The 2020 draft was the second for general manager Brodie Van Wagenen in his tenure with the New York Mets, and all in all, it was another successful one.
“To be in a position at the front of the draft where we have Pete Crow-Armstrong and J.T. Ginn and Isaiah Greene as our first three picks, I don’t think we could have possibly imagined that type of talent could be coming into the organization with a five-round draft,” Van Wagenen said. “The fact that we were able to add three more players into the mix as well makes us feel like this is a draft that will impact and really continue to change the face of our player development system.”
Judging drafts right after they happen can never and will never accurately reflect the actual success level of the draft. Only time will tell if the draft picks end up working out, and first impressions of picks are very often proven wrong.
For example, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim had back-to-back first-round picks in the 2009 draft. At No. 24, they selected high school outfielder Randal Grichuk, and here’s what Baseball America had to say about the pick at the time:
“Grichuk first made a name for himself as a power hitter at the 2004 Little League World Series, leading the tournament with four homers, and hasn’t stopped hitting home runs since. … Grichuk is more than just a masher, however. He doesn’t have the prettiest righthanded stroke, but his strong hands and bat speed should allow him to hit for a solid average once he adjusts his pull-oriented ed approach.”
At No. 25, they selected another high school outfielder, Mike Trout. Here’s what Baseball America had to say about him.
“Trout’s bat is not a sure thing, but he has a chance to be a solid-average hitter with average or better power.”
Grichuk has hit .232 with 31 home runs in 2,301 major league at-bats, while Trout has, well, you know.
Post-draft reviews are by no means indicative of what the future holds for these players, but with that said, the Mets 2020 draft looks pretty good.
So, let’s get into it.
Pete Crow-Armstrong, Outfielder
At No. 19 overall, the Mets took outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong, a left-handed batter and fielder, out of Harvard-Westlake High School in California. He is committed to play for the reigning champion Vanderbilt Commodores, but the Mets wouldn’t have taken him here if they didn’t think they could sign him.
Fun fact: Pete Crow-Armstrong’s mother, Ashley Crow, was the mom in Little Big League. pic.twitter.com/hBpYegILeq
— SNY (@SNYtv) June 11, 2020
Where he really shines is in the field, as he could very well have been not only the best defensive outfielder but the best fielder in general in the entire class. With a 60 graded field tool according to MLB.com, 60 graded run and a 55 graded arm, he has all the makings of a future Gold Glove-caliber center fielder.
Tom Tanous, International and Amateur Scouting Vice President for the Mets, said he was very impressed watching Crow-Armstrong play the field.
“All spring I called him the left-handed magician in center field,” Tanous said. “He was one of the kids you saw last summer, one of the rare players that you would watch batting practice and watch him play defense … He would fool around in center field, catching balls in-between his legs, kind of showing off. When I see a defensive player, whether it’s a shortstop, catcher or center fielder, who likes to show their tools and likes to show off like that in pre-game while he’s getting his work done, I know you have a pretty advanced defensive player.”
I know what Mets fans must be thinking when I say Gold Glove-caliber center fielder — did we just draft the next Juan Lagares? Someone who has an amazing glove but never really gets it going at the plate?
Well, hopefully not. He should be better at the plate. With a 55 graded hit tool, he projects as more than capable of being able to hit for average, and while not a power hitter with just a 40 graded power tool, he still has the ability to hit one out from time to time.
“We see Pete as a top of the order type of hitter,” Tanous said. “He has such advanced bat-to-ball skills, really what we call great barrel feel, high contact guy with some power behind it and it’s been increasing power since he was 15 years old. He keeps getting stronger, his path to the ball has been great, his plate awareness is tremendous and disciplined at the plate. He has all the makings of the hitters we’ve drafted in the past, the same similarities to them, but on top of that he’s a little bit faster than your average player.”
Mets first round pick Pete Crow-Armstrong certainly knows how to pimp a homer. pic.twitter.com/om6bLVgbKx
— John Flanigan (@jflan816) June 11, 2020
At 18 years old, he’s not going to pull a Michael Conforto in be playing in the big leagues a year after he was drafted. He’s going to need a couple of years in the Minor Leagues, but once he’s ready, the Mets expect him to be an impact player in multiple facets of the game.
