Mets will wait until No. 72 to pick in Draft
Scouting chief confident club can find talent in second round
The inherent frustration of being a first-round wallflower undoubtedly will hit the Mets in the First-Year Player Draft. And when the Angels use what would have been the Mets' selection, the 24th pick, it might sting a bit. But the Mets need only look at one of their ninth innings to recognize that the selection they forfeited was the wisely met cost of importing Francisco Rodriguez.
Even with that recognition, they will have little to do June 9 until 71 players are chosen. Only then can the Mets get into the act. And who knows what will be left by that point?
At the same time, though, their director of amateur scouting, Rudy Terrasas, says he and his staff have made no assumptions about the process. "We've prepared as if we had a pick in the first round," he said. "We laid eyes on everyone because you can't take for granted that a player won't be there when you pick. Players do slip. You never know."
Terrasas says the Mets will track the selections and begin to formulate a plan when 60 players have been choosen. And then they'll cross their fingers and appreciate all K-Rod has done for the big league team.
MLB.com will offer live coverage and analysis of the entire First-Year Player Draft on June 9-11. MLB Network will broadcast the first round at 6 p.m. ET on June 9 from its Studio 42 in Secaucus, N.J., and those 32 selections also will be simulcast live on MLB.com.
Beginning with the 33rd pick, up-to-the-minute on-air coverage from the remaining rounds will shift exclusively to MLB.com, where host Vinny Micucci will be joined by MLB.com Draft expert Jonathan Mayo and Major League Scouting Bureau director Frank Marcos.
Once the first night is done, the Draft will continue with rounds 4-30, via conference call from MLB headquarters in New York, at noon on June 10. Rounds 31-50 will be on June 11, starting at 11:30 a.m.
A glance at what's in store for the Mets in the First-Year Player Draft follows:
In about 50 words
Choosing as late as they do, all the Mets can hope for is that, somehow, some of the top talent they have targeted remains available until they're the club on the clock. Once Stephen Strasburg is selected -- probably immediately by the Nationals -- they and 28 other clubs will begin eliminating names that probably won't be as familiar as names in recent Drafts. The Mets' second selection is 103rd.
With no selection in the first round, the Mets will be rather buzz-less, but interested spectators. Never can tell when perceived signability will become an issue and keep a genuine prospect available to clubs selecting after the first round. Will the economy affect signability?
With Citi Field playing as big as it has thus far, the Mets need not concern themselves with the type of pitchers they select. Unlike the Phillies, Orioles and Cubs, they can choose power-fly ball pitchers without reservation and know that their selections won't be adversely affected by the dimensions. At the same time, they will look for speed in the outfield and contact hitters. The size of the Citi may dissuade future free agent hitters from bringing their big swings to Queens. The Mets may find it wise to pursue position players with small ball offensive skills more than they have in recent drafts.
"We've been preparing since Jan. 1," Terrasas said. "So I haven't seen Citi Field yet, but from what I've been told, it plays big. If you have a spacious outfield you have to look for player who can run the ball down."
In the days when former GM Joe McIlvaine was the Mets' primary evaluator of amateur talent, the club focused on scholastic talent, mostly pitching. But in recent years, with the club not in position to select from among the premier high school pitchers, it has shifted its focus to collegiate pitcher it believes can develop quickly. Examples: Mike Pelfrey, Aaron Heilman, Brian Bannister, Joe Smith, Kevin Mulvey, Philip Humber, Eddie Kunz.
Recent top picks
The Mets had no first-round selections in 2006 and 2007.
2008: Left-handed-hitting first baseman Ike Davis, son of former Yankees and Twins reliever Ron Davis, and shortstop Reese Havens are playing for the Mets' most advanced Class A affiliate, St. Lucie in the Florida State League. Davis, the 18th player selected last year, showed power at Arizona State but hasn't demonstrated as much as a professional. And he is having trouble with left-handed pitching. But he has kept his overall average near .280.
Havens, the 22nd overall selection last year, out of South Carolina, cooled off dramatically in May after a solid April. The Mets like his sense of the game.
Right-handed Brad Holt, a sandwich pick and the 33rd player selected last year, is pitching for St. Lucie. But given his success with the Mets' highest Class A team -- he had a 4-1 record through May -- and he has been promoted to Double-A Binghamton.
2007: Right-handed reliever Kunz was promoted to the big leagues in August last season when the Mets needed arms for the bullpen. He didn't distinguish himself then, was demoted and not brought back to the big league when the roster limit increased in September. The 42nd selection in the 2007 Draft, is pitching for the Triple-A Buffalo affiliate, but not as its closer. He hasn't developed as quickly as the club had hoped. Jerry Manuel said in Spring Training Kunz seems to be become anxious.
2006: Mulvey, right-handed and highly regarded when drafted out of Villanova, was part of the package that brought Johan Santana to the Mets. He has pitched -- with moderate success -- for the Twins' Triple A Rochester team exclusively since the trade.
Selected in the 21st round of the '07 Draft, right-handed starter Dillon Gee already is knocking one on the big league door. The Mets like his makeup, his changeup and his maturity. He is pitching for Buffalo, having made the jump after merely four starts in Double A last year.
Daniel Murphy stubbed his toe several times in left field before his recent move to first base, and he hasn't been the consistent offensive player the Mets envisioned in Spring Training. But the move to first has reduced his concerns about hurting the team, and his swing and sense of the strike zone seemed to be returning. And for a player selected in the 13th round three years ago, he has made a mark in the big leagues.
In The Show
Murphy batted .313 in 131 at-bats -- one more than the maximum to retain rookie status -- last season and won the everyday left field job in Spring Training. His defense proved quite suspect before the injury to Carlos Delgado allowed the Mets to move him to first base, where he appears far more comfortable.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.