Mets' No. 25 prospect may turn out as a Draft steal

June 4th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Anthony DiComo’s Mets Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

WASHINGTON -- Last weekend, as you may have heard, the Mets honored Darryl Strawberry -- one of the most successful top overall picks in MLB Draft history. Although the Draft can be notoriously difficult to predict, high picks tend to fare better than low ones. Strawberry is a prime example of that.

On the other end of the spectrum are the late-round success stories that, over time, take on almost mythical status. The Dodgers famously selected Mike Piazza in the 62nd round, which doesn’t even exist anymore. Seth Lugo was a 34th-round pick. J.D. Martinez went in the 36th (2006) and 20th (2009) rounds. Many other examples are out there.

The boring old middle rounds, however, are what can make or break a Draft for scouting directors constantly in search of the next Christian Scott (fifth round), Jacob deGrom (eighth round) or Jeff McNeil (12th).

Perhaps Boston Baro can be that sort of piece for the Mets. The organization’s eighth-round selection last July, Baro is thriving at Single-A St. Lucie, with a .307/.369/.480 slash line since May 9. One scout who recently saw Baro compared him to a young McNeil, given his excellent left-handed bat control and defensive versatility. Baro, a high school shortstop, has also played second and third base during his fledgling professional career.

“He’s got a feel for the barrel. He can kind of manipulate it,” Mets vice president of player development Andy Green said. “There’s an athleticism to him that’s going to bounce around the field very well. What position he ends up at? They’re all out there for him, and he’s capable of doing it. And he’s got that kind of Southern California relaxed vibe going through Minor League baseball. He’s just learning along the way and playing hard along the way.”

Although Baro hails from California, his dad is a native New Englander who wanted to name his son after his favorite city. (Yes, that is his legal name.)

By the time Baro visited Citi Field late last summer after signing, however, he had already set aside his childhood affinity for the Red Sox and become, in his words, a Mets fan. And for good reason. Despite taking him in the eighth round, the Mets signed him to a well-over-slot bonus of $700,000 to lure him away from a commitment to UCLA.

Now a notable prospect who ranks at No. 25 on MLB Pipeline’s Top 30 Mets Prospects list, Baro is working to prove he can become a bona fide big leaguer. The scout who compared him to McNeil was among several to question Baro’s power ceiling, but at 19 years old, Baro still has plenty of time to pack muscle onto his 6-foot, 170-pound frame.

“He’s going to fill out,” Green said. “He’s going to get more physical. It’s going to be fun to watch his evolution. He’s a long way from [the Majors]. Early steps are encouraging.”

Minor League roundup

Triple-A Syracuse: Put Luke Ritter firmly in the “not much left to prove in the Minors” crowd. A 27-year-old unranked prospect, Ritter has hit four home runs in his past 10 games to improve his season OPS to .871. Ritter, who might have received a callup last year if not for a late-season oblique injury, remains blocked at all the infield positions he plays -- first, second and third. But he’ll have to be a consideration if and when that situation changes.

Double-A Binghamton: Starting pitching prospect Brandon Sproat (No. 13 prospect) didn’t need much -- read: any -- time to adjust to the upper Minors. Since Sproat earned a promotion from High-A Brooklyn on May 13, all he’s done is go undefeated with a 1.38 ERA over four starts, striking out 32 percent of the batters he’s faced.

Sproat, who can credit at least some of that success to his continued development of a sweeper, has also cut his walk rate by more than 50 percent at Binghamton. Kenny Van Doren wrote more about Sproat following his most recent outing, the first double-digit strikeout performance of his career.

High-A Brooklyn: A hot prospect around this time last year, outfielder Stanley Consuegra fell out of the Mets’ Top 30 following a middling season at Brooklyn. He’s repeating the level at age 23 and has recently caught fire, batting .327/.441/.796 over his last 14 games. Still young enough to rebound, Consuegra is doing what he can to reestablish his standing within the farm system.