The 2019 MLB Draft begins Monday at MLB Network studios in Secaucus, N.J. The draft is a three-day event with a total of 40 rounds. On Day 1, when the first two rounds will be completed, the Mets will pick 12th and 53rd overall.
There have been quite a few players who have been linked to the Mets with their first pick. Here are five potential candidates that the Mets can possibly select.
Zack Thompson, University of Kentucky, LHP
MLB Pipeline Top 200 Draft Ranking: 14
Thompson is probably the most commonly linked prospect to the Mets. In reading mock drafts, he is the name that I have seen the most frequently as the pick at No. 12. Thompson grew up in Indiana and was ranked as the No. 146 best prospect in the 2016 draft by MLB Pipeline. Between his shoulder issues he had in high school and his commitment to Kentucky, he fell to the Tampa Bay Rays in the 11th round. Tampa Bay was reportedly prepared to give him an above slot bonus to sign until he failed his physical. He proceeded to go to Kentucky and had some elbow troubles during his sophomore season and was only able to pitch in nine games.
His junior season was big for him. Not only was he now draft eligible again, but he shook the thoughts among scouts about his arm issues. He had a healthy and smooth 2019 season, going 6-1 with a 2.40 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in 14 starts. He threw 90 innings, allowing 59 hits and 34 walks while striking out 130 batters.
Thompson is as talented as any arm in this draft, and if he didn't have the previous arm troubles we probably wouldn't be talking about him as a possibility to fall to No. 12. He sports a four-pitch mix, including a fastball that tops out at 96 mph. He throws a slider and a curve which both flash plus, but are more above average offerings. He also has a developing changeup. If Thompson is healthy he has mid-rotation upside.
George Kirby, Elon University, RHP
MLB Pipeline Top 200 Draft Ranking: 18
If Kirby is drafted by the Mets, he will join Anthony Kay as a player in the Mets system who was drafted by the team out of high school, didn't sign and went to college, then became the Mets' first-round pick years later. He also is essentially a lock to be the first Elon player to go in the first round ever.
Kirby burst on the scene for scouts after he won 10 games as a sophomore at Elon and was invited to participate in the Cape Cod League. He pitched out of the bullpen in the Cape and posted a 24:1 strikeout-to-walk rate in 13 innings. In his junior year at Elon, he led all of Division I with a 17.83 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He finished his junior year 8-2 with a 2.75 ERA in 14 starts, striking out 107 batters and allowing 73 hits and a mere six walks in 88 innings.
Kirby's top trait is his command. He has the ability to command his four-pitch mix in virtually any count. He has a fastball that sits in the low-90s and can reach 96-97. The belief is as he fills out, he should be able to more consistently be in the mid-90s range. He was able to dominate the level of competition mainly based on his fastball, which has led to him having inconsistencies with his slider, curve and changeup. He shows a natural ability to spin his off-speed pitches, but he simply needs more experience with them. There is some concern with the level of competition he is coming from, but Kirby clearly possesses the skill set to be a big-league starter if he develops properly.
Bryson Stott, UNLV, Shortstop
MLB Pipeline Top 200 Draft Ranking: 9
Stott grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada, and stayed right home attending UNLV. During his sophomore year at UNLV, he posted a .998 OPS with 30 doubles and four home runs in 59 games. He proceeded to get an invite to play for Team USA.
He followed up his big sophomore season with a slightly better OPS at 1.085 as a junior. In 58 games, he posted 20 doubles but an improved 10 home runs and 36 RBIs. There isn't belief that power will be a big part of his game as a professional, maybe topping out as a 15 home run type.
There was concern that while Stott presents great bat-to-ball skills, he had a low-impact swing that did not routinely produce hard contact. He made a swing adjustment as a junior that let him utilize his lower half more, and scouts were a lot more satisfied seeing the ball come off his bat.
