Nats-Expos have consistently found Draft gems
Dawson, Carter, Johnson, Raines among franchise's many great selections
WASHINGTON -- The Nationals/Expos have a history of being successful when it comes to the First-Year Player Draft. Take the Nats' current Major League roster for example: 12 of the 25 players were selected by the organization in the Draft.
With that in mind, we've decided to select the best pick in club history for each of the first 15 rounds of the Draft. There were some tough choices. Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper, for example, were each selected in the first round.
The 2014 Draft will take place on June 5-7, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Thursday, June 5, at 6 p.m. ET. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 7 p.m., with the top 74 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. MLB.com's exclusive coverage of the second and third days will begin with a live Draft show at 12:30 p.m. ET on June 6.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. Every selection will be tweeted live from @MLBDraftTracker, and you can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Round 1: Ryan Zimmerman, 2005
Then-general manager Jim Bowden said Zimmerman was Brooks Robinson, Scott Rolen and Mike Schmidt all rolled into one. Zimmerman has done well for himself thus far, winning a National League Gold Glove Award in 2009 and two NL Silver Slugger Awards. While Strasburg or Harper may ultimately turn out to be the best No. 1 pick in the franchise's history, they haven't played long enough yet to challenge Zimmerman.
Round 2: Randy Johnson, 1985
While trying to win a division title in 1989, the Expos traded Johnson --then a highly touted prospect who hadn't yet been in the big leagues for a full season -- to the Mariners as part of a five-player trade. The main piece Montreal received in return was left-hander Mark Langston, one of the league's top strikeout pitchers at the time. Langston wasn't bad for the Expos -- winning 12 games before signing with the Angels as a free agent after the season. As for Johnson, he went on to become one of the best pitchers of all time, winning five Cy Young Awards, including four straight with the D-backs.
Round 3: Gary Carter, 1972
Not only was Carter the most popular player in Expos history, he became a Hall of Fame catcher. A 10-time All-Star, Carter won two All-Star game MVP Awards and helped the Mets win their most recent World Series title in 1986.
Round 4: Cliff Lee, 2000
In June 2002, with the Expos in a pennant race and the franchise seemingly in jeopardy of being contracted, then-GM Omar Minaya traded veteran infielder Lee Stevens and three prospects -- Lee, Brandon Phillips and Grady Sizemore -- to the Indians for pitchers Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew. The deal turned out to be one-sided in favor of the Indians. Lee, Sizemore and Phillips became All-Stars [although Phillips didn't become a star until he went to the Reds], while Colon spent only a half-season with Montreal before leaving via free agency.
Round 5: Tim Raines, 1977
"Rock" was projected to be the next Joe Morgan. The Expos believed that, like Morgan, Raines would become a player who displayed plenty of power to go with his speed. But the predictions proved premature. Raines had a tough time playing defense at second base, and a move to left field in 1981 was the best thing that happened to him. Most of the damage Raines inflicted from the top of the batting order was as a member of the Expos and White Sox. From '81-92, he scored 90 or more runs eight times, led his league in stolen bases four times, was an All-Star seven times and hit .290 or better seven times.
Round 6: Jose Vidro, 1992
Arguably the best offensive second baseman in franchise history, Vidro was one of then-manager Frank Robinson's favorite players. Vidro was a three-time All-Star and won an NL Silver Slugger Award in 2003. A knee injury would take its toll on Vidro, who became a designated hitter/first baseman toward the end of his career with the Mariners.
Round 7: Geoff Blum, 1994
Robinson often said trading Blum to the Astros in 2002 for infielder Chris Truby was a big mistake. A valuable back-up player who could play all four infield positions and the corner outfield spots, Blum played for six teams, including the Padres and White Sox. His game-winning home run for the White Sox win Game 3 of the 2005 Fall Classic help lead the South Siders to a World Series championship.
Round 8: Mark Gardner, 1985
Gardner was a starter for the Expos for three-plus years before he was dealt to the Royals after the 1992 season, and he is best known for his six years with the Giants. The Expos also selected Mike Boddicker and Mark McGwire in the eighth round of the '75 and '81 Drafts, respectively, but didn't sign either player.
Round 9: Charlie Lea, 1978
Lea was one of the Expos' top starters during a three-year period during the early 1980s before arm and shoulder injuries interrupted his career. He is best remembered for throwing a no-hitter against the Giants in 1981.
Round 10: Mike Blowers, 1986
He was in the Expos' organization for four years before the team traded him to the Yankees for veteran pitcher John Candelaria. Blowers didn't have much of an impact with New York, but he was a contributor to the 1995 Mariners, who went to the postseason for the first time in their history.
Round 11: Andre Dawson, 1975
As a member of the Expos in 1977, Dawson captured the NL Rookie of the Year honors by hitting .282 with 19 home runs and 65 RBIs. He went on to become one of eight players to hit 300 home runs and steal 300 bases in a career. And despite suffering from bad knees for most of his career, Dawson won eight Gold Gloves while patrolling center field for the Expos and right field for the Cubs.
Round 12: Craig Stammen, 2005
After struggling in his first two years in the big leagues as a starter, Stammen has been a valuable reliever for the Nationals since 2011, working as both a long reliever and a setup man.
Round 13: None
The franchise hasn't hit on a player in that round to date, but in 1984, the Expos selected reliever Jeff Brantley, who did not sign. The next year, Brantley was selected by the Giants in the sixth round and went on to have a productive 14-year career in the big leagues.
Round 14: Jamey Carroll, 1996
Carroll, who seemed destined for a career in the Minors, played for the Expos/Nationals from 2002-05, and he was a favorite of Robinson's because of his hard work and hustle on the field. When then-general manager Jim Bowden dealt Carroll to the Rockies after the 2005 season, Robinson was unhappy and had a tough time finding a quality backup infielder in '06.
Round 15: Val Pascucci, 1999
Pascucci spent most of his career in the Minors, but he had brief Major League stints with the Expos and Mets. He last played in the big leagues in 2011.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also can be found on Twitter