After years of passing on southpaws early in the draft the Mets picked their second in the top ten rounds in Kelly Secrest, a senior out of UNC-Wilmington, the same place where the Mets, once upon a time, found a hulking pitcher by the name of Bradley Holt. I think they’ll be hoping for different results this time.
Wilmington used Secrest as a closer, and it’s easy to see why: he’s short, he has lousy mechanics, and he throws hard. In a smaller conference like the Colonial, that’s the cookie-cutter design for a killer closer, and Wilmington has enjoyed Secrest’s abilities in that function for the past two seasons. He was particularly effective in 2014, posting a 1.74 ERA and striking out 38 in 36 innings.
As I mentioned, Secrest has a live arm, throwing 90-92 regularly and touching 94, good velocity from a lefty. It doesn’t come easily to Secrest, however, who needs to utilize every inch of his 5-foot-11 frame to get there, and the secret is a pretty vertical scapula load defined by late elbow pronation that does let him squeeze a little extra velocity out, but at a potential cost to his shoulder’s health. I should point out that if I were his coach, I’d tell him to do the same. With his fringy size, he’s destined for the bullpen anyway, so he should do whatever he can to get noticed. Velocity gets you noticed. Unfortunately, the slower tempo required to build up arm strength does detract from a pitcher’s command, and Secrest draws fringe-average grades from me here, also. If he cleans up his mechanics some, he could improve.
The curve ball needs some work too, which you’d expect from looking at his strikeouts rates. Pitchers with Secrest’s velocity should be striking out well more than a batter an inning in a subpar conference, and the lack of a quality breaking ball speaks to that. He’ll occasionally spin an above average one, but too often it’ll come out soft, something a hitter usually sees coming. Better coaching could make a big difference. The changeup is a non-factor.
A couple of years ago, before the 2012 draft, someone asked me what the definition of a tenth-round pick from the college ranks was. I replied, “Tommy Toledo.” Toledo was a University of Florida guy--threw pretty hard, didn’t always know where it was going, lousy mechanics, iffy breaking ball--who ended up going in the 11th round. I think that’s what the Mets have here. Sometimes those guys work out and more often they don’t. It doesn’t mean they’re bad picks. It’s just what’s available at this point in the draft: promise with encumberances.