My Pre-Draft Final Thoughts

Ok, so I kinda hate the draft. It’s absolutely, positively crucial to a baseball team’s success. And from that perspective, as one of the feeder elements of a team’s development system, and thus it’s long-term success, I love it. However, I find it difficult to cover: all of my information is all second-hand. I see between zero and 10 amateur games annually, and this year it was zero.

Moreover, as much as I want to trust other media, it too is filled with misleading information this time of year. Most amateur scouting reports are a mile  or two hot on the fastball. All these reports of plus breaking balls? Cute, but where are those plus offerings when the pitcher reaches the minor leagues?

Alright, so the Mets have picks at #12 and #35 tonight.

With the the #12 pick, if he’s on the board, and if he’s remotely signable, I think the team should take Lucas Giolito. He was projected to be in the draft’s top three before he strained his UCL back in March. His upside is just impossible to ignore. He’s huge (6’6″) throws in the mid-upper 90s, and has this breaking ball.

There are two problems with Giolito: healthy and money. The health is obvious. He has not pitched this spring. His UCL strain could necessitate Tommy John surgery. And I’m ok with that. So he does not pitch in 2012. He’ll be back in 2013. As a high school right-hander, he’s a few years from the big leagues anyway. The money is, perhaps, the larger issue. Had he been taken in the top three of the draft, his slot would have been over $5.2 million.  The Mets’ first round slot is $2.5 million and their total draft allocation is $7.1. Were they to spend even up to $3.6 million on Giolito, They would have $3.5 million left in the pool. Signing a supplemental first rounder would be another $1.5. That leaves them ~$2 million for 10 more picks in the top 10 rounds. Could it be done? Absolutely? Would the team need to sacrifice talent for savings in rounds 2-10? Yes. Is Giolito worth it? To my eyes, for a potential top of the rotation starter, yes.

The afternoon rumor is that Jays are interested in Giolito at #17. They’re working with a total bonus pool of $8.83 for 14 picks. If the Jays can make that work, so can the Mets.

Failing Giolito, my preference would be for the Mets to chase upside. Whether that’s 3B Corey Seager, or OF Courtney Hawkins or David Dahl, or RHP Lance McCullers or someone else with a plus two or two to dream on and some projection. I don’t think there’s enough star-level projection in SS Gavin Cecchini to warrant popping at #12.

The recent mock drafts and projections have seen the Mets move away from college arms, but if they do go college arm, I’d take the plus fastball of Marcus Stroman of Duke over the changeup of Michael Wacha of Texas A&M.

The pick at #35 will be determined by the budget allocation decisions around #12, and the immediately preceding picks.