The New York Mets forfeited what would have been the 15th overall pick in the MLB Draft by signing Qualified free agent Michael Cuddyer to a two year, $21M deal. The move, which was bashed by local media at the time, seems to have panned out, at least so far. The Mets currently sit just a half game out of first place and Cuddyer has stabilized the lineup and clubhouse in David Wright’s absence.
Anyway, even after forfeiting their first round selection in the offseason, the Mets still hold their second and third picks in the upcoming draft. Luckily for New York, both selections sit within the top-100 range, at 53rd and 88th overall for their second and third selections, respectively.
Remember, the highly-touted Steven Matz, who inches closer and closer his big-league debut with each Triple-A start, was taken 72nd overall back in 2009. Thus, the Cuddyer signing has not eliminated all hope of Sandy grabbing a top talent from this year’s crop of youngsters. In fact, the Mets still have two good cracks remaining to land a top prospect.
I’m here to shine some light on four potential talents that may be available for the Mets to select with their second or third picks. For the sake of balance, I provided two potential options at each draft slot, one pitcher and one hitter. For the sake of sake of simplicity, I used Baseball America’s top-100 list as a guide for which prospects might be available when the Mets are on the clock. Enjoy!
Baseball America’s #54 Draft Prospect: RHP Brady Singer, HS (Florida)
It’s no secret that the Mets love pitchers. Brady Singer, at 6-5 180, is a projectable arm who could progress markedly in a pro environment.
His fastball typically sits around 91 to 93 miles per hour, but it can touch 96. Further offering hope for more projection, Singer’s velocity has risen in the past year and is not maxed out physically. It is reasonable to expect Singer to consistently throw in the mid-90s during his prime.
He owns a quick, up-tempo delivery, pitches low in the zone, and, according to Perfect Game Baseball, knows how to pitch (as opposed to just throwing) as well.
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One problem scouts see with Singer is a 3/4 arm slot which may lend way to injury. I don’t have a particular issue with motion; his relatively low slot gives his fastball movement into right-handers and away from lefties, which, when paired with his increased velocity, could be very dangerous.
Brady also throws a sweeping curve in the low 70s, but scouts think he may be best equipped to remove that pitch and add a slider to his repertoire. The development of his changeup, like many young pitchers, will determine if he can stick in a big league rotation.
Overall, Singer is a good prospect who offers the Mets a projectable, young arm with a solid fastball and good feel for the game. He would be a nice addition to the farm system following the (likely) graduations of top pitching prospects Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz.
If the Mets decide against drafting a pitcher atop their 2015 draft, third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes could be in play at #53. Hayes, is the son of former big leaguer Charlie Hayes, and, like the aforementioned Singer, is praised by scouts for an advanced feel for the game at a young age.
The Texan owns a very polished bat for a high schooler. Ke’Bryan has a simple, high load, which allows him to release a linear swing that produces line drives to all fields. He could be a little more consistent with his hands, but that is why he is not a first round pick.
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Another knock of Hayes is that he does not run well and does not have prototypical third-base power. Still, his soft hands, strong arms, high baseball IQ give him a good chance at sticking at third base long-term. Further, Hayes is known as a strong worker, which will only help his development.
At 6-1 207, Hayes does not have much room to fill out, so (at best) he will be a 15-20 HR hitter in the major leagues. More likely, he will hover around .280 with 25-30 doubles and maybe 13-15 homers. That production may not seem like much, but I would certainly take that from a second-round pick.
Plus, I think Hayes’ chances of reaching his ceiling are increased due to his compact swing, MLB bloodlines, and strong work ethic. Hayes and Urena would be a nice pair of third base prospects ready to succeed David Wright.
Kep Brown could have been ticketed for a first round selection had he not tore his achilles two months before the draft. Rehabbing an achilles tear only takes six months though, and I believe the Mets would be lucky to select such a talented outfielder with their second pick.
Brown uses his size (6-5 190) to generate a ton of power from the right side of the plate. Unsurprisingly, his swing features a noticeable upper cut. Kep looks very balanced while hitting and does a fantastic job staying behind the baseball. His load is sound, as his hands are strong and dynamic, allowing him to cover the entire plate and put good wood on anything within the strike zone.
Kep gets good extension with his lengthy arms, however, his swing itself is also lengthy. Given his immense talent, though, this flaws seem very manageable. On defense, Brown has a decent arm, runs a 6.84 60 yard dash and likely projects as an average to solid-average left fielder.
I do not agree with Baseball America’s ranking of Brown: he has the potential to be a truly elite hitter in the major leagues. At only 18, there is plenty of room for development and all the tools are there. If his injury has affected teams’ boards as much as it has affected that of Baseball America, the Mets should be sprinting to the podium to draft Brown at #89 overall.
Brown is one of my favorite hitters in the class (maybe second favorite behind SS Alex Bregman, projected to go in the Top 5), has the tools of a first rounder, and would be a true steal for the Mets.
The achilles injury is noteworthy, but the high school outfielder could simply sit out the remainder of the season and begin his professional career rested and healthy in the spring.
Cole McKay is a classic power arm with the build to withstand a 200 inning workload in the major leagues. He stands tall at 6-5 225 and throws a fastball in the 93 to 93 mile per hour range. McKay, according to MLB.com, throws downhill, which might allow for even more velocity in the future. His fastball has running and sinking action, making it difficult to hit due to its exceptional speed and downhill nature.
His curveball has 11-5 movement and a sharp bite that allows McKay to utilize the hook as a put-away pitch. His changeup lags behind his fastball and curve, but it should still be a solid pitch at maturity. Perfect Game describes the pitch as having “big fading action”. McKay pounds the zone with his all three pitches, revealing a blend of power and finesse that is rarely seen in a high school prospect.
There is a lot to like in McKay. Not only should he throw three solid average to plus pitches and control them well, but his big frame also prevents him from serious injuries.
He is committed to Louisiana State, but a third round selection and a slightly above-slot bonus could easily lure him away from three more years of amateur ball.
Like Brown, I have a hard time understanding why McKay is so low on Baseball America’s list. He has polish, upside, and strength. The Mets would be lucky to add the extremely skilled McKay to their long list of high-potential arms.