For the second year in a row, the Mets took a risky approach to the draft and lived to tell the tale.
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In outfielder Pete Crow-Armstrong, right-hander JT Ginn and outfielder Isaiah Greene, in particular, the Mets bet on top-tier talent with negotiating influence due to college eligibility, but all three signed contracts. The final piece was Ginn, a sophomore from the state of Mississippi who this week agreed to a signing bonus on the slot machine worth $ 2.9 million.
The Mets took a similar approach last year, allowing them to get Matt Allan, a great high school pitching talent who scared many teams out of concern about whether he would sign in the third round.
"We go in knowing that we better sign these guys," general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said Tuesday. "That's part of the draft. If you take players and you can't sign them, then we haven't done our part because those players don't become part of our farming system."
Van Wagenen credited team adviser Omar Minaya, who has overseen the Mets' national and international exploration, for helping to replenish the farm system after the exchanges that included the best prospects in the past 1 ½ years. Among them was the trade for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz who sent Jarred Kelenic to the Mariners.
"There are four things that Omar has brought to his purpose in his supervision," said Van Wagenen. "He wanted to focus on high impact players, premium position players, premium athletes and versatile talent. All four things can make a real difference at the major league level and can improve the championship goals we have. "
In Minaya's last draft as the Mets' general manager in 2010, the team selected Matt Harvey in the first round and Jacob deGrom in the ninth. The Mets bolstered their draft talent during GM Sandy Alderson's regime, with Michael Conforto, Pete Alonso and Jeff McNeil among the hits.
"I think we are in a position where you look at our team, we are a kind of local team with the world's Pete Alonsos, the DeGroms, (Amed) Rosarios, the McNeils," said Minaya. "That is the objective. From day one, when I returned to the Mets, it was with the idea that I was going to be involved in exploration and development because that is my passion. "
Without a minor league season, the challenge is to develop players at all levels. For the Mets, the process has included Zoom chats and sharing data on individual workouts.
"We have kept all of our player development staff working, communicating and making sure that we are building individual plans for these players to move forward rather than come to a standstill," said Van Wagenen.