When I was a kid, I didn't konw much about the draft. Growing up in rural Minnesota, I didn't have much access to information. The first thing I can remember about the draft, other than reading the information on the back of baseball cards, which I started collecting in 1986, was the #3 overall pick in the 1991 draft: David McCarty. I tried to stay informed through farm reports and stats in the Star Tribune on Sundays, which I would get occasionally from a gas station about 10 miles from where I lived, after church. He did ok in the minors if I recall and when he debuted in 1993, he flopped. He had no power, a long swing and struck out all the time. I was disappointed. I was 12. I was looking for another star to join my recent World Series winning Twins, and I couldn't have been more sad. I started to collect minor league cards to get more knowledge in the minor leagues. Help for the Twins had to come from somewhere and it wasn't coming from free agents, that was for sure. Dan's sports cards in New Ulm, MN was my connection and I spent every penny I got from chores there, and then some(I talked my Mom into paying the tax, it wasn't fair for a kid to have to pay tax..haha). Cliff Floyd and Manny Ramirez were my favorites out of that draft, along with Pokey Reese. How can you not love that name. Mike Neill also became a favorite. Yep, that was a swing and a miss. This was the start of my baseball prospecting. My goal then was to get the best cards, it's different now, but still a similar idea.
1992 was a great year for me and the draft. I got a Topps Gold of a kid named Derek Jeter and I had a favorite. Dan Serafini was drafted as the Twins top pick and we obviously had the next Koufax. I still remember how he rounded the bill of his cap. He was can't miss, right. I like the Orioles Jeff Hammonds, Pookie(Preston) Wilson(all name), Charles Johnson(I was an aspiring catcher), and Trey Beamon. Beamon's .700 batting average in high school, or whatever it was, was amazing. Rich Ireland was also a favorite, basically because he had a cool lefty pose in his card.(Wow, never got out of GCL as a 3rd round pick.) Another miss, but hell, I was only 11.
1993 was the year the greatest prospect who has ever lived(slight sarcasm) was drafted 1st overall. I had never heard of him until I got a 1994 Action Packed card. Wayne Gomes with that funky delivery and Matt Drews with his long lanky delivery were my favorites(Now, I was an aspiring pitcher). Brooks Keischnick fascinated me, because he was an OF and pitched. Jason Varitek was a favorite because he was a future Twin and I still wanted to be a catcher. Ryan McGuire and Jose Valentin(Twins) were a couple more favorites. All of my information was from baseball cards and Beckett magazines, with the Star Tribune mixed in, but that was all Twins and Minnesotan's. It really angered me when the Twins didn't sign Varitek. I was confident he was going to be a superstar but since he didn't sign, I hated him from that point on.
At this point I was looking for more info, but in the middle of Southern Minnesota didn't offer a lot of access to information, until one day I found a magazine called Baseball America. All of a sudden I had access to so much information. College players like Todd Walker and my hated Jason Varitek, Paul Wilson and Jose Cruz. Gotta love Josh Booty and his bat carving, Terrence Long and Hiram Bocachica. Brian Buchanan was a massive human, how could he not succeed?
1995 was the year I wanted to become Kerry Wood. I wanted to throw 100 MPH as a high schooler. My favorites that year were Jaime Jones, Reggie Taylor, Juan Lebron and Mike Barrett. Wow, I blew that.
1996 was the year I fell in love with Billy Koch in the college world series. What a rocket for an arm. I didn't want Travis Lee for my Twins..and in the end I didn't get him. We missed out on another top pick, just like with Jason Varitek, but Tampa got him and I was excited for the expansion teams. How could they go wrong with 2 top players like Lee and Matt White. This was the first year I watched college baseball much thanks to cable at my grandparents house, and I was impressed by Mark Kotsay's sweet left handed swing. Chad Green sounded like he was going to be a terror on the bases and Dermal Brown was a left handed Bo Jackson.
At this point, I was irritated by the Twins job of drafting, so I started doing my own version of the draft and picking one player in each round. This was a while ago, so I don't remember all my picks, but I did it when I received the BA draft issue with all the picks of every team. I didn't care where the player was picked. I just picked one per round. As good as Mike Cuddyer sounded, I went with the big SS Troy Glaus. He reminded me of a favorite in Mark Mcgwire. I also liked Ryan Anderson, but I wanted Glaus. I stuck with Mike Restovich in the 2nd round. He was a home state kid and sounded like he had a good shot of making it to the majors. Matt Riley was my pick in the 3rd round. 4th: Alan Webb, 5:Jon Hamilton, 6:Kris Wilken, 7: I remember vividly: Matt Garrick, 8:Vicente Rosario and I can't remember who I took past that.
in 1998, I was intrigued by J.M. Gold because he was from Toms River, NJ, but I went with a different LHP, CC Sabathia. I think it was the right choice. In the 2nd I took Nick Neugebauer, 3:Steve Bechler, 4:Eddy Furniss, 6:Jake Esteves. That is the extent of waht I remember. I'm proud of that because I hit on CC. I will always remember that.
In 1999, I wouldn't let myself take to top guys, so I went with my favorite from the middle of the round. Vince Faison. Yuck, it was between him and Keith Reed. Yep, that was bad. 2:Ben Broussard, 3:Kiki Bengochea(way better than Morneau) 4:Matt Zepicky, 5:Nick James. I know I went deeper in these drafts, but I can't remember past this. I graduated from High School in '99 and went to college in 2000. I went to a 2 year school for civil engineering, and was very busy. I didn't continue with my version of shadow drafting after 1999.
I continued following the draft in 2000 and 2001, but then I went out into the real world. I was working 40-75 hours a week and had no time to keep up on baseball. My hiatus toward the draft and the minors in general began. I even let my BA subscription lapse. I paid a little attention, grabbing a BA at the news stand occasionally, but didn't read much. I continued working ridiculous hours for years.
In 2005, I really started missing baseball and decided to delve into fantasy baseball. I found a league called the General Managers Instructional League. It is a 24 team league, that has a system to replicate MLB, with a FYPD draft in July/August and a Free agent draft for international signings in the winter.
My obsession was reignited.
To be continued.....