Tag Archives: J.D. Drew

For three decades the Phillies have largely been unable to develop a top prospect

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Pat Burrell has been the Phillies best high draftee to develop into a top prospect

Earlier this week, I wrote a piece on the current standing of the Phillies best minor league players on recently released top prospect lists. For nearly three decades, one of the most respected of the resources tracking and producing such lists has been Baseball America.

The same day as my Phillies Nation article was released, Baseball America was publishing their own piece on the history of their top prospect coverage. Specifically, the BA staff was re-visiting every prospect ranked either #1 or #2 on their annual Top 100 Prospects list.
Before even bothering to look down the entire list, which covered every top prospect and runner-up since 1990, a thought popped into my head – have the Phillies ever had someone finish in either spot? I follow the prospect game pretty closely and couldn’t recall the team ever having a prospect ranked that highly.
Sure enough, the list revealed that no Phillies prospect has been ranked as the best in all of baseball on the annual Top 100 list. Only one of the club’s prospects has ever found themselves in the #2 spot. That would be Pat Burrell back in 2000.

A look around the National League East Division reveals that the Atlanta Braves have seen five of their prospects ranked as the best in the game: Steve Avery (1990), Chipper Jones (93), Andruw Jones (96-97), Jason Heyward (2010), and Ronald Acuna just last year. Jones was also the #2 prospect of 1994.
The Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos organization has produced a pair of top prospects: Cliff Floyd (94) and Bryce Harper in both 2011 and 2012. While still in Montreal, Vladimir Guerrero was the #2 prospect in 1997. After the franchise had moved to D.C., Stephen Strasburg finished in the runner-up slot for 2010.
Two of those divisional rivals, the New York Mets and Florida/Miami Marlins, have fared even worse than the Phillies in placing prospects at the top of the ranking lists.
The Mets had Paul Wilson rank #2 in 1996. Wilson pitched just one disappointing season in the Big Apple at age 23 in 1996 before his career was derailed for four years by injuries. He finally recovered enough to appear in parts of three seasons with Tampa Bay and three more in Cincinnati.
The Marlins, established as an expansion organization in 1993, have never placed a prospect in either of the top two slots on the Baseball America rankings. But despite not joining Major League Baseball until the 1998 season, the best at producing top prospects has been another expansion club, the Tampa Bay Rays.
There have been a pair of Rays at the top: Josh Hamilton in 2001 and Delmon Young in 2006. Five Rays prospects have finished in the runner-up slot: Rocco Baldelli (03), B.J. Upton (04), Evan Longoria (08), David Price (09), and Matt Moore in 2012.

Crawford was drafted 16th overall in 2013, became a top 20 prospect from 2016-18 per Baseball America. (David B. King/WikiCommons)
In recent years, Baseball America has been spreading the love around. Nine different organizations have placed prospects in either the #1 or #2 slots over the last five years. Only the Minnesota Twins, with Byron Buxton ranked second in both 2015 and 2016, have appeared twice.
The Phillies have now selected in the top 10 spots of the MLB Amateur Draft in each of the last five straight years: Alec Bohm (3-2018), Adam Haseley (8-2017), Mickey Moniak (1-2016), Cornelius Randolph (10-2015), Aaron Nola (7-2014), and they also picked J.P. Crawford at #16 overall in 2013.
During the 1989-2019 MLB Draft periods where prospects would have been covered by the Baseball America rankings, the Phillies selected within the first four overall picks on a half-dozen occasions: Jeff Jackson (4-1989), Mike Lieberthal (3-1990), Wayne Gomes (4-1993), J.D. Drew (2-1997), Gavin Floyd (4-2001), and Burrell, who was the top overall pick of the 1998 Draft.
Here are the instances where the Phillies placed someone within the top 20 of the Baseball America Top 100 prospects: 1990 – Pat Combs (20), 1997 – Scott Rolen (13), 1999 – Burrell (19), 2000 – Burrell (2), 2003 – Floyd (9), 2004 – Cole Hamels (17), 2010 – Domonic Brown (15), 2011 – Brown (4), 2014 – Maikel Franco (17), 2015 – J.P. Crawford (14), 2016 – Crawford (6), 2017 – Crawford (12) & Moniak (17), 2018 – Crawford (16) and finally Sixto Sanchez (13) this year.

