Biggest Mets busts drafted in the first round in franchise history
By Alan Karmin
Mets First baseman
Terence Long was drafted in the first round of the 1994 draft, the 20th pick overall, out of Stanhope Elmore High School in Millbrook, Alabama. Other players selected after Long were Aaron Boone, Tim Hudson, and J.D. Drew.
Long would come up for a cup of coffee, going hitless in three pinch-hitting appearances in 1999, before being included in the trade with the Oakland A’s that brought Kenny Rogers to the Mets at mid-season for their pennant drive. Long would go on to have a productive four years for the A’s after being moved to the outfield, sporting a .265 batting average with 15 home runs and 73 RBI. He would soon fizzle out spending the next three seasons with the San Diego Padres, Kansas City Royals, and New York Yankees.
Mets Second baseman
Rich Puig was a first-round pick in the 1971 draft, 14th overall, out of Hillsborough High School in Tampa. It’s almost sickening to think about this particular selection. Puig was taken just ahead of future Hall of Famer Jim Rice. The Mets were always hard up for third basemen and they just happened to also pass on two guys named George Brett and Mike Schmidt.
Some other guys selected in that draft? Louisiana Lightning, Ron Guidry; some guy they used to call “Mex” named Keith Hernandez; and a shortstop out of South River, New Jersey named Joe Theismann. Yes, that Joe Theismann who was twisted into a pretzel one night by some big linebacker from the New York Giants named Lawrence Taylor.
Puig would make it to the big league team for four games in a September call-up, getting ten (10) at-bats with no hits in his short, very short, career before retiring from baseball at the age of 21.
Reese Havens was a first-round selection in the 2008 draft, 22nd overall, out of the University of South Carolina. The 2008 draft had some pretty decent players who made it to the Major Leagues including Ike Davis with the Mets and some others like Aaron Hicks, Eric Hosmer, Pedro Alvarez, and Buster Posey. And it’s amazing how the Mets missed on two pitchers that were grabbed behind Havens – Lance Lynn and Gerrit Cole.
Havens would toil six years in the Mets minor leagues and never make it to the big club nor the big time at all. He retired at the age of 26 after struggling at Triple-A Las Vegas.
Mets Third baseman
Roy Staiger was the 24th selection of the first round of the secondary phase of the 1970 draft out of Bacone College in Muskogee, Oklahoma. The names in that draft were fairly well-known – Bucky Dent and Darrell Porter were taken early, while others like Fred Lynn, Goose Gossage, Bruce Sutter, and Dave Parker were taken slightly, just slightly later. Those guys fared pretty well.
Staiger would struggle going up through the minors for the Mets. But Triple-A Tidewater Tides manager Joe Frazier took a liking to him. And when Frazier was promoted to Mets manager, he insisted on installing Staiger at third base in 1975. He was hailed as the righthanded power guy who was finally going to be the stalwart at third base after Ed Charles (retired), Joe Foy (who knows what happened to him), Bob Aspromonte (bombed), and Jim Fregosi (over the hill former All-Star shortstop to failed attempt at third base) all failed to bring some stability to the position.
He, too, failed miserably – hitting a paltry four home runs in 446 at-bats over the course of a season and a half – and was replaced at third base when Joe Torre replaced Frazier at the helm. Staiger is another answer to a trivia question on this list, becoming a part of the first direct trade between the Mets and the Yankees.