Revisiting the Mets’ 2001 Draft

Welcome back, my fellow Mets fans.

Last month, I published the inaugural article in this series: Revisiting past Mets drafts.

I decided to start with the year 2000, as it was the first year I followed baseball. That article can be found here.

That draft, upon looking back, turned out to be a truly brutal one. You know it’s bad when the best player to come out of 40 selections was right-hander Bobby Keppel who had a career WAR of 0.2.

Anyway, I have a feeling this draft will have proved to have been a bit better, as you can see from the man pictured above.

Without further adieu, let’s dive into it.

The selections…

  1. Aaron Heilman
  2. David Wright
  3. Alahji Turay
  4. Corey Ragsdale
  5. Lenny DiNardo
  6. Brian Walker
  7. Danny Garcia
  8. Jason Weintraub
  9. Tyler Beuerlein
  10. Brett Kay
  11. Jayson Weir
  12. Ryan Olson
  13. David Mattox
  14. Derran Watts
  15. Jay Caligiuri
  16. Kyle Larsen
  17. Jason Scobie
  18. Joe Hietpas
  19. Francis Corr
  20. Justin Barnes
  21. Josh Alliston
  22. Trevor Hutchinson
  23. Blake McGinley
  24. David Bacani
  25. John Toner
  26. Josh Deel
  27. Nathaniel Craft
  28. Justin Sassanella
  29. Eric Templet
  30. Ronald Ogle
  31. Domingo Acosta
  32. Chris Sherman
  33. Newton Hausmann
  34. Cole Armstrong
  35. Taylor George
  36. Richard Pittman
  37. Wayne Foltin
  38. Phil Tyson
  39. Jose Torres
  40. Luis Roberts
  41. Mike Almand
  42. John Sawatski
  43. Sean Farrell
  44. Christopher Davis
  45. Michael Schaeffer
  46. Randy Wells
  47. Edward Cannon
  48. Karnie Vertz
  49. Mike Hawkins
  50. Jamar Hill
  51. Paul Labiche
  52. DeWayne Carver

Alright, so right off the bat, I feel better writing about this draft than 2000.

With their first round pick (No. 18 overall), New York selected right-hander Aaron Heilman out of the University of Notre Dame. With their sandwich pick between the first and second round, the Mets selected David Wright, a pick that was awarded to them as compensation for Mike Hampton electing to take his talents to Colorado.

Beyond that, there were a few other guys who cracked the majors that you can see above: Lenny DiNardo, Danny Garcia, Joe Hietpas and Randy Wells.

Let’s take a closer look at each one of these guys.

Round 1: Aaron Heilman, RHP

Mets fans…I’m sorry I had to make you think about Mr. Heilman today. It’s actually funny to look back and think he was selected in front of David Wright.

The only settling realization is that they didn’t really miss any studs between the Heilman and Wright selections.

Between the two picks, several guys did have Major League careers, including Mike Fontenot (No. 19, Baltimore Orioles), Jeremy Sowers (No. 20, Cleveland Indians), Brad Hennessey (No. 21, San Francisco Giants), Jason Bulger (No. 22, Arizona Diamondbacks), John-Ford Griffin (No. 23, New York Yankees), Macay McBride (No. 24, Atlanta Braves), Bobby Crosby (No. 26, Oakland Athletics), Jeremy Bonderman (No. 27, Oakland Athletics), Noah Lowry (No. 30, San Francisco Giants), Jeff Mathis (No 33, Anaheim Angels), Bronson Sardinha (No. 34, New York Yankees), J.D. Martin (No. 35, Cleveland Indians) and John Rheinecker (No. 37, Oakland Athletics).

Apart from a few of those guys who might have done better than Heilman, they didn’t miss out on any Hall-of-Famers.

However, that doesn’t mean the Heilman pick wasn’t a bust. It was. He finished his nine-year big league career with a 1.6 bWAR. He was a essentially a replacement level pitcher for most of his time in the bigs.

But he will more importantly be forever remembered in Mets history for serving up a pivotal home run to Yadier Molina in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS.

Listen, I blame that game on Heilman, not Carlos Beltran and I will fight to the death to defend my stance.

Supplemental First Round: David Wright, 3B

Alright, I’m glad to cleanse my palette.

What more can you say about this pick? It was a fantastic one.

Wright concluded his storied Mets career last month with an emotional send-off in front of his loving, home fans to top off his 14-year playing career.

At just 35-years-old, Wright could have potentially played a few more years, had he not been marred with injuries.

Building off that, had Wright not been diagnosed with spinal stenosis and underwent a plethora of surgeries from 2015 on, he could have made a case for a ticket punch to Cooperstown.

Regardless, Wright will forever go down in Mets history as one of the most beloved players to wear orange and blue, and will likely hold countless team records for the foreseeable future.

