Hey, it's never too early to talk MLB draft prospects here on Mack's Mets. To get a head start on the prospect watch, I was lucky enough to make contact with Chuck King, Managing Editor for www.FAUOwlAccess.com. Today it was all about Florida Atlantic University baseball (FYI I'm an FAU alum). Along with his work with the University, Chuck also covers spring training for the Associated Press, reporting from St. Louis and Miami camps. A few years back Chuck also covered the Florida State League for the Palm Beach Post, writing weekly columns focusing on the Jupiter Hammerheads (Marlins), Palm Beach Cardinals and St. Lucie Mets, including the Mets' 2006 FSL title run. Actually ended up watching the final out of the title game from the dugout after catcher's interference wiped out what everyone – including the reporters – thought was the final out. As the umpires cleared the field we went to the corner of the dugout, knowing that if we did leave the field we'd never be allowed back onto it for interviews.
According to baseball reference, FAU baseball, which has only had a program since 1981, has had 82 players taken in the MLB draft over the years. With 9 players having made it to the majors. In 2015 alone, the fighting Owls had 6 players taken in the draft, including players taken in the 4th, 5th and 8th rounds, among others. And, since the Owls play not too far a drive away from Tradition Field in Port St. Lucie, its probably not surprising that the New York Mets have taken a flyer on a few guys from here over the years. According to baseball reference, 5 Owls have been drafted by the Mets, with the most recent being First Baseman Travis Ozga being taken way down in the 41st round.
So I sat down with Chuck (so to speak) to get his take on the upcoming Owls season, and inquire about who we on Mack's Mets might want to keep an eye on for the upcoming season as possible MLB draft picks. And here's the insider information that I got. Per Chuck:
Florida Atlantic Owls prospects
SS CJ Chatham Jr., 6-4, 180 R/R
Possesses strong arm and surprising range for this size. Hit .355 as a sophomore and showed hints of power to come. Recently listed among Perfect Game's Top 150 MLB Draft prospects. With a strong junior season, Chatham should vault into the draft's early rounds. Might eventually become a third baseman as his body continues to mature.
2B Stephen Kerr Jr., 5-9, 170 R/R
FAU's starting second baseman and lead-off hitter for two seasons. Prototypical spark plug-type player. His uniform is always dirty by the third inning. Hit .307 and stole 15 bases last season. Can do a lot of things with the bat. Should be playing professionally following this season.
OF Christian Dicks Sr., 6-0, 195 L/L
A real wild card of a player. Tremendous athlete. When he gets a hold of a pitch it goes a long way. Tied for the team lead in homers last season, but was also prone to slumps. He has the speed to run down balls in the gap, but also suffered from defensive lapses. Some thought he might be drafted last season based solely on potential – athletic left-handed power isn't easy to find. Word from fall practice was that Dicks was showing some consistency.
FAU lost its top two starting pitchers and its closer to the draft, so pitching will be a question mark to begin the season. The Owls, though, always seem to re-load their staff with a top-of-the-rotation guy. Often it takes the first few weeks of the season for that to work itself out.
During his time covering minor league baseball Chuck also wrote a book: The Funniest Thing I've Ever Seen: More than 100 crazy stories from minor league baseball. I talked with several former Mets farm hands for the book. I know former pitcher Tim McNab has a story in there.