Strawberry comes full circle in Draft
Former Met will announce teams' first-round Draft selection
NEW YORK -- The most successful sequence of seasons in the now 45-plus-year run of the Mets began in 1984, when the first team managed by Davey Johnson won 90 games. The team averaged 95 victories per season, won two division championships, a pennant and a World Series. The seeds of that success, though, were planted in 1980, the year of ownership change, the appointment of Frank Cashen as general manager and the drafting of the most talented player in franchise history.
Twenty-seven years ago, the Mets chose first in what then was called the amateur draft and, after some internal debate -- there was considerable thought given to drafting Billy Beane -- they used their selection to draft Darryl Eugene Strawberry, an outfielder from Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles.
This was the precursor of one of the five most significant player moves in the franchise history; on par with the selection of Tom Seaver in a special draft in 1966, the choice of Dwight Gooden in the 1982 draft, the acquisition of Keith Hernandez in 1983 and the acquisition of Mike Piazza in 1998.
Strawberry is now the designated voice for the Mets for the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, to be staged June 7-8 at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Fla. Strawberry will identify the club's first selection.
Soon to be hired by the club to perform off-the-field duties, he will have come full cycle when he does so, though the player he introduces will be neither the first player chosen -- the club's first pick is No. 42 -- nor a player with potential remotely comparable to his.
|1. TB||LHP||David Price||Vanderbilt U|
|2. KC||SS||Michael Moustakas||Chatsworth HS (Calif.)|
|3. CHC||3B||Josh Vitters||Cypress HS (Calif.)|
|4. PIT||LHP||Daniel Moskos||Clemson U|
|5. BAL||C||Matthew Wieters||Georgia Tech|
|6. WSH||LHP||Ross Detwiler||Missouri St U|
|7. MIL||LF||Matthew LaPorta||U Florida|
|8. COL||RHP||Casey Weathers||Vanderbilt U|
|9. ARI||RHP||Jarrod Parker||Norwell HS|
|10. SF||LHP||Madison Bumgarner||South Caldwell HS|
Indeed, no player with the exceptions of Josh Hamilton (1999), Alex Rodriquez (1993), Chipper Jones (1990) or Ken Griffey Jr. (1987) was seen as having potential comparable to what Strawberry had demonstrated as an amateur, potential the Mets thought warranted a then-record $210,000 bonus.
"I remember that day so well," Strawberry says now. "I was in class and they called me to the principal's office to tell me I'd been picked first. ... I knew there was a chance because there had been so many scouts at my games. I'd just finished playing basketball. I wasn't even ready to swing a bat, and there were 50 scouts at my first game.
"They knew we played a good brand of baseball at my school. We had four or five guys [former Padre and Giant Chris Brown among them] drafted the year before. So I was kind of ready."
But the drafting may prove to be a significant event, nonetheless. The Mets chose Jason Isringhausen in the 44th round of the 1991 draft, and he has had a productive career, albeit with teams other than the Mets. And Piazza was selected after 1,389 other players in the 1988 draft the Dodgers. So who can tell?
Perhaps you can't tell. But you can watch. MLB.com will broadcast every selection in the draft. Coverage is to begin at 2 p.m. ET the first day with a simulcast of ESPN2's broadcast of the first round and compensation picks. Video coverage of the remaining rounds on the first day is to air at MLB.com, with live interviews and analysis from Orlando by Casey Stern, Jonathan Mayo and Perfect Game USA's Dave Rawnsley.
The second day of selection is to begin at 11:30 a.m. and continue through round 50, if necessary. Every pick on the second day can be heard live at MLB.com with analysis from Mayo and Perfect Game USA's Allan Simpson.
Again this year, fans can follow every pick with MLB.com's live Draft Tracker, a searchable database of every draft-eligible player featuring biographical data, statistics, scouting reports and scouting video.
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.