Cubs first round picks since 1991

Since the MLB Draft begins tonight, I figured it was a good time to look back through who the Cubs had drafted over the years and what they accomplished. (click the link to read more)

1991 – Doug Glanville

Glanville was never much of a hitter in the minor leagues. The Cubs used the 11th overall pick to select Glanville. He hit just .273/.316/.365 in his career in the minors. In 1996, Glanville now 25 years old, he got off to a fast start for the Iowa Cubs as he was hitting .308/.331/.410 through 90 games. He made his big league debut that season and wouldn’t see the minors except for some rehab appearances later in his career. Glanville’s first full season was the following year and it was his last for the Cubs until the end of the 2003 season. He hit .300/.333/.392. He played most of his career in Philadelphia and had a short stint with the Rangers in 2003 and finished his career with the Phillies in 2004. He hit .277/.315/.380 in his big league career.

1992 – Derek Wallace

The right-handed pitcher was the 11th overall pick and would pitch only a few MLB innings in his career. The only minor league season in the Cubs organization for him with an ERA below 4.8 was all of 4.1 innings he threw in 1994. He was then traded to the Royals and traded to the Mets the following season. He reached the big leagues in 1996. He threw only 24.2 innings and wouldn’t see MLB action again until 1999. His minor league career wasn’t too special as he posted only a 4.37 ERA and was done with baseball after the 1999 season.

1993 – Brooks Kieschnick, Jon Ratliff, Kevin Orie

The power hitting outfielder Kieschick was the 10th overall pick. Kieschnick is most famous for converting to a pitcher with the Brewers in 2003 and being an extremely valuable pinch hitter for them. His batting career didn’t amount to much, but he had a very strong arm. He had one good seaosn on the mound. That was in 2004 and he called it a career after spending the 2005 season in th eminor leagues. He had a ton of power in the minors. He hit 164 minor league home runs. He was rated in the top 50 by Baseball America in 1994 and 1995 and in the top 100 in 1995.

The Cubs let one great right handed pitcher in Greg Maddux go to the Braves and received just two compensation picks in return. One of them was the Braves first round pick and the Cubs used it to select Jon Ratliff 24th overall. In his first full minor league season Ratliff allowed more than 180 hits in 140 innings. Greg Maddux he wasn’t. Ratliff made one MLB appearance and that was with the A’s in 2000. He pitched a 1-2-3 inning.

The Cubs used their supplemental pick in return for Maddux to select Kevin Orie 29th overall. Orie’s first partial season in 1993 was a decent one (.788 OPS). He then spent almost the entire 1994 season on the DL. He had surprisingly good patience for someone in the Cubs organization. Coming back from injury in 1996 at the age of 22 in AA and AAA, he hit .299/.389/.462. He played nearly an entire season with the Chicago Cubs the following year and played pretty well at the age of 23. He hit .275/.350/.431. Drafted as a SS, he had moved to 3rd base by that time though he did get 4 innings of SS in during his rookie season. The Cubs traded Orie to the Marlins in 1998 for Felix Heredia. He didn’t make it back to the big leagues after 1999 until a very short stint with the Cubs in 2002.

1994 – Jay Peterson

Let’s just say the Cubs wish they had the 15th overall pick back. Peterson was never very good in the minor leagues (career 4.8+ ERA) and never reached the big leagues. He played in the Cubs minor league organization through 1996 and then for the Reds organization in 1997 and 1998. That was his last professional appearance.

1995 – Kerry Wood

The 4th overall pick cruised through the minor leagues and made his big league debut in 1998. I don’t think I need to say anything else except Baseball America rated him the 16th best prospect in baseball prior to 1996, the 3rd best prior to 1997 and the 4th best prior to 1998. He lived up to expectations.

1996 – Todd Noel

Another right handed pitcher that wouldn’t reach the big leagues. Noel was picked 17th overall and things looked really good in 1997. He struckout 63 in 59 innings as an 18 year old in rookie league and allowed only 39 hits. He spend the following year with the Cubs and then was traded along with Orie to the Marlins. Noel had excellent stuff as I recall. He had tremendous potential, but injuries took what career he may have had away from him. He only threw 293 professional innings before his career came to an end after the 2000 season. Many of those seasons were injury-filled seasons.

