Zimmerman head of '05 draft class
Third baseman sticks in Majors, enjoying strong rookie year
The draft class from last season already has had three players reach the Major Leagues, but only one of them is still there.Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, selected fourth overall by the Washington Nationals out of the University of Virginia, needed only 67 Minor League games to reach the big leagues. He was promoted from Double-A Harrisburg last Sept. 1 and made his debut that night, making him a footnote in draft history -- the first position player from the 2005 draft to play in the Majors. After his first 53 games for the Nationals this season, Zimmerman was batting .266 with nine home runs and 32 RBIs, second on the team to potential NL All-Star Alfonso Soriano, and all signs point to Zimmerman seeing the last of the Minor Leagues. Zimmerman was joined in the big leagues 18 days later by Boston Red Sox right-hander Craig Hansen, the first player in Red Sox history to reach the Majors during the same year he was drafted. Hansen, who made four relief appearances, currently is with Triple-A Pawtuckett. He has a 1-2 record and 2.29 ERA in six appearances, including three starts. Right-hander Joey Devine, the 27th player selected, actually made his debut first, getting an appearance on August 8, 2005, and pitching in five games for the Atlanta Braves late last season. Devine is currently assigned to Triple-A Richmond. But he is battling back problems and has made just one appearance this season. So, as of the weekend prior to the '06 First-Year Player Draft, Zimmerman remains one of a kind in his draft class -- the only active Major Leaguer. But others are working their way up the Minor League ladder. Justin Upton, the first player chosen, signed late in the year with the Arizona Diamondbacks, was moved from shortstop to center field and currently is playing for the Class A South Bend (Ind.) Silver Hawks. After 36 games, Upton was batting .289 with two home runs and 20 RBIs. The Kansas City Royals, who draft first this year, selected second a year ago and plucked third baseman Alex Gordon from the pool of amateur talent. He is rising quickly through the system, currently playing for the Double-A Wichita Wranglers. After 51 games, Gordon was second among the regulars with a .312 batting average, led the team in home runs (nine), was third in RBIs with 27 and committed just five errors. Gordon signed late last year, on Sept. 29, and therefore this is the first season he has played for a Royals farm club. So far, it's full speed ahead for the 22-year-old. That is not the case for catcher Jeff Clement. The third overall selection signed with the Seattle Mariners in early August and played well at Class A Everett and Class A Wisconsin, where he batted .319 with six home runs in 30 games. He was a potential roster addition this season, but the signing of veteran catcher Kenji Johjima from Japan and a devastating knee injury earlier this season have put Clement's career on hold. Clement had surgeries performed on his left knee and left elbow on May 6 in Seattle, and he could return to action at the end of this month. Clement had a torn left meniscus in his knee repaired, and he had a bone chip removed from his elbow. The knee injury occurred in a game earlier this season, but the elbow problem had existed during his collegiate career at the University of Southern California. Clement was hitting .288 with two home runs and 10 RBIs through 15 games this season at Double-A San Antonio. Here's a closer look at some other players from the class of '05 (all statistics are through Thursday night):
Ryan Braun, 3B. Milwaukee Brewers: The fifth overall selection out of the University of Miami (Fla.) is off to a good start at Class A Brevard County. He is batting .303 after 48 games with six home runs and 33 RBIs, and he was named to the Florida State League All-Star team on Thursday.Ricardo Romero, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays: The pitcher out of Cal State Fullerton is pitching for the Class A Dunedin (Fla.) Blue Jays and has no decisions in five starts. His strikeout-to-walk ratio (26-7) is outstanding, and he appears to have fully recovered from a triceps injury that kept him in extended Spring Training until May 1. Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Colorado Rockies: The all-around star from Long Beach State currently plays for the Double-A Tulsa Drillers and is having a solid season. Tulowitzki is batting .294 with six home runs and 25 RBIs through 46 games. Wade Townsend, RHP, Tampa Bay Devil Rays: The former Rice star, who was drafted in the first round by the Orioles in 2004 but didn't sign, had Tommy John elbow surgery last year and is expected to miss the entire 2006 season. Michael Pelfrey, RHP, New York Mets: After winning two of his first three decisions and compiling a 1.64 ERA for Class A Port St. Lucie (Fla.), Pelfrey was promoted to Double-A Binghamton, where he has an 0-1 record and 3.49 ERA in six starts. He is averaging more than one strikeout per inning -- 56 strikeouts in 50 1/3 Minor League innings. Cameron Maybin, CF, Detroit Tigers: The 10th overall pick in the draft last year has been out since May 7 with a ligament injury to his right index finger. He was having a superb season for the Class A West Michigan White Caps. After 44 games, he was batting .330 with six stolen bases in seven attempts.
John Mayberry, OF, Texas Rangers: The power numbers Mayberry has at Class A Clinton -- seven home runs and 23 RBIs in 43 games -- would make his father proud, but the younger Mayberry is batting .238 and struck out 51 times in his first 160 at-bats.Eli Iorg, OF, Houston Astros: The Class A Lexington Legends outfielder and son of former MLB player Garth has a .232 batting average and a .280 on-base percentage. But he is getting a lot of production from his 39 hits, driving in 34 runs. Jared Lansford, RHP, Oakland Athletics: Midwest League hitters are having a tough time getting hits off former AL batting champion Carney Lansford's son, managing just 18 hits in 35 innings. But the pitcher has more walks (19) than strikeouts (16) and missed the first month of the season with inflammation in his right rotator cuff. Kyle Reynolds, SS, Chicago Cubs: The former Baylor University star and son of ex-big leaguer Craig Reynolds is playing for Class A Peoria (Midwest League) and batting .256 after 30 games and 90 at-bats. His five walks and 23 strikeouts stick out in his overall statistics. Koby Clemens, 3B, Houston Astros: A dislocated finger has limited Roger's eldest son to 15 games for Class A Lexington this season, and the eighth-round draft choice has been working out with his dad. He was 8-for-43 (.186) with one home run and 11 RBIs before being injured. Michael Brantley, OF, Milwaukee Brewers: The son of former MLB outfielder Mickey Brantley currently is playing for the Class A West Virginia Power and is batting .261 with no home runs and 14 RBIs. His 13 walks and 12 strikeouts in his first 111 at-bats show he has a good grasp of the strike zone. Toby Gardenhire, SS, Minnesota Twins: The first full Minor League season has been a challenge for the Twins manager's son. Through 28 games and 79 at-bats for the Class A Beloit Snappers, Gardenhire was batting .190 with three RBIs, four walks and 21 strikeouts. Andy Hargrove, 1B, Seattle Mariners: After a superb performance at Peoria last summer, when he batted .314 with three home runs and 15 RBIs in 35 games, the son of Mariners manager Mike Hargrove currently is participating in extended Spring Training in Peoria.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.