Mets go after quick salve, future stars in Draft

Mets go after quick salve, future stars in Draft

The first First-Year Player Draft of the Mets' Sandy Alderson era began with a first-pitch curveball.

Despite his reputation for statistical analysis, Paul DePodesta -- hired by Alderson to serve as the Mets' vice president of player development and scouting -- used the 13th overall pick to select Brandon Nimmo, a Wyoming teenager with physical tools and potential, but little evaluable experience against high-level competition.

With their next pick in the supplemental first round, the Mets again went the high school route, taking right-handed pitcher Michael Fulmer from Deer Creek (Okla.) High School. Since Nimmo's high school did not have a team, he played instead for his local American Legion team, Post 6.

"This certainly isn't without risk," DePodesta said after Nimmo was selected. "But as we went into this, to be quite frank with you, we weren't that interested in making what we thought was the safest pick. We were interested in making the pick that we thought had the chance to make the most impact."

Draft Central

From there, the Mets began collecting college pitchers, arms they hope can contribute at the Major League level in the near future. They began Day 2 of the Draft by selecting four straight college pitchers in Rounds 2-5, highlighted by second-round pick Cory Mazzoni out of North Carolina State.

Mazzoni is a power pitcher with a fastball that can get up to 97 mph and what Mets director of amateur scouting Chad MacDonald described as "solid secondary stuff with a slider, change and split." As a junior this season, Mazzoni led the competitive Atlantic Coast Conference in innings pitched and was second in the league with 137 strikeouts behind No. 2 overall pick Danny Hultzen. Mazzoni was 6-6 with a 3.30 ERA in 16 starts this year.

"We weren't for sure Mazzoni gets to us with our first pick in the second round," MacDonald said. "You don't ever know because of where guys live and how they're seen and who's seen them."

In addition to trying to take pitchers who can help soon, the Mets had another goal for the 2011 MLB Draft: develop top-of-the-rotation starting pitching down the road via high school players with high ceilings. From Rounds 10-13, the Mets selected four high school pitchers in a row, three of which came from the state of California.

In succession, the Mets took righties Matthew Budgell and Christian Montgomery, lefty Kenny Mathews and another righty in Robert Gsellman. Though none of the players besides perhaps Mathews has generated a ton of buzz, MacDonald and DePodesta are confident they have the potential to grow into difference-makers at the big league level.

"We're talking about four high school pitchers with upside," MacDonald said. "They have athleticism, arm action, delivery -- all the foundations to think these guys are going to be starters in the big leagues."

The Mets also made an interesting pick in Round 9, one that toed the line between a proven college commodity and a player with the potential to improve dramatically from where he is now.

Florida junior Alex Panteliodis was the 282nd pick overall. Though tabbed as a preseason All-American before the year, Panteliodis lost his spot in Florida's weekend rotation after undergoing hip surgery in the offseason. He has posted a 3.76 ERA this year, shuttling between the bullpen and starting mid-week games, but he could make an impact for the Mets if he can regain his pre-surgery form.

Panteliodis was Florida's first starter his first two seasons in Gainesville, and led the Gators in innings pitched (100), strikeouts (82) and wins (11) during his sophomore year of 2010.

"Our lefty from the University of Florida -- I mean, ninth-round guy?" MacDonald said. "His talent certainly speaks in the top three rounds."

MacDonald was also excited about his sixth-round pick, center fielder Joe Tuschak out of Northern Senior High School in Dillsburg, Pa.

Tuschak is known for his speed and athleticism, having also played quarterback in high school. He's currently batting .487 with 30 RBIs and nine home runs in 24 games. He is committed to play baseball next year at Coastal Carolina.

"His talent warrants a much better slot than the sixth round." MacDonald said.

In all, the Mets selected 51 players over the three days of the Draft. They took 28 pitchers, 10 infielders, nine outfielders and four catchers. Twenty-five players went to four-year NCAA colleges, 22 were drafted out of high school, three came from junior colleges and one went to an NAIA school.

"It was a good day for the New York Mets," MacDonald said after Day 2.

If the players the Mets selected these past three days can make a difference in the Majors, there could be more to come.

Aaron Taube is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.