CWS stars often fade into obscurity
by Jim Callis
July 18, 2005
OMAHA--Texas may not have garnered a national seed in the NCAA tournament, but
its College World Series championship was hardly a surprise. The Longhorns made
it to baseball's Final Four the previous three seasons, including a national
title in 2002, and as usual were loaded with talent.
Shortstop Seth Johnston and J. Brent Cox were All-Americans. Taylor Teagarden
was the best defensive catcher in the nation. Center fielder Drew Stubbs looks
like a lock to be one of the first position players drafted in 2006.
The entire rotation--Kyle McCulloch, Adrian Alaniz and Randy Boone--should be
early-round picks next year. Fourth starter Kenn Kasparek is a 6-foot-10
potential first-rounder and went 8-0 as a freshman this spring.
None of those stars walked off with the Most Outstanding Player award,
however. That honor went to a third baseman who arrived in Omaha with a career
.227 average in two seasons as a Longhorn and a reputation for being more
dangerous with his glove than with his bat.
David Maroul continued to flash the leather, but also did some damage at the
plate. He homered in both games of the championship series and hit .500 with
eight RBIs in five CWS games.
It was an unlikely performance for a player who was an afterthought 23rd-round
pick of the Giants. Based on the track record of previous MOP winners, it's also
unlikely Maroul will have a significant pro career.
Hamilton Set Tone
The College World Series created the Most Outstanding Player award in 1949,
when it switched from a two-team to a four-team format and moved from Kalamazoo,
Mich., to Wichita. The inaugural winner was Texas first baseman Tom Hamilton, who
subsequently signed with the Philadelphia Athletics and would hit .197 in 66
major league at-bats.
Brief as it was, Hamilton had one of the best big league careers among MOPs in
the predraft era. From 1949-64, just five of the 16 College World Series
standouts reached the majors and none played extensively.
The first MOP to leave his mark on the majors was Arizona State third baseman
Sal Bando (1965), who made four all-star teams and won three World Series with
the A's. Forty years later, just three other MOPs have played in the All-Star
The best is Minnesota outfielder/righthander Dave Winfield (1973) who hit .467
in Omaha but shone more on the mound. Winfield fanned 15 against eventual
champion Southern California in his final start, then went straight to the majors
with the Padres and became a Hall of Fame outfielder.
The other two all-stars are Arizona State second baseman Bob Horner (1977) and
Cal State Fullerton third baseman Phil Nevin (1992). Horner is the only MOP to
win a major award as a pro, earning National League rookie-of-the-year honors
immediately after signing in 1978.
Beyond the all-stars, only three other MOPs have been big league regulars for
a substantial period of time: Louisiana State second baseman Todd Walker (1993),
Cal State Fullerton outfielder/lefthander Mark Kotsay (1995) and Miami third
baseman Pat Burrell (1996). Texas righty Huston Street (2002), one of just four
freshmen (along with Burrell) to capture the MOP award, could join that
Street, who has become Oakland's closer in his first full pro season, and
Florida State second baseman Marshall McDougal (1999) became the two latest MOPs
to make the majors with their debuts this year. Just 23 of the 57 MOPs have
reached baseball's pinnacle, though the last two winners before Maroul
(righthanders John Hudgins of Stanford and Jason Windsor of Cal State Fullerton)
are off to promising starts as professionals.
Draft Status Tells All
There's a common denominator among the most successful MOPs. With the
exception of Bando, a sixth-round pick in the inaugural draft, the others all
were top 10 selections. Horner, Nevin and Burrell were No. 1 overall choices,
while Winfield went fourth, Walker eighth and Kotsay ninth.
Every MOP taken in the first round has played in the majors. Arizona
outfielder Terry Francona (1980) and Texas righthander Calvin Schiraldi (1983)
carved out decent careers, while Tulsa first baseman Jerry Tabb (1971) and
Louisiana State shortstop Brandon Larson (1997) earned cups of coffee.
Maroul has neither a lofty draft pedigree nor history on his side. He's a
potential Gold Glove third baseman and has some pop, but he's going to have to
tighten his strike zone and make further adjustments to hit as a pro. It's
possible that he could get a look on the mound, as he threw in the 90s and fanned
five of eight batters in his lone pitching appearance for the Longhorns.
There may be little glory in Maroul's future, as with most MOPs, but for 10
days at the College World Series, there was no better player. He'll always have
You can reach Alan Schwarz by sending e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.