Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Sunday, January 12, 2014

RetroSimba: Why Cardinals passed on chance to draft Frank Thomas

Wheeling out the old Coleman Xtreme cooler…

Thinking they had the next Bo Jackson, the Cardinals turned down the chance to draft Frank Thomas.

In the first round of the June 1989 baseball draft, the Cardinals, with the sixth pick, selected outfielder Paul Coleman of Frankston (Texas) High School.

With the next pick, No. 7, the White Sox chose Thomas, a first baseman from Auburn University.

...The Cardinals had rated Coleman the fifth-best player in the draft, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. So, when Coleman was available at No. 6, the Cardinals felt fortunate.

“We’ve been looking for a power hitter and we think Coleman is the type of guy who is going to come through,” Fred McAlister, Cardinals director of scouting, told Vahe Gregorian of the Post-Dispatch on draft day. “He’s built along the lines of a Bo Jackson.”

Coleman, 5 feet 11 and 215 pounds, hit .498 with 39 home runs in his high school career.

A right-handed batter, Coleman had 119 RBI in 93 high school games. As a senior, he was successful on all 25 of his stolen base attempts. He was 63-for-67 in steal attempts during his prep career.

“We’ve had five of our people look at him,” McAlister said. “I’ve seen him three times myself. He’s an outstanding individual. We’re very fortunate to have had the opportunity to select him.”

Cardinals scout Hal Smith, a former big-league catcher with St. Louis, saw Coleman hit a home run that soared more than 500 feet. “It just went on into the night and you never saw it again,” Smith said to Gregorian. “It left everything.”

Repoz Posted: January 12, 2014 at 06:59 AM | 71 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cardinals, history

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: January 12, 2014 at 08:37 AM (#4636806)
ick Player Team Position School
1 Ben McDonald Baltimore Orioles RHP Louisiana State University
2 Tyler Houston Atlanta Braves C Valley HS 
(Las VegasNV)
3 Roger Salkeld Seattle Mariners RHP Saugus (CAHS
4 Jeff Jackson Philadelphia Phillies OF Simeon HS 
(ChicagoIL)
5 Donald Harris Texas Rangers OF Texas Tech University
6 Paul Coleman Saint Louis Cardinals OF Frankston 
(TXHS 


Lots of teams missed on Thomas
   2. villageidiom Posted: January 12, 2014 at 08:46 AM (#4636809)
A NL team chose not to draft someone who, rightly so, spent most of his career as a DH. Shocking.
   3. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: January 12, 2014 at 09:47 AM (#4636817)
No matter how bad his defense, he would have been an improvement at 1B over the Phillies collection of Rico Brogna and Travis Lee. Instead they drafted a guy whose lifetime BA was in the .230s in the minors with no power.
   4. GregD Posted: January 12, 2014 at 09:55 AM (#4636819)
My memory is that the Orioles staff would have been chased out of town by a mob if they didn't draft McDonald. He seemed like such a strong prospect. I don't recall hearing anything bad about him, but that's a long time ago. So that kind of retrospective gotche isn't very interesting to me.

The Phillies long history of choosing athletes over baseball players and their love of high school players is however a gotcha that never gets old.
   5. Random Transaction Generator Posted: January 12, 2014 at 10:04 AM (#4636822)
I remember drafting Roger Salkeld in my fantasy drafts for 1993. He was pretty good during his cup of coffee in 1992. I didn't have access to his minor league numbers back then, but I thought that he was ready to contribute in Seattle.

Whoops.
   6. BDC Posted: January 12, 2014 at 10:13 AM (#4636828)
McDonald went on to have quite a bit of arm trouble, but overall he had a career pretty good for a #1 draft pick, let alone an ordinary signee. Every team should be as lucky.

Salkeld had far worse arm problems, and not much of a career, but he had a phenomenal fastball. If I can remember that about a prospect umpteen years later, it must have been storied :) But aside from the general Moneyball principle "never draft a HS pitcher," he was a great pick, too. Teams need pitchers.
   7. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: January 12, 2014 at 10:25 AM (#4636830)
They also all passed on Jeff Bagwell.
   8. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: January 12, 2014 at 10:31 AM (#4636832)
Tim Salmon was drafted 69th. John Olerud was drafted 79th. As mentioned, Bagwell at #109. Trevor Hoffman went at #288.
   9. Kirby Kyle Posted: January 12, 2014 at 10:31 AM (#4636833)
The White Sox were criticized by Baseball America after picking Thomas. BA felt the Sox had overcompensated for their historical lack of big power hitters by reaching for a prospect with power and little else.

Ben McDonald was the Stephen Strasburg of his time. There was never any question that he would be the top pick.
   10. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: January 12, 2014 at 10:33 AM (#4636835)
Baseball drafts are so hit and miss, this type of article is shooting fish in a barrel.
   11. JJ1986 Posted: January 12, 2014 at 10:36 AM (#4636836)
Trevor Hoffman went at #288.


As a shortstop.
   12. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 12, 2014 at 10:37 AM (#4636839)
My memory is that the Orioles staff would have been chased out of town by a mob if they didn't draft McDonald. He seemed like such a strong prospect. I don't recall hearing anything bad about him, but that's a long time ago.

