Today starts Major League Baseball’s First Year Player Draft, and despite baseball’s marketing attempts, it’s just never going to be a big thing like the NFL and NBA drafts.
With their first round selection, the 11th overall, the New York Mets chose a 17-year-old high school kid from San Mateo, Calif. named Dominic Smith.
Baseball America likes Smith, calling him “one of the best pure hitters in the draft class” and projecting that he will be among the Mets’ top three prospects once he signs.
Smith said the right things when he talked to the media: “I can’t wait to put on my Mets uniform and get out there and play.”
ESPN’s Keith Law says Smith “has quick, strong wrists, with a projectable body that should lead to very hard contact when he fills out in three or four years.” (emphasis added)
And with all apologies to Smith, that’s precisely why I’m not excited about the pick. In four or five years, I may be very thankful that the Mets did not surrender their 2013 first round selection to sign Michael Bourn. But for 2013, Bourn would have been more fun. I probably won’t even get to see Smith playwith the Brooklyn Cyclones until next year.
With fewer players reaching free agency during the prime of their careers, building a winning team through the farm system is increasingly important. And that’s why I hope that Sandy Alderson and Paul DePodesta made a good choice with Smith and their subsequent picks.
But let’s go back to the old days where the local team’s first round pick was worth a mention in a beat writer’s notes column. Most years, there’s no Stephen Strasburg or Bryce Harper to come along and make a fairly immediate impact. And for all the great picks in Mets history like Matt Harvey, David Wright, Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry, there are corresponding clunkers like Nathan Vineyard, Lastings Milledge, Kirk Presley and Al Shirley.
Good luck, Dominic Smith – I’ll pay attention to you again when I see you with the Cyclones or the Binghamton Mets