Whenever the Oakland A's visit Seattle, the story of how the Mariners drafted but failed to sign Rich Harden is usually told. In recent seasons, the same story would be told about Barry Zito when the A's visited Arlington, Texas.
Every team has the "one that got away," a player that the team drafted but failed to sign and later went on to post a significant career with another team.
So who are the A's "ones who got away"? We take a look...
Note: Selections are in date order from oldest to most recent.
Floyd Bannister – Selected in Round Three in June 1973
Bannister was drafted by the A’s out of Kennedy High School in Seattle, Washington. He turned down the A’s contract offer and elected to go to Arizona State. The gamble paid off. He was selected as the first overall pick by the Houston Astros in 1976. Bannister would spend only one season in the minor leagues before mounting a long major league career. He had a 4.06 ERA in 2,386 career innings. He won 10 or more games from 1982 though 1988, but he also had double-digit losses in all of those seasons. Bannister retired after the 1992 season after 15 seasons in the big leagues.
Bob Horner – Selected in Round 15 in June 1975
Horner was selected as a high school shortstop out of Glendale, Arizona. Like Bannister, he chose to go to Arizona State and, like Bannister, he parlayed his high school career into a number one draft selection three years later. Horner went right from college to the big leagues, debuting with Atlanta in 1978. He hit 23 homers in only 89 games that season and went on to hit at least 15 homeruns in each of his 10 major league seasons (with the exception of 1984, when he appeared in only 32 games). Horner finished his career with 218 homeruns. He also hit 31 homeruns in one season in Japan.
Hubie Brooks – Selected in Round One in January 1977 (secondary round)
Brooks was a tough catch. He was drafted six times before signing with the New York Mets in 1978. The A’s were the third team to draft him, taking him in the secondary round in 1977. Once he did sign, Brooks spent little time in the minors, debuting with the Mets in 1980. He played 15 seasons in the big leagues, hitting 149 career homers and driving in 824 runs. He drove-in a career-high 100 runs in 1985 for Montreal and hit 20 homers in 1988 and in 1990.
Robby Thompson – Selected in Round Two in January 1982 (regular phase)
Most Bay Area fans remember Thompson as the second baseman that the San Francisco Giants chose to re-sign rather than keeping first baseman Will Clark. Long before that, however, Thompson was drafted out of Palm Beach CC in the January draft. He was selected three times before signing with the Giants in 1983 as the second overall pick in that draft. Thompson made his major league debut in 1986 with San Francisco and he spent 11 seasons with the Giants. His best season was in 1993, when he hit .312 with 19 homers and 65 RBIs.
Rodney Peete –Selected in Round 14 in 1988 and in Round 13 in 1989
Peete may have made his mark on the gridiron, but the A’s thought enough of his baseball playing skills to draft him twice while he was at USC. He was a third baseman for the Trojans. Peete chose to go to the NFL after finishing second in the Heisman Trophy balloting. He would have a long career as an NFL back-up quarterback, throwing 76 touchdowns and 92 interceptions in 16 seasons.
Robert Fick – Selected in Round 45 in 1992
Fick was a high school catcher from Southern California when he was taken by the A’s in 1992. He elected to go to Cal State Northridge, where he put together a solid collegiate career. He turned that career into a fifth round draft selection by the Detroit Tigers in 1996. Fick had 114 RBIs in Double-A in 1998 and that production earned him a major league debut with the Tigers that same season. He hit three homers in only seven games with Detroit that season. He had his best seasons in 2001-2003, hitting double-digit homeruns and driving-in at least 60 runs in all three seasons. He appeared in 60 games for the Washington Nationals in 2006.
Trevor Crowe –Selected in Round 20 in 2002
Crowe was a high school shortstop from Portland, Oregon, when he was selected by the A’s in 2002. He decided to go to college and turned himself into an Oakland A’s-type of a player at the University of Arizona. In his final season at Arizona, he had a .477 OBP and he walked more times than he struck out. The A’s were rumored to be interested in Crowe in 2005, but he was selected by the Indians in the first round before the A’s had a chance to grab him. He is now one of the Indians’ top prospects. Last season, the speedy outfielder stole 45 bases at three levels.
Jon Papelbon –Selected in Round 40 in 2002
The A’s 2002 draft would have really been one to remember if they had been able to sign Papelbon. Unfortunately for Oakland (and the AL East), he returned to Mississippi State for his senior season to improve his draft stock. It worked and he went in the fourth round to Boston the next season. He sped through the Red Sox system, making his debut late in the season in 2005. In 2006, Papelbon was the Red Sox closer, saving 35 games and posting a remarkable 0.92 ERA. He had arm soreness at the end of the season and is expected to be moved into the Red Sox starting rotation in 2007.