Draft Preview: Mets highest pick since '04

Draft Preview: Mets highest pick since '04

NEW YORK -- It has been five years since the Mets last had a top-10 pick in the First-Year Player Draft, six seasons since they last picked seventh or higher. Back then, in 2004, they selected a collegiate right-hander named Philip Humber, who later became a main chip in the trade to acquire Johan Santana. This year, they are looking for a similar impact.

The one benefit of the Mets' disappointing 2009 season and quiet winter is that they enter this year's Draft holding the seventh overall pick -- and with it a prime opportunity to inject some high-end talent into their farm system.

It's a charge they are taking quite seriously.

Draft Central

MLB.com will offer live coverage and analysis of the entire First-Year Player Draft from June 7-9 on MLB.com/Live. The first round and Compensation Round A will be broadcast live on MLB.com and MLB Network on Monday, June 7, beginning with the Draft preview show at 6 p.m. ET.

MLB.com Draft expert Jonathan Mayo will join Greg Amsinger, Harold Reynolds, John Hart, Peter Gammons and Baseball America executive editor Jim Callis on Monday's broadcast.

Coverage for rounds 2-50 will shift exclusively to MLB.com/Live. Rounds 2-30 will be streamed on Tuesday, beginning at noon, and rounds 31-50 will be streamed on Wednesday, starting at noon. Host Pete McCarthy will be joined by Mayo and former general manager Jim Duquette.

Here's a glance at what the Mets have in store as the Draft approaches:

In about 50 words
It's all about the seventh overall pick. Because the Mets dished off their second-round pick for the rights to sign Jason Bay, and because they received no compensation for their own departing free agents, the Mets won't make another selection until 89th overall -- and by that time, all the premium talent will be off the board. They must make their first pick count.

The scoop
Although the Mets will stick with their usual credo of selecting the best player available, having the seventh overall pick gives them a better sense of who that player may be. "You have a better feel for who that pick is," general manager Omar Minaya said. "We have a better idea of what player we're going to pick."

First-round buzz
There's no consensus as to whom the Mets might select -- they're not sure how the first six picks might fall, and Minaya has personally overseen trips to scout a dozen different candidates for this spot. One option is 6-foot-6 Georgia Tech right-hander Deck McGuire, who shouldn't need much time in the Minors. The Mets have also been linked to Middle Tennessee State outfielder Bryce Brentz and Arkansas third baseman Zack Cox.

Shopping list
Although the Mets do have their share of high-end talent, Jenrry Mejia is their only big-league-ready starting pitcher at the moment, and it's up for debate whether he really is big league ready as a starter. To that end, the Mets would do well to pick up a college arm who could help them in the next couple of years. In addition, the Mets are conspicuously lacking in high-ceiling outfielders. Now's the time to grab some.

Trend watch
The Mets have embraced no overarching Draft strategy under Minaya's watch, but many of their success stories have been college players. Of those draftees who have stuck with the team in recent years, Ike Davis, Daniel Murphy, Joe Smith and Mike Pelfrey all attended college; Jon Niese is the lone exception. Still, that has not dictated their strategy -- the Mets drafted high schooler Steven Matz with their top pick last year. They have also recently begun leaning toward position players, selecting seven of them with their first eight picks in 2008, and another two with their first three picks last season.

Recent Draft History

Mets' recent top draft picks
Year Player Position Current team
2009 Steven Matz RHP Rehab from TJ surgery
2008 Ike Davis 1B New York Mets (MLB)
2007 Eddie Kunz RHP Double-A Binghamton (Mets)
2006 Kevin Mulvey RHP Triple-A Reno (D-backs)
2005 Mike Pelfrey RHP New York Mets (MLB)

Rising fast
Outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis, recruited to play college football after a standout career as a running back in high school, jumped to Double-A Binghamton last year in his second season as a pro. Drafted in the third round in 2008, Nieuwenhuis is back in Binghamton to start this season after hitting .406 during his brief exposure there last summer.

Cinderella story
A 13th-round Draft pick of the Mets in 2005, Josh Thole made a significant splash when he hit .321 during a cup of coffee with the Mets last September. Currently the starter for Triple-A Buffalo, Thole is first in line for another big league assignment should the Mets lose Rod Barajas or Henry Blanco to injury.

In The Show
Davis, the 18th overall selection in 2008, is the only Mets Draft pick of the last three years currently on the big league roster. And Davis has shouldered more than his fair load since making his debut in April, hitting cleanup for the Mets and playing a stellar first base. Eddie Kunz, the organization's top pick in 2007, has twice made the leap to the Majors, but he is currently stretching out as a starter at Double-A Binghamton.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.