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Looking Back at the Draft: 1992

April 18, 2010
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The year is 1992.

US President George Bush falls ill at a state dinner in Japan, vomiting into the lap of Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa. Russian President Boris Yeltsin announces that Russian nuclear missiles will no longer be pointed at U.S. cities. Serial killer Jeffery Dhamer is sentenced to life in prison. A suicide car-bomb goes off in the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, killing 29 and injuring 242. Silence of the Lambs wins the Oscar for Best Picture. Windows 3.1 is released. Jay Leno becomes the new host of NBC's Tonight Show. Hurricane Andrew hits South Florida. Bill Clinton is elected president.

The Indians under new manager Mike Hargarove improve to a record of 76-86, good for 4th place in the AL East. Charles Nagy establishes himself as the ace of the staff, leadoff hitter Kenny Lofton steals 66 bases, and slugger Albert Belle hits 34 home runs. Things are starting to look a little brighter in Tribe Town.

Indians 1st round pick: Picking 2nd overall in the draft, the Indians chose Ohio-born pitcher Paul Shuey out of the University of North Carolina. Less than two years later, Shuey and his high leg kick were pitching in a playoff chase for the Indians in Jacobs Field. Shuey never started a game in the major leagues, appearing exclusively as a reliever. He recorded 23 career saves, with a single season high of 6 in 1999 with the Tribe. He also struck out 103 batters in 81 2/3's innings in the 1999 season. Traded to the Dodgers at the 2002 trading deadline, injuries ended his career early and he would pitch less than 100 innings for the Dodgers. The choice of Shuey had as much to do with signability as it did with talent, as Stanford OF Jeffrey Hammonds was seen as the best player in the draft but bonus demands pushed him to 4th overall and the Orioles.

Best 1st round pick: With the 6th pick in the draft, the Yankees took a high school shortstop from Kalamazoo, Michigan by the name of Derek Jeter. He ended up being pretty good, and I think he even won a couple of World Series rings. Jeter fell to 6th overall despite Astros scouts lobbying for him to go 1st overall due to perceived bonus demands, although he signed for "just" $700,000.

Honorable mention: Houston ended up taking 3B Phil Nevin 1st overall in the draft. Nevin ended up as a solid player for the Padres, hitting 41 homers and making the all star team in 2001...Catcher Jason Kendall had a few good years with the Pirates after being chosen 23rd overall. He made three all star teams and managed to steal 177 bases as a catcher. He's also the active leader in HBP's, with 248...Kansas City took OF Johnny Damon 35th overall with their sandwich pick as compensation for losing free agent Kurt Stillwell; I'd say that was a pretty good trade, even if Damon did most of his damage with Oakland, Boston and NY...Florida made catcher Charles Johnson their first ever amateur draft pick, selecting him with the 28th pick in the 1st round.

Indians best pick: Shuey. Another poor draft for the Wahoo Warriors, as you'll see below.

Honorable mention: Not a whole lot honorable about this draft. Jon Nunnally was chosen in the 3rd round by the Indians, then lost to the Royals in the Rule 5 draft in 1994. He bounced around the league long enough to hit 42 home runs, but his career batting average was just .246. Second round pick Mike Matthews never pitched in an Indians uniform and didn't make his MLB debut until 2000. The Indians did have one late round pick that had a pretty good professional career, but Pro Bowl safety Lawyer Milloy ended up being a much better football player than baseball player, and he didn't sign with the club when they drafted him in the 29th round. Especially when you consider that they had the 2nd overall pick, this is a bad draft for the Tribe.

Best early round picks: Kansas City picked up pitcher Jon Lieber with the 2nd round pick they acquired from the Yankees as compensation for losing OF Danny Tartabull...Montreal took 3-time all star 2B Jose Vidro in the 6th round...Jack of all trades IF/OF Frank Catalanotto was selected by the Tigers in the 10th round. Catalanotto has played 14 seasons and counting in the big leagues despite an OPS+ of just 108. Versatility can go a long way...The 2000 AL MVP and 5-time all star Jason Giambi was chosen by the A's in the 2nd round. Giambi will never escape the PED cloud that hangs over him, but per Baseball-Reference.com, he's made $129,058,996 over his career so far.

