Revisiting Sandy Alderson’s Mets First Round Draft Picks

By Mets Daddy

December 5, 2017 14 Comments

One of the purported reasons why Sandy Alderson was hired to replace Omar Minaya as the Mets general manager was due to the state of the Mets farm system.

Now, there was some truth to that given how Minaya continuously left the team without high draft picks due to his propensity to attack the free agent market.

That went double when you consider his regime used his top picks to select players like Eddie Kunz, Nathan Vineyard, Reese Havens, and Bradley Holt. Even if those selections were justified at the time, it didn’t help Minaya’s case when they combined to appear in just four Major League games.

With that, Alderson was tasked with rebuilding a deeper than originally believed Mets farm system. In fact, that 2015 pennant winning team was largely built on talent acquire when Minaya was the General Manager including Jacob deGrom, Lucas Duda, Jeurys Familia, Wilmer Flores, Matt Harvey, Juan Lagares, Daniel Murphy, and Hansel Robles.

Alderson’s regime deftly built upon that core to make the Mets contenders.  Nowthe organization is at the point where it needs the farm system Alderson and his front office built to produce Major League ready players to revitalize this team. Considering how the Mets fell apart last season and how the team seems disenchanted with many of their own first round draft picks, it is time to review the first round draft picks made since Alderson became the Mets General Manager:

2011 – OF Brandon Nimmo (13th Overall)

2017 MiLB Stats: .227/.364/.368, 12 2B, 3B, 3 HR, 17 RBI
2017 MLB Stats: .260/.379/.418, 11 2B, 3B, 5 HR, 21 RBI

Realistically speaking, this should have been the time for Nimmo to emerge as the team’s everyday center fielder. There was a p0int where this was expected to happen. However, knee injuries have limited him just enough to where many question his ability to handle center field defensively. It may have also impacted the power hitting ability that never materialized.

Now, Nimmo has shown he belongs on the Major League level in some capacity. However, if he can’t defensively handle center field, he’s likely a fourth outfielder as his bat does not profile for a corner outfield position.

2011 – RHP Michael Fulmer (44th Overall)

2017 Stats: 10-12, 3.83 ERA, 1.154 WHIP, 6.2 K/9

When drafting a pitcher in the first round, you are hoping to have a front line starting pitcher. With Fulmer winning Rookie of the Year in 2016 and being named as an All Star in 2017, he certainly appears to be the part even if he missed the final month of the season due to his having ulnar nerve transposition surgery.

Of course, Fulmer was sent to the Detroit Tigers as the center piece for Yoenis Cespedes.

2012 – SS Gavin Cecchini (12th Overall)

2017 MiLB Stats: .267/.329/.380, 27 2B, 3 3B, 6 HR, 39 RBI, 5 SB, 4 CS
2017 MLB Stats: .208/.256/.273, 2 2B, HR, 7 RBI, CS

Between Cecchini’s defensive struggles and the ascension of Amed Rosario, Cecchini moved to second base this past season. Whether it was the rigors of learning a new position, bad luck, or an unsustainable .357 BABIP in 2016, Cecchini regressed offensively to the point where the team did not even consider him for the second base vacancy in 2017, and his name isn’t being mentioned as a potential solution in 2018.

2012 – C Kevin Plawecki (35th Overall)

2017 MiLB Stats: .328/.375/.514, 17 2B, 3B, 9 HR, 45 RBI
2017 MLB Stats: .260/.364/.400, 5 2B, 3 HR, 13 RBI, SB

In what was an otherwise dismal year for the Mets, the biggest bright spot was the rejuvenation of Plawecki’s career. After finally spending an extended stint in Triple-A, he began to put things together offensively.

Couple that with his historically good pitch framing skills, and Plawecki has earned a spot on the Opening Day roster. Should he continue to progress, and if Travis d’Arnaud repeats his 2016 – 2017 performance, Plawecki could find himself as the Mets everyday catcher next season.

2013 – 1B Dominic Smith (11th Overall)

2017 MiLB Stats: .330/.386/.519, 34 2B, 2 3B, 16 HR, 76 RBI, SB, CS
2017 MLB Stats: .198/.267/.395, 6 2B, 9 HR, 26 RBI

After years of people questioning if he would ever hit for power, Smith had begun to display the power many believed he always had in Triple-A. However, despite the gains he made in that department in Triple-A, the Mets have been quite outspoken on how they’ve soured on one of their top prospects.

