Mets 2002 Draft Overview
By Bill Ballew
Scouting Director: Gary LaRocque (first year: 1998).
2000 Draft (First three rounds, picking 25th)
2001 Draft (First three rounds, picking 26th)
Mets pick 15th in rotation (Lost second- and third-round picks for signing free agents).
From 1997-2000, the Mets selected 12 pitchers among the 14 players they took in the first three rounds. So it was no surprise that scouting director Gary LaRocque went with a pitcher in the first round and with six of his first 12 picks last year.
LaRocque and the Mets are firm believers that a team can never have too much pitching, and they will likely follow that path once again this June.
It's an approach that could pay significant dividends, based on the early returns from the 2001 draft. Two college pitchers, righthander Aaron Heilman and lefthander Lenny DiNardo, are moving quickly through the organization. LaRocque also went after several high school position players with high ceilings, though, most notably third baseman David Wright.
Such balance has already helped fill the lower levels of the farm system with much-needed talent, after it has been depleted by several moves made at the major league level.
No team has been more aggressive than the Mets in using minor league talent to acquire help for the big club. Lefthander Geoff Goetz and middle infielder Cesar Crespo, both drafted in 1997, were used to acquire Mike Piazza and Al Leiter from Florida. Lefthander Billy Traber was one of the key components of the deal that brought Roberto Alomar from Cleveland. Those kinds of moves, combined with mediocre results from the 1998 and 1999 drafts, has created a thin system.
LaRocque is doing his best to change that. In addition to loading up on pitching, he has done a solid job of finding useful players in the lower rounds. The Mets have developed several players taken after the 10th round, most notably first baseman Earl Snyder (36th round, 1998), who was part of the Alomar deal and recently reached Cleveland.
With this June's draft deep with pitching and high school players, LaRocque should continue to add arms. He likes lefthander Joe Saunders but doesn't expect him to be there when the Mets pick at 15th. Other possibilities include Ball State lefthander Luke Hagerty and Ohio State first baseman/outfielder Nick Swisher.
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