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Mets tab Mulvey with first pick

Mets tab Mulvey with first pick

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NEW YORK -- The First-Year Player Draft began at 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday. The Mets, first-round wallflowers, made the 62nd selection after 2 p.m. By 3:30 p.m., a 21-year-old right-handed pitcher from Villanova University was at a Modell's not far from his home in the Paulin section of Sayreville, N.J., buying Mets gear -- caps and T-shirts -- and thinking "Mets, Mets, Mets."

The pitcher is Kevin Mulvey, who had some allegiance to the Mets before they used the 62nd choice to select him Tuesday. His allegiance seemed a tad stronger after the pick and the purchases. "Thank God I'm a Met," he said.

If he wore a poker face, it wasn't evident by telephone. "I'm ecstatic," he said. "This up there, a 10 out of 10."

The surcharge for cherrypicking in the previous free agent draft is forfeiture of a selection in the first round of the ensuing First-Year Player Draft. So the Mets sat on their corporate hands on Tuesday, comfortable that their signing of Billy Wagner was worth the first-round inaction.

And from what their area scout Scott Hunter told Mulvey shortly after making the selection in the second round, they were delighted and surprised that Mulvey still was available. Mulvey wasn't the least bit distressed by his position the process.

"I'm 100 percent happy with the way things have worked out," he said.

He expects to sign with the Mets, forgoing his fourth year at Villanova.

Mulvey is no newcomer to the draft process. He had been selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 34th round of the 2003 draft and opted not to sign. Now after three years of pitching a few Pat Burrell home runs from the home of the Phillies, he has a chance to sign with his favorite National League East team.

He characterized himself as "Mets-Yankees, Giants-Jets, Knicks-Nets" fans, but he already had turned his back on the Yankees by the time he provided that description. "I have a lot of friends who root one way or the other," Mulvey said. "I say why not root for both? They're in different leagues."

Interleague games between New York's teams did cause a dilemma, though. "I was like a lost dog. I don't know which way to go." That seeming will change now. Asked what ticket he would choose, given his choice of any baseball game this seasons, he said "A Mets playoff ticket."

Mulvey had no sense of where he might begin his professional career once he signs. Brooklyn -- with the Mets Class A Cyclones affiliate -- would be quite convenient. But "that's someone else's decision," he said. He is just anxious to begin the next phase of his career rather than play a third year in the Cape Cod League.

Mulvey, 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, throws a four-seam fastball -- "my most versatile pitch" he says -- that has hit 95-mph. When he needs a strikeout, he relies on his slider. He also throws a changeup, mostly to left-handed hitters, an all-occasional two-seam fastball, and a curve that is a work in progress.

Scouts consider his fastball a plus-pitch by big league standards.

He was considered one of best prospects in the Big East, having been the Wildcats' primary starter since his freshman season. He tied for the team lead with 14 starts and pitched five complete games this year. He produced a 3-8 record -- Villanova was shut out in three of his losses and scored just one run in two others -- and a team-low 3.61 ERA in 92 1/3 innings. He allowed 91 hits and held opponents to a .254 batting average, struck out 88 and walked 22.

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

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