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Deconstructing the Draft: 1974

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The 1974 Mets draft was the worst in franchise history.

Philadelphia Phillies v New York Mets
John Pacella
Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images

With a mix of young, homegrown up-and-comers and talented veterans, the 1973 Mets were expected to pummel the National League, but injuries hampered them throughout the year. In late August, they found themselves in last place in the National League East, as many as 6.5 games behind first place. Urged on by Tug McGraw’s “You Gotta Believe” mantra, the Mets went 18-8 in September, overtaking the St. Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Montreal Expos to win the National League East. They met the Big Red Machine in the National League Champion Series and dominated the heavily favored Reds, taking the series 4-1. They met the Oakland Athletics in the World Series and took them to the limit, eventually losing to the A’s in seven games.

Even though they won the National League pennant, the 1973 Mets went 82-79, and as such, received the 17th overall pick in the 1974 MLB Draft. With that pick, the Mets selected Cliff Speck, a right-handed pitcher from Beaverton High School in Beaverton, Oregon. After signing for $30,000, Speck would spend the next few season with the Mets generally putting up subpar numbers before being released in April 1978. He would sign with the Philadelphia Phillies, Baltimore Orioles, and Chicago White Sox over the course of the late-70s and early-to-mid-80s before signing with the Atlanta Braves, with whom he finally made his major league debut with, at age 29. All in all, Speck posted a 4.13 ERA in 29.1 major league innings, allowing 25 hits, walking 15, and striking out 21.

With their second pick, they selected Dwight Bernard, a right-handed pitcher out of Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. Posting solid numbers in the upper minors for the next few years, he would be transitioned into a relief role in 1978 and post the best numbers of his career, prompting the Mets to call him up to the major league level. He would throw limited innings in 1978 and 1979 before being traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for Mark Bomback after the 1979 season ended. He would pitch limited innings for the Brewers in 1981 and 1982 before being released in 1983. All in all, Bernard posted a 4.14 ERA in 176.0 major league innings, allowing 196 hits, walking 86, and striking out 92.

Their third pick, Keith Bodie, an outfielder from South Shore High School in Canarsie, did not sign, but their fourth pick, John Pacella did. Another local kid, a right-handed pitcher from Connetquot High School in Long Island, Pacella spent the next couple of years climbing up the Mets’ minor league system, eventually making his major league debut in 1977. In 1980, he was traded to the San Diego Padres along with Jose Moreno in exchange for Randy Jones. He would bounce around to multiple teams throughout the 80s until retiring in 1988. All in all, Pacella posted a 5.73 ERA in 191.2 major league innings, allowing 206 hits, walking 133, and striking out 116.

The Mets would not have another player who they signed make it to the major leagues until their twentieth-round pick, Bob Myrick. A left-handed pitcher from Mississippi State University, Myrick spent the next two years in the minors before making his MLB debut in 1976. After pitching decently in 1976, 1977, and 1978, he was traded to the Texas Rangers along with Mike Bruhert in exchange for Dock Ellis and would never return to the majors again. All in all, Myrick would post a 3.48 ERA in 139.2 major league innings, allowing 138 hits, walking 59, and striking out 73.

No other players selected and signed by the Mets in the 1974 MLB Draft would accrue MLB service time. Three other players, Pat Putnam, Steve Baker, and Gene Krug would end up making the majors on other teams after not signing with the Mets and being redrafted.

None of the other players selected in the January and August secondary phases of the 1974 MLB Draft, none would make the majors with the Mets. Of the twelve that were selected, only four signed. One of those four was Ned Yost, a catcher out of Chabot College, a junior college in Hayward, California, who was selected in the Secondary Phase of the 1974 Draft. He spent the next few in the Mets’ farm system, but was selected by the Brewers in the 1977 Rule 5 Draft. He would end up making the major leagues, but not as a Mets player.

All in all, the 1974 MLB Draft was the worst draft that the Mets have to date in terms of producing player value. The players signed would end up accruing -2.4 bWAR/-0.6 fWAR in the major leagues, some of that time with the Mets and some of that time with other teams.