Mets veer left on Day 2, take two southpaws
NEW YORK -- Two hard-throwing left-handers highlighted the Mets' early picks on Day 2 of the MLB Draft on Tuesday, replenishing a system that has graduated seven players to the big leagues this season.
Prep left-handers Max Wotell and Thomas Szapucki came off the board in the third and fifth rounds, respectively, giving the Mets two rare commodities in professional baseball: pitchers who can touch the mid-90s from the left side. In between, the Mets drafted a college third baseman with plenty of power potential, even if he may not be long for the position.
"We had targeted several of these players throughout the year," Mets scouting director Tommy Tanous said. "We felt fortunate that they were available for us to take, and complete a successful second day."
The Draft concludes Wednesday, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 11-40 on MLB.com beginning at noon ET.
Round 3 (88th overall): LHP Max Wotell, Marvin Ridge HS (Waxhaw, N.C.)
A left-handed starting pitcher, Wotell was North Carolina's Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year.
"He's as dominant as any pitcher in the western part of the state," Hal Bagwell, head coach of Marvin Ridge's rival Ardrey Kell High School, told the Charlotte Observer last month, comparing Wotell to Braves left-hander Alex Wood. The same coach continued in another article for the Observer: "He is the most dominant pitcher I've seen in a lot of years."
Wotell turned down several schools, including North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia Tech, to commit to the University of Arizona. Like top pick Desmond Lindsay, Wotell is expected to sign with the Mets.
Round 4 (119th overall): 3B David Thompson, University of Miami
Though Thompson's future may lie at first base or even a corner-outfield spot, that decision will come in time. For now, the Mets feel they gained plenty of power in drafting Thompson from Miami, where he was an All-ACC third baseman. A semifinalist for the 2015 Golden Spikes Award, Thompson hit .333, with 19 home runs in 64 games leading up to the College World Series.
"He does have power," MLB.com Draft expert Jim Callis said. "He's hit a lot of home runs in high school, a lot of home runs in college."
Thompson is one of the more accomplished high hitters in Florida high school history. A product of Westminster Christian, the same high school that produced Alex Rodriguez, he broke Prince Fielder's state home run record of 42 in 2011, and he finished his prep career with 55 homers. He signed with Miami as a two-sport athlete, but the former quarterback left the football team after his baseball career began to take off.
Thompson joins a system that is relatively thin in impact corner infielders -- particularly at third base, if he can stick there. At 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds, he fits the mold of a prototypical corner man.
Round 5 (149th overall): LHP Thomas Szapucki, William T. Dwyer HS (West Palm Beach, Fla.)
Like Wotell, a left-handed starter who can crank his fastball into the mid-90s, Szapucki sat comfortably in the low-90s during his senior season, ranking 97th on MLB.com's Top 200 Draft Prospects board. Scouts have had some concerns with his high-effort delivery, but the velocity from the left side is difficult to ignore.
Szapucki is committed to the University of Florida.
"He's a lefty with incredible, really good arm strength and stuff," Tanous said. "A power fastball, he's very hard to hit. His slider, we feel, is a wipeout pitch. We were very excited to get Thomas in this round."