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Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Mike Draper got shifted from starting to relief, then made the bigs with another shift, to the Mets

Mike Draper had largely been a starter. But, in his fifth pro season in 1992, the Yankees moved to make him a AAA reliever at Columbus, The New York Times wrote in spring 1993.

"They told (manager) Rick (Downs) to put me in the bullpen and make me a reliever," Draper told The Times then. "But Rick just gave me the ball and said, 'You're my closer.' I probably wouldn't be here now if it wasn't for him."

Draper went out and saved 37 games. He then found himself in spring 1993 with the Mets, winning a spot in a big league bullpen.

From there, Draper ended up seeing 29 total outings with the Mets in 1993, marking his only season in the bigs.

Draper's career began in 1988, taken by the Yankees in the 26th round of the draft out of George Mason University.

Draper started with the Yankees at short-season Oneonta and at single-A Prince William. He went 4-4, with a 2.74 ERA over 17 outings, five starts.

He returned to Prince William for 1989 as a full-time starter. He went 14-8, with a 3.11 ERA. He spoke with The Newport News Daily Press that August, after his 14th win, about working with his college coach at George Mason  to pick up a changeup, then get drafted by the Yankees.

"It was a surprise because I wasn't looking to get drafted," Draper told The Daily Press. "But when I did, I just wanted to make the most out of the situation. ... Baseball turned out pretty  good so I decided to give it a shot."

Draper split 1990 between high-A Fort Lauderdale and AA Albany-Colonie. He first made AAA Columbus for four starts in 1991, playing the rest of the year at AA.

Then, at Columbus in 1992, he saw 57 total outings, three starts. He went 5-6, with a 3.60 ERA. He also saved those 37 games.

That offseason, the Mets selected Draper in the Rule 5 draft. He then pitched strongly and made the team the next spring.

Draper then got into his 29 games on the season for the Mets. He went 1-1, with a 4.29 ERA.

He came on in first-inning relief in a June game and he then went 3.2 innings while giving up one hit.

"The situation, when you're given  the ball - I don't care what year I'm in - take the initiative and  throw strikes," Draper told The Yonkers Herald Statesman afterward. "If you can't do that you're not doing your job."

Draper returned to AAA with the Padres for 1994. He got into 54 games there, two starts and saved 12. That season proved his last as a pro.

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:3,714
Made the Majors:1,261-34.0%-X
Never Made Majors:2,453-66.0%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:522
10+ Seasons in the Minors:309

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