The Mets and Padres swapped failed first-round draft picks on Tuesday with the Mets sending Eddie Kunz to San Diego in exchange for 1B Allan Dykstra. The Mets drafted Kunz 42nd overall, in the supplemental first round in 2007 out of Oregon State, while the Padres selected Dykstra 23rd overall in 2008 out of Wake Forest, one spot after the Mets picked Reese Havens, five after Ike Davis and ten picks in front of Brad Holt.
Dykstra, who will be 24 in May, is coming off a .241/.372/.438 season with 24 doubles and 16 home runs with the Lake Elsinore Storm in the advanced-A California League (the same level as the Mets’ St. Lucie affiliate). Lake Elsinore is one of the fairer ballparks in the Cal League’s southern division which has hitters’ paradises in High Desert and Lancaster. The large lefty hit righties (.254/.397/.463 in 287 AB) significantly better than he hit lefties (.202/.292/.364 in 99 AB) and drew 78 walks while striking out 122 times in 113 games. However, he was old for the league.
The reaction of some of the national prospect gurus to the trade on Twitter was fairly derisive.
Keith Law of ESPN.com: The more I saw of Allan Dykstra as an amateur player the less I liked him.
Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus:
- DePo guy; walks a lot; does nothing else. RT @mikedeeez: RT @dsmithshow: Hearing #Padres traded Allan Dykstra to the #Mets.
- Disappointment for the same. RT @NCTPadres: Got onfirmation the #Padres traded Allan Dykstra to #NYMets for reliever Eddie Kunz.
Baseball America had Dykstra ranked #8 in the Padres system entering the 2009 season, but that was before he hit .226/.397/.375 for Fort Wayne in the Mid-West League. At the time, BA praised his “plus-plus raw power,” and noted that he had a “true hand path, so he should hit for some average as well.” Dykstra drew a remarkable 104 walks and struck out 103 in 2009 in 125 games that year, but was unranked entering 2010. Before he signed with the Padres, Dykstra was diagnosed with a degenerative hip condition, avascular necrosis.
At the time the Padres drafted Dykstra, Paul DePodesta wrote on his blog that he, “has monster power. Most importantly, he has skills to go along with that raw power. … Allan has had an unbelievably consistent collegiate career, as he’s hit at least 15 homers while also drawing at least 50 walks in each of his three seasons – something nobody else in this draft has done….Given his size, power, and patience, comparisons have been drawn to Jim Thome.” Thome, in his age 24 season, hit .268/.359/.523 with Cleveland.
Kunz, who the Mets drafted in the supplemental first round in 2007, 42nd overall is coming off back-to-back seasons with ERAs above five, in 2009 in AAA and in 2010 in AA. The Mets attempted to make Kunz a starter last year with little success. It wasn’t his 5.34 ERA in 2010 that was so damning, it was the 68 walks in 63 innings.
Where does Dykstra go now? Probably AA. Last year, Stefan Welch received the bulk of the playing time in advanced-A but hit just .256/.325/.395 with eight home runs, 37 walks and 126 strikeouts in 133 games.
Can Dykstra rescue his career? It’s a very long shot, but a gamble worth taking for the price of Eddie Kunz.