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Mets like potential of Princeton pitcher

WASHINGTON -- With their 13th-round pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, the Mets selected Matthew Bowman, a right-hander out of Princeton, whom scouts project as a future productive Major League starter due to his lively fastball-changeup-slider combo.

Bowman so impressed the Mets during a pre-Draft workout, they could not pass him up with the 410th overall pick.

"There weren't many guys like that on the board at that time," Mets vice president of scouting and player development Paul DePodesta said Tuesday, on a conference call to discuss the team's Day 2 picks. "He was a guy, since he came to our workout, that we had targeted. We were just trying to figure out the best time to call his name, but he was a guy we were pretty intent on taking somewhere."

In addition to a low-90s fastball that hit 95 mph during his pre-Draft workout with the Mets, Bowman features a hard slider, curveball and changeup. He was also a standout shortstop at Princeton, batting .308 this season, with one home run in 33 games -- all of which led the Mets to believe he will only improve as a pitcher once he transitions full-time to the mound.

"We like the athletic package and think he has some upside there," DePodesta said of Bowman, who was second-team all-Ivy League at shortstop as a sophomore. "He's very athletic, a very good strike-thrower."

Bowman was 4-2 with a 4.66 ERA on the mound for the Tigers. His peripheral statistics, though -- 58 strikeouts against 17 walks in 56 innings -- highlight what the Mets believe is a truer indication of his abilities. DePodesta and his scouting team certainly had plenty of opportunities to watch him pitch, given that Princeton -- barring traffic, of course -- is just a 90-minute drive from Citi Field.

And in his quest to crack the Major Leagues, Bowman may have flown off the Draft board in just the right spot. The Mets have enjoyed uncommon success with their 13th-round selections in recent years, developing big league players in 2005 (Josh Thole, 389th overall) and 2006 (Daniel Murphy, 394th overall). They also boast one of the league's three active Princeton alumni in Chris Young, who started Tuesday against the Nationals following a 12-month recovery from right shoulder surgery. Padres outfielder Will Venable and right-hander Ross Ohlendorf are the others.

"I talked to [Princeton coach Scott Bradley] and he said he's got a good arm," Young said of Bowman. "He's got live stuff and he's just a good athlete, a good baseball player -- not specifically a pitcher. You see a lot of guys, a lot of pitchers who become pretty good big leaguers that played shortstop in high school and stuff like that. I wish the best for him."

New York Mets