Deep dive on Mets' second-round MLB Draft pick RHP Calvin Ziegler

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Calvin Ziegler
Calvin Ziegler

On the second day of the MLB Draft, teams head to their war rooms to take stock of their haul from the previous night and readjust their boards for the coming rounds. With an electric first round arm in tow, the Mets zeroed in on another, albeit younger, arm in Calvin Ziegler with the 46th overall pick.

The Canadian righty joins 10th overall selection Kumar Rocker as the Mets look to bolster their pitching pipeline.

Background

Ziegler, a native of Heidelberg, Ontario, went unselected in the five-round 2020 draft, an outcome that forced some notable changes in his plans. He would eventually reclassify, decommit from UConn, and move down south to boost his stock heading into this year’s draft cycle.

Since amateur Canadian teams were limited in their travel due to the pandemic, Ziegler relocated to central Florida, where he pitched at TNXL Academy, an environment that rivals mid-major college programs in funding and access to facilities.

Throwing harder and looking like a more complete pitcher last fall, he committed to Auburn. Though Ziegler’s public pre-draft rankings land in the 100-200 range, he’s been around pro scouts for years at major showcases and Canadian national team events.

Scouting Report

Mets VP of scouting Tommy Tanous told SNY on the most-recent episode of Mets Prospective that the organization has dramatically increased its analytics capabilities in this year’s draft. That effort, spearheaded by Ben Zauzmer, likely pointed Tanous and his staff in Ziegler’s direction.

His fastball has made significant velocity gains over the past four-to-five years. He’s now touching 97 mph, although he sits in a lower range. Maturity, and the continued upwards trend, should allow him to be a consistent mid-90s arm after getting integrated into the Mets’ player development program.

In addition to the heat, Ziegler’s pitch metrics are intriguing as well. He’s received high marks for his raw spin, spin efficiency and movement profile. His fastball looks like a potential plus-pitch, and it’s already closer to average than the typical arm in his stage of development.

Ziegler’s secondary pitches -- a slider and changeup -- are further along than they were coming into last year’s draft, but are still raw. Scouts like the slider to break through as a second plus-pitch. His control is better than you typically see from teenagers, and projects as a major league average tool.

The Jeremy Barnes-led player development department has pledged to become more data-driven, which includes employing coaches that can translate the numbers onto the field. Ziegler has an enticing skill-set that should benefit from such attention.

Future

Unless their tools are worth a pick at the top of the first round, high school pitchers are nearly always taken with an eye on long-term development (Matt Allan being a notable recent exception). It’s not likely (but not out of the question) that Ziegler pitches this year, as he’ll be only 19 for all of the 2022 season. Depending on how he looks in front of coaches this fall and next spring, he could debut in Low-A, despite being well below the league average age.

Possibly the most under-discussed aspect of the MLB amateur draft is that teams are rarely selecting the clear-cut best player left on the board after the first round. Unlike other sports, with baseball players years away from being contributors, picks come down to factors like area scout relationships and signing bonus considerations.

Given that the Mets will exceed the $4.7 million slot value to tie up the deal with Rocker, their second round selection of Ziegler is likely to balance out the money spent towards the capped pool.

That isn’t an indictment on Ziegler’s skills. The Mets believe they’ve picked up a projectible arm with the chance to be one of the top 46 players from this draft class when it’s all said and done.