With their ninth selection in the 2021 draft, the Mets selected Levi David, a right-handed pitcher from Northwestern State University.
Many players play some combination of sports before settling on baseball, with football and basketball being the most prominent examples. Occasionally, players are golfers or bowlers in addition to baseball players. Levi David was a champion swimmer, winning state championships in the 50-meter freestyle and winning district and regional championships in the 100-meter freestyle, in addition to being a two-year baseball letter winner while attending Waxahachie High School. He was named Texas District 10-5A MVP as a senior after hitting .410 and posting a 1.33 ERA on the mound but went undrafted in the 2018 MLB Draft.
After graduating high school, David spent two years at McLennan Community College, a juco in Waco, Texas. He only pitched in one of those years, 2018, and posted an 8.35 ERA in 18.1, allowing 13 hits, walking 26, and striking out 25. After his sophomore year, David transferred to Northwestern State University. He had moderate success out of the Demons’ bullpen in 2020 prior to the NCAA cancelling the season because of COVID-19, posting a 2.57 ERA in 7.0 innings with 6 hits allowed, 8 walks, and 10 strikeouts. After playing for the Acadiana Cane Cutters in the Texas Collegiate League that summer, he returned to Northwestern in 2021 and had his best season as a professional, posting a 4.43 ERA in 61.0 innings split over 13 starts and 1 relief appearance, allowing 34 hits, walking 46, and striking out 104. His 15.3 strikeouts per nine was third not on his team, not in the Southland Conference but in all of NCAA Division I baseball.
The 6’5”, 220-pound right-hander throws from a three-quarters arm slot with whippy, cross firing delivery. His arm action is long through the back, and many scouts and evaluators believe that this is where David’s biggest weakness- his control- stems from. His long arm struggles to get in sync with his lower half, making it hard for him to repeat his delivery consistently and maintain his release point. He sets up on the far first base side of the rubber as well, making it difficult for him to pitch east-west and exacerbating his control issues. His lack of control is a major weakness that has held him back from his potential, because the right-hander has one of the best individual pitches in the 2021 draft class.
David’s fastball generally sits in the low-90s, but can occasionally touch as high as 99 MPH. The pitch does not have much life to it, but the right-hander is able to throw the pitch downhill, giving his fastball some sink, especially when thrown down in the zone. He complements the pitch with a curveball that is an absolutely filthy pitch. In 2021, hitters in the Southland Conference went 5-98 against it with 80 strikeouts, a 72% swing-and-miss rate. The pitch, which sits in the mid-80s, is easily a plus pitch and arguably a plus-plus pitch. The right-hander doubled its usage to nearly 40% this past season and was a major reason why his strikeout numbers spiked. David can also manipulate its shape, giving it more horizontal movement and making it act like a mid-80s slider. He also occasionally throws a changeup, but the pitch lags far behind his fastball and curveball and will likely be pocketed as his future seems more viable in the bullpen than as a starter, where that third pitch might be needed.