This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Port St. Lucie Mets 2003 championship season. Under manager Ken Oberkfell, the St. Lucie Mets finished the season with a 77-62 record, and won the Florida State League championship for the fourth time in their history. They won a fifth title (88, 96, 98) in the 2006 season. St. Lucie has been a Mets affiliate since 1988, and most recently won a division title in 2011. On the mound, the Florida Metsies were led by starter Matt Peterson. He posted a 9-2 record and a stellar 1.71 ERA before being summoned to pitch six games in AA. With St. Lucie, he threw eighty four innings, surrendered sixty five hits, and issued twenty four walks, for a 1.060 WHiP. He struck out seventy three batters. Matt’s career ultimately fizzled out in 2010, after a final season playing for (MIA) AAA-New Orleans. Outside of a little used shortstop named Gil Velazquez, and Scott Kazmir, who is still trying to hold on in Cleveland, only two every day players from that 2003 team are still playing major league baseball today.
One of which is Angel Pagan, who was in his fourth season of minor league baseball. He was drafted by the Mets in the fourth round of the 1999 amateur draft. Two years prior to playing in St. Lucie, Angel Pagan played outfield for the 2001 New York-Penn League co-champion, Brooklyn Cyclones. Pagan didn’t necessarily parlay his success in Brooklyn’s short season schedule two years later while playing in St. Lucie’s longer A+ season. In 2001, he batted .315 in 238 at-bats. With 441 at-bats in 2003, he only batted .249, and posted a .307 OBP.
The other current major league player from that team was David Wright. He was the Mets 38th overall first round selection in the 2001 June amateur draft. The pick came via Colorado as compensation for losing Mike Hampton to free agency. In 2003, David was a twenty-year old prospect dominating St. Lucie in his third minor league season. He played in 133 games for the St. Lucie Mets, and went to bat 466 times. Wright scored sixty nine runs, and drove in seventy five which led the team. He hit thirty nine doubles and fifteen home runs which both also led the team. He only batted .270 in 2003, but drew seventy two walks, and posted a .369 OBP. His ninety eight strikeouts that season now seem typical to us.
Angel Pagan’s time spent in Flushing was a mixed bag of goods. He endeared himself with the fans by returning from season ending shoulder surgery in 2008, with quality play, in albeit a shortened eighty-eight game 2009 season. By 2011, his game had fallen off considerably. So naturally, he fell out of favor with the fans. But who knew he was becoming increasingly disliked in the clubhouse as well? Apparently, by the end of the season his relationships in Queens had soured. Sandy Alderson then traded Pagan far away to San Francisco in a failed bid to improve the 2012 bullpen by acquiring Ramon Ramirez, and throw-in outfielder Andres Torres.
After brief stints the following season in AA-Binghamton and AAA-Norfolk, David Wright began playing third base for the New York Mets on July 21, 2004. Ten years after winning a minor league championship with Angel Pagan, David Wright returns for another season of Spring Training in Port St. Lucie as arguably one of the most popular Mets players ever. He is the face of the franchise, and the team’s undeniable Captain. Over the winter, he became engaged to be married, and is fresh off signing a long term, $138 million dollar contract extension.
For David Wright, I guess congratulations are in order. For Angel Pagan, sorry things didn’t work out better. But as a die-hard Brooklyn Cyclones fan, thank you for 2001 all the same. Those two tales were a decade in the making.
As it pertains to the Port St. Lucie Mets, they remain the only Mets organizational affiliate to win a league title in the last ten years. In fact, they won two. Kingsport has not won a title (1995) in almost twenty years. After their inaugural season championship in 2001, Brooklyn were bridesmaids several more times, but never again the bride. The Savannah Sand Gnats were runners-up in 2011, but since they began affiliation in 2007, no titles. The Binghamton Mets haven’t won a championship since 1994. At the AAA level, Norfolk, New Orleans, and Buffalo, all failed to bring the organization a title over the last ten years as well. Las Vegas will get their first crack this season. So in closing, I’d just like to wish good luck to all the Mets affiliates this season. May amazin’ seasons lie ahead.