Top 20 draft booms and busts, plus latest draft news (cont.)
1. Piazza, C, 1989, Dodgers, 62nd round. Hard to top a Cooperstown-bound catcher in round 62. Was a legacy pick at family friend Lasorda's behest but he became a superstar.
2. Hernandez, 1B, 1971, Cardinals, 42nd round. Perhaps the greatest fielding first baseman ever. Lasted this long after sitting out his senior season in a dispute with his high school coach.
3. Andre Dawson, OF, 1975, Expos, 10th round. This five-tool player was nothing short of an afterthought in this draft. On the way into the Hall of Fame this summer.
4. Don Mattingly, 1B, 1979, Yankees, 19th round. This undersized first baseman was a worker who could hit. But he couldn't run and few foresaw the power or greatness that would come. A total miss by everyone.
5. Henderson, OF, 1976 A's, 4th round. Alltime great was missed by everyone before A's grabbed him.
6. Ryan Howard, 1B, 2000 Phillies, 5th round. This later bloomer was slow to be promoted to the majors, too, perhaps because of the presence of power-hitting Jim Thome. But as as soon as Howard arrived, he established himself as baseball's top slugger.
7. Bay, OF, 2000, Expos, 22nd round. The Canadian was underappreciated almost right to the point where he signed that $66-million contract with the Mets. The Expos were full of good picks. This was one of their best.
8. Johnny Bench, C, 1965, Reds, 2nd Round; and Nolan Ryan, RHP, 1965, Mets, 2nd round. Two of the greatest and most talented players in history were grabbed in round two at a time long before sophisticated scouting came into play.
9. Brett, 3B, 1971 Royals, 2nd round. Future Hall of Famer made it to the second round in the productive and topsy-turvy 1971 draft.
10. Rogers Clemens, RHP, 1983 Red Sox, No. 18 overall. Clemens was an underappreciated star pitcher for the University of Texas Longhorns, where he was not exactly hidden but somehow skipped by eight teams that took right-handed pitchers ahead of him.
11. Cal Ripken Jr., SS, 1978, Orioles, 2nd round. Funny to think now that the Orioles (and presumably just about everyone else) preferred someone else to Ripken, another alltime great who went in round two. No one could have predicted he'd top Lou Gehrig as an iron man, but you'd think the team where his father worked as a coach might have known something no one else did.
12. Barry Bonds, OF, 1985, Pirates, No. 6 overall. Rather than look at this negatively and note that the White Sox took Glendora, Calif., catcher Kurt Brown one spot ahead of Bonds, let's give the Pirates rare credit. It was a huge start to the draft overall, with B.J. Surhoff, Will Clark, Bobby Witt and Barry Larkin immediately preceding Brown (and Bonds).
13. Boggs, 3B, 1976 Red Sox, 7th round. He was a great hitter but scouts must have wondered whether he had the power or other skills to be a third base star. Became a Hall of Famer and a steal.
14. Kevin Youkilis, 2001, Red Sox, 8th round. A University of Cincinnati scrapper, few foresaw his greatness. Didn't get notoriety until being dubbed as the Greek God Walks in Moneyball. Turns out he could do more than walk, and beyond that, he is not Greek but Jewish.
15. Brandon Webb, RHP, 2000, Diamondbacks, 8th round. The 2006 NL Cy Young winner never overwhelmed folks with his velocity but he was one of the majors' best pitchers over a five-year period. Currently working his way back from shoulder trouble. Might not return this year, but a bargain nonetheless.
16. Frank Thomas, 1989, White Sox, No. 7 overall. The Auburn University product went pretty high, but the rub is the guys drafted ahead of him. Ben McDonald was the obvious No. 1 pick after a legendary collegiate pitching career at LSU, but following him (and prior to Tomas) came Tyler Houston, Roger Salkeld, Jeff Jackson, Donald Harris and Paul Coleman. Talk about big hurts.
17. Roy Halladay, RHP, Blue Jays, 1995, No. 17 overall. Halladay was underestimated for quite a while. He was once nearly traded to his hometown Rockies and also sent back to the minors. Now the gold standard of major league pitchers.
18. Ian Kinsler, 2B, 2003, Rangers, 17th round. This multitalented infielder might have been overlooked because he shared time with Dustin Pedroia at Arizona State before transferring.
