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Looking Back at the Draft: 1998

July 20, 2010
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The year is 1998.

Bill Clinton is accused of sexual harassment by Paula Jones. Ramzi Yousef is sentenced to life in prison for planning the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing. The Unabomber pleads guilty, and is sentenced to life without parole. Bill Clinton goes on national TV and delivers the infamous line, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman," speaking about Monia Lewinsky. The Nagano Olympics take place. Dale Earnhardt wins the Daytona 500 for the first time. Osama bin Laden issues his fatwa declaring jihad against the "Jews and Crusaders." The film Titanic wins the Oscar for best picture. UN inspectors report back to the UN Security Council that Iraq's declaration giving up its biological weapons program is incomplete and inaccurate.

A 23-year old Bear Grylls becomes the youngest Brit ever to scale Mt. Everest. India and Pakistan trade nuclear tests, causing fear of a possible war between the two neighbors. Charlton Heston becomes president of the NRA. U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Dar es Salaam are bombed by al Qaida suicide terrorists; 224 are killed and over 4,500 are injured. Iraq officially announces it will no longer cooperate with UN inspectors. Bill Clinton goes on national TV again, announcing that he had an improper physical relationship with Lewinsky, and admitting that he "misled" people about the nature of the relationship. UN senior inspector Scott Ritter resigns, saying that the Clinton administration and the UN are weak on Iraq, and insisting that Iraq maintains the capability to conduct a chemical attack. Google is founded. Jesse "The Body" Ventura is elected governor of Minnesota. Bill Clinton becomes the 2nd U.S. President in history to be impeached, but is not removed from office. Iraq announces its intentions to fire on US and British planes flying over Iraq.

The Indians win 89 games and take down the Red Sox in the ALDS before falling to the Yankees in the ALCS. Manny Ramirez hits 45 HR's and drives in 145 runs. New 3B Travis Fryman hits 28 bombs and drives in 96. Chuck Nagy and Dave Burba each win 15 games. The "Era of Champions" continues, albeit without an actual championship.

Indians 1st round pick: With the 20th pick in the 1st round, the Indians selected the Hefty Lefty himself, C.C. Sabathia. Carsten Charles was selected out of a California high school in 1998, and was pitching in the majors as a 20-year old in 2001. He finished 2nd in the AL ROY voting that year, and would win the Cy Young award for the Indians in 2007. He went 19-7 with a 3.21 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 209 K's in 241 innings pitched for the Tribe in 2007, helping the Indians reach the postseason. In the postseason however, Sabathia disappointed, going 1-2 and giving up 15 ER in 15 1/3 IP. Sabathia started 2008 slowly and was traded to the Brewers, where he put together the best stretch of baseball for his career, going 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 128 K's in 130 innings. He threw 7 complete games for the Brew Crew, including 3 shutouts, helping them to the postseason. But Sabathia again wilted under the bright lights of October, giving up 5 ER in 3 2/3 innings against the Phillies in his only postseason start. Sabathia would leave Milwaukee for New York after the 2008 season, and pitched well for the Yankees in their World Series victory over Philly in 2009. Sabathia's legacy in Cleveland will be defined by three things; regular season success, postseason failures and his refusal to negotiate a new contract in 2008, all but assuring the Indians would trade him if they fell out of the race for the playoffs.

Best 1st round pick: Sabathia. His 148 career victories are 46 more than any other pitcher drafted in the 1st round that year, and he's still going strong. C.C.'s career ERA stands at 3.59 and WHIP at 1.28. He's a workhorse, throwing 180 or more innings every year in his major league career. He turns 30 on July 21, so he should still have several good years ahead of him as well.

Honorable mention: J.D. Drew was drafted 5th overall by St. Louis, and he actually signed a contract this time. His OPS of .892 is higher than anyone else drafted in the 1st round in 1998...Oakland chose Mark Mulder 2nd overall out of Michigan State. Mulder won 21 games his 2nd year in the majors in 2001, but arm problems derailed his promising career and he retired in 2009...Texas took slugging 1B Carlos Pena 1oth overall, and he's popped 211 career HR's...Philly had the 1st overall pick, and they selected power-hitting OF Pat "The Bat" Burrell. Burrell's 272 career HR's lead everyone selected in 1998's 1st round.

Indians best pick: Ummm...I guess I'll have to go with C.C. again. Before being dealt for Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley, Rob Bryson and Zach Jackson, Sabathia won 106 games for the Tribe, losing 71. He made 3 All Star teams as an Indian, won a Cy Young Award and finished 2nd in the AL ROY voting in 2001 to a guy who wasn't really a rookie (Ichiro). For whatever postseason disappointments while he was here and boneheaded statements to the press after he left, Sabathia left it all on the field as an Indian.