Whether it is the weight issues or how much he struggled during his call-up, the Mets are not only talking about him not being on the Opening Day roster, but potentially also signing a player like Carlos Santana to a multi-year deal. If that does happen, this means the Mets will have fully moved on from a top prospect without giving him so much as half a season in the majors.

2014 – OF Michael Conforto (10th Overall)

2017 Stats: .279/.384/.555, 20 2B, 3B, 27 HR, 68 RBI, 2 SB

After Terry Collins made him a platoon player for two seasons, injuries allowed Conforto to play everyday, and he showed us all just how great he could be. He made his first All-Star team, and he is quite possibly the best player on the roster.

Unfortunately, instead of looking forward to him taking the next step towards superstardom, we are awaiting with baited breath to see how his shoulder heals after he separated it on a swing and miss.

2015 – No Pick

It needs to be mentioned here the Mets sacrificed their 2015 first round draft pick in order to sign Michael Cuddyer. This was partially the result of the Rockies making him a qualifying offer after how vocal the Mets were about pursuing him in the offseason. In exchange for that first round pick, the Mets got one season of Cuddyer where he hit .259/.309/.391. Cuddyer’s injuries and poor production were also a precursor to the Mets having to trade Fulmer away to obtain Cespedes.

2016 – RHP Justin Dunn (19th Overall)

2017 MiLB Stats: 5-6, 5.00 ERA, 1.563 WHIP, 7.1 K/9

When Dunn was drafted by the Mets, there were questions about his ability to stick in the rotation. Dunn did little to quiet those concerns by struggling in his first ever full season as a starting pitcher. In 16 starts he had a 5.74 ERA as opposed to a 1.59 ERA in his four relief outings.

Ultimately, the talent is there. The question is whether he can put it together before the Mets get impatient waiting for him to get there.

2016 – LHP Anthony Kay (31st Overall)

The Mets selected Kay with the pick obtained from Murphy signing a deal with the Nationals. After Kay was used heavily in college, he needed Tommy John surgery, and he signed for an underslot bonus. He will look to throw his first pitch as a professional in 2018.

2017 – LHP David Peterson (20th Overall)

2017 Stats: 0-0. 2.45 ERA, 1.364 WHIP, 14.7 K/9

To some, the Mets were lucky Peterson was there for the taking at 20. Certainly, you can make that argument with the outstanding Junior season he had with Oregon. Due to his throwing over 100 innings in college, the Mets limited him to just 3.2 innings for Brooklyn before shutting him down. Next year will be a big year as the Mets look to see if he’s the mid rotation starter some believe, or the top of the rotation type pitcher the Mets were hoping to get.

Synposis

Time and again it needs to be stressed the draft is an inexact science and that luck plays a role in determining how well a prospect develops.

If you want to have a glass half-full perspective, everyone drafted prior to 2015 will make the majors. Of those six players, two are All-Stars. Depending on what happens this offseason for the Mets, there can be anywhere from one to four everyday players out of the five position players drafted.

On the glass half-empty front, it does not seem any of his draft picks will reach their full potential. For players like Dunn, Kay, and Peterson, it is way too early to make that determination.

However, for the rest, that becomes increasingly more of a possibility. In the cases of Nimmo and Conforto, the fact injuries played a role certainly are a black mark on an Alderson regime that has had issues keeping players healthy.

Worse than the injuries is how the Mets seem to be willing to move on from high draft picks like Cecchini and Smith without so much as a half of season of play to prove themselves.

Overall, there is still time for all of these prospects to develop into the players the Mets hoped they would be when they were drafted. For those that are pessimistic about that happening, look no further than Plawecki. If nothing else, he showed you shouldn’t give up on a talented player without giving them a real chance to develop.

  • Buddy3

    I know it is impossible to rebuild in New York, but I would gibe Dom Smith a full year to develop. A signing like Adam Lind helps in several areas, but I would not sign a full time first basemen until we see a season of Smith.
    As to Cecchini, I had high hopes or him after his 2016 season, but must admit that he has a really ugly swing. I cant see him developing unless that swing gets overhauled.
    Dunn is a question mark, but I understand the rest of the picks and have not yet given up on NImmo. He plays hard and showed well in his latest stint with the Mets to at least have a CF platoon opportunity with Lagares if the Mets can not upgrade the outfield.

