Celebrating Baseball: 27, 28, and 38 in MLB History | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

We'd like to go to the Playoffs, that would be cool.

When the Houston Astros selected Carlos Correa as the top pick of the 2012 draft, no one wanted to hear about Shawon Dunston, Matt Bush, Tim Beckham, Tim Foli, B.J. Surhoff, Bill Almon, or Jeff King. Following the Disciples of Uecker live blog, the player comparisons drew digital smirks for most of the night — Correa’s comparison, of course, was Alex Rodriguez. Ryan Topp said it best: last night was one big advertisement for the MLB, and the comparisons justifiably focused on a player’s highest upside. No one wants to hear that the Astros would have one of the strongest #1 pick shortstops ever if Correa so much as makes the big leagues as a shortstop; if he plays a decade and bats better than .260/.300/.310 at SS, he has a shot at being a valuable MLB shortstop. On the other hand, no one wants to hear about the serviceable MLB careers of guys like B.J. Surhoff; not on draft night, anyway.

The comparisons remained high as the Brewers picked at #27, #28, and #38 last night. Doug Melvin and Bruce Seid put together a powerful set of players, focusing specifically on high ceiling power. Without the previous drama of players falling around the board due to signing issues, Melvin’s gamble to select Victor Roache with the 28th pick might have received even more attention. At the end of the day, the Brewers now have a set of bats with power that likely projects well wherever they play — now it’s time to have some fun following Roache, Clint Coulter, and Mitch Haniger.

If last night was an advertisement for MLB, it was also a chance to introduce a select group of youngsters to the chance at a lifetime in professional baseball. Of course, everyone’s hopes are high on draft night, but even by the late first rounds, the odds of a player spending his career in the minor leagues increases. History says that we might expect one of Coulter, Roache, or Haniger not to make the MLB.

Life in baseball does not stop with the MLB. If last night’s selections have a shot at making the MLB, they also have a chance to work in the majors or minors as coaches, work for MLB organizations, or stick around as minor league lifers. Some extremely good — and some extremely serviceable — MLB players were drafted with the 27th, 28th, and 38th picks; Haniger has David Wright to look up to, Coulter can aim to become the best catcher ever drafted at #27, and Roache can place Charles Johnson, Darric Barton, and Darrin Jackson in his crosshairs. Some devoted baseball lifers were also drafted at #27, #28, and #38 — today, let’s take a look at some of the best players at those to never make the show.

The newest members of the Brewers organization also have some devoted role models to look toward. Let’s celebrate baseball and have a look at some of those careers.

27th Pick:
Best 2nd round picks: Vida Blue, Tom Underwood, Jay Tibbs, Kevin Saucier, and Chip Lang
Best supplemental picks: Pete Harnisch, Todd Jones, Mike Fetters, Calvin Shiraldi, Scott Stahoviak, Gary Green
Best first round picks: Rick Porcello, Sergio Santos, Joey Devine, Taylor Tankersley, Kevin Nicholson

Current Prospects:
Jesse Biddle (Phillies)
Robert Stephenson (Reds)
Nick Franklin (Mariners) (#53, pre-2011)
Carlos Gutierrez (Twins)

Previous Brewers Picks:
Joe Slaymaker (1973): After starting in low A ball with Newark, Slaymaker played two seasons with Danville and Burlington in the Midwest League. He pitched 4 games in 1974, boasting a 3.15 ERA, and 21 games (14 starts) in Burlington, going 4-5 with a 4.56 ERA in 81 innings.

Larry Anderson: Anderson pitched 32.7 innings in a couple of short stints for the Brewers in 1974 and 1975. The Toronto Blue Jays selected Anderson in the expansion draft in November 5, 1976, after he went 9-11 with a 6.14 ERA in 145 IP at AAA Spokane. He never pitched for the Blue Jays’ organization, instead resurfacing with the White Sox in 1977, working 6 games and allowing 10 runs in 8.7 innings. He completed his career in the minors, pitching for the Cubs, Phillies, Astros, Braves, Tigers, and Orioles organizations.

Notable Minor Leaguers:
John Murphy (Detroit, 1975): Drafted at the age of 17, Murphy began his professional career with a bang. He exploded through the minors, reaching AAA Evansville for his age 20 season. Through age 20, he pitched 387 innings, allowing 156 runs with a 30-12 record. Unfortunately, Murphy missed significant time in 1979, and never was the same pitcher after he worked 9 IP in 1979. In 1980 and 1981, Murphy pitched 238 innings, allowing 137 runs and going 16-17. He was out of baseball before his age 24 season.

