The first round of the 2005 first-year player draft saw an incredible crop of talent come from it. Players like Justin Upton, Troy Tulowitzki, and Ryan Braun have already reached the Majors and have made major contributions to their teams playoff runs while others like Alex Gordon, Matt Garza, and Ryan Zimmerman have cemented themselves as franchise players in their organizations. Not to mention 12 of the top 30 picks at one time or another were listed on my top 25 prospect list over the past couple of years. So with all this talent that exploded on to the scene in 2005, why is this article directed exclusively at the high school outfielders?
As good as the 2005 draft was, it isn’t remembered for all the talented players that came from it, but rather it is remembered for having the richest crop of high school outfielders we possibly have ever seen in one draft. We’ve had drafts that were deep at certain positions before, but none with high schoolers the caliber of the four studs in center field that came from this one. All four of them appear to be can’t miss players which is so rare to have in kids so young, at the same position, in the same draft. To give you a better understanding of the talent, here’s a look at the four center fielders that still have the baseball world talking:
10th Pick / Cameron Maybin / Detroit Tigers / TC Roberson High School
Cameron Maybin has a lighting quick bat and long arms that can generate a lot of power. Because of this I project him to be a 30-plus home run hitter down the road for the Tigers. Also due to his speed and stellar base running instincts, look for this kid to steal 30-plus bases as well. Drafting a future 30/30 guy right out of high school isn’t something you come across everyday and Maybin looks to have the best chance to join the club. Maybin also has great range and powerful arm in center field. Between A and AA he posted .316/.409/.523 with 14 homers, 53 RBI, and 25 stolen bases. This guy is an all around superstar and will be making noise in Detroit as soon as next year.
11th Pick / Andrew McCutchen / Pittsburgh Pirates / Fort Meade High School
Andrew McCutchen is an exciting player with a stellar glove in centerfield. Despite his great defensive prowess, his impact bat may be his best skill. McCutchen has quick hands and a compact swing which produces a surprising amount of power for someone of his stature. He is a line drive hitter due to his quick bat speed and is able to hit consistently to all fields. While he did struggle a bit in the Minors this year hitting .265/.329/.388 with 11 homers, 53 RBI, and 21 stolen bases, the Pirates organization is hoping he will still be their shining star in center at the start of next season.
12th Pick / Jay Bruce / Cincinnati Reds / Westbrook High School
Jay Bruce is a five tool player who can impact the game with his power bat, speed, and defense. He needs to work on his plate discipline and he also tends to struggle against lefties and off speed pitches, but those are adjustable. If he can learn these items the next few years and combine that with his current skills, he will be a monster. Bruce has already shown his masher capabilities by hitting .319/.375/.587 with 87 R, 26 homers, and 89 RBI in three levels for the Reds. With his talent and power, look for him to crush 35-40 HR in the hitter friendly Great American Ballpark.
28th Pick / Colby Rasmus / St. Louis Cardinals / Russell County High School
Colby Rasmus is the superior, impact-type prospect the St. Louis Cardinals organization has been waiting for ever since Albert Pujols was plucked from it. Rasmus is a perfect example of a five-tool player as he can run, throw, field, hit, and hit for power. Excellent bat speed, good pitch recognition, and plus runner. Rasmus had an offensive explosion in AA this season hitting .275/.381/.551 with 29 homers, 72 RBI, and 18 stolen bases. The only thing is that I am not sure how much St. Louis will allow him to run once he reaches Majors.
As you can see, despite the great amount of talent that was available in this draft, the four center fielders who at the time were just barely old enough to buy a pack of cigarettes are the ones that people still mention when the 2005 draft is brought up.
I for one can not wait to see how these young players develop and who will rise to the top as the best of the high school center fielders in the class of ’05.
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