A 28-year-old right-handed hitter, Drew Ferguson was drafted by the Astros in the 19th round of the 2015 draft and spent five seasons in that organization. With the cancellation of the minor league season last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he didn’t play a sixth season, and the Mets picked him up in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft following the 2020 season.
Ferguson’s professional career began in upstate New York, as the Astros assigned him to their then-New York-Penn League Low-A affiliate Tri-City ValleyCats. He hit .328/.418/.586 in his first 68 plate appearances there, prompting a promotion to the Astros’ Single-A affiliate in the Midwest League. He spent the rest of the 2015 season at that level, but he didn’t fare as well at the plate, hitting .287/.344/.374 in 192 plate appearances.
The Astros assigned Ferguson to High-A to start the 2016 season, and he excelled. Through four-plus months at that level, Ferguson hit .313/.410/.531 with 14 home runs in 392 plate appearances. That earned him a promotion to Double-A for the rest of the season, and he hit .327/.397/.615 in 58 plate appearances there to end the season.
The Astros opted to keep Ferguson at Double-A to start the 2017 season, too, and he hit .292/.390/.426 with 8 home runs in 364 plate appearances at that level before getting promoted to the team’s Triple-A affiliate in the notoriously hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League at the beginning of August. But Ferguson struggled in his two months there, hitting just .223/.304/.320 with on home run in 115 plate appearances.
But the Astros kept Ferguson at Triple-A to start his age-26 2018 season, and he got off to a pretty good start, hitting .293/.431/.394 with a pair of home runs in 261 plate appearances. But he suffered a fracture when he was hit by a pitch on the wrist, and the injury cost him two months. In mid-August, Ferguson got back on the field on an injury rehab assignment back where his career started with the Tri-City ValleyCats before rejoining the Astros’ Triple-A team in Fresno to end the year. In the seven games he played back at Triple-A, he finished strong, hitting .400/.484/.720 with two home runs in 31 plate appearances.
Following the 2018 season, the Giants selected Ferguson in the Rule 5 draft, but they returned him to the Astros shortly before the 2019 season got underway. Ferguson spent the entirety of the 2019 season in Triple-A, too, and performed similarly to the reputation he had built up by that point. He hit .281/.395/.440 with 11 home runs in 483 plate appearances.
Having never been a highly-touted prospect, Ferguson certainly isn’t a household name. And like other outfielders who figure to start the year in the Mets’ minor league system, he faces a tough path to a major league call-up this year. The Mets’ outfield alignment isn’t ideal from a defensive perspective, but the team is slated to give its outfield innings to Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, Dom Smith, Kevin Pillar, Albert Almora Jr., J.D. Davis, and perhaps, at times, Jeff McNeil or Jonathan Villar. And beyond that group, Jose Martinez—despite significant defensive issues—and Mallex Smith and Khalil Lee might get a roster spot before Ferguson.
But if the need arises for a right-handed-hitting outfielder and Ferguson is hitting well in the minors, it’s conceivable that he could finally get a shot in the big leagues at some point this year.