Dom Chiti (Atlanta, 1976): Drafted at age 17 by the Braves organization, the son of former MLB player Harry Chiti never made it to the big leagues. Despite a 3.66 ERA, Chiti went 1-9 in rookie ball. After that, he stormed through A and AA ball, going 12-7 in 19977 A-ball (at age 18), and working 131 innings in 1978 for Savannah. His second season in Savannah was not as successful, despite being renowned as a groundball machine. After limited appearances in 1980 and 1981, Chiti was out of baseball before he turned 23.

Jason Place (Boston, 2006): Place hit well in Rookie Ball for the Red Sox, batting .292/.386/.442 in 132 PA and he landed a spot in the organization’s Top 10 prospects (by BaseballAmerica). Unfortunately, Place did not consistently maintain his slugging percentage, and his lack of power made his low batting average and high strike out rate less valuable. His best full-time season was in 2008 with Lancaster, batting .246/.320/.432 in 538 PA (48 of his 119 hits went for extra bases).

Eric Duncan (Yankees, 2003): Once regarded as a BaseballAmerica Top 100 prospect, Duncan is now a minor-league lifer, working in his 10th minor league season with the Royals’ system this year. Duncan could not find a spot on the Yankees’ roster as a corner infielder / corner outfielder, despite working nearly 1300 plate appearances in the International League from 2007 through 2009. Since leaving the Yankees’ system, Duncan is on a tear, playing for AA affiliates with the Braves, Cardinals, and Royals organizations. In 868 PA from 2010-present, Duncan is batting .273/.324/.450. With a 2012 batting line of .298/.340/.415, one can’t help but cheer for the 27-year old to make his MLB debut with the Royals this season.

Mike Zimmerman (Pittsburgh, 1990): How about some love for Zimmerman? He hung around minor league and independent baseball for a full decade, splitting time with the Pirates, Marlins, Mariners, and Royals organizations. Despite a spot in BaseballAmerica’s Top 100 in 1991, and a 3.82 ERA in 153 IP during his first season in AA with the Pirates organization (and a 4-15 record!), Zimmerman never advanced to the big leagues. He landed a gig with the Royals organization in 1997 after three starts with Rio Grande Valley in the Texas/Louisiana league. The righty returned to independent baseball in 1998, pitching for Atlantic City and Newark in the Atlantic League for two seasons.

A.J. Zapp (Atlanta, 1996): The dynasty Braves drafted Zapp with their first pick in the 1996 draft, and despite a name suited for the big leagues, the first baseman never made it to the show. Despite flashing signs of power, the Braves inched Zapp through their farm. He was in his age 24 season by the time he made it to the Braves’ International League affiliate, although he batted below .200 once he made it there (he still slugged .348!). By 2004, Zapp was playing in the Mariners system, and he put together a strong power season in the Pacific Coast League, batting .291/.365/.523. At age 26, those PCL-inflated numbers did not get him a look in Seattle, and he spent his next two seasons working on the Reds and Dodgers farms.

28th Pick:
Best 2nd round picks: Lee Smith, Darrin Jackson, Alan Foster, Joe Nolan, Ken Pape, Dan Warthen, Jeff Bettendorf
Best supplemental picks: Norm Charlton, Gabe White,
Best first round picks: Charles Johnson, Darric Barton, Colby Rasmus, Jamey Wright, Daniel Bard, John Mayberry, Jr., Blake DeWitt, Michael Barrett, Ben Revere.

Current Prospects:
Sean Gilmartin (Braves)
Zach Lee (Dodgers) (#62)
Reymond Fuentes (Red Sox, Padres)
Gerrit Cole (Yankees, did not sign (#1 pick in 2011))