The hype surrounding McDonald from his final year at LSU to his first start with the Orioles was nearly of Bryce Harper proportions, and maybe even equal to it. Unfortunately, his career peaked with that first start, a 4-hit shutout with only 85 pitches in a game that was over in 2:23. He finished his first year with a 2.43 ERA, but it was all downhill from there. Arm trouble was the major cause of his downfall, but he was never considered as the brightest penny in the roll, and he would have have to make major adjustments down the road in any case.
   13. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: January 12, 2014 at 10:39 AM (#4636841)
Ben McDonald was the Stephen Strasburg of his time.

That's an even better analogy than Harper. Let's just hope that Strasberg's career doesn't plummet the way that Ben's did.
   14. asinwreck Posted: January 12, 2014 at 10:42 AM (#4636842)
If memory serves, the Chicago papers hoped speedy local product Jeff Jackson would slip to the White Sox.

Salkeld was a good prospect waylaid by arm injuries.
   15. TerpNats Posted: January 12, 2014 at 10:44 AM (#4636843)
Let's just hope that Strasburg's career doesn't plummet the way that Ben's did.

Arm trouble was the major cause of [McDonald's] downfall
Did Rizzo ever cite the phenom from the other end of the B-W Parkway as a reason for the Great Strasburg Shutdown?

   16. McCoy Posted: January 12, 2014 at 10:53 AM (#4636848)
I tried to recall who the Cubs drafted and couldn't but I said to myself it was probably some toolsy high schooler that never even made it to the majors. Sure enough with the 8th pick of the draft the Cubs draft Earl Cunninghman who in his professional career was always a terrible hitter and fielder. Well done.
   17. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: January 12, 2014 at 10:59 AM (#4636852)
Trevor Hoffman went at #288.

As a shortstop.


Sure, but you gotta mention the three-digit stars nee afterthoughts.
   18. BDC Posted: January 12, 2014 at 11:21 AM (#4636861)
The Rangers drafted Donald Harris (see #1), and in keeping with their odd penchant for football stars, Harris was a very good defensive back at Texas Tech. He could hit wide receivers but not baseballs.
   19. JJ1986 Posted: January 12, 2014 at 11:32 AM (#4636864)
My only memory of Paul Coleman is trying to find out if he was related to Vince Coleman in the time before the internet existed.
   20. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: January 12, 2014 at 11:40 AM (#4636870)
Sure, but you gotta mention the three-digit stars nee afterthoughts.


Mike Piazza always wins this game.
   21. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: January 12, 2014 at 12:51 PM (#4636908)
McDonald went on to have quite a bit of arm trouble,


I remember singing "Ben McDonald has no arm, e-i-e-i-o" after he was picked in one of our fantasy drafts way back when.
   22. John Northey Posted: January 12, 2014 at 01:02 PM (#4636914)
Olerud was a late pick due to sign-ability issues. Everyone was positive he wouldn't sign but Gillick remembered the Bo Jackson situation where he waited one round too long (he was going to draft Jackson one pick after the Royals did and admitted to regretting not drafting him earlier) and pulled the trigger. Worked out quite well I'd say.
   23. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 12, 2014 at 02:00 PM (#4636985)
I had Paul Coleman's rookie draft card. I do remember a fair amount of hype about him, although Frank Thomas also had quite a bit of hype.

The most hype was for McDonald though. He was the consensus, hands-down #1 pick IIRC.
   24. AROM Posted: January 12, 2014 at 02:10 PM (#4636994)
Coleman and Jackson hit over .500 in high school, with lots of power. Thomas hit .403 at Auburn, with 19 homers in 206 AB. Amateur stats don't mean much as to MLB potential, but scouts didn't pick up on the massive gap between these guys in hitting ability and pitch recognition. As we saw from the scouting reports, the optimistic ones we saw on Thomas had him at 50, an average MLB hitter. The pessimistic one said his ceiling was a .250 hitter.

The power was obvious, with Thomas but also with Coleman. If you have no effing clue about which one can actually hit MLB pitching, I can see why you'd pick the young power hitter who can also run. You'd like to think such a vast gap in hitting skills, one guy being among the greatest OBP threats in the history of the game, the other being inadequate to move through the minors, would be obvious. The scouting report records say otherwise, that grading the hit tool is incredibly hard.
   25. McCoy Posted: January 12, 2014 at 02:18 PM (#4637017)
Let's not forget that Frank Thomas was still a top 10 pick. He wasn't some unheralded prospect that went in the 12th round.
   26. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: January 12, 2014 at 02:22 PM (#4637020)
Ah yes, the old who passed on who in the draft. Further, and not required, evidence that the MLB draft is pretty much the definition of an inexact science.

#24, I 'd like to think that some teams have decent systems in place to evaluate such things as pitch recognition and strike zone control. Surely not having any clue isn't really an option for a business with millions at its disposal.

I have no idea of the breakdown, however I have a sneaking suspicion that teams spend too much on players and too little on the evaluators of the talent they eventually require.

