MLB rosters are usually of haphazard construction. Big markets sign big name free agents; the low-budgeted ink low profile players. International scouting has seen an influx of Latin American and Asian players; general managers practically tore their rotator cuffs yearning to sign Rusney Castillo. The trade deadline looms large for buyers and sellers, and each summer's amateur draft carries the hope of possessing a future star. Pennant hopes ride on the development of first-round picks, sure, but real gems often lie deep in the scrolling list of names of draft results.
Both the Giants and Pirates -- competitors in tonight's winner-take-all Wild Card game -- have snagged a couple draft day steals that will play big roles tonight.
Brandon Belt, 2009, 5th round
Belt was never supposed to be much of a hitter -- he was supposed to be pitcher. He was drafted as one in both 2006 and 2007 (by the Red Sox and Braves, respectively), before making the transition to first base as a sophomore at the University of Texas. The Giants took a fifth-round flier on Belt in 2009, hoping the athletic lefty's swing would come around. It has -- or, it started to. Belt was off to a great start in 2014 before sporadic injuries caused him to miss 100 games. He'll be in the heart of the Giants lineup tonight.
Sergio Romo, 2005, 28th round
Romo, the Giants' former and now part-time closer, was drafted in the 28th round of the 2005 MLB draft. The man who made it easy for Giants fans to forget Brian Wilson surged San Francisco to the 2012 title, and made the All-Star team in 2013. Romo's 2014 hit a dreadful patch in May and June, costing him his closing job. Bruce Bochy has rebuilt Romo's confidence since, employing him out of the bullpen effectively, as Romo has a 2.10 ERA since his demotion.
Tony Watson, 2007, 9th round
Watson, Pittsburgh's All-Star lefty reliever, has been spectacular for Pittsburgh this season. The late pick has accrued the most scoreless appearances -- 68 -- of any relief pitcher, according to Peter Gammons. On the year, Watson has thrown 77.1 innings and given up just 14 runs. The first-time All-Star brings a 2.69 FIP, 1.02 WHIP, and 1.63 ERA into tonight's Wild Card game.
Andrew McCutchen, 2005, 11th overall
Alright, alright. Sort of cheated there. Cutch went 11th in the 2005 MLB draft, behind such names as Justin Upton (1st), Alex Gordon (2nd), Ryan Zimmerman (4th), Ryan Braun (5th), and Troy Tulowitzki (7th), and going one pick ahead of Jay Bruce. But to go eleventh in that draft? The only non-PED-related MVP of that star-studded group? McCutchen is a steal. The 2013 NL MVP is again the front runner for the award in 2014, as he has posted a career high on-base percentage (.410), and leads the league in OPS (.952). Andrew McCutchen at the 11th pick is a steal if there ever was one.