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Plawecki picked by Mets for offense, defense

WASHINGTON -- Paul DePodesta admitted that it is "no secret" what the Mets, as an organization, are trying to do at the plate. They like to take pitches. They like to put the ball in play. They like to reach base by any means possible.

They do not like to strike out.

So the club's second selection in Monday's First-Year Player Draft, catcher Kevin Plawecki, was a perfect fit for the team at 35th overall. Plawecki struck out just eight times in 223 at-bats during his junior season at Purdue, and 29 times over his three-year college career -- a span of 638 at-bats. He also walked 26 times as a junior, matching his total for the previous two years combined.

"No doubt, it's a terrific skill," said DePodesta, the Mets' vice president of scouting and player development. "He certainly has a terrific eye at the plate."

The result for Plawecki was a .359 average with seven home runs and 47 RBIs in 59 games, showcasing some of the power that the Mets believe will continue to develop throughout his professional career. The Indiana native was named the Big Ten Player of the Year and the conference tournament's Most Outstanding Player, and is currently one of the three finalists for the Johnny Bench Award, given annually to the NCAA's top Division I catcher.

The Mets nabbed him with the 35th overall pick, which they received as compensation for losing free-agent shortstop Jose Reyes to the Marlins.

"I think I just have a good eye," Plawecki said. "I can recognize things very well. I've just tried to make it a focus of mine to put a good swing on it every at-bat. I'm very lucky to make contact most of the time. I just have a good plan, a good approach at the plate, and I think that's why I've been successful up till this point."

Since Sandy Alderson came on board as general manager in late 2010 and hired DePodesta to run the organization's amateur scouting and development, the Mets have made on-base percentage a focal point at every level of their organization. Their Major and Minor League coaches stress selective aggression, wanting their players to avoid balls and pitcher's pitches and attack everything else.

They believe their top Draft pick, high school shortstop Gavin Cecchini, has the ability to do that. And they know that Plawecki does, considering the types of numbers he posted in college.

On the other side of the plate, Plawecki won Purdue's Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2011. In that regard, DePodesta called him "special."

"Kevin is what we feel is the best catcher in the Draft, definitely the best defensive catcher," said Mets scouting director Tommy Tanous. "He's a really interesting player offensively. He does not strike out, yet he has a mix of power. We think this guy is going to be really special both defensively and offensively."

At 21 years old, Plawecki could also rise quickly through the organizational ranks. While Cecchini is at least three full years away from the Majors, Plawecki could reach Flushing far sooner if he continues to showcase his patience at the plate.

"It's a dream come true," said Plawecki, who watched the Draft on television with his family. "I can't explain how excited I am. It's just such a thrill to be a part of the Mets family now."

New York Mets