NEW YORK (AP) — After gambling in the draft, the New York Mets hope it just paid off with a future ace.
Third-round pick Matt Allan signed for a $2.5 million bonus and was introduced Friday at Citi Field. The right-hander from Seminole High School in Florida was rated a top-20 prospect but lasted until the 89th selection early this month because teams were concerned about being able to meet his asking price.
“I think everyone knew it was going to take first round-type treatment to get him interested in this process,” agent Scott Boras said.
To save enough money from their bonus pool allotment to squeeze in Allan, the Mets drafted seven consecutive college seniors — who had little bargaining leverage — after plucking the 18-year-old pitcher.
In other words, they put a lot of eggs in one basket.
“He is a tremendous high school talent. He’s somebody that we really manipulated our entire draft to try to bring into the organization,” first-year general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said. “This particular pitcher has a chance to be a No. 1 or No. 2 starter. An opportunity like that doesn’t present itself very often, and to take a pretty aggressive and unique draft strategy for the rest of the way, picks 4 through 10, is something that we were pretty eager and excited to pull off.”
It wasn’t an entirely novel idea — other clubs have taken similar approaches in targeting a certain player under the current rules for signing draft picks.
But the Mets really went all in with their long run on college seniors, and some might call it risky.
“I think there are very few impact talents in any given draft, and it is a rare opportunity for a team to have a chance to get more than one of those impact talents,” Van Wagenen said. “The fact that we were able to get three is something we’re very proud of.”
In the end, Allan gave up his college commitment to Florida to sign with the Mets for well above his slot value of $667,900.
“Once kind of the situation was put in front of me, it was too good to pass up,” he said. “I’m super excited.”
After making their move for Allan on the second day of the draft, the Mets maintained they were confident they’d be able to strike a deal with him.
But did they jeopardize the depth in this class by focusing so heavily on one player?
“I don’t view it as a risk, I view it as an opportunity,” amateur scouting director Marc Tramuta said. “I think anytime you go into a draft, you’re looking for impact. And I think we got impact with those first three picks. Will we get some out of 4-10? We’ll see. But I think anytime you go in and you can add this kind of talent to your system at the top of the draft, I think you should do that every year.”
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Allan pitched a perfect game with 17 strikeouts in the Florida district semifinals and helped his school win a state championship.
Allan wore a Mets jersey as he was introduced to media members in the dugout Friday afternoon. He stayed for the game against Atlanta and will report to the club’s complex in Port St. Lucie, Florida, to begin his pro career in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League.
“I know it’s going to be a grind, but at the end of the day this is something that I love doing and this is what I want to do, obviously, when I grow up,” Allan said. “I’m just going to try to enjoy every second of it.
“I really just want to learn so I can get here as fast as I can.”
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