NEW YORK -- Heading into his first two Drafts as the Mets' head of amateur scouting, Paul DePodesta was not sure if he would receive the quality of talent he desired with his first-round pick. Looking back, DePodesta said, he considers the Mets lucky to nab outfielder Brandon Nimmo 13th overall in 2011 and shortstop Gavin Cecchini 12th overall last June.
This year should be different. In DePodesta's opinion, this is a deeper Draft in terms of first-round talent. And so he believes the Mets are guaranteed to receive an impact player with their 11th overall selection.
"There are some guys obviously that we like more than others, but there are definitely 11 guys that we like a lot," DePodesta said. "In fact, there are more than 11. So going into this year, I think we're very comfortable with what the outcome is likely to be on June 6.
"We don't know the name of the player or the position or anything like that, but we're going to have a good choice, and we're going to get someone we like an awful lot."
The 2013 First-Year Player Draft will take place Thursday through Saturday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Thursday at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 73 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. Rounds 3-10 will be streamed live on MLB.com on Friday, beginning with a preview show at 12:30 p.m., and Rounds 11-40 will be streamed live on MLB.com on Saturday, starting at 1 p.m.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. Fans can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft on Twitter, and get into the Draft conversation by tagging tweets with #mlbdraft.
Last year, the Mets went into the first week of June with clear areas of need at shortstop and catcher. Fittingly, they took one of each with their top two picks, selecting Cecchini in the first round and Kevin Plawecki after that. The Mets later traded for Travis d'Arnaud over the winter, transforming catching in particular into a sudden organizational strength.
As a result, the Mets have no critical needs heading into this year's Draft. Certainly, their hitting still lags behind their pitching as an organizational strength -- even DePodesta and his lieutenants admit that. But there is no one position that the Mets feel desperate to improve.
"In the last couple years, we did feel like there was a need in the middle of the diamond," DePodesta said. "We were certainly focused on the best player available, but if they were close, we were going to go with the guy in the middle. And we did that repeatedly over the last couple of years. This year? We don't really have a tiebreaker anymore. We're going to have to look to different factors to make that determination."
Here's a glance at what the Mets have in store as the Draft approaches:
In about 50 words
It will still be a few years before they know if their recent first-round selections of Nimmo and Cecchini will pay dividends, but the Mets feel their farm system is in vastly better shape than it was when DePodesta took control. Now, they hope to fortify it with upside.
Since taking over after the 2010 season, DePodesta and general manager Sandy Alderson have leaned on the Draft and the trade market to infuse talent into the farm system. Specifically addressing up-the-middle areas of need, the Mets feel their system -- which most experts now rank somewhere in the middle of the pack -- no longer features any glaring weaknesses.
Still, because pitching remains a relative strength, the Mets may look to supplement their arms with more potential impact position players.
Should the Mets decide to Draft a high school hitter in the first round for the third year in a row, plenty of possibilities await. A dream scenario could be one of the two standout Georgia outfielders, Austin Meadows or Clint Frazier, though both may be off the board by the time the Mets pick at No. 11. On the college side, infielder D.J. Peterson and outfielder Hunter Renfroe should also draw interest.
Selecting a pitcher, always a possibility, could bring them face-to-face with right-handers Ryne Stanek of Arkansas or Chris Anderson of Jacksonville.
Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $100,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.
Any team going up to five percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75-percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75-percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100-percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100-percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.
The Mets have a bonus pool of $6.99 million, which ranks 10th in baseball. Their top pick comes with a value of $2.84 million, roughly 40 percent of their total for the entire Draft. The Mets have four picks in the first three rounds of the Draft, totaling $5.34 million of value.
The Mets' two biggest needs heading into last year's Draft, catcher and shortstop, are both now relative strengths of the system. Pitching remains a strong point as well.
So what will the Mets target? A power-hitting corner outfielder would make plenty of sense, as would any infielder with pop. None of their current top prospects boast elite home run potential.
Spending first-round picks on high school hitters was unheard of under Omar Minaya's watch as general manager, but Alderson and DePodesta have done it twice in two years at the helm. That's not to say the Mets are focused solely on high school players; their early-round history has been all over the map, making trend-watching an exercise in futility.
• Recent Draft History •
After signing with the Mets last summer and making a brief stop at short-season Class A Brooklyn, Plawecki opened this year in Class A Savannah, where he has torched Sally League pitching for two straight months. Plawecki could reach high-A St. Lucie later this summer, putting him on the fast track for a Flushing debut in late 2014 or early '15.
Dillon Gee's big league career may not have been a certainty when the Mets selected him in the 21st round in 2007, but he has already won the fifth-most games of any pitcher the Mets have drafted since Dwight Gooden. Bobby Jones, Mike Pelfrey, Rick Aguilera, and Jon Niese are the only Mets draftees to win more games over the past 30 years.
In The Show
Though the Mets are no longer running out lineups composed entirely of homegrown players, as they did on several occasions last season, they continue to lean on an offensive core of David Wright, Daniel Murphy, Ike Davis and Lucas Duda. Homegrown reliever Bobby Parnell has taken over the closer's role, while former first-round pick Matt Harvey anchors a rotation that also includes Niese and Gee.
Mets' recent top picks
2012: Gavin Cecchini, SS, Extended spring
2011: Brandon Nimmo, OF, Class A Savannah
2010: Matt Harvey, RHP, New York Mets
2009: Steven Matz, LHP, Class A Savannah
2008: Ike Davis, 1B, New York Mets