The Mets made two moves in the Rule 5 Draft yesterday, picking up infielder Brad Emaus from the Blue Jays and pitcher Pedro Beato from the Orioles. Emaus is well known to the Mets, as new special assistant J.P. Ricciardi was previously general manager in Toronto. And Beato has a history with the Mets, as they were the team that first drafted him in 2005.
New York selected Beato in the 17th-round of the 2005 Draft. A local product, Beato went to Xaverian High School in Brooklyn. He had Tommy John surgery while in high school and opted to attend St. Petersburg College, a junior college in Florida. He really improved his stock at JuCo, where he was clocked in the mid-90s, and was considered first-round material.
Because he went the JuCo route, the Mets retained his rights up until the 2006 Draft. Since the Mets did not have a first-round pick that year, lost as compensation to the Phillies for signing free agent Billy Wagner, many assumed that they would use the money normally reserved for a first-round selection on Beato.
But negotiations hit a snag. The rumor was that the Mets offered low first-round money, then in the neighborhood of $750,000, while Beato was looking to be paid like a top 10 pick, or roughly $1.4 million. The two sides were unable to reach a compromise and Beato went back into the draft, where he was taken with the 32nd pick by the Baltimore Orioles.
The Mets were accused of being cheap. Many ridiculed the move and questioned the wisdom of not using their financial muscle, especially considering the circumstances of it being for a local kid with a power arm. It was one of the first times the Mets drew grief for not being aggressive spenders in the draft. The non-signing was widely criticized at the time.
So, let’s review Beato’s progress with Baltimore. Here are his yearly numbers in the Orioles’ farm system, along with comments by prospect maven John Sickels following the season:
2006 Aberdeen (New York-Penn League) 3-2, 3.63 ERA, 57 IP, 23 BB, 52 Ks
“Beato has the physical ceiling and mental attributes to be a number two starter… Grade B. He will push that to B+ when/if his control sharpens up”
2007 Delmarva (South Atlantic League) 7-8, 4.05 ERA, 142.1 IP, 59 BB, 106 Ks
“However, his mechanics are erratic, which hurts both his velocity and location. He seemed to tire in the second half last year… I like Beato’s ceiling, but he’s got some work to do rounding out his game and making the transition from thrower to pitcher. Grade B-“
2008 Frederick (Carolina League) 4-10, 5.85 ERA, 97 IP, 33 BB, 51 Ks
“The Orioles hoped that Beato would take a step forward in ’08 but instead he took at least two backwards… his velocity was down for most of the season, just in the 80s rather than the 90+ marks he’s put up in the past… Grade C with higher potential if healthy.”
2009 Frederick 5-7, 4.53 ERA, 105.1 IP, 40 BB, 70 Ks
Bowie (Eastern League) 1-3, 4.50 ERA 32 IP, 7 BB, 18 Ks
“Pedro Beato rebounded slightly last year from his horrible 2008 season, but he’s clearly not the prospect he once was. … his performance overall was marked by mediocrity more than anything. … Grade C”
2010 Bowie 4-0, 2.11 ERA, 59.2 IP, 19 BB, 50 Ks
“[F]ormer hot prospect had a good season after converting to relief, 2.11 ERA with 50/19 K/BB in 60 innings in Double-A, 16 saves. I can see him sticking in the Mets pen.”
So, we have a failed starter with a once electric arm who rediscovers himself after a move to the bullpen. Beato seems like a great guy to take a flyer on in the Rule 5 Draft. It’s not hard to imagine him contributing to the club as a reliever used in low-leverage situations. That the Mets have so many openings in their bullpen makes it even better.
Finally, when the Mets passed on meeting Beato’s demands prior to the 2006 Draft, rumor was that they were going to use the money instead on international signings. The Mets were in on Jesus Montero but lost out. Many felt they had a nice consolation prize with Francisco Pena, who was rumored to have father Tony Pena’s defensive skills and Mike Piazza’s offensive ones. Turns out it was the other way around.
Pena was one of the many prospects hurt by the Mets’ plan to “challenge” their players by placing them at advanced levels. He started his career in this country as a 17-year old in full-season ball, where he put up a .547 OPS in 399 PA. He returned to Savannah in 2008 and did better, but still not overwhelming with a .688 OPS. In 2009 he was promoted to the Florida State League, where he slipped to a .588 OPS. Pena was limited to 20 games last year and is rarely mentioned as one of the club’s top prospects anymore.
The Mets did sign one other international player in 2006 who has made some headlines – Ruben Tejada.
Back in 2006, the Mets were raked over the coals for not stepping up to sign Beato. They were criticized for not going over slot to sign someone with a great arm. Then they failed to get Montero, the top prize in the international market. And Pena, the guy they did end up with, seems like a bust.
But there are no sure things when you are dealing with teenagers. Beato now is trying to make it as a reliever, Tejada, an unheralded signing at the time, appears to have a future in the majors. So, perhaps in a weird way it worked out best for the Mets. The only way it could have been better is if they had come to terms with Montero.
Nevertheless, it will be fun to see Beato in a Mets uniform after all these years.