We continue to truck right through some of the most painful decisions in Mariners history. Coming in at #3 on our list was yet another draft gaff by the worst GM in team history.
Yesterday, we talked about one draft choice in the Jack Zduriencik era, selecting Danny Hultzen second overall in the 2011 MLB Draft. Today, we profile the worse pick in the Bill Bavasi era. Owning the 3 overall pick in the much celebrated 2005 Draft Class, the Mariners selected a pull heavy catcher by the name of Jeff Clement.
Right away, the fact that the Mariners picked a player third overall who appeared in just 152 games makes it eligible for this list. However, what makes this pick especially painful are the players Bavasi passed on.
It was widely believed the Mariners would take a Long Beach State shortstop by the name of Troy Tulowitzki. MLB draft expert Keith Law went as far to call it ” a virtual certainty.” However; on draft day, the Mariners went rouge and selected Clement, based on his “rare lefty power from the catcher position.
All Tulowitzki went on to achieve was a borderline Hall of Fame career, finishing Top 10 in MVP voting twice, while appearing in 5 All-Star games and winning 2 Gold Gloves. In fact, of the Top 7 players selected in the 2005 draft, 6 made at least one All-Star team.
The list of players the Mariners passed on for Clement is nothing short of legendary. Immediately after Seattle selected Clement, a run of Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun, Ricky Romero, and Tulowitzki came off the board. Just 4 picks after that run, outfielders Andrew McCutchen and Jay Bruce would be selected.
Adding insult to injury, a regional hero fell to the bottom of the first round. The Boston Red Sox were the prime beneficiaries of this mistake, selecting outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury with the 23rd pick.
What makes this choice worse than the Hultzen selection? There is some debate as to what Hultzen might have been without the injuries. While most saw him as a #3 starter, there were some comparisons to Yankee great Andy Petite floating around.
Jeff Clement was just a bad professional baseball play. The decision to select him with all that elite talent still on the board is one that stings. It arguably set the organization back multiple years, and was an early sign of the incompetence of then GM Bill Bavasi.