J.T. Ginn, Right-Handed Pitcher
At No. 52 overall the Mets selected J.T. Ginn, a pitcher out of Mississippi State.
Ginn is perhaps the most interesting pick the Mets made all draft due to the fact that he’s actually a former first-round pick. In the 2018 MLB draft, the Los Angeles Dodgers selected Ginn out of high school with the No. 30 overall pick, but he did not sign with the team. Instead, he went to Mississippi State where he continued to increase his stock, but earlier this year it was announced he needed to undergo Tommy John surgery.
At the time of his injury, Baseball America had Ginn ranked as the No. 12 prospect in the draft and CBS Sports titled the article announcing his injury “J.T. Ginn, potential top-10 pick, out for season following Tommy John surgery.”
The Mets got him at No. 52.
J.T. Ginn put on a show whenever he took the mound at Mississippi State 🥶 pic.twitter.com/Va8CkqI2H7
— SNY (@SNYtv) June 11, 2020
“We’ve liked Ginn for years now,” Tanous said. “We had strong interest in him in high school, he got picked in front of us. This is a rare combination of turbo-sink, as we call it, with strikeout ability. He’s anywhere from 91-99 [mph], it’s an out-pitch curveball, an at-will curveball that he throws for strikes. It’s a plus changeup. It’s a super athletic kid … he’s got all the qualities of being a top of the rotation guy.”
Of course, there are risks to this pick. Ginn already didn’t sign once and it was 22 slots higher, so he could very well go back to school again. However, there are risks here for him as well. If he were to go back to school, he would have to not only rehab well but rebuild his value once again to get drafted in maybe a year but very possibly two.
What if the rehab doesn’t go as well as it could? What if he loses some of his stuff? What if he’s simply not the same pitcher he was prior to surgery?
It might be more advantageous to take the money now and rehab in a professional organization, the same organization that successfully rehabbed Jacob deGrom, the first starting pitcher to ever win a Cy Young Award following Tommy John surgery.
deGrom isn’t the only Tommy John success story to come from the Mets — Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey all underwent Tommy John in the organization and found some form of success following.
“We’ve got a long and good track record of rehabbing players from Tommy John surgery and developing them into Major League stars,” Van Wagenen said. “We think that we have the infrastructure to help J.T. in his rehab.”
Not only that, but Noah Syndergaard is currently rehabbing from his own Tommy John surgery he underwent in March, around the same time Ginn had his.
Instead of taking the risks of going back to school and then hoping the rehab is good enough to get drafted high a third time, he could take the safer path of signing now.
Will the Mets have to go above slot? Probably. But with the upside he has, it’s worth it.
“We recognize that he’s a premium talent,” Van Wagenen said. “And premium talent is going to require real investment in terms of dollars. Our hope and our belief is that his talent and his expectation for the value of his talent will match to our interest in rewarding him for that talent with a premium signing bonus.”
Isaiah Greene, Outfielder
With their second pick in the second round, the compensation pick they got for losing Zack Wheeler in free agency, the Mets took another high school outfielder, another guy who hits and throws lefty and another 18-year-old out of California.
He’s similar to Crow-Armstrong in the sense that both guys can play center field very well, with Greene boasting his own 55 field tool and 50 arm tool. He’s also a contact-first guy with some pop, as his 55 graded hit and 45 graded power tools show.
Ranked the No. 62 prospect in the draft by MLB.com, the Mets took him at No. 69.
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) June 11, 2020
“You don’t have to see him play too much to not be impressed with both his hit tool and his secondary tools,” Tanous said. “… There’s such an ease to Isaiah’s game, not just a defensive player but when he’s in the batter’s box. We talk about being an athlete, but we also talk about being an athlete in the box, in the batter’s box, and he’s it. It’s barrel feel, barrel contact, he’s got strength … he does not belong where we took him.”
Greene hadn’t gotten off to the hottest start his senior year in high school, going just 1-15, but had a fine junior year where he hit .327 with four homers, 16 RBIs and 25 runs scored in 28 games, according to MaxPreps. His real standout season was his sophomore one, where he hit .389.
