Mets prospects such as Michael Conforto and Steven Matz have recently made the jump to the big league club and other prospects such as Brandon Nimmo, Matt Reynolds, Gavin Cecchini, Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith are making strong strides, but the Mets’ farm system is still in need of replenishment.
In the upcoming amateur draft, the Mets are at this point slated to have the 21st and 31st picks in the first round, with the 31st pick coming from the Nationals as compensation for their signing of Daniel Murphy.
The Mets currently have a wealth of young, under control, relatively inexpensive, high-upside starting pitching at the major league level. And while their position players in the minors are now the strength of the system, the Mets would be wise to target additional position players in the draft.
Entering the 2016 college and high school baseball season, three players that could help replenish the system are Texas A&M outfielder Nick Banks, LSU outfielder Jake Farely and Holy Ghost Prep third baseman Nolan Jones.
Per MLB.com’s draft prospect watch, Banks is ranked 16th, Jones is ranked 29th and Farely is ranked 32nd.
Nick Banks is similar to 2014 draft pick Michael Conforto. However, Banks projects to be a much better fielder, with a strong arm that profiles well in right field. Currently, Banks plays centerfield, where his range is below average but not a liability. This trait combined with his arm makes him a better bet in a corner.
Offensively, Banks has raw power and is a gap-to-gap hitter with a smooth swing from the left side. Like Conforto, Banks has the ability to hit 20-25 home runs at the major league level, but he’s more of a pure, line drive hitter than a power guy. The junior from Texas is 6 feet, 200lbs, and has a solid base with more room to grow stronger.
Banks is a player who can move quickly through the system and slide into the right field position, potentially replacing Curtis Granderson in 2018. I see Banks as being a major league regular that will contribute close to 20 home runs a year with a .280 batting average with the ability to steal 10-to-15 bases a year or more.
Nolan Jones is a tall, lanky player. At 6′ 4″, he has a ton of athleticism, which translates to being able to play multiple positions. Jones has some filling out to do, but currently possesses above average power. Committed to Virginia, Jones is expected to choose the MLB if drafted in the first round. The young third baseman has a pull swing, but will have plenty of time to work through his kinks and hit to all fields. Jones would be seen as the replacement at third behind David Wright, though Wright is under contract through 2020. Being drafted from the high school level, Jones will need some time to fulfill his potential, which may wind up being perfect for the Mets.
Jake Farely is a spark plug at the top of the lineup who has plus plus speed and the potential to steal 30 stolen bases at the major league level, though he’s not expected to hit for power. Farely plays a gritty outfield, similar to the Yankees’ Brett Gardner. He has a below average arm, but could have the ability to play center field at times. Farely’s OBP will be a perfect fit for Sandy Alderson’s philosophy.
Farely has an open stance, with a level swing that will keep the ball in play and is extremely patient at the plate. The Mets lack a prototypical leadoff hitter, and this could be the answer. Being a college player, Farely is well developed and can move through the system quickly.
Drafting one or more of the above players would be a solid bet for the Mets, whose most prized position player prospects are likely a few years away. While it’s not often wise to draft for need, the Mets have enough picks in the early rounds that doing so in one instance shouldn’t be much of an issue.