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Mets Draft Report Card

By Jim Callis

Best Pro Debut: SS Chris Basak (6) hit .349 to win the short-season New York-Penn League batting title and stole 32 bases. RHP Chad Bowen (9) was co-pitcher of the year in the Rookie-level Appalachian League after going 7-2, 3.00.

Best Athlete: Basak or OF Jeff Duncan (7). OF Skyler Fulton (25) was one of the better athletes in the draft but chose not to sign.

Best Hitter: Basak.

Best Raw Power: C John Wilson (11) didn’t homer in the NY-P, but his 16 doubles are indicative of his power potential. In the last two years in college at Kentucky, Wilson hit 41 homers.

Fastest Runner: Duncan has above-average speed, though it doesn’t compare to that of SS Angel Pagan, a draft-and-follow from 1999 who signed in May. Basak also has good speed.

Best Defensive Player: Basak has solid range and hands at shortstop. Duncan is a standout center fielder.

Best Fastball: In the first five rounds, the Mets got five pitchers who can throw in the low 90s. The guy who throws the hardest most often is RHP Quenten Patterson (5).

Most Intriguing Background: Wilson was nearly killed in September 1996 when his father, who was stalking his mother, fired two shotgun blasts through a door, striking Wilson in the chest. 3B Brett Harper (45), who didn’t sign and is attending Scottsdale (Ariz.) CC, is the son of former big leaguer Brian.

Closest To The Majors: It’s still LHP Billy Traber (1), though his $1.7 million bonus was slashed to $400,000 when a routine physical revealed elbow damage that he did not know about and had apparently pitched with. He throws an 88-91 mph fastball and a plus splitter, and he gets ahead of hitters. He threw very well in instructional league and will make his pro debut next spring.

Best Late-Round Pick: Wilson. In addition to his power, the Mets like his arm and the way he takes charge behind the plate.

The One Who Got Away: Fulton couldn’t be swayed from playing running back and outfield for Arizona State. 1B Todd Faulkner was a first-team All-American after batting .423-22-103 as a junior at Auburn, setting a handful of school records in the process. As a fifth-year senior, Faulkner is still eligible to sign with the Mets until a week before next year’s draft.

Assessment: As compensation for losing John Olerud to free agency, the Mets received a pair of first-round picks that they turned into Traber and RHP Bob Keppel. Ten of the 14 players they signed out of the first 20 rounds were pitchers, and they have some promising arms, especially if Traber proves his elbow will not be a long-term problem.

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