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Old 11-19-2019, 03:54 PM   #42
HerbD
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HBL Flashback: 1991 Ammy Draft

The 1991 Heartland Baseball League amateur draft was a goldmine of talent boasting five Hall of Famers and 10 players who finished their career with at least 26.9 WAR.
Only 53 of the 120 players draft ever made it to the majors but the one's who did made a lasting impression. Cedar Rapids hit on their top three draft picks which
included two Hall of Famers and a collective 217.7 WAR. Evansville, drafting in the sixth spot, was the overall WAR winner with a combined total of 241.3. The
biggest loser had to be Dayton who drafted in the top spot but missed on every pick.


Leslie Hodges(drafted second overall by CR/122.6 WAR)
Dayton passed on Hodges to the delight of the Rebels' management. Cedar Rapids wasted no time getting their pick in to the HBL offices and history was underway.
Hodges posted a 122.6 WAR and won six Pitcher of the Year Awards and two pitching triple crowns over his career. He is the career leader in wins(316), IP(4139), strike outs(4476), and Pitcher WAR.
He won 25 games twice(tied for the league record) and was named the 2002 Heartland Series MVP for the first of his two Heartland Series rings. Hodges was at his
best in the post season totaling a 14-3 record and 1.77 ERA in his 23 playoff starts. Hodges is a member of the HOF.



Randall Murray(drafted fifth overall by SPR/102.3 WAR)
Murray had a great career but it was overshadowed by other great pitchers of his era. He won his only Pitcher of the Year Award in 2003 when he led the HBL
with a single season record 25 wins and a South best 2.78 ERA. His other great season was in Bay City during the 2007 campaign in which he won 19 games and posted
a league best 2.12 ERA but lost the POY to teammate and legend Mike Cravens. Murray was a 12 time All-Star who won back to back Heartland Series rings with the
Lake Monsters in 2006 and 2007. He posted a 102.3 WAR and is in the HBL HOF.


Bob Wade(drafted sixth overall by EVA/86.3 WAR)
Wade only had 95 high school plate appearances leading up to the 1991 draft but Evansville shocked everyone by taking him sixth overall. After struggling in the minors for three seasons
he finally broke out with in 1994 with one of the best AAA season ever. In 104 games Wade hit .394 while blasting 46 homers and driving in 131 runs. The Twisters could
ignore him no more and he was called up to finish 1994 with the big club. From that point on he was Evansville's MR. Everything. He played his entire career with in
Evansville where he earned 11 All Star nods, two Hitter of the Year Awards, seven Best Fielder Awards, four Silver Sluggers, and one Heartland Series championship.
He is a member of the HBL HOF.


Clark West(drafted 26th overall by CR/70.0 WAR)
West was the real find of this draft. Taken with the second pick of the third round and he turned into one of the greatest hitters in the history of the HBL. West finished his career
with over 3300 hits and currently sits second on the all time hits list. He won four batting titles over his career and went to 12 All Star games. He took home two Hitter of the Year Awards
and five Silver Sluggers while taking home one Heartland Series ring in the process. He is a member of the Hall of Fame.


Cornell Miller(drafted 11th overall by JEC/58.1 WAR)
There is a pretty big drop off from Hodges/Murray to Miller but the latter still managed to get inducted into the HBL
HOF. Miller finished his career with 199 career wins but his last few seasons may have tarnished his great career. He was 192-149 before posting a 7-27 record his last
two campaigns. He spent his entire career with the Jackalopes and helped them to three Heartland Series Championships. He made six All-Star squads while taking home
the South Rookie of the Year in 1995.

Niklas Pedersen(drafted 17th overall by SPR/40.2 WAR)
Pedersen didn't hit for average nor did he get on base at a decent rate. What he did do he did well. He hit for power(358 homers), drove in runners(1040 RBI),
and he was great with the glove(six BF awards at SS, three BF awards at 3B). He won a Rookie of the Year Award as well as one Silver Slugger. He was named to three All-Star
games and won one HBL Championship.

John Shoemaker(drafted third overall by SB/39.3 WAR)
Shoemaker was the also in the discussion to go number one before the draft. He was drafted by a bad team in Rochester but ended up on an even worse team
in South Bend. He finished his career over 50 games under .500 but his 39.3 WAR suggest he was not that bad of a player. He did manage to win three Heartland Series championships
in the twilight of his career, two of those coming as a teammate of Murray in Bay City.

Eric Bradley(drafted 14th overall/30.2 WAR)
Bradley was Cedar Rapid's pick between Hodges and West. He didn't live up to those two legends but he posted a decent career of his own. He made three all-star teams
and took home one Silver Slugger Award. His best years came in Davenport after leaving the Rebels as a free agent after the 2000 season. He finished his career with
over 300 homers and 1000 RBI while posting a .370 career OB%.

Santiago De Jesus(drafted 18th overall by EVA/28.0 WAR)
De Jesus had a very good career winning a Best Fielder Award and two Silver Sluggers while being named to three All-Star teams. He was the 2001 SLCS MVP which
was also the season he helped Bob Wade and Evansville win an HBL title.

Al Jackson(drafted 28th overall by PB/26.9 WAR)
Jackson wasn't even the first catcher selected by the Predators in this draft but he was the one that eventually stuck. He made four All-Star teams and won two Silver Slugger Awards.
From 1996 to 2000 he was one of the best catchers in the HBL but injuries slowed his career. In 2005 he was forced to retire at the age of 32 due to an ankle injury.
Jackson's career is one of the biggest "what ifs" of this draft.

Biggest Bust
Lonnie Newcomb(drafted first overall by DAY/5.5 WAR)
The Dawgs took Newcomb number one leaving Hodges and Murray on the board. Hodges and Murray combined to post 25 seasons of 5.5 WAR or more which happens
to be the career total for Newcomb. He pitched his entire career for the Dawgs so he was a constant reminder of the bad decision. He finished his career with a 61-85 record and
a 4.95 ERA in over 1200 innings pitched.
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