Monday, Mar 26 at 6:22 PM
The MLB draft is a most obscure creature. The players selected often don’t sign with the teams that take the risk of picking them, and once they do there’s still no guarantee they’ll ever step onto a major-league field. Unlike most sports, baseball has its very own insular minor league system, and it's one that doesn’t guarantee anyone a free card to the show. In the age of 'Immediate gratification or death,' it’s difficult for the casual fan to maintain much interest in an such an iffy process.
The road to an MLB player's development regularly ships him away to some suburb that used to be a railroad stop for 2 to 5 years -- if he ever makes it out at all. The draft is also a little difficult to wrap your head around, because they use a compensation rounds and picks aren’t traded in the traditional sense. The thing wasn’t even televised until 2007 and virtually nobody knows when it’s usually conducted (oddly, right in the middle of the season).
The other side of that coin (the shiny side) is the pride that can well up inside a fan when he sees some draft pick from several years back appear on a major league diamond and make a difference. Sometimes your forward-thinking GM gets it right, and sometimes he gets it VERY right.
The 2005 MLB draft was a majestic beast that changed the face of Major League Baseball for the better unlike any other draft in baseball history. The only draft in the history of sport that approached the '05 baseball draft's long-term positive effects: The 1984 NBA draft (Olajuwon, Jordan, Barkley, Stockton). Let’s take a look at the loot.
Ryan Braun-OF-Milwaukee Brewers (5th overall) 2011 NL MVP
Troy Tulowitzki-SS-Colorado Rockies (7th overall) top 5 in MVP voting twice
Jacoby Ellsbury-OF-Boston Red Sox (23rd overall) 2nd in MVP voting 2011
Justin Upton-OF-Arizona Diamondbacks (1st overall) 4th in MVP voting 2011
Andrew McCutchen-OF-Pittsburgh Pirates (11th overall)
Ryan Zimmerman-3B-Washington Nationals (4th overall)
EXCELLENT PLAYERS (BUT NOT FRANCHISE-CHANGERS)
Ricky Romero-SP-Toronto Blue Jays (6th overall)
Jay Bruce-OF-Cincinnati Reds (12th overall)
Alex Gordon-OF-Kansas City Royals (2nd overall)
Cameron Maybin-OF-San Diego Padres (10th overall)
Matt Garza-SP-Minnesota Twins (25th overall)
Desmond Jennings-OF-Tampa Bay Rays (544th overall)
Clay Bucholz-SP-Boston Red Sox (42nd overall)
OTHERS WORTH NOTING
Jeremy Hellickson-SP-Tampa Bay Rays (118th overall)
Jaime Garcia-SP-St. Louis Cardinals (680th overall)
Vance Worley-SP-Philadelphia Phillies (607th overall)
Colby Rasmus-OF-St. Louis Cardinals (28th overall)
Luke Hochevar-SP-Kansas City Royals (40th overall)
Kevin Slowey-SP-Minnesota Twins (73 overall)
Yunel Escobar-SS-Atlanta Braves (75th overall)
Andrew Bailey-RP-Oakland Athletics (475th overall)
Gaby Sanchez-1B-Miami Marlins (126th overall)
Peter Bourjos-OF-Los Angeles Angels (313th overall)
Chase Headley-3B-San Diego Padres (66th overall)
Sergio Romo-RP-San Francisco Giants (852nd overall)
Austin Jackson-OF-New York Yankees (259th overall)
Tim Lincecum-SP-Cleveland Indians (1261st overall) never signed*
Buster Posey-C-Los Angeles Angels (1496th overall) never signed*
*Players in bold appeared in at least one all-star game
Obviously, that list could be even more daunting if Tim Lincecum didn’t decide to go pitch at Washington and Buster Posey didn’t head out to Florida State.
Tulowitzki (157.75 M), Braun (105 M), Zimmerman (100 M), McCutchen (51.5 M), Upton (51.25 M), Bruce (51 M), Buchholz (30.5 M), Romero (30.1 M) and Maybin (25 M) have already signed multi-year extensions totaling $602.1 million dollars. That’s .6 billion dollars to just nine of the players selected in the ’05 draft. Even scarier is the fact that Alex Gordon, Jacoby Ellsbury and Matt Garza are due for big pay days in 2013. This is the greatest monetary draft of all time as well.
Sadly enough, our Texas Rangers didn’t take part in this wave of primo talent-acquisition . The players of most consequence that were plucked by Texas are as follows; John Mayberry (who actually is turning into a nice outfielder....for the Phillies), Taylor Teagarden, Michael Kirkman, and Doug Mathis -- whose contributions (and striking resemblance to the Sports Machine) should not be overlooked.
The greatest draft in sports history will be plying its craft this season across major league baseball. Remember the special litter that these players comes from, because we will never see an avalanche of talent like it again.
Mike Marshall is a producer and reporter for Sports Radio 1310, The Ticket (KTCK). He's also our resident Sports Machine -- though we wish he wasn't always re-building himself, as it creates a mess in the office.