While the MLB draft certainly lacks the fanfare and media attention of the NFL and NBA drafts, its importance to the future success of organizations cannot be understated. If an MLB team misses on a draft class, it’s unlikely to be immediately detrimental to the big league club, but the future roster ramifications are likely to be significant. Take the 2013 draft for instance, where the Mets used their first three picks on Dom Smith, Andrew Church and Ivan Wilson. Jeffrey Paternostro and Jarrett Seidler, hosts of the BP Mets For All You Kids Out There podcast, invited me on to do a retrospect of the 2013 draft now that we’re five years removed. You should go listen to the entire episode, but what you need to know is that while Smith hasn’t lived up to his draft slot, Wilson and Church have already retired from professional baseball. The Mets have been hampered by injuries recently and are in dire need of prospects who could contribute in the majors. Five years is the general baseline for drawing conclusions from a draft in baseball and those 2013 draftees haven’t contributed much, if any, value to the big league ball club thus far. If the Mets hadn’t missed on this draft class as badly as they did, they might not be in the position they are today, 27-30 and 7 games back of Atlanta on June 4.
That being said, the Mets own the sixth pick in tonight’s MLB Draft and are armed with enough ammunition to give the farm system a significant boost. The system ranked 28th in the organizational rankings over at our main site, and while there has been some positive movement with prospects such as Peter Alonso and Nabil Crismatt, there’s still a clear lack of top-end talent. The Mets own the ninth-largest bonus pool for the 2018 draft, which comes out to $9,580,900, while the slot value for the sixth overall pick is $5,525,200. So, who are the Mets going to take tonight? I don’t know and Sandy Alderson probably doesn’t either, but let’s take a look at three of the most likely options.
Jarred Kelenic, OF, Waukesha West HS
There’s been a ton of smoke swirling that the Mets have zeroed in on Kelenic, a prep outfielder from Wisconsin, with the sixth overall pick. Considered to be the best prep hitter in the draft, Kelenic combines a good approach at the plate with an advanced feel for hitting, a rare skill set for a high school player. While he does come from a cold weather state, Kelenic has performed well at showcases and has been playing on a travel team in order to give teams more opportunity to see him. The soon-to-be 19-year-old is currently a center fielder and projects to play that position in the majors, but it remains to be seen if he’ll have to move off center as he ages. Fortunately, Kelenic possess an above-average arm and would profile well in right field as opposed to left. While he projects as average or slightly better at everything, Kelenic doesn’t possess a standout tool besides his hitting ability. That’s fine, because if he hits, Kelenic is going to be a good player for a long time. The problem is what if he doesn’t, and to give you an example of what happens when this profile fails, I present to you Mickey Moniak. Like Kelenic, Moniak was a center fielder considered as the best prep hitter in the class. But while scouts believe Kelenic doesn’t have much room for projection, they dreamed of Moniak filling out and gaining some power as he got older. The Phillies made Moniak the No. 1 overall pick in 2016 and so far have little to show for it. Moniak severely disappointed in the Sally League in 2017 and his prospect shine has since worn off. That’s the risk with Kelenic, but it remains to be seen if it’s one worth taking.
Jonathan India, 3B, Florida
For the majority of mock draft season, it was actually India who was the most heavily linked player to the Mets at six, not Kelenic. A third baseman out of the University of Florida, India has hit .364/.504/.733 with 18 home runs this season in what is generally considered to be the best conference in college baseball. 2016 and 2017 weren’t nearly as kind to India, who posted an OPS of just .807 and .774 in his first two seasons, but he slimmed down and improved his body and the results have paid massive dividends. India has turned himself into an above-average defender at third and a change in approach has unlocked above-average raw power as well. While Kelenic and Bohm each possess a standout tool, India’s tools are average to slightly above across the board and he doesn’t offer much upside.
That’s precisely why India is a completely different prospect to Kelenic, as he’s perceived as a prospect with low risk but also a low ceiling. The Mets (and other teams) will have to ask themselves if this is the sort of profile they want to use a high draft pick on. While I believe the Mets are seriously considering Kelenic at six and would take him right now, I worry that they’ll settle for a college performer such as India or Bohm who are generally considered “safer” prospects. We see this all the time in the draft, as teams fall in love with prep players and plan to draft them but when push comes to shove and jobs are on the line, they side with the asset with the perceived lower risk. Now, Sandy Alderson’s job likely isn’t on the line so this may not apply to the Mets, but it’s certainly something to consider about the organization’s overall draft strategy.
Alec Bohm, 3B, Wichita State
Bohm is considered to be one of the five best prospects in the draft, which is why you haven’t seen his name connected with the Mets as much as India’s and Kelenic’s. The long-running thought around the league was that Bohm wouldn’t make it to the Mets at six because the Phillies have their sights set on him, but there’s late momentum in Philadelphia to push top prospect Casey Mize to No. 3. It’s an unlikely scenario but if it happens, Bohm should be available for the Mets at six. Bohm’s hitting .339/.436/.625 with 16 home runs in a weaker conference than India, but he’s a more highly regarded hitter, mainly due to the power potential he possesses. There’s potentially 70 raw power here, but whichever team drafts Bohm will need to work with him on changing his swing in order for him to get to all of that power in games. Bohm also may be a third baseman in name only, as he’s already 240 pounds and should add more to that frame in the future. While he’s deceptively athletic and has a powerful arm, his actions at third are questionable and it’s likely he moves across the diamond, or even to left, sooner rather than later. There’s even some concern that he’s a DH only, as former BP Mets writer Skyler Kanfer wrote in his Cape Cod notes on our main site last season, but his drafting team will have plenty of time to work with him and decide where he ultimately fits.
I’ve heard conflicting rumors about the order the Mets have India and Bohm ranked on their board. I doubt the Phillies will get Mize to three so I don’t expect Bohm to be there at six, but if he’s there, I still think the Mets take India. The Mets have known the Phillies had zeroed in on Bohm and since they pick before them, it’s fair to wonder if they scouted Bohm as heavily as they could have. In the heat of the moment, I’d expect the Mets to go with the player they’ve seen more of and feel more comfortable with, which seems to be India.
So, who’s it going to be?
Right now, I think the Mets are going to take Jarred Kelenic. Kelenic would presumably take below slot value at six, which would allow the Mets to select high upside prep players that other teams have passed on due to bonus concerns. If it’s not Kelenic, I think it’s Jonathan India, whom the Mets would have a hard time signing for below slot. That could hinder the rest of the team’s strategy for the draft, as they’ve been heavily connected with prep pitchers for their second-round pick.
Whoever it ultimately is, we’ll all find out together tonight. I’ll be taking over the BP Mets Twitter account to chat live starting at 6:30 p.m., so come hang out and ask me anything!
Photo credit: Brad Penner – USA Today Sports