1997 – Jon Garland

Drafted 10th overall at just the age of 17, he was outstanding in his brief stint in rookie ball. He struggled a bit in 1998, which may have led the Cubs to the decision that trading the 18 year old A-ball pitcher for Matt Karchner was somehow a good idea. It wasn’t at the time and it ended up being a terrible trade. Prior to 2000 he was rated the 32nd best prospect in baseball. He made his big league debut with the White Sox that season and it did not go well. From 2005 through 2007 he was a very good pitcher and he’s still pitching with the Dodgers.

1998 – Corey Patterson

Rated by Baseball America as the 16th best prospect in baseball prior to the 1999 season (his first professional season), he did not let anyone down. At the age of 19, he tore the shit out of Midwest League pitching. He hit .320/.358/.592 in his first season of professional baseball. He skipped High A and in 2000 he still hit .261/.338/.491. That earned him a September call-up at only 20 years old. Things didn’t go as well for Patterson the following year. He split time between the Iowa and Chicago Cubs. He posted just a .676 OPS in his first full season in 2002 and then appeared to be on the right track in 2003 before the season-ending injury. Patterson has bounced around since. He spent some time with the Orioles (twice), Nationals, Brewers and he’s now with the Blue Jays. He’s been worth 1.7 rWAR already this season. For what it’s worth, only Kosuke Fukudome has a higher rWAR (1.8) on the Cubs than Patterson does right now. Zambrano is next at 1.6. I’m not saying the Cubs screwed up here. They didn’t. Patterson is Mr. Inconsistent.

1999 – Ben Christensen

The big righty from my home state of Iowa (unfortunately) was selected 26th overall. A college pitcher in my now home state of Kansas (unfortunately) he became a very highly ranked prospect while with Wichita State. In 2000, Christensen pitched at A+ and AA and totaled 106.2 innings. He allowed just 79 hits. He struckout 105 and walked 30. That 2.36 ERA earned him the 32nd best prospect ranking by Baseball America prior to the 2001 season. He pitched less than 20 innings that season due to injury. He threw less than 65 the following year. Rehabbing in lower levels in 2003 he threw just 30.2 innings. In 2004 he pitched less than 20 innings. His career was over. I don’t think people realize how often this happens to promising young pitchers. It’s not like it’s just Wood and Prior. It happens a lot. You can’t feel too bad about this career coming to an end, though.

What Christensen is known for is nearly taking the vision away from an on-deck hitter in college while at Wichita State in 1999. Anthony Molina stood just 24 feet away from Christensen prior to the start of the inning. He was taking his practice swings. The Wichita State coach had told his pitch to make sure the hitters weren’t taking their swings too close to the pitcher. Christensen fired a ball directly at Anthony Molina that hit the unsuspecting Molina square in the face. Multiple facial fractures and vision that now reduced to 20/400, nobody thought twice about drafting Christensen in the first round. Christensen would later settle out of court with Molina after his professional baseball career had ended.

This was probably the first Baseball Prospectus article I ever read.

This projectile, launched at about 90 miles per hour, struck Molina in his left eye, effectively ruining his potential baseball career and consigning him to an immediate future filled with delicate and risky surgeries, and a probable lifetime of blurred vision.

But hey, this is baseball, and these things happen. Ask Kirby Puckett. Puckett’s career was probably cut short by a Dennis Martinez pitch. Unfortunate, but an accident nonetheless.

But was this an accident?

Well, according to published reports, Molina was warming up about 14 feet to the side of home plate. That means that if it was an accident, Christensen missed his target by approximately 20 degrees. Christensen’s pitching coach, Brent Kemnitz, told reporters after the incident that he teaches his pitchers to dust hitters who time pitches.

