The Rockies' Lucky No. 7 (cont.)
Posted: Tuesday March 25, 2008 1:25PM; Updated: Wednesday March 26, 2008 3:48PM
Much of what's next for baseball -- the championships, the MVP awards, the rivalries, the endorsements, even the drug testing -- will arise from the events of June 7, 2005. On that day the majors held a draft that is likely to eclipse the greatest in baseball history: 1985, when Barry Bonds, Barry Larkin, Rafael Palmeiro, Will Clark, B.J. Surhoff, Pete Incaviglia and Gregg Jefferies were among the first 22 picks.
Upton was the top choice; Tulowitzki, to Colorado's everlasting gratitude, slipped to seventh. A "franchise-changing" moment, Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd calls selecting Tulowitzki.
In a little more than two years the class of '05 has already changed the fortunes of franchises, and more impact players from that draft are in the pipeline. The mother lode included:
Upton (No. 1), who last season, in just his fifth big league appearance, became the first teenager since Danny Murphy of the 1961 Chicago Cubs to collect nine total bases in a game. Arizona reached the NLCS after averaging 94 losses the previous three seasons, and this year Upton will be the starting rightfielder from Opening Day.
Alex Gordon (No. 2), the Kansas City Royals' third baseman, whom the team sees as a George Brett-type franchise player. After a miserable start last year, Gordon batted .285 over his final 98 games. The Royals improved by seven wins and are considered a team on the rise.
Ryan Zimmerman (No. 4), the Washington Nationals' third baseman, who is one of 17 players to hit 20 homers and drive in 90 runs in a season twice before turning 23.
Ryan Braun (No. 5), who slugged a rookie-record .643 and helped the Milwaukee Brewers finish above .500 for the first time in 15 seasons.
Tulowitzki (No. 7), the surest-handed shortstop in baseball last year, whose .987 fielding percentage was the best ever for a rookie shortstop. He batted .291 with 99 RBIs and was the first rookie at his position to hit at least 24 homers for a World Series team.
Jacoby Ellsbury (No. 23), the Boston Red Sox' centerfielder who became the sixth player since 1947 to hit as high as .353 with at least 100 at bats in his first season. He then batted .360 during the postseason for the world champions.
Clay Buchholz (No. 42), who in his second big league start became the second-youngest Red Sox pitcher to throw a no-hitter.