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July 16, 2008
  
Draft Analysis: Grading the Mets’ First Round

With a seemingly barren farm system, the Mets front office knew the importance of the 2008 draft. With three of the first 35 picks due to free agent losses, the Mets were poised to make some big splashes. We’ll go over how they did with each pick.

1:18- 1B/OF Ike Davis, Arizona State University

Davis is a big left-handed hitter who feasted on some weak college pitching. Although he has a sweet swing, Davis needs to develop wood-bat power and learn to take walks, two key aspects of being a slugging first baseman. Although the sample size is relatively small, Davis has thus far disappointed while playing for the Cyclones. Sure, his .274 average (entering Monday) looks nice, but Davis is yet to draw a walk thus far this season, giving him the unique distinction of an on-base average (.270) lower than his batting average. Davis has also yet to hit a homerun so far this season, and his seven doubles leave him with a mundane .370 slugging average. With a .640 OPS, Davis has not been showing Mets fans that he could be the next big thing at Shea.

The Mets could have left Davis off the board at this point, knowing they had the intention of picking up a hitter in Reese Havens a few slots later, and gone with a pitcher. A nice choice would have been lefty Christian Friedrich from Eastern Kentucky University. The 6’3 lefty has great stuff that also seems polished for a youngster and could lead him up an organization ladder quickly. Friedrich went 1:25 to the Rockies.

Grade: C

1:22- SS/2B Reese Havens, University of South Carolina

A lot of scouts and insiders alike praised this pick, and there’s little wonder as to why. Havens has the versatility to move around the diamond, slotted now as a second baseman, but could very well find himself as a catcher, a position the Mets are severely lacking within their farm system. Havens, a six-foot, one-inch left-handed hitter, has done well thus far playing alongside Davis in Brooklyn. Although his average (.240) might not seem like much, he’s showing the plate discipline and power that Davis should be looking to adapt. In just 50 at-bats, Havens has hit two homers and five doubles, good for a .420 slugging average. His plate discipline has been solid as well, as he has a 15:9 strikeout-to-walk ratio, making his average irrelevant due to his solid .367 OBP.

Even though the Mets took Davis, Havens seems like the right choice here. He’s a patient and intelligent hitter with a real quick bat from the left side and has the ability to move around on the field. If successfully converted to a catcher, he can provide some offense to a position that usually lacks any real power.

Grade: A

1A:33- SP Bradley Holt, UNC-Wilmington

The Mets took the same route the Florida Marlins have taken in recent years. Draft the biggest, baddest, hard-throwing pitcher that projects well with a high ceiling, and make sure your minor league coaches do what is necessary to make him a star. Brad Holt is a big, right-handed boy at 6’4” and can throw the ball in the mid-to-high 90s consistently. However, like most pitches his size with his stuff, he’s not polished just yet. Many scouts see Holt as a sleeper pick, because given the right coaching staff, he can become a front-end starter. His biggest problem is throwing strikes, and thus far in Brooklyn he has managed to do all right in that category. In 23 innings, he has walked 10 batters, which is definitely not overly encouraging, but not catastrophic, either. More impressive has been Holt’s dominance of batters when he is able to throw the ball for strikes. Holt has struck out 30 batters in just those 23 innings, a wonderful ratio. He’s yet to allow a homerun and he’s given up just 14 hits, contributing to a 1.96 ERA on the season.

Grade: B+

The great thing about prospects is that we really can’t predict much with great accuracy. All we can hope to do is gain the most knowledge on the draft pool possible and make the most calculated and well-scouted decisions. Knowing who can be the next Todd Van Poppel or Tim Lincecum also has a great deal to do with luck. However, when the Mets look back at their first three picks, they just need to hope they don’t regret not picking the guy that was chosen next.


14 Responses to “Draft Analysis: Grading the Mets’ First Round”

  1. Comment posted by Eli on July 16, 2008 at 2:51 am (#766560)

    Thanks for this Pat, hopefully we’ll see these guys at Citi Park in 2-3 years. What would have been useful to us readers is to report what they did in college.

  2. Comment posted by Hubie on July 16, 2008 at 9:43 am (#766635)

    Grading these guys after 3 weeks in the minors is way too early.

  3. Comment posted by madisonmetsfan on July 16, 2008 at 10:07 am (#766683)

    way too early

    It’s clearly intended as a first impression, not a final grade. These guys have a long way to go, and the only one who could be with the big club anytime soon is Havens, but if he is moved to C instead of 2B (SS is spoken for for the next 10 years or so) it will take longer.

  4. Comment posted by Pat Andriola on July 16, 2008 at 10:16 am (#766698)

    Grading these guys after 3 weeks in the minors is way too early.

    Yes, as madison pointed out, these are just early and initial grades.

  5. Comment posted by Brian on July 16, 2008 at 10:47 am (#766748)

    Isn’t Havens hurt?

  6. Comment posted by Pat Andriola on July 16, 2008 at 10:55 am (#766766)

    Brian-

    Havens has a minor elbow injury that inhibits him from playing the field right now. He has been DHing.

  7. Comment posted by ajsmith on July 16, 2008 at 12:12 pm (#766841)

    I’m not sure how you take a 1B that high unless you are absolutely certain that the guy’s a masher. The other two seem like better risks, at least.

    My plan is just to pretend that Wilmer Flores was this year’s top pick, and move everyone else down a notch in my mind.

    Aaahhhh. Feels better already.

  8. Comment posted by Ellis Dee on July 16, 2008 at 1:13 pm (#766876)

    It seems like the mets strategy was to take hitters with the first 2 picks because it was perceived as an organizational need; rather than take the best player available.

