What is it with the Mets and pitchers from Long Island?
After selecting a pair of Long Island arms with their first two picks in the MLB Draft on Thursday night, scouting director Tommy Tanous explained the team’s penchant for looking at the locals.
“To be honest, I didn’t feel like flying this year, so I just scouted guys I could drive to,” Tanous joked.
The Mets already have Ward Melville product and 2009 draftee Steven Matz in their rotation. On Thursday, they selected Freeport native Justin Dunn 19th overall and another former Ward Melville star lefthander, Anthony Kay, with the 31st pick.
“It was so bizarre, the fact that both kids are local kids,” Tanous said. “It’s just how the draft played out. . . We were thrilled to get them.”
Dunn, a flame-throwing righthander from Boston College who went to high school in Connecticut, took the loss for the Eagles last night against Miami in an NCAA super regional in Coral Gables, Florida.
Kay has finished his junior season at the University of Connecticut.
He went 9-2 with a 2.65 ERA in 17 starts and finished as UConn’s all-time strikeout leader with 263.
“We saw quite a bit of Anthony,” Tanous said. “He was advanced for a high school pitcher to begin with, and what he did do at UConn, he made an advanced changeup even better and he had a spike in velocity without losing his command. His command got even better.”
Matz is known as the Long Island lefty, but the Mets soon might have another if Kay signs and progresses through the system. The two are well-acquainted as products of the same program and fellow Stony Brook natives.
“I’d say we’re pretty friendly,” Kay said yesterday. “We talk all the time and we go back in the winter all the time to high school. I think it’d be really cool to work with him and it’s awesome.”
Kay was drafted by the Mets in the 29th round in 2013 but decided to go to college.
“I think it was just a good opportunity to go to school,” Kay said. “I wanted to kind of get the experience of playing college baseball, get a couple years of education in under my belt. I thought it definitely paid off.”
Like Dunn, Kay was not a Mets fan growing up. That has changed, however.
“I was a Yankees fan,” Kay said. “But I guess I’m a Mets fan now.”