All-time draft rosters: AL Central

May, 31, 2012
5/31/12
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Let's move on to the AL Central as we look back at the all-time draft rosters. Remember, these are the best players drafted and signed by the team, even if they didn't necessarily contribute to that franchise.

Other divisions: AL East

Chicago White Sox
C -- Ron Karkovice
1B -- Frank Thomas
2B -- Ray Durham
3B -- Robin Ventura
SS -- Randy Velarde
OF -- Mike Cameron
OF -- Chris Young
OF -- Carlos May
DH -- Harold Baines
SP -- Mark Buehrle
SP -- Jack McDowell
SP -- Doug Drabek
SP -- Alex Fernandez
SP -- Pete Vuckovich
RP -- Goose Gossage

The White Sox never get much credit for being a stable, consistently successful franchise, but they've had only one top-10 pick in the past 20 years, Gordon Beckham at No. 8 in 2008. The franchise was re-built in the late '80s/early '90s around four consecutive top-10 picks they nailed: Jack McDowell, Robin Ventura, Frank Thomas and Alex Fernandez. Besides Fernandez, that 1990 draft also produced Durham, Jason Bere, James Baldwin and Bob Wickman. The Baseball America executive database doesn't list a scouting director for all those years (Al Goldis held the job in 1989-90) and Larry Himes was the GM. Those picks followed a slew of bad first-rounders in the '80s, including a high school catcher named Kurt Brown selected fifth in 1985 -- one spot ahead of Barry Bonds.

Cleveland Indians
C -- Ray Fosse
1B -- Chris Chambliss
2B -- Jason Kipnis
3B -- Buddy Bell
SS -- Mark Lewis
OF -- Manny Ramirez
OF -- Albert Belle
OF -- Brian Giles
DH -- Jim Thome
SP -- CC Sabathia
SP -- Dennis Eckersley
SP -- Charles Nagy
SP -- Greg Swindell
SP -- Paul Byrd
RP -- Dick Tidrow

In 1987, the Indians drafted Belle (381 career home runs) in the second round. In 1989, they got Thome (604 home runs) and Giles (287) in rounds 13 and 17. In 1990, they got David Bell (123) and then in 1991 drafted Ramirez (555) in the first round. In '93, they tabbed Richie Sexson (306) in the 24th round and convinced him not to play college basketball. In 1995, Sean Casey (130 home runs) was drafted in the second round. Did somebody know hitters or was it just blind luck? The Indians had four different scouting directors in that era, so it's a testament to their local scouts. Of course, they traded Sexson and Giles for relief pitchers and Casey for Dave Burba, so they didn't extoll all the benefits from these guys (although Burba won 56 games from 1998-2001 for them). The pitching staffs during their 1995-2001 run featured a lot of veterans acquired from other organizations: Burba, Dennis Martinez, Orel Hershiser, Chuck Finley, Jose Mesa, Mike Jackson. Homegrown starters included Nagy, Jaret Wright, Chad Ogea and Bartolo Colon (Sabathia reached the majors in 2001).

The Indians, by the way, made a series of terrible trades in the '70s, including several with the Yankees. They traded Tidrow and Chris Chambliss for four nobodies. Earlier, they had traded Nettles for three nobodies. They replaced Nettles with Buddy Bell, so for most of the '70s they had two of the greatest defensive third basemen of all time. But they then traded Bell for Toby Harrah, who was a good player, but not as good as Bell, who became a star in Texas; he accumulated 35.2 WAR with the Rangers while Harrah accumulated 17.5 with the Indians. They traded Eckersley for Rick Wise, who was 10 years older and promptly led the league in losses his first year with Cleveland. At one point they had Oscar Gamble, a good outfielder. They traded him to the Yankees for a washed-up pitcher. The fishiest of those deals was the Nettles one. GM Gabe Paul made the deal in late November and then resigned in January ... to become president of the Yankees.