   27. Curse of the Andino Posted: January 12, 2014 at 05:01 PM (#4637191)
The hype surrounding McDonald from his final year at LSU to his first start with the Orioles was nearly of Bryce Harper proportions, and maybe even equal to it. Unfortunately, his career peaked with that first start, a 4-hit shutout with only 85 pitches in a game that was over in 2:23. He finished his first year with a 2.43 ERA, but it was all downhill from there. Arm trouble was the major cause of his downfall, but he was never considered as the brightest penny in the roll, and he would have have to make major adjustments down the road in any case.


I remember when McDonald was pitching against somebody like the White Sox, the O's had staked him to a huge lead early, and for some reason Ben was having this mental block that caused him to pitch very carefully to Ozzie Guillen* with the bases empty. Jon Miller was railing against him in the booth, shouting, "just throw it up there, Ben!" As I recall, he didn't even finish the inning.

*Or somebody like that. Don't really remember who the game was against, just recall Miller being pissed.
   28. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: January 12, 2014 at 05:14 PM (#4637200)
I remember drafting Roger Salkeld in my fantasy drafts for 1993. He was pretty good during his cup of coffee in 1992.



Salkeld was a big, meaty fireballer who couldn't have told you what county home plate was in, let alone whether his pitches might cross it. He was very much of a piece with the toolsy HS pitcher-types the M's were drafting in those days, most of whom either never contributed (Salkeld), or contributed years later, elsewhere, after a lot of seasoning (Shawn Estes, Ron Villone). In fact, the only hitter they drafted b/w sure things Griffey and Rodriguez who wasn't a total bust was Tino Martinez. Usually, it was someone more like Marc Newfield, a huge dude out of a California high school who looked to be on the road to success while dominating the PCL at 21, but could never hack it in MLB. I was still a kid at this time, so I don't remember if Newfield got hurt or just peaked young, but the M's drafting was pretty sad for a while there.

Then, boom, boom, boom, they started drafting like gangbusters. Rodriguez, Jason Varitek, Jose Cruz Jr, all with their top pick, in three consecutive years. Somehow, they didn't learn the lesson here, and started goofing around with high school pitchers again, and got pretty much dicko from the draft for years to come, including such genius ideas as drafting Brandon Morrow ahead of local hero Tim Lincecum because Bill Bavasi's Idiot Kid thought the M's needed a reliever and that kind of ####.

There are a lot of people in the PNW who get moony about those "homegrown", "small-ball" teams from the early 2000s, but those teams weren't either of those things. They walked a lot, hit a fair number of homers given their park, and featured non-home-grown stars such as Ichiro, Bret Boone, Mike Cameron, John Olerud, Jamie Moyer, and Randy Johnson. Basically the only true star on those teams who actually came up through the M's system was Edgar. The other homegrown players were gotten almost exclusively through international signings or as pieces in trades for major leaguers. The M's total suckwad drafting has been a staple of their nearly 40-year existence.
   29. zonk Posted: January 12, 2014 at 05:39 PM (#4637224)
I have a vague memory that Tyler Houston was really well regarded, too (obviously, #2 overall picks generally are).

I know even 7 years later when the Cubs acquired him for flotsam I don't remember, I was excited.... Left-handed hitting catchers out of high school will NEVER be known as the new market efficiency because such entities forever set Farm Director hearts atwitter.

He carved out a nice little utility career for himself, I guess... if you can catch and hit left-handed, I suppose you'll always have a leg up on that....
   30. zonk Posted: January 12, 2014 at 05:42 PM (#4637226)
The M's total suckwad drafting has been a staple of their nearly 40-year existence.


I know they were both first overall -- but two inner circle/near inner circle HoFers like Griffey and A-Rod makes it awfully hard to call it completely wasted generation....
   31. Walt Davis Posted: January 12, 2014 at 06:28 PM (#4637271)
The power was obvious, with Thomas but also with Coleman. If you have no effing clue about which one can actually hit MLB pitching, I can see why you'd pick the young power hitter who can also run. You'd like to think such a vast gap in hitting skills, one guy being among the greatest OBP threats in the history of the game, the other being inadequate to move through the minors, would be obvious. The scouting report records say otherwise, that grading the hit tool is incredibly hard.

Or see Pujols, Albert. Heck probably Pujols, Luis too.

I suppose Coleman has seen more hits on his b-r page in the last 6 hours than the rest of the hits he'll get in his life but ... I'm assuming he got hurt as only 45 games at age 20 and 21 at 21. At 22, he got a full-ish season at AA. If you squint, you can start to see a bit of promise -- decent walk rate (well, add the HBP), starting to hit some doubles. Just for grins:

Coleman, 22 at AA, 244/311/372
Salmon, 22 at AA, 245/372/467
Salmon, 23 at AAA, 347/469/672 (hmmm ...)
Mabry, 22 at AA, 290/326/449 (same team)
Mabry, 23 at AAA, 262/311/423
Dmitri Young, 19 at AA, 247/292/392 (same team, big age difference)
Dmitri, 20 at AA, 272/330/406
Dmitri, 21 at AA, 292/347/455 (still not exactly blowing the doors off)
Dmitri, 22 at AAA, 333/378/534 (hmmm ...)
Chuck Carr, ages 20-24 at AA, 249/305/326 (got 1900 ML PAs)
Tripp Cromer, ages 23-24 at AA, 235/288/352 (got 500 ML PAs)

The line is pretty thin. I don't know how much speed Coleman retained but he "outhit" Carr and Cromer. The difference between him and Mabry is basically 7 HR -- not a trivial difference but not an uncommon sort of improvement one might expect at age 23. He was clearly worse than Salmon but then Salmon wasn't a "wow" prospect until 23 (well, didn't perform like one until 23). Obviously I don't know his history but if he was healthy and still fast at 22, he might well have deserved another shot at 23.

