Mets draft prep RHP Ziegler, load up on arms

July 13th, 2021

The Mets’ elation over landing Kumar Rocker with the No. 10 overall pick in the Draft on Sunday had not even begun to fade by the time team officials returned to their Port St. Lucie, Fla., complex for Day 2 of the event Monday afternoon. Much business still awaited, particularly for an organization seeking an infusion of pitching talent into the farm system.

To that end, the Mets supplemented Rocker with seven more pitchers on Day 2, including six from the college ranks.

“[We] never look at needs of a team,” vice president of amateur scouting Tommy Tanous said. “We don’t feel that that’s a strength to draft from. We look at the best player available. It happened this year that we just kind of hedged toward the pitching a little bit more.”

Here’s a look at how the Mets followed their potentially franchise-changing pick of Rocker:

Round 2, 46th overall: Calvin Ziegler, RHP, TNXL Academy (Fla.)

Notable Skill: Ziegler’s fastball runs into the upper 90s, and consistently sat in the mid-90s after he moved to Florida to showcase his abilities away from Canada, where American scouts had trouble seeing him in person during the height of the pandemic. There’s no doubt about Ziegler’s ability to generate power from his 6-foot-0, 205-pound frame, as Mets scouts confirmed during their various looks at him in Florida, Georgia and Ohio.

Fun Fact: Only eight native Canadians have appeared for the Mets in their history. Of those, only three have played for them in the last 40 years: outfielder Jason Bay, catcher Mike Nickeas and reliever Jim Henderson. If Ziegler makes the Majors for the Mets, he’ll become the first native Canadian drafted and developed into a big leaguer by the organization.

Quotable: “Getting Ziegler, to me, was just a tremendous group pick in how we evaluated him,” scouting director Marc Tramuta said. “I don’t know how much the scouting industry was able to scout him thoroughly, just because of the situation with him being from Canada, going down to the Academy. I thought we were really prepared to make that pick.”

Round 3, 81st overall: Dominic Hamel, RHP, Dallas Baptist University

Notable Skill: Hamel’s spin rates on all his pitches are off the charts, making him a darling of analytics teams across the country. The Mets in particular have made a point to rely more on analytics in this year’s Draft, so it’s no surprise they landed on Hamel at 81st overall.

Fun Fact: Hamel struck out 136 batters over 91 2/3 innings as a junior at Dallas Baptist, shattering the record of 115 set by 2019 Mets Draft pick Jordan Martinson. Fourth and fifth on that list are former Mets relievers Lance Broadway and Vic Black.

Quotable: “We like to scout through both lenses -- a scouting lens and an analytics lens,” Tramuta said. “And on that particular player, they matched up really well. It’s a plus-ride fastball, which all of you know in today’s game is very effective.”

Round 4, 111th overall: JT Schwartz, 1B, UCLA

Notable Skill: Despite his 6-foot-4 frame, Schwartz has been more of an average hitter than a power threat thus far in his career. He batted .396 as a redshirt sophomore, good for 17th among Division 1 players, but that came with only eight home runs. The Mets will need Schwartz to tap more into his power if he’s to profile as a big league first baseman.

Fun Fact: While at Corona del Mar High School in Newport Beach, Calif., Schwartz led the Sea Kings to their first league championship in 13 years.

Quotable: “He can really, really hit,” reporter Jonathan Mayo said. “He’s always hit. He’s always had that approach. More extra-base authority this year, and that’s always been the biggest question, because he’s big and strong and he’s a first baseman, but his approach has always been line drives to all fields. He’s going to need to tap into that power to really profile at first, but clearly the Mets think they have it.”

Round 5, 142nd overall: Christian Scott, RHP, University of Florida

Notable Skill: A reliever at Florida, Scott throws hard -- like, really hard. He touched 98 mph during his college career and regularly sat in the mid-90s with ample movement. That should serve him well as he looks to make a rapid rise to the Majors.

Fun Fact: Scott nearly threw a no-hitter during a Florida high school state tournament semifinal, allowing his first hit with three outs to go in the seven-inning game.

