Mets rely heavily on college talent in Draft

Mets rely heavily on college talent in Draft

NEW YORK -- The night was still young, but the celebration that became a Twitter sensation was in its final stages, dying down, when Boston College baseball coach Mike Gambino approached the Mets' top Draft pick, Justin Dunn.

"What do you need?" Gambino asked his star pitcher.

"Let's go home," Gambino recalled Dunn replying. "I want to go win a baseball game tomorrow."

Though Dunn and the Eagles wound up losing Friday night's Super Regional opener to the University of Miami, that's the sort of the attitude Gambino and the Mets believe will help make Dunn, the 19th overall pick, a smashing success at the next level.

The selections of pitchers Dunn and Anthony Kay in the Draft's first two rounds highlighted a three-day event that saw the Mets stock up on college players. Nearly a year after trading away much of their farm system's mid-level talent -- Michael Fulmer, Jon Gant et al -- the team moved quickly to fill in those gaps with a host of athletes in their early 20s. The reality is that those players can move quickly through the system, even if scouting director Tommy Tanous called the organization's reliance on college talent a coincidence.

"We selected all college players not by design, just by how the Draft fell," Tanous said in particular of the Draft's first two days, encompassing Rounds 3-10. "We were certainly positioned to take quite a few high school players. They were either selected in front of us, or due to some signability or other issues, we didn't take them. It was certainly not by design. But we were happy with the highly advanced players we got."

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Among the most intriguing selections were Kay, like Dunn a Long Island native, who played his college ball at UConn; fourth-rounder Michael Paez, a 5-foot-8 shortstop who models his game after Jose Altuve; sixth-rounder Christopher Viall, a 6-foot-9 project who throws 99 mph; and eighth-round left-hander Placido Torres, a New Jersey native who posted some of the best statistics in NCAA Division II history. In the 37th round, the Mets also notably selected high schooler Brandon Fryman, son of five-time Tigers All-Star third baseman Travis Fryman.

Due to their advanced age and college development, many of those college players will start out at Class A Short Brooklyn this summer, with chances to progress to the upper Minors as soon as next spring. Throughout that process, all eyes in particular will be on Dunn, the first pitcher since Matt Harvey that the Mets made their top pick.

"I grew up in New York. I grew up a Mets fan. I know the Mets," Gambino said. "Mets fans are going to love this kid."

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.