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Archive for June 6th, 2011

Once conducted in relative obscurity, the MLB Rule IV draft has gained increased exposure over the last few years. However, because even the best prospects usually don’t surface in the majors for at least a year or two after being signed, the interest level in baseball’s draft continues to pale in comparison to the events held by the NFL and NBA

Dave Roberts debuted with the Padres one day after being drafted.

There are exceptions to this rule, however. Since the draft process was instituted in 1965 (in various forms including secondary events held in June and additional rounds held in January), 20 players have jumped right from the amateur level into the big leagues, including 13 within 30 days of being selected. However, no one’s transition was quicker than Dave Roberts, who needed only one day to sign a contract and make his major league debut with the Padres in 1972 (interestingly, three of the major league’s four Dave Roberts have played in San Diego). 

Players Who Have Appeared in the Majors within 30 Days of Being Drafted

Draftees Team Drafted Debuted Days to Majors
Mike Adamson Phillies 6-Jun-67 1-Jul-67 25
Steve Dunning Indians 4-Jun-70 14-Jun-70 10
Pete Broberg Rangers 8-Jun-71 20-Jun-71 12
Rob Ellis Brewers 8-Jun-71 18-Jun-71 10
Burt Hooton Cubs 8-Jun-71 17-Jun-71 9
Dave Roberts Padres 6-Jun-72 7-Jun-72 1
Eddie Bane Twins 5-Jun-73 4-Jul-73 29
David Clyde Rangers 5-Jun-73 27-Jun-73 22
Dave Winfield Padres 5-Jun-73 19-Jun-73 14
Tim Conroy Athletics 6-Jun-78 23-Jun-78 17
Bob Horner Braves 6-Jun-78 16-Jun-78 10
Brian Milner Blue Jays 6-Jun-78 23-Jun-78 17
Mike Morgan Athletics 6-Jun-78 11-Jun-78 5

Note: Dick Ruthven was selected by the Phillies in the second phase of the January 1973 draft and debuted on opening day of that year.
Source: Baseball-reference.com

After 1978, teams started taking a more patient approach with their draftees. Since that time, only John Olerud and Xavier Nady have bypassed the minors and played a big league game in the same year in which they were drafted. Otherwise, only Pete Incaviglia, Jim Abbott, Darren Dreifort and, most recently, Mike Leake have played their first professional game in a big league uniform, although each of those players needed to wait until the following season.

As evident from the names above, a quick burst on the scene doesn’t necessarily translate into long-term success. In fact, in most of the cases, the early promotions seemed to be more a case of wishful thinking than prudent expectations. Nonetheless, even though the impact of baseball’s draft lacks the immediacy of other sports, it has still become a day of new hope for teams badly in need of a talent infusion.

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(In addition to appearing at The Captain’s Blog, this post is also being syndicated at TheYankeeAnalysts.)

When the Pirates make the first selection in the 2011 MLB Rule V draft, Gerrit Cole is expected to be the name that is called. As many teams have learned in the past, however, making a selection is only the first step in the draft process.

Cole, a 20 year-old right hander from UCLA, should be well known to most Yankees fans because the young fire baller was the team’s 28th selection in the 2008 draft. Unfortunately for Brian Cashman, Cole eschewed the Yankees’ money and opted instead to go to college, making his loss a potential gain for Pittsburgh (or whatever team eventually drafts him).

Most Productive Active Players Drafted More than Once, Ranked by WAR

Player WAR Drafted Years Teams
Todd Helton 58.5 2x 1992, ’95 Padres, Rockies
Jason Giambi 53.1 2x 1989, ’92 Brewers, Athletics
J.D. Drew 46.9 3x 1994, ’97, ’98 Giants, Phillies, Cardinals
Tim Hudson 46.6 2x 1994, ’97 Athletics (2x)
Chase Utley 39.2 2x 1997, 2000 Dodgers, Phillies
Mark Teixeira 38 2x 1998, 2001 Red Sox, Rangers
Placido Polanco 34.7 2x 1993, ’94 White Sox, Cardinals
Barry Zito 31.8 3x 1996, ’98, ’99 Mariners, Rangers, Athletics
Michael Young 26 2x 1994, ’97 Orioles, Blue Jays
Cliff Lee 24 3x 1997, ’98, 2000 Marlins, Orioles, Expos

Source: Baseball-reference.com

If Cole eventually becomes the star that many predict, he won’t be the first Yankees’ draftee to spurn an offer and become a star for another team. Perhaps the most famous player to turn down the Yankees was Mark Prior, although among active players, Casey Blake has been the most productive. Otherwise, Daniel Bard is the only other notable player currently in the majors who was drafted, but not signed by the Yankees.

If [Drew] doesn’t agree to the numbers we have in mind, we won’t be able to sign him. I am not going to be a part of making the industry worse off financially than it is now.”– Phillies’ GM Bill Giles, Reading Eagle, June 4, 1997

Drew played in the independent league after refusing to sign with the Phillies.

Most of the time, the failure to sign a draft pick is the result of a club refusing to meet contract demands. The most famous case of a player sticking to his guns is J.D. Drew, who refused to sign with the Phillies for anything less than $10 million after being taken second overall in 1997 (Drew was also drafted by the Giants out of high school in 1994, but opted to attend college). At the time, bonuses for drafts picks were escalating, but Philadelphia GM Bill Giles refused to budge from his top offer of $3.1 million over four years. As a result, Scott Boras took his client to the independent St. Paul Saints, where Drew played for a year before being redrafted by the Cardinals in 1998. Although Drew didn’t get his $10 million asking price, the guaranteed $7 million deal more than doubled the Phillies’ best offer.

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