Dragon Tales: Draft Day Flashback

I stopped by the Dayton Dragons website this morning and read that 3 Dragons have been tabbed to play in the MidWest League All Star Game.  The three players will be First Baseman Dominic D’Anna and Pitchers Daniel Corcino and Josh Smith who was my runner up for Dragon of the Week last week.  Tacked onto the end of the press release was a list of recent Dragon All Stars.  The list included current Reds Drew Stubbs (2007), Jay Bruce, Jonny Cueto and Travis Wood (all 2006).  In addition it was noted that Jay Bruce was the Game MVP or as the MWL refers to it the “Star of Stars”.  In light of today’s start of the 2011 draft I thought I would check out the box score and find out how the participants of the game of fared.

As I started researching the players I learned a lot of info about them and about the MLB draft itself.  I wouldn’t say I have avoided learning about the draft.  Instead I have avoided it because of the shear scope of the draft that makes me a bit skeptical of anyone who purports to be an expert.  Last year alone the 30 Major League organizations drafted 1525 players, 1521 in 2009.  These numbers are staggering but are required to populate the farm systems not only of MLB but ultimately dozens of Independent leagues and franchises and pro ball teams around the world.  Every scout and coach around the country is looking for the next phenom with potential for superstardom.  But for every success story there are dozens of players who never fulfill the promise the once had.

For today I decided to visit a small part of the game.  A single All Star game box score almost 5 years old that offers a taste of the triumph and the frustration of minor league baseball.

The East Division Fielders

In this group alone we see an amazingly varied experience.  Justin Upton was the #1 pick in the 2005 draft and made it to the Major League club by 2007.  He is the younger brother of B.J. Upton and this was one of the first of many opportunities to showcase his abilities.  Jay Bruce excited the crowd by going 3-5 to with a HR, double and a single to lead the team to a 7-1 victory.  Will Venable, son of Max Venable, has been up and down with the Padres and has yet to secure a roll with the big league club and is currently back in AAA for the moment.  Craig Tatum was another Reds prospect once rated the best defensive catcher in the Reds organization.  He is now with Baltimore and also finds himself bouncing between AAA and the parent club.

Two players currently in AAA seem poised to break into MLB at any time.  They are Angels 3B prospect Jeff Baisley and Athletics Catcher Anthony Recker both hitting .324 this year.

But for every success there are those who fell short.  David Hicks was released in the very year that he made the All Star roster by Toronto.  Erik Eymann was released from the Reds AAA affiliate in Louisville just this year.  5 of these 16 players are no longer playing professional baseball, 5 have made it to the majors and only 2 are everyday players.  Let’s look at the West representatives.

West Division Fielders

The fielders in the West Division dugout have had a tougher time.  Only one player has logged significant time in MLB and that is Cardinals Center Fielder Colby Rasmus.  Nine players are out of the MLB system, 8 completely out of baseball.  In addition two are on the DL and while still in advanced class A ball.

One question I have tried unsuccessfully to answer is what happened to Cardinals top 3rd base prospect Randy Roth.  He won the Home Run Derby during the 2006 All Star festivities and at the end of the 2006 season he was listed as the best 3B prospect in the organization but he voluntarily retired before the 2007 season began.  The Cardinals felt strongly enough about him that they placed him on the Restricted List to prevent him from signing elsewhere.  I attempted to find more information about Roth and only found a single article from last month where members of his old college baseball team are rallying around Roth whose son was born with a terrible skin disease.

This is not an easy career path this week’s draftees are choosing.  I live near a small town with a Pioneer league franchise the Washington Wild Things and the desire and challenge they face given a team where they almost play for free is amazing.  They play for the love of the game, the same reason I watch, cheer, live and die with their successes and failures.  I am guessing while those not in the game may be gone they are all happy they once were a part of something special.  Later this week I will talk about the Pitchers that appeared in this game.

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