NEW YORK -- The Mets' strong finish last season may have bumped them out of the upper half of the MLB Draft's first round, but that doesn't make this year's event any less important for an organization looking to restore some luster to a diminished farm system.
The 2016 Draft will take place from Thursday through Saturday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB Network and MLB.com today at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 77 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of Day 2 begins with a live Draft show at 12:30 p.m. on Friday, with exclusive coverage of Day 3 beginning at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 200 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of over 1,500 Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from @MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Here's how the Draft is shaping up for the Mets, whose first selection is the No. 19 overall pick.
In about 50 words
The Mets have either traded away or graduated much of the upper-level talent in their system, including all of their most coveted young starting pitchers. It's time to begin building anew, this time without longtime Draft conductor Paul DePodesta pulling the strings.
DePodesta's departure means senior director of amateur scouting Tommy Tanous will have his most visible role yet in this year's Draft. It may take a year or two to determine if that will result in any sort of philosophical change, though as long as Sandy Alderson is general manager, the Mets will always seek patient hitters and strikeout-happy pitchers.
MLB.com's Jim Callis recently wrote that "New York's interest in [Wake Forest third baseman Will] Craig is no secret," and the Mets certainly have plenty of motivation to pursue him. With David Wright's future even more in question, the Mets need a third base prospect ready to contribute sooner rather than later. Michael Conforto's rapid rise to the Majors may have emboldened them to select another polished college product such as Craig.
To ensure competitive balance, MLB's Collective Bargaining Agreement stipulates that each team has a bonus pool to spend based upon the number and position of their Draft picks. The more selections a team has and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. Any club that overspends its budget is subject to taxes and, in extreme cases, a loss of picks in future Drafts.
This year, the Mets have a pool of $7,671,700 to spend in the first 10 rounds, including $2,378,800 to spend on their first selection.
Though the Mets took a college third baseman with one of their early picks last year, depth at that position certainly can't hurt. The Mets are also in need of arms after trading away several good ones -- including current Tigers rookie Michael Fulmer -- last summer to acquire Yoenis Cespedes, Tyler Clippard, Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe.
Under DePodesta, the Mets selected a position player with their top pick in five consecutive Drafts. It will be interesting to see if that trend changes now that DePodesta has left the Mets for a job with the NFL's Cleveland Browns, particularly considering the Mets' lack of blue-chip starting pitchers in their upper Minors.
Recent Draft history
The aforementioned college third baseman, David Thompson, has been an RBI machine this season for Class A Columbia. Though he isn't likely to match Conforto's rapid ascension to the big leagues, Thompson -- last year's collegiate leader in home runs and RBIs at the University of Miami -- could reach the upper Minors in short order.
A 13th-round pick in 2011, Robert Gsellman was one of the darlings of early Spring Training this year after a strong 2015 season landed him on the 40-man roster. Since Gsellman has not slowed much early in 2016, he should soon advance to Triple-A Las Vegas.
In the show
Conforto made waves last July when he arrived in the big leagues barely a year removed from college. Six other current Mets came to the team via Draft picks, including three-fifths of their starting rotation: Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and Steven Matz.
The Mets' recent top picks
2015: Desmond Lindsay, OF, Extended spring training
2014: Conforto, OF, Mets
2013: Dominic Smith, 1B, Double-A Binghamton
2012: Gavin Cecchini, SS, Triple-A Las Vegas
2011: Brandon Nimmo, OF, Las Vegas
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.