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Looking Back at the Draft: 1991

April 11, 2010
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The year is 1991.

Congress votes to allow military force to liberate Kuwait. Operation Desert Storm begins, and Iraq fires SCUD missiles into Israel. A month and a half after hostilities begin, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein announces he is withdrawing his forces from Kuwait, setting fire to oil wells the entire way. The U.N. Security Council passes the Cease Fire Agreement, Resolution 687. The Resolution calls for the destruction or removal of all of Iraq's chemical and biological weapons, all stocks of agents and components, and all research, development, support and manufacturing facilities for ballistic missiles with a range greater than 150 km and production facilities; and for an end to its support for international terrorism. Iraq accepts the terms of the resolution on April 6, and we never hear from them again (right?) Boris Yeltsin is elected President of Russia. Sega releases its 1st Sonic the Hedgehog game. Mike Tyson is arrested for rape. Jeffery Dhamer is arrested when the remains of 11 men are found in his home. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Tajikistan Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan declare independence from the Soviet Union. Leningrad is renamed St. Petersburg. IAEA inspectors discover files on Iraq's hidden nuclear weapons program. Iraqi officials confiscate documents from UN weapons inspectors, refusing to allow them to leave the site without turning over other documents. Clarance Thomas is named to the Supreme Court. Magic Johnson announces he is HIV positive. Queen frontman Freddie Mercury announces he has AIDS, and dies the next day. The Soviet Union formerly dissolves and changes its name to the Russian Federation.

Greg Swindell goes 9-16 for the 1991 Indians despite a 3.48 ERA and an ERA+ of 120. Albert Belle (28) and Carlos Baerga (11) are the only Indians with double digit HR's. John MacNamera is sacked after the team gets off to a disastrous 25-52 start, and he is replaced by Mike Hargarove. 'Grover has little more success with the 1991 club, as they go 32-53 for the rest of the season under his leadership. They end up 57-105 on the season. Hopefully they find a gem in the 1991 draft...

Indians 1st round pick: With the lucky 13th pick in the draft, the Indians selected a high school outfielder out of George Washington HS in New York City by the name of Manny Ramirez. Almost 19 years and 546 home runs (and counting) later, "Manny being Manny" is a common phrase throughout baseball. It can mean a variety of things, from crushing a home run with his teammate's bat; or getting two traffic tickets within 10 seconds of each other because he pulled an illegal U-turn after being issued the 1st ticket. If you don't think that Manny is one of the greatest right-handed hitters ever, allow me to throw some numbers at you. 1.105, 1.154, 1.014, 1.097, 1.014, 1.009, .982, 1.058. Those represent the OPS of Ramirez from the 1999-2006 seasons. Remarkably consistent and remarkably good, Ramirez hit 35 or more HR's in 9 different seasons. His career batting average sits at .313, and his career OPS is 1.002. It's a shame he only played 8 seasons in Cleveland.

Best 1st round pick: Ramirez. The only future Hall of Famer chosen in 1991's 1st round, he is a slam dunk choice for this honor. Ironically, Ramirez was one of the cheapest 1st round draft picks that year, signing for just $250,000. Pitcher Brien Taylor, selected 1st overall by the Yankees and represented by Scott Boras, signed for a record $1.55 million. He never pitched to a batter in the major leagues, topping out at AA ball.

Honorable mention: The Blue Jays had the Giants' 1st round pick as compensation for losing free agent Buddy Black, and they took advantage of it, selecting OF Shawn Green 15th overall out of a California high school. Green finished his career with 328 HR's and was both a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger award winner...Montreal took all star OF Cliff Floyd with the 14th pick. Floyd hit 233 HR's in his 17-year major league career...The best pitcher selected in 1991's 1st round was righthander Aaron Sele, chosen 23rd overall by Boston. Sele finished his career with a 148-112 record and a 4.61 ERA.

Indians best pick: Again, the honor has to go to Ramirez. Its pretty difficult to argue with 12 all star appearances. But the Indians managed to put together a solid draft even after the 1st round in 1991, as you'll see below.

Honorable mention: In the 2nd round, the Indians picked up spectacular defender and solid hitter Herbert Perry out of Florida. Perry had trouble cracking the lineup in a crowded and loaded mid-1990's infield, but if given a full year of playing time prior to his injuries could have been a gold glover. His best season was with Texas in 2002, when the 32-year old batted .276 and hit 22 HR's in 450 AB's...In both the 3rd and 4th rounds, the Tribe selected pitchers out of LSU. Chad Ogea and Paul Byrd both had success at the major league level, Byrd more so than Ogea. Ogea finished 37-35 in his career, but put on two sterling performances against the Marlins in the 1997 World Series, winning games two and six while giving up just two runs in the process. Byrd went 109-96 over 14 seasons, making an all star team and winning 15 or more games 3 times in the process...In the 20th round, they picked up Albie Lopez our of Mesa CC; Lopez was never great, but finding a 5th starter who can burn up some innings in the 20th round isn't bad...In a draft and follow move, the Indians also picked up SS Damian Jackson in the 44th round. All in all, the 1991 draft was one of the better Indians' drafts we have covered so far here on IPI.

