The Chad MacDonald Era
2011: Logan Verrett, RHP, Baylor University
I liked Logan Verrett quite a bit. He had above average control at Baylor, throwing 88-92 with some reports placing his velocity as high as 95. His mechanics were fine with a smooth arm action, but there was enough to fix that you could imagine tweaking things enough where he might boost his velocity to touch the low-to-mid 90s more consistently. He also threw a nice, tight slider with some late bite, but not much depth, and a solid changeup. I projected him as a back-of-the-rotation starter or a middle reliever as a pitchability guy. After signing for $425,000, Verrett enjoyed a steady but unspectacular minor league career that resulted in him being drafted in the Rule 5 draft this past offseason. However, the Rangers sent him back to the Mets, where he figures to still have the chance to make an impact as a reliever.
The Tommy Tanous Era
2012: Matt Koch, RHP, University of Louisville
Koch was a reliever at Louisville, but I noted in my draft report that a team would be wise to try him as a starter first. He had excellent velocity, sitting in the low 90s but touching 97, and his breaking stuff had promise. His change in particular had some very nice movement on it, and the slider could look average when he spun it right. Unfortunately, both pitches were so inconsistent that he had virtually no command of how either left his hand. Since signing with the Mets for $425,000, Koch has had an odd profile. He has been terrible at missing bats and generally gets hit hard, suggesting his command is weak. That said, Koch’s control has been outstanding; he’s walked just 47 batters in 260-plus innings. Now at Binghamton, Koch’s is finding himself in a do-or-die situation as a starter. If he can’t pitch effective this year, the organization will need to move him to a relief role to find out if he can provide any value to the team.
2013: Ivan Wilson, OF, Ruston H.S. (LA)
Finally, a high school player! The Mets received an extra pick for failing to sign Teddy Stankiewicz the previous year, and Wilson, their choice with the pick, might have the distinction of being the most talented player in the Mets’ system. Blessed with size, strength, and speed, it was easy to imagine Wilson hitting 30 home runs, stealing 20 bases, and handling center capably, if not necessarily well. Unfortunately, there’s quite a distance from Point A to Point B. Wilson actually had a pretty good swing: simple and compact with an efficient weight transfer and some fantastic batspeed. However, the timing of his swing could get fouled up, robbing him of in-game power. I felt good that he’d be able to improve that with more reps as a pro. Wilson signed for $624,900, and it has not been smooth sailing. His pitch recognition skills are absolutely horrific, as is his approach, and his swing has gained some length to increase his power output. And he did do that: in 2014, 33% of his hits went over the wall, but he also struck out almost 50%--!!!---of the time.
2013: Casey Meisner, RHP, Cypress Woods H.S. (TX)
Meisner signed for a below-slot $500,000; it was obvious to most that he had no intention of going to college. There are a lot of similarities between Meisner and Scott Moviel, the Mets’ second-round pick in 2006. They’re both very tall, they didn’t have premium velocity coming out of school, they had clean mechanics and deliveries, and their offspeed stuff needed a lot of work. The key difference is that Meisner’s command has been far better out of the gate, and his offspeed offerings have come along more quickly. I wish I knew why. He’s pitching very, very well for Savannah right now, which is pretty much the best-case scenario for a guy like Meisner. It will be interesting to see how quickly he's pushed, because I think the Mets might have found a third-round gem.
2014: Milton Ramos, SS, American Heritage H.S. (FL)
Ramos had the distinction of being the best defensive shortstop in the draft, though the rest of his game lagged behind. A good athlete, Ramos had plus speed, a strong arm, and some of the best defensive footwork and agility you’ll see in a high school player. Unfortunately, he was kind of a mess at the plate. While he did have natural batspeed, his swing is overly complicated, and his overeager approach at the plate leaves much to be desired. He’s a safe bet to reach the majors because of his glove, and if the bat comes around, he could be special. Of course, he has a lot of work to do.
Since Sandy Alderson took over the Mets, the team has gotten a little more aggressive with their third-round picks. Under Omar Minaya, third round picks had rather modest goals, middle relief help, mostly. Nieuwenhuis projected as more of a backup, and there was a good chance that Shields was never going to be more than a utility player even if he made it. Forsythe was a little more boom-or-bust, but even he can’t hold a candle to Ivan Wilson, who I’m convinced will either be a 30 home run hitter or won’t make it to Double-A.
On the whole, there isn’t a whole lot of difference between second- and third-round picks. There does seem to be a lower ceiling present in the safe guys and a deeper bottom with the riskier sorts. And that’s pretty much how things work until you get through round 10, with the sole exceptions of some discrepancies for financial reasons as teams try to save some pool money for some late gambles from the prep ranks. There’s just a gradual reduction in ceilings on one class of players and present skills on the other until there’s just nothing left. Every once in a while someone slips through because their skillset is subtle enough, but not often.