Somebody should have given him some roids. :-)
   32. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: January 12, 2014 at 06:48 PM (#4637300)
The Rangers drafted Donald Harris (see #1), and in keeping with their odd penchant for football stars, Harris was a very good defensive back at Texas Tech. He could hit wide receivers but not baseballs.

Yeah, I'll never get over this. They may not have gotten a baseball player, but they did get an All-Southwest Conference cornerback who had all the tools but none of the talent to be a great player.
   33. What's the realistic upside, RMc? Posted: January 12, 2014 at 07:02 PM (#4637306)
I can't think of Ben McDonald without thinking about Donald Trump's phantom baseball league.
   34. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: January 12, 2014 at 07:06 PM (#4637310)
I know they were both first overall -- but two inner circle/near inner circle HoFers like Griffey and A-Rod makes it awfully hard to call it completely wasted generation.


While that's true, Rodriguez -- and possibly Griffey -- were both so good that *anybody* would have drafted them first. It didn't take any kind of acumen to get them. In fact, quite the opposite.
   35. Swoboda is freedom Posted: January 12, 2014 at 07:39 PM (#4637376)
Olerud was a late pick due to sign-ability issues.

Did anyone think he was going to be a pitcher? Lefty with a good arm.
   36. McCoy Posted: January 12, 2014 at 09:58 PM (#4637506)
It didn't take any kind of acumen to get them. In fact, quite the opposite.

Tell that to the Cubs who routinely botch can't miss draft spots.

1982 they drafted Shawon Dunston at the #1 spot. Not bad but they could have drafted Dwight Gooden or Barry Bonds with that pick and didn't.
   37. PreservedFish Posted: January 13, 2014 at 12:17 AM (#4637545)
Didn't they say that Dunston had a better arm than Gooden?
   38. PreservedFish Posted: January 13, 2014 at 12:27 AM (#4637547)
Also, the only true "can't miss" draft pick I see the Cubs making is Mark Prior, taking the consensus #1 with the #2 pick.

Did they ever pass any up? Gooden went #5 so it'll be tough to convince anyone that he was seen as a can't miss type the day he was drafted. And Dunston was as good as anyone else taken in that first round. In 1998 I guess you could ding them for not taking JD Drew, who went #5 overall and was the consensus top talent. Maybe I'm using a stricter definition of "can't miss" pick, but I don't see any pattern here.
   39. Lars6788 Posted: January 13, 2014 at 12:46 AM (#4637549)
Don't know what his current involvement in the 'sport,' but Coleman was apparently an avid RC car driver.
   40. Walt Davis Posted: January 13, 2014 at 12:59 AM (#4637553)
Didn't they say that Dunston had a better arm than Gooden?

He probably did, lasted longer too. :-)

Dunston had a gun. Dunston probably had the gun.

More accurate then Steve Blass too. :-)
   41. Walt Davis Posted: January 13, 2014 at 01:07 AM (#4637555)
And nobody but the Mets exactly covered themselves in glory in that first round. The #2 pick never played in the majors, the #3 and #4 picks provided negative WAR. After Gooden, the WAR leaders were Karkovice, Spike Owen, Dunston and Todd Worrell (all in the 11-14 WAR range). Other than that, bupkis. The 2nd round saw Bonds, Larkin and Wells drafted. The Cubs missed those guys in favor of Stan Boderick (#27 1S pick). He hit 188/237/231 in full-season A ball at 18.

My brain recalls Dunston hit something like 790 in his senior year in high school. I still consider Dunston one of the most talented players I've ever seen but man he had terrible technique at pretty much everything he did.
   42. Walt Davis Posted: January 13, 2014 at 02:19 AM (#4637563)
The Cubs rarely sucked enough to get a #1 pick, in fact Dunston is their only one.

They could have built a pretty nice core:

1995 4th overall (Wood)
1998 3rd (Patterson)
2000 3rd (Montanez -- oops)
2001 2nd (Prior)

with the luck of getting Jon Garland with the #10 pick in 1997, foolishly traded away for a reliever.

Still, in 2000, the first decent player after Montanez was Baldelli at #6 then nobody with anything at all until the big prize of Utley at #15 and he didn't start really paying off until 2005. You again get pretty much nothing until Wainwright at #29.

Yeah, Drew in 98 ... he was a "can't miss." Maybe the Cubs learned a bit of a lesson as they didn't shy away from Boras and Prior three years later.

I know the latest ones haven't had a chance to shine yet but the best Cubs 1st round pick since Prior is Josh Donaldson, taken #48 (1S) and traded away.