Best early round picks: Kansas City took future Indian-killing 1B Mike Sweeney in the 10th round. Sweeney never hit more than 29 HR's in any one season, but would be in the Hall of Fame if only he could have played all of his games against the Tribe...Los Angeles took future Rookie of the Year Todd Hollandsworth in the 3rd round...Minnesota acquired two solid pitchers back to back in the 7th and 8th rounds with their selections of LaTroy Hawkins and Brad Radke...The Pirates landed a leadoff hitter in the 7th round when they drafted SS Tony Womack. Womack led the NL in stolen bases three times...Pitcher Derek Lowe was taken by the Mariners in the 8th round. Lowe is still going strong, winning 15 games for Atlanta last season...St. Louis had 5 1st round picks including their sandwich picks, the "best" of which turned out to be Dmitri Young, who they chose 4th overall in the draft.

Best late round picks: The Mets came up with the steal of the draft when they chose hard-throwing righty Jason Isringhausen out of Lewis and Clark JC in the 44th round...Milwaukee took 3B Jeff Cirillo in the 11th round. Cirillo made two all star teams and hit .321 or higher for four straight seasons at one point...Indians utilityman Mark Grudzielanek was also chosen in the 11th round. He made an all star team with the Expos before being traded to the Dodgers in 1998...The Twins took outfielder Matt Lawton in the 13th round. Lawton made two all star teams before being dealt to the Indians in the ill-fated Robbie Alomar blockbuster...Seattle took hard throwing but oft-injured reliever Matt Mantei in the 25th round.

The ones that got away: The Angels took Aaron Boone in the 43rd round, but couldn't sign him...The Cubs selected pitcher Jon Lieber in the 9th round, but didn't sign him this time around, although he would end up playing for them later in his career...Future Indians reliever Bobby Howry was chosen in the 32 round by Houston, but they were unable to come to terms...The fate of Red Sox Nation was nearly altered forever, but Milwaukee was unable to sign 5th round pick Nomar Garciaparra. I wonder if he had signed, would Sox fans somehow be any less annoying? Something to ponder...Texas almost hit big time on their 54th round choice, but they were unable to sign outfielder Raul Ibanez out of a Miami high school.

Other interesting picks: Penn State and Hawken HS outfielder O.J. McDuffie was chosen in the 41st round by the Angels, but he didn't sign. Rumor has it he could play a little football as well...The Angels took RHP Browning Nagle in the 51st round out of Louisville, but he too spurned SoCal for a life on the gridiron...Sticking with the Angels, their 1st round pick was 1B Eduardo Perez, who the Indians were able to trade for current SS Asdrubal Cabrerra, in a deal that looks like it will rank with Shapiro's best as a GM...Current Blue Jays GM Alex Andreopoulous was selected in the 26th round by the San Diego Padres...The Astros selected a whopping 101 players in the June 1991 draft. The "quantity over quality" approach didn't exactly pay off, as just 3 of the players signed by Houston ever reached the major leagues, none for more than a cup of coffee.

Indians June 1991 Draft:

1. Manny Ramirez, OF
2. Herbert Perry, 3B
3. Chad Ogea, RHP
4. Paul Byrd, RHP
5. Kevin Logsdon, LHP
6. To, Vantiger, OF
7. Pep Harris, RHP
8. Chris Coulter, LHP
9. Paul Meade, SS
10. Scott Sharts, 1B
11. Brad Kantor, 2B
12. Jeff Whitaker, SS
13. Ryan Martindale, C
14. Mike Jewell, RHP
15. Tommy Bates, SS
16. Rod Koller, RHP
17. Wade Key, RHP
18. Michael Burritt, 3B
19. Chris Maffett, RHP
20. Ablie Lopez, RHP
21. Jed Hansen, SS
22. Grady Davidson, LHP
23. Greg Knapland, LHP
24. Andre White, OF
25. Brandon Bluhm, LHP
26. Rufus Boykin, OF
27. Denny Vigo, 1B
28. Warren Frierson, 2B
29. Patrick Maxwell, 2B
30. Rodd Hairston, 1B
31. Ian Doyle, RHP
32. Jeff Seale, RHP
33. Dave Duplesis, 1B
34. Dave Majeski, OF
35. Gary Tatterson, RHP
36. Jorge Santiago, 3B
37. Michael Moore, C
38. Robert Sherwood, C
39. Jason Elders, RHP
40. Michael Taylor, C
41. Brian Buzard, LHP
42. Erik Lane, SS
43. Damien Crabtree, LHP
44. Damian Jackson, SS
45. Greg Sinner, RHP
46. James Gatlin, C
47. William Duffie, C
48. Shannon Jones, SS
49. Steve Bourgeois, RHP
50. Ryan Post, RHP
51. Jonathan Stephany, OF
52. Jay Giardina, RHP
53. Dale Dolejsi, RHP
54. John Waters, OF
55. Jamie Hanson, C
56. Erasmo Velasco, OF
57. Robert Augustine, RHP
58. Damon Sims, RHP
59. Brian Holter, RHP
60. Ryan Stover, RHP
61. Andy Stemler, LHP
62. Tim Thompson, SS

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