Looking back at the 2005 draft
It's often said that it takes several years to properly evaluate a draft in any sport because it takes different lengths of time for players to mature and reach their potential. That being said, how good was the 2005 MLB draft? The first five picks went like this.
1. Justin Upton-ARI
2. Alex Gordon-KCR
3. Jeff Clement-SEA
4. Ryan Zimmerman-WAS
5. Ryan Braun-MIL
With Clement getting called up on Sept. 2nd, all five of these picks have now made their Major League debut. This might not sound like much, but since 1998 there has always been at least one top-five pick who didn't even make the majors for even a September call-up. Upton and Clement are the only two in the group to just have cups of coffee, with the other three players all essentially playing at least one full season. Zimmerman reached the majors first, a mere three months after he was drafted, while Braun is possibly the best rookie slugger ever. Gordon was better than both Zimmerman and Braun in college, and while he is having a tough year statistically, he has hit much better as the season has progressed.
Outside the top-5 picks, the draft still had a lot of value. The Rockies got Troy Tulowitzki with the 7th pick and Tulo has had a great rookie campaign as well. With the exception of Braun, Tulo might be having the best rookie year by an NL hitter. In the bottom of the first round, Craig Hansen and Joey Devine were taken, who at the time were seen as two sure bets to make the majors. They did make the majors in 2005, but struggled and eventually returned to the minors.
There are a bevy of other talented players who were taken in 2005 and so far have had cups of coffee (Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Buchholz) or a full season (Travis Buck, Matt Garza and Mike Pelfrey). It's amazing that so many players from this draft have already made the majors (and performed well), but it remains to be seen how many will have the staying power needed for a long career.
---Joe P. Sheehan