05/05/05 4:57 PM ET
A historical look back on the '95 draft
Much hype usually accompanies first-round picks
By Kevin T. Czerwinski / MLB.com
Beltran has become one of the game's highest-paid players and one of its most productive stars. Yet, during the 1995 draft, 48 players were chosen ahead of him before Kansas City selected the five-tool outfielder. Sure, there were some first-round picks that were deserving of where they were chosen. But they were accompanied by the hype that usually surrounds a first-round pick.
Kerry Wood (fourth overall by the Cubs), Todd Helton (eighth by Colorado), Geoff Jenkins (ninth by Milwaukee), Matt Morris (12th by the Cardinals) and Roy Halladay (17th by the Blue Jays) each went high in the draft and have gone on to have productive careers.
Then there's Beltran, who signed a $119 million deal with the Mets in January, nearly 10 years after he was overlooked by everyone.
"Everyone said I was going to go in the first round," Beltran said. "When that didn't happen I was disappointed. We had a workout about a month before the draft. I was running and I felt something down here [in his lower right back]. I never felt it before. I've never felt it again. But they thought I was hurt.
"The day of the draft, the scout from the Royals called and told me they picked me. My father was happy and proud. I was happy too but I was disappointed. So I said I wanted to make it to the big leagues before the one they drafted first (Juan LeBron had been the Royals' first-round selection). I did. But none of that matters now."
The Angels had the first pick and the 31st pick in '95, and they passed over Beltran both times. Yet they made the most of their top two picks, choosing Darin Erstad out of Nebraska with the first pick overall and Jarrod Washburn (University of Wisconsin, Osh Kosh) with the first pick in the second round. Both players would go on to play key roles in the Angels' 2002 World Series victory.
There were also several players taken with later picks that have gone on to have successful Major League careers. Sean Casey was chosen by the Indians with the 53rd pick while Bronson Arroyo was taken 69th by Pittsburgh. Russ Ortiz (103rd, San Francisco), Doug Mientkiewicz (128th, Twins), Joe Nathan (159th, Giants), A.J. Burnett (217th, Mets), Dave Dellucci (276th, Baltimore) and Kevin Gryboski (426th, Mariners) each were chosen away from the spotlight of the first round.
In a case of what might have been, the Tigers drafted Mark Mulder in the 55th round (1,455th overall). Mulder opted not to sign and was drafted again three years later, this time by Oakland with the second overall pick.
"I think I was more drafted as a favor that year," Mulder said. "I'd known the scout for a long time. Not that they wouldn't have signed me, but he knew I wasn't going to sign. I was a 55th-round pick. I think it was just more, he came to my house and they offered me, I don't remember exactly what it was, but it was like a bus ticket and a pack of smokes. I really don't even remember. But it wasn't even an option for me. I wasn't ready physically, mentally, I hadn't grown up yet. So I didn't even look at it as something that I was even ready for, really.
"Obviously I didn't know things were going to happen the way they did. It's just funny, because that scout, when I got drafted three years later, he sent me his sheet that they send in to rate players. Just looking at all the stuff, and then how it changed -- and I'm still friends with the guy who drafted me with Oakland, so then looking at his sheet, its funny how things changed in three years. Why, I don't really know. But I don't really care, either."
Florida speedster Juan Pierre was also drafted for the first of two times by Seattle. The Mariners chose Pierre in the 30th round (818th overall). He didn't sign and was chosen again by the Mariners the following year, this time in the 48th round (1,405th overall). Pierre was eventually drafted a third time, by Colorado, in the 13th round (390th overall) in 1998 and signed.
Pat Burrell was also selected by the Red Sox in the 43rd round (1,194th overall). He wisely opted to not sign and went to Philadelphia three years later as the top pick overall.
Other notables who were chosen in 1995 but opted not to sign were Houston closer Brad Lidge, Baltimore infielder Jerry Hairston and Pittsburgh pitcher Kip Wells. The Giants tabbed Lidge in the 42nd round (1,167th overall). The Astros eventually grabbed him in the first round in 1998 (17th overall). The O's picked Hairston in the 42nd round (1,172) but he didn't sign, waiting instead until Baltimore chose him again in the 11th round (345th overall) in 1997.
Meanwhile, the Brewers chose Wells in the 58th round, 1,500th overall. He waited three years and was the first-round pick of the White Sox (16th overall).
Of the 30 first-round picks in 1995, nine never reached the Major Leagues. The Red Sox got burned twice in that lot when pitcher Andy Yount (15th overall) and outfielder Corey Jenkins (24th) never panned out. The highest pick not to reach fruition that year was Jaime Jones, an outfielder chosen sixth overall by the Marlins out of Rancho Bernardo, California. The Mets and Yankees also chose busts with their first-rounders, the Bombers taking outfielder Shea Morenz from the University of Texas and the team from Queens tabbing shortstop Ryan Jaroncyk from Escondido, Calif.
Other first-round flops included third baseman Chris Haas (29th by St. Louis), pitcher David Yocum (20th by the Dodgers), pitcher Alvie Shepherd (21st by Baltimore) and pitcher Mike Drumright (11th by the Tigers).
The latest player chosen to actually make it to the Major Leagues from the 1995 draft was outfielder Charles Thomas, whom the Yankees tabbed with the 1,597th pick in the 68th round. However, his path to the Major Leagues didn't go through New York -- he chose not to sign in '95 or in 1998, when the Dodgers selected him in the 13th round. Instead, he signed with the Braves, who grabbed him in the 19th round (580th overall) in 2000.
Kevin Czerwinski is a reporter for MLB.com. Marty Noble and Matthew Leach contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.