Scouting Director: Jack Bowen (first draft: 2002).
2000 Draft (First five rounds, picking 25th)
1a. Billy Traber, lhp, Loyola Marymount
1b. (Choice to Rangers as compensation for free agent Todd Zeile)
1c. Bob Keppel, rhp, DeSmet HS, St. Louis
2. Matt Peterson, rhp, Rapides HS, Alexandria, La.
3. Josh Reynolds, rhp, Central Missouri State
4. Brandon Wilson, c, Christian Life Academy, Baton Rouge
5. Quenten Patterson, rhp, Oklahoma State
2001 Draft (First five rounds, picking 26th)
1a. Aaron Heilman, rhp, Notre Dame
1b. (Choice to A's as compensation for free agent Kevin Appier)
1c. David Wright, 3b, Hickory HS, Chesapeake, Va.
2a. Alhaji Turay, of, Auburn (Wash.) HS
2b. Corey Ragsdale, ss, Nettleton HS, Jonesboro, Ark.
3. Lenny DiNardo, lhp, Stetson
4. Brian Walker, lhp, Miami
5. Danny Garcia, 2b, Pepperdine
2002 Draft (First five rounds, picking 15th) 1. Scott Kazmir, lhp, Cypress Falls HS, Houston
2. (Choice to Cubs as compensation for Type A free agent David Weathers)
3. (Choice to Tigers as compensation for Type B free agent Roger Cedeno)
4. Bob Malek, of, Michigan State
5. Jon Slack, of, Texas Tech
Mets pick 12th in rotation (Lose second-round pick for signing Cliff Floyd and third-round pick for signing Tom Glavine.)
A new attitude was obvious in St. Lucie during spring training. With Fred Wilpon obtaining full ownership after an extended battle with Nelson Doubleday, and the humble Art Howe taking over the managerial reins from the volatile Bobby Valentine, the Mets made it clear they were returning to the roots that helped bring pennants in the late 1960s and the mid-1980s.
The farm system will again serve as a key source of talent for the major league roster, as opposed to trade bait to bolster the big league team. Young prospects will have a chance to contribute, while the organization reduces its reliance on free agents.
Just how long the Mets will be patient remains to be seen, though the situation will be easier thanks to the past three drafts. Under the direction of Gary LaRocque (now an assistant general manager) and now Jack Bowen, the Mets are developing a solid core of pitching prospects as well as several players who could fill voids at typically weak positions like third base and catcher.
The Mets have taken 17 pitchers among the 19 players drafted in the first three rounds over the past six years. The first dividend should show up in Shea Stadium at some point this season when righthander Aaron Heilman takes the final step. Righthander Matt Peterson has made significant strides and could move quickly. The expectations are even greater for lefthander Scott Kazmir, who fell to New York at No. 15 when he was considered the top high school southpaw in last year's draft.
Otherwise, the Mets have focused much of their efforts on college players after the first three rounds. The farm system still needs better depth, but it's in better shape than it's been in years. Steady draft efforts combined with the development of such international standouts as Dominican shortstop Jose Reyes and Australian catcher Justin Huber have prospects and competition for jobs at each of the organization's four full-season minor league clubs.
While additional help could come in June, LaRocque and Bowen will be challenged. The signings of Tom Glavine and Cliff Floyd leave New York with only the 12th overall selection among the first 100 picks. No one should be surprised if the Mets use that choice on a college pitcher.