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.