In fact, just quickly squizzing it, out of the entire history of the draft, the Cubs seem to have gotten a total of only about 70-75 WAR from their first round picks. 3 of the top 4 are Palmeiro (by a mile), Garland and Joe Carter who all accumulated almost all of their value for other teams.

Granted, I'm not sure the Cards are that much better. Definitely better, but a lot of their best picks accumulated large chunks of their value elsewhere too -- Simmons (their best 1st round pick by WAR), Drew, van Slyke, Jordan, Templeton, Terry & Adam Kennedy, Durham, Rasmus (their 10th best pick already). The Astros have done heaps better primarily due to Biggio and Berkman. The Braves cruise along on the backs of Chipper and Murphy with Heyward poised to move into their #3 slot soon (passing Horner ... Wainwright but his value is with StL).

One of the best is the Brewers -- hadn't every really thought of them as a great drafting (and retaining!) team. But ...

Yount, Molitor, Porter (about 10 WAR to Milw), Braun, Surhoff (15), Prince, Sheets, Jenkins, Thomas, Plesac, Eldred, Weeks -- crikey. And that's not counting the traded away Sheffield, Alex Fernandez (29 WAR), Brett Lawrie (10 WAR and counting) and Bill Spiers (10 WAR overall). That's 2 HoF, one HoF by the numbers (Sheff), one on HoF track by the numbers (Braun) and an HoVG C ... wow. They seem to have gotten about 330 WAR out of their 1st rounders while trading away another 100+ (plus Porter et al).

The Dodgers have drafted solidly in the 1st round but traded a lot of it away -- Rhoden, Sutcliffe and Konerko are 3 of their top 5. If you guessed Bob Welch as the best 1st round pick in Dodgers' history, give yourself a cigar.

The Giants have done well, retaining most of the value with 6 of their 8 best 1st round picks producing almost all their value for the Giants. They've been on a massive role -- Sabean you crafty bugger! -- with Cain, Lincecum, Posey and Bumgarner all being in their top 8. They've drafted more WAR for their team in the 2000s than the Cubs have since 65. Still, they can't touch the Brewers.

The Mets have done surprisingly well with Gooden, Wright, Straw and Matlack. Plenty of medium value guys as well, eyeballing it looks to be about 230 WAR.

The Nats/Expos have done solidly -- just probably not with who you think. Best 1st round pick? Tim Wallach with 38 WAR, probably soon passed by Zimmerman. Rondell, Floyd and Gullickson are other big ones who they kept and of course Harper and Strasburg.

Gwynn was not a 1st round pick but Winfield ain't shabby ... but they got only about half his value ... about 20 WAR out of Benes and decent value out of McReynolds before trading him. But they traded away Derrek Lee and Shane Mack. They're looking pretty Cubs-ish.

The Phils have done well despite letting Drew, Lonnie Smith and Stearns get away. Utley, Hamels, most of Luzinski, Burrell, Lieberthal, Floyd, Myers (jerk but reasonable production).

Even drafting Bonds wasn't enough to push the Pirates anywhere near the Brewers. But 50 WAR from Bonds, most of Kendall, most of Hebner, McCutchen and a fair number of decent value guys is pretty darn good.

Finally the Reds (you guys can do the AL). Larkin at the top then a pretty big drop to Nolan at 26 WAR. Still, add Gullett and Bruce and a bunch of guys in the 8-12 WAR range and you've got pretty good value.

Looks to me like the Cubs are dead last in talent retained, maybe 60-70 WAR from the median. Of course 60-70 WAR spread out over 40+ years is not exactly mind-blowing and if you add back in Palmeiro et al, their 1st round draft/develop record probably moves up to not horrible.

Even the very best Brewers have added only an average of 8-9 wins per year from their 1st round draft. It's a wonder teams manage to win games at all.


And yes I know the Brewers are fairly recent arrivals to the NL and that the Astros aren't there anymore and that I skipped over the most recent expansion teams.
   43. GregD Posted: January 13, 2014 at 02:36 AM (#4637566)
My brain recalls Dunston hit something like 790 in his senior year in high school. I still consider Dunston one of the most talented players I've ever seen but man he had terrible technique at pretty much everything he did.
Your brain agrees with wikipedia, which puts his high school senior year average at....790!
   44. bjhanke Posted: January 13, 2014 at 06:21 AM (#4637570)
I remember the Cards drafting Coleman very well, because it annoyed me. I thought, like village (#2), that they passed on Thomas because they could see that his defense would reduce him to DH by the time he was 30, maybe earlier. Those of you who have supported Coleman have points, but there's a counter. Coleman's high school was small. This came up in the discussion of the draft pick regularly. I don't know how small that H.S. was, but it was small enough to draw a LOT of sportswriter comment about the possibly weak competition. The caliber of pitching that Coleman was hitting .500 off was probably that of a freshman team in a big-H.S. league. Thomas, in college, was showing a HUGE amount of power by comparison. My memory, although this is less solid than the previous, was the Coleman simply could not learn how to hit a curve. The Cards eventually tried to convert him to a pitcher, since he really could throw, but he failed at that, too. But I think that the biggest lesson here is to remember that, when you're dealing with HS players, you need to keep in mind just how large the school is and how tough the H.S. competition is. Among other things, you'll end up adjusting his power potential for the quality of the pitching he's seeing and the size of the ballparks his high school played in. - Brock Hanke
   45. zonk Posted: January 13, 2014 at 09:27 AM (#4637616)
Dunston had a gun. Dunston probably had the gun.

