JUNE 12 OFF THE MARK COLUMN — MARK SPENSLEY, CO-PUBLISHER
As much as I get all hyped up for the NFL draft, I am the polar opposite when it comes to the MLB draft. I usually have no idea when it even happens, as there isn’t near the amount of hype associated with it.
But that changed for me this year, because television and the Internet seemed to make it a point to get the first-year player draft out in the limelight.
I actually paid some attention to who was expected to go in the first few picks, for the most part, because the Cubs were sitting on pick number two.
And with that selection they took third baseman Kris Bryant, a college player out of San Diego University. Most consider him the best hitting prospect available. It’s been suggested he could jump right into a MLB lineup. The good Lord knows the Cubs need immediate help.
After the draft, I ran into a list of top 10 draft day steals. After some research, several different versions of those lists showed up. Here is my list of top 10 baseball draft day steals of all time.
Heading the list at number 10 is Mark Grace. Grace was selected in the 24th round by the Chicago Cubs and went on to win a World Series with Arizona. The ninth biggest draft day steal would fall to Jose Bautista, an OF selected in round number 20 by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bautista would be a late bloomer, playing for several different teams before finally given a chance to play every day for the Blue Jays where he would crush 54 homers in 2010.
Coming in at number eight is Ryne Sandberg, selected in the 20th round by the Phillies. Sandberg would eventually be traded to the Cubs along with veteran Larry Bowa, who often kidded Sandberg for being an after thought in the trade. Sandberg would play his way to the Hall of Fame.
Number seven: Jorge Posada, catcher, selected in round 24 by the N.Y. Yankees. Posada would become a five-time all-star and win four World Series.
This pick would fill a cameo role on Seinfeld, playing himself. Keith Hernandez would become one of the best defensive first basemen ever, even though the Cardinals picked him in round 42.
At number five on my list is P Kenny Rogers. The Texas Rangers in the 39th round of the 1982 draft selected Rogers. Rogers would finish his long career as a three-time all-star with over 200 wins.
My pick for number 4 is John Smoltz, selected in the 22nd round by the Detroit Tigers. Smoltz would become a dominant starter, then a dominant closer, before resuming his role again as a starting pitcher for the Braves. Smoltz would become an eight-time all-star and win a World Series with Atlanta.
Selected with the 1,390th pick in the 1998 draft was P Mark Buehrle, by the White Sox. Buehrle would go on to throw both a no-hitter and the 18th perfect game in baseball history.
One of the most complete players in baseball history, Albert Pujols has made the many teams who passed him up in the draft pay for their decision. The Cardinals in the 13th round selected Pujols in 1999. He is a three-time MVP and won a World Series with St. Louis. He’s my number two pick.
At the time, the draft selection of this player, by his godfather, Tommy Lasorda, was considered a favor to this player’s dad. But Mike Piazza would go on to prove that Lasorda and the Dodgers were geniuses.
Piazza was selected in the 62nd round, at pick number 1,390. He would become perhaps the best hitting catcher of all time, crushing 427 dingers to go along with 1,335 RBI’s and a career batting average of .308. I believe I heard somewhere there were over 100 catchers selected before him in the 1988 draft. Who would have thought?