From Verlander to Humber, a missed opportunity
With Tigers starter (and heavy Cy Young favorite) Justin Verlander taking the mound for Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Yankees this evening, it is noteworthy to look back on a potentially franchise-altering draft that did not pan out quite as planned.
Heading into the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, the Mets’ scouting department was extremely high on Verlander, who was — and still is — capable of pitching in the triple digits. They even had a chance to nab Verlander with the top overall pick. Though the Tigers finished with the league’s worst record, at 43-119, Major League rules at that time alternated picks between the American and National Leagues. It was the NL’s turn to pick first, meaning the Mets, at 66-95, fell three losses shy of the top overall pick (the Padres finished 64-98).
With the first selection, San Diego took Matt Bush, a high school shortstop who never panned out in the big leagues. With the second pick, the Tigers nabbed Verlander, and the rest is history. The Mets settled for Phil Humber — a so-called “safe” selection — at No. 3 overall, losing out on their chance at a franchise-changing pitcher.
Of course, it goes without saying that Verlander’s career — and Humber’s, for that matter — might have turned out far differently had he come up through the Mets organization. But given what we know about both pitchers, it seems like an opportunity lost. (Imagine, for a moment, what the 2007 Mets would have been with Verlander in the rotation.)
—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.