Mets Minor League Mailbag: Will recent draft strategy change under new GM?

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Zack Scott at Citi FIeld in front of orange wall in June 2021
Zack Scott at Citi FIeld in front of orange wall in June 2021

SNY contributors Jacob Resnick and Joe DeMayo answer fan questions in this edition of the Mets Minor League Mailbag...

@BaroneliJoe: Do you expect them to have the same draft strategy they had with brodie? High end talent over slot first few rounds and basically punting the rest of the draft? I really liked it

Jacob: The general feeling is that the approach to the draft is unchanged. The people who have had their boots on the ground — area scouts, cross checkers, and the department heads — are still with the organization, so the types of players they target should look similar to years prior. As for making a Matt Allan-esque splash after the first round, that’s not really something that can be predicted. If someone of that ilk is left on the board after the first night of the draft, history shows that the organization will be open to exploring all possibilities.

Joe: The entire scouting department remains unchanged from the last couple of years where the Mets went aggressively to sign J.T. Ginn in the second round for $2.9 million in 2020 and then Matt Allan for $2.5 million in the 3rd round in 2019. I don’t know that they necessarily intend to take this approach every single year, as you really are banking on those top couple picks to pan out and leaving little else to break through. What they have done a good job of is selecting a player worth the pick in the first round and being ready to adjust if something falls their way on day two. They absolutely loved Ginn and Allan, so it was worth it to go through with that strategy. There were also drafts where they just played the board like in 2016 where they took Justin Dunn, Anthony Kay and Pete Alonso with their first three picks. Nobody crazy over slot, or under slot. I guess that is a long-winded way of saying they can take that approach, but it will depend on how the board falls. I wouldn’t expect it to be an every year occurrence, though.

@Manach_38: Is there any chance one of the Vandy Boys drops to the Mets spot? Seems extremely unlikely but considering they were projected 1 2, and have fallen a couple spots I didn't know if there was a chance they'd drop just a bit further.

Jacob: Jack Leiter has the best chance to be the best pitcher in this draft class when it’s all said and done. In a likelihood the Mets won’t even get the chance to wonder if he’ll fall to their slot. Kumar Rocker is the more curious case, with his stock pointing down at the conclusion of the NCAA season. There’s enough track record there for him to go before the Mets at 10, but there are multiple scenarios where he slips. I think the Mets pounce if he’s there.

Joe: I am of the belief that Jack Leiter is a lock to be taken in the top 4 picks of the draft. From what I hear, it is unlikely he goes number 1 to the Pirates, but his destination is very likely to be with the Rangers at 2, Tigers at 3 or Red Sox at 4. For Mets fans, you probably shouldn’t even bother dreaming of Al Leiter’s son in Queens. Kumar Rocker is a name to watch, though. This spring he has had some inconsistencies with his velocity, having starts where he is more 90-92, and others where he is 95-97. There is also some buzz that he is not going to be the type of guy who will take much under slot, which might turn off some teams at the top of the draft. Where we stand today, I do not expect Rocker to go in the top 5 picks, and if he can get past aggressive teams like the Diamondbacks at 6 and Royals at 7, then I think it would be time for Mets fans to think he realistically can get to them at 10. To me, it would be a no-brainer pick if he were to slide, and hopefully the Mets would take advantage of a higher ranked prospect falling to the 10th pick much like they did in 2014 when Michael Conforto fell to them at 10.

@tommyjets: Do you expect Francisco Alvarez to get promoted to Binghamton soon?

Jacob: “Soon” might be pushing it, but I wouldn’t put it past the Mets to give Alvarez a taste of Double-A near the end of August or in September (remember the minor league season will go about a month later than usual this year). Binghamton is likely where he’ll open 2022, so as long as Alvarez keeps hitting (and he has) it would make sense to get him familiar with the league this fall.

Joe: I personally don’t see the rush. He is already very young for High-A, and as a catcher, you really want to have more patience in development than some other positions. Like Jacob said, maybe you give him a taste toward the end of the minor league season, but I would be perfectly content with Alvarez spending the rest of the minor league season in Brooklyn. Alvarez is a potentially special prospect, and I know the Mets are going to be leaning towards a more aggressive player development approach, but I’d be looking at a promotion to Double-A for someone like Brett Baty before I thought about Alvarez.

@RJPeteQuadsSZN: Can you break down Robert Dominguez a bit? Upside and the such.

Jacob: Dominguez is the mystery man of the organization. When the Mets signed him at 17 years old he was reported to have reached 99 mph with his fastball alongside a plus curveball, but largely thanks to the pandemic, he didn’t make his professional debut until last week in the Florida Complex League. If he continues to touch the upper 90s as a starter you’re looking at a potential number two or three arm, but given how ridiculously far away he is from the majors, there’s as good of a chance that he never makes it above Double-A.

Joe: Dominguez has arguably the most exciting arm in the entire system. The Mets signed him for $95,000, and after some mechanical adjustments, he was touching 99 mph and showing the ability to spin a breaking ball. As Jacob said, Dominguez is a long way from being a major league asset, but the potential is tantalizing and I put him in my top 10 prospects in the system for that reason. If everything breaks right, he can be a frontline type of starter, but if his third pitch doesn’t develop, you can potentially have an arm that may touch triple digits with a breaking ball out of the bullpen. There is a very wide range of outcomes with Dominguez, but I lean upside, and he has a ton of it.