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Ron Hopkins of the New York Mets has been in the business of evaluating baseball talent for 15 years now, and he calls Florida State's Paul Wilson the best college pitcher he ever scouted.

And that includes Ben McDonald, who graduated from LSU into the rotation of the Baltimore Orioles."He obviously has a special arm, good size and command," Hopkins said of Wilson. "He has exactly what you look for in a major league pitcher."

And that includes a 95 mph fastball.

So the Mets made Wilson the No. 1 pick in baseball's amateur draft on Thursday, and Hopkins figured they did the right thing. "He's a power pitcher with control," the scout said. "The fact that he knows he still has things to work on impressed me."

Coming out of Boone High School in Orlando, Fla., Wilson was drafted in the 57th round by Pittsburgh. At that point and that late in the draft, the big right-hander wasn't interested.

"There were no negotiations," he said. "It wasn't the right time. I don't regret going to Florida State. I think I made the right decision."

Three years later, the time seems perfect for Wilson, who is 12-5 with a 2.08 earned-run average for Florida State. He has 154 strikeouts in 134 innings and the Mets hope he can be a major piece in their reconstruction.

Later in the first round, the Mets chose high school first baseman Terrence Long of Millbrook, Ala., with a pick obtained from Baltimore for the signing of Sid Fernandez.

Houston was the only other team with two picks. The Astros chose high school catcher Ramon Castro of Puerto Rico No. 17 and right-handed pitcher Scott Elarton of Lamar, Colo., No. 25. Elarton's slot in the draft was compensation from San Francisco for the signing of Mark Portugal.

After Wilson went No. 1, Oakland picked high school outfielder Ben Grieve, whose father, Tom, is general manager of the Texas Rangers. Grieve batted .485 at Martin High School in Arlington, Texas.

Two other sons of ex-major leaguers were chosen in the first round. Jaret Wright, a right-handed high school pitcher from Anaheim, Calif., whose father, Clyde, pitched for California, Milwaukee and Texas, was picked No. 10 by Cleveland. Right-handed pitcher Cade Gaspar of Pepperdine, whose father, Rod, played for the 1969 New York Mets, went No. 18 to Detroit.

Next, San Diego selected right-handed pitcher Dustin Hermanson from Kent and Milwaukee general manager Sal Bando went to his alma mater, choosing third baseman Antone Williamson of Arizona State. Then Florida drafted high school shortstop Josh Booty from Shreveport, La.

California had the sixth pick and chose McKay Christensen, a high school outfielder from Fresno, Calif. Christensen has signed to play football at Brigham Young and had advised all 28 teams that he plans to carry out a two-year Mormon mission within the next year. The Angels went after him anyway.

Colorado chose, and a few hours later signed, left-handed high school pitcher Doug Million from Sarasota, Fla. Million was 12-2 with a 1.21 earned-run average this season.

After Minnesota selected second baseman Todd Walker from LSU, Cincinnati went for another left-hander, choosing C.J. Nitkowski from St. John's.