New York Mets First Round Picks in the Last Ten Drafts

New Yor k Mets, Dominic Smith

The slightly modified MLB Draft takes place today as teams search for their future stars. The New York Mets’ success on their first-round picks in the past was solid. Some contributed with the Mets, and others found success across the league.

2019: Brett Baty, Third Base (12th Overall, Lake Travis High School) 

The 20-year old first-round pick had his ups and downs during his first season in professional baseball. Through 56 games, mostly at rookie ball, he slashed .234/.368/.452 with seven home runs and 33 runs batted in. Baty’s struggles at the plate were primarily due to fatigue, but his power/walk potential is very high. He already ranks as the fourth-best prospect in the Mets system, according to MLB.com.

2018: Jarred Kelenic, Outfield (6th Overall, Waukesha West High School)

Kelenic was a rising prospect in the Mets system before they dealt him in the infamous Robinson Cano/Edwin Diaz trade. During his first season with the Mets, he slashed.286/.371/.468 at only 18-years old. In 2019, he set the bar even higher, hitting .291/.364/.540 with 23 homers and 31 doubles between A, A+, and AA. Kelenic is the 11th overall prospect in baseball, according to MLB.com, and each day the trade stings the Mets more.

2017: David Peterson, Pitcher (20th Overall, University of Oregon)

Peterson is currently the 10th ranked prospect in the Mets system. He was on track to pitch in Triple-A during the 2020 season. There were also talks of bringing him up to supplement the lack of rotation depth. With Binghamton last season, he had a 4.19 ERA in 24 starts with 122 strikeouts. At his highest potential, Peterson projects to pitch in the middle of the rotation.

2016: Justin Dunn, Pitcher (19th Overall, Boston College)

Dunn was also part of the Kelenic trade to the Seattle Mariners. After two good seasons in Double-A during 2018 and 2019, he earned an opportunity to pitch for the M’s. They used him as an opener during his four 2019 outings. After allowing two runs in his debut, his next three opens were all scoreless.

2016: Anthony Kay, Pitcher (31st Overall, University of Connecticut)

Kay underwent Tommy John Surgery before he ever threw a pitch for the Mets. He understandably did not pitch to his full potential during his first season in professional ball. Kay had a 4.26 ERA over 122.2 innings but averaged about one strikeout per inning. During a stellar 2019 season in Double-A, the Mets moved him to Triple-A, where he struggled. They traded him to the Toronto Blue Jays for Marcus Stroman, and he made his MLB debut in 2019. Kay had a 5.79 ERA over three outings but should be an excellent addition to a young Blue Jays roster.

2015: No First Round Pick

2014: Michael Conforto, Outfielder (10th Overall, Oregon State University)

The Mets struck gold with Conforto. It only took 133 games for him to make it during the big leagues. He helped the Mets make it to the World Series in 2015 and became the fifth rookie to homer twice in a World Series game. After a rough 2016, which involved his demotion, he has produced in the last three seasons, including an All-Star selection. Conforto is hitting .257/.363/.492, averaging 29 homers, 81 RBIs and plays all three outfield positions.

2013: Dominic Smith, First Base (11th Overall, Serra High School)

Smith has overcome plenty to become a contributing member of the Mets. He was on track for stardom after hitting over .300 throughout the minors. Dealing with sleep apnea, injuries, and weight issues caused a stunt to his journey of becoming a solid big leaguer. In 2019, all three points were no longer problems, and it allowed him to have his best season so far. His playing time tougher to find due to Pete Alonso at first base, but Smith showed the versatility to play the outfield as well.

2012: Gavin Cecchini, Shortstop (12th Overall, Barbe High School)

2012 was the only year where the Mets missed on a quality big league prospect. They had two first-round picks, and Cecchini was the first one. Known for his bat more than glove, it took a couple of years for him to figure things out at the plate. Two straight seasons above .300 in the minors earned him a 2016 promotion. Cecchini went 2-for-6 with a double and waited some time to return in 2017. He struggled with the bat, only hitting .208 but off Clayton Kershaw for the only one of his career. Cecchini remained stranded in the minors for the last two seasons and signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks before spring training. Unfortunately, he was released in May as teams across baseball were cutting players to save money.

