Image credit: Brett Baty (Photo by Tom DiPace)
Every year at the conclusion of the regular season, Baseball America revisits each teams’ most recent draft class. Each class has its no-doubt, high-profile names to keep an eye on, but our annual draft report cards highlight the best tools, best debuts, late-round steals and more. Here are the names you need to know from every organization’s 2019 draft.
Best Pure Hitter: OF Jake Mangum (4) hit .357 in four years at Mississippi State and set the Southeastern Conference career record with 383 hits. The switch-hitter helped lead the Bulldogs to the College World Series in 2018 and 2019 but appeared gassed while making his pro debut at short-season Brooklyn this summer. Mangum hit .247 in 53 games with the third-lowest strikeout rate in the New York-Penn League. He also chipped in 17 stolen bases with plus speed.
Best Power: 3B Brett Baty (1) went deep seven times in 51 games in a pro debut focused at Rookie-level Kingsport and slugged .525 in his final 25 games in the Appalachian League. The lefthanded-hitting Baty had some of the best power in the high school draft class and proved it during a workout at Citi Field when he hit the ball into the upper deck in left-center field during batting practice. His power has been described as “freakish,” and his elite hard-hit rate and 92 mph average exit velocity in his debut reflect that.
Fastest Runner: The Mets threw a dart at OF Blaine McIntosh (13) based on his 70-grade speed and overall athleticism. The Pleasant View, Tenn., high school product will require a lot of development time to refine his bat but has a carrying tool at his disposal.
Best Defensive Player: OF Kennie Taylor (14) is a plus runner and outstanding defensive center fielder. The Duke product stood out defensively at short-season Brooklyn, even when playing alongside Mangum and Antoine Duplantis (12) of Louisiana State.
Best Athlete: Baty isn’t a classic twitchy athlete, but he played three sports at Lake Travis High in Austin and can dunk a basketball. As a senior, he hit .624 with 19 homers in 93 at-bats; the year before he was the Gatorade high school player of the year in Texas. Baty dropped football as a sophomore but might have fielded Division I offers as a quarterback had he stuck with it, like fellow Lake Travis alumni Baker Mayfield and Garrett Gilbert, who are now NFL quarterbacks. On the basketball court, Baty’s strong, 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame and quick burst played as a power forward, where he was tasked with guarding opponents’ big men. His father is the school’s basketball coach.
Best Fastball: The Mets regarded RHP Matt Allan (3) as the top pitcher available in the draft. He pitched at 93-96 mph in his 10-inning pro debut and touched 97 mph with a fastball that could play as double-plus one day. The Orlando area prep fell to the third round because of bonus demands, but the Mets were able to meet his $2.5 million asking price by saving money on picks in rounds four through 10.
Best Secondary Pitch: Allan throws a hard curveball at 77-82 mph with an exceptional spin rate in excess of 2,500 rpm. The pitch projects as a 70-grade weapon and already draws comparisons with breaking pitches thrown by big leaguers. Allan shows advanced command of the pitch for a high school pitcher.
Best Pro Debut: The Mets drafted for upside with their top three picks, taking high schoolers Brett Baty, Houston RHP Josh Wolf (2) and Allan, and then focused on college seniors through round 10 to make the bonus pool money work. As a result, they didn’t come away with much “now” value. The one exception was OF Scott Ota (10) from Illinois-Chicago, who ranked fourth in the Rookie-level Appalachian League with a .519 slugging and fifth with an .874 OPS.
Most Intriguing Background: In the 21st round, the Mets drafted Samford SS Branden Fryman (21), who is the son of five-time All-Star third baseman Travis Fryman. Branden hit .356 and played shortstop in the 13 games he started at short-season Brooklyn.
Closest To The Majors: If Mangum doesn’t rocket to Queens as an extra outfielder, then this race probably comes down to the top two prospects, Baty and Allan, who ranked 15th and 16th on the BA 500, respectively. The Mets have shown a more aggressive approach with minor league promotions in recent seasons, which could work in their favor, particularly with Baty, who turns 20 in November. Both Baty and Allan have physical, big league prototype bodies.
Best Late-Round Pick: Blanchard (Okla.) High RHP Jace Beck (22) is 6-foot-9, 200 pounds and already touches 92 mph. He offers the projection for more velocity and also could develop an above-average breaking ball.
The One Who Got Away: The Mets drafted a pair of Florida high school pitchers, LHP Hunter Barco (24) and RHP Joseph Charles (25), as insurance in case they failed to sign Allan. Neither one signed after the Mets committed $8.55 million to Baty, Wolf and Allan.