Few names have been as buzzworthy througout this year's playoffs as Michael Wacha's. For those not who may not know, Wacha is a 22-year-old right-handed pitcher out of Texas A&M who has catapulted to stardom as the Cardinals' top pitcher this postseason.
Wacha had an intriguing rookie season, as he started the year poorly and was quickly demoted by the Cardinals. Mets fans may recall the game he started against them on June 11, when he gave up two runs early, rebounded, and ended up getting his first career win. Wacha was then sent down to make room for Jake Westbrook, but was recalled on August 10, at which point he began to dazzle, giving up runs in only three of the ten games he pitched.
But what if Michael Wacha could have been on the other side of that June 11 decision? Wacha was the 19th pick in the first round of the 2012 amateur draft. The Mets had the twelfth pick and passed on Wacha, but lots of teams pass on lots of players who go on to greatness—not that Wacha is cemented as a great pitcher just yet—so it's pointless to lament the Mets' (or anyone's) choice over taking Wacha. Paul DePodesta, the Mets' VP of player development, did offer this:
“Our guys liked Wacha a lot in 2012 — one of the top college pitchers on the board,”
DePodesta clarified, however, that the Mets were never in on Wacha. Understandably, they were much more interested in finding position player depth since they already had a good core of young pitchers, with Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler leading the way. In the 2011 draft, the Mets had selected four pitchers, Cory Mazzoni, Logan Verrett, Tyler Pill, and Jack Leathersich, and seemed to be in great need of infield depth.
The Mets would end up taking Gavin Cecchini, a high school shortstop whom scouts were lukewarm on, as Alex Nelson detailed. Cecchini, in between injuries, has not produced jaw-dropping stats in his young professional career, but it certainly would be wrong to dismiss him as a bust after only two shortened seasons in Low-A and the fact that he's still just 19 years old. DePodesta remains impressed by Cecchini, saying:
“We see him as an everyday shortstop in the major leagues. He was one of the youngest players in the [New York/Penn] League. For a guy who should have been a freshman in college, it was pretty impressive.”
That the Mets didn't take Wacha, who is now pitching brilliantly on baseball's biggest stage, is essentially a non-story. When the days get colder and fading light from the most recent actual Mets game continues to dim, we warm our hands by the smoldering ashes of what-ifs and why-didn't-theys.