This was a felony. Assault & battery with a deadly weapon. You’ve got intent to do harm, you’ve got deliberate action and you’ve got damn near deadly force. Christensen’s behind should have been hauled off and booked, and charges should have been brought against him. Kemnitz should have been right there with him, and an investigation into how much Wichita State head coach Gene Stephenson had to do with Christensen’s assault should have commenced–by Wichita State itself, if the authorities couldn’t be persuaded.

Instead, you’ve got the Chicago Cubs drafting and signing Christensen, and a totally insincere apology by this piece of human detritus. Fortunately, based on the Cubs’ history of talent acquisition and development, it’s probably safe to assume that Christensen will be hideous. He’ll get a whole bunch of chances to fail, and I’ll be hoping he capitalizes on all of them. I also hope he approaches Eric Chavez‘s ex-advisor for financial guidance.

2000 – Luis Montanez

Then a shortstop out from California, Montanez is currently a superstar with the Chicago Cubs.

2001 – Mark Prior

The 2nd overall pick and the most talented player in the 2001 draft, Prior reached the big leagues after just 9 minor league starts. I think I read something about Prior being out with a groin injury now. I think he’s in the Yankees system, but I’m not going to look. It’s too depressing.

2002 – Bobby Brownlie, Luke Hagerty, Chadd Blasko, Matt Clanton

Selected 21st overall, Brownlie got off to a strong professional start. In his first season he threw 66 innings in High A and allowed only 48 hits while striking out 59. 2004 was even a good season at AA. Then it went south.

Hagerty, Blasko and Clanton were picked 32nd, 36th and 38th. Each was a supplemental draft pick after the Cubs offered arbitration to Rondell White, Todd Van Poppel and David Weathers. Clanton was out of baseball after 2003, Blasko after 2007, Hagerty after 2008 and Brownlie after 2009. None reached the big leagues.

2003 – Ryan Harvey

A power hitting right fielder ranked 65th and 66th prior to 2004 and 2005 never had the plate discipline to be successful at the big league level. The Cubs released him after 2008 and the Rockies gave him a chance, but he’s now out of baseball (2010 was his last season). He posted a career .749 OPS, but that included an OBP below .300. He had a lot of power, but didn’t know how to take pitches.

2004 – no first round pick

2005 – Mark Pawelek

He was the 20th pick and in his first season the lefty looked to have a promising career ahead of him. At the age of 18 in rookie league he struck out 60 in 46 innings while allowing just 31 hits. The strikeouts began to go decline too much as he jumped to short-season A ball. I don’t remember which year it was, but I think it was 2007 when he woke up in spring training or something and tripped over a Playstation. He missed significant time because of that. Not necessarily because of the injury, he was never any good after that and the Cubs released him the same day they released Ryan Harvey.

2006 – Tyler Colvin

Tim Wilken’s first draft with the Cubs was this one and he went with a guy who was ranked below 150th by Baseball America. He’s now with the Chicago Cubs though he probably shouldn’t be. Here’s what Baseball America had to say about Colvin at the time of the draft.

Colvin was the hottest hitter coming down the stretch for one of college baseball’s hottest teams. It’s redemption for a player who finished 2005 in a 4-for-39 slump. Colvin took a 15-game hitting streak into the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, as his tools start turning into production. Colvin’s timing couldn’t be better, as scouts are looking for any college hitters who have tools and are performing. Colvin doesn’t have a tool that stands out, but as he has gained strength he has been able to repeat his smooth lefthanded swing more readily, and he’s added power to be average in that department. He’s an above-average runner and an efficient basestealer who plays a solid left field. Colvin’s arm is average. While he doesn’t stand out, he has shown fewer and fewer weaknesses this spring, and some scouts estimated he would go in the first three rounds.

2007 – Josh Vitters, Josh Donaldson

Since these are so recent, I’m just going to post what Baseball America has to say. I think most people here are familiar with the top picks from this point on. Vitters was the 3rd pick.

