When things are going bad (or at very least disappointing) for the Big League club it is only natural for fans to look to the future of the organization and catalogue the prospects and young-guns that the organization has waiting in the wings.
The next bright hope for the future. He who will arrive to change the fortunes of the MLB squad and deliver the team from darkness. It almost never works out quite that way, but hope is a powerful thing. And those without it are poorer for it.
With that in mind; The Rule 4 Draft, known better as the First Year Player Draft, will be held next week from June 8th (Monday) to June 10th (Wednesday) and is an organizations next best chance to acquire that hope for the future.
For many of us fans the draft represents the first time we will ever hear of most 18 to 22 year old baseball players. And then quickly pretend we've known about them all along... But, I digress.
Much of the information pertaining to what they Jays already have in the system you already know, assuming you have already read MjwW's article which took an in-depth look at the organizations depth chart. A very interesting read, if you haven't seen it. And a testament to what Anthopolous has accomplished in his tenure.
The Blue Jays' first pick will be 29th overall, a compensation pick for Melky Cabrera signing with the Chicago White Sox. The Jays lost their own pick, which now becomes the 32nd overall pick, because of the Russell Martin signing. Which, I mean... I'll take that trade.
While the MLB Draft isn't considered as sexy as its NFL, NBA, and NHL counterparts, it may actually be the most exciting part of the season for the Blue Jays faithful. Or at least those of you like me who love reading scouting reports.
A chance to get to know the hopeful future leaders of the Toronto Blue Jays. Future stars, future role players, future pieces we'll trade for aging pitchers or, if we're very lucky, some future Josh Donaldson level fleecing.
And while fans may not always be happy with what Anthopolous does with the prospects after drafting them (pretty much the point of my Ghost articles), it cannot be said that his draft record, or generally his ability to acquire high ceiling prospects, has ever been poor. Jasper Bosman has an article highlighting this on BBB. You can read it here.
In point of fact, the Minor League system of the Toronto organization has arguably been considered far more intriguing than the MLB team has been in over a decade, save for perhaps the 2012 team following the big trades/signings.
This hasn't always been the way of things in Blue Jays Nation.
There was a time, a dark time, when the Blue Jays organization was barren in the Minor League system, and what little talent there may have been was constantly being shipped out of town.
On the eve of the 2015 Draft, I thought perhaps we should take a moment for perspective.
This is not an article to discuss Alex's many draft successes. This is a look back to those dark years that came before it. To truly appreciate what Alex Anthopolous, for all his faults, has accomplished in his time as the Blue Jays General Manager we need to remember all that came before it.
So, let's go back in time, shall we? Back to near the beginning of Alex Anthopolous' tenure in the Toronto Organization. Four years before he was named General Manager. To a time where young Alex, who had started as the Scouting Director after coming over from the Montreal Expos organization, was made the Assistant General Manager to J.P Ricciardi.
Way back in the distant time known as 2005.
Fast facts about 2005: The SkyDome had just been renamed Rogers Centre. The SkyDome's AstroTurf had just been removed, replaced with the FieldTurf stuff that was just removed in favour of the black rubber stuff they have now.
And the Jays? Well, they were coming off a 67-94 season in 2004, an absolute failure of a season fuelled heavily by injuries to Roy Halladay, Vernon Wells, and Carlos Delgado. Pat Hentgen retired. Carlos Tosca (remember him?) was fired and replaced by First Base coach John Gibbons.
They were in the middle of their 80-82 campaign when the draft came around. The Jays hoped to build on their few young bright spots. Those coming in the form of Russ Adams, Alex Rios, Aaron Hill, Shaun Marcum, and Gabe Gross. As well as Jason Frasor, John Ford-Griffin, and Gustavo Chacin.
The Blue Jays would draft 6th overall in 2005 and take a lefty out of Cal State Fullerton who was projected as a front end starter in the rotation. His name was Ricky Romero.
And, to be fair, in his first three seasons in Toronto Romero started 93 games, had an ERA of 3.60 with a Win-Loss of 42-29 and a 4.04 FIP and an 11.6 WAR, culminating in an All-Star appearance in 2011. And then he... Well, you know the story.
In the third round the Jays drafted Brian Pettway. He was drafted as an outfielder, spent parts of three seasons in A-ball hitting .243/.321/.453 while also pitching 41 innings earning a 4.17 ERA before... disappearing? I honestly am not sure what happened to him, I couldn't find an article on him retiring or being injured. He just disappeared. If I figure it out I'll edit the post. Or maybe write a new article "The Disappearing Prospect"? We'll see.
Ryan Patterson was drafted by
Kansas City in the 2001 drafts 49th Round, Atlanta Braves in the 2002 drafts 34th Round, Toronto in the 4th Round of the 2005 draft. He quickly went on to play 71 games in low A-ball in 2005 hitting .339/.386/.595 with 13 homers. Unfortunately, his bat fell off as he went to Double-A and the power never fully developed. He played four seasons in Double-A managing a .255/.294/.369 slash with 44 Homers in 333 games.
In the fifth round the Jays selected 6'3 lefty Eric Fowler out of the University of Mississippi (yes, I sang the song while spelling that). He started his professional career in low-A where he was 4-2 with a 3.02 ERA and was featured on many Top 25 Blue Jays prospects lists entering the 2006 season. 2006 was a solid year for Fowler, he went 8-11 with a 3.74 ERA but after a brief 9 start appearance in Double-A where he went 4-4 and was tagged to the tune of a 7.14 ERA and a 2.00 WHIP his time in the organization ended.
Brett A. Wallace is the only other name on the Blue Jays 2005 draft results page that I even recognize. Drafted in the 42nd round he would eventually become what we trade to obtain Anthony Gose. But, he did not sign with the team after being drafted. He went back to school, was later drafted in the 1st Round in 2008 by the Cards and was traded back to us for Michael Taylor. He played exactly 0 games for the Toronto Blue Jays, but did play parts of four seasons in Houston where he accumulated a -1.1 WAR in 311 games.
All-tolled, the Jays 2005 draft gave them only one prospect who played any part of the Jays future adding 9.9 WAR of value, all from Romero.
Next time I'll be looking at the 2006 draft where we drafted a kid named Overbey... But not the one you might be thinking.