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50 rounds, no love: Northwestern and the MLB Draft


"I'd like to thank the MLB for giving everybody else so much, and me so damn little" - Silky Johnson/Northwestern baseball


So, today's the MLB draft. If the entire college sports world doesn't completely implode (and it might very well do that while I'm taking my final today, at least rock a fanpost if it does) (and no, I don't feel like keeping this site up to date on every single rumor, because that would just take too much time and every other site is doing it) (OHCRAPTEXASJUSTSECEDEDFROMTHEUNIONTOJOINTHEPAC-10ANDRUTGERSJUSTANNEXEDTHESUDETENLANDHOLYCRAP) (yeah, I made a Sudetenland joke, deal with it, turds), it's the most important thing related to Northwestern sports today. You're probably all like "but I thought yesterday was the MLB Draft!" and to a certain extent that's true: yesterday was the first round of the MLB draft. But today's rounds 2-30, tomorrow's rounds 31-50. (yeah, there's 50 rounds. For the record, I've taken poops less relevant than rounds 45-50.) For most players that aren't really, really good, these are the two days that count.

And that's generally the deal with NU players. It wouldn't be surprising according to most people who know this type of stuff to see two Wildcats get picked this year: sophomore pitcher/ex-Big Ten freshman of the year Eric Jokisch, and senior catcher Chad Noble. If one of them gets picked today, you'll hear about it here.(notwithstanding conference realignmentpocalypseclusterbang 2010)

Cool, huh? You probably know a little bit about NU's baseball background - we got Joe Girardi, and Mark Loretta - but what about this whole draft thing? How does NU generally do? 

I'll tell you after the jump.


  • Not well! Surprise! 
  • Basically, NU has had very little success with the draft. Since the draft was conceived for the MLB in 1965, 66 players have been drafted out of Northwestern. This has boiled down to seven players who have actually signed with their teams, worked their way up through the minors, and played in the major leagues. (For what it's worth, three players are still in the minor leagues and might someday make the show.)
  • However, players on NU have had success in the draft: three players on the current squad were picked out of high school, but opted to go to college. Jokisch was picked in 2007 by Cleveland in the 39th round, and multi-sporters Quentin Williams and Arby Fields both got selected as afterthoughts after committing to NU for football, Q in the 38th by the Blue Jays and RB in the 32nd by the Atlanta Braves, where he should have signed just to go all Neon Deion on the world, amateur running back-by-committee by day, professional minor league centerfielder by night.
  • So, why didn't they go pro? Well, to your average person, four free years of college beats four years of getting paid basically nothing to play low minor league ball. Those late rounds are just about teams taking flyers on guys in case they do randomly sign with the club. When Jokisch got drafted that late in 2007, there was no doubt he'd stay with NU. Now, with two years of ball under his belt, if he was selected considerably higher, he'd have to consider ditching. Noble, on the other hand, has his hands tied, having graduated and whatnot - its either pros or bust, so, let's hope he gets picked somewhat higher.
  • NU has had players go in the first round before. Just the ones that have gone haven't done much, and there hasn't been one in a long time. The first was Jerome Hojnacki, a first baseman who the Texas Rangers took with the eleventh overall pick in 1976, who, oddly enough, doesn't even appear to have any minor league stats. (This originally read "minor league tats", which sound like a terrible idea.) The next/last first round draftee came in 1986. It was a pitcher named Grady Hall who went 20th to the White Sox, who thought highly enough of him to start him out at double-A. But after seven years of shuttling back and forth between AA and AAA, Hall never made the big time, his career ending in 1992 with 8-plus ERA's for AAA affiliates of the Orioles and Dodgers
  • Interestingly, the last pick was in 1986. This is interesting because current head coach Paul Stevens took over the NU job in 1987. NOT THAT THESE TWO THINGS COULD HYPOTHETICALLY BE CORROLATED IN ANY WAY. Since, only two players have cracked the top three rounds, and both made the show: Chris Nichting and J.A. Happ were both third round picks, and both paid off by making it to the show as pitchers - although Happ is doing a little bit of a better job.
  • Basically, if you're below the tenth round, things aren't too good for you. Of those seven players, two were below the tenth round: Mike Huff, who was drafted in the 16th round in 1985 and carved out a seven-season MLB career, most notably with the White Sox, and Joe Hietpas, a catcher who literally had a cup of coffee for the Mets, appearing in one game, not getting a plate appearance. Joe Hietpas makes me immeasurably sad.
  • As for guys in recent years - let's say since 2005 - NU hasn't done badly. Five players have been drafted. Two aren't in baseball anymore, as far as I can tell: Daniel Brauer, a pitcher picked in the sixth round in 2005 by the Phillies, who appears to have never risen above A-ball and was last heard of last year, and Caleb Fields, an outfielder picked in the 33rd round who hit .073 in A-ball and was in the independent leagues last year.
  • That leaves three still on rosters: Mark Ori, a 2005 fourth-rounder of the Astros currently hitting over .300 in single-A, although the fact he's still in triple-A four years after being drafted isn't great, George Kontos, a highly-touted fifth-rounder recovering from surgery in the Yankees system, and Jake Goebbert, who the Astros took in the 13th round last year, and appears to be following right behind Ori, although at a faster pace.