Monday June 23rd 2003, Philip Humber pitched the game of a life time. This wasn't any regular stage. This was the final game of the NCAA College World Series and Humber was ready.
A 5 hit gem in a 14-2 pounding of ....the Cardinals. In more ways than one, it is ironic isn't it? 5 hits allowed for the likely #5 starter for the Mets this coming season. 14....well that was the number of games the NY Mets had ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals in the regular season. 2 is where the the Cardinals were expected to place behind the Mets in a World Series birth...but that didn't happen. It is also the same number the Mets limited the Nats to in their regular season finale.
The fantastic senior year for Philip Humber led to him becoming the 3rd overall draft in 2004 and what a wise pick he was. He has always had a good sense of what needs to be done to win games and a great sense of character. That approach to his game has made him a good group of admirers.
A huge fan of Humber is none other than Mets skipper, Willie Randolph. He has stated that he loves this kid's work ethic and determination to get healthy while picking the brains of some of the best pitchers in the history of baseball in Pedro, Glavine, El Duque and Wagner. His education doesn't end there. He also picks the brains of the hitters who have made great names for themselves like Delgado, Franco and even Willie. After all, if a pitcher can find out from great hitters, how to get great hitters out, he is in a great position himself.
For those of you who are enamored with Michael Pelfrey grabbing the 5 spot, I say be patient for the next big thing. He will be ready soon enough but Humber edges ahead of him with his ability to switch to his other pitches when his killer curve isn't working for him. He strives to let the hitters make their mistakes and get themselves out and that is a quality that is well respected in him. Most kids with his talent would be trying to blow the ball passed the hitters, but the mentality of trusting your team and allowing the ball to be hit is a craft in it's own that few get to master.
Humber is well on his way with a College World Series ring and victory, that can be just as important as any other experience in baseball for determining who can pitch the back end of a rotation for an NY team.
A little bonus.... Philip Humber was drafted by the crosstown rival Yankees in the 29th round of the 2001 draft and refused to sign.
My ballot has been cast.