And coming soon:
a gifted set of outfielders taken out of high school in '05. The group includes
Cameron Maybin of the Florida Marlins (No. 10), the centerpiece of the package
the Detroit Tigers surrendered to get third baseman Miguel Cabrera; Andrew
McCutcheon of the Pittsburgh Pirates (No. 11); Jay Bruce of the Cincinnati Reds
(No. 12), the No. 1 prospect according to Baseball America; and Colby Rasmus of
the St. Louis Cardinals (No. 28). Says O'Dowd, "There's never been a draft
The class of '05
is chock-full of made-to-order franchise players, men who understand and even
welcome the responsibility of representing their team, their city and their
game. Says Royals senior scouting director Deric Ladnier, "It's rare when
you see somebody come along where you say, 'This guy is the complete package.'
And yet that year there were several guys you could say that about. They're
going to be the face of the game for a long time."
they're also inheriting the toxic mess of the Steroid Era: The draft came just
three months after the congressional hearing in which Mark McGwire destroyed
his reputation and Palmeiro pointed a fateful finger. For the players of the
class of '05, drug testing has been part of their professional lives. Their
clubhouse culture, while not assumed to be entirely pure, does not encourage
using performance enhancers as an accepted tariff of competition. Says
Tulowitzki, "I'd be in favor of any test, a blood test, whatever, if it
means keeping the game clean."
In his first
season Tulowitzki called out teammates, not just opponents; dragged a franchise
that had never won a playoff series into its first Fall Classic; earned his own
goose-bump-raising signature chant at Coors Field (rhythmic clapping followed
by a shout of Tu-LO!); then signed the biggest contract (six years, $31 million
with a club option for $15 million in 2014) given to a player with less than
two years of service—after which he bought his mother, Susan, a house and
promised to be a fixture in the Denver community. "I'm willing to do that
and want to do that," Tulowitzki says.
Community activist? Baseball ambassador? Anti drug advocate? Power-hitting
shortstop who's built like Cal Ripken (6'3", 205 pounds), moves like Robin
Yount and leads like Derek Jeter? There can be only one question about a
23-year-old who meets the franchise-player gold standard.
How the heck did
he last until the seventh pick?
on the morning of June 7, 2005, convinced he was headed to Seattle. The
Mariners held the third selection. "A couple of minutes before the
draft," he says, "they'd called me and said, 'You're our guy.'"
The first two
picks held no mystery. The Diamondbacks knew they were taking Upton the moment
they clinched the worst record of 2004—and with it the first pick of '05. Every
club had scouted Upton since he was 13. Arizona had someone at every game of
his senior season at Great Bridge High in Chesapeake, Va.
Even in the
richest draft ever, says Mike Rizzo, then the Diamondbacks' scouting director
and now Washington's assistant G.M., "it was obvious there was a gap
between him and the other candidates. He ran a 6.3 60, showed a plus arm, had
prodigious power as a 13-year-old, had a great family background and had gone
through every test at the highest levels of competition and just dominated. His
professional attitude, the immense physical assets—he had the perfect package.
A very high-reward, very low-risk type."
Upton hit .221 in
43 games last year, and .357 in the post season. "I believe he's going to
be a superstar," Rizzo says. "Nothing would surprise me with his