The Phillies clearly were able to develop strong players without them having been ranked near the very top of the list. Key players from the 2000’s heyday including Jimmy RollinsRyan HowardChase UtleyCarlos Ruiz, and Brett Myers were never top 20 overall prospects.
The inability to develop a truly marquee prospect was not a hindrance to the Phillies ability to develop a consistent contender in the last decade. Big props go out to vastly under-rated former GM Ed Wade’s ability to unearth gems. But the club is about to wrap a three-decade stretch in which that inability helped result in two of the three becoming losing decades.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as Phillies have not historically fared well in the prospect-ranking game

47

 

Yours truly turned 47 this year

 

Happy Birthday to me!

Well, to me and everyone else celebrating today. I share this birthday with baseball’s J.D. Drew, football stars Mark Gastineau and Joey Galloway, comedians Richard Dawson and Dick Smothers, musician Joe Walsh, and a trio of gorgeous actresses: Bo Derek, Sean Young and Veronica Hamel.

This was also Bobby Kennedy’s birthday.

I woke up a little over an hour ago after a pretty good night sleeping, and my 47th birthday started out about as good as I could ever hope. My wife Debbie Veasey was already awake and nearly ready to leave for work, but before she left she greeted me with a big smile, a hug and kiss, and a sincere “Happy birthday, honey!

She had a birthday card for me too. One of those with a real nice message and signed off with her love. It really doesn’t get any better than that.

Now here I sit alone at my dining room table just like many other mornings. A fresh, hot cup of Wawa coffee beside me, loaded up with their Irish cream, which I understand that they are discontinuing.

Wawa is one of life’s pleasures, the local chain store for food, cigarettes, newspapers, and other essentials of American daily living. Here at the Veasey Ranch, we buy bags of their coffee so that we enjoy the brew not just on the run, but right here at home.

The Irish coffee creamer product that Wawa produces at their dairy is my personal favorite add-in. It’s creamy and tasty, and along with a couple of packets of Equal, helps make the perfect pick-me-up beverage in my world. I hope the rumors turn out false about the Irish cream. Don’t you just hate it when some store discontinues some product that you have enjoyed for a long time?

So it is with me and birthday cakes. As a boy growing up in South Philly, my local corner bakery shop was a little place called Hier’s Bakery at 3rd & Wolf Streets.

You could live and die right there at that intersection, which was just around the corner from our little house at 2321 S. American Street. The four corners at the intersection of south 3rd Street and Wolf Street featured Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church on the southeast, the Murphy-Ruffenach funeral home on the northeast, a doctor’s office on the northwest, and Hier’s on the southwest.

Those institutions are still on those same corners today, though the actual doctor practice has changed, the funeral home gone through a merger, and the bakery ownership has also changed a number of times.

When it was Hier’s back in those ‘Wonder Years’ days for me of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, they always featured a cake which would become my birthday cake every year.

This delicious object of my annual desire came with a chocolate cake layer on top of a yellow cake layer. Running between the two cakes was a delicious, thin strip of white cream. Surrounding the whole creation was the most incredible, full, sweet, dark-colored chocolate icing. And then at the top was another layer of that same white icing which ran through the middle.

I would always take a slice and eat the yellow layer first, making sure that my fork took the thin vanilla icing layer with it. This was only the opening act though. Then I would move on to the upper chocolatey world.

There was something about the interplay between this particular chocolate cake, chocolate edge icing, and white top icing that exploded in your mouth. I can taste it still this morning, even though I have not had a piece of that cake in about 25 years.

