NEW YORK -- Like many baseball fans, Giants farmhand Gary Brown was seeking information as the July 2011 Trade Deadline neared. The entire industry was aware that the Mets were shopping Carlos Beltrán, an All-Star outfielder still in the prime of his career. Social media was relatively new. Rumors were flying. At one point, Brown texted teammate Zack Wheeler with the latest speculation, that Wheeler might be headed to the Mets in a one-for-one swap for Beltrán. Wheeler texted back that he had heard it was Brown.
“For the Mets’ sake,” Brown said, “they made the right decision.”
In a franchise-changing trade, general manager Sandy Alderson wound up swapping Beltrán for Wheeler, who blossomed into one of baseball’s best pitchers following the deal. What no one -- not Brown, not Wheeler, certainly not the Mets -- could have envisioned was that a decade later, Brown would be making a positive impact on the organization regardless.
“It’s very different on this side,” said Brown, a 12th-round Draft pick of the A’s in 2007 and a first-round selection of the Giants three years later. “As a player, to this day, being picked in the first round was probably the most exciting moment of my career. I hope Jett has a lot more exciting moments than that.”
Unlike Wheeler, Brown never developed into the type of player the Mets or Giants envisioned. He appeared in just seven Major League games, all in 2014, then played two years in independent ball before retiring in 2017.
Shortly thereafter, Brown returned to college to receive his master’s degree in sports law and business at Arizona State, before accepting a baseball operations internship with the Mariners. When Brown began seeking full-time jobs, Seattle’s scouting director put him in touch with his counterpart on the Mets, Marc Tramuta, who had an opening in North Texas.
“And the rest is history,” Brown said.
As an area scout, Brown is responsible for a swath of territory around Dallas that produces some of the game’s best players -- think Clayton Kershaw, Noah Syndergaard types. Although many of his scouting missions involve easy commutes around the area, he often travels to West Texas and estimates he’s put 105,000 miles on his car over the past three years. It’s a large state.
“You make a lot of calls, [listen to] a lot of podcasts, a lot of music,” Brown said, laughing.
Among his shorter trips was to Colleyville Heritage High School, where Brown first laid eyes on Williams at a local tournament in the summer of 2019. There to see another player, Brown made note of Williams, then went back to watch him two years later. By that point, Williams was the subject of attention as he led Rockwall-Heath High School to a 6A state championship.
“There’s a ton to like,” Brown said. “He’s an electric, toolsy player. I put in my report [that] he is [5-foot-8] but he is not a little guy. He is strong. He’s got impact. He’s got quiet confidence. He’s got the type of confidence that he doesn’t back down from anybody or anything.”
Consider it another win for Brown, who now has his fingerprints on two of the Mets’ most recent high picks. Once a highly recruited prospect himself, Brown -- finally a Mets employee, more than a decade later -- is learning to love the other half of the scouting equation.
“It’s crazy, you don’t understand how much truly goes into it as a player,” Brown said. “Then you get on this side, and the hours and hours and miles and everything that’s put into it, and the guys that are fighting for you -- it’s an exciting process. And I don’t think you fully appreciate it until you go through a whole Draft cycle with a player.”