Matt Winaker 1B/OF
Bats/Throws: L/L Ht: 6’1 Wt: 195 lbs Age: 22 (DOB 11/29/95)
The Mets tabbed their second Stanford bat of the 2017 Amateur Draft in the 5th round last year when they signed Matt Winaker. The lefty swinging first baseman, who was rated #316 overall on the Baseball America Top 500 Draft Prospects, went to join the Brooklyn Cyclones of the NY-Penn League, where he showcased the standout skill that intrigued Mets scouts.
Through his career at Stanford, Winaker consistently demonstrated an advanced feel for the strike zone, tallying more walks than strikeouts in each of his three seasons. The athletic firstbaseman finally added legitimate power to his game during his final collegiate season, allowing scouts to hope that a power-patience combo could be in the makings.
So, as referenced above, Winaker headed out to Brooklyn and quickly proved his on-base skills, maintaining a healthy .402 OBP, and drawing more walks (15) than strikeouts (11) in limited action (71 at-bats) before his season ended prematurely due to a wrist injury. While Winaker’s newfound power did not play at all in his brief debut professional season, Winaker is now healthy and down in spring training in Port St. Lucie, Fl. and ready to hone his bat further under the tutelage of Mets instructors.
Winaker will most likely profile as a plus defender at firstbase, and begin to get exposure in the corner outfield as well. While Winaker does not ooze plus raw bat speed or power, the Mets believe they can unlock enough power to play in today’s environment. The Mets organization highly values the ability to get on base, and Winaker’s first challenge this year will most likely be to demonstrate that he can do so against full season pitchers in low-A Columbia. A notoriously difficult league to hit for power in, fans might need to temper power expectations for a little while. Still only 22 for the full 2018 season, if Winaker could continue to showcase plus on-base skills, that would be a successful first full professional season. Sometimes prospects like Winaker (good polish, average tools, no premium position) fail to garner attention among prospect analysts. But I think Brandon Nimmo should be a really positive comparison for Matt Winaker’s path to the big leagues. While Nimmo was taken out of high school in the first round of the 2011 draft, he has failed to demonstrate either the plus power or speed or ability to play everyday up the middle that Mets evaluators were gambling on. And yet here we are: Nimmo is poised to play a big role on the 2018 big league club, and is drawing positive reviews from Mets brass and indeed around the league, not for remaining tool projection, but for his ability to make solid contact, draw walks and get on base, and show the potential for mid-level power. That, my friends, is exactly what Matt Winaker has the profile to do.