*Note: Only players who signed with the A's after being drafted were considered for this piece.
Round One: Reggie Jackson
Honorable Mention: Mark McGwire, Eric Chavez, Mark Mulder, Barry Zito
Comment: Not surprisingly, the Oakland A’s first round draft history has included a score of worthy candidates for top pick in franchise history. We give the nod to the only current Hall of Famer in the group, Reggie Jackson, although Mark McGwire may have received more consideration if not for recent scandals. Eric Chavez could end up with all of the Oakland A’s offensive power records by the time he is done. Chavez, incidentally, is the last high school player the A’s have taken in the first round.
Round Two: Vida Blue
Honorable Mention: Jason Giambi
Comment: Round two is a surprisingly difficult choice. On the one hand, you have Vida Blue, one of the greatest left-handers of his generation. On the other, you have Jason Giambi, one of the best pure hitters of his generation. Both men have had controversy taint their careers and both won MVP awards. I give the nod to Blue for his contribution to three World Series teams, but it is a close call.
Round Three: Mike Davis
Honorable Mention: Wally Whitehurst, A.J. Hinch
Comment: The third round has been slim picking for the Oakland A’s historically. Davis was a solid offensive outfielder for the A’s from 1985-1987. Perhaps his most famous at-bat came against the A’s in 1988 when he drew a two-out walk against Dennis Eckersley to bring up Kirk Gibson in Game One of the 1988 World Series. Whitehurst was part of a three-team deal in December 1987 that netted the A’s Bob Welch and Matt Young. He pitched seven seasons in the major leagues, winning 20 games and losing 37. Hinch was a top-rated college player from Stanford who spent seven seasons in the big leagues. His best season came as a rookie with the A’s in 1998 when he hit .231 with nine homeruns and drove-in 35 in 120 games played. Current A’s prospect Jason Windsor could break the A’s string of bad luck with third round picks. Windsor was the A’s third rounder in 2004.
Round Four: Rickey Henderson
Honorable Mention: Mitchell Page
Comment: Page had a memorable start to his career with a Rookie of the Year-worthy campaign in 1977 where he hit .307 with 21 homers. He would finish his career with a .266 BA and 104 stolen bases. Henderson, on the other hand, stole more than 104 bases twice in a single season during his illustrious career. There haven’t been too many fourth round choices that have been better for any team than the choice of Rickey Henderson, who is arguably the greatest Oakland Athletic of all-time. Rickey played 14 of his 25 seasons with the A’s and will be a sure-fire Hall of Famer whenever he gets around to hanging up his spikes.
Round Five: Mickey Tettleton
Honorable Mention: Charlie O’Brien
Comment: Both of these catchers had their best seasons with other teams. Tettleton played for parts of four seasons with the A’s before being displaced by Terry Steinbach and shipped to Baltimore. Tettleton would go on to hit more than 20 homeruns in six seasons, including four seasons with more than 30. He finished his career with 245 homers. O’Brien played 16 games with Oakland before being shipped to Milwaukee in 1987. That began a 15-year major league career as a reliable defensive backstop.
Round Six: Tim Hudson
Honorable Mention: Sal Bando
Comment: This choice was another tough call. Bando was the rock on the A’s three-straight World Series teams. His best season came in 1969 when he hit 31 homeruns and drove-in 113. Bando finished his career with 242 homeruns and was the A’s third base leader in homers until Chavez passed him this season. He later went on to have a productive career in the Milwaukee front office. However, we give the nod to Hudson, who has been one of the best pitchers of his generation thus far. Injuries have slowed Hudson some lately, but he is still on pace to put up some huge career numbers. He was also the first piece of the A’s pitching renaissance of the early 2000s and a leader on the A’s playoff teams from 2000-2003.
Round Seven: Matt Keough
Honorable Mention: Todd Burns
Comment: Like the third round, the A’s have found little success historically in the seventh round. Keough gets the nod among this group for his All-Star appearance in 1978 and his 16 wins in 1980. He may have had a better career had it not been for that 1980 season when he had 20 complete games and threw 250 innings. He finished with a career record of 58-84 and has gone on to be one of the most important members of the A’s scouting department. Burns was a member of the A’s pitching staff from 1988-1991. He won eight games as a part-time starter in 1988 and he was a valuable swingman in 1989 and 1990 for Tony LaRussa. Burns finished with a 21-23 career record and a 3.47 ERA.
Round Eight: Craig Paquette
Honorable Mention: Eric Byrnes
Comment: Paquette has the distinction of being one of Tony LaRussa’s favorite players. He played for Tony in Oakland and in St. Louis. Paquette was a versatile player who could play first, third, short, second and in the outfield. He had 99 career homers in 11 seasons as a super-utilityman and he appeared in two post-seasons with St. Louis. Byrnes was a fan favorite during his time in Oakland, always making the most of his talent. His best season thus far was in 2004 when he hit .283 with 20 homers and 17 stolen bases. He is in the midst of a solid season with the Arizona Diamondbacks right now.
