MLB Draft 2012: Ranking Top 20 Draft Steals in Philadelphia Phillies History

Greg PintoCorrespondent IMay 29, 2012

MLB Draft 2012: Ranking Top 20 Draft Steals in Philadelphia Phillies History

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    As an organization, the Philadelphia Phillies haven't had much success with the amateur draft.

    There are plenty of reasons for that little factoid, but none of them are overly important. The fact of the matter is that, throughout this club's history, when it came time to show some results through the draft, they've had far more failures than successes.

    But that doesn't mean that there haven't been a few good stories buried in that landfill that is a draft history.

    The Phillies have had their fair share of "steals" in the draft over the course of time, and for the sake of this slideshow, we'll be defining a "steal" in this manner.

    A "steal" is a player that you never thought would wind up with your organization. It is a player that has had a certain degree of success at the MLB level, but was passed over by other teams for some reason or another. They've had to overcome adversity to excel, but if you had to go back and re-draft certain years, they'd be right at the top.

    That's a "steal" in the draft, and the Phillies have had a couple of those, despite their inefficiencies.

20. Vance Worley

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    The Line: 15-6, 2.91 ERA

    Sure, you can certainly make the case that it is far too early in Vance Worley's career to call him a steal in the draft, but he is a guy that has always intrigued me.

    The Phillies first drafted the right-handed pitcher out of high school in the 20th round of the 2005 draft. He didn't sign. There's nothing wrong with wanting the opportunity to play in college after falling so far in the draft, and so, Worley attended California State University Long Beach.

    The Phillies must have known something that other clubs didn't about Worley, because they really wanted him. When he fell to the third round in 2008, the Phillies drafted him for a second time and got him signed.

    Now that he's in the MLB, you wonder if the Phillies actually knew something about Worley. He's pitching like an ace and doing his best to show that it's no fluke.

    It may be too soon to tell, but teams may soon regret passing on Worley, not once, but twice.

19. Mickey Morandini

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    The Line: .268 / .338 / .359, 32 HR

    The Phillies didn't have many good drafts for a couple of decades, and that isn't an exaggeration. They made a couple of good picks here and there, among them, a fifth round selection of Mickey Morandini.

    "The Dandy Little Glove Man" spent nine seasons with the Phillies, and though he was never a superstar, he was the type of guy you like to have on your club—a good defender with enough bat to play regularly.

    Not too shabby for a fifth round pick.

18. Mark Clear

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    The Line: 71-49, 3.85 ERA

    The Phillies made an excellent choice when they selected Mark Clear in the eighth round of the 1974 draft. The problem was that they never let him fully develop in their system, and released the right-handed pitcher in 1975.

    Shortly thereafter, he signed on with the California Angels and in a few seasons, developed into an excellent relief pitcher. After appearing in the All-Star Game during his rookie season in 1979, he finished third in Rookie of the Year voting.

    Clear would also pitch for the Boston Red Sox (appearing in an All-Star Game) and Milwaukee Brewers.

17. Jim Morrison

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    The Line: .260 / .305 / .419, 112 HR

    Jim Morrison is another player the Phillies gave up on fairly quickly.

    His first pursuer happened to be the Pittsburgh Pirates. They drafted him in the fifth round of the 1972 draft, but he refused to sign. The Pirates would draft him again in the June Secondary draft, this time in the first round, but again, Morrison refused to sign.

    A couple of years later, clubs watched him fall all the way to the fifth round where the Phillies scooped him up. He finally signed and was sent to the minors before arriving in Philadelphia, but his stay wouldn't be long.

    The Phillies would send him to the Chicago White Sox to complete an earlier trade and Morrison would go on to have a solid career, most prominently and ironically, for the Pirates.

16. Ozzie Virgil

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    The Line: .243 / .324 / .416, 98 HR

    Good catchers are hard to come by, so backstops drafted in the sixth round of the amateur draft aren't always given a fair shake. The funny thing is, the Phillies can claim two catchers drafted in the sixth round  that worked out exceptionally well, one of them being Ozzie Virgil.

    The Phillies would use their 137th overall pick on Virgil, a high school catcher at the time, in 1976. After helping the club to a World Series appearance in 1983, he'd become part of the deal that brought Steve Bedrosian and Milt Thompson to Philly from the Atlanta Braves.

15. Chuck McElroy

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    The Line: 38-30, 3.90 ERA

    The Phillies drafted Chuck McElroy as a starting pitcher in the eighth round of the 1986 draft, and it wasn't long before it became obvious that he was destined for the bullpen. Apparently, the Phillies weren't to happy about that.

    McElroy made just 27 appearances for the Phillies over parts of two seasons before they decided to send him to the Chicago Cubs along with Bob Scanlan for reliever Mitch Williams. It was a deal that would work out relatively well for the Phillies, but McElroy would take his game to the next level.

    After finishing fifth in Rookie of the Year voting with the Cubs, McElroy became somewhat of a journeyman reliever, but a good one. He threw a ton of innings and pitched late in games often.

