Draft night scouting reports are adorable. Teams tell the media what they liked about each player. Every breaking ball is plus, or projectable. No player is overweight, instead, guys are described as “large” or the analyst uses some other appropriate simile. Every swing will work: there are no hitches, weird hand paths, poorly timed or directed weight transfers.
There’s a certain element of fantasy that fans enjoy about following prospects and dreaming about what he can turn into, if everything works out and draft night is the height of this dream. Scouts, executives and analysts facilitate their projections by comparing (comping) young players to more established big leaguers. Today’s staff post will pick up on that tendency and explore our favorite irrational comps for the Mets 2016 draft class so far. — Toby Hyde (@tobyhyde)
Justin Dunn = Brandon Finnegan
As we discussed with Alex Nelson on this week’s For All You Kids Out There podcast, a Brandon Finnegan comp isn’t facially irrational for 19th-overall pick Justin Dunn. Sure, it looks a little weird comping a lefty to a righty, but they’re both college pitchers drafted in the late-teens with a similar stuff profile and similar questions about size and durability. Finnegan is, two years out from being drafted, in the midst of establishing himself as a mid-rotation starter in Cincinnati, and that’s not an unreasonable median sort of outcome for Dunn.
Where the irrational part comes in is that Finnegan, though drafted and projected over the longer haul as a starter, was temporarily converted to the bullpen in Double-A just a month into his pro career. A month later he was a September callup into Kansas City’s bullpen. A month after that he was one of the key relievers on a playoff team. A month after that he was pitching in the World Series. If you squint your eyes enough, you could see Justin Dunn—Boston College’s closer pumping gas in the high-90s as recently as this spring—repeating Finnegan’s path and ending up as one of the four or five best relief options available to the Mets by the time September rolls around. And, hey, if you want to be irrational about something, why not be irrational about making another World Series run? Those same Royals got there again. — Jarrett Seidler (@jaseidler)
Anthony Kay = Steven Matz
Comparing Anthony Kay–the Mets’ compensation round pick and drafted 31st overall–to Steven Matz seems all too rational. First, Kay, like Matz, is from Long Island. Their New York roots are enough to lump them together. Both are left-handed starters. Lefty pitchers require comparisons to other lefty pitchers, especially within the same organization. While the Mets drafted Kay out of the University of Connecticut, whereas they drafted Matz out of high school; however, the Mets also drafted Kay out of high school. They selected him in the 29th round of the 2013 draft, but Kay opted to attend college. Not only that, but Kay and Matz were drafted out of the same high school, Ward Melville High. Way back in October, the Hartford Courant reported that Kay “looks up to” Matz and can “always go to him for advice.” Kay also boasts a fastball and a changeup that “flash plus,” according to Christopher Crawford.
The irrationality appears only when we start envisioning Kay turning into Matz. As with just about every starting pitcher selected, there’s a very real chance Kay ends up in the bullpen. But there’s still enough to hold on to. — Eric Garcia-McKinley (@garcia_mckinley)
Peter Alonso = Wil Myers
As baseball fans, we’re just a collection of poorly put-together hopes and dreams, looking for the next thing to lift us up. So know that when I comp second-round pick Peter Alonso to Will Myers, that’s all this is–hopes and dreams and precious little fact. Peter Alonso is a college bat–a first baseman–which makes him very different than Myers at the time the Padres’ first baseman was drafted. Myers was a prep catcher-turned-outfielder where Alonso is coming off a run with one of the top college teams in Division I. Myers was all power and projection, where Alonso is a bit more well-rounded … with a lower ceiling.
No, the irrational comp I want to make isn’t based on the past but the future. And it’s based on need. Alonso is a right-handed bat with a little bit of power, and in the best possible world he turns into something like Myers in the big leagues. Right-handed power is great. First basemen who can hit are great. With Lucas Duda injured and nearing the end of his team-controlled time in Queens, and former first-rounder Dominic Smith doesn’t look like the solution long-term. With the potential to be the total package–approach, hit tool, and power–in the best possible timeline, Alonso has several productive years as part of an effective Mets lineup. Or, if your leanings are less, pie-in-the-sky, perhaps the Mets can deal him for a starting pitcher and win the World Series shortly after. — Bryan Grosnick (@bgrosnick)
Blake Tiberi = George Brett
Jim Callis called Blake Tiberi, the Mets’ third-round pick out of Louisville, “one of the best contact hitters in college baseball.” Tiberi is listed at six feet and 200 lbs. Mets Scouting Director Tommy Tanous said that Tiberi was “probably the most consistent hitter” on the Louisville team and “the fact that he was a left-handed hitter with some power really was attractive to us.” Louisville, which finished 50-14, earned the right to host a Super Regional, but was eliminated by UC Santa Barbara on this walkoff grand slam because sports are awesome sometimes.
The criteria: we’re looking for contact-oriented, left-handed-hitting third basemen under six feet to compare Tiberi against. The pick: George Brett. The man walked 1096 times and struck out just 908 times in 21 big league seasons. Irrational? Yup. By Tiberi’s age, Brett was a big leaguer on his way to becoming an all-time great. In his age-21 season, Tiberi will likely wear 10 different silly Brooklyn Cyclones uniforms. Oh, and Tiberi and Brett both have a five-letter name that starts with the letter B and another six-letter name. Thats good enough for a draft-day comp. — Toby Hyde (@tobyhyde)
Colby Woodmansee = Michael Young
In the fifth round, the Mets selected Arizona State shortstop Colby Woodmansee. The tall, lean Woodmansee put up fine numbers in the Pac-12, although there are questions about whether he’ll have the range for shortstop. The patron saints of tall shortstops are Cal Ripken and Derek Jeter. We’ll bypass those comps and instead suggest that Woodmansee will grow up to resemble another infielder picked in the fifth round of the draft out of a west coast college, UC Santa Barbara product and six-time All-Star Michael Young.
Young’s offensive production was driven by his batting average and contact ability, but he hit enough homers as a middle infielder to be extremely valuable. He overcame early concerns about his range similar to those currently expressed about Woodmansee. In his best years, Young was a shortstop, but by his early 30s, the Rangers had moved him to third base in an All-Star season. — Toby Hyde (@tobyhyde)
Christopher Viall = Eric Hillman
When I saw that the Mets had drafted Viall, a right-handed reliever out of Stanford, in the sixth round, my immediate thought was of Eric Hillman. Perhaps it was simply because both men look preternaturally tall on the mound and the sports-centric mind has a way of remembering giants. Viall, who stands six-foot-nine and is wrapping up his junior year, has an easy-enough delivery, can pop 93 to 95 with his four-seamer and lay in his curve in the high 70s. As a sixth-rounder, the odds will be stacked against him from the start, but teams love to give players with natural, unteachable advantages (see: height, absurd) more of a chance than others. That’s what happened with Hillman, who stood six-foot-ten when he was a starter in Flushing for the ’93 season.
Here’s a truth about Hillman: He threw 145 innings in his only full-time season and kept his ERA below 4.00. That has only happened 132 times in Mets history; Hillman’s season is tied for the lowest strikeouts (60) in all those instances. (The man he tied? Don Cardwell, No. 4 starter on your ’69 Miracle Mets.) Point is, there are a lot of familiar names on this list, and yes, Eric Hillman himself is far from a sexy comp, but if Viall ever makes it onto that list as well, no one would be displeased. — Erik Malinowski (@erikmal)