Feeling the Draft: The Ones Who Got Away
It's not just the players who will be drafted and signed out of the first-year player draft that will run Monday through Wednesday.
There are gambles teams will take in the later rounds of the draft that sometimes hit, like when the Rockies used the their seventh-round selection in the 1998 draft on high school third baseman Matt Holliday, who was committed to play quarterback at Oklahoma State, where his father was the head baseball coach.
With the late Jerry McMorris taking a hands-on role in the negotiations, the Rockies were able to come up with a contract that convinced Holliday to puruse a career on the diamond instead of the gridiron.
Then there was the Marlins, using the No. 2 pick in the 1992 draft, on right-handed pitcher John Lynch out of Stanford, signing him after he was emphatic that he was going to give up football, only to be lured back for a senior year in college when Dennis Green left Stanford and Bill Walsh became the head coach.
Usually the gambles, so to speak, are in the later rounds, and they came more often before baseball eliminated the draft-and-follow, which allowed teams to select a junior college player and retain signing rights until a week before the draft the following year.
Now, there is a mid-August deadline to sign a player or lose the rights to him.
The Rockies did hit on the likes of a Holliday and Dexter Fowler, a 14th-round draft choice out of high school in 2004, belatedly signed in mid-August when the Rockies, having saved $2 million in salary by the trade of Larry Walker to the Cardinals gave scouting director Bill Schmidt a portion of that to lure Fowler from his commitment to the University of Miami.
And they have had some misses. A look at the 11 players they did not sign after drafting, who have a career WAR higher than 2.0 at the big-league level.
|2007||21st||LHP Chris Sale||Lakeland, Fla. HS||38.8|
|2010||1st||Signed White Sox||Florida Gulf Coast University|
The Rockies did offer Sale a $150,000 signing bonus, which was way above market given he was drafted in the 21st round, but he chose to attend college, instead. At least the Rockies tried to sign him. When he came out of college, D-Backs scouts were set on selecting Sale, but general manager Jerry DiPoto ordered they draft Barret Loux from Texas A&M, who one of his big-league scouts saw and liked, even though the D-Backs area scout argueD he had arm problems. Loux failed his physical, as the scouts predicted, and Sale slipped to the White Sox.
|2004||37th||3B Todd Frazier||Toms River South HS, N.J.||22.7|
|2007||1st||Signed with Reds||Rutgers University|
Frazier was very strongly committed to Rutgers. The Rockies, however, saw his skill set and at that point in the draft took a gamble in case he changed his mind.
|2002||40th||Matt Garza||Washington Union HS, Fresno||12.1|
|2005||1st||Signed with Twins||Fresno State University|
Garza initially committed to Bakersfield Junior College, and the draft-and-follow was in place so the Rockies felt they could watch him the following spring and decide on an offer. A coaching change at Fresno State, however, led to a late offer that Garza accepted.
|2006||18th||Andrew Cashner||Angelina Junior College||8.6|
|2005||20th||Drafted by Braves||Conroe (Tx) High School|
|2007||29th||Drafted by Cubs||Angelina Junior College|
|2008||1st||Signed with Cubs||TCU|
The Rockies selection was the second of what were four times Cashner was selected, the last two times by the Cubs, who eventually signed him as a first-round pick.
|1998||42nd||Niger Morgan||Rogers Secondary, Nelson, B.C.|
|2002||33rd||Signed with Pirates||Walla Walla CC|
A native of San Francisco, who at the age of 16 went to Canada to play junior hockey, Morgan was a talented enough athlete original Rockies scouting director Pat Daughtery took a chance. Morgan, however, wasn't ready to give up hockey at that time. Four years later he signed with the Pirates as a 33rd-round selection.
|2003||29th||David Hernandez||Elk Grove, Ca., HS||5.2|
|2004||34th||Drafted by D-Backs||Consumnes River CC|
|2005||16th||Signed with Orioles||Consumnes River CC|
Signed as a draft-and-follow, the Rockies never got in serious negotiations. Turned out the D-Backs took the same approach in 2004, and didn't sign him either.
|2003||37th||Jesse Litch||Dixie Hollins HS, St. Petersburg, Fl.||3.9|
|2004||24th||Signed by Blue Jays||South Florida CC|
A draft-and-follow, the Rockies never had serious negotiations.
|2002||2nd||Micah Owings||Gainsville (Ga.) HS||3.3|
|2004||19th||Drafted by Cubs||Georiga Tech University|
|2005||3rd||Signed with D-Backs||Tulane University|
Rockies thought they had a deal at $800,000, but when it came time to sign the contract, Owings explained that "God told me not to take less than $1 million."
|2011||9th||Ross Stripling||Texas A&M||3.2|
|2012||5th||Signed with Dodgers||Texas A&M|
Talks never got serious. Stripling returned to Texas A&M and signed after his senior season with the Dodgers.
|1997||36th||Alredo Amazega||Miami Senior High School||3.1|
|1998||14th||Drafted by Rockies||St. Petersburg Junior College|
|1999||13th||Signed by Angels||St. Petersburg Junior College|
The Rockies original administration like Amazega enough to draft him in back-to-back years, but couldn't come to agreement.
|2012||38th||Dansby Swanson||Marietta (Ga.) HS||2.1|
|2015||1st||Signed with D-Backs||Vanderbilt|
It was a flyer. Swanson made it clear he was a strong commit to Vanderbilt, but in the 38th round of what had become a 40-round draft the Rockies selected him, just in case he changed his mind.