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Deconstructing the draft: 2006

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No superstars, but one hidden gem and a couple of fun stories from a draft no one paid attention to.

Orange County Register Archive Photo by Kevin Sullivan/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images

In June of 2006, the draft was the last thing on most Mets’ fans minds (including my own, as a pre-teen, first-time avid fan). The major league team, lead by young stars David Wright and Jose Reyes along with veterans Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado, was making a joke of the National League. Nevertheless, the Mets added 35 players to the organization over the two night event, and while it certainly wasn’t the most successful draft in team history, there were some good storylines and a late round gem.

Round 1, Pick 18: RHP Kyle Drabek*

This pick comes with one big asterisk, namely that the Mets didn’t make it. Instead, this pick went to the Phillies as compensation for Billy Wagner under the old Type A/B arbitration system. Philadelphia wound up taking Drabek (son of former Cy Young winner Doug Drabek), a potential top-5 talent that fell due to off-the-field issues. Drabek quickly became a top 50 prospect, but two Tommy John surgeries later his career never worked out. He was, however, part of the trade for Roy Halladay, heading to Toronto along with Travis d’Arnaud and Michael Taylor in 2009. Because he was traded for a generational great, he’s worth talking about even though the Mets didn’t make this pick, especially because...

Round 2, Pick 62: LHP Kevin Mulvey

...so was Kevin Mulvey. Funnily, Mulvey is exactly the kind of boring college arm the Mets seem to love taking - solid college production, limited upside, projected to move fast, you know the deal. He made good on part of that profile, climbing quickly through the Mets’ system and reaching Triple-A in 2007. He’d never appear in a major league game for the Mets, however, as he was shipped off to Minnesota along with Carlos Gomez, Phillip Humber, and Deolis Guerra for Johan Santana.

Much like Drabek, Mulvey never found much major league success. He struggled in his brief time with the Twins before being waived and acquired by the Diamondbacks. He spent most of his time in Arizona in the minors before ultimately being released, rejoining the Mets on a minor-league contract, throwing 19.1 innings as a reliever in Double-A, and retiring. Despite the unremarkable career, it’s an odd coincidence that the top arms taken with the Mets’ picks in this draft were both dealt for hall of fame level talents (even if I’m cheating a bit to make that connection).

Round 3, Pick 95: RHP Joe Smith

In another classic Mets draft move, they took a college closer with a (relatively) high draft pick. At the time, Joe Smith was coming off a ridiculous two year run as Wright State’s closer, having logged a 1.10 ERA as a redshirt sophomore and a 0.98 ERA as a junior. His college story is actually a great example of determination, as he was initially cut following surgery to repair a torn shoulder labrum. He came back using an early iteration of the sidearm mechanics we’re all familiar with, paradoxically gaining fastball velocity in the process, and became a dominant reliever.

Like Mulvey, Smith shot up through the minors, debuting in 2007 and tossing 44.1 innings as an important part of the bullpen (one that ultimately suffered an historic implosion down the stretch of course). He again featured heavily in the Mets’ bullpen in 2008 before being traded as part of the three team deal that brought JJ Putz to the Mets prior to the 2009 season. Putz was bad and the 2009 Mets team was worse, but Smith went on to become one of the best relievers in baseball in Cleveland, ultimately parlaying that into successful stints with the Angels and, eventually, the 2018 World Series champion* Astros. At 36, he’s still pitching for Houston, though he opted out of playing in 2020.

Round 4, Pick 124: RHP John Holdzkom

Doubling down on the reliever trend, the Mets selected a younger option in the fourth round. Holdzkom was drafted in 2005 by the Mariners but chose not to sign, and after a year at Salt Lake Community College, he was picked ten rounds higher. Unfortunately, he flamed out in the Met organization, pitching only 11 innings in 2007, excelling at rookie ball in 2008 before needing Tommy John surgery, then tossing only five more innings before his ultimate release in 2011.

That was far from the end, however. Holdzkom signed a minor league deal with the Reds, but lasted only 8.2 innings in Cincinatti before winding up in Indie Ball. Some goofy strikeout numbers (17.61 K/9 in 2013 for the Sioux City Explorers!) got him noticed by the Pirates, who signed him in 2014. He quickly made an impact, striking out 14 batters in his nine regular season innings, appearing in the Wild Card Game against the eventual World Series winning Giants, and briefly becoming a Fangraphs darling due to his unique palmball. Those were unfortunately the only major league innings Holdzkom would ever pitch - the Pirates kept him in the minors for all of 2015, and he was injured with the White Sox in 2016. Most recently, he played some Aussie Ball, and he also represented New Zealand in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

Round 13, Pick 394: Hitter Daniel Murphy

It would be more than 200 picks before the Mets selected another major league player, but boy did they hit on this one (rimshot). Murphy was regarded much the same in college as he was in the majors - strong hitter, poor (to put it kindly) fielder - and he mashed more than enough to earn that reputation, hitting a robust .398/.470/.534 in his junior season for Jacksonville. After fiddling around in the low minors in 2007, Murph made a joke of two levels before debuting late in 2008. He hit the ground running, posting a 133 wRC+ thanks to his .313 average, and he looked like a potential long term fixture.

