June 5, 2014
On this Thursday night at the MLB Network studios in Seacaucus, New Jersey, many of the top amateur baseball players in North America were gathered to learn where their careers would continue as they transitioned to the professional game. It was night one of the 2014 MLB Draft. While all of the players selected were highly-touted prospects who were seen as key to the futures of their respective franchises, their paths inevitably branched out in wildly varying directions. The first three men selected by the Indians that night provide a prime example of these divergent career trajectories.
In the first round, the Cleveland nine selected University of San Francisco outfielder Bradley Zimmer. Zimmer has indeed been a part of the future (now present) of the Tribe. Bradley has played nearly a season worth of games (144) for the Big Club over the past three seasons.
Sometimes, a high draft pick is part of the future of a major league club, just not the one who drafted him. This is the case with LHP Justus Sheffield, whom the Indians selected with a compensatory pick (31st overall) out of Tullahoma High School in Tennessee. Justus was one of the players traded to the New York Yankees in the Andrew Miller deal and ultimately made his major league debut for the Pinstriped Bronxites as a September call-up in 2018 and is now a Seattle Mariner.
Some others, unfortunately get released while still in the minors. This happened to Competitive Balance Round A selection Mike Papi on May 30th of this year. The outfielder joined 27th round selection LHP David Speer in being released on that date and second rounder RHP Grant Hockin, who was cut last March, as 2014 first night picks released at the end of spring training.
Even being the first overall pick doesn’t guarantee success in the professional game. The Houston Astros used the top pick on high school lefty Brady Aiken, who refused to sign and was selected by the Indians at 17th overall a season later. Following a string of sabbaticals most tenured professors would envy, his roster status is still not entirely clear at the present moment.
While the first night is the relative “glamour night” of the baseball draft (still nowhere as glitzy as its NFL, NBA, or even NHL counterparts), many great players are selected later on in the draft, or should I say, were selected later on. Dylan Cease and John Means would not have been drafted in a five-round 2014 draft.
In conclusion, one last fun fact. The now likely-ended tradition of using late round picks on the sons of notable major leaguers or other people involved in the game yielded the most interesting pick of the 2014 draft: In the 37th round, the Detroit Tigers selected a high school righty by the name of…Patrick Mahomes.
Hope this whetted your appetite for our draft coverage and the 2020 Draft itself, to be held on Wednesday and Thursday.