It never ceases to amaze me how the Mets over-hype their prospects to no end. I’m not talking about your garden variety hype mind you, all teams are entitled and expected to hype their prospects. But with the Mets it’s completely over the top and it always leads to lofty unrealistic expectations for the prospects themselves who are mostly average at best.
Many of the fans buy into this PR hype “hook, line and sinker” and can be identified by comments such as “this guy is untouchable” or the ol’ ”we can’t drain our farm system” mantra whenever a trade proposal or even a rumor comes along.
Case in point was the news item from Ken Rosenthal the other day in which he reported that the Mets would not part with Ruben Tejada in a trade for one of the top starters in the National League, Roy Oswalt.
Ruben Tejada is an undrafted player who signed as an international free agent in 2007 at age 17. Now 20, he has compiled a career average of .274 in 1,594 plate appearances. He has no power as evidenced by his 11 homeruns in 3 1/2 seasons with the Mets organization. He has averaged 32 RBI and 47 runs scored per season. He is not ranked among Baseball America’s Top 200 prospects, and probably wouldn’t make an appearance in their Top 500 if they had one.
Roy Oswalt on the other hand… 148 W – 72 L to go with a .642 Winning Percentage, second best among all active pitchers in the Major Leagues with 250 or more starts. This season, Oswalt is lights out and sports a career best 1.11 WHIP to go with a 8.4 K/9 ratio, the highest since his rookie season. He is stuck on a bad Astros team and wants out.
If you were to exclude all Mets fans, what percentage of baseball fans would balk at the notion of trading Ruben Tejada for Roy Oswalt assuming that was an actual offer?
Getting back to the point of my post, yesterday, Matt Cerrone posted information he gleaned from his conference call with the Mets and reporters. Here is what Matt posted (in bold), followed by my comments.
He has a power arm, capable of throwing his fastball between 91 and 98 mph.
This is the first time 98mph has ever been included in Harvey’s range of velocity. which has been universally advertised as 91-96 and has reached 97 mph a few times. On occasion, some pitchers can hit a high number once or twice due to variations in radar guns which are less reliable in college than they are at the major league level, but that’s not even the case with Harvey. The fact is that he only touched 97 mph a few times this season according to Keith Law.
His curve ball sits in 80s, his change-up in the low 80s, and and his slider in the mid-80s.
He rarely uses his curve since adopting the slider which is still in the development stage. His changeup is far from a done deal and needs to be further developed if he expects to be a starting pitcher in the Majors, or else it’s the bullpen for Harvey. Most scouts believe he will end up being a power reliever.
He pitches off his fastball, but all of his pitches are usable.
Harvey has barely one plus pitch, and it’s his four seam fastball. Harvey struggled to throw any of his secondary pitches as well as he did when he was first discovered in high school where he impressed many scouts. Luckily, he has improved his offerings during his junior season at UNC, but they are still not nearly at the level that wowed so many experts in 2007.
He has good command and control for his age.
The knock on Harvey has been and still is his erratic control. During Harvey’s first two years with UNC he walked 89 batters in 142.2 innings and had 18 wild pitches. He got better in his last 14 starts leading up to the draft with 35 walks thanks to a new delivery, but he still had nine wild pitches in that span.
He was already very good in high school, but benefited from college coaching.
All players benefit from college, especially those who complete all four years instead of just three like Harvey did, who opted out in his junior year. His metrics from his three college years in total were not worthy of a first round selection, and he was drafted highly solely based on his elevated performance in his last ten starts. Keep your fingers crossed that he stays on his current course. Mets minor league coaches have a nasty habit of changing what worked for their draft picks and having them drop certain pitches, change release points and arm angles, and in some cases completely ditch their usual delivery.
He’s going to be a strike thrower, using both sides of the plate.
Harvey has shown great promise, but he is not a strike thrower, at least not yet. He will fool many college players and lower level minor leaguers with his current stuff, but players in the high minors and Major Leaguers won’t be so easily fooled as we all learned from Kevin Mulvey, Eddie Kunz and Bobby Parnell.
He is represented by Scott Boras.
Well at least they got this fact straight. Harvey was originally drafted in 2007, but at the request of Boras who could not get Harvey the big bonus he demanded from the Angels, he went to UNC and saw his stock plunge after very poor freshman and sophomore seasons. Luckily, he changed his delivery this season and it seemed to work better for him. Enter the Mets.
I don’t want to knock Matt Harvey who by many accounts is an excellent prospect with loads of potential. But lets just leave it at that…
There is no need to embellish his already noteworthy accomplishments. We did this with Brad Holt in 2008 and Steven Matz in 2009. Holt has struggled mightily since then and now has questions about his attitude, and Matz is already gone for the season with Tommy John surgery and there’s no telling if he will ever be close to the pitcher he was before the injury.
The worst part of this over-hyping is the enormous amount of pressure that is placed on the player to perform and play up to these unrealistic expectations.
Does Matt Harvey now try to over-exert himself to throw the 98mph four seamer in an attempt to justify what the Mets said he has?
Harvey was a bit of a reach at number seven and was ranked 13th in the draft by Baseball America and 20th by ESPN.com.
With advent of the internet and the social media boom, it’s so easy for the common fan to check out the claims a team makes about his players, so why say things that are counter to the real facts?
You drafted Harvey, well that’s great… Let’s all welcome him to the team and hope that he can stay healthy and reach his true potential, whatever that potential might be.