Sandy Alderson turned the first ten rounds of the amateur draft into a frat party.
Talk about bucking trends…
In stark contrast to the previous five amateur drafts conducted by Anderson’s regime (particularly in earlier years and rounds), Day Two of the first post Paul DePodesta June amateur draft turned into a full-blown frat party as every one of the Mets general manager’s selections through the first ten rounds have been college players.
In my Draft Preview, I stated a preference for Sandy utilizing his first six selections through Round Five on two pitchers (one LHP), another college third baseman and catcher, an outfielder, and I also passively aggressively hinted he revisit first base with yet another pick. It appears I wasn’t that far off the mark. Alderson thought similarly with regards to a pair of pitchers (one southpaw), as well as third and first base. However, he may have surprised many by selecting two shortstops in rounds Four and Five.
In all, Sandy Alderson drafted six pitchers, two shortstops, a first baseman, a third baseman, and an outfielder with his first eleven picks.
Second Round: Pete Alonso, 1B, Florida, #64.
Selected #64 overall, this Gator comes well equipped with both bat and glove. Leather wise, he owns a career .989 fielding average in three seasons at Florida. At the plate, Pete batted .291 as a freshman, then missed half his sophomore season with a broken foot. In the 39 games he did play, he batted .301 with 10 doubles, five home runs, and 32 RBI. As a junior, he’s been having a proverbial toga party at the plate this season, slashing .368/.464/.632, with 15 doubles, 12 home runs, and 52 RBI. A broken hand caused him to miss ten games late in the season, but he’s presently back in action for the Gators.
Make no mistake, this was Sandy Alderson firing a shot across the respective bows of both Dominic Smith and Lucas Duda. With stiff competition coming his way, the pressure is now on the light slugging Smith to either sink or swim. In Lucas Duda’s situation, his potential replacements are officially in the building. When the time comes, the Mets could wind up well hedged at first, and just might let the Big Lebowski walk away a free agent, a la Daniel Murphy.
Third Round: Blake Tiberi, 3B, Louisville, #100
Years of injuries, one more debilitating than the next, have potentially placed the remainder of David Wright‘s playing career in jeopardy. At the very least, physically speaking, the 33-year-old third baseman’s future is an unknown. This emerging reality has not escaped Sandy Alderson, who two years ago initiated an ongoing contingency plan by drafting high-round college level prospects.
In 2014 he expended a fourth round pick on Eudor Garcia. On the heels of a fine season with (A) Savannah in 2015, Eudor disappointingly tested positive for PEDs in January, and therefore is presently serving an 80 game suspension. He’s expected to report to (A+) Port St. Lucie upon his return.
In the 2015 draft, Alderson expended another fourth round pick on David Thompson. His pro career got off to a rocky start in (A-) Brooklyn. Now playing for the (A) Columbia Fireflies, he’s slashing .293/.351/.489, with 20 doubles, four home runs, and 47 RBI through 49 games and 184 at-bats.
Blake Tiberi was this year’s 100th overall pick. In fact, he was one of six Louisville players among the top 100 prospects selected in the draft. Last summer he impressed as a Cape Cod League all-star, batting .315 despite only hitting one home run through 34 games. He still has unfinished business with Louisville on his hands. To date, the lefty sophomore is slashing .331/.380/.534, with 17 doubles, nine home runs and 48 RBI through 236 at-bats.
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Fourth Round: Michael Paez, SS, Coastal Carolina College, #130.
A junior, Michael was the #130 overall selection, and is presently projected as a power hitting shortstop, although it’s more likely his future lies at second base. With his season also still in progress, Paez is hitting .291 with 17 doubles and 50 RBI, while his 15 home runs rank second among all NCAA shortstops this season. He’s otherwise a well rounded career .288 hitter, with 42 doubles, 25 home runs, 116 RBI, 79 walks, and 43 stolen bases. Paez is only listed at 5’9″, but the Mets believe he packs a lot of punch.
Fifth Round: Colby Woodmansee, SS, Arizona, #160.
Why draft back-to-back shortstops? Sandy Alderson appears to be doubling up on offensive potential, and found merit in Woodmansee’s numbers. In 32 games and 103 at-bats as a high school senior, Colby batted .369, with nine doubles, eight home runs, and 36 RBI, with a manageable 16 strikeouts, and a .930 fielding average. He now weighs in at 6’3″ and 192 lbs. After struggling as a freshman, he actually posted his best season as a sophomore, and thus earned his way into the third slot of Arizona’s batting order this season as a junior. Over an 82 game career, Colby slashed .280/.328/.418, with 22 doubles, seven home runs, and 55 RBI.
