03/08/2004 8:00 AM ET
Prime Time Prospect: Scott Kazmir
By Kevin T. Czerwinski / MLB.com
Mets organization report
|Scott Kazmir has drawn comparisons to Florida's Josh Beckett. (Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images)
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Rick Peterson helped mold a trio of superlative pitchers during his tenure as Oakland's pitching coach.
Barry Zito, Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder combined for 205 victories on Peterson's watch, so he has a pretty good idea when he comes across someone with a bright future.
Though Peterson would never make comparisons to the aforementioned trio, he hasn't been shy when it comes to talking about southpaw Scott Kazmir.
In fact, no one in the organization is mincing words when it comes to the former first-round pick. From principal owner Fred Wilpon on down to Peterson, the excitement generated by Kazmir is unlike anything the Mets have experienced in years. Not since Dwight Gooden have the Mets produced a bona fide Major League ace. But that's what they think Kazmir will someday be.
"He's everything I heard about and more," Peterson said. "He's pretty special. You watch him, and it's like, 'Wow.'"
Kazmir, 20, has drawn comparisons to Florida's Josh Beckett, which is fitting considering that he shattered most of Beckett's state high school records in Texas before being chosen by the Mets with the 15th pick in the 2002 First-Year Player draft. He has a mid- to high-90s fastball, and his breaking stuff is off-the-charts effective. The fact that he's a lefty only makes him that much more attractive -- to the Mets and to many other teams, as well.
Though Kazmir was only 5-6 last year in 25 starts between Class-A Capital City and Class-A Port St. Lucie, the record wasn't indicative of how he performed. He had a combined 2.63 ERA and led all minor league pitchers in strikeouts per nine innings, with 11.94. Kazmir also allowed opponents to bat only .202 against him, good for fifth.
Kazmir helped lead St. Lucie to the Florida State League title, allowing only one hit over 5 1/3 innings in the title-clinching game. He will likely begin the season at Double-A Binghamton. But if the weather isn't cooperative in upstate New York, Kazmir could get a start or two at Port St. Lucie.
Either way, most in the organization think he'll only be at Binghamton for no more than half a season before moving to Triple-A Norfolk.
There was talk earlier this spring in the New York tabloids that Kazmir was being dangled as trade bait for Texas' Alfonso Soriano. Those rumors proved to be false, however. Wilpon and general manager Jim Duquette are on record as saying that Kazmir isn't going to be dealt and that they expect him to be the cornerstone of the Mets' staff for many years.
"No one is untouchable and of course situations can change," Duquette said. "But it's just not likely. He's one of those guys that we feel has a bright future in New York, and we're expecting him to pitch for us at the Major League level."
Kevin Czerwinski is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.