If you follow amateur baseball at all, you know more about the players selected in the draft than me. The best I can do is tell you that a guy who hit a triple and a homer for the Copperheads was taken by the Giants – in the 15th round. But hopefully what I’m lacking in knowledge of these particular players at this particular moment in time can be made up for with a willingness to listen to experts along with some historical perspective.
There was some back-and-forth discussion on the draft between me and Chris F in the comments section of the Monday open thread. Here’s a comment from Chris:
Im disappointed in the Alderson/Tannous draft. Flat out, its not clear to me these guys know anything about personnel and talent assessment.
Im happy for Kelenic and hope for nothing but the best for his arrival in 2023. Was all that losing and getting the 6th pick for a guy mocked outside the top 10 worth it? With all the College and short-time-to-the-bigs talent available, it surprises me to take *another* flyer on a lefty outfielder that never even did more that travel teams and showcases. I hope it turns out to be a surprise for some new FO.
Tommy Tanous is a scouting veteran, who joined the Mets in 2011. Previously, he worked as a national cross checker for the Blue Jays for seven seasons. Prior to that he was a scout for the Rangers and Brewers. After a season as a scout, he was elevated to Director of Amateur Scouting following the 2011 season. After the 2016 season, Tanous was promoted to VP of Scouting.
Here’s how many draft picks of the Mets have made the majors the first five years under Alderson/Tanous. There hasn’t been enough time for draft picks more recent than that to advance through the system. The numbers in parentheses are, in order, the same for the Phillies, Braves, Nationals and Marlins:
2011 – 15 (9) (8) (7) (5)
2012 – 10 (4) (3) (3) (5)
2013 – 3 (4) (3) (1) (5)
2014 – 1 (2) (1) (2) (2)
2015 – 1 (1) (2) (2) (0)
Here are the totals – Mets 30, Phillies 20, Braves 17, Nationals 15, Marlins 17
The Mets are drafting better than their division rivals in terms of guys good enough to climb through the system and make the majors. But what about star power? Here are all of the guys drafted by teams that went on to accumulate at least 3.0 bWAR in this time period:
Nationals – Anthony Rendon (#6 overall pick) 17.3
Braves – Alex Wood (2nd round), 10.5
Phillies – Ken Giles (7th round pick) 5.2; Kyle Freeland (35th round) 5.7; Aaron Nola (#7 overall pick) 9.2
Mets – Michael Conforto (#10 overall) 6.9; Michael Fulmer (#44 overall) 9.0; Seth Lugo (34th round) 3.9
Marlins – Jose Fernandez (#14 overall) 14.0, Kendall Graveman (36th round) 5.4
Again, it’s hard to see these division rivals making the Mets look ridiculous. Plus, the Mets are likely to add Brandon Nimmo to this list by the end of the year, as he currently sits with a 2.6 bWAR. Additionally, we’re counting Freeland and Graveman here, even though they did not sign with the NL East club that drafted them. I mean, the Mets drafted Roger Clemens back in 1981 too; do they get credit for that?
As for the specific case of Jarred Kelenic, the more I read about him, the more I like him. Like Chris, my initial reaction was disappointment that they didn’t take a college guy like Travis Swaggerty, who went 10th overall to the Pirates. But 2080 Baseball had Kelenic as number two overall on their board, saying this:
A true five-tool talent, Kelenic boasts plus speed, plus arm strength (98 mph from the outfield) and impact potential at the plate, including exit velos of up to 104 mph this spring
And here’s what Keith Law said about him: “The Mets took the first prep player of the 2018 draft in high-ceiling Wisconsin outfielder Jarred Kelenic (1), who clearly established himself as the best high school position player in the class and had been in consideration at pick No. 1. Kelenic has All-Star center-fielder upside with power, speed and a plus-plus arm, and his swing is certainly geared toward driving the ball to all fields.”
One of the criticisms of the 21st Century Mets is that they are too reliant on the HR offense and one-dimensional sluggers. Here’s a guy who’s noted for speed and a plus-plus arm and the ability to drive the ball to all fields. Seems like the athletic player that we have all asked the Mets to target.
When you have a top 10 pick in the draft, you’ve got to hit on that selection. You want to do what the Nats did with Rendon or the Phillies with Nola or the Mets with Conforto. Will Kelenic be that type of pick? None of us can say for sure one way or the other. But you have to like your odds with “the best high school position player in the class,” and “a true five-tool talent.”
Go ahead and bash Sandy Alderson for signing old guys or believing too much in injured pitchers or being curt with his answers. But it seems misguided to claim he doesn’t know what he’s doing in the amateur draft. Maybe the best thing to knock him for with the draft is not believing more in the guys that he and his minions selected. Most of us would rather see Dominic Smith or Peter Alonso at first base than Adrian Gonzalez and Gavin Cecchini than Jose Reyes as backup infielder.