2003 Mets' Draft Review

If only this Piazza turns out to be as much of a bargain as the last one. In this year's First-Year Player Draft, the New York Mets selected Southwest Missouri State senior catcher Tony Piazza in the 12th round. Entering super-regional play against Ohio State this weekend, Piazza led the upstart Bears with 14 home runs. He was hitting .305 with 48 RBIs in 200 at-bats.

Despite the name, Piazza's apparenly not related to Mets mainstay catcher Mike Piazza, a 62nd-round pick 1988.

Now the draft only includes 50 rounds, so the Mets can no longer gat a Mike Piazza-like steal. This year, they started with a high-risk, high-upside pick in Florida prep outfielder Lastings Milledge and then played it more conservatively with a crop of proven college players for the remainder of their picks in the first 10 rounds.

Milledge has long been considered one of the top talents in the country at his age group, playing in elite showcases and top-notch youth tournaments (including the 1997 Little League World Series) almost from the time he took up the game. But the center fielder was expelled from his original high school (Northside Christian) in the wake of allegations of inappropriate behavior with a minor girl. His father, a Florida Highway Patrol officer, told the St. Petersburg Times, "All the allegations were found to be untrue. They know we don't have the money and can't go out and holler and scream at anybody."

The 12th pick in the draft, Milledge was rated by Baseball America as the best junior last year. The magazine said he could have been the top pick in the 2002 draft had he been a senior. (Ball State right-hander Bryan Bullington, now pitching at Class A Lynchburg in the Pirates' system was the first selection a year ago.) Milledge has one of the best speed/power combinations of any player in this year's draft.

If Milledge was a gamble, the next seven picks were a little safer. Without a second or third pick, New York had to wait until the 109th choice to take Oklahoma State left-hander Shane Hawk. This year, the Cowboys' junior went 7-3 with a 3.06 ERA. He struck out 49 and walked 23 in 53 innings. After Hawk, the Mets selected Louisiana-Lafayette outfielder Corey Coles. An all-Sun Belt player as a sophomore and again in this his junior season, Coles hit .371 to become the first Ragin' Cajun to lead the team in hitting for two straight years since 1991-92.

Another notable pick was seventh-rounder Brian Bannister, a right-hander from Southern Cal. He's the son of former major league left-hander Floyd Bannister, a 134-game winner from 1997-92 with the Astros, Mariners, White Sox, Royals, Angels and Rangers.

Round Name Position School
1 Lastings Milledge OF Lakewood Ranch H.S., Palmetto, FL
4 Shane Hawk LHP Oklahoma State
5 Corey Coles OF Louisiana-Lafayette
6 Mateo Miramontes RHP Nevada
7 Brian Bannister RHP Southern Cal
8 Seth Pietsch OF Oregon State
9 Vince Cordova RHP Loyola Marymount
10 David Reaver SS Richmond
11 Andy Sides RHP De Soto H.S. MO
12 Tony Piazza C Southwest Missouri State
13 Carlos Muniz RHP Long Beach State
14 Stacy Bennett 3B Armstrong Atlantic State, GA
15 Harold Mozingo RHP Essex H.S., VA
16 David Smith LHP Pfeiffer Univ., NC
17 Ryan Myers RHP Round Valley H.S., AZ
18 Kyle McCulloch RHP Bellaire H.S., Houston
19 Ryan Harvey OF Cal-Riverside
20 Trip Mealor RHP Oconee County H.S., Bishop, GA
21 Travis Garcia SS Iona College
22 Greg Ramirez RHP Pepperdine
23 Dante Brinkley OF Southwest Missouri State
24 Troy Fry RHP Berry College, GA
25 Evan Maclane LHP Feather River CC, CA
26 Kevin Rios SS Concordia Univ., CA
27 Deunte Heath RHP Newton County H.S.
28 Cory Wells OF Plant City H.S., FLA
29 Justin Valdes RHP Dunedin H.S., FLA
30 Adam Carr RHP West Valley JC, CA
31 Jordan Newton C Larue County H.S., KY
32 Humberto Gonzalez SS Feather River CC, CA
33 Abel Newton RHP Arkansas Fort-Smith JC
34 Drew Johnson RHP Wylie H.S., TX
35 Patrick Howe LHP Faith Baptist H.S., CA
36 Jim Wallace C Santa Clara
37 Alex Turner OF Catonsville CC, MD
38 Simon Gagnon LHP Montmorency College, Quebec
39 Garrett Young 3B Edison H.S., CA
40 Dan Fischer RHP Los Angeles Pierce JC
41 Mike Bartley RHP Alleghany H.S., VA
42 Brian Baugher RHP Brunswick H.S., MD
43 Mike Chambless C Round Rock H.S., TX
44 Tom Sgueglia 3B Rockland CC, NY
45 Jean-Michael Rochon-Salvas RHP Edouard Montpettit College H.S., Quebec
46 Joel Thorney RHP Leaside H.S., Toronto
47 David Torres RHP Central Florida
48 Jon Malo SS Miami-Dade JC
49 Grover Benton OF Webber College, FLA
50 Lester Aragon C Brito Private H.S., Miami

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