At some point during the 1980’s, whomever owned the old Hier’s business sold out. I did go in a couple of times and inquired about the cake, but the new owners didn’t seem to know what I was talking about. I never saw my birthday cake again.

My guess is that the recipe is likely laying around somewhere, maybe in some drawer at the home of a former bakery owner. Maybe the recipe has been passed along, and the cake is being made today in some bakery out there that I have no idea even exists.

It is one of those little things in life that was a regular feature of my childhood that is now gone. It is something that was here, is gone seemingly forever, and that I do miss.

To find that same cake again one day would be a miracle akin to a Christian explorer locating the Holy Grail itself. Well, okay maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but you get the idea. I hope that little slice of heaven from my childhood is not repeating itself here in my middle-aged adult life with the Wawa Irish cream.

But one thing that I have learned over these 47 years that I celebrate the anniversary of today is that things change. But as to those things large and small that we have come to welcome and enjoy in our lives, the little things that make life just a wee bit more enjoyable, they will stay with us forever, at least in our memories.

I thank God for that childhood birthday cake. I thank God for Wawa Irish cream. I thank God for the woman that I woke up to this morning. And I thank God for these past 47 years. Happy birthday to me!

The House That Ruth Built

Baseball’s most storied playing grounds, Yankee Stadium in New York, played host to one of baseball’s premier events last night as the stars shined for MLB’s annual All-Star game extravaganza.

The game was awarded to the Big Apple to honor the grand old ball yard in its final season. It is slated for demolition this winter, to be replaced by the New Yankee Stadium.

The stadium was nicknamed “The House That Ruth Built” because it literally was just that. Early in their history, the New York Yankees played their games at The Polo Grounds, a park that was the real home of the New York Giants ball club.

The Giants threatened to evict the Yanks, so the club ownership purchased a plot of land in the Bronx and built the most magnificent facility of it’s kind at the time. Ruth had been baseball’s biggest star as a pitcher and hitter for the Boston Red Sox, who sold him to the Yankees while he was still a young player. Yankee Stadium opened its doors for the 1923 season, and Ruth christened it by hitting the first home run there.

The stadium’s signature feature was a white frieze or facade that runs all along the top of the outfield, and following various renovations over the years at least part of the frieze was always maintained. The New Yankee Stadium will incorporate one as well as a homage.

The stadium has played host to 37 World Series championships over the years, with the hometown Yankees clinching victory in 16 of those series at the stadium, the most recent back in 1999.

Beginning in the 1951 season, Bob Sheppard became the public address announcer. He still serves in that role, though he has appeared less frequently as Sheppard battles illness associated with old age over the past couple of seasons. Sheppard’s booming voice over the loud speakers became affectionately known as “The Voice of God”.

Yankee Stadium has played host to numerous events besides baseball.

In December 1958, what has become known as ‘The Greatest Game Ever Played’ in the NFL took place there as the Johnny Unitas-led Baltimore Colts rallied to dramatically defeat the New York Giants 23-17 for the world championship.

Legendary college football coach Knute Rockne gave his famous “win one for The Gipper” speech at halftime of a 1928 game to his Notre Dame charges, who went on to down Army 12-6.

One of the most important boxing matches ever took place there in 1938 when black American Joe Louis fought Max Schmeling, a German from Hitler’s Nazi-era machine. Schmeling had beaten Louis 2 years earlier, and there was a highly charged political climate to the fight as Louis knocked the German out in the first round.

Louis would fight at Yankee Stadium a total of eight times. Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Robinson also won bouts there.

In last night’s All-Star finale at the historic stadium in the Bronx, the stars didn’t seem to want to say goodbye. The game dragged in to the 15th inning with numerous tremendous defensive plays before the AL won on a sacrifice fly.

J.D. Drew of the hated rival Boston Red Sox proved to be the MVP in one final twist of irony. ‘The House That Ruth Built’ is closing down in a few months. It will be forever remembered, and last night’s MLB All-Star classic was just one of many unforgettable events there.