2014 Mets Draft Scouting Reports: Rounds 26-30

The Mets drafted two guys who figure to be difficult signs in catcher Tommy Pincin and righty Keaton McKinney. Pincin is a catcher with some power and Keaton had one of the prep changeups in the draft class, but both figure to be moving on to college careers. They also drafted a trio of college players, an outfielder and two righties, none of whom figure to be starting players.

Continuing our series:

Tommy Pincin, C, Round 26

Pincin is an interesting prep hitter who’s currently catching but may end up being better served with a move to an infield or outfield corner position. There’s plenty to like offensively: he has a strong, 6-foot-1, 200-pound frame and above average raw power, though right now it’s all to the pull side. His swing works for me also; he loads his hands high, giving the swing a slight uppercut, and has a minimal--but still present--weight transfer with some hip rotation. I wish it were a little more explosive in games, but it could get there over time. He has some patience but his pitch recognition leaves a little to be desired. I could see him becoming a .240/.320/.430 hitter or so with more work, which is plenty for a catcher.

The question, of course, is whether he’s a catcher or not. Right now, I vote no, though I’ll certainly give him the chance to prove me wrong. His footwork is very sloppy, and it undermines his above average arm strength. Furthermore, he needs more polish across the board: his ball-blocking, hands, pitcher handling, and receiving skills could all stand substantial improvement.

I’m interested enough that, if I were the Mets, I’d make a considerable offer for Pincin, but ultimately I think he’ll end up at San Diego State.

Alex Palsha, RHP, Round 27

Palsha’s a redshirt junior at Sacramento State with average size who had originally committed to Cal State Fullerton, but Tommy John surgery during his senior season in high school derailed that plan. Instead, he went to Diablo Valley College, redshirted a year, and had a solid season as a freshman in 2012 but still garnered little interest. Palsha transferred to the College of San Mateo and still had no luck and moved on to Sacramento, where they had no room in their rotation, so they stuck him in the bullpen where his stuff played up a little more.

Palsha throws 88-91, occasionally ratcheting it up to 93 with an above average curve and a fringe-average change. The curve is his primary secondary offering, and it has good drop to it but could use a little more velocity. His command needs more work, and the Mets are hoping that it will come with time, because I’m not sure I see an obvious fix mechanically to improve it. He has a long stride and a firm glove side, but he does pronate his elbow late, which can impact both his shoulder health and his command, but it’s a difficult thing to fix, so the Mets are probably better off leaving it be. Because of that, I don’t think Palsha should see much time in a starting rotation as a pro, profiling better as a potential middle reliever. He’s already signed.

Keaton McKinney, RHP, Round 28

Prior to this season, McKinney was seen more as a first baseman than a pitcher. The Mets love pitchers with backgrounds as position players, and McKinney fits the bill. But in 2014, all thoughts of him at first base flew out the window, and McKinney emerged as one of the better right-handed pitching prospects in the prep class. He has fringe-average velocity right now, touch 94 but typically sitting 88-91, and there’s some hope that he’ll eventually improve his velocity to the average portion of that range despite having an already physically mature body at 6 feet, 4 inches and 225 pounds.

Despite lackluster velocity, three things really stand out with McKinney: fastball movement, control, and one of the prep class’s best changeups. His fastball has drop and arm-side run--a lot of the latter--and despite that, he commands it fairly well. I give him an average grade for command right now, with the potential for above average. The changeup grades at plus for me, and that’s a grade I don’t hand out often. He has outstanding arm speed on the pitch, and it moves so much I thought it was a screwball at first. It’s a great pitch, and he buries it down in the zone well, especially to his arm side.

Here come the negatives. His curve ball is bad, as in not good and not promising. He throws it too soft half of the time and, when it’s not too soft, it lacks depth. He just doesn’t have a good feel for the pitch, and I’d get him working on a slider ASAP, even though I think the curve works better in his repertoire. Second, he has an ugly arm action, marked by late elbow pronation and a high elbow, and even a bit of the dreaded ‘inverted W.’ Finally, there’s signability: he’s committed to Arkansas and figures to attend unless the Mets find themselves with an extra million or two at the end of the day--not a likely happening.

Matt Blackham, RHP, Round 29

Middle Tennessee’s Matt Blackham has a short, slight frame at 5 feet 11 inches and 150 pounds--and let me add I really doubt he’s actually 5-foot-11--but I find him interesting nonetheless. After two years pitching in the starting rotation for Johnson County Community College, Blackham moved to Middle Tennessee, where he was strictly as a reliever in his inaugural season. Blackham wants to start, but given his size, command issues, and a lack of stamina suggest it might be a fantasy.

That said, Blackham throws harder than you might think. In short stints, he’ll sit in the low 90s with some arm-side run, and he throws a spike curve, a pitch you rarely see in the college ranks. It has a lot of depth to it, but it’s extremely difficult to command, and once hitters learn to lay off the pitch, it’s up to the pitcher to prove he can throw it for strikes. And Mike Mussinas are few and far between. He’ll also throw a slider and changeup, but neither pitch will ever be anything more than average.

Mechanically, he has a high-effort delivery with a long arm action. He needs to land more softly on his front leg, and that should help his command some. He has potential as a middle reliever and has already signed with the team.

Tucker Tharp, OF, Round 30

Tucker Tharp has had an uneven career at Kansas but played well enough in his senior season to get drafted. Tharp, who was once a high school running back, has always had some speed, but he’s just been too inconsistent at the plate to put it to much use. The 2014 season was the first that Tharp hit better than .273--a mark he achieved as a freshman when he only had 33 at-bats--batting .312, a good, not great average for a college hitter, and certainly not a good mark for a college senior who is effectively repeating the level for the fourth-straight year.

He also showed a little bit of pop for the first time in 2014, clubbing six homers, one more than his career total. There’s some natural strength to him, but I wouldn’t expect it to be a regular occurrence: he has a tendency to get his weight out in front of his bat. He should stick in center, thanks to his speed, and I suppose he could develop into a fourth outfield type, but I’m not holding my breath. However, Mets coaches will give him every chance they can, I think--Tharp is a natural leader who consistently plays hard.

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