Mets Draft Report
By Marty Noble
NEW YORK--With the major league team stumbling, the Mets were more than buoyed by their selection in the first-year player draft Tuesday--they were thrilled. In keeping with the history of the franchise, they spent their first-round selection on a pitcher--Scott Kazmir.
A lefthanded pitcher from Cypress Hills High in Houston, Kazmir was projected as the No. 3 selection by Baseball America, but as rumors about his signability swirled, he dropped to 15th, surprising and delighting the Mets, who had merely one selection in the first 116.
Assistant general manager Jim Duquette said the team's scouting department was surprised Kazmir still was available, but not that money had been a factor in his slide.
"A lot of times high school kids drop like that because of their signability," Duquette said. "A lot of times teams try to make pre-draft deals, and if they can't get them, they'll move on to the next guy."
Kazmir, 18, is to be represented by agent Jeff Moorad, who is familiar to the Mets. He represented former Mets pitcher Bobby Jones and is the agent for Mo Vaughn. Kazmir has more than an agent, he has an alternative, too--a scholarship to Texas.
So the Mets may have to pay a significant signing bonus. They signed Paul Wilson for $1.55 million in 1994 when he was the first player selected in the draft.
It is the Mets' practice--and that of other clubs--not to lavish praise on their draft selections. They left that to his scholastic coach, Bret McDonald, who likened his pitcher to Billy Wagner of the Astros and Mike Hampton of the Rockies, except the Cypress Hills coach said Kazmir throws harder, with a fastball ranging from 94 to 97 mph.
"He's the steal of the draft," said McDonald, who wasn't necessarily in position to know.
"I don't know what it was," Kazmir said of his slide in draft position. "There are a lot of rumors going around, like I wanted $100 million or whatever. I don't know what it is. I'm just happy I'm with the Mets."
"There were a lot of rumors," his mother Debbie said. "That probably could be why he started dropping."
Kazmir produced an 11-2, 0.37 record in 14 games in his senior season, and broke the single-season Texas high school record established by Josh Beckett, now with Marlins, with 172 strikeouts in merely in 75 innings.
Kazmir's scholastic teammate, righthander Clint Everts, was selected by the Expos, the fifth selection in the first round. The two became the fourth set of high school teammates taken in the first round.
"I don't know how to explain any of it, but I know that Clint and I worked hard enough and we deserve this," Kazmir said. "Now it's over and we don't have to worry about it anymore."
The Mets also picked Michigan State outfielder Bob Malek at No. 117. Malek, who batted .402 with 16 home runs for the Spartans, was co-Big Ten player of the Year. He also hit .263 last summer in the Cape Cod League, where he was an all-league selection for Chatham.
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