Round 6, 172nd overall: Carson Seymour, RHP, Kansas State

Notable Skill: As with Scott, it’s all about arm strength for Seymour, who is capable of running his fastball into the triple digits. The Wildcats used Seymour out of the bullpen on occasion during his redshirt sophomore season, including at the Big 12 Conference Tournament. Although that’s where Seymour’s ultimate future may lie, the Mets plan to use him as a starter until they feel the need to make a switch.

Fun Fact: Seymour played one season at Dartmouth before transferring to Kansas State. The former Ivy Leaguer has twice made the Big 12’s All-Academic First Team.

Quotable: “I’ve kind of just switched up the mindset of having to throw six innings every single time,” Seymour said during the Big 12 Tournament. “[My] bullpens have kind of just been throw it as hard as you can, and then take that out to the game and just throw it as hard as you can again -- just attack the zone with strikes. Basically just go out there and try to pound the zone as hard as I can every single time.”

Round 7, 202nd overall: Kevin Kendall, SS, UCLA

Notable skill: Kendall’s defensive versatility stands out, as he’s capable of playing shortstop, second base and center field. At the plate, Kendall’s drastically reduced strikeout rate as a redshirt junior allowed him to boost his average from .258 to .356.

Fun fact: Kendall became the fourth UCLA player to be selected in the Draft, following shortstop Matt McLain to the Reds in the first round, Schwartz to the Mets in the fourth and pitcher Nick Nastrini to the Dodgers also in the fourth. Kendall and Schwartz shared the right side of the Bruins’ infield on 11 occasions this season.

Round 8, 232nd overall: Mike Vasil, RHP, University of Virginia

Notable skill: Vasil can throw a varied assortment of pitches at opponents, with four usable ones at his disposal -- somewhat unique for a pitcher his age. A potential first-round pick coming out of high school in Massachusetts, Vasil withdrew from the Draft following a senior-year arm injury. Even though his stock has fallen a bit since then, Vasil did enough at Virginia to clock in at No. 111 on MLB Pipeline’s Draft board.

Fun fact: Vasil gained a moment of internet fame during the College World Series, when he mimed the action of holstering a sword following a strikeout against Texas.

Quotable: “This is a supreme strike thrower,” Tanous said. “The velocity early in games is plus, so he has the makings of someone that we believe stays as a starter, which is hard to find in the round that we took him. And if the velocity kicks up like it was in high school a little bit, we feel like we have not only a sleeper here, but somebody that could possibly get into the middle of the rotation.”

Round 9, 262nd overall: Levi David, RHP, Northwestern State

Notable skill: David’s curveball was one of the best in the Draft, featuring a 72 percent swing-and-miss rate. Opponents went 5-for-98 with 80 strikeouts against his curve this season. It’s a classic north-to-south pitch that can reach the mid- to upper-80s, but David also sometimes spins it more laterally to generate slider-like movement.

Fun fact: As a high schooler, David was a Texas state swimming champion in the 50-meter freestyle event.

Quotable: “We’ve talked about it before -- Levi has electric stuff,” Northwestern State coach Bobby Barbier recently told Crescent City Sports. “When he competes in the strike zone, he makes it tough on guys.”

Round 10, 292nd overall: Keyshawn Askew, LHP, Clemson

Notable skill: Askew pitches low from the left side, typically dropping down to a pure sidearm delivery from what was once a three-quarters delivery earlier in his amateur career. He used that unique arm slot to strike out 69 batters over 57 innings as a redshirt sophomore in 2021.

Fun fact: Askew has watched every episode of “The Office” at least four times, according to his Clemson profile.

Quotable: “The biggest thing with him, besides the uniqueness of the delivery and the arm slot, is the competitor,” Tanous said. “He was one of the most fun guys to watch on the mound -- as tough a competitor as I’ve seen in a long time. I remember texting [Tramuta] when I was at Clemson, saying, ‘Boy, this kid’s tough. He really wants to win.’ I was super excited to get him.”