For our recently completed issue, I wrote my column (linked here ) on players making their major league debuts as September callups. I put together an all-star team of September debuts from this decade, but it wound up on the cutting-room floor, so I'll present it here:
|C: Victor Martinez, Indians
1B: Ryan Howard, Phillies
2B: Michael Young, Rangers
3B: Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals
SS: Hanley Ramirez, Red Sox
LF: Nick Swisher, Athletics
CF: Curtis Granderson, Tigers
RF: Michael Cuddyer, Twins
SP: Josh Beckett, Marlins
RP: Francisco Rodriguez, Angels
Not a bad team at all, especially considering that Carlos Pena, Jimmy Rollins, Freddy Sanchez and Jayson Werth were relegated to the bench. However, the main point of my column was that there are fewer studs called up in September than there were when I first started working at Baseball America 20 years ago, because teams are investing more in top prospects and are under more pressure to generate immediate results.
In an unrelated item, I want to throw in a quick plug for a couple of events that Nationals regional crosschecker Jimmy Gonzales holds to help the family of his former colleague with the Reds, Brian Wilson. Wilson, the scout who signed Jay Bruce and Drew Stubbs for Cincinnati, died of a heart attack three years ago at age 33.
Gonzales will hold the third annual South Texas Professional Scouts Showcase on Nov. 1 at St. Mary's University, and the fourth annual Brian Wilson Memorial Scholarship Golf Tournament on Nov. 2 at the The Club At Sonterro, both of which are in San Antonio. The showcase has helped more than 80 high school players land scholarships, and the golf outing (which also includes a dinner and auction) has been supported by all 30 major league clubs.
I love football as much as baseball, so I had way too much fun researching this question. Below is my Top 15 list of NFL quarterbacks who ever were drafted by baseball teams. If a player was drafted multiple times, I listed his highest selection. All 15 players made at least one Pro Bowl in their career, and the first six players on the list won an NFL MVP award.
1. Dan Marino, rhp (HS, 1979, Royals, 4th round)
Kansas City also took John Elway (see No. 2) in the 18th round of the same draft.
2. John Elway, of (drafted twice; Stanford, 1981, Yankees, 2nd round)
Ranked as our No. 1 Yankees prospect after the 1982 season.
3. Tom Brady, c (HS, 1995, Expos, 18th round)
Part of a Serra HS (San Mateo, Calif.) program that also yielded Barry Bonds, Jim Fregosi.
4. Ken Stabler (drafted three times; Alabama, 1968, Astros, 2nd round/January)
Yankees selected Stabler (10th round), future Pro Bowler Bobby Bryant (38th) in 1966.
5. Joe Theismann, ss (Notre Dame, 1971, Twins, 39th round)
Chose Canadian Football League over Twins, NFL after finishing second in Heisman race.
6. Steve McNair, of (HS, 1991, Mariners, 35th round)
Turned down $15,000 from Seattle to play football at Alcorn State.
7. Mark Brunell, lhp (Washington, 1992, Braves, 44th round)
Atlanta couldn't sign Brunell but did land one of his receivers, Jason Shelley (20th round).
8. Daunte Culpepper, of (HS, 1995, Yankees, 26th round)
New York's draft also included college QBs Shea Morenz (1st round), Danny Kanell (25th).
9. Steve Bartkowski, 1b (drafted twice; California, 1974, Orioles, 19th round)
No. 1 overall pick in 1975 NFL draft once held Cal's single-season home run record.
10. Danny White, inf (drafted four times; Arizona State, 1974, Astros, 1st round/January secondary)
Hit .325 as freshman on 1972 Sun Devils team that reached College World Series finals.
11. Archie Manning, ss (drafted four times; Mississippi, 1971, Royals, 2nd round/January secondary)
Lettered in baseball as a Rebels junior and senior; White Sox took him both years.
12. Kerry Collins, ss/rhp (drafted three times; HS, 1990, Tigers, 26th round)
With three straight picks, Detroit took future NFLers Collins, Greg McMurtry (27th round) and Rodney Peete (28th).
13. Chris Miller, ss (drafted three times; Oregon, 1984, Blue Jays, 3rd round/January)
Signed two-sport deal with Mariners in 1985 and batted .148 in one summer of pro ball.
14. Jay Schroeder, c (HS, 1979, Blue Jays, 1st round)
Third overall pick in 1979 draft hit .213 with 36 homers in 417 minor league games.
15. Dan Pastorini, ss (HS, 1967, Mets, 32nd round)
Played on the 1968 Alaska Goldpanners with future all-stars Bob Boone, Dave Kingman.
Though they were both Georgia high school outfielders drafted in the first round, Heyward 14th overall by the Braves in 2007 and Tate third overall by the Padres this June, they weren't as similar as you might think.
Heyward was one of the best pure hitters in the 2007 draft, and while he was a good athlete, his tools were otherwise solid average. By contrast, Tate was the top athlete in this year's draft, with well above-average speed and plus range and arm strength in center field, but there were some questions about his bat. Some scouts thought he was a better hitter as a high school sophomore and wondered about how productive Tate ultimately will be at the plate.
Tate is definitely intriguing, but I wouldn't expect him to have the same instant success Heyward has. Heyward has batted .318/.391/.508 in 237 pro games and just won our 2009 Minor League Player of the Year award. Even if Tate had a polished bat, that would be a lot to live up to.
Pitching has become the strength of the Royals system. Third baseman Mike Moustakas and first baseman Eric Hosmer entered 2009 as Kansas City's two best prospects but both had disappointing years. Meanwhile, Danny Duffy had a strong season in high Class A; 2008 draftees Mike Montgomery, Tim Melville and John Lamb all showed considerable promise; and Crow and Chris Dwyer signed out of this year's draft.
None of those guys has advanced past high Class A yet, and attrition takes a heavy toll on pitching prospects as they advance through the minors. Thus I can't put the Royals in the first tier of pitching-rich systems. The Indians, Orioles, Rangers, Rays and Rockies (in no particular order) have quality arms and depth and guys on the verge of helping their big league clubs, so I'd put them all ahead of Kansas City. But the Royals would fall in the next group, and if their arms continue to progress, they might have the best collection of pitching prospects in baseball at the end of 2010.