Round Nine: Terry Steinbach
Honorable Mention: Wayne Gross
Comment: Steinbach was a rock for the A’s mini-dynasty in the late-1980s/early-1990s. He was the All-Star MVP in 1988. In 1996, Steinbach was part of the team that hit 243 homeruns, hitting 35 of his own. Gross was an All-Star himself in 1977 and the A’s starting third baseman before the arrival of Carney Lansford. He hit 121 career homeruns in 11 major league seasons.
Round Ten: Lance Blankenship, Ernie Young
Comment: We’ll make this one a tie, as neither player has had a particularly distinguished major league career, although both have been useful players at times. Blankenship was one of Tony LaRussa’s super-utilitymen. He had 24 doubles and stole 21 bases in 1992 in a career-high 123 games and played six seasons in total with Oakland. Young has hung around professional baseball for 16 years, part of eight of which have been in the big leagues. Along the way, he helped Team USA win an Olympic gold medal in the 2000 games.
Round Eleven: Greg Cadaret
Comment: Cadaret is the only major leaguer of any note that the A’s have drafted in the 11th round. He pitched for 10 seasons in the major leagues, mostly as a reliever. He appeared in 451 games, saving 35 and compiling a 3.99 ERA. He was part of the trade that brought Rickey Henderson back to Oakland in 1989.
Round Twelve: Chris Michalak
Comment: Michalak is the only A’s 12th round pick to have significant major league time, and that was only three seasons. Michalak appeared in 53 games for Arizona, Texas and Toronto, winning eight games and losing 11.
Round Thirteen: Rod Beck
Comment: Many forget that the A’s actually drafted Beck, who made his name across the Bay with the Giants. Beck was traded to the Giants for minor leaguer Charlie Corbell in 1988 and went on to save 286 games and appear in three All-Star games. He also had one of the biggest personalities in the game.
Round Fourteen: Ron Coomer
Honorable Mention: Omar Minaya
Comment: Coomer is the only A’s 14th rounder to have a significant major league career. Minaya gets a mention despite never playing in the big leagues because of his accomplishments as a scout and a general manager later in his career. Coomer was released by the A’s in 1990 and floated around the minor leagues until breaking through in the majors with Minnesota in 1995. He was an All-Star in 1999 and had double-digit homerun totals in five straight seasons from 1996-2000.
Round Fifteen: Jose Canseco
Honorable Mention: Dwayne Murphy
Comment: There aren’t too many instances in which a player of Murphy’s caliber picked in round 15 wouldn’t be the best 15th rounder of all-time for a franchise. But Canseco was no ordinary 15th round pick. Recent scandal aside, on the field, Canseco was a seemingly unstoppable force from 1987-1992, when he was traded to Texas. His 1988 campaign is still one of the most exciting seasons of all-time and his 462 career homeruns put him at 26th all-time. Murphy was arguably the best defensive centerfielder of his generation and certainly the best that the A’s have had at the Coliseum. Murphy won six straight Gold Gloves from 1980-1985 and hit 33 homeruns in 1984.
Round Sixteen: Doug Johns
Comment: Johns is the only A’s 16th rounder to have a major league career. Johns played four seasons, two with Oakland and two with Baltimore. He went 20-22 with a 5.13 ERA in 386 career innings.
Round Seventeen: Rich Harden
Honorable Mention: David Newhan
Comment: Harden was a draft-and-follow pick out of Central Arizona in 2000. He blew through the A’s minor league system in two and a half years and has quickly turned himself into the A’s best pitcher. Injuries have slowed him down, but it seems like only a matter of time before Harden puts it all together and challenges for a Cy Young award. Newhan wasn’t given much of a chance to make the A’s, but he hung around the minor leagues long enough to become a productive major league bench player. Newhan’s best major league season was in 2004 when he hit .311 with eight homers and 54 RBI in 95 games for Baltimore.
Round Twenty: Gene Tenace
Honorable Mention: Scott Brosius
Comment: Tenace was the prototypical “Moneyball” player well before the book was written. He finished his career with only a .241 batting average, but he made every at-bat count, posting a career .388 on-base percentage and a .429 slugging percentage. He won three World Series with the A’s and another with St. Louis and he was a leader for the A’s outstanding pitching staff of the 1970s. Brosius had a solid career with Oakland and then anchored the hot corner on three New York Yankees World Series squads. Brosius was always a good defensive third baseman and he finished his career with 127 homeruns in 10 major league seasons.
Notable Later Round Picks
Izzy Molina (22), Tanyon Sturtze (23), Tyler Yates (23), Shooty Babitt (25), Jeff DaVanon (26), Ron Flores (29), Mike Mohler (42).