2012: Kevin Plawecki, Catcher (35th Overall, Purdue University)

The combination of Plawecki and Travis d’Arnaud was supposed to carry the Mets catching corps through the next decade. Neither of them hit successfully at the big league level. Plawecki only hit .218 with a .330 slugging percentage with the Mets. He was also known for his abundance of groundouts to the left side of the infield. The Mets traded him before 2019 for Sam Haggerty and Walker Lockett.

2011: Brandon Nimmo, Outfielder (13th Overall, Cheyenne East High School)

The Mets took a risk on the Wyoming native, but it has paid off so far. The Plawecki/d’Arnaud combination is what Nimmo/Conforto became. Nimmo’s grit and grind make him a fan favorite with the Mets. He broke out during 2018 when he received everyday action for the first time. Nimmo’s propensity for getting on base led to his career .254/.387/.440 and is a very underrated player.

2011: Michael Fulmer, Pitcher (44th Overall, Deer Creek High School)

Fulmer was another pitcher who never saw time with the Mets. They dealt him in the Yoenis Cespedes trade during the 2015 playoff run. Fulmer ended up winning the rookie of the year award and becoming an All-Star during his first two seasons with the Detroit Tigers. His disappointing 2020 ended early when he learned that he needed season-ending Tommy John Surgery.

2010: Matt Harvey, Pitcher (7th Overall, University of North Carolina) 

The Matt Harvey story is one that draws the same intrigue as the one of Dwight Gooden. A fantastic young arm, destined to be the next Tom Seaver but ran into an obstacle they could not overcome. Harvey had the excellent rookie campaign, then the 2013 All-Star Game start with a 2.27 ERA, which succame to the dreaded Tommy John Surgery. An excellent 2015 season led to a rough 2016, which led to Thoracic-Outlet Surgery. Harvey never returned anywhere near his Cy Young quality form and has a 5.89 ERA over the last three seasons.

Ranking the New York Mets Catchers from the Last 20 Seasons

The last 20 seasons of New York Mets baseball has not been kind when it comes to the catching position. After our number one spot, the list quickly falls in talent. The position is lacking talent to a point where they have not produced an All-Star catcher since 2006.

1. Mike Piazza (1998-2005)

There is no doubt about the number one spot on the list. Mike Piazza came to the Mets in 1998 and immediately took the city by storm. Though not the best defensive catcher on the list, he hit .296/.373/.542 with 220 home runs during his time in Flushing. Piazza made six All-Star teams with the Mets, provided countless clutch hits, and entered the Hall of Fame with a Mets cap. He also earned the distinct honor of having his number retired by the franchise.

2. Paul Lo Duca (2006-07)

Paul Lo Duca had to fill Piazza’s shoes during his time with the Mets. His power could not match up to Piazza’s, but he made up for it in every other facet of the game. Lo Duca earned an All-Star appearance in 2006 and slashed .297/.334/.404 with the Mets. He threw out baserunners at a slightly better rate than Piazza but was better overall defensively. Lo Duca also provided an experienced bat in the two spot, which allowed Jose Reyes to steal bases and gave a contact hitter to a potent lineup.

3. Wilson Ramos (2019)

Yes, one season of Wilson Ramos makes him the third-best catcher the Mets had in the last 20 seasons. After a slow first half, Ramos turned things on in the second half, and it included a 26-game hitting streak. His power numbers were not typical of his career, and even Ramos admitted he could drive the ball more. Ramos was also one of the best clutch hitters on the team, hitting .307 with runners in scoring position.

4. Travis d’Arnaud (2013-19)

Travis d’Arnaud never turned into the prized prospect Noah Syndergaard turned became. Health issues and an inconsistent swing/approach at the plate held him back from reaching the potential he tapped into once he left the Mets. During his seven seasons with the Mets, he only batted higher than .250 once but had three seasons of double-digit home run totals. Very overlooked was his pitch framing, which allowed him to steal strikes as good as any catcher in baseball.

