Higher learning: Mets target college arms
Day 2 shifts focus to experienced hurlers from potential impact
A day after surprising many by taking high school outfielder Brandon Nimmo with the 13th overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson and vice president of player development and scouting Paul DePodesta went back to the security of proven college arms with the Mets' four picks in the in the second through fifth rounds on Day 2.
"It was a good day for the New York Mets," Mets amateur scouting director Chad MacDonald said. "Some things fell our way. You never know how the day is going to unfold with who gets to you, but some of the guys we wanted got to us, and we took them."
While players like Nimmo and Michael Fulmer, the high school pitcher the Mets picked in the compensation round Monday, often have greater potential than college players, the limited sample size against lesser competition makes it harder for baseball executives to accurately evaluate them.
After seeing solid progression out of last year's first-round pick, North Carolina pitcher Matt Harvey, the Mets used their second-round pick on another right-handed power pitcher from the Tar Heel state. This time, the Mets took North Carolina State's Cory Mazzoni.
Bolstered by a fastball that tops out at 97 mph, the junior led the competitive Atlantic Coast Conference in innings pitched and was second in the league with 137 strikeouts, behind No. 2 overall pick Danny Hultzen.
|1||PIT||RHP Gerrit Cole|
|2||SEA||LHP Danny Hultzen|
|3||ARI||RHP Trevor Bauer|
|4||BAL||RHP Dylan Bundy|
|5||KC||OF Bubba Starling|
|6||WAS||3B Anthony Rendon|
|7||ARI||RHP Archie Bradley|
|8||CLE||SS Francisco Lindor|
|9||CHC||SS Javier Baez|
|10||SD||2B Cory Spangenberg|
|11||HOU||OF George Springer|
|12||MIL||RHP Taylor Jungmann|
|13||NYM||OF Brandon Nimmo|
|14||FLA||RHP Jose Fernandez|
|15||MIL||LHP Jed Bradley|
|16||LAD||LHP Chris Reed|
|17||LAA||1B C.J. Cron|
|18||OAK||RHP Sonny Gray|
|19||BOS||RHP Matt Barnes|
|20||COL||LHP Tyler Anderson|
|21||TOR||RHP Tyler Beede|
|22||STL||2B Kolten Wong|
|23||WAS||RHP Alex Meyer|
|24||TB||RHP Taylor Guerrieri|
|25||SD||RHP Joe Ross|
|26||BOS||C Blake Swihart|
|27||CIN||RHP Robert Stephenson|
|28||ATL||LHP Sean Gilmartin|
|29||SF||SS Joe Panik|
|30||MIN||SS Levi Michael|
|31||TB||OF Mikie Mahtook|
|32||TB||SS Jake Hager|
|33||TEX||LHP Kevin Matthews|
Mets fans will also be pleased to know Mazzoni can pitch under pressure. In an NCAA Tournament elimination game Saturday, Mazzoni gave up two runs in eight innings in a 5-2 win over Georgia Southern, striking out 12 batters and allowing just four hits. Much like Johan Santana's brilliant performance in the penultimate game of 2008, Mazzoni's gem was for naught as the Wolfpack was eliminated in the next game.
The Mets then made a slightly less safe pick in Round 3, choosing Logan Verrett of Baylor. Though Verrett used his slider to dominate hitters and post a 0.87 ERA at the prestigious Cape Cod League in the summer of 2010, he is said to have taken a step back during his junior year at Baylor.
Still, he managed to finish the season 12th in the Big 12 with a 2.93 ERA, which earned him an All-Big 12 second team nod for the second straight season. Though he led the Bears with 96 strikeouts this season, the Mets might want him to work on his control a little, as he also led the team with 31 walks.
The Mets' fourth-round selection of Cal State Fullerton's Tyler Pill made it three right-handers in a row.
Pill, who played at the same baseball powerhouse as current Met Justin Turner, posted a stellar 99:19 strikeout-to-walk ratio his junior season, along with a 2.08 ERA. Pill earned second-team All-Big West honors as both a starting pitcher and as a designated hitter, batting .324 with 28 RBIs and two homers. Pill has baseball in his blood, as his older brother, Brett, currently plays for Triple-A Fresno in the San Francisco Giants' organization, and his father, Michael, played three years in the Pirates' farm system during the late 1970s.
