In 2019, the Mets drafted eleven high school players, down from the twelve they selected in 2018. Of those eleven, five signed with the club- Brett Baty, Josh Wolf, Matthew Allan, Blaine McIntosh, and Jace Beck- while six elected not to- Hunter Barco, Joseph Charles, Daniel Maldonado, Tucker Flint, Dilian Lawson, and Camden Lovrich. All six are college juniors in 2022 and eligible for the 2022 MLB Draft, so let’s check in with them and see what they’ve been up to and how they’ve been doing.
LHP, 24th Round, 718 Overall
A Jacksonville native, Hunter Barco attended The Bolles School, a prestigious private school known for athletics programs that have produced a high level of Olympians and professionals. He made the varsity baseball team as a freshman and only got better, posting a 1.84 ERA in 38.0 innings in his senior years while hitting .355/.523/.612 in 24 games. Considered one of the premier talents in the 2019 MLB Draft thanks to an above-average fastball from the left-side and multiple polished secondary pitches, Barco’s draft stock plummeted when he received a diagnosis that he had a tear in a muscle in his shoulder. Although a second opinion revealed that the injury was not as bad as first believed, the damage was done and teams were scared off. When none were willing to meet his asking price of $3 million, he decided to honor his commitment to the University of Florida in earnest. The Mets selected the young left-hander in the twenty-fourth round, seemingly as a hedge in the event that third-round pick Matthew Allan elected to honor his own commitment to Florida, but were able to sign him, meaning that Barco would become a Gator.
He appeared in 5 games in his freshman season, starting 4 of them, before the NCAA cancelled the remainder of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Barco pitched 19.1 innings in total, posting a 1.40 ERA with 11 hits allowed, 6 walks, and 26 strikeouts. That summer, he appeared in three games for the Tulsa Drillers of the Texas Collegiate League, starting two of them. He pitched 11.0 innings in total, posting a 1.64 ERA with 8 hits allowed, 4 walks, and 20 strikeouts. He returned to Florida for the 2021 season, and while he wasn’t as dominant as a sophomore as he was in his limited freshman innings, he was still a solid member of the Gators’ weekend rotation. Starting 16 games, Barco pitched 83.0 innings and posted a 4.01 ERA, allowing 77 hits, walking 26, and striking out 94.
Coming into the 2022, Barco was considered one of the better left-handed college pitchers available in the draft and was initially projected to be selected somewhere between the second and third rounds, but some early success gave him helium to the point that many began giving him late first round consideration. Then, in late April, he succumbed to the injury bug like so many pitchers in the 2022 MLB Draft and underwent Tommy John surgery. All in all, the southpaw posted a 2.50 ERA in 50.1 innings, allowing 34 hits, walking 11, and striking out 69.
RHP/OF, 25th Round, 748 Overall
A Florida native, Joseph Charles initially attended The First Academy, a private Christian school in Orlando, but transferred to the TNXL Baseball Academy in his senior year after the academy moved to the Osceola County Sports Complex, roughly 15 minutes from his home and where he usually practiced in his spare time. Armed with a low-to-mid-90s fastball, an exceptional curveball, and a slider and changeup with plenty of swing-and-miss potential, regularly competed against the cream of the crop of his peer group and players even older and came out on top.
After being selected in the draft, Charles elected to honor his commitment to the University of North Carolina rather than go professional. Prior to the NCAA cancelling the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Charles appeared in three games in his freshman season, all out of the bullpen, and pitched a total of 1.1 innings. He did not allow a hit, walked four, and struck out two. He was limited even further in 2021, failing to throw a single inning for the Tar Heels due to a non-arm injury and his decision to enter the NCAA transfer portal. He transferred to Florida State University at the end of the season and was able to pitch limited innings that summer for the Winter Garden Squeeze of the Florida Summe Collegiate League, appearing in six games and allowing 19 earned runs in 5.0 innings.
The right-hander only appeared in two games for the Seminoles in 2022, both in late February, before injuring his elbow, undergoing surgery, and missing the rest of the season. Both outings were scoreless relief appearances in routes, and in those 1.1 innings of work, he did not allow a hit, walked one, and struck out two.
OF, 35th Round, 1048 Overall
A graduate of the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy, Daniel Maldonado had a lot in common with the man who lent his name to the school. Both are from northern Puerto Rico, Beltran from Manatí and Maldonado from Camuy. Both are 6’4” and weigh a shade under 200 pounds. Both hit from both sides of the plate. Both displayed excellence in the outfield, Beltran winning three Gold Glove Awards over the course of his career and Maldonado receiving positive feedback from scouts and evaluators. Both were drafted by Major League Baseball clubs, Beltran in the second round of the 1995 MLB Draft and Maldonado in the thirty-fifth round of the 2019 MLB Draft. Unlike Beltran, who signed with the Kansas City Royals, Maldonado elected not to go pro, instead honoring his commitment to Florida SouthWestern State College, a public university within the Florida College System.
The 18-year-old immigrant appeared in 10 games for the Buccaneers in 2020, hitting .167/.259/.208 in 24 at-bats before the NCJAA cancelled the season because of COVID-19. While his batting line was not particularly impressive on the surface, he was excellent while on the basepaths. After reaching base seven times via four hits, one walk, and two hit-by-pitches, he successfully stole four bases in five attempts. Maldonado did not get much more game time when the 2021 season began, appearing in 18 games and hitting .257/.438/.257. He once again showed off his prowess on the bases, stealing 8 bases in 9 attempts.