More accurate then Steve Blass too. :-)


That's highly debatable... For all the grief I've heaped on Grace over the years, he most certainly did save Dunston quite a few E-6s...

Opening day 1985, Dunston's first game.

Early innings - maybe even the first - lazy IF pop-up right to Sandberg, he maybe drifted a few feet to his right.

Dunston crosses the other side of the 2B bag, runs into Sandberg, and it drops for an error. Sandberg not yet having learned how to tell kids to stay off his lawn, he just gave Shawon this quizzical look.

If ever a first game was harbinger of a career, that was it... Even when he was flailing away at breaking stuff away or launching missiles 5 rows up into the 1B stands, Dunston was never boring and occasionally, quite entertaining, both for good and bad reasons.
   46. AROM Posted: January 13, 2014 at 10:05 AM (#4637644)
My brain recalls Dunston hit something like 790 in his senior year in high school. I still consider Dunston one of the most talented players I've ever seen but man he had terrible technique at pretty much everything he did.


Dunston had speed too. From a pure physical ability standpoint, I don't think Andrelton Simmons has any advantages on him. Yet Dunston amounted to no better than an average defensive shortstop. I don't remember what his faults were (other than a fairly high error rate) but he must have had some serious bad technique at covering the position.

I do remember him displaying the amazing arm. He'd field a ball cleanly, and instead of just throwing to first he'd just wait until the batter was almost to the bag. Then he'd release the ball just by flicking his wrist, yet throw a BB to first to just nip the runner. Not any more effective than what David Eckstein would have done, but amazing to watch.
   47. zonk Posted: January 13, 2014 at 10:21 AM (#4637653)
Dunston's problem is that he played wholly out of control.

He'd take bad routes on pop ups, he fire -- and as such, occasionally misfire -- rifle shots with a Molina running, he'd try to turn a triple play on every grounder.

He was so immensely frustrating because he never really pouted, he always said - and sounded sincere in saying - the right things, and how can you dislike a guy that just seems so "hustly". In fact, he was a lot like Eckstein - always hustling, dirty uniform, etc.

I've never seen anyone tear out of the box and look like he was running for dear life to 1B quite like Dunston -- and that includes Pete Rose. Every ground ball, even he routine ones, you'd see Dunston just streak past 1B, just behind the throw.

In fact, another memory of Dunston was in 1989 - this was before realignment, another repeat of 1984 with the Mets and Cubs battling for the division. In one of those late summer, "set the pace for the pennant race" games against the Mets, Dunston flared an entirely routine single to RF. Strawberry didn't exactly lolly gag after it, but he didn't really hustle after it either -- always a mistake with Dunston. Shawon took the same big turn he always took, then just put his head down and motored into 2B with ease.

I can also remember Dunston running into plenty of outs in pretty much the same fashion -- but that's the sort of player he was.

It's like he never quite got used to playing against competition that was on the same level, talent-wise, as him. When he wasn't hitting .790 anymore -- he figured he just needed to run harder, swing harder, or throw harder.... so he did.

If ever there was a player that could have used a medical marijuana prescription, I think it was Dunston.
   48. just plain joe Posted: January 13, 2014 at 11:37 AM (#4637735)
I've never seen anyone tear out of the box and look like he was running for dear life to 1B quite like Dunston -- and that includes Pete Rose. Every ground ball, even he routine ones, you'd see Dunston just streak past 1B, just behind the throw.


Very true; I used to watch a lot of Cubs games and one thing you could depend on was Dunston going all out, he could squib one back to the pitcher and still sprint hard to first base. Dunston was frustrating to watch for sure, I don't understand why any pitcher ever threw him a strike as he would swing at anything.

This has nothing to do with baseball but Dunston is my wife's favorite Cub. Years ago we met some friends in Cincinnati and took in the Cubs-Reds game on Saturday night. After the game we were just wandering around, not really going anywhere. We ended up in the lobby of the Cubs hotel and while we were trying to decide if we wanted to enter the bar, the elevator doors opened and Lee Smith got off. He was dressed completely in black, except for his gold chains, and never broke stride on his way out. A couple of minutes later Dunston got off the elevator, walked over to the fans and spent 15-20 minutes talking and signing autographs. He was gracious and polite and appeared to be enjoying himself interacting with the fans. It may well have been an act but Dunston at least came across as someone comfortable with his fame and the fans that come with it.
   49. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: January 13, 2014 at 11:59 AM (#4637758)
The Cardinals also passed on Maddux once and Glavine twice. No wonder they've struggled so much over the years.
   50. Smiling Joe Hesketh Posted: January 13, 2014 at 12:07 PM (#4637766)
IIRC Salkeld broke his scapula, which pretty much ruined his baseball career.
   51. Ron J2 Posted: January 13, 2014 at 12:07 PM (#4637767)
#24 I recall reading a scouting report (Ryne Sandberg IIRC) that complained that the player was too selective. I don't recall ever reading anything that talks about a player's plate discipline. (As Craig Wright notes, the Senators scouting reports on a young Joe Morgan completely missed his phenomenal walk rate and were heavily focused on his size)

I'm told it's better these days, and it's easy to make too much of lower level plate discipline in that it's the most variable component of things like MLEs. A ball walk rates tell you very little and high school/college walk rates even less.

