The Really Horrible 2000 First Round
We will begin our draft coverage this year with a look at the 2000 first round. Experts say that the top of the 2006 class is the weakest since 2000. But exactly how weak was 2000? Let's find out.
1) Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Florida Marlins (high school, Chula Vista, CA)
Top pick in the draft, though at least partially because of signability. Considered to be a smooth and polished hitter with an excellent glove, but there were questions about how much power he would develop. Although he was said to have good makeup on draft day, he quickly gained a reputation within the Marlins system as something of a prima donna. Doubts about his power proved true, and he seems destined to be a journeyman.
2) Adam Johnson, RHP, Minnesota Twins (Cal State Fullerton)
Good combination of stuff and command, low-90s fastball, excellent slider. Expected to move quickly, he did well in the lower minors but did not adjust well to the majors. He threw a tantrum when he didn't make the major league roster in 2002, ending any patience the organization had with him. He lost the touch on his slider, lost his command, and is now hanging around in the Oakland system, getting pounded.
3) Luis Montanez, SS, Chicago Cubs (high school, Miami, FL)
Athletic shortstop with good offensive and defensive reputation in high school. Hit .344 in rookie ball, but had nagging injuries, then fell apart both offensively and defensively. Now trying to rebuild his career as an outfielder, was hitting .369 in Double-A before his recent promotion to Triple-A. Still has a chance to contribute.
4) Mike Stodolka, LHP, Kansas City Royals (high school, Corona, CA)
Low 90s fastball, good curveball, good changeup, good command made him an attractive proposition to budget-minded Royals. Stodolka's fastball dipped down to 85 MPH as a pro, he lost his command, then hurt his arm. Now a first baseman and hitting well in the California League. He was a top hitter in high school and it is not impossible that he could still have a career.
5) Justin Wayne, RHP, Montreal Expos (Stanford)
Average fastball, but excellent curve, good slider, solid changeup, and top-notch command made him the most advanced college pitcher in the draft and very close to the majors. Did well at first, but had problems adjusting to major league competition, lost zip on his fastball, and eventually lost command of his curve as well. This seems to happen to a lot of top-notch Stanford pitchers. . .they seem to peak very early.
6) Rocco Baldelli, OF, Tampa Bay Devil Rays (high school, Warwick, RI)
Terrific athlete, possibly the best in the draft. He blossomed quickly, did well in the majors at first, until being hampered by injuries and poor strike zone judgment. Outlook very uncertain now.
7) Matt Harrington, RHP, Colorado Rockies (high school, Palmdale, CA)
Refused to sign with the Rockies after disastrous and controversial negotiations. Was rated as the top high school arm in the draft by most experts. Harrington's refusal to sign turned out to be one of the biggest player blunders in baseball history, as injuries and control problems progressively reduced his bargaining power in subsequent drafts. Case study in the dangers of greed.
8) Matt Wheatland, RHP, Detroit Tigers (high school, San Diego, CA)
Tigers liked him due to command of his low 90s power sinker, slider, and good control. Career ruined by injuries.
9) Mark Phillips, LHP, San Diego Padres (high school, Hanover, PA)
92-94 MPH fastball and big-breaking curve made him very attractive. His control was erratic, but the Padres thought they could polish him up. It didn't happen. His control got worse, not better. Phillips also showed a poor work ethic, gained too much weight, and faded quickly when his fastball lost zip. I hope he invested his bonus money wisely.
10) Joe Torres, LHP, Anaheim Angels (high school, Gateway, FL)
Thin lefty with 92-95 MPH fastball and excellent breaking ball dominated older competition in the Northwest League after signing, emerging as a top prospect quickly. But he was soon dogged by persistent elbow and shoulder problems. Healthy again by 2005, he has been unable to regain his command. Still has good stuff, but has lost confidence and the ability to locate his pitches in the strike zone.
11) Dave Krynzel, OF, Milwaukee Brewers (high school, Henderson, NV)
Speedy outfielder with gap power was compared to Johnny Damon. But Krynzel has been unable to develop a consistent approach at the plate, and appears to have topped out in Triple-A. He has a good glove and might fit on a bench somewhere, but all hopes of stardom have died.
12) Joe Borchard, OF, Chicago White Sox (Stanford)
The Sox spent $5.3 million to keep him away from football. Some people compared him to a switch-hitting Mark McGwire with more defensive value. Alas, Borchard has been unable to control the strike zone. His vulnerability to breaking pitches was evident in college, but the Sox felt this could be overcome with more experience. They were wrong.
13) Shaun Boyd, OF-2B, St. Louis Cardinals (high school, Oceanside, CA)
Speedy athletic outfielder was expected to hit for average and be an effective leadoff man. But he didn't develop enough power to be an outfielder, and wasn't reliable enough to play second base on a consistent basis. He also had a lot of problems with injuries hampering his development.
14) Beau Hale, RHP, Baltimore Orioles (University of Texas)
His fastball hit 97 MPH in college. He also had a good slider and a hard-nosed attitude. . .scouts felt he could be a very successful closer. But he blew out his elbow, lost most of his fastball, and is still trying to rebuild his career. He is actually pitching effectively this year and was recently promoted to Double-A. He still has a chance to contribute.
15) Chase Utley, 2B, Philadelphia Phillies (UCLA)
Considered a complete hitter, though with questions about his glovework. It took him a few years to get completely on track defensively, and for a time it looked like his bat might stagnate, but he had a big breakout season in 2005 and is off to a good start this year. Best player taken in the first round.
