The amount of vitriol sparked by our decision to give our Minor League Player of the Year award to Angels outfielder Mike Trout rather than Rays lefthander Matt Moore surprised me. I took some heat in my Wednesday chat, and I've heard about it on my Twitter feed at @jimcallisBA.
The outrage, much of which seems to come from Rays fans, is based on two misconceptions. The first is that Trout somehow didn't meet the qualifications for the award, perhaps because he played in only 91 minor league games. There are no qualifications for the award. Even if there were, Trout spent enough time in the Texas League to accrue 412 plate appearances, more than enough to be eligible for the league batting title.
The second fallacy is that Trout didn't have a dominant season. Come again? Trout hit .326/.414/.544 as a 19-year-old in Double-A. The last teenager to put up .300/.400/.500 numbers in 400 or more Double-A plate appearances was Gregg Jefferies in 1987. We gave him our MLPOY award, too.
My vote always goes to the best prospect who had a tremendous minor league season. Other BA staffers may view it as the elite prospect who had the best minor league season. Trout has a case either way. So does Moore. We just found Trout slightly more deserving.
When we wrote our annual Draft Report Cards that fall, we ranked the top five drafts in this order: Red Sox, Yankees, Diamondbacks, Orioles, Twins. That goes to show how futile it is to evaluate a draft that quickly. Boston, New York and Arizona had three of the stronger drafts—but I wouldn't put either in my top three five years later—while Baltimore's and Minnesota's efforts have proven to be nothing special.
From worst to first, here's my ranking of the talent each team signed out of the 2006 draft, best remembered for nine teams passing on Tim Lincecum. The numbers in parentheses represent draft rounds.
30. White Sox
Lone big leaguers are obscure late-rounders Kanekoa Texeira (22), Hector Santiago (30).
Took Greg Reynolds (1) over Evan Longoria at No. 2; only other find: Mike McKenry (7).
Alex Presley (8) has outperformed Brad Lincoln (1); failed to sign Lonnie Chisenhall (11).
Jeremy Jeffress (1) has tantalizing velocity but has battled marijuana, command issues.
Only got Jeff Locke (2) from six picks in top two rounds; Kris Medlen (10) blew out elbow.
$11.5 million investment in Tyler Colvin (1), Jeff Samardzija (5) has yet to pay off.
Tied for lead with nine big leaguers, but all fringy now with Chris Coghlan (1s) regressing.
Brad Peacock (41) looks like more of a keeper than 15th overall pick Chris Marrero (1).
22. Blue Jays
This draft rests on Travis Snider (1), who hasn't delivered on his offensive potential.
Danny Valencia (19) has cooled since 2010 breakout; Joe Benson (2) may surpass him.
No. 1 overall pick Luke Hochevar's (1) 29-43, 5.31 record wasn't what K.C. hoped for.
Josh Tomlin (19), Vinnie Pestano (20) were steals; Chris Archer (5) has upside.
If Joe Smith (3), Daniel Murphy (13) are as good as their 2011 stats, this crop moves up.
Bud Norris (6) is one of their few bright spots, but Chris Johnson (4) is going backward.
Another blossoming starter (Derek Holland, 25) and flash-in-pan slugger (Chris Davis, 5).
Blew $5.45 million on Andrew Miller (1); found Brennan Boesch (3), Scott Sizemore (5).
Jordan Walden (12) was all-star as rookie, Hank Conger (1) could be answer behind plate.
Zach Britton (3) eases pain of No. 9 pick Billy Rowell (1), highest '06 pick not to make it.
Four selections in first two rounds, yet best were David Freese (9), Mat Latos (11).
Grabbed two starters in Brandon Morrow (1), Doug Fister (7) but traded both.
Chris Perez (1s), John Jay (2), Luke Gregerson (28) lead MLB-high nine major leaguers.
Better days await Kyle Drabek (1), Domonic Brown (20); Drabek helped get Roy Halladay.
Drew Stubbs (1) is living up to Mike Cameron comps, Chris Heisey (20) may be a regular.
Scored with Trevor Cahill (2), Andrew Bailey (6); drafted but didn't sign Mike Leake (7).
Used Max Scherzer (1), Brett Anderson (2) to trade for Dan Haren, Ian Kennedy.
Ian Kennedy (1), Joba Chamberlain (1s), David Robertson (17) top nine-big leaguer crop.
4. Red Sox
Got Daniel Bard (1), Justin Masterson (2), Josh Reddick (17); couldn't ink Brandon Belt (11).
Unsigned Alex White (14), Paul Goldschmidt (49) could have joined Clayton Kershaw (1).
Tim Lincecum won two Cy Young Awards, one World Series in first three seasons.
1. Devil Rays
Two impact bats in Evan Longoria (1), Desmond Jennings (10); sleeper in Alex Cobb (4).
Hamilton easily led the minors in stolen bases, with his closest competitor, Blue Jays outfielder Anthony Gose, finishing 33 behind. Hamilton was the first player to reach the century mark since Angels outfielder Chris Morris swiped 111 in 2001. The all-time record was set in 1983, when Cardinals outfielder Vince Coleman and Mariners outfielder Donell Nixon dueled all summer before Coleman prevailed, 145-144.
