The Baseball Draft: The Coulda’ Been Cubs

Part 1 Part 2 Trivia Question: Name two current NFL players who were once drafted by the Cubs? I'll end this look back at the Cubs drafts through the years by looking at some of the players the Cubs had a chance at obtaining or gave up too early on. This is all for fun and there are no fingers being pointed here. Just a frivolous look at who could have been Cubbies if the things broke the right way. In Part I, I introduced the all-time greatest drafted Cubs, a list of players drafted by the Cubs and their contributions as Cubs. Here's that list again to spur your memory. Position Played/Round Taken/Career Cubbie Win Shares 1. Mark Grace (1b/24/269) 2. Rick Reuschel (P/3/155) 3. Shawon Dunston (SS/1/112) 4. Lee Smith (P/2/104) 5. Greg Maddux (P/2/102) 6. Ken Holtzman (P/4/75) 7. Kerry Wood (P/1/72) 8. Steve Trachsel (P/8/58) 9. Rick Wilkins (C/23/55) 10. Ray Burris (P/17/49) But what if the Cubs never made a move and all the players the Cubs ever drafted and signed played for the Cubs and contributed just as they did with other teams. Here's the best talents ever selected (and signed) by the Cubs: 1. Rafael Palmeiro (OF/1/385) 2. Greg Maddux (P/2/359) 3. Mark Grace (1b/24/294) 4. Joe Carter (OF/1/240) 5. Rick Reuschel (P/3/240) 6. Lee Smith (P/2/198) 7. Joe Niekro (P/4/189) 8. Oscar Gamble (OF/16/177) 9. Burt Hooten (P/1/164) 10. Ken Holtzman (P/4/157) Signability has always been an issue with the draft and the Cubs have missed out on an assortment of talent for various reasons. THE NEVER SIGNED CUBS P - Jon Lieber (1991/9th) P - Kevin Tapani (1985/9th) P - Mark Langston (1978/15th) P - Ken Forsch (1967/4th) P - Bob Welch (1974/14th) P - Jim Otten (1971/1st) P - Tom House (1965/11th) P - Tom Henke (1980/1st) 1B - Darrell Evans (1965/13th) SS- Khalil Greene (2001/14th) SS - Adam Everett (1995/4th) SS - Eddie Leon (1966/1st) 3B - Jeff Cirillo (1987/37th) 3B - Jeff King (1983/23rd) OF - Ray Lankford (1986/3rd) OF - Terry Francona (1977/2nd) Many of those players were selected out of high school and decided to go to college and there are 2 names missing from the list that you may recognize, although their baseball prowess is unknown. Current NFL-ers Antwaan Randle-El(1997/14th) and Quincy Carter(1996/2nd) were both selected out of high school by the Cubs and in Carter's case even played a few seasons within the organization. Screwing up the draft can happen in many forms, including missing out on superior talent. Here's a list to get your blood boiling, a team of players the Cubs could have drafted but chose someone else. I had to put some restrictions on this list. First, I tried to look no further then 5 spots below where the Cubs picked that year. Anymore then 5 spots and I figured that no matter how well the player may have turned out, it was likely they weren't considered to be that good on draft day, although on a few rare occasions I'll stretch that guideline. I also stuck to the first round of the June regular phase of the draft and restricted it to only one missed pick per year. In other words, the Cubs could only have selected either Billy Wagner or Derrek Lee in 1993 instead of Brooks Kieschnick but not both. The second player at each position is the player the Cubs chose instead. ALL-TIME JUST MISSED TEAM P - Dwight Gooden (1982/5th); Shawon Dunston(1982/1st) P - Jack McDowell(1987/5th); Mike Harkey (1987/4th) P - Roger Clemens (1983/19th); Jackie Davidson (1983/6th) P - Billy Wagner (1993/12th); Brooks Kieschnick(1993/10th) C - Ray Fosse (1965/7th); Rick James (1965/6th) 1B - Mark McGwire (1984/11th); Drew Hall (1984/3rd) 2B - Chuck Knoblauch (1989/25th); Earl Cunningham (1989/8th) SS - Garry Templeton (1974/13th)/Scot Thompson (1974/8th) 3B - Robin Venura (1988/10th)/Ty Griffin (1988/9th) OF - Manny Ramirez(1991/13th); Doug Glanville(1991/12th) OF - Lance Berkman(1997/16th); Jon Garland (1997/10th) OF - Gary Matthews (1968/17th); Ralph Rickey (1968/15th) One pick away from Robin Ventura and Manny Ramirez...nice work Jim Frey, nice work! That '91 draft, Frey could have also picked, Cliff Floyd (13th pick) and Shawn Green (16th pick). Clemens and McGwire were a bit of a stretch, but particularly in the case of Clemens, the Cubs had an opportunity to select a college pitcher over a high school one and paid for it, something many organizations have done time and time again. I truly had to stretch for a second basemen, eventually settling for Knoblauch. Second basemen are RARELY chosen in the first round and many second basemen are originally shortstops who convert, as is the case of Knoblauch. Chase Utley (2000/15th) could have also gotten the nod over Luis Montanez(2000/3rd). There is my look back at the baseball draft through the eyes of the Cubs organization. I hope you enjoyed the pieces and hopefully next year I'll expand on them. Thanks to The Baseball Cube(, Baseball Reference(, Birds in the Belfry(, Baseball Americaís Draft Almanac, Win Shares by Bill James and Jim Henzler and the 2005 ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia. Look for a preview/review of this years draft next week.


