Tuesday, October 11, 2005

1999 Draft - A Look Back

1999 June First Year Major League Baseball Player Draft

1-1Josh HamiltonOFDevil Rays
12Josh BeckettPMarlins
13Eric MunsonCTigers
14Corey MyersSSDiamondbacks
15B.J. GarbeOF/P
Twins
16Josh GirdleyPExpos
17Kyle SnyderPRoyals
18Bobby BradleyPPirates
19Barry ZitoPAthletics
110
Ben SheetsPBrewers

One real "star" quality player out of this top eight. Hamilton and Beckett were far and away the consensus top two players going into the draft. Hamilton was touted as the 5-tool high school outfielder with sprinter speed and a power hitter's frame. He really was the perfect prospect, physically anyway, on paper. Beckett appeared on the cover of Baseball Weekly (now Sports Weekly) the week leading up the draft. The cover compared him to great Texas high school flamethrowers from the past - Nolan Ryan - and the current version - Kerry Wood.

Their career paths could not have been any more different - amazing how different two people with so much in common on the surface can be. Okay fine, maybe the only thing they shared was a first name, but the way the media played that up you would have thought they were long lost brothers or something. "Two Joshes? What luck! This story is going to write itself!" Gotta love that mainstream media. Anyway, Hamilton has yet to play an inning in the big leagues (personal problems related to drugs and alcohol have driven him from the game for the time being) while Beckett has already started 103 games before his age 26 season. He also has a World Series MVP to his name. I consider that to be a pretty successful career so far.

Meanwhile, Myers, Garbe, Girdley and Bradley (and Hamilton for that matter) have combined to play in zero innings of zero major league games. These were the best and the brightest US amateurs in 1999 and five out of the first eight guys on the list can be considered complete flops by the respective organizations that drafted them. Luckily, we have Kyle Snyder. At least this guy is hanging around in the bigs. Snyder has gone 2-9 with the Royals in 28 games pitched. '06 will be his year 28 season, so it would be foolhardy to predict any kind of real success for him in the future. He may have some major league experience, but I think we can call him yet another disappointment from this draft class.

Zito and Sheets are each two-time All Stars and Zito even won himself a Cy Young in 2002. Much better. That's what a top-ten pick should do. Not much to discuss about these two players as their numbers do a good enough job of speaking for them. Other slightly less successful, but useful players picked in the first round include: Jason Jennings (16), Alexis Rios (19), Larry Bigbie (21), Mike MacDougal (25), Jerome Williams (39), Casey Fossum (48), and Brian Roberts (50).

The player that brought on this topic was one of Barry Zito's college teammates and the third overall pick of this draft - Eric Munson. I have previously mentioned why I like the idea of inviting Munson to camp. You need some degree of talent to be taken 3rd overall. There would be no risk in giving him an invite and seeing firsthand look at what he can do. Just to point out a the player who ranks as Munson's top comparable at age 27 (www.baseballreference.com):

      Player              From  To Yrs   G    AB    R    H   2B  3B  HR  RBI  BB   SO    BA   OBP   SLG   SB   CS OPS+
+-------------------+---------+--+----+-----+----+----+---+---+---+----+----+----+-----+-----+-----+----+---+----+
Eric Munson 2000-2005 6 257 782 73 167 27 3 40 113 77 187 .214 .288 .409 4 2 84
Scott Brosius 1991-1994 4 240 692 79 165 31 2 26 91 44 118 .238 .285 .402 14 7 86

Brosius turned out to be a pretty useful player and he lacked the pedigree that Munson boasts. It's clear that even when picking in the top ten of the draft, scouting is quite a crapshoot. Munson hasn't delivered to this point in his career and maybe he never will. But on the off chance that he does step up, wouldn't he be a nice option off the bench for whomever the manager is next year? I promise after today, I won't mention Eric Munson and the Phillies until March at the earliest. I'm just trying to make an argument for a player, when taking into account his awful career numbers and the typical development curve of a ballplayer, needs a strong positive argument made for him to find a spot on a big league team come April '06.

For the record, the 12th pick in the '99 draft was Brett Myers - sandwiched between Ryan Christianson and Mike Paradis. Without a doubt, a good pick by the Phils. As far as the rest of the '99 Phils draft.....not so good. Phillies took 44 guys that year and by my count only one other guy ever played a game for the Phils (Marlon Byrd, 10th Round). Joe Saunders (5th) and Kameron Loe (39th) were both drafted by the Phils, but went unsigned. Saunders went on to Virginia Tech and was a first round pick of the Angels. He made his debut this year, but only as a September call up. Loe just finished an impressive rookie year with the Rangers. So, four major leaguers out of 44. This alone should eliminate Mike Arbuckle from consideration to be the next GM of the Philadelphia Phillies.

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