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Five Years On - the 2000 AZ draft

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They say that it takes five years to assess a draft properly; they, in this case is Purple Row, but even they say, "They say..." so the origin of this quote remains lost. But regardless, let's take a look at the 2000 Diamondbacks Draft and see what we find, shall we?

We should have picked 9th, but our first round selection went to the Braves, as compensation for signing Russ Springer as a free agent. There's some irony there. As a result our first choice didn't come until #69, the penultimate choice in the second round; here's a look at our choices from the top ten.

  • #69, Michael Schultz (RHP, Loyola Marymount). Schultz never even made it to the minor leagues for more than two seasons, a shoulder injury delaying him until 2003. In 2004, he was promoted quickly, going from Lancaster through El Paso to end the season at Tucson, but didn't set the place on fire, posting a 5.00 ERA there. This year, he's back to AA, but has a 2.32 ERA there. At 25, he's still got a chance.
  • #99, Bill White (LHP, Jacksonville State). Initially a starter, he was converted to a reliever last season, but since 2001, he's bounced around between A and AA; in 2004, he had a 1.96 ERA with Lancaster, but went 6.81 at El Paso. He can now be found in Tennessee - and having a 5.50 ERA there so far, will likely not be seen elsewhere in the near future.
  • #129, Josh Kroeger (OF, Scripps Ranch). The highest pick to reach the majors so far, he made his debut in the bigs in 2004, but only hit .167, albeit in 54 at-bats. He'd kicked ass in Tucson earlier on, batting .332 with ten homers, but has been overtaken by other outfield prospects - most obviously Carlos Quentin.
  • #159, Brad Cresse (C, Louisiana State). Time is running out for Cresse. He'll be 27 next month, and has still not made the big leagues. He was dealt to Montreal early last year, but the "player to be named later" turned out to be Cresse, who then headed on to St. Louis after getting his release from AZ. He's now in Triple-A there (for the fourth season), and is currently hitting .135
  • #189, Scott Barber (RHP, South Carolina). After spending three years stuck in A-ball, Barber exploded up to Tucson in 2003, posting a 2.05 ERA in 22 innings. 2004 showed that to be a fluke, with a more plausible 5.47 ERA in El Paso. Got a spring training invite in 2005, but was released. See also this story about Barber. Current whereabouts: unknown.
  • #219, Tim Olson (SS, Florida). Promoted to AA in 2001, and AAA in 2003, Olson teetered on the fringe of the bigs, but with the drafting of Drew at his position, any long-term future in Arizona evaporated. He only hit over .300 at one stop (El Paso in 2001), and given the hitters' parks in our farm system, a minor-league average of .268 is unimpressive. Now plays for the Rockies, and was called up last week to replace Clint Barmes (somewhere in deer heaven, sniggering can be heard).
  • #249, Brandon Webb (RHP, Kentucky). Whatever happened to him? :-)
  • #279, Tanner Eriksen (RHP, USC). Here's a quote from Tanner, "The Green Tourmaline necklace has allowed me, both physically and mentally, to stay within my center of power and use what I have to the best of my ability. And that edge is something I can count on every day." Er, except it clearly wasn't much help. I haven't been able to find anything about him since this August 2001 report of a game in which he walked seven and hit a batter in 4 2/3 innings.
  • #309, Cedrick Harris (OF Louisiana State). Harris spent three years at A and AA levels, but only hit .244 at the higher level. He was traded to the Brewers organization in 2002 - for a player called Matt Ceriani, should you care - but since that season, has played in various indie outfits all around the country, from New England to Texas. He's now playing for the Edinburg Roadrunners in the Central League, and is currently hitting .256 for them.

    And here are selected highlights from the lower rounds, all of whom have made it at least to the AAA level.

  • #369, Brian Bruney (RHP, Warrenton, OH - HS). No, really: whatever happened to him? :-(
  • #399, Pete Sikaras (RHP, St. Francis) - Barely qualifies; six innings at Tucson in 2001. Was still at Lancaster as late as 2003: last year, he returned a credible 3.80 in El Paso, but has had less success in Tennessee, allowing 23 walks in 37 innings to go with a 5.84 ERA. His actual first name is "Panagiotis".
  • #459, JuJu Foreman (OF, Augusta) - Great name, but broke an ankle on the basepaths in July 2001, and was never the same again. In '02, was briefly with the indie Evansville Otters, then got signed to the Reds; he had three AB's at AAA, but was released in June 2003. Spent the rest of that season and '04 with Lincoln of the Northern League, and was picked by Calgary in the league's expansion draft - they dropped him last month.
  • #729, Andy Green (3B/2B, Kentucky) - For a 24th round pick, Green has been a success; not many of those make it to the big show, as he did last year. Unfortunately, our infield is crowded with prospects, so he may not see much more playing time, though his .316 Tucson average this year is very respectable. He also leads the club in total bases at the time of writing - ahead of both Quentin and Jackson.
  • #1208, Josh Perrault (RHP, ASU) - Drafted in the 40th round, he didn't sign for us at that point, and was redrafted in 2001 by Florida...in the 42nd round, but still ended up at Missoula in 2003. Qualifying because of one game for Tucson last year, he's back with South Bend in 2005, where he's showing good control, walking less than one per five innings. He only turned 23 last week, so might have a shot yet.

This draft has produced one genuine major-league player for the organization, in Brandon Webb: since he was chosen at #249, this would seem more by luck than good judgement. Green, Kroeger and Bruney are teetering on the edge - Bruney more than the other two - but the jury is still definitely out on them. Olson is similarly a fringe prospect, though I can't hope for better things, since he is no longer in the Diamondbacks system. None of the rest show any signs of breaking through - if, indeed, they are still in the game.

How does this compare? Here are the numbers (taken from sports-wired.com) of players who made it to the big leagues from each round of this draft, by the end of 2004:
Round 1: 12*
2: 11
3: 4
4: 8
5: 2
6-10: 15
11-15: 14
16-20: 7^
21-25: 6
26-30: 4
31-35: 3
36-40: 2
41+: 3"

* = 40 picks this round - others only had 30.
^ = including Brad Halsey at #578, a 19th round pick for the Yankees
" = The last one to make it so far is #1300, Anthony Ferrari, a 44th round pick by the Marlins, who played in 4 games for Expos in 2003.

Through the first 50 rounds, 1452 players were picked, and 91 have made it to the majors so far, about 6.3%. Given this, the D'backs 10% is above average, though perhaps not statistically so. It matches the 1999 draft, which included Daigle, Capuano, Kata, Devore and 18th-round pick, Lyle Overbay, but is short of the 1998 draft that produced seven: Javier Lopez (yes, that Lopez was once a 2nd-round choice!), J.D.Closser, Good, Hector Cruz, Prinz, Hammock and Koplove.

Conventional wisdom has it that the D'backs drafts weren't any good before scouting director Mike Rizzo came on board. However, the result so far don't necessarily seem to bear this out. In terms of quantity, our choices have been more than credible so far, though one could certainly argue our first selections have left something to be desired.

In ten drafts, only two of Arizona's first-round choices made the big leagues - Nick Bierbrodt in 1996 and Jack Cust the following year - and neither have played even 75 games. But the last four, Santos, Jackson, Drew and Upton, all seem to have every chance. And given that, after 4 1/2 years, two in three of the 2000 first round draftees had yet to reach the majors, this would be an impressive record.