   52. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 13, 2014 at 12:10 PM (#4637770)
I can't think of Ben McDonald without thinking about Donald Trump's phantom baseball league.


Ha, I had never heard of that. Thanks for the link. I seem to remember some scuttlebutt about another attempt to do something like that when JD Drew refused to sign with Philly, with the idea to make him the star of the new league.
   53. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: January 13, 2014 at 12:13 PM (#4637775)
In 2013 for the Boise Hawks, Shawon Dunston Jr. split time in LF with the son of an undrafted player who had a better pro career than Dunston Sr. had.
   54. Ron J2 Posted: January 13, 2014 at 12:18 PM (#4637778)
#47 I recall Grace saying something to the effect that he'd cringe on slow rollers. As hard as Dunston normally threw he actually was capable of dialing it up even higher and it hurt to catch those.
   55. Random Transaction Generator Posted: January 13, 2014 at 12:24 PM (#4637783)
IIRC Salkeld broke his scapula, which pretty much ruined his baseball career.


That's my memory, too.
I remember thinking "He broke his shoulder?" and wondering how you recover from that, and if it's much different than "tearing your shoulder" (like many pitchers did).
   56. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: January 13, 2014 at 12:33 PM (#4637794)
Agree with all of the above comments about Dunston. He had the strongest IF arm I've ever seen, including Cal Ripken. I bet he could have easily thrown in the high 90s as a reliever.
   57. Steve N Posted: January 13, 2014 at 01:52 PM (#4637885)
I seem to remember that Olerud had a brain aneurism repaired. The possibility that he might die real soon would have dampened my ardor.
   58. zonk Posted: January 13, 2014 at 02:12 PM (#4637902)
I seem to remember that Olerud had a brain aneurism repaired. The possibility that he might die real soon would have dampened my ardor.


That's why he wore that helmet -- even in the field...

My recollection - and granted, this was a long time ago but Baseball America had just sort of found its niche - was that Olerud was indeed a heck of a college pitcher. I think he won some kind of two-way award -- but the aneurism was another reason he was drafted almost purely as a hitter -- the thinking was that putting 60 ft from a hitter and depending on getting set after pitching was a bridge too far, safety-wise.
   59. AROM Posted: January 13, 2014 at 02:34 PM (#4637920)
That's why he wore that helmet -- even in the field...


One of two players to do so. There's Olerud, who played with Rickey in Toronto, and some other guy who played with Rickey in New York.
   60. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: January 13, 2014 at 03:13 PM (#4637957)
My recollection - and granted, this was a long time ago but Baseball America had just sort of found its niche - was that Olerud was indeed a heck of a college pitcher. I think he won some kind of two-way award

Yes, he was a great pitcher before the aneurysm and won the BA College Player of the Year award as a two-way player as a sophomore. He did pitch his junior year after the aneurysm but without the same level of success. There is now a John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award.
   61. GregD Posted: January 13, 2014 at 03:20 PM (#4637960)
I am afraid to click that link
   62. Dan Lee is some pumkins Posted: January 13, 2014 at 03:33 PM (#4637972)
Sure, but you gotta mention the three-digit stars nee afterthoughts.
He was admittedly a draft and follow who didn't sign, but the Indians took Tim Lincecum 1261st overall in 2005.
   63. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: January 13, 2014 at 03:33 PM (#4637973)
One of two players to do so. There's Olerud, who played with Rickey in Toronto, and some other guy who played with Rickey in New York.
There was a third guy, the guy Rickey played with in Seattle.
   64. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: January 13, 2014 at 03:40 PM (#4637978)
Agree with all of the above comments about Dunston. He had the strongest IF arm I've ever seen, including Cal Ripken. I bet he could have easily thrown in the high 90s as a reliever.

A joke I heard from a broadcaster in the mid 80s or so after Dunston uncorked a throw from short left field:

"Well now we know why the Cubs drafted Dunston ahead of Dwight Gooden: he has a better arm."
   65. danup Posted: January 13, 2014 at 04:08 PM (#4638011)
Paul Coleman is now a successful RC car driver. It seems strange that the Cardinals converted him when they did—that season in AA seems like the closest thing to traction he'd gotten as a professional.
   66. zonk Posted: January 13, 2014 at 04:15 PM (#4638019)
One of two players to do so. There's Olerud, who played with Rickey in Toronto, and some other guy who played with Rickey in New York.

There was a third guy, the guy Rickey played with in Seattle.


God bless Rickey.