After playing for Florida SouthWestern State College for two years, he transferred to the University of the Cumberlands, a small NAIA university in Williamsburg, Kentucky, known for their anti-LGBT policies. In 30 games for the Patriots, majority as a defensive replacement or pinch hitter/runner, Maldonado hit .385/.414/.846 over 26 at-bats, with 4 home runs, 1 stolen base, 0 walks and 8 strikeouts.
OF, 36th Round, 1078 Overall
A two-time state champion who captained the Bishop Hendricken Hawks, outfielder Tucker Flint had a difficult choice to make when he graduated. Looking for a signing bonus somewhere between $800,000 and $1 million, he needed to decide whether or not he would honor his commitment to the University of Maryland or signal to professional teams that he would be willing to negotiate. After hearing from a handful of teams, he decided that none of the offers he received were good enough and honored his commitment to Maryland.
His collegiate career got off to a great start, as he went 6-11 with a walk, two doubles, three hit-by-pitches, and a stolen base in his first weekend with the Terps but cooled down by the time the NCAA ended the 2020 season because of COVID-19. All in all, he appeared in 14 games and hit .186/.462/.233 in 43 at-bats with 11 walks, 13 strikeouts, and 11 hit-by-pitches. In 2021, he appeared in 34 games and hit .183/.339/.290 with 2 home runs, 16 walks, 37 strikeouts, and 6 hit-by-pitches. He received additional at bats that summer playing for the Mystic Schooners of the New England Collegiate Baseball League, and then transferred to Chipola College, a NJCAA Region 8 school in the Panhandle Conference, for the 2022 season. Appearing in 56 games, he hit .370/.496/.708 with 14 home runs, 12 stolen bases in 16 attempts, 32 walks, 37 strikeouts, and an astounding 17 hits-by-pitch.
RHP, 37th Round, 1108 Overall
Dilan Lawson was not just a two-way player at Madison County High School; he was a two-way threat. On the mound in his senior year, he posted 0.64 ERA in 45.2 innings with 23 hits allowed, 15 walks, and 55 strikeouts, and at the plate, he hit .350/.494/.566 with 17 walks to 12 strikeouts. The right-hander had a commitment to Tallahassee Community College and decided to honor that even after the Mets selected him in the thirty-seventh round of the 2019 MLB Draft.
He remained a two-way performer at Tallahassee Community College and looked like a man among boys in his first year with the Eagles. Before the NJCAA cancelled the season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he was able to start six games on the mound and get 43 at-bats at the plate. He posted a 0.85 ERA in 31.2 innings, allowing 23 hits, walking 6, and striking out 28 while hitting .349/.408/.419 with 5 walks, 12 strikeouts, and 4 stolen bases.
Lawson was not able to keep that success going in 2021, and multiple high-profile blow-ups prompted Head Coach Mike McLeod changed his role and use him in relief towards the end of the season. Unlike many players, he did not take his struggles to another aspect of the game and still was a fairly productive hitter. All in all, he posted a 8.06 ERA in 44.2 innings with 62 hits allowed, 24 walks, and 35 strikeouts while hitting .279/.350/.441 in 111 at-bats with 3 homers, 11 stolen bases, and 12 walks to 35 strikeouts.
In 2022, he transferred to the University of West Florida. In 43.0 innings, majority of them in relief, the right-hander posted a 4.40 ERA, allowing 40 hits, walking 11, and striking out 35. Unlike his coach at Tallahassee Community College, Argonauts head coach Mike Jeffcoat did not elect to have Lawson hit.
RHP, 38th Round, 1198 Overall
Choosing a college is often difficult for an ordinary student, but for Cam Lovrich, the process was even more complicated a bit more difficult. A member of the Trinity Presbyterian High School varsity baseball team for all four years he attended and a standout two-way player, Loverich certainly had his pick of the litter. Ultimately, he had to choose between Jacksonville State University, where his grandfather was head coach from 1958-61, or Auburn University Montgomery, where his father was head coach and had been since 2015. Ultimately, he chose Jacksonville State, swayed by head coach’s Jim Case record of playing freshman and his open mind to using Lovrich as a pitcher and an outfielder. The Mets drafting the right-hander in the thirty-eighth round did little to change his mind, as they had nothing to offer him that would’ve changed his mind.
Lovrich got into a handful of games in 2020 prior to the NCAA ending the season early due to the COVID-19 pandemic, making four relief appearances and one midweek start. In 8.0 innings, he posted a 3.38 ERA, allowing 12 hits, walked 1, and struck out 7. The right-hander saw more action in 2021, appearing in 22 games split over twenty relief appearances and two midweek starts. In 36.0 innings, Lovrich posted a 4.50 ERA with 36 hits allowed, 21 walks, and 31 strikeouts. That summer, he played North Adams SteepleCats in the New England Collegiate Baseball League.
Returning to the Gamecocks in 2022, the right-hander appeared in 10 games total, starting 7 of them. In 31.1 innings, he posted a 6.03 ERA, allowing 47 hits, walking 13, and striking out 19.