The deadline for signing draft picks arrives at midnight tonight, and thus far the Mets have signed 32 of their 49 selections. Of those 17 who have yet to sign, the most notable ones are top high school arms Steven Matz and Damien Magnifico and junior college righty David Buchanan. Of the rest, 10 are high schoolers, another three are juco kids, and the last is University of San Diego righty Casey Schmidt, the Mets’ 15th round selection, who is somebody I’ll get to a little later. First, I wanted to briefly cover the guys who still have yet to sign.
Often, I think fans approach the draft, at least from the standpoint of a big-market team like the Mets, like there’s no excuse for not signing every player they draft. When you see teams hand out bad, multi-year contracts to mediocre big leaguers like Luis Castillo, it’s difficult to watch that same team skimp on a few hundred thousand dollars to a top draft pick. And while it might be wiser for teams to spend that money on development and signing bonuses instead, it’s not the way the world works. The simple fact of the matter is that teams have different budgets for these things, and even the richest teams fail to sign some draft picks. Think the Yankees and Gerrit Cole last year. And remember: not every pick is worth the money he signs.
Anyway, onto the players.
The prize of the draft class is Long Island high school lefty Steve Matz. I talked about Matz the day after the draft, so if you need a refresher, please refer to that. Matz is looking for seven figures, threatening to become a Coastal Carolina Chanticleer if the Mets don’t give in. On Friday, Adam Rubin reported that Mets officials were optimistic that Matz would sign. On the other hand, Jim Callis has mentioned that the negotiations aren’t going so well, and there’s a real chance that Matz doesn’t sign. I am a little surprised he’s been this difficult; Coastal Carolina, while a good program, usually isn’t that difficult a commitment to lure kids away from, and Matz is a local kid. I’d label the odds at 50-50.
Would I go the extra mile to get this done? Provided all he wants is a million bucks, I probably would. Matz has an already talented arm, and his projection gives him even more upside. With consistency in his command and breaking ball, he could be a top-of-the-rotation starter. I say he’s worth it.
Fifth round selection Damien Magnifico—the best name in the draft, bar none—is another prep school righty with a big arm. Before the draft, he touched 97 on the gun, and his price tag shot up to seven figures. The Mets grabbed him in the fifth, doubtless thinking they’d call his bluff. After all, he has no commitment to a four-year college, heading to Howard Junior College instead. Usually, these guys are pretty simple to sign for fifth-round money, and while I’m sure the Mets won’t go near the million, they will go over-slot. Right now, I’m thinking Magnifico is pretty unsignable, but the Mets could surprise you.
What would I do? I’d probably pass. Magnifico has a great arm, quick, but he’s extremely raw. He can throw 97, but the fastball’s straight, and he has little projection, standing only six-foot one. On top of that, he has no secondary pitch to speak of. And on top of that, his command is a problem. What we’re probably talking about here is a total overhaul, a major project, and when you overhaul how a pitcher throws, there’s always a chance he walks away throwing softer than he used to. Given his lack of a track record, I’d walk away from this one. Hate to lose that name, though.
Sixth rounder David Buchanan was selected out of a Florida Junior College, and I liked the pick, following the Mets’ lead in my shadow draft. He works with his fastball in the low-90s, has a good frame, and flashes a great curve that is quite inconsistent. I’ve also heard good things about his splitter, which gives him the potential for three average or better pitches. He does have command issues, and his mechanics do need some smoothing, especially regarding his timing. But the arm action is pretty clean, and I there are a couple obvious things that might improve his command.
Unfortunately, he does have a commitment to Georgia State, and I have no idea what he’s after. There’s a real chance he doesn’t sign, but, given the likelihood that at least one of Matz and Magnifico aren’t signing, I’d do what I could.
Ninth rounder Jeff Glenn is a high school catcher who appears to have signed a month ago. Contracts do get reviewed by MLB, so it’s possible that there was a snag or the report was just false. My guess is they’ll officially announce the signing later today. His commitment was only to Santa Fe Community College, so signability shouldn’t have been a major problem. Glenn has good ball-blocking ability and a solid-average arm coupled with some potential with the bat. A pretty good pick.
