Mets Minors: Jackson Rutledge and the 2019 amateur draft

With the draft starting later today let’s take a look at some of the players the Mets might be looking to select in the first several rounds of the major league draft. The Mets do not have a Top 10 pick in the draft and will settle to select 12th overall as they look to restock a minor league system that lacks high-end talent. For this reason, the Mets might look to take risks and select players who have a high upside instead of safer “sure thing” players. It will be interesting to see, either way, how Brodie Van Wagenen handles his first draft as Met GM.

12th Overall

The Easy Choice: Jackson Rutledge, RHP – At 6’8” and boasting a fastball that hits 99 MPH with sinking movement, Rutledge seems like a pitcher who can become the “Ace” caliber arm the Mets want to develop as Zack Wheeler and other go the way of free agency. Rutledge has a solid slider and a 12-6 curveball that both rank as possible plus pitches but it’s noted his movement (even with his fastball) isn’t consistent. Scouts suggest his arm angle and action are odd for his frame but that they also might lead to him being able to hide the ball better. To be an “Ace” he’d need to develop consistency and a better changeup.

Reaching Up: Hunter Bishop, OF – A dreaded 4-Tool outfielder who is already 20 years of age, Bishop would hopefully be ready to start his MiLB career in Brooklyn and use his speed and power to move quickly through the minors. He’s ranked higher than the Mets are picking but scouts worry that his power might not have a chance to translate if he doesn’t make enough contact. He’s a big guy, who runs well and has the raw power to hit 30-40 home runs and enough people believe in him to suggest he’ll be selected in the top 10. The warts suggest he might fall to the Mets.

Reaching Down: Brennan Malone, RHP – The high schooler was viewed as a thrower rather than a pitcher before the Spring began but he has all the makings of a really fine pitcher. He is currently hitting 96 MPH and currently boasts a Plus Slider but it’s his command of the changeup that has me wondering if he might truly have a higher ceiling than a college pitcher like Rutledge. He has a commitment to North Carolina but a 12th overall pick would likely convince him to forego that.

53rd Overall

The Easy Choice: Blake Walston, LHP – At 6’4” and only 178 pounds a lot of scouts wonder if he wouldn’t be better off going to college, bulking up and becoming a First Round talent. It’s a risk the Mets would take with his selection. The lefty currently hits 90-93 and sits in the 80s with his fastball but what excites me is the scouting about how he spins the ball. This spin leads to good movement on his breaking pitches though, at 17, he hardly uses them.

Reaching Up: Rece Hinds, 3B – If the Mets see a power hitting, 18 year old third baseman still on the board at 53 it could be interesting to give Hinds a shot. He’s shown scouts that power and also the strikeouts that come with it. There is risk to Hinds not taking a major league offer and moving forward with his commitment to LSU, particularly if he falls all the way to 53 but this would be a huge gamble for the Mets to potentially get a star player.

Reaching Down: Erik Miller, LHP – Lefties with 96-97 fastballs are not a dime a dozen and it seems strange to see one ranked where Miller is. He boasts a plus slider and an better than average changeup but his control leads scouts to think he might wind up in relief. Just as with Hinds, Miller’s pure stuff suggests a bigger risk and reward approach for the Mets to take.

89th Overall

The Easy Choice: Hunter Brown, RHP – A power pitcher who tops out at 98 and sits in the 92-96 range doesn’t sound too bad for a third round pick. His slider grades as being a possible Plus pitch and he doesn’t yet have much of a changeup but his motion is easy and his control is solid. You could do far worse.

Reaching Up: Nick Quintana, 3B – Again, I reach up for a third baseman but this time I’m looking at a far safer option. Quintana doesn’t strike me as a “Star” third baseman but he looks like he might be a solid major league starter with exceptional defense. He’s got power enough for the position and it would be up to his bat to make the case for him eventually making the team.

Reaching Down: Brennan Milone, 3B – Not to be confused with Brennan Malone, this third baseman is more or less the opposite of Quintana. His hitting tool and power are ahead of his defense but his defense isn’t a liability either. At 18 years of age he could still add to his frame though that could hurt his speed in equal proportion.

There is a good chance that none of these selections will be the way the Mets actually go.  Either way, next week this space will be used to evaluate the selections made. Stay tuned and let’s hope for a solid draft.

*****

Play began Saturday in the Dominican Summer League (DSL), where the Mets field two teams.  This is the jumping off point for most international free agents, whether they come from the Dominican, Venezuela or somewhere else.  Since these international free agents can be signed once they turn 16, they can start their professional careers earlier than their U.S. counterparts.

It’s noteworthy if an international free agent skips the DSL and begins his pro career in a U.S. league instead.  Last year SS Ronny Mauricio did this, as he opened the year in the Gulf Coast League.  Again, this is much more the exception rather than the rule.

In Saturday’s DSL action, OF Freddy Valdez, one of the club’s big signings from the previous year’s international class, went 2-for-4 with a HR and a BB.  But missing from either of the two DSL clubs was C Francisco Alvarez, the big prize from last year’s July 2 signing period.  This doesn’t mean that Alvarez will start the year in this country – he could be slightly banged up and just missed the first game of the year.

But it at least is enough to raise ones eyebrows.  Also missing was OF Adrian Hernandez, a power/speed guy from the 2017 July 2 period.  Hernandez played in the DSL last year and put up a .736 OPS in 285 PA.  It’s not impossible that he could have spent a second season in the DSL, so his absence from Saturday’s action was noteworthy, too.

*****

Brian Joura contributed to this report.

5 comments for “Mets Minors: Jackson Rutledge and the 2019 amateur draft

  1. TexasGusCC
    June 3, 2019 at 9:05 am

    Just concerning the draft for now:

    I glanced over your report to see if the name Zack Thompson was in there and thankfully, it wasn’t mentioned. I can’t be too happy with a “David Peterson” sequel. However, what if Alek Manoah is available, any interest?

    Some good news from the minors:

    Stephen Villines’ ERA in Syracuse is 2.13. Let’s switch Bashlor out for him until Bashlor can hit a corner two times in a row.

    • June 3, 2019 at 9:24 am

      Recently, perhaps yesterday, Gary Cohen said there was no bullpen help other than possibly Anthony Kay coming up to throw some bullpen innings. My thought was – hey, how about Villines?

      Keith Law just released his latest mock draft and it has Rutledge going to the Blue Jays at #11, right ahead of the Mets. He has them taking your buddy Zack Thompson. Previously he had them taking George Kirby, who now he has falling to pick #20.

      Law says the Mets are taking a college player.

      • TexasGusCC
        June 3, 2019 at 1:29 pm

        I’m so tingly…

        For the surprise 2015 World Series appearance we get seven years of incompetence. Do you still accept that WS appearance?

        • Chris F
          June 3, 2019 at 5:54 pm

          if it was a win, or a rebuild…but not the purgatury we are in

  2. Chris F
    June 3, 2019 at 8:19 pm

    im hanging out in the Matz chatter from the other day during the drft. Mets are up now

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