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Draft Pick Conforto Conforms to Mets Organizational Philosophy

by Guy Kipp | Posted on Monday, June 9th, 2014
(Photo courtesy of NCAA.com)

(Photo courtesy of NCAA.com)

When the Mets selected Oregon State University outfielder Michael Conforto with the 10th overall pick in the June Amateur Draft last week, they were quick to trumpet the 6-2, 215-pound left-handed hitter’s patient approach at the plate.

But Mets fans jaded by what the organization’s definition of “patience” is could be forgiven for rolling their eyes in unison at the description.

A corner outfielder who batted over .320 in each of his three seasons playing in the Pac-12, Conforto is said to have impressive gap power. But, in addition to his aforementioned “patience,” he has been described in Lindy’s Sports Baseball 2014 Preview as “a below-average runner and a lumbering left-fielder.”

Sounds like skills that will really play well in Citi Field.

Sounds like the Mets re-drafted Lucas Duda.

In their obsession with the organizational mission for working counts patiently and “hunting strikes,” the Mets—currently losers of six consecutive games—have drummed aggressiveness right out of most of their hitters, which, in turn, has rewarded opposing pitchers who take an aggressive approach, knowing they’ll get a free strike most every time by firing a fastball down the middle on the first pitch to those patient, strike-hunting Mets batters.

There’s nothing wrong with the idea of drafting a slugging outfielder who may be major-league ready in a couple of years, or a lot sooner than a high school pick would be. Lord knows the Mets need offense. But, given this organization’s time-honored inability to spot or cultivate offensive talent, it’s only natural to greet the drafting of Conforto with skepticism.

He hit 13 home runs as a freshman, 11 as a sophomore, and hit just seven home runs in this, his junior season. Are the Mets not a little concerned that Conforto’s home run production has been cut in half in two years? Well, they weren’t concerned about outfielder Chris Young’s offensive numbers across the board plummeting for four consecutive seasons in the majors before they signed the virtually useless outfielder to a $7 million contract to hunt strikes, use up outs and take up space in the batting order this season.

Two weeks ago, the Mets fired batting coach Dave Hudgens and replaced him with Lamar Johnson. But, just like replacing one lying Presidential press secretary with another, it really doesn’t matter who holds the title and mouths the words when the orders are coming from higher up. In this case, those orders are to discourage aggressiveness in batters in the Mets organization and to encourage the passive “working of counts” and driving up pitch counts—those runners in scoring position be damned.

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