MLB Draft 2011: Seattle Mariners, the Best and Worst Draft Picks in Team History
With the 2011 MLB Draft in the books, now seems as good a time as any to reflect on some of the best and worst picks in club history.
One of the things many people tend to forget about the draft is that it's a giant crap shoot. Sure, we could have had Tim Lincecum, but there were league-wide concerns about how he'd hold up. Obviously, the Giants are quite pleased they were the team who thought enough of him to take him despite the perceived risks.
For every Lincecum, however, there's a Ben Davis.
The people running the draft for most teams are scouts, or general managers that used to be scouts. Those people rely on several other scouts out in the field; there's quite the room for error when one set of eyes sees something another set didn't.
I think the Nissan Cube is horrendous looking. However, there are actually people out there who find value in those cars and are intrigued by their design. See how wonky the results can be when we use different sets of eyes, even though we all have the same spec sheet in front of us?
Without further rambling, let's peek at the best—and worst—draft choices by these here Mariners.
No. 5 Worst: Jeff Clement, 2005
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Eventual All-Stars Available After Selection: Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki, Clay Buchholtz
The Mariners had the third overall pick in the 2005 draft, and leading up to Draft Day they were determined to take Troy Tulowitzki.
Of course, they didn't take Troy Tulowitzki. No, he was passed over because Bill Bavasi slept on a rock, woke up with a headache and had the bright idea that they should draft for need instead of the best available player.
The Mariners, you see, already had their shortstop of the future: Yuniesky Betancourt.
Betancourt is still terrible and now in Milwaukee.
Clement's knees are made of rubber bands, so he switched to first base after being traded to the Pirates, but still isn't in the Majors and is likely a bust. Tulowitzki is an elite player.
No. 5 Best: Jason Varitek, 1994
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Hey, this list is about how good the pick was—not how good the player was after he was traded by an incompetent general manager.
You'll of course recall Veritek and Derek Lowe (who almost made this list also) being shipped off for a bag of resin and a full set of used bases from Fenway Park.
Veritek was taken 14th overall in 1994 and reached the Majors for a game in 1997. He went on to become only the third captain in Red Sox history and has had one heck of a career.
Okay, wipe the salt off your wounds now.
No. 4 Worst: Brandon Morrow, 2006
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Eventual All-Stars Available After Selection: Tim Lincecum
This selection is one that many folks will likely never get over.
Hometown hero Tim Lincecum from the University of Washington was highly regarded, even with some baseball-wide concerns about his size and mechanics. To be sure, he looked quirky, but there was real talent there.
Bill Bavasi opted for Brandon Morrow instead. We won't get too deep into how the Bavasi regime botched Morrow's development, but rushing a pick to the Majors as a reliever seemed quite silly and turned out quite bad.
The jury is still out on how good Morrow may be. Perhaps he ends up as a decent starter or a really good reliever, but he won't turn out to be a Tim Lincecum.
No. 4 Best: Tino Martinez, 1988
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Oh, Tino. How I wish you weren't traded to the devil.
A key component of the 1995 "Refuse to Lose" team, Martinez was tabbed by the Yankees to replace Don Mattingly.
While the Mariners surely regretted trading him, the pick was solid.
No. 3 Worst: Ryan Christianson, 1999
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Eventual All-Stars Available After Selection: Alex Rios, Mike MacDougal, Brian Roberts
One of the most famous flops in Mariners draft history, Christianson doesn't even have a Wikipedia page. It was deleted for being a "Biographical article that does not assert significance."
Christianson made it all the way up to Triple-A Tacoma but, well, you know what happened. It's not fun to revisit.
No. 3 Best: Raul Ibanez, 1992
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Raul Ibanez was drafted in the 36th Round of the 1992 MLB Draft.
The chances of his ascent to the Major Leagues was pretty low. He was a catcher and an outfielder and of course ended up focusing on the latter by the time he reached the Majors.
When he did reach the Major Leagues, the Mariners didn't like what they saw and let him walk after the 2000 season. After three seasons blossoming with the Royals, Ibanez returned to the Mariners in 2004.
It's a pretty cool story. A guy who twice was faced with not making it overcame the odds and has turned in a pretty nifty career.
No. 2 Worst: Ryan Anderson, 1997
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Eventual All-Stars Available After Selection: Jayson Werth
The Mariners took "The Little Unit" in 1997 and had dreams of the tallest-most-scariest one-two punch in baseball with Anderson and Randy Johnson.
Unfortunately, Anderson's career was mired with injuries and let down. It seemed that every year was going to be the year he'd be healthy and make it.
Instead of that one-two-punch, Johnson was soon gone and Anderson became a chef.
No. 2 Best: Alex Rodriguez, 1993
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It's not often that a prep shortstop goes first overall, but the Mariners had a no-brainer on their hands here.
Perhaps that's hindsight speaking, as I was only 13 years of age when this pick was made. However the pick may be viewed, it happened and it was a dandy.
While A-Rod's return trips to Seattle are still met with a chorus of jeers and he's gone on to help a different team win a ring, there's no doubting that this was a solid draft choice.
No. 1 Worst: Jose Cruz, Jr., 1995
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Eventual All-Stars Available After Selection: Kerry Wood, Todd Helton, Geoff Jenkins, Mark Redmond, Roy Halladay, Carlos Beltran, Sean Casey
Wow. Do I really need to say anything after the list above?
The only thing that could have made things worse would have been if Ben Davis had fallen to the Mariners at No. 3.
Cruz had a nice little run while with the Blue Jays, but that doesn't exactly help us much. He didn't have the worst career ever, but glancing at the above list one more time, I can't help but wince.
No. 1 Best: Ken Griffey, Jr., 1987
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You know the story, I presume.
"The Kid" was pretty good. He was the first overall selection in the 1987 draft and he didn't bomb.
Now retired and fifth on the all-time home run list, there's little doubt that the best player in franchise history was the best draft pick.