Since the start of the MLB Amateur draft in 1965, the A’s have had the 10th overall selection only twice. In both instances, the 10th pick proved to be a bonanza for the A’s.
The year was 1996 and the A’s were three-and-a-half seasons removed from their glory years of the Bash Brothers when Oakland last selected 10th overall. The pick proved to be a cornerstone selection for the A’s next run of glory in the early 2000s. Oakland used the selection on a high school infielder from San Diego named Eric Chavez. Recent struggles aside, Chavez has been one of the most prolific offensive players in A’s history and arguably the team’s best defensive third-baseman.
Despite being a high school draft selection, Chavez wasted no time climbing the ranks of the A’s minor league system. He was named Baseball America’s Minor League Player of the Year in 1998 when he hit 33 homers and he made his major league debut that September at age 20.
Since that time, Chavez has gone onto to hit 230 major league homeruns and win nine Gold Glove awards at third base. He was one of the few A’s stars to sign a contract to stay with the team past his seventh-year free agency walk season and along the way helped the A’s go to five post-seasons.
Signing a contract to keep him in Oakland past his seventh-year free agency walk season is something that Chavez has in common with the A’s other 10th overall selection: first-baseman Mark McGwire. McGwire was taken by Oakland in 1984. The USC infielder was part of a US Olympic team that season that many believe was the best of all-time.
Like Chavez, McGwire didn’t waste too much time getting to the show. He passed the 20-homer mark in the 1985 and 1986 seasons and was a September call-up by the A’s in 1986. In 1987, he set the baseball world on fire with a record 49 homeruns as a rookie. He was an AL All-Star that season (where he got to play in front of the home crowd at the Oakland Coliseum) and the Rookie of the Year.
McGwire would spent nearly 12 seasons with the A’s and he logged more games at first than any player in Oakland history, and for many of those seasons, he was a solid defensive first-baseman. McGwire appeared in four post-seasons with the A’s, winning the AL pennant three times and the World Series once. He also hit 363 homeruns in the green and gold before moving onto St. Louis, where he would gain more national attention, both good and bad.
Of course, looking back at historical picks does not do much to help the A’s make their selection in 2010. However, with a starting rotation and bullpen filled with young arms, the A’s might do well to find a player with a similar profile to their last two top-10 picks, a power hitter who can lead the team into their next stretch of post-season appearances.
Other Fun A’s Draft History Tidbits
* Mike Gallego, Curt Young and Rick Rodriguez have more in common than just being members of the A’s coaching staff (Gallego is the A’s third base coach, Young is the A’s pitching coach and Rodriguez is the A’s Triple-A pitching coach): they were all drafted by Oakland in 1981 and all made their major league debuts with Oakland a few years later.
* It has been more than 10 years since the A’s had a selection among the top-10 picks in the draft. The last time was in 1999 when they selected ninth overall. Oakland made another wise pick with that selection, taking USC left-hander Barry Zito.
* Since 2000, the A’s have not had a first round selection in two drafts: 2000 and 2007. In 2000, the A’s took Freddie Bynum with their first pick (60th overall) and in 2007, Oakland selected Trevor Cahill with their first selection (66th overall),
* Since 2000, the A’s have signed all of their first round selections.
* The A’s spent more than $6 million on draft bonuses last season.
* The A’s have had only one number one overall selection in team history. It came in the first-ever amateur draft in 1965 (Rick Monday was the pick).