With the Rule 4 draft coming up, I thought now would be as good a time as any to start looking over some potential first-round picks for the Mets. In case you missed my first profile, you can find my writeup on UNC shortstop Levi Michael here.
Birth Date: 12/18/89
Weight: 220 lbs.
Why you should celebrate if the Mets take him: Look at those numbers above. This guy is a three-year performer—which is underselling him; he’s a three-year dominator, and this season has been his most dominant by a mile. You know what you’re getting with Jungmann, and there’s a substantial value in that.
He’s a workhorse with a durable frame who has thrown a tremendous number of innings without throwing a tremendous number of pitches. He throws strikes, but more importantly he throws quality strikes. His fastball has good, but not great, velocity at 89–93 miles per hour, and he throws it on a hard, downward plane—he’s been among the college leaders in ground ball percentage. Furthermore, his pitches are difficult for your average hitter to pick up due to the fact that he hides the ball well. As secondary offerings, Jungmann also throws a hard curve, slider, and changeup. He commands the curve very well, and it’s shown enough improvement that I’d now consider it an above-average pitch.
Finally, this is a guy who knows how to pitch. He’s smart enough to hold back on his fastball until he really needs it, and he’s capable of rearing back and throwing 95 when he needs it. He does a great job of hitting his spots, he pounds the lower half of the strike zone very well, and it’s earned him a reputation as the best big-game pitcher in the college ranks. There’s barely a doubt in my mind that Jungmann will climb up the organizational ladder quickly.
Why you should hope the Mets call someone else’s name: There aren’t many reasons. Upside is one: there’s a chance that there will be some ace-caliber arms available, and Jungmann probably projects more as a number three starter, maybe a two if he continues to fool more advanced hitters the way he has collegiates. But without a top-notch breaking ball and an average change right now, I’m having trouble seeing Jungmann as a pitcher who can reliably get big strikeouts.
There’s one other problem, and I’m really not sure how much of a problem it is. Jungmann’s mechanics confound me. He does a lot of things that I don’t like. He takes a short stride and lands on his striding foot stiffly, he doesn’t stride directly toward home plate, and upon release, he has a tendency to jerk his whole glove side down. I really don’t like those things because they’ll often rob a pitcher of command. Of course, command is the least of Jungmann’s problems; he might have the best command of any power pitcher in this draft. So he has all these flags that suggest that he can’t throw straight, but none of them seem to be causing any difficulties. Maybe he’s like Mr. Burns in that all his malfunctions create an odd sort of homeostasis. Or maybe he just really knows what he’s doing. Or maybe these things will catch up to him. If the worst case happens to be true, the good news is that some of these "errors" should be fairly correctable.
What I think: Jungmann should be one of the Mets’ top targets with the pick, provided he’s still there. I don’t think he’d be my top target, but he would be up there. I think that some people underrate him because he’s such a safe pick, and safe picks are never popular. But he has durability, legitimate stuff, a lot of pitching know-how, and great command. A good-case-scenario comp would probably be someone like Freddy Garcia. While Garcia was seen as an ace for a few years, he often wasn’t as good as commonly perceived and usually pitched more like a number two. Their arsenals are pretty similar: sinking low-90s fastballs with power breaking balls, eh changeups, and good command. A less-than-optimal (but still successful) comparison might be someone like Jon Garland, who has similar size and stuff.