Blast from the Past: A look at the 1997 MLB Draft

The MLB draft has come into discussion this week as young amateur players signed their first professional contracts. 'Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals' has been thrown around as a franchise changing move. I decided to go back to 1997 to take a look at how first round draft picks impacted their franchise. 

Of the 31 picks in the draft, 21 of them made it to the major league level.

The Angels, Blue Jays, and Astros made franchise changing moves with their picks in 1997. The Angels selected Troy Glaus with the third overall pick in the draft. Glaus - a power hitter out of UCLA - advanced through the minor leagues to lead the Angels to win the World Series, taking World Series MVP. 

The Blue Jays selected an athletic young outfielder by the name of Vernon Wells. At the time, Wells contemplated a scholarship to play at the University of Texas, where he could play football and baseball. Wells chose to sign with the Blue Jays and has been with them since. He is a two-time All-Star with three Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger


G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2009 - Vernon Wells 118 478 64 122 29 2 13 51 33 64 14 3 .255 .301 .406

The Astros selected Lance Berkman with the sixteenth pick in the draft. Berkman showed off his power in the minor leagues, rising quickly as the up-and-coming first baseman. However, Berkman was blocked by All-Star Jeff Bagwell, who was in his prime at the time. Berkman was forced to move to the outfield, which extended his stay in the minor leagues.

Berkman broke out in 2000 for the Astros, showing up a month late and hitting .297 with 21 home runs. Berkman has appeared in five All-Star games since, hitting a career (so far) 306 home runs, ranked second all time among the Houston Astos. 

A lot of attention in this draft was on J.D. Drew, whose agent Scott Boras was demanding a 10 million dollar contract for his client.

Sound familiar?

The Phillies had no intention of giving an amateur player 10 million dollars, but drafted him anyways. The Phillies couldn't work out a deal and the last time I checked, Drew was still not welcome in Philadelphia.

Drew did make history though with his brother, Tim Drew, who was drafted with the 28th pick in the draft. That was the first time brothers had been taken together in the first round. 

The Cubs took Jon Garland only to trade at the deadline a year later for veteran Matt Karchner. While Garland went on to have seven strong seasons in the White Sox rotation, Karchner was released following his six-week stay with the Cubs and did not pitch in the majors again. 

Several more low-key guys came out of the '97 draft. Michael Cuddyer has been in the Twins organization since they drafted him, compiling a career .269 average with 89 home runs (and counting) in nine major league seasons. While Jason Grilli may have not lived up to expectations as a first rounder, he has put up fairly good numbers in recent years. He has a 2.06 ERA since joining Texas this season. Jayson Werth, who was taken by the Orioles, is starting to come into his own in Philadelphia now that he has a starting job. 

 

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2009 - Jayson Werth 118 431 79 116 22 1 28 76 67 114 13 3 .269 .371 .520

One more guy to put up solid career numbers is Adam Kennedy. Kennedy was taken by the Cardinals, but left to join the Angels and played a key role in their run to winning the World Series. He did return to the Cardinals in 2007 for two seasons.

The first overall pick, Matt Anderson, could never quite settle down in the majors. A torn muscle early on in his career may have played a factor. 

Not a bad year as MLB drafts go, but I'm sure fans expect better results coming from this years pool.

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