Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Do You Feel a Draft?

After months of having to reply to the most commonly asked question -- "So, how does the team look this year" -- (usually being asked by the same people who have been asking it for years now) and having to reply "We won't even know who's officially on the team until just before Opening Day," we're finally in June. And that means that the June Amateur Draft (or "Free Agent Draft," or "First Year Player Draft" -- you hear it referred to in different ways) is almost upon us.

The draft takes place this year on Thursday and Friday, the 5th and 6th. A brief, general overview: players are selected by major league teams, then signed to minor league contracts, then assigned to one of the major league team's minor league affiliates.

Sometimes this process happens very quickly. A player can be drafted on Thursday, signed on Friday, and on a plane to join the group at Extended Spring Training by Saturday. Sometimes it takes much longer. Last season, Eddie Kunz was drafted in early June, then played in the College World Series, was involved in negotiations through July, signed on July 24th, and was assigned to Brooklyn for his pro debut in early August.

Usually, the higher the player is drafted, the longer the negotiations take. Eddie was the Mets' first pick in 2007.

In the Cyclones' first seven years, we've seen impact players who run the gamut. Kunz and Scott Kazmir were two first picks who debuted in Brooklyn, as were third rounders Lenny DiNardo and Joe Smith. But all the great players don't come from the top of the draft. Less heralded draft picks like Ross Peeples (45th round), Jay Caligiuri (13th round), Blake Whealy (13th round), Caleb Stewart (22nd round), Dustin Martin (26th round), and Dylan Owen (20th round) have been among the best players ever to play for the team. Part of the fun for fans is picking out the diamonds in the rough. Anyone can see a top rounder and say "that guy's gonna be good." It's the value picks in the middle rounds that give a team, and an organization, depth.

Anyway, a few days after the draft, we will get a preliminary list of players who will be on the Brooklyn roster -- and that's when the fun begins. My interns and I scramble to get whatever information and pictures we can...calling high schools, colleges, combing websites, contacting family members...whatever it takes to find facts and figures on the guys who will be in uniform for the Cyclones. We have less than a week to gather and edit this information, lay it out in the Media Guide and Game Program, and get the publications printed, shipped, and delivered. And all the while we keep our fingers crossed that the names on the roster won't change dramatically from the time we start printing to Opening Day.

So...these are two big weeks in the ol' Media Relations Department. Stay tuned to see who the Mets select, who'll be reporting to Brooklyn, and who you'll be cheering for this summer. You never know...with each pick the Mets make, you may be hearing the name of your next favorite Cyclone!

-- Dave

1 comment:

Joel Then said...

Well, I'm not lucky enough to be drafted, but I am still pursuing a professional baseball career as a free agent. I've been traveling across the country going to tryouts and camps, and I've learned a lot about what it means to really be a baseball player... I would love to be a Cyclone (heck, I hit a homer over the left-field wall back when the first 200 fans to buy tickets were allowed to take BP a few years ago), but I don't care where I end up as long as I have a chance to play at the pro level...