"He just said they've got the best fans, and it's a blast because every game is live or die for them," Ike Davis said. "It's a great environment to grow up playing baseball and learning how to play under pressure in front of all those people. He loved it, and I'm looking forward to it, too."
Davis has reason to be excited, now that he's also on track to become a New York citizen. The Mets drafted him 18th overall in the first round on Thursday, making him their most recent first-round pick since they took Mike Pelfrey ninth in 2005.
Then they went and added another player of the same mold, selecting power-hitting shortstop Reese Havens with the 22nd overall pick. Lacking infield power in their system heading into this year's Draft, now the Mets have plenty of it.
"I'm excited about it, just like Ike is," Havens said. "It's a real pleasure to be a part of a first-class organization."
Davis, 21, projects as either a slugging first baseman or a corner outfielder. He's played mostly first base and pitcher during his three years at Arizona State, and this season, he is hitting .394 with 16 homers in 49 games for the Sun Devils, leading them to the third overall seed in the ongoing NCAA Tournament.
Davis hit a combined .339 with 17 homers as a freshman and sophomore. He also holds a 4-1 record and 2.53 ERA this season in 14 relief pitching appearances.
"I had no clue what the Mets needed," Davis said. "I know they're thinking about having me play the outfield or first base, and I can also pitch a little bit. I'm just glad that they drafted me, and I'm looking forward to going out and playing."
Havens, 21, is a shortstop out of the University of South Carolina who could potentially convert into a catcher in the future. He is batting .359 with 18 homers in 63 games as a junior for the Gamecocks this season, and hit .314 with five home runs in the Cape Cod League last summer. Though Havens has never played catcher in organized baseball and was named to the Southeastern Conference's All-Defensive Team as a shortstop this season, he acknowledged that converting to a backstop could be his ticket to the Majors.
Mets' top five selections
|18.||1B||Isaac Davis||Arizona St U|
|22.||SS||David Havens||U of S.C. Columbia|
|33.||RHP||Bradley Holt||UNC Wilmington|
|68.||OF||Javier Rodriguez||Puerto Rico BB Academy HS|
|100.||CF||Kirk Nieuwenhuis||Azusa Pacific U|
|Complete Mets Draft results >|
"I don't really know where I'm going to play," Havens said. "I guess shortstop is the idea to start off with, but just as long as I'm in the lineup, it doesn't really matter to me."
Together, Davis and Havens should start to replenish a Minor League system that, due to trades and free-agent signings, has been sapped of top prospects in general, and power hitters in particular. Outside of top overall prospect Fernando Martinez, the Mets had few sluggers -- and fewer still at the upper levels of their farm system.
But when Tom Glavine signed with the Braves as a Type A free agent last winter, he changed all that. The signing gave the Mets the 18th overall pick to go along with their 22nd overall selection, and an additional sandwich-round pick at 33rd overall.
With that pick, the Mets selected UNC Wilmington pitcher Brad Holt.
It marked the first time the Mets have drafted in the first round since 2005, when they selected Pelfrey with the ninth overall pick. The following year, they took starter Kevin Mulvey with their first pick in the second round, and last season, they selected college reliever Eddie Kunz with their top pick in the supplemental round.
|"I know they're thinking about having me play the outfield or first base, and I can also pitch a little bit. I'm just glad that they drafted me, and I'm looking forward to going out and playing."|
|-- Mets first-round pick Ike Davis|
Not since 1994, when the Mets selected Paul Wilson first overall and Terrence Long 20th overall, had the team had the luxury of picking twice in the first round.
Havens has been through this before, back when the Red Sox nearly made him a first-round Draft choice in 2005. But he elected instead to attend South Carolina, where he boosted his stock as a power-hitting infielder -- regardless of position.
Davis, too, has endured the grind of the Draft, back when the Rays selected him out of high school in the 19th round of the 2005 event. The Rays likely saw what Mets director of amateur scouting Rudy Terrasas called "good bloodlines," the kind that also prompted general manager Omar Minaya to call him a "quality position player." Either way, Davis ultimately enrolled at Arizona State, where his immediate future lies.
Davis is relieved, in fact, that the draft is over, because of his current allegiances. Now, he can go back to concentrating on reaching the College World Series -- his Sun Devils have a game in the Super Regionals on Saturday -- without worry of where he might end up come summer.
"It's a good relief to get this behind me now," Davis said. "It's a great feeling to be drafted, and I'm glad it was from an organization like the Mets. It's good to get that done with so we can concentrate on the games ahead of us."
Earlier in the day, the Mets made a symbolic draft pick when they selected Robert Scott in the Negro Leagues Player Draft, a ceremony to commemorate the historic league. Scott was a former pitcher and first baseman for the New York Black Yankees and Memphis Red Sox, and a member of the Jackie Robinson All-Stars in 1950.
Here is a look at the Mets' other Day 1 selections in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft:
Round Comp A: Brad Holt, RHP, UNC Wilmington
Holt may have been the team's third selection, but at 33rd overall, he was still a higher pick than their top selection from a year ago, Eddie Kunz, who was pick No. 42. Holt finished this season with an 11-1 record and a 3.18 ERA for the Seahawks, striking out 95 batters in 93 1/3 innings. Though he boasts a four-pitch repertoire, Holt said that most of his collegiate success has come due to his explosive fastball. "The fastball's there," he said. "I need to develop a secondary pitch and make my changeup a little bit better."
Round 2: Javier Rodriguez, OF, Puerto Rico Academy HS
The Mets selected the top Puerto Rican talent in the Draft when they took the 18-year-old Rodriguez with the 68th overall pick. His stock grew after a fine performance at Puerto Rico's Excellence Tournament, according to Baseball America, and he rates as another potential power-hitting outfielder for the farm system.
Round 3: Kirk Nieuwenhuis, CF, Azusa Pacific University
Another college bat -- albeit not one from a traditional baseball power -- greeted the Mets when they made their selection at 100th overall. Nieuwenhuis hit an even .400 over 225 at-bats for Azusa Pacific this season, slugging 15 homers and 20 doubles.
Round 4: Sean Ratliff, OF, Stanford
Ratliff is the leading slugger for a Stanford team still fighting in the NCAA Tournament. He belted 20 homers this season -- nearly twice as many as any of his Cardinal teammates -- and produced a .298 average in 61 games. Ratliff's 65 RBIs were also tops on the team.
Round 5: Charles Doyle, C, Coastal Carolina
The selection of Doyle made it five college bats for the Mets -- and six hitters in all -- over their first seven picks. Doyle, the 2008 Big South Player of the Year, hit .366 with 16 homers and 72 RBIs in 235 at-bats for the Chanticleers. He threw out 12 would-be base-stealers this season and picked seven more of them off.
Round 6: Joshua Satin, 2B, California
The Mets finished off Day 1 by selecting yet another college bat, this one a slugging second baseman out of California. Satin hit .375 with 18 homers for the Golden Bears, ranking fourth in the Pac-10 with a .745 slugging percentage. His selection fortified the Mets' commitment to selecting power hitters during the first day of the draft -- they took seven of them in all with their eight picks on Thursday.
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less