For a second straight year, the Mets took a risky approach with the draft and lived to tell.
The next step will be receiving results on their gamble.
In outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong, right-handed pitcher JT Ginn and outfielder Isaiah Greene, in particular, the Mets bet on higher-end talent with negotiating leverage because of college eligibility, but all three signed contracts. The final piece was Ginn, a sophomore from Mississippi State who this week agreed to an over-slot signing bonus worth $2.9 million.
The Mets took a similar approach last year, allowing them to land Matt Allan, a top high school pitching talent who scared off many teams over concerns whether he would sign, in the third round.
“We go into it knowing that we better sign these guys,” general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said Tuesday. “That is part of the draft, if you take players and can’t sign them, then we haven’t done our part because then those players don’t become part of our farm system.”
Van Wagenen credited team adviser Omar Minaya, who has overseen the Mets’ domestic and international scouting, for helping restock the farm system following trades that included top prospects over the past 1 ½ years. Among them was the trade for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz that sent Jarred Kelenic to the Mariners.
“There are four things Omar has brought to his purpose in his oversight,” Van Wagenen said. “He wanted to focus on high-impact players, premium position players, premium athletes and versatile talent. All four of those things can make a real difference at the big-league level and can further championship goals that we have.”
In Minaya’s last draft as Mets general manager in 2010, the team selected Matt Harvey in the first round and Jacob deGrom in the ninth. The Mets bolstered their draft talent during GM Sandy Alderson’s regime, with Michael Conforto, Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil among the successes.
“I think we’re in a position where you look at our team, we’re kind of a homegrown team with the Pete Alonsos of the world, the deGroms, [Amed] Rosarios, the McNeils,” Minaya said. “That is the goal. From Day 1 back when I came back to the Mets it was with the idea I was going to be involved in scouting and development because that is my passion.”
Without a minor league season, the challenge is developing players at every level. For the Mets, the process has included Zoom chats and sharing data about individual workouts.
“We have kept the entirety of our player development staff working, communicating and making sure we are building individual plans so that these players are making strides as opposed to reaching stalemates,” Van Wagenen said.
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