The Mets selected Georgia high schooler Zach Dotson in the thirteenth round. A lefty who throws 86-89, Dotson’s on the short side, and he’s had some weight problems in the past, but he’s worked hard to improve his body. I don’t see him adding any velocity in the future, but he does show the potential for three average or better pitches, which is a plus. Mechanically, he needs a little bit of work, and the arm action is a little funky if not terribly long. Figures to be a finesse guy down the line if everything goes right, but he’s got a strong commitment to Georgia. I’d go over slot but wouldn’t break the bank. Not optimistic about the Mets’ chances with him.
Righty Casey Schmidt is the lone college guy not to sign. As a draft-eligible sophomore, he’s something of a special case. Possessing loads of talent—he was an All-American freshman at Creighton, and he tops out at 96—Schmidt hasn’t pitched in two years. After his freshman campaign, he blew his elbow out, requiring Tommy John surgery. Once healthy, he opted to transfer to San Diego, but NCAA transfer rules required that he sit the season. Schmidt pitched in the Cape Cod League this summer, and I’m sure the Mets kept an eye on him, but a poor showing means he’ll definitely be returning for his junior season at San Diego.
Lefty Jordan Harrison, the Mets’ 30th rounder, was selected out of a Texas high school. He throws around 90, tops out at 93, and his commitment was only to North Central Texas Community College, but he was seeking six figures. He’s also on the short side and has the usual command/consistency issues. If he makes it, he’s a reliever. No chance of signing.
The Mets’ next pick, outfielder Mitch Haniger, comes from Archbishop Mitty High in San Jose, and he’s a real athlete with a power-hitting stroke. I’m unsure about his approach at the plate or the refinement in his overall game (my guess is neither is noteworthy). He’s committed to Cal Poly, and I have no idea what it would take to buy him out of that commitment. He’s somebody I’d like to see the Mets investigate signing, but his current level of talent and pricetag might not be in sync. Minimal chance the Mets fork over what he wants.
Juco catcher Jerome Pena was considered signable before the draft despite a commitment to Texas Christian University. A switch-hitter who converted from the infield, he’s known for a strong arm. His bat’s making progress, and he should become more comfortable behind the plate in time. My guess is the 40th round selection is not as signable as believed, but there’s a possibility.
Prep catcher Ryan Gunhouse is a strong-armed catcher with decent receiving skills, pull-side power, and a long swing to go with an aggressive approach at the plate. Juco outfielder Bobby Rinard is a great athlete and not much of a baseball player yet. Both are USC recruits, so there’s no chance of a signing in either case.
Hard-throwing Alvin Community College lefty James Wooster doesn’t have a commitment to deal with and could sign, but may be better off waiting a year and improving his draft position. Texas high schooler Jacob Johansen is a two-way athlete, but his six-foot-six frame means he’s more likely to wind up a sinker-throwing righty. He’s committed to Dallas Baptist. Trey Pilkington throws 90 and flashes a good curve but has possibly the most awkward mechanics and arm action I’ve seen in this draft class. He’s certainly going to Alabama. Similarly, there’s no chance tall lefty Joe Mantiply signs. He tops out in the mid-80s, and he’s got a commitment to Virginia Tech. Texas prep righty and 49th rounder Josh Easley has a good arm, command problems, no secondary offerings, poor glove-side mechanics, a kink in his arm action, and a college career at Arkansas in his future. Last pick Zach Godley has turned down the Mets’ initial offer of essentially nothing, and the Mets have been watching him this summer. If they liked what they saw, they’ll make a real offer. His commitment’s only to a junior college, so the ball’s in the Mets’ court.
I’ll check in later on with notes on the guys who have already signed.
Update: BA has confirmed that ninth round choice Jeff Glenn has signed.
Update: The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Jim Callis now says Glenn may not be done yet. There are conflicting reports. I’m still expecting this to get done.
Update: Keith Law confirms (Insider only) that sixth rounder selection David Buchanan will not be signing with the Mets, opting to attend Georgia State instead. I followed the Mets’ lead and took Buchanan in my shadow draft, so I lose a selection, too. Figures.
Update: Jim Callis reports that the Mets have signed Zach Dotson to a $500,000 bonus.
Update: As per Keith Law, the Mets and Matz settled on an $895,000 bonus. Still awaiting word on any other signings.