The New York Mets made their first selection of the MLB Draft late last night, selecting OF Desmond Lindsay in the back-half of the second round. Lindsay was the first player taken outside the MLB Top 200, so he may not be as well-known as other prospects on the board at No. 53. I wanted to shed some light on the newest Met prospect, who I think gave them a tremendous value as the team’s only Day-One selection in the draft.
The first thing you notice about Lindsay is his incredible bat speed. His bat whips through the zone so fast that it even throws his own swing out of balance. Most scouting reports peg this quickness as merely “above-average”, but I think his bat speed is elite.
When I originally watched some footage of Desmond at the plate following the Mets selection, I kept replaying the clip, refusing to believe that an 18-year-old could generate that kind of bat speed. It was almost as if the video artist had fast-forward Lindsay’s swing. Multiple alternative clips proved, however, that Linday’s swing truly operated at such a rapid pace.
The next notable piece of Desmond’s swing is likely the reason he was not a consensus top-prospect: his balance. Desmond turns his front foot in anticipation of the pitch and then spins it back forward to generate power. This may help the youngster make some hard contact, however, this approach also leads to a very unbalanced and inconsistent swing that yields varying results. Hopefully, the Mets will be able to teach Desmond a more reliable foundation, allowing him to better use his legs as stabilizers and unlock his potential with the bat.
Power-wise, Lindsay could surprise in professional ball. At 6-foot, 200 pounds, Desmond has a strong build which should allow him to hit for pop. That size, coupled with his bat speed, results in a plus power potential that could exceed expectations if the Mets can hone his swing.
Defensively, the Mets seem to think Lindsay fits best in centerfield. New York’s scouting director Tommy Tanous calls him “one of the faster kids in the draft”, but the real question regarding Lindsay’s defense is his arm and inexperience.
At least right now, Desmond sports a below-average cannon that fits better in left field than it does in center. He also has rarely played the outfield, more often suiting up at third or first base in his high school career. He’s just 18, so Lindsay has plenty of time to develop the requisite skills necessary for becoming a solid defensive centerfielder. The Mets need to hope they can make this transition possible, as ending up at first base could put him in a crowded field.
Overall, I am a big fan of the Mets’ choice of Lindsay as their first (and only) selection on Day 1 of the MLB Draft. He has endured a hamstring injury, which likely kept some teams away. However, if the Mets allow Desmond to fully heal before putting him on the field, it should be a non-issue. Further, Lindsay is a near-lock to sign with the Mets, with Tanous stating there is only “a very small risk” he slips away.
Lindsay has the chance to be a solid player on a good team. You can teach balance and hitting fundamentals, but you cannot teach bat speed. His swing is not consistent enough to merit an elite projection right now, but the Florida-native certainly has the tools to become a real player in time.
The other side of the ball will likely determine Lindsay’s fate. If he can learn to play a great outfield, his value as a prospect will skyrocket. His youth and athleticism make that scenario more likely than not.
Desmond Lindsay is a very toolsy player, but he is also a very raw one. The results of this selection all hinges on the Mets player development. Still, I am very excited about the balanced package Lindsay brings to the Mets farm system. He can hit for average, hit for power, and run, with the chance to develop the fielding tool. It will be very intriguing to follow his progress up the minor league ladder.