Things did not go as smoothly in 2009. Installed as the starting left fielder, Murphy infamously dropped a flyball during a Johan Santana - John Johnson pitching duel in Miami six games into the season. His defensive struggles were accompanied by offensive regression, as some harsh BABIP luck turned Murphy into a below average hitter in what was a miserable season for the team as a whole. Things got worse in 2010; an early season knee sprain cost him the starting first base job and then, while playing second base on a rehab assignment, Leonard Davis tore Murphy’s MCL while sliding into second.

Thankfully, Murphy came back better than before, batting a robust .320/.362/.448 while playing first, second, and third for 109 games in 2011. He continued with that same profile - BABIP driven, slightly above average offense, head scratching defense - for three years, and as the Mets seemed poised to come out of their rebuild, some advocated for him to be traded. He stayed in New York, of course, forming a key part of the surprise 2015 team before going supernova in the playoffs and sustaining his transformation into Babe Ruth after signing with the Nationals in the offseason. To date, Murphy has accrued 24.3 fWAR over a 12-year career, and he’s still hitting decently well in Colorado, making him by far the most successful player in this class.

Round 16, Pick 484: RHP Tobi Stoner

The German born Stoner (phrasing?) attended junior college in Maryland before attending Davis & Elkins College in West Virginia. He dominated at the Division II school, as he hit .406 for his career while playing 2B and SS and also racked up 15 wins and 5 saves, including 10 complete games and a 2.90 ERA as a senior. That was enough to get him noticed by the Mets, who snagged him in the sixteenth round. Never a guy with a lot of stuff, Stoner found success with a four pitch mix in the minors thanks to his excellent control, and he looked the part of a solid back-end starter despite a relative lack of strikeouts. That was enough to get him ranked on the back-end of various top-20 lists in the late 2000’s.

Unfortunately, his development stalled in the upper minors like a lot of guys with this profile, and he only logged 11.1 major league innings, all as a reliever between 2009 and 2010. Shoulder and elbow injuries ultimately sapped a bit of a stuff, and when you’re working on such a thin margin you can’t really afford to lose anymore. Still, it’s remarkable that a late round pick who played Division II ball made it to the majors at all, so you’ve got to chalk this one up as a win. As a fun bonus, here’s an interview our former-former prospect guru Rob Castellano did with Stoner back in 2011.

Round 37, Pick 1114: RHP Josh Stinson

A high school arm from Louisiana, Stinson was relatively unheralded, making him one of the unusual prep arms that signs when drafted so late. His arsenal consisted of a mid-90s fastball and not much else, and as such it took Stinson a long while to get going. It wasn’t til 2010 that Stinson made it to Double-A, but he finally cracked the major league roster in 2011. The results were poor, and he was ultimately waived before bouncing between the Brewers and Orioles organizations for a time. His Major league career consisted of 52.1 innings, mostly as a reliever, and he tacked on a season for the Tigers in the KBO in 2015.

Round 41, Pick 1234: RHP Vic Black

Yes, that Vic Black, the one that was acquired along with Dilson Herrera from the Pirates as part of the Marlon Byrd trade in 2013, was drafted as a high school pitcher out of Amarillo High School in Texas. He didn’t sign of course, and instead went to Dallas Baptist. Despite never posting an ERA below four at the college level, his decision proved to be a smart one, as the Pirates took him with the 49th overall pick in the 2009 draft. Black’s profile remained much the same from high school all the way though his major league career; a fast but straight heater coupled with questionable (bordering on non-existent) control. He accrued 0.2 fWAR over 51 major league innings before a shoulder injury effectively ended his career.

Round 49, Pick 1463: C Johnny Monell

A Bronx native, Monell was drafted out of Christopher Columbus High School in 2005 by the Giants, but chose to go to college. The Mets selected him here in 2006, but he again elected not to sign and returned to school. The Giants finally got their main in 2007, and after a six year journey through the minors, Monell debuted in 2013 for 9 plate appearances. He bounced between the Orioles and Dodgers in 2014 before serving briefly as a backup catcher on the 2015 Mets, who also eventually got their main. Monell has since played in Triple-A for the Mets in 2016 and 2018 with a year in Korea sandwiched in between.