Posted by Ernest Dove at 10:00 AM
Draft picks, especially in the MLB, seem to be just that much more of an actual crap shoot then any other major pro sport. With that being said, it still seems pretty important to try and hit more then you miss, at least when talking specifically about first rounders.
Well, yes we've talked at nauseam about every move Sandy and company have made since he took over, but I wanted to attempt to get a little more specific in this weeks post and talk pure 1st round picks.
I would think its not exactly considered a 'shock the world' type move that was made to start off the Anderson Era, but in 2011 the team drafted a high school kid named Brandon Nimmo. It was the first time since 2003 (Oh Lastings) that the organization didn't go College with their first pick. And yes, we can have a little fun playing Monday morning QB here and talk about a few guys drafted after that Nimmo pick that year. (ok, they also selected Michael Fulmer with a supplemental pick, but I'm too lazy to add those for every year for purposes of post). Anyway, doing a little spot checking, its certainly not as if a bunch of players drafted this high in 2011 are currently lighting up any scoreboards or K charts in the majors. To get extremely picky, we can say that Mets should have drafted then college pitcher Sonny Gray, or perhaps some kid named José Fernandez (heck, who are we kidding, Fernandez probably would still not have seen a major league inning yet if he was drafted by the Mets anyway, am I right?).
Well, the Mets, under Alderson and company, apparently wished to be known for their efforts to go high risk, high reward, and this type of pick would seem to make Nimmo the poster child for such a strategy, mainly since the kid didn't even play for an actual high school baseball team. And so, more then just try and single out Nimmo as needing a big a year because of some or any kind of huge hype or expectations, I'm instead considering 2015 a BIG year for him because he is projected to be the first of all the Alderson and company first round picks to potentially reach the majors, based on his projected start, as early as spring time, in AAA level with the 51s.
I would think this is a pretty big deal, not only for Nimmo himself trying to live out his dream of being a major leaguer, but for the organization, and their big plans for sustainable and consistent success through obtaining commodities through the draft. I've written about Nimmo in the past. We've all talked about some of his apparent transitions, which based solely on status seemed to point to his efforts bulk up physically, and then apparently shift from lowering of batting average, to increase in homers, all while maintaining a nice organizational friendly high OBP. So what is to come of Nimmo in 2015? Does he immediately head to Vegas, as Alderson has stated the idea being reasonable a few times during the offseason? If so, does the hitter friendly league see his power increase even more then it started to do in AA? And, with Lagares quickly and surprisingly making himself the permanent CF, can Nimmo put up the kind of numbers in 2015 to warrant serious consideration to eventually replace either Cuddyer or Granderson? (Let Sandy and them figure out how to get rid of those two when time comes).
Then comes 2012, and fellow first round pick (and sometimes Mets universe internet whipping boy) Gavin Cecchini. Again, doing a little research, there are seemingly other nice looking prospects having really nice MINOR league careers so far from this draft, but only Michael Wacha has made a legit impact pretty much coming out of the first round so far.
But I still think 2015 is also HUGE for Gavin, and not because he plays shortstop (oh SS position). No, I think this a make or break type season for Gavin because its time to figure out what kind of prospect he really is. Yes, he is still young, and the Mets could even consider leaving in St. Lucie if they really really had to (although this organization has had a field day drafting and signing shortstops ever since this pick). But I still say Gavin might be hitting that time where the front office coulda/shoulda/woulda felt and still feel good about his ceiling they projected for him, and have him play a full season at the AA level this upcoming season to show why he was drafted so high.
In 2013, 3 times is a charm, as the Mets again went all high school on us with their first round pick, in 1st baseman Dominic Smith. With the Mets seemingly having begun to accumulate so much pitching at this point in the farm system, the team went hitting once again, with HIT being the kid word. Smith from day one seems to be pretty highly regarding for being able to hit. He also immediately has been labeled with a plus on his defensive skills, so at least Mets fans wouldn't have to worry about him being another Wilmer or Daniel to stress over out there in the field.
I consider 2015 a big year for young Dom simply (maybe exclusively) because of the minor drama and hub bub over his 2014 power numbers, or lack thereof. With Smith possibly being headed out of the dreaded summer Savannah heat, and into (wait its also hot in S. Florida) high A ball with St. Lucie. Will Dom Smith start to show some power, or forever start and continue being labeled by some as a low homer/high BA kinda guy wit solid D? (I hope to see a couple games out in Lucie this year, so hopefully I can actually see kid play in person and form a more decent opinion for myself of his potential).
Then there's 4th year in a row hitter, but back to college ranks selection of OF Michael Conforto. Usually it would make much sense to make a dudes 2nd year in professional baseball that big of a deal, but the front office, and all draft day scouting people and writers alike, continued to use terms like 'advanced bat', and 'will move through the system fast'. However, after Sandy and company had a lot of public addresses of sorts solidifying those terms as legit, Conforto instead remained in short season ball is enter first year. So now I feel as though 2015 amounts to a pretty big deal for Conforto, and even the organization, to decide where he goes throughout the season, and where he ends up into September.
All in all, I think all 4 of these guys have an important role to play for the entire organization come 2015. With further talks of ongoing pure potential, projections, growth and just plain old pure stats, they will certainly be watched closely by me, and I assume Alderson and the front office.