The 2014 first year player draft begins Thursday. The Mets have the No. 10 pick in the first round.
Among the major draft scouting outlets, there were two new mock drafts Friday. Amazingly, both drafts had the same five players (Brady Aiken, Alex Jackson, Carlos Rodon, Tyler Kolek and Nick Gordon) going in almost the same order in their first five picks.
The mock drafts have the Mets picking a few different players…
MLB.com (Jon Mayo and Jim Callis) – LHP Sean Newcomb (Hartford)
There’s a chance the Hartford lefty could go before the Mets pick, in which case they could look at one of the arms that filters down or the top college bats still on the board.
Mayo’s last pick: Newcomb | Callis’ last pick: Conforto
The duo have Oregon State OF Michael Conforto going No. 13 to the Padres. Callis has been consistent all spring in thinking that the Mets prefer Newcomb to Conforto.
Baseball America (John Manuel) – OF Michael Conforto
The Mets have been tight-lipped, but the teams around them believe they remain oriented on a bat, with Turner a top target. That’s even though New York has drafted a hitter in the first round five times in six selections since 2008. Pacific Northwest scout Jim Reeves signed one of them already in Wyoming prep outfielder Brandon Nimmo, and he could get another this year. Oregon State outfielder Michael Conforto was our Mets pick in the first two mock drafts, and we’re going back to him here.
In Manuel’s scenario, the Mariners would pick Newcomb at No. 6. The Turner he mentioned is NC State SS Trea Turner.
Conforto matches the Mets preferred profile at the plate (he walks and doesn’t strikout much), he does not fit with the Mets’ pattern of drafting players who can (ideally) contribute on both sides of the ball. In 2001 (Brnadon Nimmo) and 2012 (Gavin Cecchini) the Mets drafted up the middle players with their first round selections. While 2013 first-rounder Dominic Smith is limited to firstbase, the Mets hope that he will be very good at the position. The writeups on Conforto suggest limited defensive value.
He also has improved his fringy outfield defense, which is seen as adequate for left field, with average arm strength that doesn’t always play. Conforto has shown playmaking ability with the glove, however, with show-stopper plays in the College World Series last year and key outfield assists in games against rival Oregon.
Most of his value comes from his bat, because while he has some athleticism, he’s a left fielder with subpar speed, range and arm strength.
Also, over the weekend, Peter Gammons tweeted,
Am told Tyler Beede doesn’t get past the 10th pick. Hey when you pitched in prep school on the mean streets of Groton…
— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) May 31, 2014
Gammons is claiming that if Vanderbilt RHP Tyler Beede is available at #10, the Mets will select him. This is semi-bold for two reasons: Beede is not seen as a consensus Top 10 guy anymore, and the Mets have not been particularly connected to him.
Beede, who once looked like a Top 10 lock, has had an up-and-down spring for the Commodores. Following a dominating performance versus Stanford, Keith Law at ESPN.com wrote on March 2, that “it’s hard for me to imagine that he’s not a top-five pick.” That night, he showed a plus fastball (92-95), a changeup that he could cut or run and a curveball that according to Law “his least consistent pitch, but the majority were above-average or better, 80-81 mph with tight rotation and an 11-to-5 break.”
However, Beede then likely pitched his way out of the first ten picks with walks. He issued 43 walks in 98.1 innings at Vanderbilt to along with an unsightly 12 hit-by pitches. That’s a 10.3 percent walk rate and “free-base rate” (BB+HBP) of 13 percent. That’s bad. In recent years, the Mets have emphasized low-walk college pitchers in their drafts and valued command and pitchability in their high school picks as well. Selecting Beede, with his serious control problems this season, would be a sizable departure from the team’s recent draft strategy.
Baseball America’s Aaron Fitt described a recent Beede start as “underwhelming.” Fitt wrote, “Beede did nothing to help his draft stock, as multiple scouts expressed disappointment with his 80-81 breaking ball, which lacked finish. He threw it sparingly, relying instead on his 81-84 changeup, which he can fade or cut.”
Beede is listed at 6’4″, 215 so he has the kind of size teams look for tin the first round. The Blue Jays picked him at No. 11 three years ago, but could not come to terms, so he’s not going to be a cheap signing.