16) Billy Traber, LHP, New York Mets (Loyola Marymount)
Polished, college-trained finesse lefty was expected to move rapidly. He hurt his elbow before signing his contract, however, reducing his bonus from over $1.6 million to just $400,000. Has been continually nagged by health problems, though he had an OK year for the Indians in 2003.
17) Ben Diggins, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers (University of Arizona)
Hulking monster on the mound with a 96-98 MPH fastball but shaky command and a mixed track record. He continued to have command problems as a pro, lost his fastball, and eventually hurt his shoulder. Lost four out of five starts for the Brewers in 2002.
18) Miguel Negron, OF, Toronto Blue Jays (high school, Caguas, PR)
Toolsy Puerto Rican outfielder was selected for admittedly budgetary reasons: most teams saw him as a third round pick. His minor league track record is undistinguished. If he makes the majors at all, it will be as a reserve.
19) Sean Burnett, LHP, Pittsburgh Pirates (high school, Wellington, FL)
Polished high school lefty with a mediocre fastball but good action on his pitches, plus an advanced sense of pitching. Did well in the minors, came to the Show and went 5-5 in 13 starts in 2004 before hurting his arm. Still trying to come back from that.
20) Chris Bootcheck, RHP, Anaheim Angels (Auburn University)
Low 90s fastball, cutter, curve, changeup. . .four solid pitches. For some reason, in college the results never quite seemed to match with his talent, and this trend continued in the pros. Appears to have topped out in Triple-A.
21) Boof Bonser, RHP, San Francisco Giants (high school, St. Petersburg, FL)
Somewhat inconsistent early in the minors, but has proven durable and effective overall. Trade to the Twins in the Pierzynski/Liriano deal, he is now getting a chance in the rotation. He doesn't throw as hard as he did in high school, but his breaking stuff is better and he is more of a pitcher now, not just a thrower. Could still have a very good career.
22) Phil Dumatrait, LHP, Boston Red Sox (Bakersfield Junior College)
Lefty with a lower 90s fastball and an excellent curve, his stock was hurt a bit by concerns about the durability of his smallish frame. Indeed, injuries have proven to be a problem for him, and he fell off the prospect charts quickly. Currently pitching well for Double-A Chattanooga in the Reds system, he could still contribute in some role.
23) David Espinosa, SS, Cincinnati Reds (high school, Miami, FL)
Some teams thought he was the best high school hitter in the draft, but his bonus demands and Scott Boras connections scared most clubs away. The Reds gave him a major league contract to sign. He has not played as well as expected, struggling defensively and putting up very erratic offensive numbers. Now an outfielder in the Tigers system, with an outside shot at a bench role someday.
24) Blake Williams, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals (Southwest Texas State University)
Got into the first round by boosting his fastball into the mid-90s to go with his fine curve. The velocity didn't last; injuries sapped his heater back into the upper 80s, and his command wasn't good enough to compensate. Now in independent ball.
25) Scott Heard, C, Texas Rangers (high school, San Diego, CA)
An excellent defensive catcher, Heard got into the first round because of his glove, but there were serious questions about his bat and durability. He hit .351 in rookie ball, but fell apart after that. Even his defense proved disappointing. Out of baseball.
26) Corey Smith, SS, Cleveland Indians (high school, Piscataway, NJ)
Compared to Gary Sheffield due to his bat speed and power potential, Smith has been unable to tap his ability, hampered by poor strike zone judgment, problems finding a consistent swing, and defensive inconsistency at third base. He is having a fine season so far in 2006 however, and at age 24 he still has time to put things together and contribute.
27) Robert Stiehl, RHP, Houston Astros (El Camino Junior College)
Stiehl had a mid-90s fastball and a devastating curveball. He was brilliant in his pro debut, but hurt his shoulder in 2001 and hasn't been the same. He lost 3-5 MPH off his fastball, and his command isn't good enough to compensate. Still trying to salvage a career.
28) David Parrish, C, New York Yankees (University of Michigan)
Almost as big a stretch as Miguel Negron in the first round. Most teams saw Parrish as a second round pick at best. Parrish had reasonable defensive skills, and the Yankees thought he could hit like his father Lance did. It didn't happen, and Parrish quickly devolved into an organizational roster-filler.
29) Adam Wainwright, RHP, Atlanta Braves (high school, St. Simons, GA)
Tall, lanky Wainwright fit into Atlanta's pitching development system perfectly, and quickly became a top prospect due to sharp command of his low 90s fastball and decent curve. Traded to the Cardinals, he is having a fine season in relief so far in 2006, but could still end up as a starter eventually. Should have a solid career either way.
30) Scott Thorman, 3B, Atlanta Braves (high school, Cambridge, ON)
Thorman had a promising power bat but shaky defensive skills at third base. He had injury problems, moved to first base, but is currently having a good campaign for Triple-A Richmond. He can still be a contributor.
So, of the 30 players in the first round, we have one guy (Chase Utley) who looks like a star. We have a young pitcher (Adam Wainwright) having a good rookie season so far in 2006. We have Boof Bonser, who is still a fine prospect. We have a few others who still have a chance to have careers at least in a contributing role (Baldelli, Thorman, Smith) and a few others with outside shots for minor roles. We have a very large number of pitching injury casualties, both high school and college. Also note how the players with the worst combinations of hubris and greed did not pan out very well.
Here's hoping that 2006 is better than it looks on the surface.