Our life and times are so much more entertaining for having overlapped with his....
   67. Squash Posted: January 13, 2014 at 04:34 PM (#4638043)
McDonald was highly regarded enough that his 1990 Topps rookie card was worth 2 bucks or so out of the pack, which was pretty crazy at the time (the late 80s-early 90s Topps sets were the all-time overprinted sets - if the card was Topps, it was worth nothing no matter who/what it was). The idea that a current-issue Topps card could actually draw anything over a few pennies was crazy at the time, let alone full dollars.
   68. SoSH U at work Posted: January 13, 2014 at 04:35 PM (#4638045)
There was a third guy, the guy Rickey played with in Seattle.



God bless Rickey.

Our life and times are so much more entertaining for having overlapped with his....


Ok, this information prompted me to wonder if there were any guys who were teammates together on four different ballclubs. I found one pair (there may well be many others):

Anyone know how many there are, or the identity of the one recent pair I found?

   69. Lars6788 Posted: January 13, 2014 at 04:38 PM (#4638049)
In 2013 for the Boise Hawks, Shawon Dunston Jr. split time in LF with the son of an undrafted player who had a better pro career than Dunston Sr. had.


Does that guy have a hot daughter?
   70. Walt Davis Posted: January 15, 2014 at 02:51 AM (#4639253)
#47 I recall Grace saying something to the effect that he'd cringe on slow rollers. As hard as Dunston normally threw he actually was capable of dialing it up even higher and it hurt to catch those.

The best were high-hoppers over the mound. Dunston racing straight across the diamond in front of 2B, incredibly quick release, about 120 MPH. Fortunately, he always seemed accurate with that one and I'm sure Grace only had to worry about a broken hand.

And yes, he was a .... I'm thinking border collie but any terrier will also work. Nothing but energy, no baseball sense -- OK, he was always pretty effective on the bases. Probably the worst batting technique I ever saw -- busy feet, no leg drive, all wrist. He would sometimes literally jump at a pitch, hitting it with both feet off the ground. And the plate discipline of your drunk Uncle Earl on Thanksgiving.

So that's what I mean about one of the most talented players I think I've ever seen. Speed, range, arm, quick bat, pretty good power for a SS. It's too bad nobody every taught him how to play major-league baseball.

Don't be too impressed by the .790 thing -- it was tossed around a lot by Cub broadcasters when he was drafted and when he came up and of course it's easier to remember cuz it was just short of 800. OK, not as easy to remember as 800 but if it had been 730 I probably wouldn't remember it.
   71. greenback calls it soccer Posted: January 15, 2014 at 07:10 AM (#4639268)
I know it's a joke, but my memory is that George Scott also wore a helmet at 1b. Wikipedia says that was 'due to an experience he had with a fan throwing hard objects at him once during a road game.' Also mentions that Dick Allen wore a batting helmet in the field, which I did not know.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Rough Carrigan
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogOT: Politics - December 2014: Baseball & Politics Collide in New Thriller
(5424 - 3:37pm, Dec 22)
Last: Rickey! trades in sheep and threats

NewsblogYankees will pay for education of children of NYPD cop Ramos - NY Daily News
(21 - 3:37pm, Dec 22)
Last: No Maas Cashman

NewsblogThe 2015 HOF Ballot Collecting Gizmo!
(221 - 3:36pm, Dec 22)
Last: Morty Causa

NewsblogThe Downside of the Recent Padres Acquisitions | Articles | Bill James Online
(13 - 3:35pm, Dec 22)
Last: jacksone (AKA It's OK...)

NewsblogJonah Keri's Hypothetical Hall of Fame Ballot; Plus a Randy Johnson Appreciation
(10 - 3:29pm, Dec 22)
Last: Tom Nawrocki

NewsblogTurner Situation Could Lead To Sea Change In Draft Pick Trades - BaseballAmerica.com
(3 - 3:24pm, Dec 22)
Last: AROM

Hall of Merit2015 Hall of Merit Ballot
(111 - 3:17pm, Dec 22)
Last: Joey Numbaz (Scruff)

NewsblogDetermining Hall vote is no easy task | New York Post
(50 - 3:12pm, Dec 22)
Last: SoSHially Unacceptable

NewsblogOT: Soccer December 2014
(352 - 3:12pm, Dec 22)
Last: The Kentucky Gentleman, Mark Edward

Hall of Merit2015 Hall of Merit Ballot Discussion
(118 - 3:02pm, Dec 22)
Last: Joey Numbaz (Scruff)

NewsblogPirates Win Bidding For Jung-ho Kang
(9 - 2:49pm, Dec 22)
Last: TerpNats

NewsblogFree Agent Spending By Division – MLB Trade Rumors
(6 - 2:48pm, Dec 22)
Last: ReggieThomasLives

NewsblogOT: Monthly NBA Thread - December 2014
(797 - 2:34pm, Dec 22)
Last: Moses Taylor, Moses Taylor

NewsblogPrimer Dugout (and link of the day) 12-22-2014
(11 - 2:02pm, Dec 22)
Last: Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66)

NewsblogRuben Amaro Jr. says it would be best if Phillies move on from Ryan Howard
(57 - 1:41pm, Dec 22)
Last: greenback calls it soccer

Page rendered in 0.6090 seconds
48 querie(s) executed