The first in a series. The idea is to identify the top draft pick and International Free Agent from each team and see who has the best combination. The players must have been drafted or signed by the franchise, but it does not matter which team they played for thereafter. As always, the AL North is up first..........
Top Draft Pick
RF Al Nieto (retired)
Season 3, Round 1, Pick 2
Awards - 5x all-star, 2x silver slugger, 1 world series ring
Career Stats - .302 BA, .950 OPS, 300 HR, 1229 RBI's
Peak Overall Rating - 84
Better suited for 3B, Nieto was a serviceable defensive RF with an excellent bat. He had both excellent speed and batting eye.
Runner-up - Edge Cromer
RP Desi Colon (active)
Season 10, $8.7 million
Awards - 4x all-star, 2 World Series Rings
Career Stats - 4.08 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 41-51 with 221 saves
Peak Overall Rating - 67
Montreal has not been a big buyer in the IFA market and he is the best of the bunch. Ironically, we won his two rings and had his most success with the Garde's biggest rival Cincinnati.
Runner-up - Del Gomez
Salt Lake City
Top Draft Pick
RF Ivan Walton (active)
Season 22, Round 1, Pick 2
Awards - (minors) 2x silver slugger, 2x all star, 1 MVP, 1 ROY
Stats - (minors) .315 BA, 1.118 OPS, 163 homers, 485 RBI's
Peak Overall Rating - 85 with room to grow
Walton has HOF potential. He is a 5 tool player with excellent power and speed. A yearly all-star that will re-write the SLC record books beginning next season.
Runner-up - Bo Dunham
2B Juan Olivares (active)
Season 18, $23.2 million
Awards - 1 x all-star but multiple MiL awards
Stats - .316 BA, .922 OPS, 53 homers, 173 RBI's
Peak Overall Rating - 84 with room to grow
Olivares is just now starting what is sure to be an excellent career. He is a solid defensive 2B with speed and power. He also possesses the magic combo of a plus eye and vs. RHP.
Runner-up - Junior Aguilera
Toledo Mud Hens
Top Draft Pick - 1B Brant Balfour (retired)
Season 8, Round 1, Pick 25
Awards - 3x all-star, 2x WS rings
Stats - .295 BA, .904 OPS, 305 HRs, 1018 RBI's
Peak Overall Rating - 77
Balfour was great value at the end of the first round. He was decent defensively and a monster at the dish. Although very, very, good, a relatively weak vs RHP prevented him from being elite. 1221 career walks shows what a great eye he had.
Runner-up - LF Chip James
CF Angel Bonilla (active)
Awards - 3x all-star, 1 gold glove
Stats - .267 BA, .823 OPS, 433 HR's, 1295 RBI's
Peak Overall Rating - 81
An elite defensive CF, the mustachioed Angel had excellent contact and power. His splits were average, and he tended to struggle vs. lefties. A Hall of Very Good lock.
Runner-up - Jose Alvarez
Top Draft Pick
CF Francis Herzog (active)
Season 9, Round 1, Pick 3
Awards - 9x Silver Slugger, 7x All-star, 2x WS rings
Stats - .289 BA, .960 OPS, 468 HR's, 1392 RBI's
Peak Overall Rating - 91
This was a tough call, but Herzog is the choice. A strong candidate for the HOF, Herzog had one of the best contact, power, eye, and vs. RHP combos that I have ever seen. Durability was the only thing holding him back from 1530 immortality.
Runner-up - Jonathan Gload
RF John Baek (active)
Awards - 1 all-star, 1 WS ring, 1 Silver Slugger
Stats - .282 BA, .861 OPS, 268 HR's, 854 RBI's
Peak Overall Rating - 82
"Wake and Baek" would have had a much better career if not for indulging in the vice that gave him his nickname. Only 32, he should finish with over 350 homers and 1200 RBI's.
Runner-up - Carlos Pena