Coming into his junior year there was wonder among scouts if Stott was a long-term shortstop or would he have to transition to third base or second base. He has made strides with his footwork, and scouts now believe he will be able to handle shortstop long term. If something were to change, he has enough arm to play any of the other infield positions.
While there were some worries about Stott's game despite putting up really strong numbers in a hitter friendly environment in Las Vegas, teams were pleased with Stott's work ethic and growth as a junior. He has the potential to be an everyday shortstop who hits for a high average and on-base percentage with a lot of doubles. It is a distinct possibility that Stott is gone before the Mets pick at 12, but if he's there, he will likely be a consideration.
Jackson Rutledge, San Jacinto Junior College, RHP
MLB Pipeline Top 200 Draft Ranking: 12
Coming out of a St. Louis area high school, Rutledge was the 183rd-ranked prospect in the 2017 MLB draft by Baseball America. He decided to enroll at Arkansas to try to mature and improve his stock.
One thing that Rutledge did not lack was a never quit attitude. He pitched and worked out through what turned out to be a torn hip labrum as a freshman. His nickname at Arkansas was "Big Puddle" because that is what he would leave behind in the gym after his workouts. After his freshman year, Rutledge transferred to San Jacinto Junior College, which allowed him to enter the draft sooner and also get the chance to pitch at one of the biggest junior colleges in the nation.
Rutledge at one point possessed a three-pitch mix with a fastball, a slurve and a changeup. His fastball is his big pitch that will sit in the mid-90s and get up to 99 mph. Once Rutledge was healthy, he turned his slurve-type breaking ball into a distinct slider and curveball. His slider, which will sit in the upper 80s, has really taken the biggest step forward as his go-to strikeout secondary pitch. His curveball will show plus at times, but he definitely needs to keep throwing it to get more consistent with it. His changeup right now is a below average offering that will be flat at times.
At 6-foot-8, 240 pounds, Rutledge has a massive frame, and he possesses arguably the best stuff in the entire draft. He has the potential for three plus pitches and has shown the ability to maintain velocity deep into games this spring. He might be the pitcher with the best shot to pitch in the front two spots of a big-league rotation if he reaches his potential. He has a high floor that if he doesn't pan out as a potential frontline starter, he has the stuff and mentality to be a lock-down late-inning reliever. Most mocks project Rutledge to go just before the Mets at 12, but he has been linked to the Mets in the process.
Shea Langeliers, Baylor, Catcher
MLB Pipeline Top 200 Draft Ranking: 10
Wouldn't it be awesome for the Mets to draft a player named Shea? Langeliers is a catcher who was born in Texas and stayed in Texas attending Baylor University despite being drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 34th round of the 2016 MLB Draft. He started his freshman year at Baylor, and while always showing plus traits as a defensive catcher, he had a .928 OPS which opened some eyes that he could be a quality bat too.
His sophomore year went in the opposite direction a bit. His average dropped to .252 but he had 31 extra-base hits, including 11 home runs in 58 games. Scouts were concerned that he was selling out for power trying to hit too many home runs and not just make consistent hard contact. He still was invited to play for Team USA, where he got his bat going again. He hit .346, which was second on the team, with a .393 on-base percentage.
Coming off the performance with Team USA, Langeliers entered the 2019 draft process as a possibility to be a top-five pick. He however broke his hamate bone which caused him to miss some time this spring. He returned early from the injury and managed to play in 38 games for Baylor. He hit .311 with a .376 on-base percentage and six home runs, positioning himself to be picked in the top half of the first round.
Langeliers shows an understanding of the strike zone and displays average raw power. While Langeliers might not be a big-time hitter at the professional level, scouts do believe he has more than enough bat to be a potential everyday catcher. He will really make his money behind the plate, where he has a true 70-grade arm that produces pop times around 1.7 to 1.8 seconds. He also is a plus receiver who has the ability to frame pitches and consistently get down and block balls in the dirt. Langeliers has typically been mocked in the 9-13 pick range, so if he's there at 12, I do believe the Mets will at least consider trying to fill their long-term catcher void.