Late last week, a graphic made the rounds on Twitter showing all 30 MLB teams ranked by the percentage of their draft picks from the last 10 years who made the Major Leagues. It was very simple, not controlling for how good the players were, just factoring in who played at least one game and who didn’t.

At the top of the list were the Houston Astros (23%), Los Angeles Dodgers (20%), New York Yankees (20%), and Cleveland Guardians (18%). Not coincidentally, the MLB teams with the best winning percentage in the regular season since 2015 are the Dodgers (.620), the Astros (.592), the Yankees (.574) and the Guardians (.555).

The team that drafted the fewest MLB players since in the last 10 years was the Mets, the only team where less than 10% of draftees reached the majors. The draft is not the end-all, be-all for teams, but there is no denying two facts – the four best-drafting teams of the last decade have been the four best teams of the past eight seasons, and the Mets have been the worst-drafting team in the sport.

In the seven drafts from 2014-2020, the Mets drafted and signed only two players who produced more than 1.5 bWAR in the Major Leagues – Michael Conforto and Pete Alonso. Of the team’s top 10 round picks, only 17 made the majors in that time, even for only one game. Since 2019, the Mets have only had one drafted player – Brett Baty – reach the majors.

This has been a problem that has extended across GMs – both Sandy Alderson and Brodie Van Waganen had some absolute dud draft classes. Obviously there is more to it than that – the non-drafted free agent boom since 2020 and the reduction in rounds of the draft and international free agents play a large role as well, there haven’t been too many impact players come through the system since the first couple years of Alderson’s first stint.

As we hit late July and the Mets sit 8.5 games out of the second wild card spot in a season where they were supposed to be contenders, we can look to the team’s drafting and player development woes for part of the reason for their struggles. Even with Steve Cohen willing to go way above and beyond the Competitive Balance Tax threshold to sign free agents, the team is hamstrung by its failures to draft and develop homegrown players.

The Mets are very similar to the Dodgers, Astros, and Yankees in that they have shown the willingness to go out and throw around huge sums of money to impact players. That has proven to be a successful strategy for those teams because of their ability to fill in with depth from their drafts and player development systems. The Mets haven’t been able to do that. That is probably an argument for the Mets to be sellers at the trade deadline to help re-stock their depleted minor league system, but that is a question for another article.

So while they have reeled in big fishes in Francisco Lindor, Max Scherzer, Kodai Senga and Justin Verlander, they have had to go outside the organization for players like Starling Marte, Mark Canha, Tommy Pham, Dan Vogelbach and Brooks Raley, among others.  Teams go out and get guys like that all the time, but the indictment is that the Mets have had to sign or trade for so many of those players rather than having players ready to contribute.

That has led to trades where the Mets have dealt prospects, some who have not panned out and others who are on the doorstep of the Major Leagues now, and surrendered draft picks for exceeding the CBT. When they have spent money to bring in aging role players and middle innings relievers, some of the underlying issues on the team are ignored, which leads to seasons like 2023 if there are injuries and underperformance.

To build a sustained winner, drafting and player development must improve. In an era of the CBT and owners wanting to enforce harsher penalties for exceeding the threshold almost completely based on what Cohen has done, it is going to get significantly harder to win by going outside the organization.

The Mets have made a few steps in the right direction on the player development front in the Cohen era, but not enough to overcome their poor draft track record yet. The 2017-2020 drafts look like complete busts that could be saved by Mark Vientos and Baty, and Pete Crow-Armstrong, who is waiting in the wings with the Chicago Cubs.

It looks like the team hit on some pitchers in the 2021 draft, netting the organization Dominic Hamel, Mike Vasil and Christian Scott, and snagging Blade Tidwell in 2022. Last year’s first round picks Kevin Parada and Jett Williams have been great to add position player depth in the low minors. Those two drafts, along with the far-too-early-to-tell returns on the 2023 draft could determine the course of the organization over the next several seasons.

Will they produce enough Major Leaguers to allow the Mets to spend their free agent dollars more wisely, or will it just continue the trend of the previous eight drafts?

3 comments on “Mets issues in 2023 can be traced to poor drafting

  • Mike W

    This is really an eye opener. Last, ouch. It is really apparent though when looking at the Mets. It is also the reason they had to spend $ 86 million a year on two declining pitchers. Their farm system for years had had a dearth of good pitching prospects.

    In order for them to really contend, they need to turn this around right now. The Braves are light years ahead of the Mets and they are young and have their young talent locked up on team friendly deals for years.

    Even Cohen doesn’t have enough money to buy a pennant. You always will need to have young talent to win. Look at our only two world series championships.

    Canha can’t compete with Acuna. McNeil can’t compete with Albies and Baty, maybe not yet can’t compete with Austin Riley.


  • T.J.


  • BrianJ

    Certainly, it’s not good news to have the fewest number of draft picks over a span make the majors.

    Having said that, I think you’re making claims that aren’t entirely justified. The Mets could improve their overall numbers of drafted players to reach the majors if they promoted from within instead of making outside trades. What if they promoted Trey Cobb last year instead of trading for Mychal Givens and promoted Nate Lavender this year instead of trading for Trevor Gott?

    It’s very easy for the Mets to have had a higher number of draft picks reach the majors, without any difference in the on-field quality.

    Reaching the majors is not an entirely useless metric. But it’s so much more important what the player does once he gets here.

    You write that 17 draft picks for the Mets from a seven-year period made the majors. This year Brett Baty, Grant Hartwig, Mark Vientos and Josh Walker are Mets draft picks called up from the minors. That seems like a good number. The problem is that none of them have done very much.

    I think we need a whole lot more context to make sense of the issue. And everyone talks about the Braves – well of their top nine hitters on B-R, only two were players they drafted. Meanwhile, the Mets have four (Alonso, McNeil, Baty, Nimmo) so are they better at drafting hitters than the Braves?

    Raw numbers would say so. But that’s clearly a case where the raw numbers are misleading. And my opinion is that the raw numbers of drafted players to reach the majors is just as much misleading.

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