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January 6, 2012

The BP First Take

Friday, December 6

by Daniel Rathman

Teams selecting second overall in the first-year player draft were on a pretty good roll from 1997 through 2005. J.D. Drew, Mark Mulder, Josh Beckett, Mark Prior, B.J. Upton, Rickie Weeks, Justin Verlander, and Alex Gordon all went in that spot. The lone misstep came in 2000, when the Twins took righty Adam Johnson out of Cal State Fullerton.

Then the Rockies made perhaps the biggest mistake in their brief franchise history. With Clayton Kershaw, Tim Lincecum, and Brandon Morrow still on the board—and Evan Longoria reportedly right under their noses—Colorado veered off course and grabbed Stanford righty Greg Reynolds.

The story could have been so perfect. Colorado could have reunited Longoria with 2005 first-rounder Troy Tulowitzki, also a Long Beach State product. The Dirtbags could have formed the best left side of the infield in baseball, and perhaps—when all was said and done—one of the best in league history. You could not have dreamed up a better scenario. Alas, the Rockies did not believe Longoria could man the keystone, and did not value him as highly at the hot corner.

So, they took Reynolds, letting Longoria fall to the Rays, and changing the course of baseball history for the ensuing few years. Since their lone pennant in 2007, the Rockies have not made the playoffs. The Rays have thrived. And the NL West landscape has turned upside down.

The Dodgers won the NL West in 2008 and 2009, bolstered by Kershaw in each of his first two big-league seasons. The Giants rode Lincecum to the 2010 World Series. The Diamondbacks parlayed Max Scherzer—the 11th-overall pick—into Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson, two key parts of their 2011 rotation. 

 The Rockies? Six years later, they have a revolving door at third base, 99 innings worth -0.81 WARP, and the manager’s son. No pressure, kid.  

Daniel Rathman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Daniel's other articles. You can contact Daniel by clicking here

10 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

R.A.Wagman

This is a great upside play for the Rangers. Sal Fasano, manager of the Blue Jays AA team in New Hampshire recently mentioned Reynolds as the pitcher he has caught who has the best stuff to have not taken off. He thought that a change of scenery could help him actuate his natural stuff. Well played, Texas.

Jan 06, 2012 07:23 AM
rating: 0
 
I75Titans

Rockies made the playoffs in 2009, and very nearly bumped off the Phillies, having blown 9th inning leads in both game 3 and game 4.

Jan 06, 2012 08:03 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Daniel Rathman
BP staff

Thanks for catching that. Meant to say that Reynolds had not contributed to a division title/playoff run for them, but that was definitely an oversight.

Jan 06, 2012 09:00 AM
 
ScottyB

Given the inherent uncertainty is draft prospect evaluation, this seems like somewhat unfair criticism.

Jan 06, 2012 09:02 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Daniel Rathman
BP staff

I meant it less as a harsh criticism of the Rockies, and more musing about the impact of a single decision in the draft, but I understand if it came off that way. The Rockies certainly weren't the only team to err in that first round, with Brad Lincoln, Andrew Miller, and Billy Rowell also picked in the top 10.

Jan 06, 2012 10:02 AM
 
DSchmitz3

Wasn't there also rumors of the Rockies looking for 'religous' players and Longoria wasn't really that?

Jan 06, 2012 09:36 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Daniel Rathman
BP staff

I believe you're referring to this story in the USA Today (http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/nl/rockies/2006-05-30-rockies-cover_x.htm), though I'm not sure if that directly affected their decision in the draft.

Jan 06, 2012 09:59 AM
 
Pat Folz

Kevin's 'strongly hinted' that this was a major factor in their decision a few times on the podcast.

Jan 06, 2012 10:45 AM
rating: 0
 
DDriesen

Any idea who the Rays were set to take if the Rockies had grabbed Longoria? It would be interesting to speculate how they would have fared assuming it is not Reynolds.

Jan 06, 2012 14:37 PM
rating: 0
 
ProfJason

As I recall reading in the St. Petersburg Times, the Devil Rays were ready to take Lincecum if the Rox took Longoria. It sounded like they even had a deal ready to sign him. It is pretty scary to think of a Rays rotation with Lincecum in it. Either way, it seemed like the Rays were thinking right with that pick.

Jan 08, 2012 23:25 PM
rating: 0
 
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Transaction Analysis: ... (01/05)
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Next Column >>
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