MILWAUKEE -- The New York Mets certainly love Long Island.
With the 19th overall selection Thursday, the Mets drafted Boston College right-hander Justin Dunn. The 6-foot-2, 184-pound Dunn hails from Freeport, although he attended a private high school, The Gunnery, in Washington, Connecticut.
They then selected UConn left-hander Anthony Kay with the 31st overall pick. Kay hails from Stony Brook and attended Ward Melville, the same high school as Steven Matz. The two never played together, but Matz did watch Kay pitch as a freshman while Matz was home working back from Tommy John surgery.
“I didn’t feel like flying this year, so I just scouted guys I could drive to from my house in Rhode Island,” amateur scouting director Tommy Tanous joked. “Boston College was close. And UConn was on the way to Citi Field.”
More seriously, Tanous added: “It was so bizarre the fact that both kids are local kids and it’s still how the draft played out. We had no intention of manipulating the draft or anything to get these players. We were thrilled to get them. It’s just kind of how the draft worked out. I would say because of our familiarity with them, we may have had them a little higher than some other teams.”
Tanous added that the Mets did not focus on college players or pitchers. Those were just the best players available when the Mets selected.
The Mets selected Matz with their top pick (72nd overall/second round) in 2009.
Dunn, a junior, began the season in Boston College's bullpen. After nine appearances while acting as the closer, he stepped into the Eagles' rotation. That helped the Mets determine he was the right selection.
“We were on him from last year’s Cape league,” Tanous said. “So he was certainly on our radar. When he transitioned to a starter in the middle of the year … it really kind of rang the bell of, this guy can be a starter, not just a reliever. And we value starters, especially drafting them high."
Dunn's fastball sits at 92-95 mph and tops out at 97 mph. He also throws a slider, curveball and changeup.
ESPN's Keith Law writes about Dunn: "Control has been a bit of an issue for Dunn, especially since he moved into the rotation. But there again, context is important when it comes to projection, and the circumstances surrounding Dunn's development to this point should be taken into account when it comes to projecting his control. Bottom line is he's a high-upside college arm without a long track record of success as a starter."
Dunn's college career continues Friday when Boston College plays at Miami in the NCAA super regionals. He is due to start the 5 p.m. ET game, which will be televised on ESPNU.
As for Kay, the Mets actually had drafted him in the 29th round out of high school. He decided to attend UConn instead.
“He was an advanced high school pitcher to begin with,” Tanous said. “So it’s not like Anthony had a long way to go. What he did do was develop an already advanced changeup into a better changeup. He certainly has a feel for the pitch. He threw it with confidence. He threw it ahead in the count. He threw it behind in the count. And it was certainly a weapon for him.
"Probably his jump was in his velocity. We would consistently see Anthony at anywhere from 92 to 94 mph. Some of us had him up to 95 the other day. He had a spike in velocity. And, at the same time, a huge thing with Anthony, even though his velocity spiked, his command actually had gotten better since high school. He made improvements in all facets of his game.”
Matz watched Kay pitch when UConn played at the Mets' complex during spring training in 2015.
“He has a really good changeup, from what I know,” Matz said.