Mets feel first Draft pick a hidden gem
Florida high school outfielder Lindsay boasts speed, power
NEW YORK -- Drafting without a first rounder for the first time in six years, the Mets understood the difficulty of their task. Headline-grabbing players would be long gone by the time the Mets made their first selection at No. 53 overall Monday, so they wasted little energy scouting most of them. Instead, the Mets looked for underrated players, unexpected sources of value, hoping to unearth a jewel that others overlooked.
They believe they found one in Desmond Lindsay, a speedy, power-hitting outfielder from Out-Of-Door Academy in Sarasota, Fla. A Perfect Game First Team All-American this season, Lindsay also received Florida All-Region First Team Honors. In vice president of amateur scouting and player development Paul DePodesta's eyes, Lindsay fell to No. 53 only because of a hamstring injury that robbed him of significant time late in his senior season.
"We felt like this was a real opportunity for us with Desmond," DePodesta said. "Without the hamstring injury this spring, we don't think there would be any way that he would have lasted to the 53rd pick in this Draft. There's just too much talent there, and a combination of power and speed that's just very difficult to find. So we felt like it was an opportunity for us, in a year when we didn't have a first-round pick, to maybe reach up and get a first-round talent."
The Draft continues Tuesday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 12:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at 1 p.m. ET.
Though some draft publications rate Lindsay in their Top 100 Draft class prospects, not everyone agrees with the Mets' assessment of him. MLB.com did not rank Lindsay among its top 200, nor did Baseball America include him in its top 100. But the Mets trusted their own scouting, even watching him up close at the Metropolitan Baseball Classic at Citi Field.
What DePodesta and scouting director Tommy Tanous saw was a player with elite speed and power to supplement it, a rare combination in today's game of specialization.
"This is an athlete that probably has a plus-plus run tool for us," Tanous said. "He's one of the faster kids in the Draft. Although he's a fairly strong kid, this is a kid that can run."
The Mets have been more aggressive selecting high school position players since general manager Sandy Alderson and DePodesta took over in 2011, taking outfielder Brandon Nimmo that year, shortstop Gavin Cecchini the following June and first baseman Dominic Smith in '13. The last time the Mets drafted without a first-round pick back in 2009, they also nabbed a high schooler: left-hander Steven Matz, who is now the most promising starting pitcher in their entire farm system.
"We had second rounders in '11, '12 and '13 and we've gotten some very good players around that area of the Draft," DePodesta said. "And we're excited about this one. I think this one has probably as much upside as anyone we've taken in the second round since we've been here."
Despite that, the Mets envision no problems signing him. Though Lindsay is committed to a top-notch baseball program at Matt Harvey's alma mater, the University of North Carolina, his grandmother grew up in Connecticut and is a lifelong Mets fan. Given $1,142,700 in slot value to work with, the Mets feel they will sign their second-round pick quickly.
"Desmond will be a Met," Tanous said. "I don't think there's much of an issue there."