Omar’s Draft

By: David Weiss

 

This was Sandy Alderson’s eighth draft as Mets general manager. He is often criticized for not doing well in the draft. Most experts will agree that projecting which young star will be a productive major leaguer is extremely difficult. It could be the hardest part of the job.

While Sandy often gets criticized, I have seen no shortage of nostalgic posts claiming that in the good old days of Omar Minaya, the Mets seemed to have a much better farm system. The claim is that Omar had a good eye for talent. While the team had some very talented players, most were acquired via free agency and trades. Therefore, players like Beltran, Delgado, Martinez and Lo Duca are out of scope. The real focus was on his ability to develop young players. Was Omar really a scouting genius? Let’s look at the facts.

minaya-wilpon.jpg
Omar Minaya and Jeff Wilpon evaluating talent. 

The best way to acquire young talent is through the draft. Let’s begin by having a look at Omar’s draft picks and how they turned out. As GM, Omar was at the helm for six drafts. The Mets took 289 picks. About 73.4% of his picks signed with the team, which is expected. As discussed in a previous article, it is common for late round picks to turn down the offer and opt for college ball. To cut Omar some slack, I will not include the 77 players who did not sign. Of all those who did sign, 32 played at least one big league game. Of those who did make it to the show, a mere 25 played in over twenty games. In other words, 11.8% of draft picks that Omar signed had somewhat relevant big-league careers.

There is a big problem with just calculating who played in the majors. It doesn’t answer the most obvious question. Was he worth it? There is no perfect way to measure this, but I would say that in his six seasons, Omar drafted maybe around a dozen players who were ‘good’. These are guys who at one point or another were solid major leaguers. Of course, we can argue all day about how good they were, but most fans can acknowledge when they see one.

While Omar picked some players who panned out, the main claim against him is that he simply got lucky. Most of the players who made it and were successful came in later rounds. Let’s look at his first-round picks (Majors leaguers in bold)-

 

Year

Round

Overall

Name

2005 1 9 Mike Pelfrey
2007 1 (supplementary) 42 Eddie Kunz
2007 1 (supplementary) 47 Nathan Vineyard
2008 1 18 Ike Davis
2008 1 22 Reese Havens
2008 1 33 Bradley Holt
2010 1 7 Matt Harvey

Here we see some players who had very good years like Harvey and Davis. Pelfrey was never as good as we had hoped for. The sad part was that Havens, Vineyard and Holt never played a game in the big leagues while Kunz pitched poorly in his four games.

Reese
Reese Havens had an injury plagued minor league career and never played a game in the majors.

Rounds two wasn’t any better –

Year

Round

Overall

Name

2006 2 62 Kevin Mulvey
2007 2 77 Scott Moviel
2007 2 93 Brant Rustich
2008 2 68 Javier Rodriguez
2009 2 72 Steven Matz

Only Matz has had any major league success. Mulvey pitched in just ten games.

Matz
Matz was the one successful second round pick under Omar.

A look at third and fourth round picks also shows little improvement-

Year

Round

Overall

Name

2005 4 119 Hector Pellot
2006 3 94 Joe Smith
2006 4 124 John Holdzkom
2007 3 99 Eric Niesen
2007 3 123 Stephen Clyne
2007 4 153 Richard Lucas
2008 3 100 Kirk Nieuwenhuis
2008 4 134 Sean Ratliff
2009 3 103 Robbie Shields
2009 4 134 Darrell Ceciliani
2010 3 89 Blake Forsythe
2010 4 122 Cory Vaughn

Just a third of these players made it to the show. Joe Smith is the only standout here and Nieuwenhuis is a respectable backup outfielder.

 

It is only in the seventh round and on that you see more well known players-

Year

Round

Overall

Name

2005 7 209 Jon Niese
2005 9 269 Bobby Parnell
2005 13 389 Josh Thole
2006 13 394 Daniel Murphy
2007 7 243 Lucas Duda
2007 21 663 Dillon Gee
2008 18 554 Collin McHugh
2010 9 272 Jacob deGrom
2010 24 722 Erik Goeddel
2010 30 902 Josh Edgin
deGrom
Omar’s greatest pick came in the ninth round.

We see that Omar was not great at drafting players. However, that is only one way to acquire talent. What about international signings? I had a look at this and this too was not convincing. Omar had two big signings and both weren’t that good. Fernando Martinez was signed in 2005 for $1.4 million and was heralded as the next big thing. He struggled in parts of 3 seasons with the Mets. Juan Urbina signed in 2009 and got $1.2 million. He made it as far as the Brooklyn Cyclones.

Martinez
Despite the hype, Fernando Martinez was not a productive player.

In typical Omar fashion, it was the under the radar signings that eventually made it. Wilmer Flores, Ruben Tejada, Jeurys Familia, Jenrry Mejia and Juan Lagares are all players who were never considered to be top notch signees, but who have made some major league success at one point or another. Francisco Pena and Deolis Guerra were each signed by the Omar but made their debuts elsewhere. The only one here who was an all-star was Familia. In 6 years, this is not a very long list.

Omar Minaya has not been GM for close to a decade. Therefore, it is fair to now look back on his tenure to see if he was really the scouting guru that so many made him out to be. To me, it seems that at best Omar was lucky more than good. The guys who he thought would be stars didn’t do as well as advertised. Few players became stars and as a result the Mets have often lacked minor league depth.

Flores Tejada
Flores and Tejada were two under the radar Latin American signees.

Just think about how the past decade could have been different had Omar’s players panned out. Perhaps, Jason Bay would never have become a Met if Fernando Martinez would have been a good ballplayer? Maybe the Mets would have had Reese Havens playing short in 2013 and not Omar Quintanilla? Would the 2015 Mets been World champs if Kunz, Vineyard or Holt would have emerged as a solid lock down eighth inning man? We will never know. What we do know is that as GM, Omar Minaya was not the talent spotting guru that so many claim he was.

 

(David Weiss is a lifelong Mets fan. He has lived in Israel since 2008 and runs the Facebook page Jewish Mets Fans.)

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