Perhaps Sandy Alderson suffered flashbacks of 2011 when the organization was bereft of any prospective quality shortstop. This strikes me as a very curious selection. In light of an additional first round compensation pick, Alderson might have simply been gambling with a high pick here, albeit smartly.
Round 6 through 9:
Whereas Sandy Alderson’s pair of first round selections were meant to fortify the organization’s starting pitching ranks, these next four selections were clearly meant to address the relief corp.
Might as well take sides now, because there’s much to debate regarding Alderson’s picks in rounds eight and nine. Were they savvy selections in nature, or just downright stupid, and a waste of two top ten picks?
- Rd. 6, #190 – Christopher Viall (RHP, Stanford). From freshman through junior, he was used less as a starter in each progressive season. Viall registered just one start this season, and otherwise went 1-1 with a 5.01 ERA in 2016, through 16 appearances and 23.1 innings pitches primarily in relief. He fanned 29 batters, but walked 19 others. On the other side of the coin, Christopher is big, as in 6’6″ 230 pounds big, and as Mets scout Tyler Holmes put it, he throws 97 mph with ease. This selection was based purely on raw stuff, and maybe even inspired by the loss of Jack Leathersich.
- Rd. 7, #220 – Austin McGeorge (RHP, Cal State Long Beach). This junior class Dirtbag led the Big West Conference with 33 relief appearances. Through 53 innings pitched in 2016, he posted a 1.02 ERA, with five saves, and allowed just 34 hits and 14 walks through 53 innings pitched. Batters hit a mere .197 against Austin, who compiled an impressive 76 strikeouts.
- Rd. 8, #250 – Placido Torres (LHP, Tusculum College). Get This! Placido made 14 starts for Division-II Tusculum in 2016, and went 11-0 with an 0.70 ERA, with four shutouts, and seven complete games. Batters hit just .154 against him, while 14 batters were lucky enough to draw walks. Placido fanned 162 batters in just 116 innings pitched. He set his school’s record with 17 strikeouts in one game, fanned 15 batter another time, and fanned at least 12 batters on eight occasions overall. Quite naturally, he was named D-II National Pitcher of the Year. During his two years at Tusculum, Torres made 31 appearances and 27 starts, in which he posted a 20-3 record with a 1.43 ERA. In 201.1 total innings pitched, he amassed 272 strikeouts – all with a low 90s fastball, and a breaking pitch. Makes you question the competition, doesn’t it?
- Rd. 9, #280 – Colin Holderman (RHP, Heartland CC). See Round Eight. Colin posted an 8-1 record and 1.57 ERA this season, with 92 strikeouts over 74.1 innings pitched … against junior college competition. There’s the rub. However, he weighs in at 6’6″, 220 lbs., and possesses a 96 mph fastball and an accomplished slider. He actually plays upwards of five positions, and even wielded a productive bat as Heartland’s DH, batting .489, with 16 doubles, 13 home runs, 58 RBI, and stole 15 bases to boot.
Tenth Round: Gene Cone, OF, University of South Carolina Columbia, #310
This selection depends on your personal frame of mind. This is not the type of outfielder I was willing to spend a top five pick on. That said, should the Mets have selected an outfielder during the previous two rounds instead of venturing into the twilight zone?
I’m at least agreeable with this selection, and hope to get a better sense of his ability assuming he signs, and gets assigned with my next door neighbors, the Brooklyn Cyclones.
Cone weighs in at six feet, 170 lbs. A lefty swinging junior, he authored a 31-game hitting streak earlier this season. Overall, Cone is slashing .370/.479/.510 this season for the Gamecocks, with 43 walks and 52 runs scored, four home runs, and 30 RBI through 57 games and 208 at-bats.
If kept within the context of the tenth round, then what a great selection with which to close out Day Two of the 2016 June Amateur Draft.
Team Alderson’s second and third round picks were spot on!
I did not, however, get the college catcher I was seeking. Perhaps none existed worth the effort, or maybe it just didn’t make the list of things to do. Whatever the case, Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki can breathe easier now. Their fruitless non head-to-head competition, to date, just bought some more time.
The high round outfielder I was seeking additionally came at the expense of one of either shortstops Alderson selected in the fourth and fifth rounds. Entering this particular draft I didn’t see the need for additional middle infielders. That said, they’re both nice picks. Perhaps Alderson found these two particular infield/offensive talents irresistible. I won’t begrudge him that, even if the Mets remain thin on outfield prospects not named Wuilmer Becerra.
I will take him to task, though, over the two foul balls he hooked in the eighth and ninth rounds. I could not disagree with these two selections more – wasted selections in my view. He would have better served the Mets by sticking with conventional thinking and players actually on the radar.