One of the great disappointments of the 90s, aside from letting the best pitcher in the league leave, were the injuries to Mike Harkey. The guy had great stuff. I was at the first game he ever pitched, the second game of a double header against the Phillies, and Harkey hit the first MLB batter he faced in the head with a pitch. Early the next season he almost threw a no-hitter against the Padres.

Because he was a black guy and threw hard sportswriters said he might be the next Bob Gibson or Fergie jenkins. (why are Dominicans always compared to Dominicans, blacks to blacks etc? Or maybe that's more of an observation than a question. I know the answer) Anyway, with all the injuries, he ended up being the next Scott Sanderson.

By the way, Harkey hitting the first batter he faced in the head was not an example of his great stuff. He actually didn't pitch that great his first game.

Quincy Carter and Matt Mauck?

Excellent series of columns this week, Rob.

Mike Harkey . . . proof that a great arm doesn't necessarily guarantee a great head. I'll never forget the sight of him sliding headfirst on the wet tarp.

Of course this is an exercise in hindsight, and there's nothing wrong with that. In this case, it's the best way to judge true success. But at draft time in '88 Ty Griffin looked like a great pick. He'd been a solid college player, and had great numbers in the Olympics. Still, Ventura became one of my favorite players ever, and had been one of the best college hitters ever.

As for Gooden over Dunston, again true in hindsight. But I'm pretty sure that anyone who picked first in '82 would have taken Dunston, who had hit about .750 as a HS Senior.


Maddux took some run and slides on wet tarp too.

>Maddux took some run and slides on wet tarp too.

Correct. But, in true Maddux fashion, he came out of that physical activity uninjured.

Lunkhead Harkey couldn't say the same.

This is all just for fun as I mentioned and as far as my young memory goes, Dunston was the consensus 1st pick that year.

In the case of Griffin though, I do think the Cubs should have known better. Second basemen are RARELY chosen in the first round, there's Griffin, Chase Utley, Rickie Weeks and then.....
well I'm sure there are a few but they are hard to find. Most of the better second basemen found in the draft were originally drafted as shortstops.

Ventura was considered the greatest college hitter ever at the time and we all know the Cubs futility at that position over the years. Generally I advocate a pick the best player available strategy for the draft rather then trying to fill holes, but the Cubs did at the time have a certain Hall of Famer at second base and since Griffin was out of college, we're talking only 2-3 years before he SHOULD have been ready for major league duty. Were they thinking of moving Sandberg back to 3rd? If so, why not draft the accomplished third basemen and leave the Gold glover alone.

