Mets Draft Preview
By Bill Ballew
Scouting Director: Jack Bowen (first draft: 2002).
2000 Draft (First five rounds, picking 25th)
2001 Draft (First five rounds, picking 26th)
2002 Draft (First five rounds, picking 15th)
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.