A smaller draft in 2020 means the New York Mets have less room to get it wrong.
The MLB Draft is easily the biggest roll of a dice in any of the four major sports. It’s not like the others where a superstar amateur will land on a major league roster months later. There’s a grind to get to the major leagues. Keeping this in mind, I still have a preference for what the New York Mets should do in this year’s draft. The team needs an outfielder.
By the time many drafted players become big league ready, they’ve already changed positions a number of times. It’s very possible the next great Mets outfielder is already down on the farm playing a different position.
Even so, the farm is so devoid of topnotch outfield talent. Because of this, it’s a direction they should definitely consider if all things are equal.
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In the MLB Draft, a team should almost always go for the best player available regardless of the position. Aside from knowing the player will not sign, there’s little reason to target a specific position.
The Mets have been fortunate to have two notable outfield draft picks make it to the major leagues and become productive players. Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo are both former first-round picks. Add in Jarred Kelenic and the Mets did quite well in the 2010s with selecting outfielders in the first round.
This year’s draft will only contain five rounds so there’s less room to get things wrong and make up for it later by finding a steal later on. They can’t miss in the first round. Luckily, their track record over the last decade has been fairly good regardless of the regime in charge.
In Brodie Van Wagenen’s first draft, the Mets went heavy in the pitching department early on. After Brett Baty in round one, the team went after Josh Wolf. They then followed it up by selecting Matthew Allan, a high school pitcher the draft was essentially built around.
Amazingly, three of the last five first-round draft picks by the Mets are no longer with the team. Kelenic and Justin Dunn were both traded to the Seattle Mariners in the Robinson Cano/Edwin Diaz trade. Anthony Kay went to the Toronto Blue Jays in the Marcus Stroman deal.
Now, the Mets have only have two first-round picks still in the minor leagues. It’s not all because players have graduated either. You have to go back to Conforto in 2014 to find a first-round pick who has played for the team.
That’s not to say rounds two and onward have been a waste. Pete Alonso, as the best example, was a second-round pick. In this year’s draft, they could very well add the outfield version of him.
Anyone who collected baseball cards in the 1980s and even into the 1990s knows how many prospects fail to ever make a name for themselves. Buried deep in my bedroom closet are countless baseball cards featuring “Future Stars” nobody has ever heard of. Scouts are a little better now with getting things right. However, not all first-round selections ever make the major leagues. Many are done shortly after their professional baseball careers began.
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It’s tough to kick and scream about anything a team does in the draft. But for the sake of balance and to have an idea of what the future outfield may look like, I have my preference.