Second time's the charm: Mets draft Florida righty Sproat again

July 10th, 2023

Many amateur ballplayers wait their entire life to hear their name called on Draft Day. Only the rarest few experience that feeling as a high pick two years in a row ... for the same team.

A year after selecting Brandon Sproat in the third round but not signing him, the Mets again took the University of Florida right-hander in the Draft -- this time as a second-round pick. Doing so required Sproat to give his consent to a Mets organization that continued to value him despite an inability to come to terms a year ago.

“It’s funny how the world works,” Sproat said after the Mets took him Sunday night at No. 56 overall. “I was in that same position last year and couldn’t work out a deal. But I went back, bet on myself and it works out for the better.”

For multiple years now, the Mets have looked upon Sproat as the type of player who could help fill the most significant weakness in their farm system: a lack of high-ceilinged pitching at the upper levels. As a college starter, Sproat has the ability to make the Majors relatively quickly. Capable of throwing 100 mph, he possesses the type of talent to make scouting directors take long, hard looks.

But the Mets were unable to complete a deal with Sproat after selecting him 90th overall in the 2022 Draft. Neither side was publicly willing to discuss the details of how and why negotiations fell apart, but for a healthy pitcher such as Sproat, deals tend to hinge on nothing more complicated than money. Rather than accept less than he believed he was worth, Sproat returned to Florida, where he became a second-team All-SEC selection after striking out 134 batters in 106 1/3 innings. He fanned another 28 batters over four postseason starts, including 14 in two outings at the College World Series. The Gators finished runners-up to LSU.

Throughout that journey, Mets scouts continued watching. Sproat continued to excite them.

“Obviously, he’s an extremely talented pitcher,” Mets special assistant to the general manager Steve Martone said. “We were impressed with him last year. He got even better this year. He showed improvement. … He bet on himself. It worked out for him, and we’re really excited for the future with him.”

To select Sproat in a second consecutive Draft, the Mets needed his consent, which he granted. Unlike last year, signability issues don’t really exist for Sproat, whose college degree eliminates most of his leverage in negotiations. The Mets expect to sign Sproat as a matter of course.

“At this point, I’m ready to go,” Sproat said. “I got my degree. I’m done with college baseball. There’s really nothing left there for me, so I’m ready to move on, and blessed that the Mets were able to take me again.”

Added Sproat: “It’s always been my dream to throw baseballs.”

Assuming Sproat does sign, he will become the latest in a growing pipeline of talent from the University of Florida to New York, beginning with Pete Alonso in the 2016 Draft. In 2021, the Mets took Sproat’s former college teammate, Christian Scott, in the fifth round; Scott is now one of the organization’s fastest rising and most well-regarded pitching prospects (No. 28 among the Mets' Top 30 Prospects).

Because he has never been to New York City before, Sproat made sure to pepper Scott with questions before the Mets selected him. If the organization has its way, both pitchers will soon call New York home for a long time.

“We couldn’t come to an agreement last year,” Martone said. “Brandon decided to go back to school, bet on himself. It worked out. He got selected a round higher this year. I’m just really excited we could select him again this year.”