Major League Baseball’s amateur draft is coming up on June 12. We continue our draft preview series—all of which you can read here—with a look at some outfielders who might be picked by the Mets with the 20th pick in the first round.
Jordon Adell (OF)
Ballard High School outfielder Jordon Adell is considered one of most athletic and toolsy players in the 2017 MLB Draft—if not the most. Earning comparisons to Byron Buxton and the Upton brothers, Adell is a special kind of talent. Even with a quick glance, the amount of talent that oozes off of the 18-year-old is palpable. The 6’2”, 205 lb. right-hander is a physical specimen, looking the part of a baseball superstar. If the potential in his baseball tools develop properly, there is no doubt that Adell could reach that potential.
At the plate, he hits for both average and power. His plus bat speed gives him tremendous raw power upside, but his propensity to swing and miss leads many to question how effective he will be. In addition, the high schooler has trouble against average fastball velocity and has trouble picking up breaking stuff, swinging at bad pitches and expanding the strike zone. In order to help with his swing-and-miss tendencies, Adell has closed his batting stance and reduced the load of his back elbow, improving his direction to the ball, helping his head stay level and giving his bat maximum time in the zone.
The changes gave him a much more functional swing—you can count the number of strikeouts he made in his final season at Ballard on two hands—but because he has been facing mostly sub-par competition, many question how the changes will hold up against more advanced pitching. While he will undoubtedly improve in both areas as he gets more professional instruction and gets more at-bats under his belt, the degree to which he will improve is still up in the air, adding more questions to a profile that is already full of mystery.
When he is able to put bat on ball, however, the results are impressive. The 18-year-old hits moonshots with regularity—with a wood bat, no less—and when he goes on tears like he did in early May, when he belted five homers in two games, he is a pitcher’s worst nightmare. In 2017, Adell ended his year with double the amount of home runs as the player who totaled the second-highest amount.
As is the case with most elite high school baseball players, Adell excels on the mound, as well. There is some effort to his delivery, and his arm action is long, but he is much less polished on the mound than he is behind the plate. Despite this fact, he has a very solid pitching foundation. His fastball sits in the 91-94 MPH range and has been clocked as high as 97 MPH. His curveball is currently his best secondary pitch, a pitch in the low-to-mid 80s with tight, 12-6 spin when it is not overthrown. He mixes in a cutter and a changeup, both of which are developing but both flashing a solid foundation.
Looking at his defense, Adell plays a quality center field. He possesses well-above-average speed, giving him great range. His arm is plus, as well, giving him the foundation to be a strong defensive player. The routes he takes are still raw, and over the 2016 summer showcase circuit, he botched more than one play, but the youngster is still learning. More time in the outfield should help refine his defensive ability.
Adell has a commitment to Louisville, and any team that drafts him is going to have to be prepared to spend over-slot in order to sign him.
Bubba Thompson (OF)
A gifted football player, Leslie “Bubba” Thompson ran for 3,860 yards and threw 43 touchdowns as a quarterback last fall, leading his school, McGill-Toolen Catholic High School, to the Alabama state 7-A championship game. Football was not the only sport he played, and it certainly was not the only sport he excelled at. The all-state football star is just as good on the diamond as he is on the gridiron. A dual-sport star, he also helped McGill-Toolen baseball team reach the Alabama state 7-A state semi-finals.
Thompson is not as raw as you would expect for a player who split his time playing two different sports. He has a quick right-handed stroke, and displays good barrel control and bat speed. Though he has handled high school pitching without much difficulty, he is not expected to be an elite hitter against tougher competition. Before the spring, his swing was mostly in his upper body, but this past season, he has begun incorporating his lower body more. As a result, he exhibited more power this past season than he had in the past, and as he continues to refine his mechanics and fill out, some scouts feel that he can be a 15-to-20 home run threat.
Being a former quarterback with thousands of rushing yards, speed is Thompson’s most obvious tool. It is well above average, and his graceful and easy gait has helped him in the outfield tremendously. His routes to the ball still need to be refined, and Thompson still relies more on his speed than reading the ball off the bat, but his smooth actions in center field, combined with an accurate, strong arm lead scouts to believe that he can develop into a plus center fielder.
Thompson has a commitment to Alabama, but he is expected to sign with a major league club. Also impacting where he is potentially drafted and his signability is his age. Born June 9, 1998, he will be a 19-year-old when the draft takes place.
Jeren Kendall (OF)
In 2014, Jeren Kendall was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 30th round of the 2014 draft. Possessing plus speed, sneaky power, and excellent defensive ability in center, the Holmen High School outfielder passed on signing with them, instead attending Vanderbilt University. There, he hit .281/.394/.530 as a freshman and .332/.396/.568 as a sophomore. This season, as a junior in 2017, he has continued hitting well over .300 with similar on-base and slugging percentages. In addition, he played with the collegiate national team in 2016, hitting .290/.329/.536. Kendall’s intriguing tool-set would have gotten him drafted in the first few round back in 2014 if he hadn’t been so dead set on attending Vanderbilt. Since then, he has only gotten better, and is a no-doubt first-round draft pick.
Kendall has plus bat speed, but has had problems with strikeouts since he stepped onto the diamond at Vanderbilt. As a freshman, he struck out 60 times in 185 at-bats. As a sophomore, he struck out 62 times in 250 at-bats, which was an improvement from his almost 30% strikeout rate but still not that great. With most of the 2017 season in the books, he did not particularly improve in this regard, and he struck out at a similar rate to his sophomore year. His poor contact rates have deflated his stock somewhat this season, leading to concerns that he will never live up to his offensive potential.
The rest of that offensive potential is quite high. He learned to incorporate his lower half more into his swing, and that resulted in the left-hander displaying more power, but he still doesn’t use his lower half in his swing enough. He generally is a pull hitter, pulling it even when he’s pitched away, but the ball comes off of his bat with authority when he hits the sweet spot.
