A blog dedicated to the New York Mets with some other baseball thrown in.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Historical Head Scratching

Are you spending sleepless nights wondering how the Mets have historically fared with their first round draft picks? Worry no more, nights of full sleep are ahead of you if you can manage to actually not read about the Mets or not watch them from here on out. I unfortunately have an addiction problem and will be resigned to letting the Mets poor performance affect my empty life. Why couldn't I have a healthier addiction? I’m thinking something more along the lines of crack. At least crack makes you feel good.

Grab a coffee and some doughnuts, this is long.

First Rounders:

  • 1965
    2. Mets Les Rohr LHP Billings, MT

    Les only appeared in six games for the Mets over three seasons. He finished with a 3.70 ERA in 24.3 innings and was 2-3.

  • 1966
    1. Mets Steve Chilcott C Lancaster, CA

    Since I could not find anything on Steve, I'm assuming he never made it to the majors. Oh, Reggie Jackson was picked in the number two slot in the 1966 draft.

  • 1967
    4. Mets Jon Matlack LHP West Chester, PA

    Jon pitched for the Mets from 1971 through 1977 before moving on to Texas. He was actually very good for the Mets winning 15, 14, 13, 16, and 17 games in consecutive years while record ERAs of under 3.00 three times and ERAs under 4.00 five times.

  • 1968
    1. Mets Tim Foli SS Canoga Park, CA (Thruman Munson was picked 4th)

    Tim had two stints with the Mets. He came up with them in '70 & '71 and then went to Montreal only to end up with the Mets in '78 and '79. Tim had a .243 career average in 218 games with our very own Mets.

  • 1969
    4. Mets Randy Sterling RHP Key West, FL

    What can you say about Randy? He already has a strike against him having the same last name as the worst commentator in baseball, but it does not get much better from there. He only pitched in three major league games and all of them for the Mets in 1974. He finished with a 4.82 ERA and a 1-1 record.

  • 1970
    23. Mets *George Ambrow SS Long Beach, CA (did not sign)

    He did not sign and he never played in the majors. He is no doubt regretting not joining the Mets so he could have had a career that was injury plagued and lackluster.

  • 1971
    14. Mets Rich Puig 2B Tampa, FL

    Richard Gerald Puig was picked right before Jim Rice in this draft. Who made out better? Well you can be the judge of that one. RGP played in 10 major league games and was 0 for 10 with a .091 on base percentage. He did not record an RBI or a run scored. The most positive stat was the he did draw one walk.

  • 1972
    13. Mets Richard Bengston C Peoria, IL

    Richie never made it to the major leagues.

  • 1973
    14. Mets Lee Mazzilli OF Brooklyn, NY

    Lee has the dubious distinction for being the first Mets' first rounder that people can actually remember. He wore blue and orange for 10 seasons and finished with a .264 career Met average. His best season was in 1979 when he his .303 with 78 runs scored, 34 doubles, 15 homeruns, 79 BBs, and 34 stolen bases.

  • 1974
    17. Mets Cliff Speck RHP Beaverton, OR

    Cliff Speck was picked a few slots in front of Rick Sutcliffe who was taken with the 21st pick. Cliff did not make his major league debut until 1986 and that was with the Atlanta Braves. He went 2-1 with a 4.13 ERA in 13 games.

  • 1975
    6. Mets Butch Benton C Tallahassee, FL

    Benton broke into the majors in 1978 with the Mets. He batted .500 in four at-bats his rookie season with two RBIs. He tailed off a bit in his second stint with Mets big club in 1980 by hitting .048 in 21 at-bats. He played for Chicago (NL) in 1982 and Cleveland in 1985 and never recorded a major league homerun.

  • 1976
    13. Mets Tom Thurberg OF-RHP South Weymouth, MA

    Tom did not make an appearance in the majors.

  • 1977
    16. Mets Wally Backman SS Beaverton, OR

    Am I the only one who thinks it's funny that Wally is from Beaverton? Anyway, Wally played nine years for the Mets and finished with a very respectable .283 career Met average. He was not known for his power as he knocked only seven homeruns in those nine years. His best year was in 1986 when he hit .320 with 67 runs scored, 18 doubles, 2 triples, one homer, 27 RBIs, and he walked 36 times while only striking out 32 times in 387 at-bats.

  • 1978
    3. Mets Hubie Brooks SS Arizona State U

    Hubie enjoyed six years playing in Shea and he played for fifteen major league seasons overall. His first stint with the Mets was from '80 to '84 and he later joined them in '91 to add some veteran presence. He batted .267 for his Met career and posted his best year in 1984 when he hit .283 with 61 runs scored, 23 doubles, 16 homers, and 73 RBIs.

  • 1979
    2. Mets Tim Leary RHP UCLA

    Tim played for the Mets for three years out of his thirteen year major league career. He appeared in twenty three games and started ten games while posting a 4-4 career Met record.