I couldn't find a definitive list of 100-steal seasons, but I cobbled one together from a few sources. By my count, there have been 22 100-steal seasons in the minors:
|SB||Player, Team (League)||Org.||Year|
|145||Vince Coleman, Macon (South Atlantic)||Cardinals||1983|
|144||Donell Nixon, Bakersfield (California)||Mariners||1983|
|124||James Johnston, San Francisco (Pacific Coast)||none||1913|
|123||Jeff Stone, Spartanburg (South Atlantic)||Phillies||1981|
|120||Alan Wiggins, Lodi (California)||Dodgers||1980|
|116||Allan Lewis, Leesburg (Florida State)||Athletics||1966|
|111||Ovid Nicholson, Frankfort (Blue Grass)||none||1912|
|111||Marcus Lawton, Columbia (South Atlantic)||Mets||1985|
|111||Chris Morris, Peoria (Midwest)||Cardinals||2001|
|110||Maynard DeWitt, Zanesville (Ohio State)||Dodgers||1946|
|109||Esix Snead, Potomac (Carolina)||Cardinals||2000|
|107||Lyle Judy, Springfield (Western Association)||Cardinals||1935|
|107||Otis Nixon, Columbus (International)/Nashville (Southern Assoc.)||Yankees||1982|
|105||Bill Zimmerman, Utica (New York State)||none||1910|
|105||Lenny Dykstra, Lynchburg (Carolina)||Mets||1983|
|103||Will Blakey, Galveston (Texas)||none||1895|
|103||Paul Weeks, Iola (Kansas-Oklahoma-Missouri)||none||1952|
|103||Billy Hamilton, Dayton (Midwest)||Reds||2011|
|102||Donell Nixon, Chattanooga (Southern)||Mariners||1984|
|101||Vince Coleman, Louisville (American Association)||Cardinals||1984|
|100||Albert Hall, Durham (Carolina)||Braves||1980|
|100||Mike Cole, Tabasco (Mexico)||none||1989|
When MLB created the draft in 1965, it assigned the picks to teams. In the initial draft, the first-round picks belonged to big league clubs and the second- and third-rounders to their Triple-A affiliates. The fourth- through seventh-rounders were Double-A selections, and everything afterward was a Class A choice. (Despite the terminology, major league teams dictated who got picked in each round.)
The draft order for the big league and Triple-A picks was based on the major league standings from the year before, while later selections were based on the order of finish in those classifications. Adding to the confusion, teams got a Class A pick in each round based on its number of affiliates at that level. For instance, five clubs had only two choices each in the Class A rounds, while the Phillies and Twins had five each.
After the first draft, MLB simplified the regular phase of the June draft so that the order remained the same throughout and teams got only one selection in each round. The first round remained major league picks, with Triple-A selections condensed to the second round and Double-A choices limited to the third round, followed by an infinite number of Class A rounds. Based on that terminology, unaffiliated minor league clubs were eligible to draft amateur players.
The first team to do so was the Bend Rainbows in 1970. A short-season Class A Northwest League team, Bend was affiliated with the Triple-A Hawaii Islanders, who had dreams of becoming a major league franchise. Hawaii had Bend use the draft to stockpile players, and the Rainbows made a total of 20 choices in the January regular, January secondary and June regular phases of the 1970-71 drafts.
Bend began drafting with the first pick in the fourth round each phase, except when it was granted the No. 1 overall choice in the 1971 January secondary draft. The Rainbows signed nine of its choices, and while they didn't find any big leaguers, they did find a future big league manager in Tom Trebelhorn (sixth round, June 1970).
The second minor league team to participate in the draft was the 1989 Boise Hawks, another NWL franchise. In its third year of existence, Boise had yet to land an affiliation and was one of five independent teams in the minors. Looking to bolster their roster, the Hawks drafted two 24-year-olds who agreed to be selected by the club: Brigham Young second baseman Paul Cluff (fourth round) and Kennesaw catcher Darrell MacMillan (fifth).
By 1990, Miami had been unaffiliated for five years and regularly finished at the bottom of the FSL. Desperate for talent, the Miracle began choosing players in the fourth round and made 16 selections.
"It was absolutely a last resort," Miracle owner Marvin Goldklang said then. "In life, you do what you have to do. If the help was forthcoming, there's a good chance we would not have participated in the draft."
Miami signed 15 of its picks for a total of roughly $250,000. The Miracle's draftees included future big leaguers Paul Carey (fourth round) and Mike Lansing (sixth), and the club eventually sold them and five others to major league organizations.
Additionally in 1990, Erie of the short-season Class A New York-Penn League used a fourth-round pick to take 24-year-old Brigham Young outfielder Gary Daniels.
Big league teams were annoyed that unlike the other minor league clubs that participated in the draft, Miami actually took legitimate prospects who might have been selected in the early rounds. When MLB and the minors negotiated a new Professional Baseball Agreement to govern their relationship after the 1990 season, independent teams lost their right to participate in the draft.