COMMENTARY | Buster Posey. Brandon Belt. Brandon Crawford. Matt Cain. Madison Bumgarner. Tim Lincecum. Ryan Vogelsong. Brian Wilson. Sergio Romo.
All of the players mentioned have something in common: all of them helped the San Francisco Giants win two out of the past three World Series championships, and all of them were drafted by the Giants. You could say that the team has drafted pretty well over the last decade or so.
But what about the years the Giants didn't draft so well? For a number of years, the knock on the Giants was that they couldn't develop their own players; and, looking at some of their draft choices, it's easy to see where that reputation came from. Here are five of the biggest first round busts in Giants history, along with some of the players they passed on taking.
Tony Torcato (1998, #19 overall)
The Giants held the Astros' first round pick in the '98 draft as compensation for losing pitcher Doug Henry in free agency and used the pick on Torcato, a high school third baseman. Torcato never panned out and ended up appearing in only 43 games in the major leagues with the Giants. With the very next pick in the draft, the Cleveland Indians took a high school pitcher from the San Francisco Bay Area named CC Sabathia. It hurts a little more when your team passes on drafting a superstar from their own backyard.
Players the Giants passed on: CC Sabathia (20th), Brad Wilkerson (33rd), Adam Dunn (50th)
Steve Soderstrom (1993, #6 overall)
In a loaded draft, the Giants completely whiffed on the sixth overall pick. Soderstrom started three games for the Giants during their nightmarish 1996 season and was never heard from again. He lasted three more years in the Giants' minor league system but didn't come close to the big leagues. The sixth pick netted the Giants two wins and a 5.27 ERA. Considering the talent still available when the Giants were on the clock, the Soderstrom pick was a total disaster.
Players the Giants passed on: Trot Nixon (7th), Billy Wagner (12th), Derrek Lee (14th), Chris Carpenter (15th), Torri Hunter (20th), Jason Varitek (21st)
Calvin Murray (1992, #7 overall)
Another top ten bust. Murray was touted as the leadoff hitter of the future when the Giants drafted him out of the University of Texas; instead, he toiled in the minors for almost seven years before finally making the big leagues as a reserve outfielder. Murray was a good defensive center fielder and provided speed off the bench, but the Giants were expecting much, much more from him. They thought they were drafting a potential superstar, and instead got a guy who couldn't beat out Marvin Benard for playing time.
Players the Giants passed on: Shannon Stewart (19th), Rick Helling (22nd), Jason Kendall (23rd), Charles Johnson (28th), Johnny Damon (35th)
Two awful picks in one first round. The Giants likely had visions of Hyzdu batting in the middle of their order behind Will Clark and Matt Williams when they drafted him, but instead he became a journeyman who played parts of seven seasons in the big leagues (none with the Giants) and 18 seasons of professional baseball total. Christopherson never made it past Triple-A ball and was out of the organization by 1996. Foreshadowing what they'd do in the draft eight years later with Torcato and Sabathia, the Giants took two position players and passed (twice!) on a pitcher in their own backyard: Stanford's Mike Mussina. Ouch.
Players the Giants passed on: Jeromy Burnitz (17th), Mike Mussina (20th), Rondell White (24th)
Alan Cockrell (1984, #9 overall)
Cockrell never made it to the big leagues with the Giants and only lasted with the organization until 1988 when he was traded to Minnesota for the equally inconsequential Karl Best. One pick later in the '84 draft, the Oakland A's took Mark McGwire. While this seems like a huge mistake, consider that had the Giants taken McGwire they surely would've have taken Will Clark second overall in the 1985 draft and the course of Giants history would have been changed forever. None of that changes the fact that Cockrell was an awful pick.
Players the Giants passed on: Mark McGwire (10th), Shane Mack (11th), Oddibe McDowell (12th)
Dave Tobener is a San Francisco Bay Area-based writer who has covered the Giants for the better part of a decade. His work has appeared on numerous sports websites, including Yahoo! Sports' Big League Stew. You can follow him on Twitter @gggiants.
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