Prospecting with Jack Cust

February 7, 2007

Hello and welcome to an all-new feature at the Diamond Mind Baseball League: Prospecting with Jack Cust! I've spent a lot of time among the league's farm teams -- four years, in fact -- and I've got the inside scoop on the will-be's, coulda-been's and never-were's of the DMBL.

Jack Cust

With the 16th annual Diamond Mind Baseball League draft just around the corner (Saturday, Feb. 24), it's a good time to look back at how many ineligible players have been drafted over the past five years. (We used 2002 as the cut-off because before that year, teams were allowed to draft as many ineligible players as they liked, and guys like Phil Rizzuto would get picked in the later rounds.)

Does it seem like, every year, more and more ineligible players are getting drafted? Well, yes and no. We found the number of ineligible players drafted every year since 2002 has remained more or less consistent, save an inexplicable down year in 2004.

Ineligible Players Drafted
Year Total
10 17 17
11 16 17
6 13 12
5 13 24
8 11 22

Perhaps that big dip in the 2004 season is the reason why some owners feel more ineligible players have been drafted in recent years. Maybe the owners were just taking a break after 2003's record 51 ineligible selections!

However, while more ineligible players aren't getting drafted, the draft picks used to select them have been improving steadily over the past few years. In fact, last year saw the most ineligible players ever taken in the first five rounds, including the most players ever taken in the first three rounds (5). The previous high, set in 2003, was just 3 players selected by the end of the 3rd round. Just two players were taken in the first three rounds in 2002, and just one was taken in 2004 and again in 2005.

However, no ineligible player has ever been selected in the first round. The earliest pick ever used on a Hideki Matsuiprospect was the 15th pick -- the first pick of the second round -- in 2003, when the Harrison Rats selected Jose Contreras. There have been just five other second-round selections since 2002: Kazuo Matsui (Harrison, #16, 2004); Josh Beckett (Tijuana, #20, 2002); Francisco Liriano (Las Vegas, #20, 2006); Francisco Rodriguez (Columbia, #21, 2003); and Hideki Matsui (Newark, #28, 2003). Astute readers will note the Harrison/Las Vegas franchise has used a second-round pick on a prospect three times in the past five drafts!

CORRECTION! Reader Mark H. of Rahway, N.J., points out that an ineligible player has been taken in the first round. We should have noted above that we were only talking about the five drafts in our study period (2002-2006). J.D. DrewIn 1999, J.D. Drew was selected with the 4th pick overall by the Philadelphia Eagle Wings (now known as the Endzone Animals). Philly had back-to-back first-round picks that year, and used the first one to take Drew, then a highly-touted prospect holding out for a mega contract on the advice of agent Scott Boras. The two sides eventually came to an agreement and J.D. played for the Eagle Wings/Animals for six seasons. After a monster '05 (.322/.434/.561, 34 HR, 115 RBI), Drew used his player option to void his contract and signed with Vancouver, where he remains today.

Jack Cust has been drafted four times, but has never been eligible for the DMBL. More Prospecting articles can be found in the Prospecting Archives.