COMMENTARY | The Major League Baseball Rule 4 Draft is a crapshoot -- more than any other draft. There are hidden gems all over the place. When there are 40-plus rounds, that'll happen.
The draft used to be more exhaustive. Mike Piazza was a 62nd-round draft pick after all. Now, it's capped at 40 rounds.
But every year, every team drafts players -- players which they do not sign. Sometimes said players go on to never be drafted and sometimes they go on to be drafted again but flame out in the minors. Then there are times when those players turn out to be quality big leaguers. Then there's that time a team drafts a future hall of famer, only to see him make the Hall of Fame with another organization.
The Los Angeles Dodgers can claim every one of those categories.
The list of unsigned Dodger draftees is long and contains some really good players -- past, present and future (round drafted, year).
Minor leaguersKevin Gausman 6th, 2010
Richie Shaffer 25th, 2009
Stephen Piscotty 45th, 2009
Zach Cox 20th, 2008
Rob Rasmussen 27th, 2007
Matt Szczur 38th, 2007
Notes: Gausman is one of the game's Top 20 prospects, while Shaffer and Piscotty were first-round draft picks last year. Rasmussen was acquired by the Dodgers this winter and has a 2.42 ERA at Double-A Chattanooga.
Major leaguersLuke Hochevar 1st (supp), 2005/39th, 2002
Mark Melancon 30th, 2003
Brad Wilkerson 13th, 1995 (as pitcher)
David Ross 19th, 1995 (drafted and signed later)
Brett Tomko 20th, 1994
Eric Byrnes 38th, 1994
Jim Parque 50th, 1994
Doug Davis 31st, 1993
Mark Sweeney 39th, 1990
Mike Fetters 22nd, 1983
Scott Fletcher 35th, 1976
Bob Shirley 38th, 1972
Notes: Hochevar is infamous for agreeing to a contract, changing agents and backing out of said contract with the Dodgers. He went No. 1 overall to the Kansas City Royals in 2006. Wilkerson, who was an outfielder, was second in National League Rookie of the Year voting in 2002. Ross was drafted and signed later by the Dodgers. Byrnes and Davis did a lot of their damage against the Dodgers as members of the Diamondbacks.
Paul Goldschmidt 49th, 2006 (he will be this season)
David Price 19th, 2004 (eventual No. 1 pick)
Chase Utley 2nd, 1997
Randy Wolf 25th, 1994
Phil Nevin 3rd 1989 (eventual No. 1 pick)
Paul Quantrill 26th, 1986
Bob Stanley 9th, 1973
Jason Thompson 15th, 1972
Tom Hume 35th, 1971
Notes: Goldschmidt is blossoming into one of the best young first basemen in the game. Price won the American League Cy Young award in 2012. Utley was once one of the 10 best players in baseball. Nevin would go 1:1 to the Houston Astros and eventually end up as a member of the San Diego Padres. Wolf and Quantrill would spend time with the Dodgers before they retired.
Hall of famers
Tom Seaver 10th, 1965
Notes: Man, it would have been nice to have Seaver in Dodger blue for 20 years.
Not every player on this list went on to be a great major leaguer or an All-Star, but all had periods in their careers when they were quality baseball players.
A team isn't going to sign every single player it drafts. There simply aren't enough roster spots to go around. But when players get away, it stings. But it also shows the aptitude the organization has when combing the later rounds for quality prospects who may or may not sign.
The most recent example of that for the Dodgers is Matt Magill. He was a 31st-round draft pick in 2008. While he's struggled in his first 24 Major League innings, the fact he's even thrown a pitch in the majors and considered a legitimate prospect shows the odds he overcame to get here.
In a somewhat related note, the Dodgers' 1992 draft is one of the worst in team history -- possibly MLB history. They drafted 51 players. Only one made it to the majors. His name: Keith Johnson, a shortstop. Johnson was 2-for-4 with two walks and two runs scored in six games for the 2000 Anaheim Angels. Other than him, no one else ever sniffed the majors from that draft -- with the Dodgers or any other team.
Like I said, it's a crapshoot.
Dustin Nosler has followed the Dodgers from Northern California all his life. He's the founder of Feelin' Kinda Blue, a Dodger blog. He also co-hosts "Dugout Blues," a weekly Dodger podcast. Find him on Twitter @FeelinKindaBlue.
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