Danny Abriano, SNY.tv | Twitter |
In the last 10 years, the Mets have selected an outfielder with their first pick in the first round of the MLB Draft three times.
The picks of Brandon Nimmo (2011) and Michael Conforto (2014) have worked out incredibly well, and they currently make up two thirds of the Mets' expected starting outfield.
The other outfielder the Mets most recently drafted? That would be Jarred Kelenic, who was selected in 2018 and traded to the Seattle Mariners in the deal that brought Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano to Queens. Regardless of whether Diaz and/or Cano improve in Year 2 in New York, including Kelenic in that deal was unwise. And he is now a consensus top 10 prospect in baseball who will likely be in the majors by 2021.
With Kelenic gone, the Mets do not have a blue chip outfield prospect who is close to the majors. And their outfield situation could be in flux soon, with Conforto set for free agency after the 2021 season.
No team should ever draft for need. But if the Mets are looking to nab an outfielder at No. 19 in the first round, here are five they could target...
OF Austin Hendrick, West Allegheny High School (PA)
Hendrick's tools on both sides of the ball are above average across the board, with his power potential being the one that stands out the most.
The 18-year-old's exit velocity was among the best in the country, and he would give the Mets a lefty bat who could potentially stick in center field but could also profile in either corner outfield spot.
MLB Pipeline scouting report snippet: "While there might be some risk in terms of strikeouts with Hendrick, there isn't a high school hitter in the country with more upside. The Mississippi State recruit has the chance to be a middle-of-the-lineup run producer with tons of power and plenty of scouts still believe in him reaching that ceiling."
OF Heston Kjerstad, Arkansas
The 10th-ranked prospect in the draft and the fourth-highest ranked outfielder, Kjerstad could be gone by the time the Mets pick. But if he's still on the board, he could be hard to pass up.
The 21-year-old was hitting .448 with a .513 OBP and six homers in 16 games this year during what was his junior season before it was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
MLB Pipeline scouting report snippet: "Kjerstad's strength and bat speed give him well above-average raw power to all fields. He has a complicated swing that features a big hand circle in his load, so he has to be precise with his timing to make it work -- but he has done so in college and was the top performer in the U.S. collegiate team's lineup last summer."
OF Robert Hassell, Independence High School (TN)
Hassell, 18, is a Vanderbilt commit who is a legitimate prospect as both an outfielder and a pitcher. But it's expected that he'll move forward as an outfielder.
Like Hendrick, he has above average tools across the board. But he doesn't have the power potential of Hendrick.
MLB Pipeline scouting report snippet: "The best pure hitter in the 2020 prep class, Hassell has a pretty left-handed stroke and the hand-eye coordination to barrel balls with ease. He's at his best when he lashes line drives to all fields but his swing got too uphill when he made a conscious effort to hit homers in the middle of the summer."
OF Pete Crow-Armstrong, Harvard-Westlake High School (CA)
The No. 20 prospect in the draft, per MLB Pipeline, Crow-Armstrong doesn't have the power potential of most of the other highly-touted outfielders, but he's viewed as a true center fielder who "might be the best defensive outfielder" in the draft.
Crow-Armstrong shined for USA Baseball in 2019, slashing .364/.405/.606 with four stolen bases in nine games.
MLB Pipeline scouting report snippet: "A dynamic athlete who goes hard at all times, he reminds some of a Grady Sizemore type in terms of his frame. He's committed to Vanderbilt and was moving back up closer to the top of the first round with a return to who he'd been, along with some added strength, at the beginning of his senior year."
OF Daniel Cabrera, Louisiana State
The No. 38 prospect in the class, per MLB Pipeline, Cabrera could be a bit of a reach for the Mets at No. 19.
The 21-year-old was slashing .345/.466/.500 in 17 games this season before it was suspended.
MLB Pipeline scouting report snippet: "Cabrera is equipped to hit for average and power. He has a smooth left-handed swing and doesn't try to do too much at the plate, letting his bat speed and the loft in his stroke create natural pop."