The Big Orange Guy Remembers The Top 5 Picks of the 2001 Amateur Draft

As we get ready for the 2011 baseball season, I want to look back 10 years ago to the 2001 Amateur Draft.  The first round consisted of 44 players, with 26 of them playing in the major leagues in the past ten years.  Those players drafted in the first round and not in the Top 5 were Casey Kotchman, Aaron Heilman, Bobby Crosby, Jeremy Bonderman, Noah Lowry, David Wright and Jayson Nix.

Aaron Heilman and David Wright were picked as compensation for the Mets losing Mike Hampton to free agency.  Jeremy Bonderman was picked by the Athletics as the Mets signing free agent Kevin Appier.  Jayson Nix was selected as a pick for the Rockies failing to sign their first round pick of 2000.  Other free agents that season that allowed players to be selected in the supplemental rounds were Mike Mussina, Juan Gonzalez, Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez.

But who were the first five players selected?  All five have played in the major leagues, although you may not have heard of a couple of them.  So, the Top 5 Players drafted in 2001 were:

#1 – Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins, drafted out of Cretin HS in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Mauer went to school in Cretin, which was also the high school of Hall of Famer Paul Molitor.  He was selected by the USA Today as the High School Player of the Year in football and baseball.  He turned down a scholarship to Florida State University to enter the baseball draft.

Since his Major League debut in 2004, Mauer has a career batting average of .327 while leading the American League three times in batting.  He is a four time All-Star, winning the Most Valuable Player Award in 2009.  He is also a three-time Gold Glove winner.  He has never hit less than .293 and became a hero to all people from Minnesota as he extended his contract through the end of 2018.

#2 – Mark Prior of the Chicago Cubs, drafted out of the University of Sou0thern California in Los Angeles, California

Prior won the Dick Howser Trophy as the national collegiate player of the year.  He was originally drafted by the New York Yankees in 1998 but did not sign and went off to college.  Going intot he 2001 draft, Prior was considered by some to be the top player in the draft. He publicly announced he did not want to play for the Twins, an announcement that probably gets Prior Christmas cards from every Twins fan each year

After a great 2003 baseball season, Prior’s injuries started.  Before the 2004 season, he injured his Achilles tendon.  He started having arm trouble in 2005 with his elbow and his shoulder.  After his great 2003 season, Prior only won 18 more games in his career to date.  He has not pitched in the Major Leagues since 2006.

He had a loose shoulder in 2007, a shoulder tear in 2008 and could not make the San Diego Padres roster in 2009 and was released by them.  Since 2009 he was signed by the Orange County Flyers of the Golden Baseball League and the Texas Rangers as he tried to reinvent himself as a middle reliever.

The Cubs had considered the fifth player selected in the draft, however went with a pitcher.  When you see the fifth player, you will see that they possible should have went with their second choice.

#3 – Dewon Brazelton of the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays, drafted out of Middle Tennessee State University of Murfreesboro,Tennessee

Brazelton set the strikeout and wins records at Middle Tennessee State University.  He was selected by Tampa Bay with the third pick of the 2001 draft.

As a major leagues, Brazelton never lived up to his potential.  In 2003, he had a 1-6 record and in 2004 and 2005, his combined records were 7-16.  He was traded in the winter of 2005 to the San Diego Padres for Sean Burroughs.  In 2006, he started in the Padres rotation but was quickly demoted to the bullpen.  The last time he pitched in the major leagues was May 11, 2006 against the Milwaukee Brewers.  He came into a game with a 8-0 lead and gave up 4 runs without getting an out.  Since then he has pitched in the minor leagues and the independent baseball leagues as well.

During the 2010 season, while pitching for the Kansas City T-Bones, Brazelton had a shoulder injury that ended his season.  He was interviewed for the Kansas City Star about his rise to the major leagues.  He said, “I had glaring holes in my game. Some holes take some time to fix. I didn’t have a breaking ball — a very good curveball or slider at that point. I didn’t have a lot of things you need to be successful on a daily basis.”

The Cardinals, with the 72nd pick of the draft of 2001 selected Dan Haren who has won 91 games since his major league debut.  Do you think that the Rays wished they selected Haren instead?

#4 – Gavin Floyd of the Philadelphia Phillies, drafted out of Mount St. Joseph’s High School of Baltimore, Maryland.

The Phillies drafted Floyd and had him bouncing between the majors and the minors from 2004 to 2006.  At the end of the 2006 season, he was traded by the Phillies with Gio Gonzalez for Freddy Garcia.  It was after being traded to the White Sox that Floyd became a full-time starting pitcher.  In his first season of starting more than 30 games (33), Floyd was 17-8 in 2008.  He had an ERA of 3.84, striking out 163.  During that season, he won the game to force the one-game playoff to decide who would represent the Central Division in the playoffs.

Prior to the 2009 season, Floyd signed a four-year contract with the White Sox for $15.5 million.  In his last start of 2010m he left with right shoulder tightness.  He should be okay to start the 2011 season for the White Sox in their rotation.

#5 – Mark Teixera of the Texas Rangers, drafted out of Georgia Institute of Technology out of Atlanta, Georgia

In his 2001 season at Georgia Tech, Teixera hit .427 with an OPS of 1.319 and won the Dick Howser Trophy as the Collegiate Player of the Year.

Teixera played for the Rangers from 2003 to 2007, where he was traded to the Atlanta Braves for Elvis Andrus, Neftali Perez, Matt Harrison and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. He was then traded a year later to the Angels.

We all know about Teixera and his history.  Since his major league debut, he has been a multiple All-Star, multiple Golden Glove Winner and placed in the Top 10 of the MVP voting twice.  He is a career .286 hitter, with 275 career home runs with a career OPS of .913.  He is also considered one of the top defensive first baseman in the major leagues.  He also is a World Series Winner, with the Yankees in 2009.

Looking further into the draft of 2001, Ryan Howard and C.J. Wilson was selected in the 5th Round.  Kevin Youkilis was selected in the 8th Round.  The 11th Round featured Dan Uggla and Stephen Drew.  As you can see, the 2001 draft featured many excellent players and some not so memorable.  In any case, that draft was ten years ago and the players have all their day in the sun.  As we get ready for the 2011 draft, I wonder who will be this year’s hits and misses.  I guess I will review this draft in ten years in The Big Orange Guy’s Top 5 during the week of November 21, 2020.  That will be Edition # 543.

Okay, enough dreaming and time to start planning a wedding.  I got engaged last week, popping the question while on one knee in front of Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth and Miller Huggins while in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. How can I go wrong, she is a Yankees fan.  See you on the other side all, have a great week.

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