needs work and has a commitment to Samford that I expect him to fulfill. The Mets took New Mexico JuCo product Malcolm Clapsaddle with the next pick, and he can throw 92 while showing an average curve, but his mechanics are a little sloppy and the velocity will come and go. He's committed to High Point. Finally, Winthrop catcher Eddie Rohan, the Mets' final pick, has a widespread, squat stance and keeps his hands low but still manages to swing with a pronounced uppercut. He's strong and hit 42 homers over his first three seasons at Winthrop, but his power largely disappeared once the new bats were introduced.
That's it for our draft coverage. Before I sign off, I did want to post my shadow draft from this year, which I realize I never did. Here it is:
|1S||Kyle Crick||RHP||Sherman HS (TX)|
|2||Granden Goetzman||OF||Palmetto HS (FL)|
|4||Tyler Pill||RHP||Cal State Fullerton|
|5||Sam Gaviglio||RHP||Oregon State|
|6||Joe Tuschak||OF||Northern Senior HS (PA)|
|8||Danny Muno||SS||Fresno State|
|11||Christian Montgomery||RHP||Lawrence Central HS (IN)|
|12||Cole Wiper||RHP||Newport HS (WA)|
|13||David Herbek||SS||James Madison|
|14||Chris O'Brien||C||Wichita State|
|15||Phillip Evans||SS||La Costa Canyon HS (CA)|
|16||Jarrod Parks||3B||Mississippi State|
|17||Brandon Magee||OF||Arizona State|
|18||Travis Taijeron||OF||Cal Poly Pomona|
|19||James Nygren||RHP||Oregon State|
|20||Mason Robbins||OF||George County HS (MS)|
Areas where my draft and the Mets' overlap are marked in bold. Unfortunately, due to work, I wasn't able to do it in real time like I ususally do, so I did wind up cheating slightly: I knew who the Mets were going to draft later on, and I did spot Cody Martin going later in the seventh round, so I bumped him up my draft board. I did have Martin as one of my top targets in the 7-10 range, so I didn't bump him up by much. After round 20, I'll just take whoever the Mets grab. I'd also like to point out that I've never agreed with a Mets draft as much as I have with this one. Paul DePodesta and Chad MacDonald have placed a new emphasis on two things: athleticism and strike-throwing. It's a policy I think should produce some results, especially in the pitching department. For instance, I don't love Mazzoni in the second—I don't think he'll be a starter—but I do understand the appeal. Power arms who can throw strikes don't grow on trees, and he should advance through the system quickly enough that he'll at least have some substantial trade value.
Anyway, thanks all; it's been a fun draft, everyone.