Vitters’ older brother Christian was a solid prospect who had an excellent career at Fresno State. While Christian was a 10th-round pick, Josh figures to go nine rounds higher. He entered last summer as one of the top hitters in the class, then blew to the top of the heap while dominating at the Area Code Games, doubling three times at the Aflac Classic and earning MVP honors at the Cape Cod Classic. While Vitters has solid defensive and running tools, that’s not what earned him such accolades–his bat did. He has tremendous feel for getting the fat part of the bat to the ball, and with his tremendous bat speed and barrel awareness, he drives the ball more consistently than any hitter in the class. Scouts describe him as the rare righthanded hitter with a pretty swing, and he’s shown the ability to handle different velocities and different styles of pitching with ease. Vitters’ his hand-eye coordination and ability to make contact are almost too good, because at times he swings at pitches he should let pass, rather than waiting for one he can punish with his all-fields power. While his hands and footwork at third are sound, he tends to misread hops, and defense doesn’t come easy to him. His bat should play at any position, however. His only speed-bump this spring was a bout with pneumonia that caused him to miss two weeks, but he was still considered a near-lock to be picked in the first five spots overall.

Donaldson was a supplemental pick for Juan Pierre and was taken 48th overall. He was traded to the A’s in the deal for Rich Harden and he made his MLB debut last season.

2008 – Andrew Cashner, Ryan Flaherty

Do we really need to talk about Cashner? Here’s what BA had to say.

For a while, it appeared that the state of Texas might get shut out of the draft’s first round for the first time since 1977. That’s unlikely to happen now, thanks to Cashner, the hottest pitching prospect to come out of Angelina (Texas) JC since Clay Buchholz. Cashner turned down opportunities last year to sign with the Rockies (as a draft-and-follow) and the Cubs (as a 29th-rounder), opting instead to transfer to Texas Christian. A starter at Angelina, Cashner has excelled as a reliever for the Horned Frogs. No college pitcher in this draft can match his consistent 96-98 mph velocity, the product of outstanding whip in his 6-foot-6, 180-pound frame, and overmatched opponents have hit just .104 against him. Cashner has armside run on his fastball, and he backs it up with an 84-85 mph slider that can be electric. The slider is much better than the mediocre curveball he threw in the past, though it’s not always consistent. Neither is his command, which may prevent him from becoming an effective starter, but some clubs are interested in returning him to that role in pro ball. A team in love with radar-gun readings could take Cashner as high as the middle of the first round.

Flaherty was a supplemental pick for Jason Kendall and was selected 41st overall. He’s having a very good season for the Smokies right now and could see MLB action before the end of the season.

2009 – Brett Jackson

The top prospect in the Cubs organization entering the season was selected 31st overall. I wish the Cubs were drafting that low every season (remember 2008?). This was the first time since I’ve closely followed the Cubs drafts in which they chose a college hitter who had excellent patience. I was thrilled with this pick. Jackson missed some time recently because of a pinky injury after a hot start. He’s hit well at each level, but has struggled a bit since his return. He’s also likely to get a call up before the end of the season.

2010 – Hayden Simpson

Like Colvin, Simpson was rated well below where he was picked. I believe BA had him ranked 177th. He signed for half a million under slot and was shocked he was drafted in the first round. So was everyone else. Here’s BA’s take.

Southern Arkansas coach Allen Gum found the most successful pitcher in school history literally right next door. Simpson, his next-door neighbor in Magnolia, Ark., has gone 35-2, 2.39 with 323 strikeouts in 271 innings in three seasons with the NCAA Division II Muleriders. Though he’s just 6 feet and 175 pounds, he has a strong lower half and a quick arm that delivers 91-93 mph fastballs that peak at 96. His fastball is fairly straight and he tends to pitch up in the zone, which could lead to difficulty with tougher competition. He has a pair of hard breaking pitches, an 82-83 mph slider and an 78-80 mph curve. He also has a changeup that he uses sparingly, and he commands his entire repertoire well. His velocity decreased a little toward the end of the season, and some scouts are wary of his size and the fact that he’s never ventured far from Magnolia. Nevertheless, his fastball could get him drafted as high as the fourth or fifth round.

Not a great list first rounders by any stretch of the imagination. Some realy good ones. Some with tremendous potential, but then again, all first rounders have that. Some whose careers were shortened because of injury. Some whose careers were shortened because they couldn’t not swing the bat.