Technically, this is not a list of the Mets’ Top 20 Prospects going into the 1964 season, but rather a list of the 20 most prominent prospects who were signed by the Mets between 1962 and 1964, before the first Amateur Draft in 1965.
It does not include players drafted or acquired from other organizations.
As with most prospect lists, some went on to be stars, others had some level of major league success, and some had just a cup of coffee in the big leagues either due to injury or because they just weren’t good enough.
Only one really got away, Paul Blair, who was drafted by the Orioles out of the Mets’ organization, and only two never made it to the big leagues at all, Hank McGraw and Paul Alspach.
In future posts, I’ll take a closer look at some of the lesser known of this group, but for now, here are my two working lists of the Mets’ Top 20. The first is in approximate order of ultimate major league value, and the second one is based on the hype and anticipation of each prospect with a brief blurb about them.
1. Jerry Koosman
2. Paul Blair
3. Cleon Jones
4. Tug McGraw
5. Bud Harrelson
6. Ed Kranepool
7. Dick Selma
8. Ron Swoboda
9. Larry Bearnarth
10. John Stephenson
11. Dick Rusteck
12. Kevin Collins
15. Danny Napoleon
16. Jim Bethke
17. Ron Locke
18. Shaun Fitzmaurice
19. Hank McGraw
20. Paul Alspach
Here are the same twenty players re-ranked in order of their “prospect hype” at the time:
1. Ed Kranepool – The prized prospect with future stardom expected.
2. Ron Swoboda – By far, the greatest pure power prospect signed by the Mets (maybe to this day).
3. Cleon Jones – No hype when he signed, but quickly established himself as the organization’s best all-around prospect.
4. Dick Selma – Hard-throwing righty regarded as a future staff ace.
5. Tug McGraw – Lefty showed great stuff as he moved up through the system.
6. Bud Harrelson – Outstanding defensive shortstop who didn’t hit a lick in minors.
7.Grover Powell – One of 3 pitchers on this list who pitched a shutout in his first major league start.
8. Larry Bearnarth – Former St. John’s star who made the big club after one year in the minors.
9. Dennis Musgraves – Showed outstanding promise in his brief stint with Mets, but an injury derailed his career.
10. Dick Rusteck – AAA ace who pitched a shutout in his first appearance with Mets and never won another game.
11. Jerry Koosman – Put it all together after some mediocre work in minors that almost got him released.
12. Hank McGraw – Tug’s older brother, considered a top prospect, but his free-spirited ways didn’t endear him to conservative Mets’ management.
13. Danny Napoleon – Incredible year in the NYP League vaulted him to majors, but had minimal success.
14. Ron Locke – Great numbers in NYP League didn’t translate to the majors.
15. Kevin Collins – Future hope at third base, dealt away in Clendenon deal, never really made it.
16. Shaun Fitzmaurice – Notre Dame star touted as centerfielder of the future, but stalled at AA.
17. John Stephenson – Best remembered as last batter in Bunning’s perfect game.
18. Jim Bethke – Over-matched at big league level and never did much in minors either.
19. Paul Alspach – One-time prospect became minor league journeyman.
20. Paul Blair – No hype whatsoever and grabbed in first-year draft by Orioles.