Picture this: 1988, round 62 of the MLB Draft, and the Dodgers’ last pick of the year is used on an iffy first baseman rumored to be chosen as a favor to the manager, who was friends with the prospect’s father. Though powerful, the player was defensively weak, and there was some question about whether he’d even be able to hit a big league fastball. That pick, 1,390th overall, was 1993 Rookie of the Year and 2016 Hall of Fame inductee Mike Piazza, who came to be known not only for his defensive skills as catcher, but as an offensive powerhouse as well. Piazza had 427 homeruns and hit .308/.377/.545 in his 16-year career, with a WARP of 79.7.
Over the years, the back-end draft picks have of course yielded a lot of players who never made it big, but they are also where we’ve gotten the likes of Piazza, Keith Hernandez (785th overall), Mark Buehrle (1,139th), Kenny Rodgers (814th) and Jose Bautista (599th). Who knows, maybe hidden among the Mets’ final 10 is the next big star?
Jeremy Wolf (940th overall pick)
As a senior with the Trinity University Tigers, the 22-year-old left fielder hit .408/.508/.741, with 11 home runs and 70 RBI in 51 games, and was named the best Division III hitter by Hero Sports. The Tigers also won this year’s NCAA Division III Championship, and Wolf was subsequently voted winner of the D3 Fan Choice Award.
Wolf signed in June and has been assigned to the Kingsport Mets. He bats left and throws right, and in his 10 pro games thus far he’s walked eight times and managed six hits, including a home run and five RBI.
George Kirby (970th overall)
The 18-year-old pitcher is the second player in Rye High School history to be selected directly out of high school in the MLB draft. The righty has clocked a 93 MPH fastball, though it usually hangs around 90 MPH, and went 6-0 with 73 strikeouts across 43.3 innings in his senior season, for a 0.32 ERA.
Baseball America had Kirby at number 379 among their BA 500 draft picks, so it may be surprising to some that he didn’t get snatched up earlier. However, the 18-year-old was already an Elon University commit and with status currently unconfirmed, I’m betting he’ll be heading to in North Carolina in the fall.
Duncan Pence (1000th overall)
The 18-year old shortstop from Farragut High School hit .430/.571/.833 in 2016.
A Knoxville native, Pence was committed to the University of Tennessee before the draft. Following money talks with the Mets in mid-June, the Knoxville Sentinel says his status with the school was not expected to change.
Anthony Herron Jr. (1030th overall)
Herron is no stranger to the MLB draft; he was selected straight out of high school in Round 32 of the 2014 draft by the Cardinals. At the time, the right-handed pitcher already had a 91 MPH fastball, but elected to go to Jefferson College instead of signing. Now 20, Herron started for Jefferson (a NJCAA Division I team) where he went 7-2 with 89 strikeouts and a 1.76 ERA in 66.2 innings pitched this year.
As of September 2015, Herron was verbally committed to play for Missouri State, with no word yet on whether that’s changed.
Andrew “Grayson” Harbin (1060th overall)
Not yet 18 years old, Harbin is a pitcher who also occasionally played third base for his Allatoona High School team in Georgia. While his fastball sits around 89 MPH, the 6’3 righty favors a curveball, and he also has a changeup the left-handed set finds particularly hard to hit.
Harbin is said to have reaffirmed a commitment with Kennesaw State University in Georgia post-draft.
Garrison Bryant (1090th overall)
The 18-year-old Clearwater High School graduate is clearly a natural athlete—Bryant was also Clearwater’s quarterback, and saw college recruiting interest on the football field as well.
Branden Fryman (1120th overall)
Looks like baseball is in the genes: 18-year-old Branden Fryman is son of the MLB third-baseman/shortstop Travis Fryman, a five-time All-Star who played for Detroit and Cleveland and hit .274/.336/.443 over his 13-year career.
Also a shortstop, Branden Fryman has been a strong player on his team at J.M. Tate High School in Florida, where he batted .408 his junior season, and signed a commitment to play for Samford University in Alabama that same year.
Jaylon McLaughlin (1150th overall)
Also an 18-year-old shortstop with baseball in the family (McLaughlin’s father was a talented college player), the younger McLaughlin has since overtaken his father’s legacy by being selected in this year’s draft.
The shortest player on today’s list at 5’10, McLaughlin is a switch-hitter who batted .338 with 17 runs and 13 RBI as a Santa Monica High School junior. In 2015 he committed to play for the University of Nevada upon his graduation, and is said to be sticking to that commitment.
Jordan Hand (1180th overall)
Now a 20-year-old at the College of Southern Nevada, Hand was originally drafted out of high school by the Mets in 2014. He’s since been a successful catcher for the Coyotes, hitting .337/.439/.545, including six home runs and 45 RBI in 2016.
No word yet on whether Hand plans to join the Mets this second time around.
Michael Chambers (1210th overall)
And last but not least: the 18-year-old catcher from John Paul II Catholic High School in Plano, Texas. As a junior, the backstop was offensively best in the state, and was named MVP when the team won the championship, making Chambers the first district MVP in the school’s history. Chambers’ coach lauded the player’s offensive prowess, but was quick to point out that he was talented defensively as well, noting his “electric arm and…great sense for catching,” a relative rarity among early-stage players.
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