  • 1980
    1. Mets Darryl Strawberry OF Los Angeles, CA
    23. Mets Billy Beane OF Rancho Bernardo, CA
    24. Mets John Gibbons C San Antonio, TX

    The Mets had three picks in this draft and undoubtedly made their best first round pick in their history to date. There is really no need to go into Darryl, but I will mention that he was my first favorite player when I was a lad. He is the reason I became a Met fan. Then he started doing coke, doing hookers, and beating his wife. Talk about a role model. In all seriousness, it is a shame because Darryl could have been a legend.

    With their 2nd first round pick they chose William Lamar Beane. Yes, the same Billy Beane who is the GM in Oak-town. Billy spent six seasons in the majors and only spent two of them a Met. He came to the plate eighteen times and got three hits. He only recorded one Met RBI.

    John Gibbons was the only first rounder this year not to leave a mark on modern baseball. He only played for two years, both in a Met uniform. He finished with a .220 career Met average in eighteen games.

  • 1981
    4. Mets Terry Blocker OF Tennessee State U

    Terry did not crack the majors until 1989 and made his debut with the Braves. He pitched one scoreless inning while not surrendering a hit and walking two.

  • 1982
    5. Mets Dwight Gooden RHP Tampa, FL

    Do you really need to say anything about a 19 year old who wins 17 games his first year in the majors and posts a 2.60 ERA while striking out 276 in 218 innings vs. 73 walks. On top of that, he only allowed seven homers and had seven complete games and three were shutouts. He is hands down the most talented player every drafted in the first round by the Mets and arguably the most talented player they ever drafted. He finished with 157 Met wins and only 194 career wins. Those 157 wins came before he was 30. This guy should have been immortalized in the hall of fame and gone down as one of the best ever, but his career became a tragedy like Strawberry's. A damn shame.

  • 1983
    4. Mets Eddie Williams 3B San Diego, CA
    20. Mets Stan Jefferson OF Bethune-Cookman College

    Clemens went 19th in this round. You think a lot of teams are kicking themselves now?

    Eddie never cracked the bigs with Mets but played a 10 year career with stops in Cleveland, Chicago (AL), San Diego, Detroit, LA, and Pittsburgh. He has a .252 career average in 1145 at-bats in 395 games.

    Stan Jefferson had 24 at-bats in the Mets '86 season. He batted .208 with one dinger and three RBIs. Jefferson bounced around for six seasons before finally fizzling out.

  • 1984
    1. Mets Shawn Abner OF Mechanicsburg, PA

    Abner is another one that never debuted with the Mets. He first came into the league with the Padres in 1987 and played six season in the majors. He finished with a .269 average in 840 at-bats and 392 games.

    In 1984, eight other teams in addition to the Mets passed up Mark McGwire, who was drafted 10th by the Athletics.

  • 1985
    20. Mets Gregg Jefferies SS Millbrae, CA

    Jefferies broke into the majors at 19 years old. He only played five years with the Mets and was largely a disappointed. He had a .276 career average with the Mets. Greg did move on to have a good major league career and played 14 years before playing his last games in Detroit at 32. He finished with a .289 average in his career.

  • 1986
    21. Mets Lee May OF Cincinnati, OH

    Lee may was never able to crack into the majors and never appeared in a major league game.

  • 1987
    24. Mets Chris Donnels 3B Loyola Marymount U

    Chris Donnels broke into the majors in 2001. That was 14 years after originally being drafted by the Mets and be broke in with the Dodgers at the ripe age of 35. He pitched 1/3 of an inning and did not allow any runs.

  • 1988
    21. Mets Dave Proctor RHP Allen County CC

    Dave did not make it to the majors.

  • 1989
    24. Mets Alan Zinter C U of Arizona

    Alan Zinter made his ML debut for the Astros in 2002 at the age of 34. He played 39 games and batted .136 in 44 at-bats.

  • 1990
    17. Mets Jeromy Burnitz OF Oklahoma State U

    Jeromy cracked the bigs in 24 years old. He really did not do much of anything in his first two seasons and he was traded by the Mets to the Cleveland Indians with Joe Roa in exchange for Paul Byrd, Dave Mlicki, Jerry Dipoto and Jesus Azuaje on November 18, 1994. He then came back over with Jeff D'Amico, Mark Sweeney and Lou Collier from the Milwaukee Brewers to the New York Mets in exchange for Alex Ochoa, Glendon Rusch and Lenny Harris on January 21, 2002. All in all, the best thing that Jeromy did for the Mets was get traded and bring us masher Victor Diaz. Burnitz has a .237 career Met average and have only 53 homers in 1119 Met at-bats.

  • 1991
    18. Mets Alfred Shirley OF George Washington U

    Out good buddy Alfred never made it to the majors. One thing of note is this is the year the Mets drafted two pieces of generation K. Bill Pulsipher was drafted in the 2nd round and Jason Isringhausen was drafted in the 44th round.