Honorable mention: Not a whole lot to be happy about after Sabathia in the 1998 draft. The best player the Indians selected after the 1st round was Ryan Drese, who's main accomplishment was being decent enough in 2001 to be included in the trade to Texas that brought the Indians Travis Hafner in December of 2002. Drese won 11 games with the Indians over 2 seasons, and 34 overall in his career. He also lost 39, and had a career ERA of 5.31. Drese was the only other player of note selected by the Indians in the 1998 draft.

Best early round picks: Cincy took TTO superstar Adam Dunn in the 2nd round...Colorado selected slugging OF Matt Holliday in the 7th round..Houston found solid players in the 7th and 9th rounds with their selections of John Buck and Morgan Ensberg, respectively...Oakland took slightly crazy OF Eric Brynes out of UCLA in the 8th round...Tampa Bay didn't have picks in the first 3 rounds because of free agent signings, but managed to make their 5th round pick count with their selection of Aubrey Huff.

Best late round picks: The White Sox got what was probably the steal of the draft in the 38th round when they selected pitcher Mark Buehrle...The Reds took future closer B.J. Ryan in the 17th round out of Southwestern Louisiana...Also in the 17th round, the Cubs chose power-hitting corner IF Eric Hinske...Still in the 17th round, the Mets took 2010 AL All Star Ty Wiggington...While Matt Holliday provided the smash, Colorado's 13th round choice of Juan Pierre was responsible for the dash in the mid-2000's Rockies teams.

The ones that got away: Anaheim took SS Bobby Crosby in the 34th round, but couldn't sign him away from Cal State...Baltimore took Cliff Lee in the 20th round out of Meridian Community College, but Lee would go to the University of Arkansas instead...Seen as a difficult sign away from Georgia Tech, Mark Teixeira fell to the 9th round where the Red Sox selected him, but wouldn't meet his bonus demands...Sometimes-dominant RP J.J. Putz was chosen in the 17th round by the Twins, but they were unable to come to terms...The Yankees had a supplemental pick for failing to sign their 1997 1st round pick, and used it on highly-touted high school righthander Mark Prior; Prior also failed to sign with the Bronx Bombers...Texas chose lefty Barry Zito in the 3rd round out of an LA juco, but he went to USC instead and was chosen in the 1st round in 1999.

Other interesting picks: Former Tribe prospect Chris Magruder was selected in the 2nd round by the Giants...Indians outfielder and trade-bait Austin Kearns was the 1st round choice of the Reds...Another former Cleveland prospect was the 2nd round selection of the Rockies; none other than outfielder Jody Gerut...QB-turned-3B-turned back to QB Drew Henson was the 3rd round pick of the Yankees; he never really had much of a career in either sport...St. Louis gave two-sport star Chad Hutchinson a big bonus to sign him away from playing QB at Stanford; they should have just let him go...Pittsburgh took NE Ohio native Chuck Crowder in the 8th round out of Georgia Tech, but he apparently couldn't stomach the thought of pitching in front of toothless yinzers, so he went back to school for his senior season.

Indians June 1998 draft:

1. C.C. Sabathia, LHP
2. Zach Sornsen, SS
3. Scott Pratt, SS
4. Ron Marietta, LHP
5. Ryan Drese, RHP
6. Tyler Minges, OF
7. Brody Percell, LHP
8. Chris Reinike, RHP
9. Paul Day, 3B
10. Michael McPadden, RHP
11. Jacob Reynolds, RHP
12. Donnie Suttles, RHP
13. Matt Wade, RHP
14. Brian Jackson, RHP
15. Matt White, LHP
16. Richar Matsko, RHP
17. Mark Koeth, RHP
18. T.T. Gallaher, OF
19. David Raymer, OF
20. Barry Patton, C
21. Mike DiRosa, C
22. Carey Novits, LHP
23. J.J. Sherrill, OF
24. Tom Bost, OF
25. Eric Maleski, RHP
26. Chris MacMillan, 3B
27. Jeff Depippo, C
28. Rudolfo Rosales, RHP
29. Ruben Escobar, RHP
30. Mike Pursell, 2B
31. Marques Esquerra, SS
32. Craig Brown, LHP
33. Brian Strelitz, RHP
34. James Jurries, 3B
35. Randon Ho, LHP
36. Matt Ramie, 1B
37. Micah Simmons, SS
38. Brian Minks, LHP
39. Darrel Berck, RHP
40. Dan Guillory, RHP
41. Brian Sullivan, RHP
42. Blake Whealy, SS
43. Dana Thomas, RHP
44. Miguel Hernandez, 3B
45. Eric Bush, LHP
46. Brandon Mauer, C
47. Kevin Spaulding, RHP
48. Garth Blumberg, OF
49. Kevin Hooper, 2B
50. Omar Moraga, 3B

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