Fixing The Mets System, Part 1: Athletes

By Teddy Klein

January 11, 2018 16 Comments

A few months ago, I got a call from someone I knew who wanted to know about the system. He asked me what I knew about it, and I said, “it’s not looking very good right now. We have a few guys at the bottom, who I like, but the topside doesn’t have enough talent.”

He replied, “Yeah, one scout told me they don’t have any athletes.”

I could only reply with agreement, after only remembering Desmond Lindsay, who was just named the system’s best athlete, and Amed Rosario off the top of my head, knowing Lindsay was hurt, and Amed isn’t actually a minor leaguer anymore. In fact, I could only name the amount of actual true athletes in the top four levels of the minors on one hand with any real certainty, and honestly, that may be up for debate (Kevin Kaczmarski and Marcos Molina are two others who came to mind).

When it comes to playing modern pro baseball, you certainly have to be athletic, but being athlete in baseball has a different association. In pro baseball, you have to be acknowledged to be good at one of the five tools associated with the scouting scale, (though, at times, makeup, grit and passion do play a role in their decisions). However, an athlete has multiple tools to work with, some raw, but with potential. A lot of times people mentally associate “athlete” with speed, and while that does have merit, there are a few catchers considered athletes, depending on agility and reaction time. Pitchers tend to be athletes, but not always. Pitchers are usually athletic if they move around their spot really well, have stamina, and can repeat their delivery.

This is why when you look at the international free agency or the draft, you see people trying to sign shortstops, outfielders, catchers, or pitchers. They’re the premium positions, and often times the most versatile one. A premium athletic shortstop can be switched to the outfield like Juan Lagares was, and show moxie at a new position. They can be versatile, utility, find new ways to play any position.

So where did the Mets go wrong in lacking athletes? In the International Free Agency, they definitely have signed a few athletes including Rosario, Guerrero, and a few others, but many failed to get too far, like Jose Garcia, Franklin Correa, and Kenny Hernandez. That’s just bad luck, but they’ve still chugged out some athletes, and some have shown promise such as Molina, Ranfy Adon, Anthony Dirocie, and others.

In the draft, the Mets strayed away from getting true athletes in the first round except Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, and Justin Dunn. It could be argued that David Peterson is an athlete, but Cecchini, Smith and Plawecki weren’t as far as the criteria go. In addition, they drafted quite a few positionless bats such as Eudor Garcia, Michael Katz, Jayce Boyd, and several others, who just didn’t do well with either part of their assignments. In general, sans Michael Conforto, the 2014 draft likely won’t produce much. The top athletes they drafted were Ivan Wilson (Retired to football after not hitting), Justin Dunn (We’ll give him more time), Bradley Marquez (Retired to Football), and Desmond Lindsay (Jury’s out, but a top prospect still).

Mets are still lacking in the department, and need to start drafting more athletes, and less positionless players. One of the things that gives me hope that the trend towards athletes started to tick up, but it’s only going to trickle up as years progress. Bryce Hutchinson is a two-way player the Mets drafted this past year. Lindsay, should he stay healthy, looks like a stud and picked it up before having Ulnar Nerve Transposition Surgery are two examples, as well as fast players such as Adon (who got injured, but is a good athlete), Anthony Dirocie, and Christian James bring up the rear. Signing a power-speed guy in Adrian Hernandez last signing period also helps, but they need to pay it forward in drafting more athletes for the farm this year, starting with the Mets highest pick since Phillip Humber.

The other thing that gives me hope is the re-hiring of Omar Minaya, who has always been an advocate for athletes, and put that as his modus operandi. Why we strayed away from that, I don’t know.

Some of the premium athletes in the draft are Jarred Kelenic, Brice Turang, Jeremy Eierman, Travis Swaggerty, Jackson Kowar, Kumar Rocker and Joe Gray Jr., and they’re all within striking distance of #6. In addition, the Mets will have the 6th highest draft slot value in each round subsequent. Let’s hope they pick some good athletes.

Next in this series, I’ll be talking about the positions we lack and should focus on. Stay tuned.

Personal Note: 

I have returned, and am happy to say I have assumed a role of editor at MetsMinors.net.

  • GODforto

    Welcome back Teddy!

    Regarding the MLB draft, the toolsy guys who are questionable with the bat are certainly the more interesting ones. Unfortunately those don’t pan out too often.

    With the international draft I wonder how much of it goes into the difficulty projecting guys. You’re drafting guys when they’re 15 or 16. It must be difficult to predict how these guys will grow.

    I think Lindsay will be an outstanding player if he can stay on the field. He has an advanced approach at the plate and he has power. He can play CF too.

  • Ted, very thorough and informative. Welcome back

  • lareplus

    Glad you’re writing about Mets again. Missed your analysis and wit.

  • The Happy Recap

    Nice to have you back Teddy. Good overview as always.

  • Teddy Klein

    Re: IFA, it’s nearly impossible to project a 16 year old. When they’re signed, they look like something, but they’re still growing, so this can jump into multiple variables. The top IFA on the class in 2016, Kevin Maitan, looked like the next Miguel Cabrera. Now scouts are unsure of how he’s actually going to do.

    The thing is about them drafting bat-first players is that they haven’t worked out very well, and even guys who look like they can’t hit have done better than expected.

  • MetsNextYear

    Welcome back Teddy!

  • danielm – LGM

    Teddy! Welcome back!

  • MetsMatz

    Welcome back Teddy. Great article that explains the problems of the players the Mets draft. The 2017 draft is a good example believe they drafted 2 outfielders from the same school in rounds #3 and #5. Both seem to be below average players with little power for corner outfielders. Would have to believe there were much better players to draft in their spots. Aside from maybe a couple of picks it looks like a poor draft.

  • Teddy Klein

    it was very top heavy with Vientos and Peterson, but Winaker and Broadey both have power, but none are the athletes that I really am referencing. Hutchinson is an athlete (12th rounder), and the best athlete,11th round Schneider, retired after 1 game.

  • Mike Lloyd

    Teddy, you were always a straight shooter. I like the honest assessment. The look you in the eye answer.
    Things aren’t good down on the farm. Hopefully, Omar’s return facilitates positive change and brings better results sooner rather than later.

  • TexasGusCC

    Ted, how do you feel about Will Banfield at #6? BA has him at #10, but position scarcity – and the Mets barren catching position – as well as his write-ups would give me strong consideration if the scouts feel he’s comparable to the other players available, or at least close.

  • TexasGusCC

    I couldn’t believe they passed on Jaren Kendall when the farm system needs offensive talent, but I guess Petersen is that good?

  • Teddy Klein

    I have trouble with the idea of drafting a catcher in the first pick, especially at #6. They’re never as surefire as they seem

  • Teddy Klein

    They didn’t think he could hit, a lot of teams passed on him.

  • 1nycmetsfan

    The Star has returned, welcome back Teddy. Great article, as always by you.
    What are the odds that we get C Shea Langiliers in the next draft ?

  • Teddy Klein

    Probably will be picked in the 1st supp or 2nd round, but I doubt 1st overall. Smart get.