By Mike Steffanos
I've always taken a lot of interest in player development. Years ago there was little opportunity to hear much about your team's minor league system behind some few paragraphs in the Sporting News that was already out of date when you got it.
The internet can be a mixed blessing at times, but it's definitely allowed die-hard fans with an interest to be privy to a lot more information about their team's prospects. It's also led to much more interest in the June amateur player draft.
The Mets have been very conservative in their drafting and signing under previous regimes. This has led them to be consistently ranked in the bottom half of all MLB teams' systems. The fuel that drives a farm system is talent, and the Mets simply haven't funneled enough of that in.
Depending on where you look, the Mets have been praised and criticized for the first Alderson/DePodesta draft, particularly for the 2 high school kids they took with their first round and compensation round picks. While I can't pretend to possess the skills required to make any judgment on them, I liked what Paul DePodesta had to say on the subject:
Despite his reputation for statistical analysis, Paul DePodesta -- hired by Alderson to serve as the Mets' vice president of player development and scouting -- used the 13th overall pick to select Brandon Nimmo, a Wyoming teenager with physical tools and potential, but little evaluable experience against high-level competition.
With their next pick in the supplemental first round, the Mets again went the high school route, taking right-handed pitcher Michael Fulmer from Deer Creek (Okla.) High School. Since Nimmo's high school did not have a team, he played instead for his local American Legion team, Post 6.
"This certainly isn't without risk," DePodesta said after Nimmo was selected. "But as we went into this, to be quite frank with you, we weren't that interested in making what we thought was the safest pick. We were interested in making the pick that we thought had the chance to make the most impact."
The conventional wisdom has always been that New York is a "win now" town. They have tended to favor drafting college players who would likely need less development. They have also skimped on paying over slot to draft picks -- a strategy that has worked very well for other teams such as the Red Sox.
By all accounts the Mets have certainly drafted some players this time around that will have to receive more than slot money if they are to be signed. Now the question is how many they will actually sign. No one expects them to be able to sign all these kids, but if they are to turn this system around they need to bring a significant number into the fold. It bears watching how they will do.
Note: Sorry for the week without posting. I've begun the process of trying to find my Mom a permanent placement in a nursing home. I have a couple of pieces that I started working on but was unable to finish, including this one. I hope to get a couple posted this week.