Defensively, Kendall is a much surer bet. He gets good reads off the bat and puts his plus speed to good use in the outfield, tracking down balls and making it look easy. His arm is strong and accurate, and there is no doubt that he will be a plus defender in center.
In addition to his baseball tools, Kendall is considered a great clubhouse guy. Coaches and teammates alike have nothing but good to say of the quirky outfielder. He has a good pedigree as well, as his father, Jeremey, played baseball and was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 26th round of the 1992 draft. Jeremey Kendall, like Jeren, was a center fielder and a leadoff hitter. He spent five years in the Phillies system before getting released in the spring of 1997, roughly a year after Jeren was born, having reached as high as Double-A.
Quentin Holmes (OF)
Certain teams, like the Atlanta Braves, are known for targeting local players during the draft. Being a northeast team, this would be harder for the Mets, as most northeast area players lag a bit behind their warmer-weather contemporaries, but they did snag a handful of local kids in the 2016 draft, selecting New Yorkers Justin Dunn and Anthony Kay, Pennsylvanian Jay Jabs, and Connecticuter Matt Cleveland. Like Dunn and Kay, the Mets could once again pick a local kid using their first selection, picking up East Elmhurst’s own Quentin Holmes.
Speed is Holmes’s best tool. He has true elite, grade 80 speed, and is perhaps the fastest player in their entire 2017 draft class. Over the summer of 2016, during the summer showcase circuit, he consistently clocked in with some of the best 60-yard dash times among all players participating. During the 2016 Perfect Game National Showcase, he ran a record 6.15 during the 60-yard. In the same exhibition, he posted 3.99 home-to-first times—from the right side, no less—but has averaged 4.1 to 4.2 elsewhere.
His swing is simple and he handles the barrel of the bat well, making consistent contact thanks to above-average wrist strength. Holmes hasn’t demonstrated too much power up until this point, but he does currently have gap power, especially to his pull side, thanks to the torque in his swing. He added muscle over the winter, and thanks to his wide hips and broad shoulders, is expected to be able to add even more. Due to his upbringing, Holmes may not be as flashy as some of the other players available in the 2017 draft class, but scouts see the speedy outfielder as potentially blossoming into a above-average hitter with moderate power.
Thanks to his speed, Holmes covers a lot of ground in center field. He is still a bit raw out there, relying on his speed to carry him, but his ability to read the ball of the bat and run effective routes has improved since last year and will continue as long as he gets more time in center. He is highly athletic and makes running down balls to both his left and right look easy. His arm strength is slightly below average, but the 17-year-old noticeably doesn’t use his lower half much when throwing, and should be able to improve his throwing strength when he does so with more regularity.
Holmes has a commitment to Mississippi State, and will have to decide whether or not spending time there will hone his already impressive skill set to the point that he may be drafted even higher in the future.
Heliot Ramos (OF)
On the heels of Delvin Perez being selected in the first round of the 2016 draft, the island of Puerto Rico should soon have another first-round pick to its credit in Heliot Ramos. One of the youngest players eligible to be drafted, the 17-year-old Puerto Rican has a ton of potential but it may take some work to coax it all out.
Everybody agrees that Ramos has a big, strong, athletic build and has legitimate power potential. His loose, easy swing generates plenty of power. During the 2016 WWBA World Championship, he recorded logged a 103.7 MPH exit velocity on a ball put in play, and all throughout the summer showcase circuit, he posted impressive exit velocities and socked prodigious home runs.
After that, scouts are split. Some are weary of his limited track record with a wood bat and his limited experience against tougher competition. He has a tendency to expand the strike zone and take off balance swings. Some believe his bat speed is not fast enough against high-level competition, and that he will never be able to tap into his power potential as a result.
There are far fewer questions about his defense. The 17-year-old Puerto Rican plays center field now but will most likely be relegated into a corner in the future. His has plus speed, but it does not fully translate into the field, where he only has average range. His arm is average and likely not strong enough to play up in right.
Ramos has a commitment to Florida International University. Ramos has an older brother Henry, who was drafted by the Red Sox in the fifth round of the 2010 draft. He reached as high as Triple-A, and is a career .265/.325/.396 split between the minor leagues and La Liga de Béisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente in Puerto Rico.
Drew Waters (OF)
Georgia is normally a hotbed of baseball activity, and nothing has changed regarding the 2017 darft. Standing out among the hundreds of baseball hopefuls in his draft class is Drew Waters, an outfielder from Etowah High School. After impressing last year during the summer showcase circuit, the 18-year-old outfielder went on to hit almost .500 during the 2017 season, solidifying his name among the top prospects in the country.
A legitimate switch hitter, Waters has a complicated swing, but he obviously makes it work for him. He has a big hitch in his hand load on both sides, complicating his timing and showing a bit of swing-and-miss in his swing, but he is seen as having enough of a base to develop into an average hitter at the very least thanks to his barrel control. There is no doubt about his power, on the other hand. The combination of his raw strength and his bat speed causes the ball to jump off his bat. He has lift in his swing and regularly launches balls over the fence. He has raw power from both sides of the plate, but currently demonstrates better in-game power from the left; from the right side, he is currently more of a line drive hitter.
Waters’s athletic build helps him on the base paths, and in the outfield, where his long, smooth gait lets him track down balls in center field with ease. His arm is above-average and would allow him to shift into right field if he becomes a fringy defender in center as he matures.
The 18-year-old has a commitment to the University of Georgia, where his older brother Zach pitched for a season in 2015. His brother only pitched there for one season, and was a transfer from East Tennessee State, so any major league club that signs him will not be competing with a deep family legacy.