Almost certainly the worst job Major League Baseball teams ever did of handicapping baseball talent happened in the 1975 Draft. It was a bad, bad draft on many levels.
The first player selected was my all-time biggest draft bust: Danny Goodwin. Adding to the fact that this was the second time Goodwin was the first player selected in the draft, he was also given what was then almost certainly a record bonus for a drafted player of $125,000.
The last of the great bonus babies, Rich Reichart, received $200,000 from the then California Angels in 1964 after a frenzied bidding war, which was the impetus for the teams to adopt a draft of amateur players to prevent competitive bidding. In 1965 the first No. 1 selection, Rick Monday, received a $100,000 bonus, which likely stood as the record until Goodwin surpassed it in 1975. Once the owners had gotten used to the idea that no one could bid against them for the top players they drafted, bonuses for top overall picks quickly dropped to the $65,000 to $75,000 range.
What makes the 1975 Draft special is that the picks didn’t get any better after Goodwin when Mike Lentz, Les Filkins, Brian Rosinksi, Richard O’Keefe, and Butch Benton rounded out the top six picks. Ever heard of any of them?
The first pick to really amount to anything was catcher Rick Cerone, taken with the seventh pick by the Cleveland Indians. Cerone had a long major league career, but he wasn’t really much of a hitter except for one good season with the New York Yankees in 1980. I remember during his playing days being of the belief that Cerone milked that one good year for a much longer career than he in all rights deserved.
The picks didn’t get much better after Cerone. Clint Hurdle was taken ninth by the Kansas City Roylas while Dale Berra was selected at 20 by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The first really great player selected was Lee Smith by the Chicago Cubs in the second round at 28. Carney Lansford was taken in the third round with at 49 by the Angels.
Rounding out the top 100 players selected that year, in terms of players who eventually amounted to something, were Frank Pastore (46), Don Robinson (68), Paul Moskau (70), Jason Thompson (75), Dickie Noles (84), Jim Beattie (91) and “Sweet” Lou Whitaker (99th).
That’s a weak, weak Draft.