Looking Back at the 1st Round of the 1994 Draft

Call me a curmudgeon, but I really hate the NFL Draft. Captain Hair-Do aside, it is a slog of a television event that really could be done in a matter of hours rather than days. Because football has become America's most popular sport these days, Bud Selig thinks he has to mimic the NFL by broadcasting the draft in prime time, starting at 6pm eastern on June 9. Rather than getting through several rounds on day one of the draft, only three rounds will be drafted, and then the draft will resume the next day at noon. All told, it is going to take three days to get through 50 rounds.

Thankfully, the draft is going to be broadcast on the MLB Network rather than ESPN, so we're spared of Steve Phillips and Bermanisms. While I'm happy that televised drafts mean more exposure, I miss the old days when the first round was blitzed through within a half-hour, with simply names being called monotonously through a speaker phone at a feverish pace.

Now that I got my Andy Rooney moment out of the way, I thought it might be fun to do a little retrospect of the first rounds of various drafts. This isn't deep draft research, there is plenty of that out there already to read up on.

We'll start with 1994, which is bustier than a cabaret show.

Charted below are all of the first rounders and their total WAR compiled for each player before they become eligible for free agency. A players' names that are italicized are those that did not play a single game in the majors.

Pick Team POS HS/College WAR
Paul Wilson 1 NYM P COL 0.5
Ben Grieve 2 OAK OF HS 8.4
Dustin Hermanson 3 SD P COL 8.2
Antone Williamson 4 MIL 3B COL -0.7
Josh Booty 5 FLA SS HS 0
McCay Christiansen 6 CAL OF HS -0.3
Doug Million 7 COL P HS 0
Todd Walker 8 MIN 2B COL 7.4
C.J. Nitkowski 9 CIN P COL -2.1
Jaret Wright 10 CLE P HS 0.3
Mark Farris 11 PIT SS HS 0
Nomar Garciaparra 12 BOS SS COL 41.5
Paul Konerko 13 LA C HS 6.4
Jason Varitek 14 SEA C COL 10.7
Jayson Peterson 15 CHC P HS 0
Matt Smith 16 KC P HS 0
Ramon Castro 17 HOU C HS 0.2
Cade Gaspar 18 DET P COL 0
Bret Wagner 19 STL P COL 0
Terrence Long 20 NYM OF HS 6.5
Hiram Bocachica 21 MTL SS HS -1.1
Dante Powell 22 SF OF COL -0.2
Carlton Loewer 23 PHI P COL -1.8
Brian Buchanan 24 NYY OF COL -0.4
Scott Elarton 25 HOU P HS 3.8
Mark Johnson 26 CHW C HS 1
Jacob Schumate 27 ATL P HS 0
Kevin Witt 28 TOR SS HS -0.4
Jay Payton 29 NYM OF COL 7.3
Russ Johnson 30 HOU SS COL 2.5
Mike Thurman 31 MTL P COL 1.3
Jacob Cruz 32 SF OF COL 0.7
Chris Clemons 33 CHW P COL -0.3
Travis Miller 34 MIN P COL 0

 

Nomar and his "No-mah!" days aside, this is a pretty "ouch" group. Varitek and Konerko later became all-stars, but for other teams than they were originally drafted. Paul Wilson and Ben Grieve were supposed to become superstars, instead Paul Wilson fell prey to his poor mechanics and later became a Kyle Farnsworth tackling dummy. Ben Grieve allegedly had no heart. Them washing out is like the equivalent of Matt Wieters and David Price both going bust. Bad times.

Josh Booty probably has the most interesting story out of this group, and it's worth telling. He was considered to be Peyton Manning's equal coming out of high school, but elected to take the big signing bonus and play baseball instead. After hitting .198/.256/.356 in the minors, including a record-setting 195 strikeout performance in 475 at-bats while in the Midwest League, Booty went back to football and quarterbacked at LSU. (Amazingly, Booty was on the post-season roster when the Marlins won the World Series). For the Bayou Bengals, Peyton Manning he was not,  but he wasn't totally awful --- over two seasons he completed  49.3% of his passes for 3,951 yards and 24 TDs. Booty has been a third-string QB in the NFL for the Browns and Raiders, but never has taken a snap in the NFL.

Booty married one of "Barker's Beauties" from the Price is Right, a model who on the show dinged a prize car on Stage Door 3. Then there was also a DUI and taser incident involving Booty a year ago. His brother, John David, quarterbacked at USC and is now a backup for the Vikings. (Thank you, Wikipedia)

Sorting them out into groups ---

Group # Total WAR Avg. Per Player
Avg. WAR per yr.
High School P 6 4.1 0.68 0.114
College P 9 5.8 0.64 0.107
College Hitters 9 68.8 7.64 1.27
High School Hitters 10 20.7 2.07 0.345
Non-Nomar Col. H
8 20.6 3.43 0.572

 

Not all drafts classes are equal, and while first-rounders don't have as high rates of attrition as players drafted from other rounds, the attrition rates are still high. For this draft at least, there seems to be a lot more sad stories than usual. At least it boasts of one (former) super-star.

WAR data from the  ever-resourceful BaseballProjection.com

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