Mets eye St. John's closer Hansen

There continues to be heavy speculation that the Mets are poised to select St. John's righthanded closer Craig Hansen with their first-round pick (ninth overall) in Tuesday's MLB Draft.

Hansen was personally scouted by Mets GM Omar Minaya on three occasions, and the fact that the 6-foot-5 closer is a local product from Glen Cove, N.Y. doesn't hurt.

The 21-year-old features a mid-90s fastball and a slider in the mid-80s, and is believed to be one of the players closest to the major leagues in the draft. He was 3-2 with a 1.68 ERA for the Red Storm.

Another rumor swirling in the pre-draft hours could possibly have high school outfielder Cameron Maybin dropping to the Mets due to his expected contract demands, similar to the situation New York experienced with selecting lefthander Scott Kazmir in 2002.

Left-handed hitting high school outfielder Jay Bruce and Wichita State righthander Mike Pelfrey are also believed to be on the Mets' radar.

The Mets have forfeited their second and third round draft selections to the Boston Red Sox and Houston Astros, respectively, as compensation for signing Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran.

Notes & Quotes

FINALISTS: The Mets and Florida Marlins are believed to be the finalists for reliever Danny Graves, who was cut loose by the Cincinnati Reds in late May.

The 31-year-old righthander was 1-1 with a 7.36 ERA in 20 appearances for Cincinnati this season, and is believed to be seeking at least an option for the 2006 season.

If New York signs Graves, they would only be responsible for a pro-rated major league minimum salary, while the Reds remain on the hook for Graves' $6.25 million contract.

Minor League Report

TRIPLE-A NORFOLK: Rodney Nye's fifth-inning home run proved to be the difference as the Tides won their third straight, 1-0, over Rochester on Monday. Neal Musser tossed 5-2/3 innings of one-hit ball before yielding to Tim Hamulack and David Lee, each of whom threw 1-2/3 innings in relief. Norfolk (32-27) leads Durham by five games in the International League South.

DOUBLE-A BINGHAMTON: The B-Mets traveled to Altoona on Monday, where they open a three-game set on Tuesday night. Binghamton (26-26) is in fourth place and trails Portland by four games in the Eastern League Northern Division.

HIGH-A ST. LUCIE: Philip Humber was bombed for eight runs in 1-2/3 innings on Monday, suffering his fifth loss of the year as the Mets lost to Palm Beach, 8-5. Last year's No. 1 draft selection from Rice University, Humber is 0-5 with a 6.50 ERA this season. Blake Whealy (5), Jamar Hill (3) and Shawn Bowman (5) homered for fifth-place St. Lucie (21-33), which trails Vero Beach by 10.5 games in the Florida State League East.

LOW-A HAGERSTOWN: Jeff Landing (5-4) allowed four runs in the third and two more in the fifth as the Hagerstown Suns fell at Lexington, 7-4. Mike Carp went 2-for-3, including his 15th home run of the year, for Hagerstown (36-22), which holds a one-game lead on Lexington in the South Atlantic League's Northern division.

On Deck

The Mets open a three-game series with the Houston Astros on Tuesday night, with NL strikeout leader Pedro Martinez heading to the hill in front of an expected crowd of over 35,000 at Shea Stadium.

Houston rolls into town as winners of six out of eight, including taking two of three from the St. Louis Cardinals at home over the weekend.

The Mets miss Roger Clemens in this series, as the Rocket threw on Sunday against the Cardinals, but draw challenges in Roy Oswalt (6-6, 3.06) Tuesday, Brandon Backe (5-3, 4.54) Wednesday and Andy Pettitte (3-6, 3.47) Thursday.

The Mets are three games above .500 at 30-27, one game behind the division-leading Washington Nationals. Third-place New York follows the Atlanta Braves by half a game, and no team in the NL East is more than 1.5 games out.

MEET PEDRO MARTINEZ!

Join Steiner Sports and Inside Pitch Magazine on June 11 at Last Licks in Huntington, N.Y. to meet and greet Mets ace Pedro Martinez … Visit www.lastlicks.net or call 631-423-5425 for more info!


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