Michael Baron, ContributorIn the 2012 first-year player draft, the Mets selected SS Gavin Cecchini with the 12th overall selection.
Cecchini has played in 109 games in his first two professional seasons, hitting .256 with a .313 OBP, one home run and 36 RBI between Rookie Kingsport and Low-A Brooklyn.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals selected RHP Michael Wacha with the 19th overall selection in the 2012 first-year player draft.
Wacha made his big league debut on May 30 and went 4-1 with a 2.78 ERA in 15 appearances and nine starts for St. Louis. He has stood out during the 2013 postseason, going 4-0 with a 1.00 ERA in 27 innings.
“We were really focused on position players at the top of the 2012 draft,” Mets Senior VP of Player Development Paul DePodesta told the New York Post. “We didn’t even sign a pitcher in that draft until our fifth selection. So, we really liked Wacha, and he was high up on our board, but as an organization we needed to use our high picks that year to create more value in our position player prospects.”
DePodesta told the organization continues to project Cecchini as an everyday shortstop in the big leagues despite his early struggles.
The Mets have their reasons for passing on Wacha, as do the 17 other teams that chose ahead of the Cardinals in that draft. And, in all fairness, Wacha is one of only six players to be drafted in 2012 and make their debuts in 2013. I don’t think the Cardinals could have ever expected Wacha to make such an impact so early. Thanks to their player development system and a considerable amount of luck, Wacha is paying huge dividends for St. Louis on the big stage. It remains to be seen what Wacha’s future holds, but he’s been wonderful this year, especially late in the season when it has mattered the most for St. Louis. But there have been plenty of one-hit wonders in this game, so we’ll see what unfolds in the future for him.
In defense of the Mets, they’re still struggling to generate high-level position player prospects throughout their organization, and so it makes perfect sense as to why the Mets devoted the bulk of their top draft choices in 2012 towards position players. In fact, Sandy Alderson’s front office has taken a position player in the first round of every one of their drafts since they took over (Brandon Nimmo, 2011, Cecchini, 2012, and Dominic Smith, 2013). That’s not to say the strategy will ever work out for the Mets, but its a respectable approach and they certainly have nothing to lose by employing that strategy, given what they have in their farm system from the position player perspective.
Read more: Puma, NY Post