Thursday, May 23, 2013

25 Minnesota Twins Drafts in 25 Days: 1999

The 1998 draft was a real disaster.  The Twins' first-round pick did not reach the Majors.  The best player they drafted wouldn't reach the Majors until 2006, and with a different franchise.  Was 1999 much better?  Yes.  Yes, it was.  However, there are still some terrible similarities between 1998 and 1999, starting with...

1st Round Pick

The Twins used the 5th overall pick on B.J. Garbe, an outfielder out of Moses Lake High School in Moses Lake, Washington.  He won the 1999 Gatorade High School Baseball Player of the Year.  He was also high school teammates with current Twin Ryan Doumit.  Garbe couldn't hit.  He took some walks, didn't strikeout at an alarming rate, but he couldn't hit.  He didn't have any power either.  He would never reach the Majors. 

Ah, but what if? 

The '99 draft was weird.  Josh Hamilton went first overall, and we all know of his saga.  Josh Beckett went second, and won a couple World Series.  After that, picks 3-8 were huge disappointments.  Barry Zito was drafted 9th and Ben Sheets was 10th.  Either of those guys would have been nice.  If you look even further down, Brandon Phillips was drafted one pick  after Twins' second-round selection Rob Bowen

Best Player Drafted

The Twins went North of the border with their third-round selection and emerged with one of the more popular players in recent history.  Justin Morneau was a high school kid in British Columbia and eventually became the Twins' long-term starting first baseman and 2006 AL MVP.  I don't think you can nail a pick any better and Morneau alone makes this a successful draft. 

Worst Player to Reach MLB

I remember a select group of fans who wanted Terry Tiffee to take over third base from Corey Koskie.  Tiffee's career -1.1 WAR would state that it's a good thing fans do not get to make those decisions.  Tiffee had a decent debut in 2004, but was out of the Majors by 2009 and seems to have retired after last season.    

The One Who Got Away

The Twins drafted a local kid in the 45th round.  Pat Neshek was a righty out of Park Center High School.  He chose to pursue his education, while pitching for Butler University.  However, the Twins were enamored and would draft Neshek again in 2002, ensuring that he would not be the one who got away, forever.  At least until they released him.

Best Name

There are some excellent choices here, but I'm going to go with Sherwin Lockridge, the Twins 29th-round pick.  There was also Digno Torres in the 37th round. 

Fun Facts
  • Garbe had two teammates drafted in the second round of the '99 draft.  You already know Ryan Doumit, who was drafted 59th overall by the Pirates, just three picks after the Twins selected Rob Bowen. In addition, outfielder Jason Cooper was drafted 63rd overall by the Phillies.  Cooper did not sign. 
  • I suck at research, so I can't find any details on how that Moses Lake team did, but I'm guessing they were quite successful. 
  • All of the combined WAR from this draft class comes from Morneau (22.1) and Neshek (4.0).
  • The remaining players contributed negative WAR.
  • I briefly thought that Barry Quickstad's name was Barry Quicksand.  Once I realized my error, I completely lost interest in Barry Quickstad. 
All those drafted who made it to the Bigs

Justin Morneau, Pat Neshek, Brian Wolfe, Willie Eyre, Travis Bowyer, Brian Slocum, Rob Bowen, and Terry Tiffee

One Sentence Summary

Justin Morneau saved the 1999 draft for the Twins; he's from Canada.

Link to the Twins' 1999 draft from Baseball Reference

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