Who knows what Frey and Co. were thinking at the time (How many times can you ask that question), but it's all fun to look at.

Didnt the cubs draft Carlyle Holiday too? I could be mistaken.

Quincy Carter and Matt Mauck?

Unfortunately I had no idea who Matt Mauck is, so I missed him. But apparently he's with the Denver Broncos now and was drafted in 1997, playing a few years in the minors with the Cubs.

The other one's gotta be Antwaan Randle El out of Thornton High.

Ouch, Dotel could miss 2 seasons with reconstructive elbow surgery.

OF ñ Manny Ramirez(1991/13th); Doug Glanville(1991/12th)

Wow. That hurts.

Mauck was the QB for LSU during their (shared?) championship season a couple years ago.

He was already 24 or something at LSU because he played a bit of minor league baseball before going to LSU for football.

Ty Griffin over Robin Ventura was a freaking joke. I'm sure they did that due to money. I'll bet they thought that Ventura would want too much of it. The Cubs needed a third baseman forever and Ventura was the Golden Spikes Award winner with a GREAT GLOVE at third.

As far as Duntson was concerned, he may have been rated higher but it was still a mistake as Clemens was also highly rated and a pitcher. Shortstop? Not worth it.

You guys must be new Cub fans. Old fans don't enjoy wallowing in our past failures. We had to give that up to keep our sanity after the Lou Brock trade.

Derrek Lee on fire
shall I write him a poem?
Perhaps a haiku

Derek Lee at bat
Pitchers hit like Charlie Brown
Clothes have gone flying

The Triple-Crown King
Derrek rules from on his throne
Who's Albert Pujols?

derek lee: mountain
solid, silent, majestic
man among the boys

derek lee, stoic
like a dime store indian
no offense is meant

derrek lee, solid
my plate, filled with crow daily
still an '07 Yank

Oh, my dear Ron Galt.
"Seven" has two syllables.
Two syllables, dude!

(Lest I seem an ass:
Only faux nitpickery
Was in my last post.)

Make The Chad say, "Sammy who?"
I highly doubt it

Corey Patterson
Makes me cry for every K
Trade trade him away

I realy dont want to, I think thats correct form

d-lee! your bat is
more deadly than the a-bomb.
watch and learn, a-ram.

corey has some Ks
but he's hardly chopped liver.
no more trade talk please.

when you were two-five
i doubt you could play like that.
too much beer and beef.

I thought something odd
To the end of my spiel
A heinous error


The lineup is in
Neifi gets leadoff honors
Can he keep it up?


Perez Walker Lee
Burnitz Ramirez Holly
C-Pat Barrett Serge

I'm tired of all the trade Corey talk. Who would you trade him for? What's the payoff? He's still a valuable part of the offense and stellar on defense.

Dunston had amazing raw tools. arm. speed. stick. He could hit any pitch. Problem was he tried to hit every pitch. The moral of the story: The Cubs never developed him to reach his potential. I know Moneyball says that plate discipline is not easily taught but players are trainable. The Braves draft high school players and teach the right way to play. When a player gets hurt the go down to their system and bring up a replacement. They just stick them in and let them sink or swim. The Cubs never do that. Corey Patterson is this generations' Shawon Dunston.

Corey has unfortunately become that spot in the lineup where I just cringe. I want him to succeed; we all do. But then he swings at junk outside and in the dirt, or at that pitch inside where there's a GAPING hole in his swing. And then he walks back to the dugout with that strained look on his face like, "Man! how'd I miss that?"

Because you NEVER adjust, (K)orey, that's why. You're a strike machine, and pitchers know it.

Pitchers say they sometimes pitch to guys "backwards" just to mess with their heads, or get them off-balance. I think Corey should start hitting "backwards" and see if it changes anything. At this point, anything would be an improvement.

I agree, dbt, who would trade for him? Has there been any indication that he'd be willing to listen to someone else and change his approach? It doesn't appear so. So who would want to inherit that kind of headcase project?

So frustrating for such an individual that has shown flashes of talent and potential.

