Having the first overall pick in the MLB Draft is good, bad, and a little indifferent. The MLB Draft is impossible to predict. As the New York Mets have proven themselves, even when you get the first pick in the draft there’s a wide range of results.
The Mets have drafted first overall five times in the franchise’s history. Their batting average is a weak .200, going 1 for 5 in those picks.
The first Mets first overall pick in 1966
The first overall pick in the 1966 MLB Draft went to the Mets. Their selection: catcher Steve Chilcott.
Infamous, Chilcott never made it higher than Triple-A. Injuries early on in his professional career derailed his track entirely. In 1972, he would play his final professional games at only age 23.
The next first overall pick by the Mets wasn't much better
Only two years later, the Mets selected first again. The 1968 MLB Draft began with the Amazins taking Tim Foli. He would play for them in 1970 and 1971 before getting packaged and sent to the Montreal Expos for Rusty Staub in April of 1972. Years later, as the Mets were embarking on their rebuild post-1977, the club purchased him from the San Francisco Giants.
Foli would turn into a light-hitting infielder with a career .251/.283/.309 slash line in parts of 16 big league seasons. A decent enough MLB life, it wasn’t exactly what you would expect from the first overall pick.
The Mets nailed their third first overall pick
More than a decade would pass until the Mets got to select first overall again. Largely because they were finally not finishing dead-last, they were able to successfully pick a young high school outfielder on their third try picking first. His name was Darryl Strawberry.
If you know anything about the Mets, you know the importance of Strawberry. He was an absolute star in the 1980s and a key cog in their success throughout the decade. Regarded as one of the bets Mets of all-time, this was the only instance where the franchise chose correctly.
Another bust at number one
Only four years later, the Mets were picking first again. This time, they picked another outfielder out of high school, Shawn Abner.
Abner would never actually play a game for the Mets. Instead, he was traded prior to the 1987 season to the San Diego Padres in the Kevin McReynolds deal. He would play parts of six seasons in the big leagues but slashed just .227/.269/.323 with 11 home runs. This turned out to be another miss with pick number one.
The final first overall pick
A full ten years would pass until the Mets got to pick first again. After getting manhandled in 1993, the Mets got to select first in 1994. Previously, they had taken a catcher, an infielder, and two outfielders. They would go after a pitcher this time.
Paul Wilson was the man taken before everyone else in 1994. A member of Generation K, the next great starting rotation in Mets history, he would only play one season with the club in 1996. The injury bug gnawed down on him over the next few seasons, limiting him to less than 100 minor league innings from 1997-1999. He would finally get healthy again in 2000 but was traded to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at the deadline. Unable to ever meet the lofty expectations of being first overall, Wilson would stick around the league until 2005 and stay relatively healthy while pitching to a career 4.86 ERA.
It’s said that no major sports draft is more of a crapshoot than the MLB one. Looking no further than the first overall picks taken by the Mets, we see just how wide of a range of results there can be.