We continue our player profiles from the Mets’ 2017 amateur draft with their picks from the 21st through the 25th round. You can check out all of our draft coverage here.
21: Aaron Ford, LHP, Tennessee Wesleyan College
Aaron Ford appeared in 13 games for the Tennessee Wesleyan College Bulldogs this season, pitching a total of 74.1 innings. He logged a 1.94 ERA, allowing 55 hits, walking 12, and striking out 101. Before attending Tennessee Wesleyan, he attended San Jacinto College. He posted a 2.00 ERA in 54.0 innings as a freshman, allowing 34 hits, 20 walks, and striking out 74. As a sophomore, he posted a 2.55 ERA in 81.1 innings, allowing 65 hits, walking 36, and striking out 101.
Ford will turn 23 in September, and is old for a college junior. At 5’11”, 180 pounds, there is not much projection left in his body. His fastball sits in the high 80s, touching 90 MPH. He complements it with an above-average breaking ball and an above-average changeup. His mechanics often result in him varying his release point, resulting in control problems.
The left-hander needs to work on his command a bit, as he threw 11 wild pitches and hit nine batters this past season.
22: Joshua Payne, RHP, West Texas A&M University
Joshua Payne appeared in 14 games for West Texas A&M this season, pitching a total of 86.0 innings. He posted a 2.51 ERA, allowing 80 hits, walking 19 batters, and striking out 101. His was a big boost as compared to his 2016 junior season, which saw him post a terrible 9.24 ERA in 25.1 innings. Before his time at West Texas A&M, he attended Trinidad State Junior College, where he went 5-1 with a 3.72 ERA in 38.2 innings.
Payne, a college senior, will be turning 23 in October. At 6’6”, 260 pounds, Payne has a thick, durable frame.
23: Jose Sierra, LHP, Monroe College
Originally from the Dominican Republic, Jose Sierra graduated from Cenapec, an academy-style high school in Santo Domingo. He immigrated to the United States and enrolled at Monroe College in 2016. He posted a 6.10 ERA in 10.1 innings, split over one start and seven relief appearances. He allowed eight hits, walked 12, and struck out 15. In 2017, he was limited to five relief appearances. He posted a 14.73 ERA in 3.2 innings, allowing 3 hits, walking 10, and striking out eight.
The 6’3”, 190-pound Sierra throws from a high three-quarters arm slot. He hides the ball well from fellow lefties with his leg lift and slingy delivery. Due to his slingy delivery, Sierra has developed control problems, unable to replicate his release point.
24: Joe Cavallaro, RHP, University of South Florida
Joe Cavallaro was a multisport athlete in high school, posting a 6-1 record with a 1.06 ERA as a senior at Sarasota High School, where his father served as baseball coach. He committed to the University of South Florida in his junior year when former coach Lelo Prado recruited him, and focused completely on baseball once he enrolled. He posted a 4.12 ERA in 54.2 innings split in the rotation and the bullpen, allowing 44 hits, walking 29, and striking out 41. During his sophomore season, he was used primarily as a starting pitcher, and registered a 4.27 ERA in 84.1 innings, allowing 65 hits, walking 45, and striking out 75 batters. In 2017, his junior year, he was used as a reliever, appearing in 30 games out of the Bulls’ bullpen. He enjoyed the most success of his collegiate career, posting a 2.28 ERA in 59.1 innings, allowing 48 hits, walking 19, and striking out 77.
Cavallaro has a thick 6’4”, 207-pound frame, with long limbs and a big lower half. He throws sidearm, with plenty of rotational torque in his whippy motion. His pitches are hard to pick up, thanks to his high leg kick and his arm slot. His fastball sits in 88-91 MPH, with good sink. The pitch isn’t overpowering, and he often loses confidence in it, but it plays up well when complemented with his slider. His slider sits in the low 80s with 10-4 shape. He occasionally gets too under the pitch, giving it more sweepy break than the sharp tilt, but the slider is Cavallaro’s go-to pitch in all occasions.
25: Laine Huffman, SS, California State University: Long Beach
A graduate of Valencia High School, Laine Huffman was persuaded to attend Fullerton College, convinced by coach Nick Fuscardo’s pitch that he would be molded from an athlete with some promise and physical tools into a well-rounded baseball player who played a vital role for their team. As a freshman in 2015, he hit .307 with nine stolen bases. As a sophomore, he hit .333, stealing 16 bases. He enrolled in Cal State University: Long Beach for his junior season and had a spectacular season for the Dirtbags, being perhaps the most productive number-nine hitter in college baseball. The infielder hit .294/.372/.369 with four stolen bases in 56 games.
Huffman is a diminutive speedster that plays with a chip on his shoulder. In common parlance, he is a gritty infielder. The 5’11”, 175 infielder is a line drive hitter who sprays the ball to all fields. Though the bunt single is a regular part of his hitting arsenal, since he has the speed to regularly leg such hits out, Huffman can also hit for power, though that power is mostly to the gaps. He has the speed to be a better baserunner, but he is still learning to pick and choose when to run.
The infielder is a solid defender. He generally shows good reaction times and footwork around the bag. His arm is strong, strong enough to handle shortstop. He underwent meniscus surgery at the beginning of his career at Cal State, but the procedure was relatively minor and did not stop Huffman from winning the Dirtbags’ starting shortstop job when the incumbent left the program due to personal reasons.