With the amateur draft upon us I thought I'd take some time to review the top 5 picks in each of the drafts held so far. This edition contains seasons 1 & 2.
1. Francis Bird (P-HS) - Las Vegas - First ever 2nd city draft pick went to the Double Downs. He reached the bigs in season 4 and has since gone 45-34 with a 3.97 ERA. The 26-year old has become a solid pitcher but has yet to perform like the ace everyone expected following his Rookie of the Year performance in Season 5.
2. Greg Jamison (P-HS) - Hartford (now Richmond) - He was traded to Salem in Season 3 after making just four starts for the franchise that drafted him. He's been in the Salem rotation since Season 5 going 65-25 with a 4.52 ERA, winning the Cy Young in Season 5, and thrice making the All-Star team. So far, he's been the best of the high school pitchers selected at the top of the draft.
3. Claude Rakers (P-HS) - Detroit (now Montreal) - He was dealt to Wichita in Season 3. The Shockers handled him with kid gloves, delaying his big-league debut until season 5. He's since gone 42-22 with a 4.82 ERA. Last year was his best. Rakers posted a 17-5 mark with a 4.05 ERA. Still, he's never made a major league all-star game.
4. Julio Mateo (OF-SR - Rice University) - Toronto (now Rochester) - The first collegian drafted made his debut in Season 2, won the MVP in Season 4, and has been an All-Star in 3 of the last 4 years. He's hit 309 HR's so far and at just 29, he's expected to eclipse 500 in his career, all of which has been played in Rochester.
5. Esteban Mendoza (P-HS) - New York 2 (now Augusta) - He was the first of the picks to reach the majors in Season 2. However, his lack of control has held him back. A 63-62 Record while never posting an ERA under 4.23 make him a disappointment.
1. Billy Huffman (P-HS) - Chicago (now Toledo) - Shortly after drafting Huffman, jologue sold the team to Minnesota. The Mighty Bats then dealt Huffman to San Juan, depriving Toledo of a future ace. In return, the franchise received 3 players, Lucas Laxton, a solid if unspectacular CF that's still with Toledo, and 2 players that never made the Show. Huffman meanwhile, has been driving the ladies crazy with his handlebar mustache on the way to a 27-8 record for the Crownrificos. He's just 24 and seems poised to lead the rotation for years to come.
2. Sean Moore (P-JUCO SO) - Norfolk (now Washington DC) - Moore suffered through numerous ownership changes (including a 21-loss season), spending parts of 4 consecutive years at AAA before making his big-league debut in Season 7 with the Sioux Falls Dakota, who acquired him in a pre-season deal. His 10-7 debut was a solid one and the Dakota expect him to be a rotation main-stay for years to come.
3. Marty Brantley (P-JUCO - SO) - Atlanta (now Scranton) - Brantley was rushed through the minors debuting in Scranton in season 4 with just 45 minor league appearances. He went 8-16 as a rookie and was dealt to Richmond during Season 5. He's become a horse for the Confederates, throwing 238 inning last year in posting a 17-10 record. Still just 26, he really seems to be coming into his own.
4. Mark Hitchcock (SS-HS) - Tacoma (now Honolulu) - Hitchcock signed a then-record $5.3 million contract. He's spent his entire career in the organization, hitting .290 since reaching the bigs in season 5. Scouts continue to question his hands as he's made 40+ errors in each of the past 2 seasons. His bat continues to develop as well. Mark's knocked in 106 runs in each of the last two years.
5. Will Nicholson (P-HS) - Toronto (now Rochester) - Nicholson was dealt to Mexico City in Season 3. The Bandejos did not rush the reliever, keeping him in the minors until this season. He's been lights out in a set up role so far, with a 1.27 ERA and figures to earn a shot as a closer in a couple years.