The Mets took a southpaw in Round 5, when they selected Jack Leathersich from UMass-Lowell.
Nicknamed "Rocket" by his Cape Cod League teammates for his low-to-mid 90s fastball, Leathersich went 6-2 with a 1.62 ERA for UMass-Lowell as a junior this season. He also has experience coming out of the bullpen, posting a 1.71 ERA in 17 appearances as a member of the Cape Cod League's Orleans Firebirds. Mets fans might be disappointed -- but not devastated -- to learn Leathersich's college bio lists Tom Glavine as one of his influences.
"Early on, it was college pitching," MacDonald said.
Later in the Draft, the Mets turned their attention to their next goal -- developing front-line starting pitching out of high school players.
From Rounds 10-13, the Mets selected a string of high school pitchers, three from the state of California: Matthew Budgell, Christian Montgomery, Kenny Mathews and Robert Gsellman.
"We're talking about four high school pitchers with upside. They have athleticism, arm-action, delivery -- all the foundations to think these guys are going to be starters in the big leagues," MacDonald said.
Of the 29 players the Mets selected on Day 2, MacDonald was most excited that Mazzoni, Verrett, sixth-round high school center fielder Joe Tuschak and ninth-round Florida starter Alexander Panteliodis were able to fall to the Mets.
"You don't ever know because of where guys live and how they're seen and who's seen them," MacDonald said. "Our lefty from the University of Florida -- I mean, ninth-round guy? His talent certainly speaks in the top three rounds. He was the Friday night guy his freshman and sophomore years."
So far this Draft, the Mets have taken two catchers, 16 pitchers, six infielders and seven outfielders.
Live coverage of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft resumes at noon ET Wednesday on MLB.com, where fans will receive exclusive coverage of Day 3, featuring a live pick-by-pick stream, expert commentary and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of every Draft-eligible player. You can also keep up to date at Draft Central and by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Second round, 71. Mazzoni, RHP, North Carolina State: Mazzoni is a power pitcher with a fastball that tops out at 97 mph. He went 6-6 with a 3.30 ERA during his junior season. He was a 26th-round Draft pick of the Washington Nationals in 2008.
Third round, 101. Verrett, RHP, Baylor: Verrett finished the year 12th in the Big 12 with a 2.93 ERA and led his team in both strikeouts (96) and walks (31). Verrett was named to the All-Big 12 second team for the second season in a row.
Fourth round, 132. Pill, RHP, Cal State Fullerton: Pill was a second-team All-Big West selection as both a starting pitcher and a designated hitter, batting .324 with 28 RBI and two homers this year. Pill was drafted in the 38th round by the Colorado Rockies in 2008.
Fifth round, 162. Leathersich, LHP, Massachusetts-Lowell: Leathersich came out of the bullpen for the Orleans Firebirds of the Cape Cod League this past summer, posting a 1.71 ERA in 17 appearances.
Sixth round, 191. Tuschak, CF, Northern Senior High School, Dillsburg, Pa.: Tuschak is batting .487 with 30 RBI and nine home runs in 24 games. He is committed to Coastal Carolina.
Seventh round, 222. Cole Frenzel, 1B, Arizona: Frenzel batted .353 this season as a sophomore and was named to the All-Pac-10 team after missing the first half of his freshman season with a broken hamate in his right hand. This year, he led the Pac-10 with a .467 on-base percentage and was ninth in the league with a .473 slugging percentage. Frenzel was drafted in the 48th round in 2009 by the Texas Rangers.
Eighth round, 252. Daniel Muno, SS, Fresno State: Muno was the Western Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year and played on the Bulldogs' national championship team in 2008. He was a first-team All-WAC selection this year, his third straight All-WAC nod. Muno batted .348 with a .471 on-base percentage this season. He was ranked in the league's top 10 in batting average, runs scored, hits, on-base percentage, RBI, walks, total bases and stolen bases.
