Mets Get Madden!

During the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday, the Mets selected John Madden during the minor league phase.

No not THAT John Madden …. rather, a 6’4″ righthander out of the San Diego Padres’ system. He’s a nice pick, actually, though his numbers are a little skewed as he’s been old for the levels he’s pitched at. However, he has a herky jerky delivery and a 92-93 MPH sinker, drawing comparisons to Jeff Nelson.

Madden, however, was only one of several intriguing picks by the Mets.

Darren O'DayIn the first round of the Major League Phase — this is the one where you have to keep the guy on your roster all year — the Mets plucked righthander Darren O’Day from the Angels. O’Day just turned 25, and pitched in 30 big league games last year before suffering shoulder issues. Turns out he has a torn labrum and could be out of action for 6-8 months. So why draft him? Because he’s young, he’s talented, and the Mets can start him out on the 60-day DL while he rehabs (he’s reportedly not having surgery). To keep him in the organization, the Mets will have to put him on the 25-man for at least 90 days during 2009 — or for 90 days in 2010.

If you’ve never seen him pitch, O’Day is a lot like, well, the aforementioned Madden — a tall (6’4″) and lanky sidearmer with a deceptive delivery and a sinker-slider repertoire, a la Jeff Nelson, Ryan Madson, etc. Considering his age and his success at Florida U and in the minors, this is a smart, calculated gamble. I like it.

In the second round of the Major League Phase, the Mets took pitcher Rocky Cherry. Cherry has not shown much in 40 MLB games over the last two seasons, and will be 30 next August. He throws a really hard slider and once threw a fastball that once touched 95 but it’s straight and I don’t think he gets it up there anymore. For someone with that kind of velocity, he gets hit harder than he should — in 92 innings over the last two years in the minors, he’s allowed 86 hits. What’s strange is his walk totals are remarkably low in the minors, but abysmal in the bigs (35 BB in 48 MLB IP). Sounds to me like a confidence issue — but can it be overcome? For $50,000, it’s worth the gamble. In my mind he’s another Brian Stokes, but with one good secondary pitch rather than three inadequate ones.

In addition to Madden, the Mets also took outfielder Carl Loadenthal, out of the Braves’ system. I’ve never seen him play, but from his stats he appears to be a Jeff Duncan – type: a LH-hitting outfielder who is fleet of foot, strong in the field, no power whatsoever, decent potential to put the bat on the ball and get on base. He turns 27 at the end of this month and has played only 68 games above AA. In other words, he’s filler material for AAA Buffalo. Since the Mets have been stocking their AAA rosters with ancient hasbeens such as Benito Santiago and Ricky Ledee in recent years, the addition of Loadenthal is somewhat refreshing.

Perhaps the best pick of the draft was the one that wasn’t — no one was plucked from the Mets’ system. This surprised me, since Omar Minaya keeps insisting that their minor leagues are much better than everyone else claims. In all seriousness, I thought for sure the Pirates were going to nab Shawn Bowman, but I suppose his back issues scared them away.

Bottom line is this: Cherry, O’Day, and Madden are EXACTLY the type of minor league relievers the Mets have needed in their farm system for several years. In other words, guys who can be shuttled up and down from AAA and to take some of the load off the “main” relievers. Madden’s a minor league draftee, so he doesn’t have to stay on the 25-man all year — he can ride the Heath Bell shuttle. Cherry can make the team out of spring training, and pitch until he’s ineffective, then pave the way for O’Day, who might be ready by late June. I don’t think any of the three will be a significant contributor, but together they could eat up some garbage innings that would otherwise have to be handled by Pedro Feliciano, etc.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.