The Rockies have four picks in the top 100 of this year’s amateur draft, which begins tonight. While not all great to good non-international players are selected high in the draft, most of them are. Still, every year there are stars and good regulars selected among a bunch of guys who never contribute in the majors. This is particularly true after about pick number 10. The Rockies will add to the history of the 22nd, 42nd, 76th, and 96th pick over the next couple of days. The history of who came before doesn’t tell us whether or not the Rockies will draft a boom or a bust, but it’s still fun.
The Rockies have never had the 22nd pick in the draft, but there has been a Hall of Famer drafted at that spot. In 1987 the Astros drafted catcher Craig Biggio 22nd overall. Interestingly, Biggio’s only the second most successful 22nd draft pick according to Baseball Reference’s WAR model. the most successful was Rafael Palmiero, who was drafted 22nd overall just two years before Biggio in 1985. He’s not in the Hall of Fame, mostly for chemical reasons.
While the Rockies have never had the 22nd pick, former Rockies pitcher Jeremy Guthrie was drafted out of that spot in 2002. Of the players drafted 22nd overall who made the major leagues, the least successful was Terry Francona, who accrued -3.0 rWAR as a player. He ended up having a pretty good managerial career. The Expos drafted him in 1980.
Best spoonerism: Jimmy McMath (McJimmy Math), Cubs, 1967
The Rockies have had the 42nd pick once before. In 2013, they selected Ryan McMahon from that spot. At -0.1 career rWAR, McMahon is already the 12th most successful 42nd pick to have made the majors. There are no current Hall of Famers in this cohort, nor are there any guys on that trajectory. The most successful player is right-handed pitcher Dennis Leonard, who the Royals drafted 42nd overall in 1972. Other notable player selected here are Mookie Wilson and Clay Buchholtz.
Best spoonerism (tie): Jaff Decker (Deff Jacker), Padres, 2008; Tony Pepper (Pony Tepper), Giants, 1971
The Rockies have also had the 76th pick in the draft once before. Like McMahon, Chad Bettis is on the current 25-man roster right now. The Rockies drafted him 76th overall in 2010. Bettis’s 4.1 career rWAR make him the sixth most successful player out of that spot in draft history. Former Rockies catcher Nick Hundley is the fifth most successful with 7.6 rWAR. The Padres drafted him in this spot in 2005. Both Bettis and Hundley are far from the most successful players to be drafted 76th overall. Chase Utley leads the way with 65.6 rWAR, and Giancarlo Stanton is currently the second most successful with 36.2. It’s conceivable that both players will eventually be in the baseball Hall of Fame.
Former Rockies hitting coach Blake Doyle never made the major leagues, but his twin brother Brian did. The Rangers selected Brian Doyle with the 76th pick in the 1972 draft. Brian put up -1.2 rWAR across four seasons for the Yankees and A’s.
Best spoonerisms (tie): Mo Sanford (So Manford), Yankees, 1984; Brett Cumberland (Crett Bumberland), Braves, 2016
This will be the first time the Rockies have ever had the 96th selection of the draft; however, someone the Rockies selected in their expansion draft was taken with the 96th pick. In 1983, the Giants selected third baseman Charlie Hayes. Ten years after that, he would be the Rockies first starting third baseman. Hayes’s 10.5 career rWAR is good enough for fourth most among all players taken with the 96th pick. The second and third most successful are active pitchers Craig Kimbrel (19.3) and Danny Duffy (13.4).
The most successful player taken 96th overall is more successful than any player taken in the 22nd, 42nd, or 76th round, too. The Oakland A’s took Rickey Henderson with the 96th pick in 1976. Henderson retired 27 years later after scoring more runs and stealing more bases (and being caught stealing) more times than anyone else in baseball history.
Blake Doyle was drafted in the same year as his brother Brian, 1972. While Blake went 76th, Brian went 96th. The Orioles selected him, but he never made it to the majors. He did wear a Rockies uniform as hitting coach from 2014-2016 though.
Best spoonerism: Jimmy Daniel (Dimmy Janiel), Royals, 1984
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With history as our guide, we can say that with these specific selections the Rockies could take a catcher who will move to second base and eventually make the Hall of Fame, a manager who may make the Hall of Fame, a generational relief pitcher, the best base stealer of all time, someone who will be taken in the next expansion draft, twin brothers (one of whom will be someone else’s hitting coach someday), or someone who will never make the majors and only appear in a baseball article as “best spoonerism.” That is to say, draft history isn’t a great guide here, but it’s a good way to highlight baseball’s small world.
Enjoy the draft.