It won’t be long before Wright’s number is retired and he is enshrined into the New York Mets Hall-of-Fame.

Great, more waterworks for me!

Round 3: Lenny DiNardo, LHP

With their third round selection, the Mets picked southpaw Lenny DiNardo out of Stetson University in DeLand, Florida. While this pick proved to be nothing of value for the Mets, it’s kind of all right, because they’d draft one of the best pitchers in baseball out of Stetson nearly a decade later.

I digress.

DiNardo did not actually ever pitch in a Mets uniform. He spent three years in the minors with New York after being drafted, reaching as high as Double-A, but was selected in the Rule 5 draft by the Boston Red Sox prior to the 2004 season.

DiNardo appeared in 22 games for Boston that year, and remained on the roster for the entire season, meaning he was then officially Red Sox property.

However, he didn’t make it to the World Series roster for Boston that year and did not receive a World Series ring.

Regardless, he would return to pitch for Boston over the next two seasons to mixed results before spending time with the Oakland A’s and Kansas City Royals before hanging up the cleats.

Overall, DiNardo recorded a -1.3 bWAR over the span of six years in the bigs.

No one else super notable was selected in the third round, other than Ryan Theriot and Scott Hairston, so the Mets didn’t whiff on anyone really that round. However, Ryan Howard was selected by the Phillies in round five, but what can you do.

Round 5: Danny Garcia, INF

If you follow me on Twitter, you will see that I recently created a page called “Random Mets Players.” That can be found here. (Sure, this is a shameless plug for my new page, but so what?)

The reason I bring this up is because Mr. Garcia landed himself a spot on the list of random Mets. It just goes to show that he didn’t really have a fruitful big league career.

Garcia debuted with the Mets in ’03 and played for them the next year as well. That was the extent of his career. His best trait, upon looking at his stats, was that he registered a .371 OBP in ’04 over 58 games. But really, Garcia was a replacement level player, and after ’06  after minor league stints with the Indians and Yankees, was out of baseball.

When all was said and done in the majors, he logged 0.2 bWAR. Should have drafted Ryan Howard instead. *ducks*

Round 16: Joe Hietpas, C/P

Ah yes, the ever potent Joe Hietpas. Kidding.

Hietpas cracked the majors at the end of 2004 and played in one game for the Mets. He did not get an at-bat, he came in as a defensive replacement behind the dish on Oct. 3 against the Montreal Expos.

This game is actually notable for two reasons: It was the Expos last ever game before they relocated to Washington and became the Nationals, and two, I was actually there, and I have no recollection of seeing Hietpas play.

Anyway, Hietpas later transitioned to a pitcher in the minor leagues after 2004, and stuck around in the Mets org until 2008 before ending his pro career.

Upon writing this article, I found out that Hietpas is now a real estate lawyer in Missouri and is no longer involved in baseball.

Round 44: Randy Wells, RHP

With one of their later selections, the Mets selected Wells out of Southwestern Illinois College. However, he decided to go back to school and re-entered the draft in 2002.

In ’02, he was selected by the Cubs in the 38th round of the draft and chose to sign with them.

Wells debuted in 2008 with the Toronto Blue Jays after being taken in that year’s Rule 5 draft. However, he was shortly returned back to Chicago, where he’d spend the rest of his career.

Wells primarily started for the Cubs over his five years with the team, highlighted by a 2009 campaign where he went 12-10 with a 3.02 ERA in 27 starts.

He retired after the 2013 season and ended his career with a 7.5 bWAR (Still better than Heilman, eh?)

If you’re interested, some other notable players selected that year were:

  • J.J. Hardy, 2nd round, 56th overall by the Milwaukee Brewers
  • Dan Haren, 2nd round, 72nd overall by the St. Louis Cardinals
  • Ricky Nolasco, 4th round, 108th overall by the Chicago Cubs
  • C.J. Wilson, 5th round, 141st overall by the Texas Rangers
  • Kevin Youkilis, 8th round, 243rd overall by the Boston Red Sox
  • Dan Uggla, 11th round, 338th overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Jonny Gomes, 18th round, 529th overall by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays

And a few others. Here’s the Wikipedia link if you’re inclined to check it out.

Stay tuned for next time where we will look back at the 2002 draft. Cheers!

About Rob Piersall 1161 Articles
Rob Piersall is a fourth-year student at SUNY New Paltz, studying journalism with a minor in communications. He is also the managing editor for his school's newspaper, The Oracle. A Mets fan since the age of six in 2001, Rob is senior editor here at MMO. His favorite thing is reporting breaking Mets news and transactions as well as writing columns. He is also ready to see what Mickey Callaway brings to the table in 2018. LGM! Follow Rob on Twitter: @RobPiersall.