07/24/07 9:49 PM ET
Mets sign top Draft pick Kunz
Reliever helped Oregon State win back-to-back championships
By Lauren Kobylarz / MLB.com
The junior from Oregon State University will report to the Mets' Minor League complex in Port St. Lucie, Fla., on Wednesday morning. Following workouts, Kunz will be assigned to a Minor League club.
Kunz, who was No. 42 overall in the First-Year Player Draft, threw 30 pitches in the bullpen prior to watching the Mets' game against the Pirates -- his first ballgame in New York.
"It's definitely an amazing feeling," Kunz said. "Ever since I was a little kid, I always wished I could do that, and the best part is wearing the Mets uniform, and Major League-anything is definitely probably one of the greatest feelings I've ever had."
At Oregon State, Kunz helped lead his team to two consecutive College World Series championships. The 6-foot-5, 250-pounder went 3-1 with 12 saves this season as a closer for the Beavers. Last year, he held his spot as a setup man, and his freshman year he was a middle-man for the team.
For the Mets, Kunz will likely begin his career as a relief pitcher, general manager Omar Minaya said.
"We see him as definitely some type of relief pitcher," Minaya said. "We're not sure of what type that will be, but he'll find his place. That will take care of itself."
Kunz holds a fastball hovering around 95 mph, a changeup and a slider in his repertoire, and batters hit just .194 against him this season. He's had an outstanding college career, going 10-1 with a 2.87 ERA in 73 games, but knows that what lies ahead will be different, a challenge as he strives to earn his spot on a big-league roster.
"It's going to be a huge change for me, but I think I'll feel pretty comfortable and go out and settle in," Kunz said. "And hopefully, when I do get up here, it'll be a smooth transition for me."
It could take one year or it could take several. It's too early to tell, Minaya said, but Kunz will have his fair share of opportunities to show the club what he's got during his time in the Minors.
"Joe Smith did it in one year after he signed," Minaya said. "If you're a college player, it usually takes about four or five years, but he could be up here as early as September or August next year."
After taking a week's worth of rest and relaxation after the College World Series championship, Kunz arrived in New York on Monday and did some sightseeing in Manhattan. The trip, his first to New York, gave the Portland, Ore., native a glimpse of what he hopes will, eventually, become his future home.
"I'm just going to work my butt off and do my best," Kunz said. "I'm just going to do my thing and do my best, and hopefully, I'll be up here in a year, two years, two months, nine months. Whenever they really need me, it's their decision."
Lauren Kobylarz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.