I sincerely believe that Corey Patterson was ruined by the influence Sammy Sosa had on him. Same goes for Aramis Ramirez who can be seen doing the Sosa homerun hop on deep fly balls.

What value do you put on a number 6 hitter who projects to a 33 HR but only 64 RBI season.

Just an FYI...

"(Derek) Lee entered Friday's game against San Diego batting .389 (74-for-190). Rogers Hornsby holds the modern club record of .380, set in 1929.

The last Cub with a .375 batting average or higher after 150 at-bats was Manny Trillo, who was hitting .378 on June 18, 1977."


Let's hope that Derrek Lee does better than Trillo did the rest of the season. Trillo batted .230 something and finished around .280 .

"Oh, my dear Ron Galt.
"Seven" has two syllables.
Two syllables, dude!"

Oh, my dearest Brick,
"Seven" has two syllables,
But "sev'n" has just one!

sev'n may have one. But Sven probably has two!

(rim shot)

What value do you put on a number 6 hitter who projects to a 33 HR but only 64 RBI season.

impossible to say unless he hits in the 6 slot
every day.

The last Cub with a .375 batting average or higher after 150 at-bats was Manny Trillo, who was hitting .378 on June 18, 1977."


Let's hope that Derrek Lee does better than Trillo did the rest of the season. Trillo batted .230 something and finished around .280 .


I was born August 18, 1977. I'm told Manny was distracted by my birth - despite his not knowing me and all. Sorry.

Recent comments

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  • KB 0-5 with 8 LOB. Really? He is torturing me with 99 RBI. He is also a very different hitter at home vs. road. I suspect most young hitters are.

  • Greinke still in for the 8th. 3 up, 3 down. After 8. 108 pitches, ERA still at 1.66 according to mlb boxscore and he's in line for a 19th win.

  • Greinke 95 pitches through 7. Gives up one run (solo HR to Hedges). ERA at 1.66. Doubt that they will let him give up 5 runs in the 8th.

    Dodgers ahead 2-1.

  • 96 wins with one game to go. Who woulda thunk it.

    Cubs 96 wins have clinched a better record than any AL team and the NL West/East division winners too.

  • cubs win, pirates lose...

  • the curse is now yours.

  • cog a HR away from the cycle after a single in the 6th.

  • Hendricks: 15 up, 15 down.

  • he strongly separates his post-playing career from his playing career, though he loves to visit the barrier of player and fan. many ex-players don't put up this barrier.

    he's not interested in going back to the clubhouse or pretty much anything field/game related, but he'll grab a ticket and observe with the fans and visit ex players on "neutral" ground. he's written 3 pieces for the new yorker and other pieces elsewhere. i remember one photo/bio piece he did, but don't remember where i read it (years ago).

  • ?
    I find your comments rather obtuse. He recognized he didn't want to pursue baseball anymore and went back to school to learn how to become a better writer - opening up a new chapter in his life.

    I don't know where you find a "sad disconnection" because he is writing about his experiences? He pursued a ball career for a long time so no doubt there is some meloncholy in his tone, but I just don't know what the fuck you are talking about.

  • he has an almost sad disconnection from the game based on his writings. even though he's "been there" (no matter how much of a minor role) he doesn't seem to feel like he belongs or deserves to belong in the boy's club.

    he seems to go to great lengths to enjoy the game from an arm's length while occasionally getting close enough for a high-5 from those who affirm him that he belongs.

  • I read that guy's article about why he quit baseball and it was really well done too. In terms of Rizzo, I have seen multiple references to how this is Rizzo's team just as much as Madden's and it makes that pick up that much better that we have someone that is not only a great player but a leader and all around great guy (been reading about all the charity work he does too). There is really nothing not to like about Rizzo.

  • Nice article on Rizzo

    Written by ex teammate

  • JD concurred with Ariettas second at bat

  • Hey AZ, Chesny Young made raised some eyebrows with his minor league season. What do you think of him?

  • AZ Phil, why are Beeler and Parker in Mesa? Are they still recovering from injury?