William & Mary outfielder-first baseman Michael Katz was the Mets’ ninth-round selection after a long and productive three years in college. Solidly built at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, Katz has a power-hitter’s build, and he surprised everyone by clubbing 10 homers as a freshman, and although he took a step backward in the power department as a sophomore, he showed an improved feel for hitting, improving his walk rate and batting average while cutting down on his strikeouts. As a junior in 2014, he tied it all together, batting .362/.445/.646, smacking 24 doubles and 14 homers. He was frankly one of the best power hitters in Division I.
His swing is quite pretty. He keeps his feet spread apart, and stays pretty quiet before the pitch. When it arrives he rocks his weight far backward, drawing his hands back deep before letting loose. He stays well-balanced throughout; it’s smooth, simple, and very effective at producing power. His approach is even better, something that the Mets have been targeting all draft. He’s shown a clear willingness to take pitches until his pitch rears its head, at which point he shows the proper aggression.
Scouts are mixed as to his contact ability. His bat speed is probably merely average, and sometimes he’ll load his hands so deep that it creates an arm bar that prevents him from adjusting on the fly. His approach and pitch recognition make me feel better about these things, but they’re still concerning. If I were a hitting coach, I’d try to shorten his swing out some--he’s strong enough that he’ll still have enough power, and it could make a world of difference with his contact ability.
But it’s his defense that earns the most skepticism. He’s a large guy and a poor runner, so scouts don’t believe he’ll make it in left field. Furthermore, his arm is considered below average, taking right clear out of consideration The Mets say otherwise, believing his range to be sufficient for the outfield. William & Mary did use him in left during his junior season, but that was only due to depth issues; otherwise, he play solely at first. I’m not optimistic in this regard, but people can surprise you. If he is stuck at first, the Mets could be facing a minor league logjam there pretty soon.
There is a question as to what it will take to sign him. A William & Mary education is a valuable thing, and Katz may be looking for over-slot money.