    I also believe that they would have done better by taking a pitcher at #18 instead of Davis. Many teams selected hitters before that and it seems there was more talent left at pitching at that point.

    I prefer selecting the best available regardless of need. If he does well and you have no place to put him you can always use him in a trade to fill an area of need.

    However, if you select a less talented player for need there’s less chance he will actually fill the need or be valuable enough to get much in return in a trade.

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  10. Comment posted by Alex Nelson on July 16, 2008 at 1:38 pm (#766909)

    I prefer selecting the best available regardless of need. If he does well and you have no place to put him you can always use him in a trade to fill an area of need.

    However, if you select a less talented player for need there’s less chance he will actually fill the need or be valuable enough to get much in return in a trade.

    “Best available player” is a nebulous term when discussing the baseball draft. What exactly does best available mean? Does it mean the player with the highest ceiling? The guy who is the best player now? Or the player with the best chance to be a solid contributor, if not a star?

    In the end, it’s a balancing act, and teams often have vastly different boards due to how they prioritize potential and present ability.

    Ike Davis has more of a chance to be a star than Christian Friedrich, who I don’t think will be much more than a #3 starter — a lefty with a bunch of average pitches, lacks great velocity, so-so command. I think he’s a safe bet to reach that goal, but he benefited from a weak class of college lefties.

    Ike Davis could be a power hitter with solid contact skills if he makes a few adjustments. I can’t say a similar thing about Friedrich. Conversely, they probably picked Davis over Melville and Cole, because he’s still a safer bet than either a high school pitcher with inconsistent velocity or another one with mechanical and attitude issues.

    In the end, I think the Mets took Davis, because they liked him better than anyone else on the board, not because they were dead set on taking hitters. It just worked out that way due to a poor class of pitchers.

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  12. Comment posted by JK47 on July 16, 2008 at 2:27 pm (#766969)

    Zero walks in seventy-something at-bats is not very encouraging and suggests that Davis does not have a professional approach as a hitter. He’s a college player, so he’s supposed to be a little more polished.

    Havens, on the other hand, looks like a stud, and I think Holt looks like a potential future closer. The Mets now seem to have five very good prospects: Fernando Martinez, Reese Havens, Wilmer Flores, Bradley Holt and Jon Niese.

  13. Comment posted by Ellis Dee on July 16, 2008 at 3:37 pm (#767056)

    “Best available player” is a nebulous term when discussing the baseball draft. What exactly does best available mean? Does it mean the player with the highest ceiling? The guy who is the best player now? Or the player with the best chance to be a solid contributor, if not a star?

    In the end, it’s a balancing act, and teams often have vastly different boards due to how they prioritize potential and present ability.

    Good point, I would have gone the solid contributor route this year, and I don’t think Davis fits that category.

    Ike Davis has more of a chance to be a star than Christian Friedrich, who I don’t think will be much more than a #3 starter — a lefty with a bunch of average pitches, lacks great velocity, so-so command.

    I was thinking more along the lines of RHP Andrew Cashner who can touch 98, and could’ve been used in Mets pen this year in case of emergency, or left in the minors as a starter if not needed.

    In the end, I think the Mets took Davis, because they liked him better than anyone else on the board, not because they were dead set on taking hitters. It just worked out that way due to a poor class of pitchers.

    Possibly, although I think Cashner fits 2 of the categories in that he has a high ceiling AND should be a solid contributer even if that fails. Anyway, it’s a crap shoot and I can only go by what I read. I just hope they made the right decision.

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  15. Comment posted by Alex Nelson on July 16, 2008 at 6:38 pm (#767274)

    Possibly, although I think Cashner fits 2 of the categories in that he has a high ceiling AND should be a solid contributer even if that fails. Anyway, it’s a crap shoot and I can only go by what I read. I just hope they made the right decision

    .

    Well, Cashner really isn’t a candidate to be used in the pen this year, even in relief. Yeah, his stuff is probably ready now, but he’s not very polished as far as college relievers go, because:

    (1) His command needs work, due to a tendency to open his shoulder too soon.

    (2) He lacks a track record. In the past he was more of a 91-93 guy, and the 96-98 velocity surprised the hell outta everybody this year. Coaches are going to be a little hesitant with him because of that.

    (3) Just some other rough edges in his mechanics that will need to be ironed out.

    Cashner’s definitely a guy I’ll be watching closely when he finally plays. He’s got two great pitches and the makings of an above average third, but I don’t know if I’d blame the Mets for not taking him — he’s certainly more of a project than some teams would like. Perhaps had they been able to do Cashner, Havens, and David Cooper with the 33, I wouldn’t mind, but the Jays made that impossible.

    As it is, I prefer how the Mets did it. They took Davis and Havens first, and then took Holt with the 33, who’s in a similar position to Cashner (albeit with less of a slider), though a safer bet to succeed as a starter due to superior arm strength and command.

  16. Comment posted by Ellis Dee on July 16, 2008 at 7:09 pm (#767288)

    Well, Cashner really isn’t a candidate to be used in the pen this year, even in relief.

    I don’t know, I’m just going by what Eisenberg said:

    “Cashner could be ready to help the Cubs out of the bullpen as early as this season, but given his three-pitch repertoire, I would commit to him starting.”

  17. Comment posted by coolpapabell on July 16, 2008 at 11:24 pm (#767475)

    The scouting reports I have read say that Davis has a solid stroke and gap power that will evolve into HR power after a few years. I don’t think you should expect HRs any time soon. Scouts seem to think that is something that will come with time. His walk rate is distressing though. We wil see. Give him a full year of proball before writing him off.

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