7/11/2014 8:00 P.M. ET
First-rounder Conforto hits Big Apple for first time
By Tim Healey / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Michael Conforto is visiting New York for the first time this week, and between seeing the sights, preparing for life as a professional ballplayer with Class A Brooklyn this summer and meeting some of the Major Leaguers he grew up watching, Conforto learned something pretty important about the Big Apple: The food is good.
"We've been eating a whole lot since we got here," Conforto said Friday afternoon during his introductory news conference at Citi Field, flanked by general manager Sandy Alderson, scouting director Tomy Tanous and agent Scott Boras. "We're Italian, and we've had some really good Italian food. Really good. Usually you can only get that from family back home."
Conforto made the trip to New York to take a physical and finalize his contract after the Mets made him the 10th overall selection in the First-Year Player Draft. MLB.com reported last month Conforto would receive a $2.97 million signing bonus.
The 21-year-old outfielder joined the Major League team for its pregame routine, complete with uniform -- he wore No. 88 -- and a round of batting practice.
As a junior at Oregon State this spring, Conforto his .345 with seven home runs and 56 RBIs in 59 games. He was named one of the five finalists for the Dick Howser Trophy, given annually to the top college player in the country. Conforto was also named the PAC-12 Player of the Year for the second season in a row, and he was the first three-time All-American in school history.
Aside from the accolades, though, Conforto gives the Mets' farm system something it has lacked in recent years: a left-handed hitter with power potential.
"Besides the fact that Michael is an all-around outstanding player from our point of view," said Alderson, "his outstanding on-base approach as well as his left-handed swing and the power potential that he brings [is] sort of a natural fit for our organization in this ballpark as a gap-to-gap-type of hitter. We're extraordinarily pleased to have him."
The sides reportedly initially came to an agreement weeks ago, but it took a while to finalize the deal. Alderson made sure to address that quickly.
"You only need to look at me at this end of the table and Scott Boras at the other end of the table to know that we're probably two of the more stubborn people in the game," Alderson said. "Whatever delay occurred had absolutely nothing to do with Michael."
Conforto will join the Cyclones in Brooklyn for his first taste of pro ball.
Boras encouraged by Harvey's progress
NEW YORK -- As Scott Boras and first-round Draft pick Michael Conforto chatted in front of cameras Friday afternoon, one of Boras' other clients in Queens interrupted the conversation for a big hug.
A chipper Matt Harvey, who is out for the season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, was happy to stumble upon his agent in the Mets' clubhouse. Harvey has indicated on multiple occasions since going under the knife his desire to be aggressive in his rehab, but Boras is just fine with things progressing slowly.
"A competitive athlete is never comfortable with the timeline," Boras said Friday. "I just watched Matt throw. He looks great. His extension, ball's coming out of his hand. It really is exciting to see him at this stage, and I'm really encouraged about what can happen next year.
"I don't want Matt Harvey to ever change. I want him ready to run the race every day. I appreciate that. I also trust that the overseeing of the well-being of the player and of the organization is factored into Matt's competitiveness, and I think that's the dynamic that's working here."
In terms of Harvey's timetable, Boras said pitchers who wait 14-16 months after the surgery to get into a game have a higher success rate than those who wait 10-12 months. Following the longer rehab program would mean Harvey -- who had Tommy John last October -- would not participate in the Fall Instructional League.
"With elite athletes, high-velocity guys, to err on conservatism and more time is the proper course," Boras said.
Harvey isn't Boras' only client to have his ulnar collateral ligament reconstructed. Washington's Stephen Strasburg tore his in 2010, and Miami ace Jose Fernandez got the bad news in May.
The recent surge of hurlers requiring Tommy John surgery is concerning enough to Boras that he invested resources into studying the data on his own. He said since 2004, the 500 pitchers 25 years old or older to break into the big leagues have a Tommy John rate of 3 percent. Those who make their debuts between ages 19 and 21 have an 18 percent rate.
"Those young men who debut at the big leagues at those ages have velocity, but they also don't have the benefit of a mature body like a 25-year-old," Boras said. "The issue is, can you put players like that at that age in the Major Leagues and not hurt them?"
Boras thinks so, but it might require a potentially dramatic fix. He suggested curtailing those young phenoms' innings limits even more than they already are. If a pitcher tosses 110 innings one year, have him do 120 the next, then 130 after that. That would give young pitchers more time to truly grow into their bodies before carrying a significant workload. It might also mean a guy like Fernandez would not necessarily throw 172 2/3 innings as a 20-year-old Major Leaguer.
A program like that, however, would lead to the rest of a club's pitchers having to pick up the slack.
"That would mean all we'd have to do is expand the rosters," Boras said. "That's going to increase what? Costs. But the cost of losing a 19-, 20-, 21-, 22-year-old franchise player that are the best we have, the most exciting we have, I think is far greater than it is by increasing the rosters to 26, 27."
• Manager Terry Collins has not yet finalized the Mets' rotation coming out of the All-Star break. He said he needed to chat with Alderson about it, while seeing how Jon Niese (strained left shoulder) feels.
• With Daniel Murphy headed to the Midsummer Classic next week, his All-Star break will be less of one. As a result, Collins is looking to give him a day off somewhere along the way, meaning Eric Campbell would start in the middle of the infield in the Major Leagues for the first time, barring a roster move.
"When you make those decisions, you got to say, 'Hey look, if he goes out and doesn't make the play that maybe Ruben [Tejada] would make and maybe that Dan would make, it just comes with the territory," Collins said. "You're not going to get a Gold Glove guy that doesn't play there very much. I know one thing I'll get from Soup [Campbell], and that is a max effort."
Tim Healey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.