There are tons of sentimental reasons to want to see the Mets pick Jack with their first-round pick. Born in Morris County, he’s a semi-local kid. He’s the son of Al Leiter, who really fortified and at times led the pitching rotations of those late-90s and early-2000s Mets teams. He has a dog named Shea. There are also tons of non-sentimental reasons to want to see the Mets pick Jack with their first-round pick.
His fastball sits in the low-to-mid-90s, topping out at 95 MPH with some natural sink and arm-side run. His curveball is absolutely devastating, arguably one of the best- if not the best- curveballs in the entire 2019 draft class. Sitting in the mid-to-high-70s, it has knee buckling 12-6 drop and he is able to control it, throwing it for strikes and burying it in the dirt. In addition, he throws a slider and a changeup, the former projects to be an above-average pitch with a little more refinement, while the other projects to be a fringe-average-to-average pitch. Having grown up in a baseball family- in addition to his father, his uncle and cousin also are baseball players- his baseball IQ is extremely high for someone his age.
Leiter’s commitment to Vanderbilt is the gorilla in the room. Not only does Vandy have an excellent baseball program, but it is a good school, and Jack is an excellent student. Jack, who is conceivably a mid-to-late first round pick currently, could easily go to Vanderbilt and when next eligible for the draft be a number one overall pick. Money isn’t necessarily a money issue, as his father made at least $68,100,100 over the course of his playing career, let alone his post-playing days as a broadcaster, his current Mets salary, and any other endorsements, but draft position and signing bonus are signs of prestige. Jack is extremely skilled and wants- and deserves- to be paid accordingly to forego a college education. With the twelfth pick, the Mets will have a first-round pool bonus of $4,366,400 to work with, and Jack Leiter’s asking price is supposedly in that range. Leiter and the Mets certainly have discussed being drafted, and the results of those talks will determine whether or not the Mets selected the right-hander; if they do, it is certainly because the two sides agreed to a pre-draft deal.
11 G, 52.1 IP, 9 R, 4 ER (0.54 ERA), 23 H, 19 BB, 88 K
Kameron Misner wasn’t an elite prospect as a high schooler, but he had tools that stood out. The Kansas City Royals took a gamble, drafting him 1003rd overall with their 33rd round pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, but Misner didn’t bite, electing to honor his commitment to Mizzou instead. He blossomed there, having one of the best seasons in program history as a freshman, and an even better year in limited innings in his sophomore year before having it end prematurely thanks to a foul ball off the foot in April. He returned to the field this season to no lingering effects, hitting .287/.443/.485 in 56 games, slugging 10 home runs and stealing 20 bases in 56 games.
Misner oozes tools. Every one of his tools grade out as average, with his power, speed, and arm grading out as above-average to plus. He has a well-balanced swing without much of a stride that is conducive for hitting for average. When he makes contact, ball explodes off of his bat with exit speeds in excess of 105 MPH thanks to a combination of his plus bat speed, pure strength, and the torque from his lower half acting in unison with his upper half. His arm is above-average, touching the mid-80s. He is an excellent base stealer and runner, possessing above-average speed. He is athletic and deceptively speed, capable of playing center field, in addition to either corner.
Like any other player, he has his flaws. Struggling during SEC play- arguably the best division in NCAA college baseball- has a recurring theme in his entire collegiate career. He takes healthy hacks at the plate, leading to a few more swings-and-misses than you’d want to see. At 6’4”, 210-pounds, his size is likely going to move him from center to right field in the long term, and possibly even first base further down the road if he loses all of his athleticism and mobility. With professional coaching to mitigate some of those controllable factors, I feel the upside- a 20-20 centerfielder- outweighs the possible cons of selecting Misner.
56 G, 202 AB, .287/.443/.485, 58 H, 10 2B, 0 3B, 10 HR, 54 BB, 56 K, 20/21 SB, .348 BABIP
While I’d love for either of Andrew Vaughn or Adley Rutschman to make it to his pick, neither is likely to make it out of the top 5. Bishop, on the other hand, has a decent chance of being available at 12, and he’s not far behind the college bats likely to go before him. A multi-sport star in high school, Bishop has taken a couple years of college ball to really get going, but boy has the end product been special. In 222 AB for Arizona State this year, Bishop batted .342 / .479 / .748 with 22 HR, 12 steals, and 50 walks. It’s a 60 speed, 60 power profile in a highly athletic, big-framed body, and while there are definite swing-and-miss concerns, the potential package is elite if it all comes together. That sort of upside would be a huge get.
