The first-round of the MLB Draft is not always where you land your best player. However, it’s usually the safest bet to do so. The New York Mets will have to hope they overachieved with later round picks in recent drafts. As of August 2021, the team only has one of their former first-round draft picks left waiting in the minor leagues to develop. His name is Brett Baty.
What happened here? You already know the story. But to put all of the names in context can make it feel more jarring.
In one weekend the Mets lost their two most recent first-round draft picks. They failed to sign Kumar Rocker two days after trading away the 2020 first-round pick, Pete Crow-Armstrong. This leaves Baty all alone on the farm as a Mets first-round draft pick hoping to make a name for himself.
Where have all of the Mets first-round draft picks gone?
The year before Baty was taken, the Mets selected Jarred Kelenic. He got the trade treatment and fans are still unwilling to forgive Brodie Van Wagenen for it. Van Wagenen also traded both 2016 first-round picks. Justin Dunn went along with Kelenic to the Seattle Mariners. Anthony Kay ended up in the Marcus Stroman trade with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Sandwiched between the Kay and Kelenic selections was David Peterson. The first-round pick from 2017, Peterson has at least performed at the big league level. His future with the team, following some struggles when healthy in 2021, could still be in jeopardy.
The Mets haven’t botched all of their picks. In the 2010s, they did get Matt Harvey, Brandon Nimmo, Dominic Smith, and Michael Conforto. Unfortunately, in 2012, they used a pair of picks on Gavin Cecchini and Kevin Plawecki.
The only other name I haven’t mentioned from the first round since 2010 is Michael Fulmer. Important in Mets history because he helped the team acquire Yoenis Cespedes in 2015, he’s actually one of the better selections by the franchise following several big busts.
Although first-round picks made by the Mets are hard to find in the minor league system, they have appeared to have succeeded in other ways. Francisco Alvarez and Ronny Mauricio both joined the organization as amateur free agent signings. Alvarez is currently a top 10 MLB prospect.
Matt Allan, a third-round draft pick, had an entire draft strategy centered around paying him. Regarded as the best minor league pitcher they have, he’s still not a first-round selection.
First-round selections aren’t always the recipe for winning. As you definitely remember me writing before, Albert Almora is the highest draft pick to have suited up for the Mets this year. He barely hit for them and has found himself shuttled down to the minors due to a lack of performance.
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The entire future of the Mets does not rest on the shoulders of Bat. Still, it’s disappointing to see so many first-round picks leave the organization before even getting a shot to succeed with the team that took them.