  • 1992
    9. Mets Preston Wilson SS-OF Bamberg, SC
    18. Mets Christopher Roberts OF-LHP Florida State U

    Preston's Met career was cut short after he finally broke through. Although trading the son of Met legend Mookie Wilson seems sacrilegious, it was probably the best trade the Mets ever orchestrated. He was the centerpiece in the Mike Piazza deal. Preston is obviously a talented player with a lot of skill and was a solid first round pick. His career Met average is .300 in 20 plate appearances in blue and orange.

    Roberts never made it too the majors.

  • 1993
    8. Mets Kirk Presley RHP Tupelo, MS

    Kirk never saw action in a major league uniform.

  • 1994
    1. Mets Paul Wilson RHP Florida State U
    20. Mets Terrence Long 1B Millbrook, AL

    The Mets drafted their second Wilson in two years. Young fireballer Paul Wilson is the final part to generation K. Wilson pitched in 1996 for the Mets and then got injured and did not appear again in the majors until 2000 with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Pulsipher pitched in 1995 for the Mets before getting injured and did not resurface until 1998 and never really did much of anything. Generation K was over before it even started.

    Terrance only appeared in three games in 1999 and was 0 for 3. He was traded to Oakland and had two good years for them in 2000 and 2001. He was then rewarded with a $11,600,000 contract over 4 years ('02-'05). He was traded to San Diego prior to the 2004 season.

  • 1995
    18. Mets Ryan Jaroncyk SS Escondido, CA

    The youngster from Escondido did not make a major league appearance.

  • 1996
    13. Mets Robert Stratton OF Santa Barbara, CA

    For the second straight year, the Mets drafted a first rounder that did not make it to the majors.

  • 1997
    6. Mets Geoff Goetz LHP Tampa, FL

    For the third straight year, the Mets drafted someone who did not make the majors.

  • 1998
    21. Mets Jason Tyner CF Texas A&M U

    Jason did not get much of chance to do anything with the Mets as he was traded after 13 games into his Met career with Paul Wilson for Bubba Trammel and Rick White.

  • 1999
    No first round pick

    Neal Musser was the the first pick by the Mets in the 2nd round of the draft.

  • 2000
    16. Mets Billy Traber LHP El Segundo, CA

    Billy made is major league debut on April 4th, 2003 with the Cleveland Indians. He is still on the Indians and out for the year as far as I know. I do not really care enough to research other the info in front of my face on ESPN.com

  • 2001
    18. Mets Aaron Heilman RHP U. of Notre Dame

    When Heilman was drafted, he was widely regarded as the most polished college pitcher after Mark Prior. First of all, both pitchers should never be said in the same sentence. Second of all, the Mets should have traded him prior to 2003 before he lost all of the interest that anyone had in him. He still may turn out to be decent major league pitcher if he actually goes after hitters, but just not with the Mets. He has no room here anymore with Seo, Humber, Soler, Petit, Keppel, and Durkin all looming around.

  • 2002
    15. Mets Scott Kazmir LHP Cypress Falls HS, Houston

    The super stud with an electric arm starts off three very good years for Mets and first round picks. The Met catch lighting in a bottle by grabbing him 15th as teams had concerns about his sign-ability. Then the Mets foolishly took one of the most coveted minor leaguers and shipped him out for reasons even Stephen Hawking could not understand.

  • 2003
    12. Lastings Milledge OF Lakewoood Rand HS

    Lastings dropped to 12th in the draft despite being regarded one of the best all around talents in the draft. He was simply adhering the 'if there is grass on the field, the ball is in play' rule when he was fooling around with some freshman ladies. I think everyone knows the ceiling this kid has and what he could bring to the Mets one day. That would be some 30 year old player with an injury problem when the Mets make a trade because they are perceived to be in some kind of division race.

  • 2004
    3. Philip Humber RHP Rice U

    Philip has yet to sign, but I am just going to assume he will. Hopefully the Mets fortunes are turning because they have seemingly had a string of very good first round picks of late. In 2005 it looks as though they will have another nice draft position so hopefully they will be able to keep it up.

    * * *

    After reading through this list it really outlines how hard it is to identify talent for the major league draft. There are some "can't miss" players that come around every so often, but even they horribly miss sometimes as well. The baseball draft will always be one of the most difficult drafts to identify future talent. As you can see, the Mets have not had their share of success too much when it comes to first round picks. There are only four players who really stand out as having an impact while wearing a Met uniform that were chosen in the opening round. Like I said, hopefully that will change. It looks like Milledge and Humber have a good chance to become productive players for the Mets if they do not get dealt. I realize Humber has not thrown a minor league pitch and much like Heilman, is being heralded as a polished and near ready major league pitcher, but I have to hold out hope for something. For the reasons easily seen above, no one outside of sports fanatics will really give two craps about draftees and the minor leagues. There are just too many questions marks. A lot of Met fans have become more versed on minor league talent for two reasons:

    1) Most met fans ARE fanatics.
    2) The major league team has not given much reason for the Mets to cheer.

    I really have no idea if other teams really fare much better and I do not have the time or the intelligence to figure it out, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say every team has their fare share of busts.


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