HomeTeamsMets“Other Guys” from 2021 Draft Starting To Get Mets Attention

“Other Guys” from 2021 Draft Starting To Get Mets Attention

For the Mets, the 2021 draft is automatically associated with the failure around first-round pick, Kumar Rocker. This spring, however, it’s a few of the other names the Mets took that are beginning to make some noise.

When the Mets took Kumar Rocker with the 10th pick in the first round of the 2021 MLB Draft, there were few who second-guessed the decision. While it’s true that Rocker’s draft ranking fell a bit after some loss of velocity and some potential mechanics issues gave teams pause, it still seemed like a reasonable gamble for the Mets to take. However, a post-draft physical uncovered some potential injury issues, and when the Mets tried to negotiate accordingly, Rocker balked at their offer and the team was left without its first-round pick. They did get a #11 pick in the 2022 draft as compensation. Even so, this relative debacle was another line item on the already long list that leads to the LOLMets nickname.

Now, just a few years later, and it looks like the Mets might be doing some LOLing (or L-ingOL, I guess) of their own, as Calvin Ziegler, Dom Hamel, and Nate Lavender had strong spring showings.

Calvin Ziegler – 2nd round:

In 2022, Ziegler showed up to his first professional Spring Training already as the team’s #13-ranked prospect. Scouts were excited by his ability to hit the upper-90s with his fastball, while also getting some impressive movement on his other pitches. Even though his 0-4 record and 4.44 ERA at Port St. Lucie that year weren’t all that inspiring, his 70 Ks in 46.2 innings showed the promise the Mets were hoping for. Last March, however, Ziegler underwent surgery to remove bone spurs from his right elbow, which was torn right quadriceps tendon injury, delaying his 2023 debut until September. Ziegler pitching one inning last season and struck out all three batters he faced. Ziegler’s focus this March was in the Mets minor league camp. However, his appearance on the team’s Spring Breakout roster is an indication of the Mets faith in him. The team is hoping that is 2-strikeout save in the Breakout game is a sign of things to come.

Dom Hamel – 3rd round:

Since transferring from Yavapai College to Dallas Baptist University in 2020, Hamel seems to improve with every season. His stats at DBU were good enough for the Mets to use their third-round pick on him. DBU is known for their use of advanced baseball analytic data, and Hamel came to the Mets with a low-90’s fastball and near-elite spin rate. In 2022, he pitched for the St. Lucie Mets as well as the Brooklyn Cyclones, logging 119 total innings with 145 Ks and a 3.25 ERA. Last year, while pitching for the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, he struck out 160 batters in 124 innings and was named the Eastern League pitcher of the month for September. He only faced 2 batters for the Mets this spring, but he had shown enough to warrant the start in the Spring Breakout game.

Nate Lavender – 14th round:

Drafted out of the University of Illinois, Lavender has been one of the more talked about Mets minor leaguers for a couple seasons now, despite generally being ranked outside of the team’s Top 20 prospects lists. The rankings appear to mean little to Lavender or to the Mets, as many expect him to be one of the team’s first callups, should the opportunity arise. He certainly helped himself this spring, appearing in three games, facing 9 hitters, and striking out 7 of them. Last year he struck out 86 batters in 54.1 innings across double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Syracuse. If he can continue to reduce his walk rate, it’s likely that we’ll see Lavender pitching at Citi Field sometime this summer and possibly for years to come.

Aside from the three players mentioned above, pitchers Christian Scott (5th round) and Mike Vasil (8th round), as well as first baseman JT Schwartz (4th round), all played with the big-league club this month and gave the Mets reason to believe they’ll be contributors in the future.

After not signing with the Mets following the 2021 draft, Kumar Rocker signed on with the Frontier League’s Tri-City ValleyCats and pitched impressively in 20 innings there, leading the Texas Rangers to choose him with the third pick in the first round of the 2022 draft. Unfortunately, in 2023, after 6 starts with the Rangers High-A affiliate, the Hickory Crawdads, Rocker learned he would need Tommy John surgery, ending his ’23 season, and significantly delaying his start this year. While the Mets may look back on their original attempt to draft Rocker in 2021, they seem to be looking forward to the promise that the other players in that draft are showing them.

Shai Kushner
Shai Kushnerhttps://mlbreport.com/
Shai Kushner, is a seasoned sports journalist and versatile professional deeply embedded in the world of baseball. Since 2014, Shai has been a trusted voice covering the New York Mets for BaseballDigest.com and GothamBaseball.com. Before his journalism career, he served as a video engineer for the Mets Baseball Operations department.


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