The recent performance that shot him up draft boards was his showing at the Area Code Games, where according to Baseball Prospect Journal, he thrived.
He’s raw, and like Crow-Armstrong, Greene will also likely need some years in the Minor Leagues before he’s ready for the show, but having these two young outfielders rising through the ranks and competing with each other along the way is fun to imagine.
If they both get to the bigs at the same time, Greene could easily slide over to one of the corners and play center whenever Crow-Armstrong doesn’t.
The Mets somewhat surprisingly got Greene to sign under slot, locking him up for $850,000 when his slot value was $929,800.
The @Mets will sign 2nd-rd comp @MLBDraft pick Isaiah Greene for $850K (Pick 69 value=$929,800). Super-athletic @MizzouBaseball recruit can play CF long-term with plus speed and can really hit. #MLBDraft #Mets
— Jonathan Mayo (@JonathanMayo) June 17, 2020
More money for Ginn.
Anthony Walters, Shortstop
The Mets stayed up the middle and took Anthony Walters with their third-round pick, a shortstop out of San Diego State University.
He was the first to sign with the team, and he did so significantly under his slot value of $647,300. The Mets signed Walters for just $20,000, which is also the maximum amount an undrafted player can sign for.
— Jonathan Mayo (@JonathanMayo) June 15, 2020
This is clearly a move so the Mets can go over slot on some of their earlier picks, with it being almost certain Ginn will need to go significantly over. By signing Walters for just $20,000, the Mets freed up over $600,000 to invest into other players.
In the shortened college season with the Aztecs, Walters hit .271/.333/.356 with one home run over 16 games, but found noticeably more success the previous season with Mt. San Antonio College, a community college in California.
In 45 games as a Mountie, Walters hit .374/.483/.718 with 10 home runs and 62 RBIs. He transferred to Mt. San Antonio after struggling at Cal as a freshman, hitting .191/.295/.221 in 34 games with the Bears.
Matthew Dyer, Catcher
The Mets stuck with the college route and selected catcher Matthew Dyer out of the University of Arizona with their fourth-round pick. Unlike some selections, who might be taken because of their potential raw ability that they show while not putting up incredible numbers on the field, Dyer absolutely demolished the competition in his last full season.
While he wasn’t off to a great start in 2020 before it got cut short, hitting just .220/.329/.441, it’s hard to imagine his 2019 campaign being any better.
In 42 games for the Wildcats, Dyer hit .393/.480/.571 with four home runs, 28 RBIs and 46 runs scored.
— Nate Olshan (@NOlshan) June 12, 2020
He was much more than a catcher however, as if he’s unable to stick behind the plate in the big leagues, he has experience playing all over the diamond (aside from shortstop and center field).
The Mets also got Dyer to sign under slot, signing him for $350,000 when his slot value $478,300.
— Jonathan Mayo (@JonathanMayo) June 17, 2020
Eric Orze, Right-Handed Pitcher
With pick No. 150, their final pick in the 2020 draft, the Mets selected Eric Orze out of the University of New Orleans.
“Our scouts fell in love with his split finger to tell you the truth,” Tanous said. “He throws a heavy, heavy fastball and he uses that split as his out pitch, his strikeout pitch. He accumulated tremendous numbers this year, and we felt it was a great value there, to get that kind of arm with that kind of out pitch there was a great way to end the draft.”
In four games and 19.2 innings before the season was cut short, Orze put up an ERA of 2.75 with 29 strikeouts for the Privateers.
Mets 5th Round Pick Eric Orze pic.twitter.com/JihMYFjJIM
— Yehuda Schwartz (@yaschwa30) June 12, 2020
Orze is also a two-time cancer survivor.
“We took two players here who have gone through and are going through significant adversity in J.T. and in Eric,” Van Wagenen said. “What we’ve done here is looked at talent but also seen what kind of purpose kids have when they do face adversity, and I think this is a perfect example. To go through what he went through a couple of years ago when it would have been easy to stop playing baseball or lose his purpose, and he never did. He’s motivated, and he wants the challenge of professional baseball, and we’re glad to be able to give him that opportunity.”
A redshirt-senior, the Mets will also likely try to go under the slot value of $357,100, which seems to be the plan for each of their final four picks.