The Mets will pick No. 20 overall in next week’s MLB Draft, and the question of who or what the team might take remains an open-ended one.
General manager Sandy Alderson’s regime has taken habit of drafting position players in the first round over the last few years, as it did so every year from 2011-2015, based on the premise that the Mets would have a pitching-oriented team for years to come.
But he broke the trend in 2016 by taking Justin Dunn in the first round, and the desire for pitching may have grown with the team’s struggles in that area this season.
Truth be told, it’s very difficult to project the MLB Draft beyond the first few picks. Not too many people aside from the biggest prospect buffs know much about the high schoolers up for selection next week, and I’m sure as heck not going to spread #FakeNews by pretending like I do.
Following this draft is far more difficult to follow than in other leagues like the NBA or NFL, where most fans are already familiar with the players being selected.
So instead of taking a look forward, let’s take a look back at the No. 20 overall pick for some context:
52 players have been taken at that spot since the modern draft began in 1965. Of those 52, 3o went on to play at the Major League level. So the team’s odds of taking a future major leaguer at this spot stand at about 58 percent. Of those 30 major leaguers, nine went on to become all-stars. Here’s a complete list of them, including the year that they were drafted:
- Chad Cordero (2003)
- Denard Span (2002)
- C.C. Sabathia (1998)
- Eric Milton (1996)
- Torii Hunter (1993)
- Mike Mussina (1990)
- Gregg Jefferies (1985)
- Bob Welch (1977)
- Rick Rhoden (1971)
If these percentages stand to reason, the Mets have a 17 percent chance of taking an all-star at this position. Some names on this list, like Hunter and Mussina, are particularly encouraging. Other prominent major leaguers who were not All-Stars taken 20th overall include Terrence Long (1994), Adam Kennedy (1997), Trevor Plouffe (2004) and Tyler Anderson (2011).
The Mets have picked No. 20 overall three times before: They took Stan Jefferson in 1983; he played just 14 games for the Mets and batted .216/.276/.326 in 296 career big-league games.
The most memorable No. 20 overall pick in Mets history came in 1985, with the aforementioned selection of Jefferies. They also picked No. 20 in 1994, where they took Long. Long was the primary prospect traded to the A’s in 1999 for Kenny Rogers. Long had several solid seasons for the early 2000s “Moneyball” teams.
So far, the only one of Alderson’s eight first-round draft picks to emerge as a solid major leaguer for the Mets is Michael Conforto. Another, Michael Fulmer, has emerged as a star for the Tigers. Brandon Nimmo, Gavin Cecchini and Kevin Plawecki have all failed to stay or play consistently at the big-league level, and Dominic Smith looks to be the team’s future at first base.
This is very much a mixed bag. So let’s check back in a few years to see where the No. 20 overall pick goes and how he ends up.