WTNYNovember 11, 2004
Flop!
By Bryan Smith

Back in mid-August, I wrote an article entitled History Lesson, a recourse into the 1999 draft. I really enjoyed writing and researching for this article, and vowed to do so about another draft this offseason. Well, I take one day off, and voila. Today we deal with the ugliness of the 2000 draft.

Now while its most appropriate to give minor leaguers six years after being signed, most of the solid members from the 2000 draft should be identifiable. And let me tell you, it aint much. In the last round, I gave an All-1999 draft team, but this draft does not allow me to do so. Instead, I will give you nine of the more accomplished players, in order of being drafted:

- Rocco Baldelli (6th overall)
- Chase Utley (15th overall)
- Xavier Nady (49th overall)
- Cliff Lee (105th overall)
- Dontrelle Willis (223rd overall)
- Brandon Webb (249th overall)
- Rich Harden (510th overall)
- Jason Bay (645th overall)
- Adam LaRoche (880th overall)

Let me add that this list was difficult to compile, and any accomplished list with Utley and Nady in the top ten isnt too deep. So they have two Rookies of the Year and two more legit candidates who cares? Only three players in the first three rounds were worth noting, two of which were the least accomplished of the group. What I also found noticeable is that no players in the top five are present, which we did not see in our last review.

In fact, Baldelli is the only member of the top ten to appear in fifty Major League games. There are only three in the top 40. While the Marlins had hit jackpot choosing Josh Beckett second overall in the 1999 draft, their NL worst record led them to a rather dry crop of players in 2000. It appeared that Californian high school first basemen Adrian Gonzalez was the cream of the crop, with fantastic defense and a pure bat. Flop!

This left the Minnesota Twins, at the height of their futility, to the best collegiate player out there: Adam Johnson. A power started from the hailed Cal-State Fullerton program, lets just say that Johnson has not achieved the levels of success that the 2001 second overall pick (Prior) would reach. I could talk about his make-up issues that have prohibited his real arrival in Minnesota, but his career AAA ERA over 5.00 is whats to blame. Flop!

As a Cubs fan, it pains me to speak of the third overall choice. It pained me to read on that June 2000 day that my team had chosen a Florida high school shortstop first overall. Why? While not quite a prospect evaluator yet, I was understandably afraid of the word raw. Years later, raw seemed to be the perfect word, so perfect that Montanez was moved from short to the outfield this season, being demoted to short-season ball in the process. Flop!

229 strikeouts in 366 innings. 4.62 ERA. 1.42 WHIP. Meet the fourth overall selection, Mike Stodolka, five years later. Kansas City was choosing on the cheap here, because they didnt want to pay the big dollars to Stanford ace Justin Wayne or Matt Harrington, who was said to have huge bonus demands. Flop!

Wayne went fifth to the Expos, and would later be traded to the Florida Marlins in a deal for Cliff Floyd. Hes the most accomplished of the top five a sorry feat with 26 games and 62 innings under his belt.

Matthew Wheatland, Mark Phillips, Joe Torres, Shaun Boyd, Beau Hale, Miguel Negron. Meet the busts of the top twenty. Pardon me as I had to step over the great likes of Dave Krynzel, Joe Borchard, Chase Utley, Billy Traber, and the famous Ben Diggins. So if you havent caught my drift quite yet, let me be blunt: this was the worst draft in recent memoryby far.

But I wont be too critical. There have been 73 players from the draft to reach the Majors, only twenty less than the draft the season before. They are banking that players like Grady Sizemore, Dave Krynzel, Jason Kubel and J.D. Durbin create a belief that some depth exists.

I am leaving you fairly short today, but let me throw in a quick few numbers for you to chew on:

- No other draft has proven the dominance of collegiate selections like this one. Of the 73 players to make the Majors, an astounding 55 (75.3%) come from University programs. This doesnt include Ruben Gotay (community college) or Bobby Hill, who had spent the prior season in the Independent League, a la J.D. Drew. But the high school roster has a far higher ceiling:

1. Adrian Gonzalez
2. Rocco Baldelli
3. Dave Krynzel
4. Sean Brunett
5. J.D. Durbin
6. Grady Sizemore
7. Laynce Nix
8. Josh Kroeger
9. Shawn Hill
10. Dontrelle Willis
11. Jason Kubel
12. Brian Bruney
13. Justin Germano
14. Ian Snell
15. Victor Diaz

- Both the Montreal Expos and Colorado Rockies had seven draftees make the Majors, with the Chicago Cubs (6) the only other team to have five. Unfortunately, Washington lost Wayne, Sizemore, Bay, Lee and Phil Seibel, keeping only Shawn Hill and Anthony Ferrari. The Rockies players have been unsuccessful, but fill in as decent role players. Despite the hideous Montanez selection, Cubs fans have to be pleased with the selections of Todd Wellemeyer, Jon Leicester and Jason Dubois.

- In the last draft review, we saw 50 of the 93 success stories came from the first five rounds, about 53.7%. This time around, we see 33 of the 73 from rounds 1-5, only 45.2%. The reason for this is the lack of a third and fifth rounds, which produced one Major Leaguer (Sizemore, Garrett Atkins) each. Talk about some busts.

Thats all for today, though I am currently plugging away to see if the 2000 draft really has the worst top five selections of all-time

Comments

It is still too early to fully evaluate the 2000 draft, though admittedly it looks weaker than the 2001 and 2002 drafts. High schoolers taken in 2000 were only in their age 22 years in 2004, so quite a few of those guys who haven't made the majors yet will do so in the next couple years, and will be at the same ages as a lot of the college players when they made their MLB debuts. Speaking as a Dodger fan, I will be surprised if 2nd rounder Joel Hanrahan does not end up having a solid big league career as a mid-rotation starter, even if it is not with the Dodgers. He had a poor 2004 season in Triple A because he was plagued by tendinitis, but his Double A numbers in 2003 at age 21 (133.1 IP, 117 H's, 5 HR's, 53 BB's, 130 K's, 2.43 ERA) suggest the young man will have what it takes to be a big leaguer.

You also forgot from a Cubs fans perspective that Bobby Hill was turned into Aramis Ramirez which makes the draft a lot better looking.