  • Mojo Hill

    The Mets completely wasted an opportunity with Cecchini last year when their season fell apart. Their (particularly Collins’) management of him was abysmal, when he could have and should have used that time to really get a feel for the type of player Cecchini is. For example, when he had four hits in a series against the Dodgers in his first four career starts, including a home run against Kershaw, he got sent to the Minors. When he had a three-hit game against the Braves, he spent the next two weeks on the bench. It’s hard to develop your young players when they’re sitting on the bench. And it’s not like the Mets had Daniel Murphy and Justin Turner or a >.500 record blocking them from playing.

    Hopefully Cecchini’s bat bounces back in 2018 and he can hit his way onto the Major League team. But it would have been nice if he had gotten more at-bats last year so we could have a better idea of the type of player he is.

  • Ernest Dove

    I mean bottom line the Mets have beem producing major leaguers from the first round. But yeah at some point they need to start making quicker decisions on these guys. Thanks to Terry and company their best pic and pos player since david Wright couldn’t just be handed the everyday OF job and stay there from day one.

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  • Mets Daddy

    I think it’s very fair to point out how the Mets manager, and possibly some of the other Mets personnel, has had an impact on the outcome of some of these players.

  • Mets Daddy

    I agree with you on Cecchini, but I will point out that seemed to be more of an organizational decision than just Collins. The team did have multiple chances to call him up to play, and they didn’t.

  • Mets Daddy

    I like Nimmo just as much as anyone, but it is telling the Mets don’t even see him as a potential solution for CF.

  • ikemauiman

    I think alderson has done a poor job with the picks we have had the last couple years there have been a couple 3b that were highly rated hitters we could have had but he took the 2 pitchers that no one had rated as high as they were taken nimmo probably could have been taken much later but we used a 13th pick on him when Fernandez was taken right behind him who knows what would have happened with him but it would have been nice to have him Michael was a no brainer and the other all star you mentioned became an all star with another team, again showing a lack of insight to our own players we have a 2nd baseman Luis Guilormel right now that maybe the best fielder in the organization that may never see the bigs because of alderson bring him up and let him play give him half a season to see if he hits he keeps moving up each year and handles the bat well

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  • Nessim Toledano

    I think Nimmo has shown well as a hitter, But not as a fielder. I give him credit for having improved his outfield play since 2016. But his play in CF is nowhere near deserving of regular time there. And the problem with a so-called “platoon” of Nimmo and Lagares is that today’s game has so few lefty starters that the lefty hitter gets about 85% of the starts.
    I’d much rather stick him in right and have Conforto play center on those days that Lagares sits out.

  • Nessim Toledano

    First-rounders are not just about producing major leaguers. Its about producing stars, and producing them fairly quickly. Thus far, Conforto is the only one who qualifies.
    Nimmo is a major leaguer, but doesn’t look like a star, and he’s taken far. far too long to reach the modest level that he’s reached.
    Cecchini is not yet a major leaguer (and I have doubts that he ever will be). Dom Smith hasn’t arrived yet.
    They didn’t have a pick in ’15, and its too soon to make any judgement about ’16, so i’ll leave it there. But all in all, not a good record for the DePodesta picks. Its also starting to look like the draft pic made DePo left will be more fruitful.

  • Nessim Toledano

    I don’t think the Mets wasted anything. Cecchini is simply too far away from being a legitimate major league starter for it to have mattered. He plays only one position, and the Mets have two to five other players who deserve and would get the playing time there before Cecchini does. So there was really no consequence.
    Occasional good game notwithstanding, he most often looks badly overmatched at the plate. when he makes contact, its almost always weak. Defensively, he plays only one position. He’s not very quick. His range is mediocre, and he has never looked comfortable or fluid. He still double-pumps before making a long throw, and that hesitation costs him the chance to complete a double-play. He just needs more time, and not just a little time, either.

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  • Nessim Toledano

    I’m not sure when the Mets “moved on” from Gavin Cecchini. They haven’t cut him, haven’t demoted him, and haven’t talked about trading him (though I doubt anyone would give them anything for him, anyway). He never arrived, and never earned legitimate consideration to begin with. So there was nothing for them to move on from.
    Cecchini is simply not a legitimate consideration for 2018, and 2018 is where the teams’ focus lies. He may become a major leaguer one day. But right now, he still looks nothing like one.