Previous Brewers Picks:
Melvin Manning (1976). There must be an article somewhere that looks at some of the worst historical positions to serve as a prospect; or, a list of the most-blocked prospects in MLB history. I gather that Melvin Manning, the Brewers’ 2nd round pick in 1976, must be one of the most thoroughly blocked infielders in MLB history. Manning served the Brewers primarily as a 3B, but he also played SS, from 1976 through 1981. Frankly, that’s about as tough a time as any for an infielder to make the Brewers’ ball club. Although manning probably struck out more than someone with his power potential should, he also produced excellent walk totals, and generally produced good disciple throughout his campaigns in Burlington, Stockton, and El Paso. It’s difficult to say whether the Brewers were serious about moving him along; Manning spent the bulk of 1977-1980 in A-ball. While it might be a stretch to argue the merits of .215/.322/.291 and .218/.328/.348 seasons, by 1980 the Brewers could not ignore Manning’s .225/.354/.273 line, moving him to AA El Paso. Unfortunately, 1981 would be Manning’s last season in professional ball, although he gave the Diablos a .262/.353/.351 performance during his age 23 season.

Notable Minor Leaguers:

Tim Thompson (Toronto, 1978): It’s always fun to imagine what was going on during front office meetings and in personal careers when looking at some seasons by minor league lifers. Thompson spent seven years with the Blue Jays’ organization, but never made the big leagues despite a couple of promising seasons. Judging from his age 23 and 24 seasons, Thompson might have struggled with injuries (I am looking to confirm this), but his statistics during those years were not bad. Coupled with an extremely strong age 22 campaign during the 1982 season in Knoxville, and Thompson looks like a pretty good candidate for at least a fringe MLB bench call up (makes you wonder what gets some guys to the bigs, while others stay on the farm). In 1982, Thompson hit .282/.366/.476 for Knoxville in 538 PA, hammering 31 doubles and 18 homers. The mashing continued during his brief 1983 season in AAA Syracuse, where Thompson collected 9 extra base hits in 56 PA. Thompson’s 207 PA in 1984 were not as strong, and he finished his career playing AA ball for the Cubs organization in 1985. (See also: Ken Kinnard, the Blue Jays’ outfielder drafted in the 2nd round in 1980. Career: .252/.328/.351 in 3235 minor league PA (mostly in A and AA ball) with the Blue Jays, Phillies, and Braves organizations).

Robert Jones (Cincinnati, 1985 (did not sign)). Jones presents a unique case: although the Cincinnati Reds drafted him 28th overall in 1985, Jones opted to attend Southern Illinois University. The Brewers drafted him twice, going in the 27th round of the 1985 draft, and the 20th round of the 1986 draft. Jones basically spent his career as an A-ball player, playing five years in the Brewers and Mariners systems.

Danny Peoples (Cleveland, 1996). If you thought Melvin Manning had a tough assignment in breaking the mid-1970s Brewers infield, how do you think Danny Peoples felt about breaking the mid-1990s Indians as a first baseman / outfielder? Drafted out of the University of Texas, Peoples made it to AA Akron for his age 23 season, and the Indians kept him there for two years. Over those 809 PA? .260/.340/.448. Sure, not eye-popping, but with a walk rate north of 10% and 74 extra base hits, that’s not too shabby. Already 25 by the time he hit AAA, Peoples became a low-average/strong OBP/power-type player. Despite batting .260/.358/.464 during the 2000 season, Peoples would not become a part of the Indians second wave dynasty. Oh, what could have been!

Tyrone Kingwood (Montreal, 1987): When is a breakout season at AAA easy to ignore? If a player without great power comes along and hits .300 or better in AAA, should that player be expected to make the big leagues? Kingwood spent six years in the Expos, Mariners, Orioles, and Tigers systems. The outfielder never showed strong power until his age 24 season, which he spent in advanced A ball between the Orioles and Mariners farms. After that 1990 campaign, Kingwood jumped through AA in 1991, and in AAA Rochester, he batted .312/.351/.420 in 152 PA. Unfortunately, Kingwood’s age 25 effort did not land him a big league shot, and he played his final minor league season in 1992.

Rick Balabon (Yankees, 1985): Injuries sidelined Balabon during part of his minor league career, but the right handed pitcher still worked seven minor league seasons. In 1988 and 1989, Balabon moved from the Yankees to the Mariners organization, and he put together strong campaigns with A-ball San Bernardino. He reached AA during his age 22 season, but he was never able to turn successful stints at that level into a ticket to the MLB.

Also of note: Dave Parrish, Justin Pope, and David Frost (college teammate of Andy Messersmith).

