2011 First Year Player Draft: Time For DePodesta To Shine

Team representative Jon Miller and Mookie Wislon of the New York Mets look on during the MLB First Year Player Draft on June 7, 2010 held in Studio 42 at the MLB Network in Secaucus, New Jersey. (credit: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

So far this season, we’ve seen Sandy Alderson successfully navigate his way with very little cash on hand to do the things he probably would have wanted and preferred.

He rolled the dice on a few players and lost some and won some, but to his credit, the Mets are still relevant.

Terry Collins has done a great job at keeping the team focused and not letting all the injuries take their fight away. The Mets keep battling and every game is a testament to how different they are this year. Last season at this time, the Mets were already becoming unglued and falling apart.

Tonight is the start of the 2011 First Year Player Draft. This is where Paul DePodesta gets some of the spotlight, after years of success with the Dodgers and A’s before them, he now is tasked with building up a mostly barren farm system whose best prospects are still in the low minors.

The Mets vice president of player development and amateur scouting, has logged tens of thousands of miles traveling all over the country to watch and scout many of the players whose names we’ll hear during the first few rounds of the drafts. By now he knows who he likes, and what direction he wants to take our team today. He’s been on the job for six months and his goal is to reap the best talent he can get his hands on and hopefully give the team a few future stars.

According to Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal, DePo understands that drafting the best talent is one thing, but getting them to sign is a totally different story. He vows to draft the best players regardless of signability and hopes the Mets do what it takes to have the money in the budget to pay for it all.

“I don’t know how our absolute spending will end up lining up,” DePodesta said. “But I’ll put it this way: On draft day, I think we’re going into it with the idea that when our turn comes to pick in every round, we’re going to take the guy that we think is the best player on the board and not worry so much about the signability portion of it. We’re going to go after what we believe is talent.”

“It’s one big pie of spending. Because my focus right now is scouting, of course I’m going to push for a bigger signing-bonus budget and carve some out of other areas to do that. But the fact is, in order to do that, you have to make sacrifices.”

I know how important today is for everyone in the front office including Sandy Alderson. The Mets GM has addressed the slotting issue a few times at least in the past six months, and he doesn’t expect the Mets to let signing bonuses stand in the way of securing the players they want. “Obviously, there’s a lot of hit and miss in the draft, but you do have to spend money on talent,” general manager Alderson said, according to the Wall Street Journal. Whether that’s true or not remains to be seen, but we’ll know soon enough.

Live coverage of the Draft begins with a one-hour preview show tonight at 6:00 PM on MLB.com and MLB Network, followed by the first round and supplemental compensation round. The Mets first selection comes in at No. 13 and they will have four of the first 101 selections. The buzz is that they will target starting pitching, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they go after a couple of power bats in the early rounds as well.

In another post I wrote, I previewed some of the players the Mets might be considering with their first pick. They include pitchers Taylor Guerrieri, Taylor Jungmann, Sonny Gray and Jed Bradley. Outfielders George Springer and Mikie Mathook, as well as shortstops Francisco Lindor and Levi Michael, could also be high on the Mets wish lists. I’m 99.9% certain that the Mets first selection will come from that group. My money is on Jungmann.

It’s a very deep draft, so there’s a lot to be excited about as the the new guys have over 50 years of experience between them. Good luck to the Mets tonight.