Detroit Tigers
C -- Lance Parrish
1B -- Jason Thompson
2B -- Lou Whitaker
3B -- Travis Fryman
SS -- Alan Trammell
OF -- Kirk Gibson
OF -- Curtis Granderson
OF -- Steve Kemp
DH -- Howard Johnson
SP -- John Smoltz
SP -- Jack Morris
SP -- Justin Verlander
SP -- Dan Petry
SP -- Jeff Weaver
RP -- Mike Henneman

In 1974, the Tigers drafted Parrish in the first round. In 1975, the Tigers drafted Whitaker and Thompson. In 1976, they drafted Trammell, Morris, Petry and Kemp (and a college shortstop who they didn't sign named Ozzie Smith). Gibson and Johnson came in '78 and '79. One of the great draft runs of all time.

Kansas City Royals
C -- Mike MacFarlane
1B -- Mike Sweeney
2B -- Mark Ellis
3B -- George Brett
SS -- Mike Aviles
OF -- Carlos Beltran
OF -- Johnny Damon
OF -- Willie Wilson
DH -- Jeff Conine
SP -- David Cone
SP -- Bret Saberhagen
SP -- Kevin Appier
SP -- Dennis Leonard
SP -- Paul Splittorff
RP -- Tom Gordon

The Royals have a rich history of success with pitchers -- none of it too recent, of course, other than Zack Greinke. Guys like Mark Gubicza, Danny Jackson, Jon Lieber and Greinke couldn't crack the top-five rotation. One thing the Royals haven't done is develop middle infielders (although this seems to be a trend with many teams). Long-time second baseman Frank White was actually an undrafted amateur, signed out of a tryout camp. Dan Quisenberry was another former Royals star signed as an undrafted amateur. Here's another odd note: In 1995, the Royals' first two picks were high school outfielders from Puerto Rico. Beltran was the second one selected. (Juan LeBron never reached the majors.) In 1985, the Royals traded catcher Don Slaught in a four-team deal that netted them veteran catcher Jim Sundberg. Hey, they won the World Series that year, although Sundberg proved to be washed up in 1986. That forced the Royals to seek a catcher for 1987. They acquired Mets backup Ed Hearn. He ended up playing 13 games for the Royals. The price for those 13 games? David Cone.

Minnesota Twins
C -- Joe Mauer
1B -- Justin Morneau
2B -- Chuck Knoblauch
3B -- Graig Nettles
SS -- Jay Bell
OF -- Kirby Puckett
OF -- Torii Hunter
OF -- Michael Cuddyer
DH -- Kent Hrbek
SP -- Bert Blyleven
SP -- Frank Viola
SP -- Brad Radke
SP -- Scott Erickson
SP -- Denny Neagle
RP -- Jesse Orosco

In 1993, the Twins had back-to-back picks at 20 and 21 and took Hunter and Jason Varitek; they didn't sign Varitek. In 1989, they got Knoblauch, Erickson, Neagle, Marty Cordova, Mike Trombley and Denny Hocking. Until they drafted Knoblauch in the first round, however, the Twins had spent 25 years of futility on first-round picks. The only good player was Bell, who they traded to re-acquire Blyleven. Otherwise, the best of the lot (not including Dick Ruthven and Tim Belcher, who they didn't sign) was outfielder Steve Brye, who totaled 4.4 career WAR. The '87 World Series champs were built via other picks: Viola was a second-rounder; Hrbek was a 17th-round pick; Puckett was the third pick in the 1982 no-longer-exists January draft of junior college players; Gary Gaetti was a first-round pick, but in the also-no-longer-exists June secondary phase (for players who had been drafted previously); Greg Gagne came over in a trade with the Yankees; Tom Brunansky in a trade with the Angels. The '91 team was a mix of draft picks -- Knoblauch and Erickson were rookies -- free-agent signings (Jack Morris, Chili Davis) and trades (Viola netted Kevin Tapani and Rick Aguilera).

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