Lasorda, Brett among greats to be in attendance on first day of picks
By Spencer Fordin
NEW YORK -- A star-studded cast of accomplished baseball legends will be on hand for the first day of the First-Year Player Draft on June 6, as the league welcomes its next crop of top prospects.
Major League Baseball expects to have three Hall of Famers, 25 All-Stars, four Most Valuable Players and a trio of World Series-winning managers representing the clubs that made them famous at the Draft.
The Hall of Famers will include all-time great third baseman George Brett of the Royals, ex-Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda and Senator Jim Bunning, formerly a pitcher with the Phillies. Lasorda, who led the Dodgers to World Series championships in both 1981 and '88, said it's always fun to be a part of the Draft process for Los Angeles.
"That's what makes it interesting. You see Hall of Famers there representing their clubs," said Lasorda. "I think it's going to get a lot of attention, and that's what we need: Baseball to get as much attention as possible. I'm proud to be going there and representing the Dodgers, along with Charlie Hough."
2013 draft representatives
Jose Cruz, Oz Ocampo
Fred McGriff, Jay Stenhouse
Ralph Garr, Paul Snyder
Ken Sanders, Mark Mueller
Kerry Wood, Keith Lockhart
Luis Gonzalez, Roland Hemond
Tommy Lasorda, Charlie Hough
Will Clark, Tony Siegle
Tim Belcher, Johnny Goryl
Alvin Davis, Brian Williams
Jack McKeon, Bill Beck
Darryl Strawberry, Marlin McPhail
Bob Boone, Johnny DiPuglia
Al Bumbry, Tripp Norton
Andy Ashby, Murray Zuk
Jim Bunning, Scott Palmer
Kent Tekulve, Rob Guzik
Ivan Rodriguez, Jim Sundberg
Jason Varitek, Danny Watkins
Pedro Astacio, Walker Monfort
George Brett, Art Stewart
Tony Oliva, John Wilson
Frank Thomas, Kevin Coe
Willie Randolph, Andy Cannizaro
Tony La Russa
Representatives in bold are members of the Hall of Fame
Tony La Russa, who won three World Series titles in his 33-year career with the White Sox, A's and Cardinals, is expected to represent MLB. Frank Thomas and Ivan Rodriguez, a pair of former MVPs, are expected to represent the White Sox and Rangers, respectively.
Virtually every team will have an iconic former player tabbed to represent it. Longtime Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood will be in attendance, and so will ex-catcher Jason Varitek for the Red Sox. Darryl Strawberry will stand in for the Mets, and slugger Fred McGriff will represent the Blue Jays at the Draft.
Arizona, one of the teams with the shortest history in MLB, will have franchise stalwart Luis Gonzalez and longtime scout and general manager Roland Hemond as its representatives. Hemond, a three-time winner of MLB's Executive of the Year, said he looks forward to the Draft each season.
"It has been an honor to represent the Arizona Diamondbacks alongside former Major Leaguer and D-backs player Luis Gonzalez at the MLB First-Year Player Draft in recent years," said Hemond in an email. "The Draft has gained a great deal of national and international attention since its broadcast on MLB Network. It's always a special moment when we announce our first-round selection."
The Draft will take place over three days and will wind through 40 rounds, but June 6 will get the most attention, because it will be televised on MLB Network. The first and second rounds will be televised, as will two competitive balance rounds, a brand new feature of the First-Year Player Draft.
The Astros, ably represented by former player Jose Cruz and international scouting director Oz Ocampo, will pick first overall for the second consecutive season. That's just the third time that has happened in Draft history. Both the Yankees and Marlins have four of the Draft's first 73 picks.
Jack McKeon, who led the Marlins to the 2003 World Series title, will be on hand to represent Miami, and franchise players like Tony Oliva (Minnesota), Eric Davis (Cincinnati) and Will Clark (San Francisco) will be back to bring their teams some luck. David Eckstein, a former 19th-round Draft pick who went on to be World Series MVP in 2006, will be back to represent the Angels.
Every team is looking to find an Eckstein or a franchise foundation like Thomas or Brett, and that's part of what makes the First-Year Player Draft so interesting. Some of these prospects will be the stars of tomorrow, and perhaps one day they'll represent their teams to bring it full circle.
"Scouting is very, very tough," said Lasorda of the game's unsung heroes. "You're going to have to make decisions on guys and give them $5 million or $2 million, and they haven't even gotten a batter out yet. This is an upside-down game where a guy gets paid a lot of money before he even does anything. But it's interesting, and having the Draft has given all the other teams a chance to be successful. Baseball, at one time, was always certain teams winning and that's how it was. But now it's not like that."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.