By Richard Justice
August 1, 2002
Lefthander Scott Kazmir, the 15th overall selection in the June draft, agreed to a $2.15 million deal with the Mets on Wednesday.
Kazmir, from Cy Falls High in Houston, flew to New York on Thursday for a formal announcement, then reported to short-season Brooklyn of the New York-Penn League.
“I'm so relieved to get this part of it over with,” he told the Houston Chronicle. “Now I can get on to playing baseball. That's all I wanted to do.”
Kazmir was accompanied to the news conference at Shea Stadium by his parents, Eddie and Deborah Kazmir, and his Houston-based advisor, Brian Peters.
Kazmir received one of the eight highest signing bonuses at a time when the commissioner's office has been closely monitoring the soaring amount of bonuses given to young players.
His signing ends a turbulent couple of months. He awoke the morning of the draft believing the Reds would make him the third overall pick, but the Reds stunned him by taking California prep pitcher Chris Gruler.
Kazmir then listened in horror as 11 other teams, many of whom already focused on other players, bypassed him as well.
When his name finally was called by the Mets, he seemed more relieved than happy.
During the difficult negotiations that followed, Kazmir considered attending the University of Texas, which would have made him ineligible for the draft for at least three years.
The Mets initially offered around $1.5 million, but finally Peters and Mets general manager Steve Phillips struck a deal on Wednesday.
“It's a happy day, and I'm so glad it's almost over,” Deborah Kazmir said.
“Negotiations are a tough thing to go through. It's so long. You have a 10-minute talk one day and then don't hear a word for two weeks. You start getting discouraged after a while.”
Last season at Cy Falls, Kazmir was 11-2, 0.37 ERA. In 75 innings, he allowed 19 hits and 19 walks and struck out 172. He was so dominant most games that the contests evolved into a high- level game of catch with his catcher.
“Scott was initially discouraged by the negotiations,” Peters said. “He thought there'd be a quick resolution after the draft and was confused. He considered playing at Texas, but as it went along, the Mets treated him very professionally. Right now, he's got one of the top 10 signing bonuses.
“Pitching right there in Brooklyn is going to be great for him.”
Kazmir's teammate, righthander Clint Everts, was taken by the Montreal Expos with the fifth overall pick. Negotiations between Everts and the Expos are ongoing.