Mets’ Top 10 Prospects – 1981
When I wrote that the 1967 crop featuring Seaver, Ryan, and Koosman was probably the strongest group of prospects the Mets ever had, I was weighting it heavily on the future success of those three pitchers. But in terms of potential and depth, it would be hard to top the 1981 list.
Here’s what a list of the Top 10 Mets’ Prospects for 1981 may have looked like. Injuries and addictions certainly played a role in limiting the success of some of these players, but it was a talent-rich group.
1. Tim Leary, RHP – Just off a season where he was the best pitcher in the Texas League as a first-year pro, Leary looked like the best Mets’ pitching prospect since Seaver.
2. Darryl Strawberry, RF - The previous season’s #1 draft pick now had a half season of pro ball under his belt and though he was far from dominant, his star potential shone through.
3. Mookie Wilson, CF - The International League’s All Star Centerfielder would soon make Lee Mazzilli expendable leading to a chain of deals that brought the Mets Ron Darling and Howard Johnson.
4. Hubie Brooks, IF/OF – The Mets hadn’t yet decided if Hubie would be an infielder or outfielder, but he was coming off a solid year in AAA and looked major league ready.
5. Wally Backman, 2B- Tidewater’s switch-hitting second baseman would later abandon righthanded hitting and emerge as a solid #2 hitter and gritty infielder.
6. Rick Ownbey, RHP – With a big year at Class A Lynchburg followed by a successful stint at AA Memphis, Ownbey was coming on as a future star in the Mets’ rotation. He never made it, but was a valuable chip in the Keith Hernandez trade.
7. Mike Scott, RHP – Tidewater’s #1 starter was ready for the big leagues although he wouldn’t blossom until dealt away.
8. Ed Lynch, RHP – a solid starter for Tidewater who was pencilled in as a likely #4 starter type, which is just what he became.
9. Juan Berenguer, RHP – The International League’s strikeout leader, he was a strong candidate to shift to the bullpen, where he enjoyed a measure of big league success although not with the Mets.
10. Brian Giles, 2B – This smooth-fielding second baseman hit .286 in the Texas League and it looked like his glove could propel him ahead of Backman as the 2nd baseman of the future.
About the Author: Barry Duchan
I've been following the Mets since 1962. Have to admit I was a Yankee fan as a kid, but I found it to be so much more interesting to see how a young team could build itself up rather than following a team where the season didn't really begin until October. I remember them all - Casey, Marv, ChooChoo, Don Bosch, The Stork, etc. As the years went on, I became more and more of a Mets fan, and a Yankee hater once Steinbrenner and Billy Martin entered the picture. After retiring, I relocated with my family from Long Island to Chapel Hill, NC in 2005. I spend a lot of my time now checking out all the various Mets blogs. Fortunately, I still get to watch almost all of the Mets games (except those that are blacked out here).
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