Monday, June 6, 2011
Two Hall of Famers? '76 Tigers come close
By David Schoenfield
While the '68 Dodgers have the greatest draft haul ever, they aren't the only team to stock up in a single draft. Not including drafts that resulted in one superstar (Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, etc.), here are six other great drafts.
Detroit Tigers, 1976: I believe no team has ever selected two future Hall of Famers in one draft (even if a player went unsigned). The Tigers have a chance, with second-rounder Alan Trammell and fifth-rounder Jack Morris both future Veterans Committee candidates if the writers don't elect them. But the draft didn't end there: the Tigers also got Steve Kemp (130 career home runs) and Dan Petry (125 wins). Plus, get this: They drafted Ozzie Smith in the seventh round but didn't sign him.
Kansas City A's, 1965: In the first round, the A's built the foundation for their three World Series champions of the '70s by selecting Arizona State teammates Rick Monday (first overall pick) and Sal Bando (sixth round) and Gene Tenace (20th round). Monday would later be flipped to the Cubs for Ken Holtzman, who joined Catfish Hunter and Vida Blue in the rotation. (Reggie Jackson and Blue were drafted in 1966 and '67. Hunter, Joe Rudi and Rollie Fingers were all signed in 1964 in the pre-draft era.)
San Francisco Giants, 1968: The Giants drafted an All-Star outfield in one draft: Garry Maddox and George Foster in the January regular phase, and then Gary Matthews with their first pick in June. Trouble is: They didn't know what to do with all these guys. Foster was traded to the Reds in 1971 for Frank Duffy and Vern Geishert, and there's a reason you haven't heard of those two. Foster ended up winning an MVP Award and leading the NL three seasons in a row in RBIs.
When Maddox -- "Two-thirds of the Earth is covered by water, the other one-third is covered by Garry Maddox" -- reached the majors in 1972, the Giants already had Bobby Bonds and Ken Henderson (a good player) plus an aging Willie Mays and rookie Dave Kingman, who couldn't really play anywhere so they plunked him in left field sometimes. Anyway, they cleared space by trading Mays to the Mets but would eventually trade Maddox a few years later to the Phillies for Willie Montanez. For some reason, teams kept trading for Montanez. (He'd hit 30 home runs as a rookie, but only reached 20 one other time and never walked.) Anyway, the Giants quickly realized Montanez wasn't that good and would trade him to the Braves for Darrell Evans, who was at least a productive player.
Matthews played four seasons for the Giants before signing with the Braves as a free agent. The Giants of the '70s and '80s were churning out ballplayers left and right but kept doing stupid things like trading Maddox for Montanez or Bob Knepper for Enos Cabell or Jack Clark for a pile of landfill or playing Johnnie LeMaster at shortstop year and they never won anything.
Boston Red Sox, 1976: Bruce Hurst was the team's first-rounder in June while Wade Boggs lasted until the seventh. John Tudor came in the January secondary phase. Mike Smithson would win 76 major league games.
New York Mets, 1982: All told, the Mets would draft 17 players who would reach the major leagues, including Dwight Gooden, Roger McDowell and Randy Myers. Unsigned, however: eighth-round pick Rafael Palmeiro. (The year before, the Mets had drafted but failed to sign Roger Clemens out of junior college.)
New York Yankees, 1990: First-rounder Carl Everett never played for the Yankees as he was lost to the Marlins in the expansion draft, but two late-rounders turned out pretty well: Andy Pettitte (22nd round) and Jorge Posada (24th). They also signed a skinny 20-year-old Panamanian pitcher as an amateur free agent that year: You've probably heard of him ... Mariano Rivera.
Honorable mention: Montreal Expos, 1977 (Tim Rainers, Bill Gullickson, Scott Sanderson); Cincinnati Reds, 1983 (Chris Sabo, Rob Dibble, Kurt Stillwell, Jeff Montgomery, Joe Oliver, Lenny Harris); Minnesota Twins, 1989 (Chuck Knoblauch, Denny Neagle, Scott Erickson, Marty Cordova, Mike Trombley); Boston Red Sox, 1989 (Mo Vaughn, Jeff Bagwell, Paul Quantrill). As for more recent drafts, the Red Sox selected Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Buchholz and Jed Lowrie in 2005; and the Braves' 2007 draft could be a good one: Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman and Craig Kimbrel (and Brandon Belt went unsigned).
Anyway, I'm sure I missed some good drafts in there. Add to the list if I did!