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Looking Back at the Draft: 1986

March 3, 2010
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The year is 1986.

France and Great Britain announce plans to begin construction on The Chunnel. The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster shocks the world. The Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Soviet Union has an accident, killing over 4,000 and contaminating the area for decades. Roger Clemens strikes out 20 batters in a game, a record at the time. Len Bias is drafted #2 overall by Boston, and dies of a cocaine overdose less than 48 hours later. Bill Buckner's error paves the way for the Mets to beat the Red Sox in the World Series. The Indians improved to 84-78, with Joe Carter, Pat Tabler, Tony Bernazard and Julio Franco all batting over .300 for the season.

Indians 1st round pick: Based on their 102 losses in 1985, the Indians were "rewarded" with the #2 overall pick in the 1986 draft. They used it on lefthander Greg Swindell out of the University of Texas. Swindell signed on July 31, and actually went 5-2 in nine starts with the big club the year he was drafted. His best season was as a 23-year old in 1989 when he went 18-14 with a 3.20 ERA and 180 K's in 242 IP. Swindell made the all-star team that year and had 12 complete games, including four shutouts. Despite this success at a young age, Swindell never quite made it from "good" to "dominant" on the hill. He hung around baseball for 17 seasons, finishing his career with an almost perfectly average 123-122 record and 107 ERA+. A solid career, but somewhat disappointing considering how much promise he was showing with some really bad Indians teams in the late 80's-early 90's.

Best 1st round pick: Gary Sheffield, his 509 career home runs and his occasionally serious mental issues were selected 6th overall by the Brewers. Doc Gooden's nephew was named to nine all-star teams, and finished both 3rd and 2nd in the MVP voting 12 years apart. That's pretty impressive, even if he seemed a at times. Sheff hit over 40 HR's twice and drove in 100+ runs in eight seasons.

Honorable mention: The Giants selected Matt Williams 3rd overall; he went on to win four gold gloves and hit 378 career HR's, including 32 as a member of the 1997 Indians...Kevin Brown had several dominant years after being taken 4th overall by the Rangers, including six straight years of an ERA at or below 3.00; probably best known for getting hurt just after signing one of the richest contracts in MLB history...He was pretty much washed up by the time he became an Indian, but Roberto Hernandez did save 326 career games after being chosen 16th overall by the Angels.

Indians best pick: Almost by default, it's Swindell. But you want more than just an average major leaguer with a couple of really good seasons out of the #2 overall pick in the draft.

Honorable mention: In addition to being the guy you'd most want on your side in a bench clearing brawl, MMA fighter/career RP Rudy Seanez was the pick for the Tribe in the 4th round. Seanez managed to make 544 career appearances out of the bullpen and amass a total of 12 saves. He has a career record of 41-30 to go with a 4.10 ERA. ... Catcher Tom Lampkin, selected in the 11th round, hung around long enough to hit 56 career HR's, including a career-high 10 as a 38-year old member of the Padres in his final season in 2002.

Best early round picks: The Los Angeles Angels had an amazing five 1st round picks (including two sandwich picks).  Out of the five, Lee Stevens, Roberto Hernandez and Mike Fetters all had some success in the majors...Boston took future ace Curt Schilling in the 2nd round of the January phase of the draft...The Cubs drafted grinder and future Yankee skipper Joe Girardi in the 5th round...Kansas City's first two picks never made the majors, but they made up for it by taking and signing Bo Jackson and Tom "Flash" Gordon in the 4th and 6th rounds, respectively...Pittsburgh hit big on their 1st round pick in the January draft, selecting outfielder Moises Alou.  If you want to learn something really interesting about Alou, type his name into Google and read the 1st search suggestion that comes up...Toronto got a future Cy Young award winner with their selection of Pat Hentgen in the 5th round...St. Louis got a solid third baseman in the 2nd round when they took Todd Zeile.

Best late round picks: Outfielder Eric Anthony was never great, but was pretty good value for the Astros in the 34th round...Oakland took closer Rod Beck in the 13th round, may he rest in peace...Shortstop Rey Sanchez had a 15-year career after being chosen by the Rangers in the 13th round.  In those 15 seasons, Sanchez hit 15 HR's.

The ones that got away: The Braves almost had a steal with outfielder Steve Finley in the 11th round, but couldn't sign him.  They were also unable to come to terms with 27th round pick Ben McDonald...The Cubs were unable to sign Ray Lankford, who they chose in the 3rd round of the January draft...The 27th round was full of future all-stars who didn't sign in 1986, as the Mets took first baseman John Olerud there as well...The Mets also selected but couldn't sign future all-star closer Todd Jones in the 41st round...Philly took future head case Chuck Knoblauch in the 18th round, but he didn't sign.

Other interesting picks: The Angels selected future Indians slugging first baseman Paul Sorrento in the 4th round.  Sorrento hit 166 career HR's, including 25 for the magical 1995 Indians squad...Former Indians coach Scott Radinsky was chosen by the White Sox in the 3rd round...Continuing the theme of former Clippers coaching staff being drafted, the Royals took but didn't sign Tory Luvello in the 27th round...The Reds did the Indians a lot of favors with their 3rd and 6th round picks in 1986, selecting Reggie Jefferson and Eddie Taubensee, respectively.  Both players made their way to the Indians organization, where Jefferson was flipped along with Felix Fermin for Omar Vizquel, and Taubensee was dealt to Houston for a speedster by the name of Kenny Lofton.

Indians June 1986 draft:

1. Greg Swindell, LHP
2. Kevin Wickander, LHP
3. Joe Skalski, RHP
4. Rudy Seanez, RHP
5. Bruce Egloff, RHP
6. Steve Bird, RHP
7. Tommy Hinzo, 2B
8. Greg Fowble, SS
9. Ray Williamson, OF
10. Doyle Wilson, C
11. Tom Lampkin, C
12. Kent Maggard, RHP
13. Dan Davies, LHP
14. Kerry Richardson, 3B
15. Jeff Battaglia, OF
16. Kevin Kuykendall, RHP
17. Carl Chambers, LHP
18. Mark Pike, OF
19. Steve Hosey, OF
20. Jeff Simmelink, C
21. Scott Johnson, OF
22. Tom Gamba, 3B
23. Jim Richardson, 3B
24. Keith Seifert, C
25. Phil Dillmore, LHP
26. Abraham Walker, 2B
27. Kevin Bearse, LHP
28. Riley Polk, 2B
29. Mike Twardoskoi, OF
30. John Balis, 3B
31. James Hindulak, LHP
32. Dana Schmerer, LHP
33. Jonathan King, SS
34. Brad Wolten, OF
35. Luis Martinez, OF
36. Lewis Kent, C

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