14. Charles Hudson

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    The Line: 50-60, 4.14 ERA

    After the first couple of rounds of the draft, the chances of drafting a reliable starting pitcher dramatically decrease, so drafting right-handed pitcher Charles Hudson in the 12th round in 1981 was certainly a pleasant surprise.

    Two years later, he would win eight games, helping the Phillies march towards a World Series title in 1983. He'd win 32 games for the Phillies over four seasons, pitching for the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers later as well.

13. Ryan Madson

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    The Line: 47-30, 3.59 ERA

    For a long time, Ryan Madson didn't look like much of a "steal." In fact, he was heading in the other direction.

    The Phillies drafted Madson in the ninth round of the 1998 draft as a starting pitcher. After a less than impressive minor league career, Madson's MLB career didn't get off on the right foot either. It wasn't long before his days as a starting pitcher were over and he was stashed in the bullpen.

    That's when the magic happened.

    Madson ditched his curveball and developed his change-up, giving him a repertoire modeled after all-time great closer Trevor Hoffman—the fastball / change-up combo.

    Madson would develop into one of the game's best relievers for the Phillies, from being part of the "Bride to Lidge" in 2008 to the Phillies' full-time closer in 2011.

12. Kelly Downs

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    The Line: 57-53, 3.86 ERA

    I'm sure that an MLB franchise would never admit it, but I think there is a certain point in the draft when you have to be skeptical that a player even has a shot at making the MLB club. For that reason alone, I wouldn't be too pleased with a 26th round selection.

    But that was the case for former right-handed pitcher Kelly Downs, who was drafted by the Phillies in the 26th round of the 1979 draft. 

    Downs was a solid starter for the Phillies in his minor league career, but never wore a Phillies' uniform. He was sent to the San Francisco Giants as part of a trade in 1984 and began a solid MLB career out west.

    He would become a versatile pitcher, both a starter and reliever, for both the Giants and the Oakland Athletics.

11. Michael Bourn

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    The Line: .274 / .337 / .364, 247 SB

    Michael Bourn had a ton of talent on draft day back in 2004, so watching him fall to the fourth round was a bit of a surprise, but the Phillies were happy to have him.

    Through all of that talent, Bourn had his question marks. He has blinding speed. He was a good defensive center fielder with the potential to become great. The real question was whether or not he could hit, and throughout his minor league career, it didn't always seem like that was going to happen.

    The Phillies liked Bourn as a player, but when the opportunity came to acquire Houston Astros' closer Brad Lidge, they decided to part ways with him.

    Bourn would become a Gold Glove winner in center field, as well as an All-Star and stolen base champion.

10. Nick Punto

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    The Line: .247 / .325 / .325, 14 HR

    Nick Punto probably isn't the first player that comes to mind when you think of a "steal" in the draft, but guys with his story just aren't supposed to have any kind of success at the MLB level.

    The Phillies drafted Punto, a high school shortstop, in the 21st round of the 1998 draft. He struggled throughout his minor league career with the Phillies, but despite that, made his MLB debut in 2001.

    Punto would play in just 77 games for the Phillies over parts of three seasons before they sent him to the Minnesota Twins as part of the deal that brought Eric Milton to town.

    Punto would go on to play seven seasons with the Twins, becoming a versatile utility man. That same role would help the St. Louis Cardinals to the World Series in 2011.

9. Marlon Byrd

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    The Line: .278 / .336 / .413, 82 HR

    When the Phillies drafted Marlon Byrd out of junior college in the 10th round of the 1999 draft, he was a player that fans could get excited over for a couple of reasons.

    First and foremost, it looked as though he was going to be a great hitter. He had good bat speed and the ability to hit for contact and power.

    He had some speed—not overly fast, but a good base runner.

    Defensively, he had the tools to stick in center field, though the Phillies would want to try him in the corners as well.

    All in all, Byrd seemed like a great prospect, especially for a 10th round pick, and ultimately, he was. Just not for the Phillies.

    After finishing fourth in Rookie of the Year voting in 2003, Byrd struggled over the next two seasons before the Phillies sent him to the Washington Nationals for Endy Chavez.

    After a short stint in Washington, Byrd joined the Texas Rangers, where he really developed into a good MLB hitter, cashing in on a deal with the Chicago Cubs following that tenure.

8. Domonic Brown

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    The Line: .236 / .314 / .382, 7 HR

    I can already hear the anger of those who believe that Domonic Brown has fizzled out in Triple-A. Time will tell whether that is accurate or not, but getting Brown was a steal for the Phillies in any case.

    It's not often that you have the opportunity to draft a player in the 20th round that will eventually develop into one of the game's top five prospects, but Brown did.

    For that reason alone, it's too soon to give up on him. A lot of people still believe that Brown can develop into a top MLB talent. I'm among them.

