BRIGHTEST OF THE BUNCH

Written by Steve Cutler

     When the Mohawk Valley Rangers joined the Mid-West Baseball League in 1997, as an inaugural member, they had high expectations. With the 6th overall pick in the draft they chose Barry ‘Balco’ Bonds, but unfortunately the rest of the draft was not as fruitful. Understanding that drafting is not his strong point, Mohawk owner Lee Welch historically would either trade his early picks for vets, or draft vets first then try and ‘pick’ an Un-Carded winner late in the draft. While it’s indisputable that Fremont has the best late selection to date (Nick Swisher with the last pick, 239, of the 2003 draft), Mohawk has picked a couple winners of their own. Below are the 3 best late draft picks made by Mohawk Valley.

(3) 2006 – Round 12, pick 276 overall:
Taylor Tankersley, RP, Florida Marlins

     In his rookie year, Tankersley pitched his way to be the projected Marlin closer in 2007. He pitched in 49 games, racking up a 2-1 record, with 3 saves and an ERA of 2.85 in 41 innings. He jumped from Double AA to the majors in 3 months and appears to be there to stay. With a 16 grade, Tankersley looks to open the 2007 season as (relocated) Ann Arbor’s closer, however it is conceivable that he could be the setup man to Ramon Ramirez due to his “W”. We would expect him to be cemented in there in 2008 and beyond.


(2) 1998 – Round 7, pick 162 overall:
Pat Burrell, OF, Philadelphia Phillies

     In 1998, Burrell was drafted while attending the University of Miami, Florida. A little known outfielder, he took the majors by storm in 2000 while developing 30 homerun power on the way. After his 3rd season with Mohawk, where he began to show the expected promise, 27HR 100RBI, he was traded to Severn for pitching prospect Jeremy Affeldt and a pick, which turned into Scott Linebrink. While Linebrink turned into a solid relief pitcher, Affeldt never really emerged. Burrell’s career has been up and down, when it is up, he is one of the better power producers.

(1) 2002 – Round 8, pick 175 overall:
Jose B. Reyes, SS, New York Mets

     As a 19 year old out of the Dominican Republic, Reyes was drafted after 174 other players. After a terrific 2003 MLB rookie season, Reyes injures his leg (incidentally at a game I was actually at) and was referred to as “ever-fragile”. He rebounded for the Mets in 2005 and is now considered one of the best shortstops in baseball. After performing well in partial play for Mohawk in 2004 & 2005, he looks to be cemented in at their SS position for many years to come.

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