ESPN New York: DePodesta On Mejia, Wheeler, Not Signing Second Rounder, Prospect Hype, Fan Expectations

An article by posted on July 20, 2012

Over at ESPN New York, Adam Rubin talks with Mets VP of Player Development Paul DePodesta who shared some insights on a variety of topics. In Part 1 of the interview, DePo sheds some light on Zack Wheeler’s innings workload, Jenrry Mejia’s transition from starter to reliever, and the following question in which he addresses fan expectations and hype:

Q: In New York, the prospects get hyped. And it’s good in a way in terms of generating fan excitement, and perhaps even creating a market with other teams to deal the players at peak value. Do you worry, though — say with Matt Harvey, but also more generally — that if he comes up and has a productive major league career but he’s not Stephen Strasburg that on merit he would have done really well and yet the expectations will be so great that he can never live up to them?

DePodesta: “I’m concerned about it on that front, I think, with a lot of players, just in general. I think sometimes expectations can be unrealistic for these guys, even from the time they’re drafted. The baseball draft is very different from the NBA or the NFL. These players aren’t ready to perform at the highest level when they’re drafted, even when they’re drafted very high. And the attrition rate, even very high up in the draft, is staggering. It might be 50 percent of first-rounders that actually become good major league players. And that probably drops by half once you get into the second round. And it probably drops by half again when you get into the third round. Those top-round picks, there still is an awful lot of fallout.

“So if a guy becomes a solid No. 3 or 4 starter, and that was your first-round pick, you should be very, very happy. You won on that pick. But I don’t think that’s generally the expectation. I think people think of first-round picks and expect to have a potential superstar. That’s actually very rare. It just doesn’t happen very often. But, generally, sometimes we can get a little too excited about somebody’s talent.

You can read the rest of Part 1 of Rubin’s interview here.

In Part 2 of the interview, DePodesta identifies Cory Mazzoni and Rafael Montero as two players who could move quickly to the majors as Josh Edgin did. He also discusses the strategy behind not signing second round pick Teddy Stankiewicz and that it will make them more competitive in next year’s draft. Some insight on why the Mets gave 16-year old German Rosario the highest international bonus ever by the organization is discussed and why they liked him so much. Also this on how far the overall minor league system has come along in the last two seasons:

Q: Last topic: I’m sure everybody takes a lot of pride in the contributions from the farm system to the current major league team. But those young players predated you with the organization. Obviously development is one component, so how much credit do you/your regime deserve for producing those players compared with what you inherited?

DePodesta: “I don’t know. As you noted, all of these players predated us. For that matter, most of the staff on the minor league side predated us. I mean, we made very, very few changes in staff over the course of the last couple of years. We did bring in Dick Scott as our field coordinator. We have brought in a new pitching coordinator. I think there are some processes that we’ve pushed pretty hard throughout the minor leagues. To the extent that’s had an impact, I don’t know. And I wouldn’t want to say or take away anything from all the work that was done with these guys beforehand.

“When we first came aboard, I think I remember saying I think the system was a lot better than I think people were giving it credit for. And I think that’s born out. There were a lot of good players here. Our job on the development side is to try to maximize the abilities of those players. And I’m proud of the job development has done, both before I was here and also since we’ve been here. And I do think Dickie Scott has done a terrific job in leading that charge on the field at the minor league level.”

Interesting question by Rubin, with an interesting response by DePo.

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