With the 2020 MLB Draft now completed, it’s time for the New York Mets to start pursuing undrafted free agents.
While the New York Mets were very successful during this year’s MLB Draft, their scouting department still has a bit of work to do before moving on to the 2021 class of prospects.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s draft was limited to just five rounds, leaving a ton of quality players undrafted. Furthermore, those prospects who weren’t selected can only sign for a maximum of $20,000 starting on Sunday.
Despite the pool of talented players still available, most of them won’t be willing to sign that small of a contract. Instead, the majority of high school players will head to the college of their choice while current collegiate players will likely return for another season.
With that said, there’ll likely be a ton of college seniors interested in signing with MLB teams. Since most of them won’t be able to return in the fall, they would probably jump at the chance for an opportunity at the next level.
Here are three college seniors the Mets could potentially target.
RHP John McMillon
After the Tigers selected him in the 11th round of the 2019 MLB Draft, John McMillon declined to sign with hopes of improving his draft stock this spring. Unfortunately, the right-hander wasn’t able to accomplish that feat during a shortened season.
Over his seven appearances out of the bullpen, the Texas Tech product recorded a 3.86 ERA, 2.12 FIP, 1.82 WHIP, 8.7 H/9, 0.0 HR/9, 42.6% strikeout rate, and 17% walk rate over his 9.1 innings of work.
While McMillon was able to create a ton of swings and misses this spring, he suffered a significant decline with the velocity on his high-90s fastball. This ultimately eliminated any potential suitors in this year’s draft. From 2017-19, the hard-throwing righty’s heater topped out at 100 miles per hour, but it sat between just 93-95 miles per hour once this past season began.
Luckily, the former Red Raider was able to increase the velocity on his four-seamer back up to 97-98 miles per hour before the coronavirus forced an early end to his senior campaign. Along with his fastball, the 22-year-old hurler also features a mid-80s wipeout slider as his secondary weapon.
Another concern scouts possess with McMillon is the lack of control he carries with both of his pitches. At times, the Texas native allows too many free passes and is forced to work out of trouble with multiple runners on base.
Despite his flaws, the young hurler’s explosive arm strength would’ve likely been too hard to pass on during this year’s draft if there were more than just five rounds. With so many teams searching for hard-throwing relievers, the towering righty would’ve probably been an attractive option beyond the 10th round in a traditional draft.
If signed by the Mets, McMillon has the potential to surge through the minor leagues very quickly and develop into a late-inning reliever at the major-league level. If he’s able to control both of his pitches consistently, he’ll likely have an opportunity to close out games as well.
Here are some of McMillon’s highlights from the 2019 campaign:
OF Austin Langworthy
In spite of the fact that he was drafted out of high school by the Reds in the 31st round of the 2016 MLB Draft, Austin Langworthy didn’t garner much hype from scouts during his four collegiate seasons.
Over the last few years, experts have been very concerned with the left-hander’s inability. He’s been fully committed to Florida’s program since his freshman season. Even though he’s expected to receive an offer to return for a redshirt senior campaign, the Sunshine State native still desires to play at the next level before it’s too late.
After declining Cincinnati’s offer, Langworthy struggled to hit for power during his first two seasons with Florida, slugging just 20 doubles, eight home runs, 55 RBI’s along with a .380 slugging percentage over his first 424 at-bats.
Following his impressive workouts after the 2018 campaign, the 22-year-old was finally able to break out at the plate during his junior campaign. Nonetheless, he still wasn’t able to receive enough attention from MLB teams and was left undrafted for the third consecutive year.
Even though Langworthy wasn’t selected during the 2019 MLB Draft, he was still able to record 12 doubles, three triples, 10 home runs, 43 RBI’s, a 10.5% walk rate, 15.2% strikeout rate, and a slashing line of .283/.362/.498/.860 over his 257 plate appearances last season.
Before the coronavirus wiped out the rest of the 2020 campaign, the hit-over-power outfielder struggled to replicate his slugging metrics from 2019. He ultimately hit just four doubles and one home run. While a limited sample size, he also started producing fewer walks and more strikeouts, having created a 9.2% walk rate and 18.4% strikeout rate through 76 plate appearances.
As for Langworthy’s defense, the former two-way player featured a low-90s fastball on the mound and was able to utilize his arm strength in left field over his near-3.5 seasons with the Gators. While not the most athletic outfielder, the youngster does track balls effectively and is strong enough to play at both corner spots at the next level.
Despite selecting two outfielders in this year’s draft (Pete Crow-Armstrong and Isaiah Greene), the Mets could still benefit from adding another cornerman to their pool of prospects. If Langworthy can maintain his walk totals and contact metrics, he could develop into a quality fourth outfielder who can provide some pop when coming off the bench.
Here’s Langworthy’s walk-off home run that sent Florida to the College World Series in 2018:
LHP Zarion Sharpe
Similar to McMillon and Langworthy, Zarion Sharpe would’ve likely been drafted in 2020 if the event exceeded more than just five rounds.
After the 6-foot-5 mammoth was selected by the Cardinals in the 19th round of the 2019 MLB Draft, he elected to return to UNC Wilmington for his senior season, hoping to improve his draft stock for this summer. Sadly, the best stretch of his college career was cut short earlier this spring.
Starting in the 2019 summer league, Sharpe was utilized as both a starter and reliever over his 20.0 innings pitched. During that time, the 21-year-old produced a 1.35 ERA, 2.51 FIP, 0.90 WHIP, 5.4 H/9, 0.5 HR/9, 32% strikeout rate, and a measly 8% walk rate.
Carrying his impressive results into this spring, the left-hander was on pace to record the best statistical performance of his career with the Seahawks. If there wasn’t a work stoppage, most scouts agree the North Carolina native would’ve probably been taken within the first 10 rounds of the 2020 draft.
Over Sharpe’s 20.2 innings of work this spring, he generated a 2.18 ERA, 3.07 FIP, 1.21 WHIP, 7.4 H/9, 0.4 HR/9, 23.3% strikeout rate along with a 9.3% walk rate.
While a starter, the towering lefty threw a low-90s sinking fastball. But from out of the bullpen, he was able to increase the velocity of his heater up to 94-95 miles per hour. Along with his fastball, the former Seahawk also features a mid-80s slider that falls off towards the right side of the mound.
If Sharpe had a longer track record as a reliever, he likely wouldn’t be available for the Mets to potentially sign as an undrafted free agent. With that said, his limited experience in the bullpen could also delay his timeline to the major leagues.
At the next level, Sharpe will need to continue refining his delivery with both his fastball and slider. If he’s successful with limiting hard contact, his ceiling could be as high as a multi-inning reliever in high-leverage situations.
If you’re looking for a comparison, Sharpe could eventually develop into a shorter, left-handed Dellin Betances.
Here are some of his highlights from the 2019 campaign: