By Barry Duchan
Editor's Note: We will publish a post from Barry Duchan every Sunday covering some aspect of Mets history. - M.S.
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.
- 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.
- Daryl Strawberry of - 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.
- Mookie Wilson of - 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.
- 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.
- Wally Backman 2b/ss- Tidewater's switch-hitting second baseman would later abandon righthanded hitting and emerge as a solid #2 hitter and gritty infielder.
- 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.
- Mike Scott rhp - Tidewater's #1 starter was ready for the big leagues although he wouldn't blossom until dealt away.
- Ed Lynch rhp - a solid starter for Tidewater who was pencilled in as a likely #4 starter type, which is just what he became.
- 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.
- 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.