If the Mets’ seventh-round selection, Oklahoma first baseman Matt Oberste, rings a bell, it’s probably because he sounds a lot like their 2012 sixth-round choice, Jayce Boyd. Both men were solid college producers who fell to the middle rounds because they were limited to first base and had question about their power production prospects.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Oberste was once the Oklahoma Athlete of the Year, a high school player who hit .500 in baseball, averaged 16 points a game in basketball, and was the star quarterback of his high school football team. He received no scholarship offers to a Division I school, and instead went the JuCo route, where he excelled despite shoulder woes before transferring to Oklahoma before the 2012 season. Although slowed by a forearm injury last year, Oberste’s bat has really come alive in 2013, hitting .382/.460/.636.
At the plate, Oberste has kind of a funky swing. He squats down low and spreads out wide before taking a big stride towards the ball. In truth, it’s too big a stride, and he often gets his weight out in front before connecting with the ball. He does have natural bat speed from the right side, and he gets good hip rotation, so he’ll provide some power, but the lack of lower body involvement and the flat swing path suggest to me that it won’t be big time power, maybe twenty homers or so. He also brings a solid approach at the plate with patience and good contact ability.
Defensively, he figures to be an above average right-handed defender at first base, but it’s unclear whether he’d be able to handle an outfield slot. Oberste moves fairly well for a guy his size, but his arm strength is below average, likely relegating him to left if at all. At first, he shows agility and good hands.
Oberste’s a tough guy to profile, because he doesn’t expect to hit for big power and may be stuck at first base for his career, possibly making him something of a tweener. Without the power you’d typically like to see out of a first baseman, it’s difficult to predict him becoming a regular at the position, and there isn’t much call for reserve first basemen with no positional flexibility. And I still consider Jayce Boyd a superior prospect due to better defense, better size, and an extra year on the development curve (not to mention the fact that he’s hitting .342 for Savannah), making Oberste potentially a little redundant in the system. I like him, but I’m just not sure where he fits.