7. Greg Luzinski

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    The Line: .276 / .363 / .478, 307 HR

    Greg Luzinski was a first round pick, so he isn't your traditional draft day "steal," but when you look at some of the players that teams in front of the Phillies picked back in 1968, you can understand why getting "The Bull" in the first round was highway robbery.

    The Phillies owned the 11th overall pick back in '68 and it really wasn't reasonable to expect Luzinski to remain on the board. He had a ton of power and enough contact to mash the ball often. So why was he falling? Well, the answer is simple: His body type.

    Luzinski was never going to be considered a good defender and teams weren't sure that he could actually handle the outfield over the course of his career, so teams passed on him.

    10 teams picked before the Phillies and only one made a good pick—the New York Yankees, who selected Thurman Munson.

    The other nine teams that passed on Luzinski would like a do-over. Three players never made the MLB and the other six never posted a WAR of better than five.

6. Ryan Howard

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    The Line: .275 / .368 / .560, 286 HR

    When the Phillies drafted Ryan Howard back in 2001, they may have been pleased, but had they known what he would develop into, they would have been ecstatic.

    Instead, Howard was sent to the farm system while the Phillies developed a new plan to bring fans back to the ballpark—Jim Thome.

    A few seasons down the road, Thome had to go to make room for the Phillies' next big thing—Howard. The Phillies sent Thome to the Chicago White Sox to make room for the "Big Piece" and the rest is history.

    Howard is a three-time All-Star, a Rookie of the Year, an MVP, and a Silver Slugger.

    Not bad for a fifth round pick.

5. Cole Hamels

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    The Line: 81-55, 3.33 ERA

    The Phillies owned the 17th overall selection in the 2002 draft and Cole Hamels should not have been on the board when they picked, but he was.

    Hamels was a talented high school lefty that had overcome a serious arm injury in the past, perhaps causing him to fall a few slots, but no one expected him to drop as far as he did.

    The Phillies would pick Hamels and the rest is history. He is a two-time All-Star, and NLCS MVP, and a World Series MVP.

    The only other player to post a WAR of better than 20 for his career to be drafted before Hamels was Zack Greinke.

4. Bob Boone

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    The Line: .254 / .315 / .346, 105 HR

    Earlier in the slide show, I alluded to a second catcher drafted in the sixth round by the Phillies. Well, that man would happen to become arguably the greatest Phillies' catcher of all-time: Bob Boone.

    The Phillies selected Boone with the 126th overall selection in 1969 and a couple of seasons later, he would make his MLB debut.

    Known for being an elite defensive catcher in all aspects, Boone wasn't going to hurt you with the bat, for a catcher anyway, either.

    He was an integral part of the Phillies' first World Series victory in 1980 as well.

3. Darren Daulton

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    The Line: .245 / .357 / .427, 137 HR

    Teams probably don't expect to get one of the best players in the history of their franchise in the 25th round, but the Phillies did when they picked Darren Daulton that late back in 1980.

    Daulton would go on to become the Phillies' catcher for more than a decade. He was a good offensive talent and knew how to play the position behind the plate.

    He was one of the greatest leaders in the history of this franchise, grabbing that wily 1993 group by the horns and keeping them pointed at a World Series appearance.

    Daulton was a three-time All-Star, a Silver Slugger, and twice finished in the top 10 for MVP voting.

2. Chase Utley

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    The Line: .290 / .377 / .505, 188 HR

    "With the 15th pick of the 2000 amateur draft, the Philadelphia Phillies select... second baseman, Chase Utley."

    If that statement had actually been spoken, it would be music to Phillies fans' ears. (But come on, every draft sounds like that in our heads, right?)

    That's how it happened, however. With the 15th pick, the Phillies would draft one of the best second basemen of all-time in Utley. He would go on to become a five-time All-Star and four-time Silver Slugger. Though a chronic knee condition may have slowed him down, Utley isn't done just yet.

    But as to the reason Utley was a steal for the Phillies? Well, that should be obvious. If you went back and re-drafted the 2000 draft, Utley would go first overall. The Phillies got him at number 15.

    14 teams selected before the Phillies that year. Seven picks never played in the MLB. Three picks have been below replacement level players. The Milwaukee Brewers' selection, outfielder Dave Krynzel, posted a WAR of 0.2.

    The Florida Marlins selected Adrian Gonzalez. Not a bad pick by any stretch of the imagination. But Utley was the best player in the draft and the Phillies got him at number 15.

1. Ryne Sandberg

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    The Line: .285 / .344 / .452, 282 HR

    The Phillies' greatest draft steal of all-time was none other than Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg. Then kharma caught up to the Phillies and the Chicago Cubs stole him away in a trade.

    The Phillies drafted Sandberg in the 20th round of the 1978 draft with the 511th overall pick. He would go on to appear in just 13 games for the Phillies before they sent him to the Cubs.

    Sandberg would go on to spend 15 seasons with the Cubs, becoming a 10-time All-Star, a nine-time Gold Glove winner, a seven-time Silver Slugger, and an MVP.