Best late round picks: Texas hit on their 24th round pick with the selection of SS Rich Aurillia. His best season came for the Giants in 2001 when he went for a line of .324/37/97...Outfielder Bobby Higginson was chosen by the Tigers in the 12th round out of Temple. Higginson averaged 18 HR's a year over his 10 full seasons in the majors with the Tigers.

The ones that got away: Future 1st round pick Jose Cruz Jr. was selected by the Braves in the 15th round, but didn't sign...San Diego didn't have a 1st round pick, but they could have made up for it in the 2nd round if they had been able to sign Todd Helton out of a Tennessee high school...The Padres were also unable to come to terms with 24th round pick Geoff Jenkins...Sweet Lou Merloni would eventually sign with his hometown Red Sox, but not when they took him in the 36th round in 1992...Pitcher Bobby Howry was chosen in the 29th round by the Astros, but they failed to come to terms...The Mets took OF Darrin Erstad in the 13th round, but he didn't sign...Philly took high school shortstop Casey Blake in the 11th round, but he would take a scholarship to play baseball at Wichita State instead...Slugging outfielder Jermaine Dye was selected by the Rangers in the 43rd round, but they failed to come to terms...Gold Glove 1B Doug Mientkiewicz was chosen by the Blue Jays as a catcher in the 12th round, but he didn't sign.

Other interesting picks: Known for his walk-off grand slam off Mariano Rivera and for bestowing upon Travis Hafner the "Pronk" moniker, Bill Selby was taken in the 13th round by the Red Sox...QB Mark Brunell was a 44th round pick of the Braves out of Washington as a pitcher. He made a good choice in sticking with football...Craig "Bleeping" Counsell was taken in the 11th round by the Rockies...Future Cleveland LOOGY Aaron Fultz was the 6th round choice of the Giants...Seattle's 2nd round pick was pitcher Bob Wolcott, whose career highlight was beating the Indians in game 1 of the 1995 ALCS. How he even got out of the 1st inning (when he loaded the bases with no outs) I have no idea.

Indians June 1992 draft:

1. Paul Shuey, RHP
2. Mike Matthews, LHP
3. Jon Nunnally, OF
4. Matt Williams, LHP
5. Jamie Taylor, 3B
6. Jeff Liefer, OF
7. JJ Thobe, RHP
8. Greg Gregory, LHP
9. Larry Schneider, C
10. Ryan Ritter, SS
11. Terry Miller, SS
12. Mitch Meluskey, C
13. Chris Westcott, RHP
14. Chad Townsend, 1B
15. Cerleston Bargman, 3B
16. Fred Smith, RHP
17. Cale Carter, OF
18. Curtis George, SS
19. Noe Najera, LHP
20. Damian Leyva, LHP
21. Jon Zubiti, RHP
22. Joe Parks, OF
23. Derek Hacopian, OF
24. Stephen Randolph, 1B
25. Leroy Thompson, OF
26. Mike Neilson, LHP
27. Eric White, 3B
28. David Welch, RHP
29. Lawyer Milloy, OF
30. Allen Gallagher, RHP
31. John Lewandowski, C
32. Ben Blake, RHP
33. Jason Langolis, LHP
34. Epi Cardenas, 2B
35. Gregg Bitner, RHP
36. Brian Wisler, RHP
37. Kiko Palacios, C
38. Germaine Mayberry, OF
39. Jason Myers, LHP
40. Milton Anderson, OF
41. Jonathan Oram, SS
42. Mack Chambers, SS
43. Rodney Tisdale, OF
44. Allan Hebbert, RHP
45. Claude Love, OF
46. Marvin Pierce, RHP
47. Maft Braughler, C
48. Roberto Garza, RHP
49. Jason Rooker, RHP
50. Joey Malone, RHP

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