19. Joe Mauer, C, 2001, Twins, No. 1 overall. At the time the obvious pick was pitcher Mark Prior from USC. Maybe it was for money (Mauer signed for about half Prior's record $10.5 million bonus), or maybe it was for his local ties (he starred at St. Paul's Cretin-Derham High), but the Twins made the right call. They usually do.
20. Mark Reynolds, 2004 Diamondbacks, 16th round. Still strikes out too much. But great power and potential summarize Ryan Zimmerman's infield mate at the University of Virginia. Played shortstop in college.
There have been a few developments since I tried my mock draft last week, and one big one is the reported deal the Royals have made at No. 4 with University of Miami catcher Yasmani Grandal. This isn't really allowed, but there seems like a lot of juice to these reports, including one by Frankie Piliere, an ex-scout who tracks the drafts for AOL Fanhouse.
If Grandal goes to Kansas City at No. 4, the Indians are expected to take one of two college pitchers, Chris Sale from Florida Gulf Coast University or Drew Pomeranz from Ole Miss, at No. 5. The Diamondbacks have the sixth overall pick, and are said by a source to also be focused on college pitchers, with Sale, Pomeranz, Deck McGuire of Georgia Tech and Matt Harvey of North Carolina among their choices. The Mets were said by another source to be leaning toward either Harvey or Arkansas third baseman Zack Cox, but another person familiar with their thinking said they are also considering Cal State-Fullerton shortstop Christian Colon, and according to Piliere and some others, Muncie, Ind., prep catcher Justin O'Connor.
Other candidates likely to go in the top 15 appear to be UT-Arlington outfielder Michael Choice, Florida prep pitcher Karsten Whitson, Ohio high school pitcher Stetson Allie, California prep infielder Nick Castellanos and California prep outfielder Austin Wilson.
There's no doubt Bryce Harper will still go No. 1 to the Nationals, but some are now suggesting the Pirates might opt for Texas prep pitcher Jameson Taillon at No. 2, which would leave Miami prep shortstop Manny Machado fro the Orioles at No. 3. Taillon-Machado will go two-three, though the order is still uncertain.
Kendry Morales' luck is even worse tan originally thought. Morales suffered breaks to both his ankle and lower tibia in the celebration following his walkoff grand-slam home run on May 29. The 10-12 week estimate for his return still stands, though. The ankle is expected to take slightly longer than the tibia to heal, accounting to the 10-12 week estimate. Morales accidentally stepped on a teammate's foot at about the time he touched home plate, causing the freakish, unfortunate accident.
Bud Selig is making the right call to take a closer look at expanding instant replay. But not only is Selig said to be disinclined to expand replay, so are the majority of his new committee members. (So am I, by the way.) Don't expect anything fast to get done here.
If the Astros trade Lance Berkman, his agent is making it a prerequisite of acquiring teams that they agree to pick up his $15 million option first. But, of course, no one will. The Angels make sense. And if he has interest in playing in the postseason ahead of money he should go.
The Yankees are not confident Nick Johnson will be back and sound this year and may consider No. 2 type hitters in trade. The Royals' David DeJesus, a New Jersey product, would seem to be a candidate if Kansas City is willing to trade him.
The Derrek Lee negotiations with the Cubs are going nowhere. But it would still be an upset to see them trade him now, as there's no reason for them to give up on the season at this point.
Putting Ollie Perez on the disabled list is the best solution, as he wasn't helping himself or the team by taking up a roster spot. MLB reportedly will take a look at how hurt his knee is, but previous players with sketchy infirmities have been allowed to go on the DL
Alex Rodriguez is in the unusual position of being on the creditors committee in the bankruptcy case of the Texas Rangers. He will be paid the $24.9 million he's owed but will also have a say on the fate of the franchise.
Major League Baseball's head of public relations Rich Levin was a reserve player on John Wooden's first national championship team at UCLA, in 1964. Levin recalled when Wooden threw out a first ball at the 2002 World Series in Anaheim, asking Selig not to embarrass him before he introduced Selig to Wooden. So naturally, Selig said to Woooden, "Rich said he was a better player than Gail Goodrich or Walt Hazzard.'' And, at age 92, without missing a beat, Wooden responded, "In his mind.''
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