Ninth round, 282. Panteliodis, LHP, Florida: Panteliodis split time between the starting rotation and the bullpen as a junior this season, going 6-2 with a 3.76 ERA after undergoing hip surgery during the offseason. He also boasted an impressive 44:9 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Before that, he led the Gators in innings pitched (100), strikeouts (82) and wins (11) during his sophomore year of 2010.
10th round, 312. Budgell, RHP, Woodbridge High School, Irvine, Calif.: Budgell has posted a 4.02 ERA in 40 innings pitched this year with 33 strikeouts and 18 walks. According to his profile on ESPN Rise, his nickname is BudgeNasty.
11th round, 342. Montgomery, RHP, Lawrence Central HS, Indianapolis, Ind.: Montgomery is a power pitcher with a low-90's fastball, but he is still working on his command. At 6-foot-1, 240 pounds, Montgomery has a very projectable frame, which helped him be selected to the 2010 AFLAC All-American Baseball Classic.
12th round, 372. Mathews, LHP, Diamond Bar High School, Diamond Bar, Calif.: Mathews is committed to Cal State Fullerton and has posted a 1.24 ERA with a 80:15 strikeout-to-walk ratio this season. In 2010, he participated in the U.S. U18 National Team Trials in Cary, N.C., and was named to ESPN Rise's Underclassmen All-California team.
13th round, 402. Gsellman, RHP, Westchester High School , Los Angeles: The 6-foot-4 hurler has a 1.70 ERA this season and was also a member of a state champion basketball team his junior year. In addition to his pitching prowess, he is batting .608 with eight home runs. Like the Mets' previous pick, Mathews, Gsellman was named to ESPN Rise's Underclassmen All-California team in 2010.
14th round, 432. Xorge Carrillo, C, Arizona State: Carrillo missed most of his junior season at Arizona State with an arm injury, but was tied for third on the team this season with a .330 batting average. Before coming to Arizona State, Carrillo played junior college ball and was a two-time All-Conference selection at Central Arizona College. He has been drafted three times before: in the 23rd round by the Padres in 2010, in the 29th round by the Indians in '09 and in the 28th round by Toronto in '07.
15th round, 462. Phillip Evans, SS, La Costa Canyon High School, Carlsbad, Calif.: Evans, a 2010 AFLAC All-American, is known for his defensive range and soft hands, but is hitting .392 this year with seven home runs. Though very talented, there are questions about whether he can be signed away from his commitment to play at San Diego State next year.
16th round, 492. Bradley Marquez, CF, Odessa HS, Odessa, Texas: The Mets might have trouble signing Marquez away from the gridiron, given his commitment to play both football and baseball at Texas Tech. He was named first team All-District for baseball by MaxPreps.com in 2010.
17th round, 522. Jonathan Clark, CF, Lee University (Tenn.): Clark hit .323 this year with a .466 on-base percentage as Lee University placed third at the NAIA World Series. Clark was named to the World Series All-Tournament team. Prior to his stint at Lee University, Clark had played at Frank Phillips College in Texas.
18th round, 552. Travis Taijeron, CF, Cal Poly-Pomona: Taijeron was named a Division-II All-American as a senior this year. He earned the award by tying the Cal Poly-Pomona single-season home run record with 16, as well as the single-season walks record with 15. He led the California Collegiate Athletic Association in batting average (.392), slugging percentage (.744), on-base percentage (.534), runs scored (59), total bases (148), home runs and walks. He had a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage this season.
19th round, 582. Dustin Lawley, CF, University of West Florida: The two-time All-Gulf South Conference selection batted .338 this season with a .410 on-base percentage and a .577 slugging percentage for the Division-II Argonauts. Lawley was third in the Gulf South Conference in runs scored, hits, RBIs, home runs and total bases. Prior to playing at the University of West Florida, he played two seasons at Wallace State Community College-Hanceville in Alabama.