38th Pick:
Best 2nd round picks: Butch Wynegar, Larry Hisle, Time Teufel, Johnny Oates, Jackson Todd, Jeff Bronkey, Bob Molinaro, Ben Petrick
Best supplemental picks: David Wright, Kelly Johnson, Gio Gonzalez, Colby Lewis, Brett Cecil

Current Prospects:
Josh Phegley (White Sox, 2009)
Noah Syndergaard (Toronto, 2010)
Brandon Martin (Tampa Bay, 2011)

Brewers Also Drafted:
Gabby Martinez (1992): The Brewers failed to sign their top 1991 draft choice, Kenny Henderson. Gabby Martinez was the Brewers’ supplemental pick in 1992, beginning a 13-season trek through minor league baseball. Martinez played shortstop in the Brewers’ organization, but never made it past AA El Paso. In 1997, he found himself in the Yankees’ organization, where he reached AAA ball during his age 24 season. By this time, Martinez was a light-hitting utility player. After working in the Yankees’ organization, Martinez played on the farm for the White Sox, Cubs, Mets, and Devil Rays. Despite adding outfield positions to his repertoire, Martinez never made the big leagues as a utility player. Scattered here and there are some good seasons, and Martinez even used work in the Independent Atlantic League and Mexican AAA to get back to professional ball. He finished his playing career in Mexico, spending 2004 with Cancun.

Doug Webb (1994): The Brewers selected Webb with their second round pick during the 1994 draft, and the righty worked exclusively out of the bullpen in the Brewers’ organization. Webb played three seasons in professional baseball, topping out at AA El Paso.

Notable Minor Leaguers:
Art DeFilippis (Washington, 1970): The Texas Rangers placed this flame-throwing southpaw on their 40-man roster prior to the 1973 season. Before moving to Texas, the organization moved the youngster from low A to AAA within the span of his first two MLB seasons. DeFilippis responded with a 10.29 ERA over 21 innings at AAA Denver. As a 20-year old, he moved back to AA Pittsfield, where his development stalled for three years. Once a strong enough phenom to jump three levels before turning 20, the Rangers organization transitioned DeFilippis from a starter to a reliever during his three seasons in the Eastern League. Unfortunately, by the time DeFilippis put together a 3.48 ERA in AA Pittsfield, he was 22 years old. Once the lefty moved to AAA Spokane, he worked as an effective swingman, producing a 3.67 ERA in 135 Pacific Coast League innings. The magic did not last, and after spending his last three seasons with three professional organizations, DeFilippis’s professional career ended.

Scott Hodges (Montreal, 1997): Not only did Hodges spend nine seasons in the minors, he only worked for one organization (Expos/Nationals), as an ambidextrous third baseman. Hodges’ development stalled at AA Harrisburg, where the third baseman failed to show strong home run power in the Eastern League. Despite lacking the long ball, Hodges slugged 35 doubles and added 63 walks during his 2002 campaign in Harrisburg. Finally, Hodges reached AAA Edmonton the next season, and although .288/.327/.419 does not look all that bad over 520 PA, that batting performance must not have been the PCL production the Expos organization was seeking. Hodges was unable to put together another full season after his age 24 campaign, and he called it quits after one year on the Nationals farm.

Mike Rossiter (Oakland, 1991): Rossiter overcame shortened seasons early in his career as an Athletics farmhand — enduring stints in Rookie ball at ages 18 and 21 — to start 25 games for Huntsville in 1996. The 23-year old looked to be back on track, with 116 K / 44 BB / 15 HR in 145 IP. That season would be his last as an Athletics farmhand, as well as his last as a full-time starter. Over the next four seasons, Rossiter pitched for the Brewers (two different times), Padres, and Rockies systems. Rossiter put together some good seasons as a reliever, but he would never find his way to the big leagues. He finished his career with two seasons in Mexican and Independent baseball.

Joe Szekely (Kansas City, 1982): Some guys never quit baseball, even when they never make it to the big leagues. Szekely played eleven minor league and independent seasons from 1982 through 1998, and he also served as a coach with several different leagues and organizations. According to Baseball-Reference Bullpen, Szekely worked as a coach for the Colorado Silver Bullets before moving to the independent Atlantic League as a player and coach. Szekely also coached with the Royals and Rays organizations. He currently serves as a coach for the Charlotte Stone Crabs affiliate in the Rays organization.

Also of note: Tony Manahan, Kelcey Mucker

Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference, LLC., 2000-2012.
Google News Archives.
SABR. Paper of Record: The Sporting News archives.


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