51 G, 202 AB, .356/.482/.792, 72 H, 14 2B, 4 3B, 22 HR, 42 BB, 56 K, 11/18 SB, .403 BABIP
Baty is one of the best prep hitters in the country, posting an absolutely absurd line at Lake Travis High School in Texas and looking the part of a future slugger at third base. He combines good bat-to-ball skill with very real raw power and a polished approach, and while his range isn’t the best, he has a cannon of an arm at third and should be able to stick at the position at least into his late-20s. What makes Baty most interesting is also the only wart on his profile- his age. Baty is a very old prep player at 19-and-a-half, and it’s been a year since he’s face competition the same age as him. While some concerns about the talent he’s faced is reasonable, I think such concerns could actually be artificially deflating Baty’s value, and snagging a hitter with the raw tools he has would be a very solid use of the 12th overall pick.
37 G, 96 AB, .615/.736/1.333, 59 H, 6 2B, 3 3B, 19 HR, 44 BB, 9 K
If there’s one bias I definitely have in the draft, it’s that I tend to like college players more than I should. One college player that will probably still be on the board when the Mets make the twelfth overall selection in this year’s draft is Josh Jung, a third baseman from Texas Tech.
Jung has been an elite offensive performer in a pretty good conference since his freshman season at Texas Tech, and checks all of the statistical boxes you could want. After an excellent freshman season, Jung was one of the best hitters in the country as a sophomore in 2018, hitting .392/.491/.639 in 263 at bats with 12 home runs and 35 total extra-base hits. While he hasn’t quite reached the same heights this season, Jung has still put together an excellent junior season, hitting .335/.474/.603 with 11 homers, and 33 extra-base hits in 209 at bats. Mechanically, Jung’s swing has a little more length than I’d like, and can be relatively stiff at times, but the Mets have done very well with cleaning up these types of swings in the recent past (see Alonso, Pete). Jung also utilizes an opposite field heavy approach at present, and has considerable power to right center. I expect that if he learns to pull the ball more as a professional, in addition to maintaining his considerable power to the opposite field, Jung could someday be a significant power bat at the hot corner.
The big knock on Jung has been his defense at third base, which has led to many speculating that he will have to move off the position in the relatively near future due to his below average speed. Jung certainly has the arm strength for the position, and has played mostly shortstop for Texas Tech this season, and has played generally pretty well there. I’m reasonably confident at present that Jung will be able to stick at third. He’s by no means a perfect prospect, but I believe there’s enough upside for Jung to be a solid selection for the Mets to make with the twelfth overall pick.
49 G, 186 ABs, .333/.471/.597, 62 H, 20 2B, 1 3B, 9 HR, 46 BB, 34 K, 1/2 SB, .366 BABIP
Should none of the elite college position players be on the board by the time the Mets make their pick with the twelfth overall selection, I would probably look to select Jack Leiter, a right-handed pitcher from Delbarton Academy in Morristown, NJ. The son of former Mets pitcher, and current Met front office adviser, Al Leiter, Jack Leiter has a level of polish and command that you don’t typically see in prep pitchers.
The mechanics are relatively clean and efficient, and they generally allow him to reach the low to mid-90s with his fastball regularly. The fastball also has cutting action, and generally sits between 91-95 MPH, occasionally touching higher. Perhaps the most exciting part of Leiter’s profile is his excellent curveball that might be among the best in this draft class. His hammer curve sits in the high 70s and has all of the makings of a future out pitch. In addition to the fastball and curveball, Leiter has also mixed in the occasional slider and changeup. The slider is the better pitch at present, and flashes average on occasion, while the changeup is still relatively firm and not really a big part of his repertoire at present.
Leiter would probably be ranked higher if not for his very strong commitment to play college ball at Vanderbilt, which has pushed his reported asking price into the $4 million range. Should Leiter make it through the draft and onto the Commodores’ roster, I could easily see him improving a lot. With more professional training, either in pro ball or at Vanderbilt, I could easily see Leiter improving enough to end up being a top five overall selection in a few years when he re-enters the draft. While Leiter’s strong commitment to Vanderbilt is going to make him an expensive draftee to sign, the Mets should have more than enough money available in their $4,366,400 bonus pool allotment for the pick to sign Leiter away from playing college ball.
11 G, 52.1 IP, 9 R, 4 ER (0.54 ERA), 23 H, 19 BB, 88 K