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Looking Back at the Draft: 1981

January 30, 2010
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The Rule 4 Amatuer Draft has existed in baseball since 1965. From 1965-1986, there were actually two drafts, one in January and then the "regular" draft in June.

Much has been made about the Indians struggles in the draft lately, with the notable exceptions of the last two years. I thought it would be a fun idea to go back and look through past drafts year-by-year to try and see just how often the Indians have had successful drafts and how those drafts have translated into success on the field. I'm also going to briefly look at each draft as a whole and pull out some interesting picks and contracts from each year.

We're starting with 1981 and working forward, but I'll go back into the 60's and 70's as well at some point. After completing quite a bit of preliminary research, I've come to one conclusion so far; the draft is a crapshoot, much more so than the football or basketball drafts.

If you can think of aspects of the draft that are not covered here, feel free to raise them and I'll incorportate them in future articles. For now, I'll be taking a look at the Indians 1st round (or 1st) pick, the Indians best pick, the best picks from the 1st round in each year, as well as some late-round gems and the ones that got away--stars who were drafted but not signed. Finally I will close by listing the Indians' picks from the June drafts. The more feedback, the better this series will be. That being said, lets take a look at 1981...

The year was 1981. Reagan was president, Marcus Allen won the Heisman, Anwar Sadat was assassinated. I was born. The Tribe went 52-51 in a strike-shortened season. Mike Hargrove hit .317 for the 6th place Indians, who drafted 13th in the 1st round.

Indians 1st Round (or 1st) pick: With the 13th pick in the June 1981 draft, the Indians selected George Alpert, a HS outfielder from Livingston, NJ. Alpert never appeared in the major leagues, for the Indians or anyone else. They'd have been better off choosing Richard Alpert instead.

Best 1st Round pick: Joe Carter, selected #2 overall by the Cubs out of Wichita St. As most Tribe fans know, he was traded from the Cubs to the Indians in 1984 along with Darryl Banks, Mel Hall and Don Schulze to for George Frazier, Ron Hassey and Rick Sutcliffe.

Honorable mention(s): Kevin McReynolds went 6th overall to the Padres and had a decent career. Other than that, not much out of 1981's 1st rounders.

Indians best pick: Ummm...pass? Only 9 of the Indians 25 selections in the June draft ever played in the majors, and that includes a combined 19 games between 4 of the players. With a gun to my head, I'll have to say 2nd round pick Neal Heaton, who made the 1990 all-star team with the Pirates and managed to bounce around the league long enough to win 80 games (against 96 losses.

Honorable mention(s): None. Trust me.

The one(s) that got away: Baltimore drafted Cecil Fielder out of high school in the 31st round, but failed to sign him...Montreal drafted Mark McGwire in the 8th round and he didn't sign...Roger Clemens was selected by the Mets in the 12th round, but they failed to come to terms...Pittsburgh selected John Kruk in the 3rd round of the January draft; he didn't sign then, but did when the Padres drafted him in the same round in June...Philly drafted but failed to sign Vince Coleman in the 20th round.

Best early pick(s) (top 10 rounds): The Padres chose the best player in the history of their franchise in the 3rd round, selecting OF Tony Gwynn...Frank Viola was selected in the 2nd round by the Minnesota Twins...Seattle selected pitcher Mark Langston in the 2nd round...KC chose pitcher David Cone in the 3rd round...The Yankees took the Crime Dog Fred McGriff in the 9th round...OF Devon White went to the LA Angels in round 6.

Late round gem(s): The Mets got Lenny Dykstra in the 13th round...The Yankees chose Bob Tewksburry with their 19th round pick...

Other interesting draftees: Former Indian Eric Plunk was selected by the Yankees in the 4th round...Current Jacksonville Jaguars Coach Jack Del Rio was drafted in the 22nd round by Toronto, but opted to go to USC instead...John Elway was drafted in the 2nd round by the Yankees...Bubby Brister (yes, that Bubby Brister) was a 4th round pick of the Detroit Tigers...Former Kent St. and Wake Forrest baseball coach Rich Rembielak was drafted in the 13th round by the Orioles...

Indians June Draft:

1. George Alpert
2. Neal Heaton
4. Randy Washington
5. Rich Doyle
6. Matt Kinzer
7. Dwight Taylor
8. Brian Silvas
9. Tommy Gregg
10. Wayne Johnson
11. Terry Wells
12. Jeff Bassett
13. Steve Gelmine
14. Jim Paciorek
15. Scott Collins
16. Stan Yagiello
17. John Merchant
18. Phil Deriso
19. Brad Arnsberg
20. Michael Poindexter
21. Chuck Jackson
22. James Warner
23. Bill Cutshall
24. Keith Miller
25. Jim O'Dell
26. Geoff Redgrave

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