I am no expert on College Baseball, High School Baseball or for the most part, minor league baseball. One thing that is apparent is as much as Mets fans would love for the heir apparent to be in our farm system at catcher – he, mainly Josh Thole is not that guy.
Josh Thole’s nearest modern-day comparisons aren’t very comparable. Jason Kendall and Brad Ausmus were both great natural receivers, game callers and in his prime Kendall was a 10 HR/20 SB threat. Ausmus never hit for high BA and Kendall only struck out more then 60 times in a season ONCE. Kendall had a decent arm, and Ausmus was lights out throwing out 35% of runners over 1900 games. The closest to home comparison, Paul LoDuca did some things that Thole will probably never likely do, such as a 25 HR/90 RBI anomaly of a season, throw out 40% of runners or be a 4 time All-Star.
The only advantages and similar ties would be age, as LoDuca wasn’t called up until his age 25/26 season and Josh Thole turns 24 this year. However, LoDuca played catcher for years in college and had the tutelage of Mike Piazza to help him along with hitting and receiving. But realistically, with his lack of speed, relatively new approach to catching and 9 career MiLB home runs in nearly 1700 AB’s scream nothing more then singles-hitting catcher who draws walks. Think Luis Castillo…behind the plate. Can the Mets really afford to “punt” a position of power and defense to someone who is above-average or even average at neither of them. This is why i pose this idea
If Yasmani Grandal falls to the Mets at #7 (Which as Sach and others have been reporting, is possible) I believe it is the most prudent decision from a develop a winning-team now standpoint. UNC starter Matt Harvey as well as Georgia starter Deck McGuire are limited-projection, get-what-you-see kind of starters, in the mold of Kevin Mulvey and Phillip Humber, who were total busts. Chris Sale, who could slip this far is another prep-arm, a la Kazmir who has high upside but numerous things that need to be fixed for him to be effective (pitching delivery, managing pitch-count, maintaining velocity, holding runners) makes him a project, possibly not arriving if ever for 3 to 4 years. The Mets team is built to win NOW and any player who could assist in the next 2-3 years latest would be the best additions.
Grandal switch-hits, but its noted that his right-handed swing is rough and looks unnatural. His lefty swing is strong, natural and produces good loft and good power as evidence by his 12 HR and 20 doubles this college season. He is said to be a good receiver, a great throwing arm and as Toby Hyde of MetsMinorLeagueBlog.com mentions “potential to be above-average”. Catcher, as is known is a position where drafting talent period is at a premium, less in fact a power-hitting college catcher.
With some development, he could remain a switch hitter and use his right-handed swing as a more contact/spray side, and his left side as a power, slugger type of build. Or, depending on how he handles minor league pitching scrap the switch hitting entirely to focus on his left-handed approach. It isn’t unfathomable to believe that if drafted, he could be Flushing-bound by 2012, with a cup of coffee in 2011 depending on hitting performance
Catchers have gone early in years of past, and rightfully so. Joe Mauer, Matt Wieters, Buster Posey and to a lesser extent Neil Walker were all drafted for their power-potential, with Wieters and Posey being regarded for such. Walker didn’t stick at catcher, but is a consistent bat playing everyday for the Pittsburgh Pirates. A player who can stick at catcher and can even provide 15-20 HR power is a commodity, that may be much more valuable for years to come then a pitcher who’s upside may be a #3 starter as with McGuire and Harvey.
From a fan’s opinion, developing another home-grown product will help the fan base to side with the team, feeling as if they are growing with the players and not rooting for mercenaries. Grandal covers a position that will need addressing in the future, and would you rather see the next cornerstone catcher, or the next Kevin Mulvey/Phillip Humber type?
Please, Mets. If Grandal is around, draft him.