Now over a year removed from Omar Minaya’s departure, a more accurate portrayal of his time with the Mets is starting to take shape. It is easy to see the immediate impact of the Minaya regime-his willingness to spend on top-flight free agents both helped propel the Mets into the playoffs in 2006 and is also partially responsible for financially handcuffing the team today. But free agency is just one component of a general manager’s tenure with an organization; another is how he drafts.
Minaya oversaw six drafts while with the Mets, and the results of the top ten picks in each of those drafts are listed below (along with any other notables), including their position listed when drafted and the round in which they were selected. Some years were more successful than others and obviously the more recent draft picks still are in the development phase of their careers. Given how many draft picks a team has, it is absurd to think that many, or even somewhere close to half, will have an impact in the Majors, but hopefully the top picks pan out and there are varying degrees of success a GM can have with the draft.
* = Reached the Majors on a team other than the Mets
** = Reached the Majors with the Metes
^ = Didn’t sign with the Mets
2005: All things considered, ’05 turned out to be a decent draft year. Pelfrey didn’t exactly t urn into an ace, but he’s provided innings and sometimes has been quite good. Niese can still develop into a front of the rotation starter and is at least a number three. Parnell can be an acceptable reliever if he can harness his blazing heater. Thole is currently the starting catcher and still has room to refine his game. Beato is back with the team. And Butera was part of the Johan Santana trade. No superstars, but the Mets have at least gotten some mileage from some of these guys, and maybe more from a guy like Niese. The top of this draft also had a lot of variety, featuring a few pitchers, outfielders and a catcher.
2006: Eight pitchers taken with their top ten picks and none of them worked out too well. After being included in the Santana trade and floundering around the Majors, Mulvey is back with the Mets. Besides Joe Smith, who was serviceable with the Amazins for a couple of seasons, Omar didn’t get much out of his top ten this year. The player with the most impact from this draft is Murphy, while Stintson had a cup of coffee in the bigs last year and still might pan out as a middle reliever.
2007: Another pitching heavy top ten. As bad as Mulvey has turned out thus far, Kunz is worse. He struggled at nearly every level in the organization and was dealt last year to the San Diego Padres for Allan Dykstra. Rustich recently retired and Lutz can’t stay healthy (although he could still carve out some role for himself, perhaps. Like Toby Hyde said, Duda and Gee might be able to save this draft class, and there is also an outside chance that Carson could put it together as a reliever.
2008: The ’08 draft stands out from the previous ones in that the Omar went very position-player heavy with his first ten picks. Ike already seems like a good first pick and hopefully he can stay healthy this year and improve. Havens can’t stay on the field but is impressive when he actually plays. Nieuwenhuis could be up with the team this season and Satin is fighting for a bench spot.
2009: It’s very hard to judge a draft from two years ago, but early indications from ’09 aren’t that good. Matz has yet to throw a professional pitch and Shields has battled injuries as well. Ceciliani excelled in 2010 and regressed in 2011, while Gorski was outstanding at St. Lucie this past season. The other top ten picks, however, either went un-signed or don’t appear in Hyde’s top 41 prospects, which probably doesn’t bode well for their futures. Whitenton has a chance to pitch in the Majors out of the bullpen, following a strong 2011 campaign.
2010: If it’s hard to judge the ’09 draft, it should be harder to judge the ’10 selections, but it seems like Minaya did a better job this year. Harvey should debut late this season and could very well turn into an ace. Vaughn has power and has also shown plate discipline, although he needs to rebound from a disappointing second half in ’11. Den Dekker has impressed defensively and could turn into a viable option in center field if he works on his plate discipline. Peavey is trying to make it as a control pitcher. Morris is a flamethrower with lots of promise. And Edgin could turn into an effective LOOGY. Of course, like all prospects, these projections are speculative, but there seems to be some promise in this draft.
Any GM is going to have good and bad drafts, and it will be impossible to grade Minaya completely on his drafts until a few years from now when the younger guys have more of a chance to prove themselves. Still, if one were to make some observations so far, it seems like ’05 was the year in which Omar had the most success, given the return that he’s gotten from his players (either on the field or in trades). The worst right now is a tossup between ’06 and ’07, depending on what happens with Murphy, Duda and Gee. ’08 could also prove to be a good year, as could ’10. It doesn’t seem like Minaya drafted a true superstar during his tenure, unless something unforeseen happens with Davis or Duda, but those are rare and hard to come by.
Another trend is that Minaya tended to go with college products as his top picks. Pelfrey (Witchita St), Mulvey (Villanova), Kunz (Oregon St), Davis (Arizona St) and Harvey (North Carolina) were all drafted out of college, with Matz being the only Mets first pick to be plucked from high school. Sandy Alderson bucked that trend by drafting Brandon Nimmo in the first round last season. There are pros and cons of drafting younger players, but it was interesting to see Sandy go for a player with a high ceiling as opposed to a “safe” college pick in his first draft.