5. Ramon Castro (2005-09)

Ramon Castro never earned the nod as the everyday catcher but was a very productive back-up. He was the definition of an excellent second-string catcher, hit for power, and throw guys out. Castro hit .252/.321/.452 with 33 homers and 121 RBIs during his time as a Met.

6. Josh Thole (2009-12)

Josh Thole was a unique hitter that has become a dying breed in baseball. His choke-up, put the ball in play focus, prevented him from ever solidifying himself as a starting catcher. Thole only had a slugging percentage of .333 and hit seven home runs during his four seasons in Flushing. The one thing he holds over every catcher in Mets history is that he caught the only no-hitter in franchise history.

7. John Buck (2013)

John Buck had a white-hot April in the power department. He homered nine times and had more extra-base hits than singles. Buck came back to Earth, only hitting .206 with six homers for the rest of his time before the Mets shipped him to the Pittsburgh Pirates. He also helped guide Matt Harvey to a dominant season, catching all but one of his starts.

8. Kevin Plawecki (2015-18)

Kevin Plawecki was another Mets catching prospect who never panned out. He slashed .218/.308/.330 with 14 home runs and was a clubhouse favorite. Plawecki also received the rare task of pitching in two games where he had a 12.00 ERA.

9. Jason Phillips (2001-04)

The rec specs made Jason Phillips a fan favorite who was also a kind person. He did not earn consistent playing time until 2003 when he played some first base and caught when Mike Piazza needed a break. It was his best season hitting in the big leagues at .298/.373/.442. The next year was the complete opposite hitting .218. The consensus from a lot of Mets fans was that he was the slowest player they had seen.

10. Brian Schneider (2008-09)

When Brian Schneider arrived to the Mets, he was no longer the underrated catcher he once was. His career was on the decline, and the Mets only received one decent year from him. Schneider had 12 home runs in 169 games, but his defense was a considerable upgrade. He threw out runners above league average and handled a jumbled pitching staff very well.

Honorable Mentions (Who Could Easily Make the Bottom Half of the List):

Vance Wilson and Omir Santos

Here are two catchers the Yankees could explore in free agency

New York Yankees, Gary Sanchez, Luis Severino

The reality the New York Yankees will undoubtedly face in 2020 is Gary Sanchez’s inevitable injury. Last season, Sanchez missed time with a groin injury at the end of the campaign, which hampered his ability to produce during the playoffs. The starting catcher appeared three times on the injury report in 2019, two times with a groin in less than two months, and earlier on in the season with a head injury.

Relying on him to complete a full season at maximum health is unreasonable at this point. The Yankees would be smart to go out and find a capable backup to supplement any absence in 2020.

Here are two catchers the Yankees should explore in free agency:

The Yankees and manager Aaron Boone seem happy with the value Kyle Higashioka brings to the team. However, he posted a .214 batting average and just three home runs, showing less than adequate offensive output, while Austin Romine finished with a .281 average and eight homers on the year. The Yankees lost Romine to the Detroit Tigers, where he will compete for the starting position. To supplement his loss, general manager Brian Cashman signed 40-year-old Eric Kratz to add more opposition being El Gary.

One possible free-agent target could be Jason Castro, who featured with the Minnesota Twins in 2019. Playing 79 games and logging 237 at-bats, he earned 13 homers and 30 RBIs with .232 batting average. While he’s no Romine or Gary Sanchez, he can provide a bit more offensive stability than Higashioka.

Castro walks the line between quality backup and starting caliber. He could be a very beneficial signing for the Yankees, providing more competition for the backup role and offer experience as a starter in the MLB. He will likely be in search of a starting job, but if the Yankees can offer him a decent contract, he could be of value moving forward.

The second option is Kevin Plawecki, who has plenty of experience controlling elite pitchers, having caught with the Mets for his first four seasons. Plawecki has very favorable defensive abilities, logging a .995 fielding percentage with two errors over 57 games last season for the Cleveland Indians. His offensive production is less than adequate, though, as he posted a .222 batting average with just three home runs and 17 RBIs. If the Yankees are looking for a catcher who can maximize Gerrit Cole, he could fit the bill.