The Mets have possessed the first overall pick in the June amateur draft five times in franchise history. Cumulatively, the players they've selected have amassed just under 50 career rWAR. One, Steve Chilcott, didn't even make it to the majors. Shawn Abner, number one pick in the 1984 draft, did, but was sub-replacement level for the duration of his playing days. Paul Wilson, profiled yesterday, saw his career wrecked by injuries. Tim Foli, meanwhile, just wasn't that good.
That leaves one player to cover the bulk of the value the Mets have received from number one overall draft picks and it shouldn't be a surprise who it is. On June 3, 1980, GM Frank Cashen made the savviest selection thus far in team's history by selecting Darryl Strawberry out of Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles.
Roger Jongewaard, the Mets' southern California scout at the time, described Darryl as such, "He's a power hitter who runs like a deer and has a better than average arm." Straw seconded Jongewaard's opinion, saying, "I would describe myself as a good hitter who can run, throw, and play defense. Most of all, though, I like to hit."
Hit is exactly what Darryl did for eight seasons as a Met. He made his MLB debut in 1983, almost exactly three years after being drafted, and by season's end, he'd hit enough to be elected National League Rookie of the Year by a near-unanimous vote. In 1987, he set a new standard for most home runs in a single season by a Mets player and established the team's career record one season later. By the end of his New York tenure in 1990, Darryl had run his total to 252, which still remains the most long balls any one player has hit for the Mets. It's also record he'll retain for at least a few more years, too, as David Wright is 41 long balls away from tying it.
Of course, words don't really do justice to the beauty of Straw at the plate. Thanks to MLB's ever-enlarging online video archive, we can see Straw in action. Here's a clip of the 21-year old picking up his first career hit and RBI against the Reds. Here's Darryl again one week later launching the first of his many moonshots (and baseball-posterizing former Met Lee Mazzilli in the process).
- Carl Everett is 42. Jurassic Carl, as he was dubbed by Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe for his stated disbelief in dinosaurs, looked like he might be a long piece of the Mets outfield in 1995. In just half a season's worth of plate appearances that year, the 24-year old, Everett posted 1.9 bWAR. However, injuries and clashes with managers Dallas Green and Bobby Valentine, plus an alleged incident of child abuse, led the team to trade him to the Astros for pennies on the dollar in 1997.
- Flushing native Ed Glynn, a left-handed reliever for the Mets from 1979 to '80, turns 60. Drawing a player's paycheck was actually the second time Glynn appeared on the payroll of his hometown team. During his teenage years, he served a Shea Stadium hot dog vendor.
- Also turning 42 today is Carl Everett's 1995 Mets teammate Aaron Ledesma. Taken by the Mets one round after the Yankees took Everett in the 1990 amateur draft, Ledesma made his debut five years later and hit .242/.359/.242 in midsummer 21 games.
- Zach Lutz is 27. The oft-injured corner infielder made his MLB debut last season and might have provided the Mets with another option at first base this season should Ike Davis do more to merit a demotion...except he's hurt. Lutz strained his oblique a week ago and hasn't appeared in a game since then.
- Barry Lyons, 53, backed up Gary Carter from 1986 to 1988, then split starting duties with the Kid in '89. He did not do much to impress and the Mets moved on to Mackey Sasser the following year.
In addition to Darryl, the Mets drafted three other players of note on June 3, 1980. With back-to-back compensation picks at the end of round one, the team took San Diego high schooler/future Athletics general manager Billy Beane and Texas catcher/future Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. Two rounds later, the Mets picked up pitcher Rick Ownbey, who'd later be shipped to St. Louis as part of the Keith Hernandez deal.
Other draftees of note taken on other June 3rds in Mets history include Gregg Jefferies (1985), Bill Pulsipher and Jason Isringhausen (1991), Benny Agbayani (1993), and Lastings Milledge (2003 and see below).
Game of Note
Exactly three years after being drafted, Lastings Milledge scored the winning run in the 11th inning of a Shea Stadium set-to with the Giants. Paul Lo Duca singled to start the frame, then moved to third on a double by Carlos Delgado. At this point, manager Willie Randolph subbed out his slow-footed catcher for Milledge, who trotted home after just seven pitches on base when Chris Woodward sent a medium-depth fly ball into the right-center gap. Final score: Mets 3, Giants 2.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
Ernest Lawrence Thayer's famous poem of the joy disappearing from Mudville, "Casey at the Bat" was first published in the San Francisco Daily Examiner on this date in 1888. The most famous Casey associated with the Mets, Casey Stengel, never took a turn at the plate for the team, on account of being a manager. One of Stengel's charges, however, Kevin "Casey" Collins batted 245 times as a Met and was far from mighty. He struck out 59 times, or in nearly a quarter of his plate appearances.