N.Y. TIMES: Phil Humber Just Another Pitcher Who Took Forever

The Mets were so bad in 2003 that, the next summer, they were blessed with the third pick in the amateur draft.

The Padres owned the first pick and, somewhat unaccountably, chose the ill-fated Matt Bush.

The Tigers owned the second pick and, quite accountable, chose Justin Verlander.

With Verlander gone, the Mets were particularly interested in Jered Weaver and Philip Humber. As for what happened next ... well, here's Tyler Kepner (via The New York Times):

Weaver had high bonus demands and did not pitch well for the Mets’ scouts. They passed on Weaver, who went to the Angels, and chose Humber, a 6-foot-3 right-hander with a 95-mile-per-hour fastball.

"Everybody who went in to see him, including myself, thought he was going to be a 200-inning, year-after-year type of pitcher," said Jim Duquette, then the Mets’ general manager. "He had a good frame and a lot of the elements you’d look for in a top-of-the-rotation starter."

Humber made only one start for the Mets, who traded him to Minnesota as part of the package for Johan Santana in 2008. From there, he bounced to Kansas City, Oakland and the Chicago White Sox, while Verlander and Weaver went on to stardom.

A friend once told me -- while trying to explain just how uncertain the chances of young pitchers -- that even though pitchers drafted in the first round have relatively high success rates, even those guys often take years to prove their mettle in the major leagues. And there are few better examples than Humber, who did virtually nothing as a major leaguer until his seventh professional season ... and with his fifth professional team.

You can't really blame the Mets for letting Humber get away; after all, they had to give up something to get Johan Santana. But his loss might seem especially poignant, as the Mets are still waiting for the first no-hitter in franchise history.

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