20th round, 612. Mason Robbins, CF, George County High School, Lucedale, Miss.: Robbins impressed many at the Under Armour All-American game last August by collecting two hits, two stolen bases and two runs scored -- both on hits by the Mets' first-round pick, Nimmo. Committed to Southern Mississippi, Robbins is hitting .500 this season with 14 home runs in 116 at-bats. As a left-handed pitcher, he struck out 99 batters and allowed just 17 walks, complementing a 1.83 ERA.
21st round, 642. John Gant, RHP, Wiregrass Ranch HS, Wesley Chapel, Fla.: With his college commitment to Long Island University, Gant's future is likely to involve the state of New York in one way or another. He is a lanky 6-foot-4 with a fastball, a curveball and a changeup. Gant was named first-team All-Sunshine Athletic Conference and currently is 6-2 with a 1.90 ERA.
22nd round, 672. Casey Turgeon, SS, Dunedin High School, Dunedin, Fla.: Turgeon will be wearing plenty of blue and orange next year, either on the Mets farm system or at the University of Florida, where he has been committed since before his junior year. Turgeon was the 2009 St. Petersburg Times Player of the Year and is often compared to Dustin Pedroia. His older brother, Erik, was selected in the 25th round of the 2008 Draft by the Mets and currently pitches for Triple-A Buffalo.
23rd round, 702. Jeffrey Diehl, C, Cranston High School West, Cranston, R.I.: Diehl was a second-team All-State selection as a junior in 2010 and is hitting .569 against high school competition as a senior. He was the MVP of the Summer Rivalry Classic at Yankee Stadium in 2010, collecting two hits and three RBIs.
24th round, 732. William Shepherd, 1B, Texas: Known as "Tant," Shepherd was second on the Longhorns in slugging his senior year at .476 and batted .300 with a .400 on-base percentage. His best year was his junior season, in which he batted .337 and ranked fifth in the Big 12 in runs (64) and doubles (19), earning him second-team All-Conference honors.
25th round, 762. Andrew Reed, LHP, Terre Haute South Vigo High School, West Terre Haute, Ind.: Reed, who goes by A.J., became the second resident of the Hoosier state taken by the Mets in this year's Draft after Montgomery was taken in the 11th round. Reed, who is committed to Kentucky, hit .478 his junior season with a .556 on-base percentage and a preposterous 1.211 slugging percentage. In the same season, he went 7-2 on the mound with 98 strikeouts and a 2.27 ERA. His high school team, the Terre Haute South Braves, are four-time defending sectional champions.
26th round, 792. Casey Hauptman, RHP, Nebraska: Hauptman is both a burley 6-foot-4, 220 pound righty and an Academic All-American with a 3.71 GPA in four years at Nebraska. On the field, he made 28 relief appearances and maintained a 2.45 ERA, 10th in the Big 12. Hauptman earned a second-team All-Big 12 selection this season with his 57:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
27th round, 822. Randy Fontanez, RHP, South Florida: Fontanez's 5-6 record was more the product of bad luck than anything else after he put up a career-low 2.92 ERA his senior year. Fontanez is a two-time All-Big East second team pick and had a 74:11 strikeout-to-walk ratio this season. He was drafted in the 23rd round by the Cincinnati Reds last year.
28th round, 852. Jharel Cotton, RHP, Miami-Dade Community College, Miami: Cotton is a bit of globetrotter, having grown up in the U.S. Virgin Islands before coming to Miami-Dade Community College. He is committed to play at East Carolina University. Cotton has a 2.49 ERA this season and is 4-3 in 10 starts. His older brother, Jamaine, was selected by the Astros in 15th round of last year's Draft.
29th round, 882. Joshua Ake, SS, Hunterdon Central Regional High School, N.J.: Ake is Hunterdon Central's all-time leader in hits and runs. This year, he was hitting .354 with a .484 on-base percentage and a .583 slugging percentage as of May 7. The Mets will have to keep the local from leaving home, though, as he is signed to play at the University of North Carolina next year.
30th round, 912. Jacob Hansen, LHP, F.P. Walshe High School, Alberta, Canada: Hansen is a member of the Canadian junior national team. In April, he pitched three scoreless innings to help the junior national team beat the Washington Nationals' extended spring training team.
Aaron Taube is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.