The June Amateur Draft, also known as the Rule 4 Draft, is one of the most exciting events of the year if you're an avid baseball fan. This is especially true if you're a prospect junkie, focusing on the young and exciting talent that will eventually enrich your favorite team's farm system, and is extremely fun to pour over. Every year, there are talent evaluators who rank each team's respective draft. In 2010, the Indians, Blue Jays, Red Sox, and Pirates among others were said to have the strongest drafts -- and it certainly takes a smart organization to evaluate and scout talent that those four teams stumbled upon in '10.
The Cleveland Indians 1999 draft was the complete opposite of how their 2010 draft appears (though it's a bit early for that, isn't it? - ed). Despite not having a first or sandwich round pick, John Hart's crew still had arguably the worst draft in Major League history. Funny thing was, they were one of the best teams in the league in '99, actually becoming the first team in the Modern Era to score over 1,000 runs in Regular Season play. They finished first in the league and had one of the best records in Baseball even though they had to pack their bags after losing out in the post-season. Almost everything went right for Cleveland that year ... except for their infamous draft, which looks like this:
One thing to note: It may look as though Ben Francisco and Jeff Baker were the highlights of this draft right? Wrong. They failed to sign. As you can see, the Indians selected what would at this point add up to a -1.5 WAR worth of talent. In other words, almost absolutely nothing. Cabrera pitched for the Indians for only four seasons, sporting a 102 ERA+ over that span along with a 2.02 K/BB ratio over 130.1 innings pitched, and Jason Davisin what would be nearly 6 Major League seasons, posted a 4.60 xFIP and a 5.25 K/9 over 461 innings pitched. Kyle Denney doesn't have much to show either, having pitched 16 innings of 5.36 FIP ball in 2004 for the Tribe.
Regardless, never doubt this Cleveland Indians organization. Three years after John Hart and co. left for the Lone Star opportunity, ironically, the Indians were ranked #1 among farm systems in baseball and more than made up for the lost year of prospect additions in '99. Brandon Phillips, Grady Sizemore, Victor Martinez, Cliff Lee, Brian Tallet, and Jeremy Guthrie were among those that made the system so special and cannot be overlooked.
Anyway, the likes of those selected in the '99 Draft by the Cleveland Indians pretty much have to earn the award for worst draft in history, as no team yet has selected a group of guys who have done so little at the pro level. The Expos had some very bad drafts in the early 2000's, but theres still a chance some of those guys can improve, thus there are still many Major Leaguers. Despite their previous and latter successes, one might imagine how their fortunes might have changed if it wasn't for this blemish on their otherwise successful record.